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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 3 August 2000

3 August 2000

3 August 2000 An expert in cloning technology has warned of potential health risks associated with transplanting tissue generated by so-called therapeutic cloning. Dr Lorraine Young, of the Roslin Institute, revealed that 80 percent of cloned animals have abnormally high birthweights. She observed that "twice the average birthweight for the breed is not uncommon" and that in come cases cloned lambs have been three or four times larger than would have been the case naturally. Commenting on the implications for so-called therapeutic cloning of human embryos, Dr Young continued: "Some of the genes that may cause these defects in cattle and sheep we know are involved in tumour production in humans. It is possible that when you transplant this tissue into patients you could introduce cancer." [Electronic Telegraph, 1 August] A body which provides financial support to United Nations programmes, including those which provide access to abortion, has issued a report detailing forced abortions and sterilisations at the hands of the Chinese in Tibet. The UN Foundation, which administers American businessman Ted Turner's gift of one billion dollars to the United Nations, reported that "allegations of procedures forced on Tibetan women include infanticide, in which lethal chemicals are injected into a baby's brain, forced abortion after nine months of pregnancy, abortion via electrical rods inserted through the vagina..." There have been a number of other reports in the past which have revealed this side of China's one-child family policy in action. [LifeSite Daily News, 2 August; also UNF website] A study published in The Lancet medical journal in Britain has concluded that the use of opium-based painkillers such as morphine does not shorten the lives of terminally ill patients. Nigel Sykes and Andrew Thorns of St Christopher's Hospice in London analysed the use of such painkillers, known as opioids, on 238 patients in the last week of life and found that those patients who received markedly increased doses did not have shorter survival periods than those who received no increases. Nigel Sykes observed: "This study dispels the myth that good pain control at the end of life means killing the patient. People should not fear that taking morphine for pain need shorten life ... There is no connection between competent symptom control and euthanasia." [Yahoo! health news, 29 July] A New Zealand newspaper has reported that a high school arranged an abortion for a 15-year-old pupil without her mother's knowledge. The mother only discovered what had happened when the receipt from the hospital arrived in the mail. The school defended its decision by claiming that the teenager had a right to privacy. [Otago Daily Times online, 2 August] The Catholic archbishop of Vancouver, Canada, will lead a prayer vigil outside an abortion clinic over the weekend. Archbishop Adam Exner will have to conduct the event outside a 50-metre no-protest zone. Cardinal Francis George, archbishop of Chicago, recently led a similar vigil in his own city, but the involvement of the Catholic hierarchy in such demonstrations is more common in the USA than in Canada. [LifeSite Daily News, 2 August] The mother of a 16-year-old girl has been arrested and charged with false imprisonment and domestic assault in Palm Beach, Florida, after trying to force her daughter to have the unborn child she conceived with her 23-year-old ex-boyfriend aborted. Glenda Dowis allegedly threatened to beat Brittany, her daughter, until she miscarried and then turned a gun on her and forced her to visit the abortion clinic. However, staff at the centre discovered that Brittany wanted to keep her unborn baby, and informed her that she did not have to go ahead with the procedure. [The Orlando Sentinel, 3 August]

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