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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 2 November 2000

2 November 2000

2 November 2000 A study carried out for a British magazine has suggested that one in three women have been prescribed the [abortifacient] morning-after pill after having unprotected sex while drunk. The survey of 1,000 18- to 30-year-olds, which will be published in December's issue of Company magazine, found that a third of women admitted to having had unprotected sex when they were drunk and out of control, and that nearly half blamed alcohol for one-night stands they would never have countenanced otherwise. [Metro, 2 November] Scientists in the US who injected human stem cells into lamb foetuses have announced that more than 20 sheep have been bred with partly human body tissue. The stem cells became functional within the heart muscle, skeletal muscle and bone cartilage of the sheep, yet remained recognisably human as they developed. The experiments were carried out at the Children's Institute for Surgical Science in Philadelphia. [Metro, 2 November] The source of the human stem cells used in this experiment is not clear. An expert in human genetics has told a conference on in vitro fertilisation (IVF) in Turin, Italy, that even the technique's "founding fathers" are now coming round to oppose it. Fr Angelo Serra, one-time assistant to the Nobel prize winner Renato Dulbecco and professor-emeritus of human genetics at the Catholic University of Rome, observed that, even after 20 years of experimentation, IVF still failed in 87 percent of cases. He drew attention to comments recently made by Anne McLaren, the English geneticist who established the concept that a human embryo should not be accorded any recognition as a person until 14 days after fertilisation. She has written an essay in which she expressed regret at inventing such a distinction, which bioethicists have said is arbitrary from both a biological and moral point of view. [Zenit news agency, 31 October] Pro-life campaigners in Canada have welcomed the possible opportunity for anti-abortion legislation offered by a proposed referendum law. Under the law, proposed by the Alliance party, issues could be put to a referendum if three percent of registered voters (about 300,000 people) signed a petition. Jim Hughes, national president of the Campaign Life Coalition, said that, if the law were passed, his movement would move "as fast as possible ... to find out what kind of support we would have for the strongest possible question and then go for it." If a complete abortion ban failed, more winnable questions could be put to the people in subsequent referenda, such as on funding for abortions. [The Ottawa Citizen, 1 November; from Pro-Life E-News] Pro-life campaigners interrupted Hillary Clinton last Sunday as she made an address from the pulpit of a Roman Catholic church in Rochester, New York state. Mrs Clinton, who is the Democratic candidate for New York's US Senate seat in next Tuesday's elections, is well-known as a pro-abortionist. [Zenit news agency, 1 November] An American university medical centre which has been criticised for using brain cells from aborted unborn children in its research programmes has appointed a 'rapid autopsy manager' in a bid to obtain tissue from alternative sources. The University of Nebraska Medical Center hopes to be able to extract tissue from people who have died [adults] rather than from victims of elective abortions, but the need for a family to grant consent within two hours of death could prove to be a problem. [Omaha World Herald, 1 November ] US Senator Jesse Helms has attacked the administration of President Bill Clinton for opposing his attempts to ban federal funding for the distribution of morning-after pills in American schools. The senator's provision which would have blocked distribution of the pills in schools was dropped from a federal funding bill by congressional budget negotiators last weekend. Senator Helms claimed that at least 180 schools are providing morning-after pills to children as young as 12. [The News and Observer, 1 November ]

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