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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 14 November 2000

14 November 2000

14 November 2000 Canadian researchers have demonstrated that adult stem cells could be used to build up damaged heart tissue. Scientists at the McGill University Health Centre in Montreal isolated stem cells from the bone marrow of adult rats and injected these cells back into the rats' hearts. The stem cells successfully converted into functioning new heart muscle in 20 of the 22 rats used. Heart muscle cells cannot replace themselves, and so are not re-grown once they die. The Canadian team believes that cardiac injections of adult stem cells could offer an alternative to open heart surgery and transplants in humans. [Daily Mail, 13 November] This research provides further evidence of the potential of using adult stem cells as an ethical alternative to embryonic stem cells and so-called therapeutic cloning. Pro-life groups in Scotland have criticised Susan Deacon, the country's pro-abortion health minister, for her latest strategy aimed at reducing unwanted teenage pregnancies. Yesterday she launched the Healthy Respect project, which she says will provide youngsters with more information about sex and also "careful, targeted contraception". The project will run initially in the Lothian area, and cost the Scottish Executive three million pounds. Four new Brook Advisory clinics will be opened [these clinics offer abortion advice and referrals] and free literature will be provided by the Family Planning Association. [Daily Record, 14 November ] Ian Murray, director of SPUC Scotland, pointed out: "Abortifacient drugs will be promoted alongside other forms of birth control, and young women will be denied accurate information about the health dangers associated with sexual activity, contraceptive use and abortion. Yet again, the health of Scotland's young people is taking second place to presentation and government spin." The assistant director of the Roslin Institute, which cloned Dolly the sheep, has called for stem cell research on human embryos, including so-called therapeutic cloning, to be allowed. Dr Harry Griffin said that a vote in parliament against the practice "would be chronically disabling for us in the area which we consider to be the most exciting of all our programmes." He said that a 10- to 20-year research programme had been envisaged and that British scientists had a lot to offer in this field. [The Herald, 11 November] The Vatican's representative in India has called on all Christians in Asia to oppose abortion. Archbishop Lorenzo Baldisseri, the apostolic nuncio, told a meeting of pro-life representatives from across Asia in Mumbai, India, that abortion was "part of the sinister culture of death" and that children needed to be seen as a blessing because "each child that is born bears the message that God hasn't lost hope in humanity". Cardinal Simon Pimenta, archbishop emeritus of Bombay, told the same conference that abortion was a tragedy of modern society. The cardinal also condemned "euphemisms that lead to the destruction of the gift of life". [EWTN News, 13 November ] The report of the All-Party Committee on the Constitution, which has been looking into the issue of abortion in the Irish Republic, will be published tomorrow. The Irish Independent newspaper has suggested that "the prospect of an abortion referendum taking place in the current Government's lifetime is now regarded as a non-starter". [Irish Independent, 14 November]

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