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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 8 May 2000

8 May 2000

8 May 2000 The Medical Treatment (Prevention of Euthanasia) Bill was third on the agenda to resume its report stage in the British House of Commons last Friday (May 5th). However, debate on the first item took up the whole day and so Ann Winterton's bill was blocked. Its next date for consideration is now on Friday May 12th, but again it will then be third on the agenda. [Private source] Roman Catholic lay people in Germany have opened a crisis pregnancy counselling centre in Hamburg which will be able to issue certificates needed by women to have abortions. It is the first of 100 to 150 such centres being planned by the 'Donum Vitae' (Gift of Life) foundation, set up by the Central Council of German Catholics, to compensate for the official withdrawal of the Church from issuing the certificates. German law requires all women seeking abortions to receive counselling beforehand, and they must receive an official certificate as proof of this. The German Catholic Church has been running 270 centres which issue the certificates after attempts are made to dissuade women from opting for abortions, but Pope John Paul II instructed the bishops not to have any part in enabling abortions and the centres will no longer issue the certificates from 2001. [Agence France Presse English, 5th May (from Pro-Life Infonet)] A leading British researcher into so-called therapeutic cloning has called for more couples to donate embryos for medical research. Austin Smith, of the Centre for Genome Research at Edinburgh University, said that research into producing 'spare' human tissue for grafts and transplants was being hampered by the poor quality of embryos available. He wrote, "At the moment we have to accept what we can get. We are not getting access to good embryos that are just being thrown away." [The Guardian, 8th May] A British university professor has written of the horrific situation ahead if the connection between sex and procreation is severed completely and children are produced in the laboratory. Professor Anthony O'Hear of Bradford University wrote, "We are told that, within the next 20 to 30 years, it will be commonplace for women to store their eggs before the age of 30, for them to choose sperm from donors who fit their ideal specifications ... There will be clones and vats full of eggs and embryos, waiting on the convenience of selfish adults, to be used or thrown away at will." [Daily Mail, 8th May] This week has been designated National Condom Week in Britain. Schools, surgeries and health clinics will display posters and leaflets promoting contraceptives and millions of teenagers will be told the 'safe' sex message. [Metro, 8th May] A divorced couple in the United States have taken their fight over two frozen embryos to the Washington State Court of Appeals. Becky Litowitz wants a surrogate mother to carry the two unborn children to term before adopting the children herself. However, another woman donated the eggs and the embryos were conceived using the sperm of Mrs Litowitz's ex-husband, David Litowitz. An earlier court decision awarded the embryos to Mr Litowitz, but the egg donor wants Mrs Litowitz to have the children. [Rocky Mountain News on-line, 5th May] There have been calls for worldwide regulation of baby surrogacy after twin girls were born without identifiable parents, either legally or biologically. Both the sperm and egg used to conceive Danielle and Emma in Greece were from anonymous donors, and when an Italian man and his Portuguese wife, who had taken out the contract with a British surrogate mother Claire Austin, discovered that the children would be girls they demanded an abortion. Ms Austin, who was 21 weeks pregnant, said she would, but instead travelled to California where she gave birth and handed the children over to a lesbian couple for adoption. Ms Austin is said to be traumatised by the experience. In Britain, babies are the legal responsibility of the mother who gives birth to them, but the Department of Health has warned against surrogacy and will make recommendations for the strengthening of regulations later this year. [Metro&Times, 8th May] [This bulletin is privately circulated by the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children,, 5/6 St Matthew Street, London, United Kingdom, SW1P 2JT, +44 20 7222 3763. The reliability of the news herein is dependent on that of the cited sources, which are paraphrased rather than quoted. Opinions expressed are not necessarily those of the society. Please forward this bulletin to other interested parties. To unsubscribe, send an appropriate email to]

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