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News, 30 November 2000

30 November 2000

30 November 2000 The British government's legislation to authorise research into so-called therapeutic cloning has been introduced into parliament this week. Alan Milburn, the health secretary, tabled a draft statutory instrument on Monday which passed the relevant procedural committee on Tuesday evening. Such a rapid approval is unprecedented and is further evidence that the government either is, or was attempting to, rush through its proposals. It is now unclear when members of parliament will vote on the instrument, although it is most likely to happen some time soon after the official opening of parliament next Wednesday by the Queen. [SPUC, London, 30 November] A study to be published tomorrow suggests that brain tissue extracted from aborted unborn children could be used to treat Huntington's disease. A team of researchers at the Institute of Health and Medical Research in Paris, whose findings will be published in the Lancet journal, transplanted brain tissue from unborn children aborted at between seven and nine weeks' gestation into five patients with the brain disease, and recorded improvements in three of them. Brain tissue from aborted babies is already used to treat Parkinson's disease in some countries. [The Daily Telegraph, 30 November] The government of Pakistan has signed an agreement with the pro-abortion United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in exchange for 35 million dollars in aid for the purposes of population control and so-called reproductive healthcare. The grant will be designated for "reproductive health, population and development strategy, advocacy and programme co-ordination". Furthermore, population control will henceforth be viewed as a "national priority". [LifeSite News, 29 November ] Pakistan rejected an offer of 250 million dollars from the UNFPA for so-called reproductive health projects last August - see SPUC's news digest for 9 August . The Vatican has condemned the vote by the lower house of the Dutch parliament to legalise euthanasia. Joaquin Navarro-Valls, an official Vatican spokesman, described the move as "a sad first for Holland". He insisted that the law would violate the dignity of the human person and run counter to a 1987 European agreement on medical ethics signed by doctors of the various European Community member states. [EWTN News, 29 November ] Alan Milburn, the British health secretary, is seeking to promote the increased provision of in vitro fertilisation (IVF) and other infertility treatments through the National Health Service. It was reported that he would today attempt to persuade the National Institute for Clinical Excellence to issue guidelines on fertility treatment, 80 percent of which is currently performed in the private sector. [The Times and BBC News online , 30 November] Most new human beings generated during IVF treatment die in the process. One expert has suggested that only 1.7 percent of IVF conceptions actually results in a live birth. [Dr E L Billings, India, August 1999] An Australian senator has accused the Royal Women's Hospital in Melbourne of actively encouraging women to have late-term abortions. Senator Julian McGauran claimed in the federal parliament that 44 abortions were carried out beyond 20 weeks' gestation at the hospital in 1999, and that between 1990 and 1998 there were an average of 32 such late-term abortions performed each year. He urged the state coroner for Victoria to take action against the hospital, although the hospital itself denied that late-term abortions were actively encouraged. [ and The Age , 30, November]

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