News, 16 July 2008

The British government is today due to publish a policy on how dying people in England are to be treated. There are plans to respond to a widespread preference for dying at home. [BBC, 16 July] A television programme to be screened in Scotland tonight includes an excerpt from an Australian video about using a plastic bag for suicide. Ms Margo MacDonald, a member of the Scottish parliament who has Parkinson's disease, is shown viewing the film and opening a package containing such a bag which she had ordered. [BBC, 15 July] Dr Philip Nitschke has been investigated for showing his DIY with Betty in New Zealand.

Sexually-transmitted disease in Britain is more widespread than ever, the total increasing by 72% over 10 years. Half of sufferers last year were aged 16 to 24. [Independent, 16 July] The Health Protection Agency urged young people to have fewer partners. [Guardian, 16 July] Family and Youth Concern said: "The answer does not lie in yet more sex education and contraceptive schemes, but in honestly telling young people the only sure way to avoid being infected with [a sexually-transmitted disease] is to keep sexual intimacy within the context of a lifelong, mutually faithful relationship with an uninfected partner." [Daily Mail, 16 July] SPUC's national director is blogging on this today. [John Smeaton, 16 July]

The Northern Ireland executive has launched a consultation on the termination of pregnancy. [Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety, 16 July] It comes at the height of the holiday season in the province, where the 1967 Abortion Act does not apply. Mrs Betty Gibson, SPUC chairwoman in Northern Ireland, said: "Publishing the draft guidance now means many people won't actually be aware of the document until they have returned to work in a couple of weeks. The Assembly is in recess and, even when politicians return to their constituencies, it may be September before they can discuss the proposals with their party colleagues - less than three weeks before the closing date for submissions. In the past, consultations on contentious issues have been launched during the holiday season in order to reduce the time available for objections. These draft guidelines contain some very serious flaws, not least the failure to acknowledge the suffering frequently experienced by women after abortion. We are determined that the final version of the guidelines should warn of the terrible psychological damage associated with abortion."

A British-based Catholic magazine has distributed a leaflet about an organisation which promotes abortion. The Tablet had a full-colour enclosure from Médecins sans Frontières, the Swiss-based medical aid charity. It includes a description of one of the organisation's nurses providing so-called emergency contraception - most likely morning-after pills which can cause abortion. The organisation admits it performs abortions and it is asserted that its doctors do so even in countries where it is illegal. [John Smeaton, 14 July]

A baby who was aborted in New Zealand having been diagnosed in utero with tuberculosis proved not to have the condition. Health authorities in Auckland have apologised after samples from the mother were contaminated. [Radio New Zealand, 14 July] Alison Davis of No Less Human said: "This case is tragic on several counts. The health board was reported as saying that the abortion 'resulted in serious consequences for the victim' ignoring the fact that there are at least two victims in every abortion - the woman and her baby. The hospital goes on to say that it 'has offered its deepest apologies to the woman and her family' again ignoring the fact that the greater injustice was done to the baby who was deliberately killed. This sort of 'mistake' is not uncommon, and stems from the philosophy that it is not only acceptable but desirable for a baby to be aborted if s/he is thought to have a disability. It is fatally discriminatory against the baby, condemns his or her mother to possible long-term physical and emotional suffering, and sends out the deeply offensive message that death is preferable to living with a disability."

A woman who had seven abortions says she does not regret them but also describes her depression, shame and a suicide attempt. Ms Angela Simmons, 39, of western England has a surviving son aged eight whom she considered aborting. Some 50 women have their seventh abortion each year in England and Wales. [Daily Mail, 15 July]

A survey of US public opinion suggests many voters do not know the stance on abortion of Senators John McCain and Barack Obama, the de facto big-party presidential candidates. Slightly more than half of pro-life voters who did not know the candidates' views supported Mr Obama who is not pro-life. Pro-life voters who did know where the senators stood on abortion tended to support Mr McCain. [LifeNews, 14 July] The status of embryonic human life will be on the ballot paper in Colorado during voting in November. A proposed amendment to the state's constitution would recognise the unborn as persons. [Irish Times, 15 July]

The current leader of the European Union wants Ireland to vote again on a measure which could affect that country's abortion law. President Nicolas Sarkozy of France, whose country holds the union's presidency till the end of the year, says last month's referendum on the Lisbon treaty should be repeated. The Irish electorate rejected ratification by 53.4% to 46.6%. [Times, 16 July] Patrick Buckley of European Life Network, Dublin, said: "The suggestion that Ireland should hold another referendum is a gross insult to the people of Ireland and the decision by European leaders to continue with the ratification process is deeply disturbing and indicative of the democratic deficit in the EU. It was precisely because of the absence of democracy that Ireland voted 'no' to Lisbon. Mr Sarkozy should be asked to explain what part of 'no' he does not understand and he should be challenged to hold a referendum in his own country to establish the real views of the French people rather than those of the political elite."

A mother in Britain who killed her six-month-old baby has been given a suspended 12-month prison sentence. Ms Martina McHattie of West Yorkshire was found guilty of manslaughter after she shook her son and threw him to the ground. [Daily Mail, 14 July]

Catholic politicians who voted for human embryo research are expected to attend a papal Mass during World Youth Day in Sydney, Australia, on Sunday. Mr Maurice Iemma, premier of New South Wales, says he does not expect to receive communion. Cardinal George Pell, the city's archbishop, issued warnings concerning the vote to Mr Iemma and Mr John Watkins, his deputy. [CNA on EWTN, 12 July]

A pro-abortion Austrian politician has received a prestigious papal award. Cardinal Christoph Schönborn, Archbishop of Vienna, gave the Pontifical Order of St Gregory the Great to Ms Renate Brauner, the city's deputy mayor. She is quoted as saying that abortion is among women's values. [LifeSiteNews, 11 July] SPUC is to write to the cardinal about the award. [John Smeaton, 15 July]


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