News, 20 April 2004

West Mercia police are to open an inquiry into the late term abortion of a baby with cleft palate following the successful judicial review by Joanna Jepson. Ms Jepson, who was born with a jaw malformation herself, argued in court that cleft palate did not constitute a 'serious handicap' and that the abortion was a case of unlawful killing. [BBC, 16 April]


A documentary will be shown this evening on a national UK television channel featuring an abortion, The Telegraph reports. The programme, made by a pro-abortion director, features the abortion of a four-week-old baby, with additional pictures of later abortions and input from people on both sides of the debate. However, pro-life women who watched a preview expressed reservations about the stance. Eileen Brydon of SPUC stated: "The abortion which viewers see was a very early one. The message was that this was a quick and easy operation, yet nothing was mentioned of all the possible psychological or physical effects, some of them long-term, on women having abortions at any stage." [The Telegraph, 18 April]


The Maltese commissioner-designate to the EU has told the European Parliament that he agrees with the EU position on abortion and family planning adopted at the Cairo International Conference on Population and Development 10 years ago. The Maltese delegation at Cairo in 1994 entered a reservation regarding abortion, pointing out that abortion is illegal in Malta. However, in answer to repeated questions by MEP Glenys Kinnock, Dr Joe Borg stated: "I will repeat the position of the European Union in this regard that in no case should abortion be promoted as a method of family planning, but in circumstances where abortion is not against the law then abortions should be safe and therefore the necessary facilities should be in place in order to guarantee that it would be safe. However that is on the overriding consideration where abortion is not against the law." It is the first time a politician from the Nationalist Party has expressed such an opinion regarding abortion. [The Malta Independent, 18 April]


US Catholic hospitals have said that they will honour living wills in spite of a papal pronouncement that hospitals should never remove feeding tubes from patients in persistent vegetative states. Many hospitals defer to the US bishops "Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services" which describes tube feeding as treatment that can be withdrawn under certain circumstances. The Pope has said that providing nutrition and hydration constitutes basic care and that it is 'morally obligatory' to provide it. [The Ledger, 16 April]


Euthanasia campaigner Philip Nitschke has criticised plans by the Australian Federal Government to introduce legislation that would ban the provision of information on assisted suicide. Dr Nitschke said that it will cause problems for euthanasia societies, including the Australian Voluntary Euthanasia Society. [ABC, 19 April]


The first licences have been issued in Australia allowing research using surplus IVF embryos. Melbourne and Sydney IVF centres have been granted licences to conduct embryo research into improving IVF success rates. Brian Harradine, the independent Tasmanian senator, described the licences as 'licences to kill.' [Medical News Today, 16 April]


A US woman has filed a lawsuit against an abortion clinic after she became unable to conceive after taking the RU-486 abortion drug. Dana Powell, who suffered a ruptured ectopic pregnancy after taking the drug, is suing the Women's Centre for Choice for medical negligence after they failed to diagnose her condition properly. [LifeSiteNews.com, 16 April]


50 years after the first trials of the contraceptive pill, Puerto Rican women are still expressing anger about their exploitation by doctors. Hundreds of women in Puerto Rico were enrolled for tests of the pill, many of whom were unaware that the experiment could not be carried out on the US mainland or that the drug was experimental and potentially dangerous. Besides other problems, two healthy women died and their deaths were never investigated. [BioEdge, 5 April]


The only Democrat supporter of the bill in the Florida Senate that would require parental notification for minors seeking abortion told colleagues that she was sexually abused by her father. Other Democrats argued that the proposed legislation would discriminate against girls who were sexually abused by their fathers because they could not discuss abortion with their parents, but Larcenia Bullard said that she could not have dealt with the abuse if she had not confided in her mother. [CWNews, 16 April]

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