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News, 27 July 2000

27 July 2000

27 July 2000 The head of the Scottish firm which cloned Dolly the sheep has called for genetic experiments on brain-dead human patients. Dr Ron James would like to see genetically modified pig organs transplanted into the patients to see if they are safe. His firm, PPL Therapeutics, has already cloned piglets and believes that organs from pigs could be transplanted into humans within four years. Dr James acknowledged that there would be opposition from the general public to such an idea, a "yuck factor" as he called it. [Daily Record, 26 July] It has been reported that Brian Lenihan, chairman of the Oireachtas committee which has been considering the issue of abortion in the Irish Republic, believes a consensus exists to advise rejection of an outright constitutional ban. He believes the committee's recommendation will be to allow abortion in cases where the mother's life is at risk. Rosemary Scallon, a prominent Irish pro-life campaigner and member of the European parliament, said: "A referendum must give the electorate an opportunity to restore full constitutional protection to the unborn." The United Nations human rights committee recently told Ireland's attorney general that the Irish ban on abortion in cases of rape violated human rights. [Catholic Times, 30 July] An advertising campaign launched in the US to promote access to so-called reproductive healthcare in developing countries has been criticised by the World Life League for making false claims. Mark DeYoung, director of the World Life League, said that the advertisements included claims that overpopulation was destroying the rain-forests and that sex education helped to preserve wildlife from extinction. In dismissing such claims he added that population control programmes were really aimed at "ridding the world of its poorest people". The advertisements are part of a campaign supported by, among others, the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Population Action International and Save the Children. [CWNews, 26 July] Reproductive health, as defined by the World Health Organisation, entails access to abortion. Save the Children's website contains the following policy statement: "Save the Children includes women's reproductive health as a critical part of its comprehensive health efforts, helping women plan for and properly care for their families and better ensure the survival of their children." A new study published in America has indicated that women who underwent abortions were at greater risk of mental health problems in subsequent years than women who carried to term. Dr Priscilla Coleman, professor of psychology at the University of the South, and Dr David Reardon, director of the Elliot Institute, surveyed women in California who either had abortions or gave birth in 1989. The results, therefore, covered a longer time period than other surveys. It was found that women who had abortions were twice as likely to have between two and nine treatments for mental health problems, and that these problems often did not arise for at least a year after the abortion itself. [Elliot Institute, 26 July; from Pro-Life Infonet] A US federal appeals court has ruled that New Jersey's ban on partial-birth abortions is unconstitutional. The decision, which upheld an earlier ruling by a federal judge, was made before the US Supreme Court threw out Nebraska's similar ban but was not announced until yesterday. State legislators had spent more than 400,000 dollars of taxpayers' money defending the ban in court. [Associated Press, 26 July; from Pro-Life Infonet]

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