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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 17 August 2000

17 August 2000

17 August 2000 Cardinal Thomas Winning, archbishop of Glasgow and chairman of the Bioethics Committee of the Catholic bishops of Great Britain and Ireland, has said that the British government's support for human cloning "will shock and disappoint many". He insisted that "obtaining stem cells from a human embryo is morally wrong because it involves the destruction of a human life" and added, "Human life is inviolably sacred, both before and after any arbitrary 14 day deadline." The Daily Telegraph newspaper also came out against the government's plans in its editorial. It described the Donaldson committee's report on cloning as containing "evasive language and weird logic" and concluded that "there are no proven benefits in killing and cloning, and that science is too important to be left only to the scientists." Various medical research groups supported the proposals, as did a number of other national newspapers. [Daily Telegraph, 17 August; Archdiocese of Glasgow news release, 16 August] The National Institutes of Health in the USA is reportedly pushing for the authorisation of federal funding for human embryo stem cell research. This would involve the killing of those human embryos used. The Clinton administration is said to be supportive of the plan, as is Al Gore, the Democratic presidential candidate. George W Bush, the Republican presidential candidate, reportedly opposes it and could block it by means of an executive order were he elected. Arlen Specter, a Republican senator from Pennsylvania, has sponsored a bill which would explicitly allow the use of embryos left over from in vitro fertilisation treatment for research by government-funded scientists, but members of congress opposed to the move hope to block it. [The Inquirer, 14 August; Reuters, Yahoo! News, 16 August] The supreme court of New Jersey, USA, has struck down a law which required minors to notify their parents before seeking an abortion. The Parental Notification for Abortion Act was passed last year and required only parental notice, not consent, but it never took effect. Chief Justice Deborah Poritz explained the 4-2 majority opinion of the court thus: "A young woman's right to choose, to personal dignity and autonomy, is embedded in the liberties found in the constitutions of the United States and of this state." [Ashbury Park Press&Nando Media, 15 August] Following news that the mayor of Mexico City had approved the liberalisation of abortion laws, the city's Catholic archbishop has strongly condemned any such move. Cardinal Norberto Rivera said: "Anyone who promotes or practises abortion, including legislators and governors, will be excommunicated by the Church." [Miami Herald, 15 August] A prominent American rabbi has publicly criticised Joe Lieberman, Democratic vice-presidential candidate and an Orthodox Jew, for his views on abortion. Rabbi Yehuda Levin, who founded the Jews for Morality website, paid particular attention to Mr Lieberman's support for partial-birth abortions and said: "There's no way in the world that any Orthodox Jew could possibly support something so horrific." [NewsMax.com, 12 August; from LifeSite Daily News]

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