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Defending life from the moment of conception

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US cardinal speaks up for freedom of conscience

19 March 2009

The president of the US Catholic bishops' conference wants Catholics to lobby the Department of Health and Human Services in support of medical workers' protection of conscience. Cardinal Francis George, Archbishop of Chicago, issued the call to action as the Obama administration considers reversing measures implemented by President Bush. He says: "We have a conscientious objection against war for those who cannot fight, even though it's good to defend your country. We have a conscientious objection for doctors against being involved in administering the death penalty. Why shouldn't our government and our legal system permit conscientious objection to a morally bad action, the killing of babies in their mother's womb?" [Catholic Culture, 17 March] Cardinal George met President Obama on Tuesday but there are no published details of the content their meeting. [Catholic News Service, 17 March]

Members of the US congress are reportedly working on repealing a ban on federal funding of the creation and destruction of human embryos. Ms Diana DeGette and Mr Mike Castle apparently intend to remove the text of the so-called Dickey-Wicker amendment from next year's appropriations bill. [LifeSiteNews, 17 March]

Both houses of the Kansas legislature have passed a bill which would let women requesting an abortion see an ultrasound scan of their child shortly before the termination was due to happen. Ms Kathleen Sebelius, state governor and candidate for federal health secretary, could block the measure, though the majorities in the house and senate were sufficient to thwart her veto. [Christian Newswire, 18 March]

Luxembourg legalised euthanasia on Tuesday after the constitution was changed to allow for the passage of laws without the grand duke's approval. Neighbouring Belgium and the Netherlands legalised euthanasia in 2002, and Swiss law allows doctors to provide patients with poison for them to take. [AFP on Yahoo!, 17 March]

The Catholic Church in Spain is campaigning against the liberalisation of the country's abortion law. The bishops' conference pointed out that plants and animals had more rights than unborn children. There are already 100,000 abortions a year, most supposedly performed because of danger to the mother's psychological health. [Earth Times, 17 March] Bishop Demetrio Fernández of Tarazona said politicians who supported the new law could not consider themselves Christian. [Catholic News Agency, 17 March] Some 300 academics have signed a declaration opposing the proposed changes. A church advertising campaign contrasts a vulnerable child with a protected species of wild animal. [Fides/IBC on Independent Catholic News, 18 March]

A couple in Canada are suing a hospital for $3.5 million for allegedly giving food and drink to their baby daughter against their wishes. Mr Stephane Mantha and Ms Marie-Eve Laurendeau say that in 2007 they agreed that Montreal Children's Hospital should disconnect a respirator and stop giving fluid by tube to Phébé Mantha who was very ill. The girl was found to be able to breathe on her own and the hospital resumed giving food and water. The parents claim only a court could countermand their decision. The child survives and the case continues. [LifeSiteNews, 17 March]

An economics professor has said that the British government's £250 million teenage pregnancy strategy is failing. Dr David Paton of Nottingham University told a meeting of legislators and political officials that sexually transmitted disease had increased and teenage pregnancy rates were not falling as quickly as had been planned. Mr Tom Harris, Labour MP for Glasgow South, has said that the government has failed to give moral guidance to young girls. [Christian Institute, 18 March]

A vaccine could treat an infection in women which can cause developmental anomalies in the unborn. The New England Journal of Medicine reports on Alabama University trials of inoculation against congenital cytomegalovirus. [New England Journal of Medicine on Reuters, 18 March]

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