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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 15 June 2000

15 June 2000

15 June 2000 The Daily Telegraph newspaper in Britain reported today that "a furious Whitehall row is already raging about whether the government should approve the cloning of human embryos for research." Journalist Rachel Sylvester also revealed that a report commissioned by Alan Milburn, the secretary of state for health, has uncovered great distrust of science by the general public, but that Tony Blair, the prime minister, is instinctively in favour and thinks that genetics will revolutionise healthcare. The article mentions that some in government would like to test individuals for their genetic code at birth, and even assess people in the womb. However, concerns have been expressed about the political acceptability of this, and also the question of when "treatment for the sake of efficiency turns into eugenics". [Daily Telegraph, 15 June] The government and Catholic bishops of Malta have reacted angrily to plans by Dutch abortionist Rebecca Gomperts to offer abortions on a boat moored in international waters. Abortion is illegal in Malta, and all political parties there remain opposed to it. Lawrence Gonzi, the social policy minister, described the plan as "horrendous" and promised criminal action against anyone who helped to organise the initiative. A statement issued by the bishops supported his approach and described abortions as "heinous murders". [Reuters, 14 June; from Pro-Life Infonet] The Catholic bishop of Scranton, Pennsylvania, has barred Al Gore, US vice-president and Democratic presidential candidate, from campaigning at a Catholic hospital in the town because of his views in favour of abortion. Mr Gore had been invited to Scranton's Mercy Hospital, but Bishop James C Timlin intervened on the evening before he arrived. Bishop Timlin explained that he had acted "lest there be any misunderstanding about the hospital's Catholic identity and its commitment to the sanctity of life". He continued, "We consider abortion to be an unspeakable crime." [Reuters&Associated Press, 14 June; from Pro-Life Infonet] Scientists at Reading University, England, have found a way of testing for pre-eclampsia as early as nine weeks into pregnancy, and hope that the discovery will enable better treatment of mothers and their unborn children to stop the condition becoming more serious. Pre-eclampsia is a major cause of premature births, killing 500 to 600 babies and seven to 10 mothers in the UK every year. [The Independent&Metro, 15 June] The Supreme Court of Canada is considering whether a man who killed his 12-year-old daughter in 1993 should serve a shorter sentence because the girl had cerebral palsy. Robert Latimer had originally been sentenced to only one year in prison, instead of life without parole for 10 years as second-degree murder requires. In 1997 the Supreme Court ordered a new trial, at which the mandatory sentence was imposed. The high profile case has significant implications for the euthanasia debate. [Reuters, 14 June; from Pro-Life Infonet] A disturbing investigation into a west London abortion clinic published in the London Evening Standard on 14 June can be seen on the internet by typing or pasting the following url: in_review_id=290675&in_review_text_id=235356

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