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Defending life
from conception to natural death


News, 29 December 2000

29 December 2000

29 December 2000 More than 3,300 women obtained the abortifacient morning-after pill from pharmacists without a doctor's prescription during an eight-month trial in south London. This figure represents 1.7 percent of all women of child-bearing age in the area. The department of health and pro-abortion groups welcomed the news, claiming that it confirmed the demand for [erroneously so-called] emergency contraception. Experts predicted that the proportion of women using the morning-after pill once it became available from pharmacists nationwide would be significantly higher than the rate in the south London trial because it would be more easily available and accompanied by a huge publicity drive. [This is London, 29 December 2000 ] The Italian health minister yesterday announced his support for destructive research on cloned human embryos. Umberto Veronesi accepted the conclusions of an expert group which had been considering the issue of embryonic stem cell research and so-called therapeutic cloning. [EWTN News, 29 December 2000 ] Taiwan yesterday officially legalised use of the RU-486 abortion drug. Lee Ming-liang, minister of health, claimed that the drug "offered women an alternative to abortion". The drug will be authorised for use by women to kill their unborn children up to the seventh week of pregnancy, and will be taken in conjunction with Misoprostol, a drug which expels the aborted child from the womb. [AFP, 28 December 2000, from China Times ] The first babies to be conceived from both frozen eggs and frozen sperm have been born in Singapore. The twins were delivered by caesarean section, after their older siblings had died in the womb during a previous unsuccessful attempt. Dr Cheng Li Chang, who pioneered the technique, said that it afforded hope to couples in which both partners had fertility problems, but admitted that much more research was needed. [BBC News online, 29 December 2000 ] A committee of bishops and scientists in the United States has reported significant areas of common ground on the issue of cloning, but also serious differences. The committee's report, which was sent to all US Catholic bishops earlier this month, signalled agreement that "the cloning of animals and of human genes and somatic cells--except from embryos--for research purposes is morally neutral". However, whereas the scientists supported destructive research on human embryos, the bishops insisted that this could not be permissible. All participants agreed that reproductive cloning should not be attempted for now, although the scientists wanted to leave the door open to this in the future and both sides agreed that it would happen eventually. The report admitted that "the committee does not believe it possible to achieve consensus on two of the doctrinal assertions made, namely that the embryo is a human being subject to rights and that reproduction should not be separated from marriage." [Catholic News Service, 28 December 2000 ] Statistics released by Taiwan's Bureau of National Health Insurance have indicated that there were 42,282 abortions in the country last year. However, the secretary-general of the Obstetrics and Gynecology Association said that the total for the year could be as high as 100,000 when totals from private clinics were included. It was also reported that the average age of women seeking abortions in Taiwan had fallen. Abortion is now the fifth most common surgical procedure in Taiwan. [Taipei Times, 23 December 2000 ] Pro-lifers in the American state of Texas have welcomed the swearing-in of Rick Perry as the new governor. Texas Right to Life expressed confidence that Governor Perry, who replaces US President-elect George W Bush, would "continue the strong pro-life governorship that we have seen in Texas over the past six years". [Texas Right to Life, 22 December 2000, from Pro-Life Infonet]


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