European Parliament approves pro-abortion report
14 January 2009
Members of the European Union's parliament have approved a report which supports "sexual and reproductive health rights", a term often interpreted to include abortion on demand. The committee which produced the report on the situation of fundamental rights in the European Union 2004-2008 was led by Mr Giusto Catania MEP, a communist. Pro-life amendments were not approved. Anthony Ozimic, SPUC political secretary, said: "The resolution is soft-law pressure for abortion to be made a right in every EU member-state. The resolution violates national laws on conscientious objection to abortion and on public funding for abortion. It calls for the recognition of a so-called right to abortion, yet not one international treaty or human rights court recognises any such right." SPUC has called on church leaders and other pro-life groups throughout Europe to work to make the right to life the top political issue. [SPUC, 14 January, and Daily Mail, 13 January]
Authorities in Beijing are to raise the level of fines on couples who have more than one child. The Chinese capital's family planning commission says it wants to address poor people's objections to how the rich can pay to break the national one-child policy. It also says the city is overcrowded, partly because of migration. Current fees can be as much as eight times a family's disposable income. Second and subsequent children are reportedly barred from education and health benefits. [Irish Times, 14 January] SPUC's Anthony Ozimic said: "Foreign governments and international so-called family planning agencies have been involved in China's population control programme for decades, on the pretext of reforming the one-child policy. The evidence shows, however, that the policy's implementation has in general gotten harsher. It's time for donors to stop giving money to foreign agencies complicit in forced abortions in China."
More than 700 doctors have signed a letter asking that a woman in Italy who was injured in a vehicle accident in 1992 should not have her feeding tube removed. Ms Eluana Englaro's father wants her starved and an appeal court agrees, but the letter says physicians have a duty to help people who cannot feed themselves; removal of sustenance would be against the World Medical Association's 1964 Helsinki declaration. Nuns in Lecco, Lombardy, who are looking after Ms Englaro refuse to withdraw care. The Radical party plans a public demonstration in the town in support of her death. Her father wants her moved to a facility which would kill her but awaits further legal rulings. [LifeSiteNews, 13 January] Alison Davis of No Less Human (NLH) said: "It is heartening that over 700 Italian doctors have signed the open letter stating that doctors have a 'professional and scientific duty' to provide hydration and nutrition to vulnerable patients, which would save the life of Eluana Englaro. This is a rare case of doctors going against a civil appeals court. The tragedy behind the whole case, however, is that Eluana's life continues to hang in the balance, and that her father continues to want her killed by dehydration to death. Not only 700 doctors but every doctor in every country should be speaking out against this barbaric method of killing disabled people who are unable to communicate, which is becoming increasingly common throughout the world. NLH includes several members who would be vulnerable to this type of killing, and we call on all pro-lifers, but especially doctors, to speak out in defence of the most vulnerable of human lives."
The British government is to give nursing support to vulnerable women during pregnancy and for two years after childbirth. The proposal is part of attempts by Mr Gordon Brown MP, prime minister, to promote social mobility. [Guardian, 13 January]
A Scottish parliament consultation on assisted suicide has heard a request for a referendum on the matter from a representative of the Militant Retired group. The enquiry was instigated by Ms Margo MacDonald MSP who has Parkinson's disease and who wants to be allowed to kill herself. At least some MSPs agreed to a parliamentary debate on the issue, if not a plebiscite. Militant Retired pointed out that the people of Manchester, England, had voted about road traffic. [Scotsman, 14 January]
The number of elderly people in the UK who are long-term ill is set to grow to some six million. The Help the Aged charity says demographic analysis shows that there will be many more over-65s with dementia, heart disease and osteoporosis by 2025. The number of old people who have had strokes could rise by more than two fifths by then and there could be a million with dementia. The government says it can cope and Help the Aged called for medical research. [BBC, 13 January] Antonia Tully of Patients First Network said: "Pouring resources into cures and treatments for old-age illnesses is missing the point that people need care and love in old age, whether they're ill or not."