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Defending life from the moment of conception

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Irish government announces Lisbon referendum

25 June 2009

The Irish government has announced that a referendum will be held this October on the Lisbon treaty. The announcement follows a so-called guarantee given to the Irish government by European Union (EU) leaders which purports to prevent the treaty affecting Ireland's ban on abortion. [BBC, 24 June] Pat Buckley of the European Life Network told SPUC: "It is unlikely that the so-called guarantees will protect Ireland's pro-life laws from being undermined if the treaty is passed, especially in the areas of embryo destruction, cloning and euthanasia. That is because there are major question marks against the so-called guarantees. Firstly, they cannot be legally binding unless the treaty is amended or unless they are added to the treaty as a protocol, either of which would involve re-ratification by all EU member-states, who are reluctant to do so because of political implications in their own countries. Secondly, the guarantees are limited to only one aspect of the treaty, the area of 'freedom, security and justice', which is only one of 13 areas of shared compentences in the EU. This limitation is a cause for major concern, bearing in mind that the 1993 Maastricht treaty protocol, added to protect the Irish constitutional position on abortion, covers the whole treaty and all of its amendments."

The Swiss government has said that it wants the country's parliament to consider banning or restricting organised suicide assistance. EXIT, a Swiss pro-euthanasia group, claimed that the proposals would lead to drawn-out, prolonged deaths following suicide attempts. The group also asserted that "[a]ssisted suicide... is a significant achievement in a free and democratic country". [Sydney Morning Herald, 24 June] The House of Lords, the upper house of the British parliament, is due to debate amendments relating to assisted suicide abroad. [SPUC action alert, 6 June]

Public meetings are being held in Ireland on end-of-life issues. The Irish Hospice Foundation is seeking the views of citizens on advance directives, assisted food and fluids, organ donation and transplantation. A meeting is due to be held at the Royal Irish Academy in Dublin this evening. [Irish Times, 25 June]

The Church of England has said that post-conception family planning agencies should be allowed to advertise in the broadcast media, provided they declare whether or not they refer for abortions. In a response to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) the church's Mission and Public Affairs Council and the Communications Office of the Archbishops' Council criticised the ASA's proposal for more extensive advertising of condoms. [Ekklesia, 25 June] SPUC's submission opposes broadcasting advertising by abortion agencies and of contraception. [SPUC]

A female minister of the Episcopal church in America has claimed that God "rejoices" over abortions. In a letter to a church website, the Nina Churchman said that abortion "is not considered a sin" by the Episcopal church. [, 24 June] In April it was reported that another female Episcopalian minister, Kathleen Hancock Ragsdale, had described abortion as "a blessing". [, 2 April]

An international pro-life leader has recounted acts of intimidation and violence against him and other pro-lifers by supporters of abortion. In a interview with a Catholic website, Fr Tom Euteneuer, head of Human Life International, recounted a poisoning attempt, threats of death and physical harm, assaults, verbal abuse, and acts of sacrilege and blasphemy. He described anti-lifers as cowards and said that he prayed for personal protection. [Moms for Life, 19 June]

A court in the American state of Virginia has upheld the state's ban on partial birth abortion. The upheld law mirrors the US federal ban on the procedure. A spokesman for Americans United for Life said that partial birth abortion should more correctly be termed partial birth infanticide. [Americans United for Life, 25 June]

A woman has died of a blood clot after taking hormonal birth control, an inquest has heard. Helen Schofield died three months after switching from one type of contraceptive pill to another, Dianette. A spokesman for Bayer, the pill's manufacturer, said the risk of a blood clot was "slightly increased" for any form of contraceptive pill. [Daily Mail, 25 June]

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