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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 13 December 2000

13 December 2000

13 December 2000 SPUC has learned this afternoon that members of the British House of Commons will be asked to vote on the government's statutory instrument which would authorise research on cloned human embryos next Tuesday (19 December) at 7pm after a half-day debate. SPUC has asked all its members and supporters in the UK to contact their member of parliament urgently by telephone, fax or email and to urge them to vote against this measure. [SPUC, 13 December] Constituents can find out about contacting their MPs here . Mr Alan Milburn, the British health secretary, last night issued a revised version of the government's affirmative statutory instrument which would permit research on cloned human embryos for so-called therapeutic purposes. The revised order is tighter than the draft version insofar as it would limit stem cell research to the treatment of serious diseases. Concerns had been raised that the original proposals would permit the use of human embryos for research into even minor complaints and ailments. It was reported that the revision reflected mounting concerns on the part of the British government at the strength of opposition to its plans both inside and outside parliament. [The Times, 13 December ] There were 1,186,039 surgical abortions performed in the USA during 1997, according to an official report issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The figure represents a decline of three percent from 1996. While the report observes that the "abortion rate for black women (32 per 1,000 women) was 2.9 times the rate for white women (11 per 1,000 women)", commentators have suggested that the disparity between blacks and whites would be even greater if Hispanic women were counted in their own category. The figures revealed that most women who obtained abortions were under 25 and unmarried, and that half of women who obtained abortions had obtained at least one previous abortion. [LifeSite Daily News, 12 December ] Statistics released in the UK have indicated the high proportion of unborn babies resulting from in vitro fertilisation (IVF) treatment who die between transfer into the womb and birth. The annual report of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) reveals that the overall live birth rate for IVF during 1998/99 was 18.2 percent, compared with 16.4 percent in the previous year. 47 percent of babies born alive following IVF were from multiple pregnancies, although virtually all IVF treatments involved the transfer of two or three embryos at once. 50.5 percent of transfers (7,073 in total) involved the transfer of three embryos, despite the fact that "the stillbirth and neonatal death rate for a triplet pregnancy with one or more babies dying is 59.6 per 1,000 birth events compared with 9.9 per 1,000 for single pregnancies". The HFEA has said that it will consider amending the current guidelines which permit the transfer of three embryos. Of the 50,000 babies born in Britain as a result of IVF treatment since 1978, half have been born in the past three years. [Daily Telegraph, 13 December] A prominent conservative commentator in the United States predicted last night that a federal ban on partial birth abortions would be introduced within weeks if George W Bush becomes US president next month. Oliver North, a former member of the US Security council and now a right wing broadcaster and commentator, made the prediction as the US Supreme Court continued to consider the case of Bush v Gore. [Channel 4 news, 12 December] The Vatican has reaffirmed its condemnation of euthanasia. A document published on Monday by the Pontifical Academy for Life described the vote by the Dutch lower house of parliament to legalise the practice as a dangerous deviation from ethics and law. Respect of the Dignity of the Dying stresses that pain is now curable by adequate analgesic means and palliative care, but that economic factors lie behind some pro-euthanasia arguments. The document makes a distinction between procuring and allowing death, for "the first position rejects life, while the second accepts its natural fulfilment." [Zenit news agency, 12 December] A study by pro-abortionists in the United States has indicated that the percentage of medical schools which provide routine training in performing abortions rose significantly between 1992 and 1998. The report, issued by the National Abortion Federation, found that 46 percent of obstetrics and gynaecology residency programmes which responded now routinely offered training for first trimester abortions, compared with 12 percent in 1992. Moreover, 44 percent offered training for second trimester abortions, compared with seven percent in 1992. Guidelines adopted in 1996 by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education urged all such programmes to include abortion training. [USA Today, 12 December ]

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