News, 9 November 2001

The main British opposition party has called for the UK parliament to hear evidence on coercive population control programmes, such as those in China. In a parliamentary debate on Wednesday, Mrs Caroline Spelman, Conservative party spokeswoman on international development, argued that, as the British parliament has never received direct evidence on the issue, such evidence should be examined in order to judge the impact of proposed legislative moves to ban government funding for coercive population control programmes. [House of Commons Hansard, 7 November] SPUC will host a visit to London at the end of this month by Mr Steve Mosher, president of the Population Research Institute and the world authority on China's one-child policy, who will brief parliamentarians on western complicity in China's programme of forced abortion.


Dr Maurice Gueret of Ireland's eastern regional health authority has said that the number of women obtaining abortions in Britain could be cut by hundreds if the abortifacient morning-after pill were made more freely available in the Irish Republic. This statement was made in connection with figures published by the British Office for National Statistics claiming to show increasing rates of abortion on Irish women in England. [Irish Times, 9 November] SPUC has warned that one of the effects of the proposed Irish constitutional amendment would be to facilitate provision of morning-after pills by undermining the status of pre-implantation embryos.


A judge has temporarily blocked the directive issued by Mr John Ashcroft, the US attorney general, which would effectively have invalidated Oregon's law on physician-assisted suicide. US District Judge Robert Jones granted the temporary restraining order on the request of Hardy Myers, Oregon's attorney general. At the hearing, the US administration argued that Mr Ashcroft was right to issue his directive because the interest of the United States to preserve the life and safety of its citizens took precedence over state law. [AP, 8 November; via Pro-Life Infonet]


Two professors have said that the English high court's decision to deny Mrs Dianne Pretty's request for a right to die was morally wrong. Len Royal, professor of medical ethics at St Bartholomew's and Royal London School of Medicine, and his wife Lesley, who is professor of health and social care at Bristol university, have written to the British Medical Journal to say that euthanasia "should be legally condoned, either by the interpretation of existing law by a more courageous judiciary or by new legislation." [The Times, 9 November]


The Vatican has released the text of a communiqué it has sent to all national Catholic bishops' conferences outlining its concerns about a United Nations field manual on reproductive health for refugees. The communiqué is critical of the manual, which was published in 1999 by the UN High Commission for Refugees in collaboration with the World Health Organisation and the UN Population Fund [all of which are pro-abortion]. Among other complaints, the Vatican criticises the document for promoting abortion. [EWTN News and LifeSite, 8 November]


The US senate has passed an amendment which recognises the existence of "post-abortion depression and post-abortion psychosis". The clause was in the appropriations bill for the departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education. It was passed uncontested and without debate. [National Review, 7 November; via Pro-Life Infonet] John Crabbe of British Victims of Abortion said: "We are delighted that a national legislature agrees not only with ourselves but with many psychologists that the death of a child causes the greatest pain a parent can ever know. It echoes down through the years of family life, casting a shadow over every sunny occasion."


Researchers in Germany have suggested that exposure to certain environmental pollutants may hinder the development of children's brains both before and after birth. A team led by Dr Gerhard Winneke at Heinrich-Heine university in Düsseldorf found that mothers who were exposed to polychlorinated biphenyls, which are now banned but which still leak from old electrical equipment, can pass the chemicals to their unborn children through their blood and to newborn children through their breast milk. [BBC News online, 9 November]

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