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Defending life from the moment of conception

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Huge rally at US March for Life as Obama renews pro-abortion stance

23 January 2009

President Barack Obama marked yesterday's 36th anniversary of Roe v. Wade by renewing his support for it. He said: "... we must also recommit ourselves more broadly to ensuring that our daughters have the same rights and opportunities as our sons ... to have no limits on their dreams." He added: " ... no matter what our views, we are united in our determination to prevent unintended pregnancies, reduce the need for abortion and support women and families in the choices they make." He wanted more access to contraception. [AP on Yahoo, 22 January] The US president's life is the subject of a pro-life advertisement. CatholicVote's 40-second message mentions Mr Obama's humble and difficult upbringing and says every life has potential. [Washington Post, 22 January]

Some 100,000 people were at the opening rally for yesterday's annual March for Life in Washington DC. Ms Nellie Gray, organiser, called for discussions with the president. Republican members of congress described plans for pro-life legislation; some of them compared the fight against abortion with the campaign to end slavery. Cardinal Justin Rigali, Archbishop of Philadelphia, said the country's Catholic bishops, of whom more than 20 were there, all backed the march. [Catholic News Service, 22 January]

The Food and Drug Administration in the US has approved a test of the treatment of spinal injuries in around 10 people with paraplegia using human embryo cells. The trials, by Geron of California, are reportedly unprecedented. The company wants to do a similar test with diabetics. President Obama is expected to lift President Bush's ban on federal funding for research on new human embryo lines. The Geron research, though commercially funded, would have been eligible under present rules for state money because it involves old cell lines. [Telegraph, 23 January]

A woman in Ireland will next month ask the supreme court to allow for three frozen embryos to be implanted in her despite her estranged husband's objections. In a 2006 judgment the un-named mother of two in her 40s was told that the embryos were not unborn persons and so had no constitutional protection. [Irish Times, 23 January]
A state health authority in eastern England is offering vouchers to pregnant women who stop smoking. One local MP said it was pocket money for bad behaviour, while another said the £100 would be well spent if just one mother gave up. [PA on Channel 4, 22 January]

Assisted suicide at Dignitas in Switzerland is the subject of a television drama to be broadcast in Britain on Sunday (the 25th). A short stay in Switzerland is about Dr Anne Turner, a retired physician who had progressive supranuclear palsy and killed herself in 2006. Mr Edward Turner, her son and a leading member of Dignity in Dying, says the programme is not a polemic for assisted suicide. [BBC, 22 January] SPUC's national director is sceptical about that. John Smeaton writes: "It looks set to be the viewer's loss to be given only a one-sided look at what possible responses are available for those who experience disabling conditions and their families." [John Smeaton, 22 January]

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