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Defending life from the moment of conception

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Religious leaders join together to oppose abortion funding

28 January 2009

Orthodox Jewish leaders are expected tomorrow to indicate their agreement with the Catholic church's objections to President Obama's approval of US funding for abortion overseas. Human Life International, Rome, has arranged a visit to the city by Rabbi Yehuda Levin of the Rabbinical Alliance of America. Rabbi Levin says he stands shoulder to shoulder with the Vatican on this matter. [LifeSiteNews, 27 January]

The Catholic church in America has launched a campaign against the Freedom of Choice Act, which would liberalise abortion law. Parishioners have been given postcards to send to members of Congress. The measure has been around since at least 1989. New Jersey Right to Life said the law was grossly misnamed since it would restrict states' freedom to pass pro-life laws. [NorthJersey.com, 28 January] The US president has tried to woo Catholics and Evangelicals yet is totally pro-abortion, a law professor has told a pro-life conference. Professor Robert George, director of the James Madison program in American ideals and institutions at Princeton University, New Jersey, warned that celebrated Christians had helped Mr Obama, mistakenly thinking his policies would cut abortions. [LifeSiteNews, 27 January]

The Pope has told the French government to respect human life during a public debate on bioethics. Benedict XVI said to the country's new ambassador to the Holy See that he was pleased that euthanasia was still banned. Science always had to serve human dignity. A 2004 law allows human embryo research and forbids the bringing to birth of a cloned person. [LifeSiteNews, 27 January]

A new way of testing human eggs for chromosomal problems could make IVF more reliable, say scientists in England. A Nottingham clinic is using a technique called array comparative genomic hybridisation to take spare chromosomes from the polar body of the eggs. Unlike before, test results are available in 24 hours. One un-named woman has reportedly had an embryo implanted after an egg was screened in this way. [BBC, 26 January] UK guidelines introduced this month state that single embryos should be implanted to avoid multiple pregnancies. [Daily Mail, 27 January] Octuplets have been born by caesarean section to Nigerian parents in California. [Independent, 27 January]

A court in Milan, Italy, has cleared obstacles to the dehydration by medical staff of a semi-conscious woman. The Lombardy region was ordered to follow an appeal court decision concerning Ms Eluana Englaro, 37. Mr Beppino Englaro her father said he was satisfied. Nuns caring for her refuse to remove her feeding tube. [AFP on Today Online, 27 January] A cardinal has told medical staff to exercise conscientious objection if asked to bring about Ms Englaro's death. Cardinal Severino Poletto, Archbishop of Turin, said: "letting someone who is in a vegetative state starve to death is euthanasia, and the Church is against euthanasia as with any other form of taking a life." [Catholic News Agency, 26 January]

An American pro-life leader has encouraged the movement to persevere. Mr Richard Doerflinger, associate director of the American Catholic bishops' pro-life secretariat, was speaking in Washington DC after receiving a prize for his work. The situation in America was similar to how it had been after President Clinton's first election, yet things did not go as badly as was feared then. The Catholic church had been right to warn of the bad social consequences of contraception. IVF had led to embryo research and cloning. Mr Doerflinger praised President Bush, and told of the therapeutic usefulness of adult and cord-blood stem cells. [Catholic News Agency, 27 January]

A cancer patient's life-support was reportedly turned off too soon. Mr Stephen Ketley, 52, had been responding to treatment in East Yorkshire, England, last year but Mr Sean Bennett, consultant anaesthetist, removed his ventilator without involving the family, an inquest was told. Another anaesthetist treating the deceased was surprised at the move. A post mortem did not suggest that removing the breathing tube had contributed to death. The inquest continues. [Daily Mail, 27 January]

More than half of 200 doctors questioned in a British Geriatric Society survey worry about how the state health service would treat them in old age. Most respondents thought old people get inadequate diagnosis. The British Medical Association is also worried about ageism in healthcare. [BBC, 27 January]

A lot of alcohol in early pregnancy may cause premature birth, according to a study of more than 4,700 Australian women. Moderate drinking did not cause problems. [BBC, 21 January] Too much water may be dangerous to mothers in labour, say researchers. More than four pints during childbirth increased the risk of hyponatraemia, which can induce coma. [Telegraph, 27 January]

The Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency in the UK is investigating self-administered pregnancy tests which cost less than a pound each. Suppliers claim the Fastresults kits, made in China, are 99% reliable. [Telegraph, 26 January]

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