Update On Life Issues - October 2004
The 2003 abortion statistics for England & Wales were released this autumn. The grand total was 190,660 – the highest ever, and an increase of almost 3% over the previous year. And remember, this does NOT include those early abortions caused by the morning-after pill.
But what is additionally awful about these figures is that abortion among teenagers is still increasing. The under-15 total was 1,171. And among 15 to 19-year olds the total was 37,043, up a massive 6.4% on the 2002 figure. And this is despite the millions of pounds spent by the Government’s Teenage Pregnancy Unit (TPU), which has been charged with halving the number of teenage pregnancies by 2010. Surprise, surprise, there was nothing on the TPU’s website to explain this latest increase. When will it learn that merely handing out condoms and pills (of both the contraceptive and the morning-after varieties) will never work. Such a strategy actually encourages teenagers to experiment sexually. Abstinence is the real answer and sooner or later the TPU will have to admit that. It looks as though it will be later.
Then Patricia Hewitt, Trade Secretary, had the gall to tell women to have more children because there are too few youngsters to pay taxes to fund the impending pension crisis! And that from a minister of a Government that has consistently committed itself to easier, cheaper, more widespread abortion.
Now that same Government is being lobbied by the British Pregnancy Advisory Service to allow women to take the abortion pill, RU-486, at home. Can you imaging the trauma of girls and women delivering dead fetuses of up to 9 week’s gestation in their bathrooms? How disgusting will it be to have human bodies washed into our sewerage systems?
In August, a group of scientists, based at Newcastle University, was granted the first licence in the UK to clone human embryos. Now Ian Wilmut, the ‘creator’ of Dolly, has applied for the second. The brakes are off, the floodgates will open before long. Human embryos will be regarded as nothing more than biological material.
The UK has again proved itself to be out-of-step with the bioethical thinking and practice of others. Cloning bans have been implemented in more and more countries, such as Canada, Germany, Australia and France. Some time soon, perhaps this November, there will be a resolution before the United Nations that seeks to ban all, both the so-called therapeutic and reproductive, human cloning.
Two Bills are currently before Parliament that will allow euthanasia in by the back door – some would say, the front door. They are the Mental Capacity Bill and the Assisted Dying for the Terminally Ill Bill. The latter has become known as the Joffe Bill and is currently being discussed by a House of Lord’s Select Committee. Affinity made a submission to this Committee, see www.affinity.xyzxyz. The Joffe Bill apparently has little chance of becoming law, but its conclusions will undoubtedly set the euthanasia agenda for the coming years.
Meanwhile, euthanasia is creeping nearer and nearer to us. Switzerland, the Netherlands and Belgium have already approved it. Now a French parliamentary committee has recommended it.
Assisted Reproductive Techniques (ARTs)
The first baby born as a result of ovarian tissue transplantation has been announced in Belgium. The mother had ovarian cancer so, before her chemotherapy was started, some tissue from her ovaries was removed and frozen. After her successful cancer treatment, this tissue was transplanted. Eventually, she became pregnant, though there is some doubt whether this was as a result of the transplant because her menstrual periods apparently began to return before the surgery took place. Anyway, what a cheery piece of news, we all thought – a baby for a woman with cancer. But then again, we realised that such a technique will probably be misused to allow career women to put motherhood on hold almost indefinitely.
The members of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) have again demonstrated what an unprincipled bunch of bioethical pipsqueaks they really are. Having maintained a firm ‘No’ to designer babies last year, they have now caved in and said ‘Yes’ to the production of a so-called ‘saviour sibling’ in order to treat Joshua Fletcher, who is suffering from Diamond Blackfan anaemia. Who, or what, will be next? Human embryos are now not even considered by some to be just biological material, they are simply a means to an end. The age of embryonic utilitarianism has certainly arrived.
Dr John R. Ling,
10 October 2004.