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Defending life from the moment of conception

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SPUC calls for UK rethink on children's rights

17 July 2002

SPUC calls for UK rethink on children's rights London, 17 July 2002--The Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC) has called for the UK to interpret a United Nations convention on children's rights as applying from conception rather than birth. In a letter following a hearing by parliament's joint committee on human rights, SPUC today says that the government, when referring to the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child, has stated: "The United Kingdom interprets the Convention as applicable only following a live birth". SPUC points out that the 1959 Declaration of the Rights of the Child states that the child: "needs special safeguards and care, including appropriate legal protection, before as well as after birth". The letter says that this principle is in keeping with the declaration by the World Medical Association's second assembly (Geneva, 1948): "I will maintain the utmost respect for human life, from the time of its conception". SPUC adds that article 6(5) of the 1966 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights says: "Sentence of death...shall not be carried out on pregnant women." and that the Travaux Préparatoires of this Covenant state that the express intention of this article was inspired by consideration of the interests of the unborn child. The letter asks that the UK retracts its earlier statement that it interprets the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child as applying only after live birth and instead should assert that it applies after conception. The letter defines a conceptus as: * a human ovum undergoing fertilisation or analogous process leading to the formation of a human embryo; * a human embryo * a human foetus.

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