George A. Sprecace M.D., J.D., F.A.C.P. and Allergy Associates of New London, P.C.

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Cardinal: Let's At Least Make Abortion Rarer

Still Much to Do After Series of Failures in Parliament

LONDON, MAY 22, 2008 ( Cardinal Cormac Murphy O'Connor looked at the bright side, after noting the disappointment brought by parliamentarians who voted to leave the upper time limit for Britain's abortion law at 24 weeks of gestation.

The vote rejected a proposal to lower the time limit to 12, 16, 20 or even 22 weeks, based on research showing that babies are more and more able to survive outside the womb at earlier points of gestation.

Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor said in a Wednesday statement: "Many people [...] will have been very disappointed by the result of last night's votes on the abortion time limit. But this issue will not go away.

"While the law affects attitudes, it does not in itself compel anyone to have an abortion. Even without a change in the law there is much we can all do to change the situation.

"There are many people on all sides of this debate who agree that 200,000 abortions a year is far too many, and abortion on this scale can only be a source of profound sadness and distress to us all."

The cardinal affirmed that abortion is not just a "personal choice. It is also about the choices our society makes to support women, their partners and families who face difficult decisions."

"For the sake of our common humanity, and the lives at stake, we must work to foster a new understanding and approach to relationships, responsibility and mutual support," he urged. "Even without a change in the law we can and should work together at least to make abortion much rarer."

About 1.5% of Britain's 200,000 abortions in 2006 were performed after the 20th week of pregnancy.

A horror

British Parliament cast a series of ethically contentious votes this week. On Monday, Members of Parliament approved 336-176 the creation of hybrid embryos, made by introducing human DNA into animal ova.

Bishop Elio Sgreccia, president of the Pontifical Academy for Life, told Vatican Radio that that law is particularly grave from the ethical point of view since "it constitutes an offense against the dignity of man. It is an attempt of fertilization between species that until how has been prohibited by all the laws on artificial fertilization."

"Human-animal union, even if it is not sexual, represents one of the horrors that has always brought rejection in ethics," he said.

Also on Monday, a bid to ban "savior siblings" was voted down by 342 votes to 163. "Savior siblings" are created using in vitro fertilization techniques with the goal of making a genetic match to help an ill older brother or sister. Embryos whose genes do not match will be discarded.

Parliament also decided that fathers are not needed when women seek in vitro fertilization, a move expected to make it easier for lesbian couples to use the method to have children.

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