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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 20 July 2000

20 July 2000

20 July 2000 Researchers in the UK have discovered that stem cells in adult bone marrow can turn into liver tissue. Professor Nick Wright of the Imperial Cancer Research Fund said that the discovery held out the possibility of using a patient's own stem cells to generate new liver tissue and thus avoid the problem of rejection in liver transplants. The discovery was made after DNA analysis proved that stem cells from male bone marrow donors had converted into liver cells inside the women who received the transplants. Professor Wright commented, "If we can understand the mechanisms and identify the switches that trigger adult stem cells into regenerating specific tissues, the future could see a revolution in transplant medicine." [BBC News, Yahoo!, 20 July] This development highlights the potential of ethical alternatives to the use of human embryo stem cells , and weakens still further the case for so-called therapeutic cloning. The platform chairman at the forthcoming Republican national convention in the US has said that there is little reason to believe his party is ready to change it's pro-life platform, including the call for a constitutional ban on abortion. Tommy Thompson, governor of Wisconsin, was reacting to calls by pro-abortion Republicans to adopt language which was more tolerant of varying opinions, and which acknowledged abortion to be a "deeply personal decision". A similar move by Bob Dole, former presidential candidate, in 1996 was thrown out by delegates. The platform committee will meet next week in Philadelphia to prepare the party's policy in advance of the convention which begins there on 31 July. [Associated Press, 19 July; from Pro-Life Infonet] A leading member of the Catholic hierarchy in the United States plans to lead hundreds of people to an abortion clinic where they will pray for an end to the abortions being carried out there. Cardinal William H Keeler, archbishop of Baltimore and chairman of the US bishop's committee for pro-life activities, will celebrate his diocese's monthly Respect Life Mass before leading the people in a prayerful procession to the Planned Parenthood clinic where they will pray the rosary. [EWTNews, 19 July] Al Gore, the Democrats' US presidential candidate, has said that a pregnant woman on death row should not necessarily have her execution delayed until she has given birth. Asked in the course of an interview for NBC what his views were about a federal law which prevents the execution of pregnant women, Mr Gore hesitated and replied, "Well ... I don't know what the circumstances would be in that situation ... I'd want to think about it." By the time of a press conference next morning he had decided that a pregnant women should be able to decide whether to postpone her execution or not and said, "The principle of a woman's right to choose governs in that case." George W Bush, the Republican candidate, said that he was surprised about Mr Gore's doubts and affirmed that he would oppose the execution "because there's a second life involved." [Washington Times, 19 July; Zenit, 19 July] Readers might be interested to see a comprehensive presentation of opinion poll findings on the subject of abortion in the United States at the following site:

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