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Defending life from the moment of conception

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US candidates have abandoned reason

7 September 2008

US candidates "have abandoned reason" Derbyshire, 7 September 2008 - Both American presidential candidates have been criticised by a leading US scientist for their abandonment of reason regarding respect for innocent human life.

Dr James Sherley, Boston Biomedical Research Institute's senior scientist, exposed the positions of the Democrats' Barack Obama and the Republicans' John McCain, during his address to the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children's national conference in Derbyshire this weekend.

Dr Sherley said: "[Barack Obama] was recently asked the question 'When does life begin?' He answered: 'That's above my pay grade'. That's equivalent to saying 'I'm not going to answer that question'. This is the man that is supposed to be the unity and inclusion candidate. He isn't that. He has stated earlier that he plans on promoting abortion and wants to make it more. Dr Sherley said that there was no biological basis to make a moral distinction between an embryo, a baby, a child and an adult. Dr Sherley said the rate at which African Americans were aborted was equivalent to the rate from which they died from all other causes and was almost three times the overall US abortion rate. The black community and the most vulnerable women in America were being targeted by the pro-abortion lobby, he said. He pointed out that Republican party candidate John McCain was in favour of embryo stem cell research which involved the killing of embryonic human beings who were persons from the moment of conception. This position was inconsistent with Mr McCain's pro-life position on abortion. Dr Sherley also attacked Democrat Senator Hillary Clinton's "vacation of reason" when she said she hoped abortion would be "safe, legal and rare". He said: "They say safe abortions are abortions that happen in abortion clinics. That doesn't make it safe." Around 10% of women who went on to the operating table in the US were injured at the moment of abortion, he added. Freedom of conscience for doctors to opt out from performing abortions is not a right but a duty, according to Dr Jakob Cornides, an international human rights lawyer, also speaking at SPUC's conference. "On a day not far away from now, doctors will be forced to perform abortions against their will," Dr Cornides said. "Gynaecologists and obstetricians may face the choice of either performing abortions or giving up their profession."

The Austrian lawyer described the pro-abortion lobby's moves to get rid of the right for doctors to object by seeking to turn abortion into a right for women and an obligation for medical practitioners.

Dr Cornides said: "This is what motivates the campaigning of lobby groups like Planned Parenthood, the Center for Reproductive Rights and Catholics for a Free Choice. It is ironic that the pro-abortion movement portrays itself as 'pro-choice'." Their campaigning against conscience clauses suggested the contrary: they were anti-choice. There was no such right as a right to abortion. His address comes at a time when SPUC is fighting against proposed amendments to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill, including one that seeks to force all medical practitioners and pharmacists to provide "emergency contraception" or any other form of contraception which may have abortifacient modes of action. "Every abortion takes the life of an innocent human being," Dr Cornides said.

"It is a violation of the most fundamental of all rights, the right to life." Foetuses of animals are protected more than unborn children in British law, a professor and consultant in obstetrics and gynaecology told the meeting. Dr Jerónima Teixeira, of Lisbon, Portugal, said animals were not conscious beings but still enjoyed more protection than unborn children. Animals were safeguarded from pain in British law whereas human foetuses did not have the same stringent guarantees of protection from pain. Speaking on foetal sentience, Dr Teixeira described her team's research, published in leading medical journals in the US and Britain, which concluded that the "human foetus is capable of mounting a stress response to painful stimulus". "Analgesia is able to block that stress response," she said.

As a result of her research, the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists changed its guidelines regarding the treatment of unborn children during medical procedures, although these did not go far enough, she said.

"In case of doubt, 'the foetus should be given the benefit of doubt' and good medical practice should mean to protect the child from potential painful procedures at early stages in pregnancy." Antonia Tully, SPUC's Safe at School campaign coordinator, described the government's attempt to halve the rate of under-18 conception rates by 2010 as a failed policy paid for by taxpayers.

She said: "The 2007 abortion statistics show a greater than ever rate of under-18 abortions. The government has only reached 11% of their target." Mrs Tully, a mother of six, explained that anti-life sex education and abortion provision had found their way into "every corner of school life".

Safe at School supports parents who are concerned about what their child is being taught in their classrooms.

Other speakers at the event included SPUC Scotland's youth and universities officer, Lucy McCully, 26, who announced that a "pro-life revolution" to fight the UK's state sponsored culture of death was under way.

She impressed delegates with a high-tech presentation of her team's pro-life activities in schools, churches, on the streets and at youth festivals.

Senior officers from the organisation gave a run-down of the attacks on life contained in the Human Fertilisation and Embryo Bill, due to receive its report stage in the House of Commons as early as next month.


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