News, 5 April 2001

The Roman Catholic bishops of Uganda have issued a strongly-worded attack on the abortifacient morning-after pill after it emerged that Commercial Marketing Strategies, an American-funded organisation, was making the drug available in their country. In an open letter, the bishops insisted that it was never licit to distinguish between the value of human lives at different stages of development following conception. They also rejected suggestions that the morning-after pill was a contraceptive and pointed out that the Ugandan constitution protected the right to life of the unborn child. The bishops continued: "We appeal to all women and men of good will, and to the youth, to resist this new form of aggression against life, and others that may occur, by promoting a right knowledge of facts and evidences and by actively proposing them." [LifeSite, 4 April; Zenit, 30 March]


An Irish newspaper has reported an increased risk of death before birth of the grandchildren of women who took a widely available drug intended to prevent miscarriage in the 1950s and 1960s. Diethylstilbestrol (DES) was given to Irish women at maternity hospitals, by general practitioners and over the counter [from pharmacists]. Dr Mary Wingfield of Ireland's national maternity hospital warned that there was no way of ascertaining how many women were exposed to the drug, which has been linked to a higher incidence of miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy and premature labour in the daughters of the women who took the medication. [Irish Independent, 5 April]


The American state of Michigan is pressing criminal charges against a doctor for performing a third-trimester abortion without good medical reason. It is thought to be the first such case since the 1973 US Supreme Court judgements in the cases of Roe v Wade [which declared a constitutional right to abortion] and Doe v Bolton [which extended this right to the third trimester in certain situations]. Jennifer Granholm, Michigan's attorney general, is charging Jose Higuera with felonious abortion under a state law which predates the Roe v Wade judgement. [AP, 4 April; via Pro-Life Infonet]


A senior cardinal in Rome has condemned attempts to mislead people into thinking that the morning-after pill only works as a contraceptive. Cardinal Alfonso López Trujillo, prefect of the Pontifical Council for the Family, was responding to the recent decisions by the governments of Spain, Portugal and Chile to make the morning-after pill available and accusations that the Church was confusing the morning-after pill with the RU-486 abortion drug. Cardinal Trujillo said: "The process of human life does not begin with the embryo's adherence to the maternal womb, but before, at the very moment of conception. Hence, to talk about 'impeding implantation in the uterus' is nothing but a euphemism in an attempt to disguise abortion." [Zenit, 4 April]


A US federal judge has decided that part of an Indiana state law which required women to receive personal counselling before obtaining an abortion was unconstitutional. Judge David Hamilton described the requirement as a "burden" which would be likely to prevent 10% to 13% of women from choosing an abortion. [EWTN News, 3 April]


One of the first people to be charged under Arkansas's Fetal Protection Act has pleaded guilty to first-degree murder and first-degree battery. Eric Beulah, aged 22, carried out a brutal assault on Shiwona Pace in August 1999 which resulted in the death of her unborn child. He was sentenced to 40 years in prison, 20 of which were for causing the death of the unborn child and 20 for the injuries inflicted on the child's mother. Eric Bullock, who paid Mr Beulah to carry out the attack, was sent to prison for life in February under the same 1999 law which allows murder charges to be brought for the violent killing of unborn children of over 12 weeks' gestation. [Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, 3 April; also see news digest for 13 February 2001]


An abortion clinic in Iowa has embarked on a new strategy to thwart the activities of pro-life demonstrators. The Emma Goldman Clinic for Women in Iowa City has launched a pledge-a-picket campaign whereby pro-abortionists pledge money based on the number of protesters outside the facility. The money will then be used to subsidise the cost of abortions for poorer women. [Omaha World-Herald, 5 April]

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