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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 4 December 2000

4 December 2000

4 December 2000 A man who confessed to the so-called mercy killing of his terminally ill mother during a local radio phone-in programme has been questioned by British police. The man phoned the programme on BBC Radio Sheffield last Thursday during a discussion on euthanasia to reveal that he had administered an overdose of liquid morphine to his dying mother four years ago. South Yorkshire police obtained a high court order requiring the BBC to divulge the name of the caller, who was then interviewed by Derbyshire police. Enquiries are continuing and the coroner had been informed. [BBC News online, 3 December ] A British national newspaper has claimed that the government is so worried that a vote to authorise destructive research on cloned human embryos could be lost in parliament that it has been conducting "intense behind-the-scenes lobbying of MPs and peers". The Independent on Sunday said that a vote must take place soon, but that government ministers were "anticipating a backlash ... fuelled by Catholic bishops and other campaigners". Yvette Cooper, public health minister, and Lord Hunt, her counterpart in the House of Lords, have written to all parliamentarians and have held private meetings with more than 100 MPs. Dr Liam Fox, the opposition's health spokesman, criticised the government for moving ahead with its plans without sufficient debate. [Independent on Sunday, 3 December ] A member of the Church of England's general synod has described destructive research on cloned human embryos as "morally acceptable". In a briefing paper prepared for the Church of England's Board for Social Responsibility, Canon Dr John Polkinghorne [who in the late 1980s drew up guidelines for abortionists on the use of foetal tissue in research, and who is now chairman of the Board for Social Responsibility's science and medical technology committee] dismissed concerns that such research would start a slippery slope towards reproductive cloning and suggested that so-called therapeutic cloning was no more unnatural than a heart transplant. Richard Harries, Anglican bishop of Oxford and chairman of the Board for Social Responsibility, will now consider whether to approve the paper for release. [Sunday Telegraph, 3 December] The Catholic bishops of England and Wales have made their condemnation of government proposals to authorise destructive cloning research clear. In a pastoral letter read out in all the churches of his diocese yesterday, Bishop Thomas McMahon of Brentwood insisted that life issues were a priority in the year ahead and affirmed that all human embryos, whether conceived naturally or generated through cloning, were "not potential human beings but human beings with potential". Dutch abortionist Rebecca Gomperts has claimed that she is well on the way towards providing a floating abortion clinic with her Women on the Waves Foundation. She plans to offer abortions to women in countries where abortions are illegal, such as Malta, by mooring her boat nearby in international waters. She needed 190,000 dollars to charter a ship for the purpose, but she claims that a 50,000 dollar mobile abortion clinic has already been made ready to be put onto a ship. [New York Times, 1 December; via Pro-Life Infonet] See news digests for 25 May and 15 June . Cardinal Bernard Law, archbishop of Boston, USA, has criticised politicians who claim to be personally opposed to abortion but who fail to vote against it. Speaking at a conference in Rome, the cardinal insisted that the Gospel must not be separated from daily life, and that the culture of death could only be overcome "by the unambiguous affirmation of the inviolability of every human life." [LifeSite News, 1 December ] The American Medical Association is considering whether to recommend the reclassification of the morning-after pill as an over-the-counter drug available from pharmacists. The Association's council on medical service has recommended the reclassification, claiming that the drug is "considered safe and effective by the medical community as a whole". Meanwhile, the morning-after pill became available over the counter from pharmacists in British Columbia, Canada, last Friday (1 December). [Yahoo! , LifeSite ]

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