The Australian senate's decision to remove ministerial control over applications to use the abortion drug, RU486, does not represent the views of Australian women, according to a study by the Southern Cross Bioethics Institute (SCBI) in Adelaide. Fr John Fleming, who commissioned the research, found that only 17% of people said RU-486 should be introduced now; 18% said it should not be introduced at all; and 59% said the decision should be delayed until more information, especially about the health risks, is available. 61% of women supported a delay, compared with 56% of men. Fr Fleming commented: "The study shows the push to remove democratic oversight of RU486 applications comes from middle aged and older women who are very unlikely to have recourse to the drug themselves. The strongest resistance came from women of reproductive age, that is, younger women, who of course are the very ones who may have the drug prescribed for them." [The Australian, 14 February]
American researchers claim to have found cells in umbilical cord blood that have the properties of primitive stem cells and could be an additional source for ethical research. Scientists at the University of Minnesota Medical School say that this discovery will help them in their neurological research. Dr Walter Low, leader of the study and professor of neurosurgery at the Stem Cell Institute of the University of Minnesota, said: "We are excited by this discovery because it provides additional insight into how stem cells can restore function in the brain after injury." [LifeNews, 13 February]
Pro-life campaigners, the Catholic Church and the Church of Scotland have condemned a booklet that guides people through the process of obtaining assisted suicide at the Swiss clinic run by Dignitas. A spokesman for the Catholic Church in Scotland said: "Groups and material like this clearly do encourage people to consider taking their own life. Voluntary euthanasia, as this would be styled, can very easily become involuntary when the climate in a society changes sufficiently that it becomes expected of people." [Christian Today, 20 February]
An economics expert has called for the government to consider dismissing its advisers on teenage pregnancy after new statistics revealed the continuing failure of the government's strategy to reduce the incidence of teenage pregnancies. David Paton, professor of economics at Nottingham University Business School, said: "The taxpayers' money spent by the Teenage Pregnancy Unit seems to have had no impact. The Government should look closely at the unit's future. Closing it should be seriously thought about." [The Telegraph, 24 February] The government and the Teenage Pregnancy Unit have promoted access to abortion and abortifacient birth control, in particular the morning-after pill, for schoolchildren as young as 11 as part of its strategy.
Further evidence of coercive population control has emerged in India. Judge Amrit Abhijat in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh has threatened punitive action against state employees and community leaders who do not cooperate in recruiting people to submit to sterilisation. India's Catholic bishops have condemned the move, describing it as "barbarous". [Zenit, 23 February]
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