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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 25 October 2000

25 October 2000

25 October 2000 A British government minister has confirmed her support for research on stem cells extracted from cloned human embryos. In a written answer to a question tabled in the House of Commons, Ms Yvette Cooper, minister for public health, referred to the recent report of the chief medical officer's expert group [the Donaldson Committee] and observed: "...while the long term promise of stem cells derived from adult tissue may equal or even surpass that of embryonic stem cells, it was probable that scientific advances from embryonic stem cell research would be necessary to understand how to make greater use of stem cells derived from adult tissue." [Hansard, 23 October] Doctors at St Mary's Hospital in Manchester, England, have said that they intend to separate Siamese twins Jodie and Mary within the next three or four weeks. The parents have opposed the operation, which would result in Mary's certain death, but last month the Court of Appeal upheld an earlier judgement in the High Court that the separation could proceed. If Jodie survives the shock of the operation, she could remain in hospital for up to five years as a series of further operations would be necessary. [The Daily Telegraph, 25 October] For the first time, a greater proportion of teenage pregnancies in Canada are ending in abortion than in a live birth. A report on teenage pregnancy released last week by Statistics Canada stated that in 1997 50.3 percent of girls aged 15 to 19 who became pregnant had abortions, compared with 46.8 percent who carried their babies to term. 2.9 percent of teenage pregnancies ended in miscarriage or stillbirth. [LifeSite Daily News, 24 October] A leading American expert in reproduction has predicted that within 20 years the link between sex and reproduction will have been consigned to history. Professor Greg Stock of the University of California told a meeting of fertility experts in San Diego that in vitro fertilisation, pre-implantation genetic diagnosis and the harvesting and storage of women's eggs would mean that all babies would be produced in a test-tube. He said: "We will be able to screen for lots of genetic diseases. We will, in essence, be able to take a single cell from an embryo in the lab and calculate from that how the child will develop. Effectively, the child will have to pass a test before it is even born. Eventually it will be thought as reckless to have a child without genetic screening as to have a child without pre-natal screening, as happens today." [Daily Express, 25 October ] US President Bill Clinton has urged pro-abortionists to vote for Al Gore in the presidential election, which is now less than two weeks away. The outgoing pro-abortion president warned that if George W Bush, the Republican candidate, were elected and appointed only two pro-life Supreme Court justices, the Roe v Wade judgement [which established a constitutional right to abortion in 1973] could be reversed. He said: "A lot of people still don't really believe a woman's right to choose is at stake in this election, but it is." [AP, from Pro-Life Infonet, 24 October] All four independents on whom the Irish government of Bertie Ahern depends have now said that a referendum on the abortion issue is the price for their continued support. Three of the four had already insisted on a referendum, but Jackie Healy-Rae had not previously taken a stand. However, he has now changed his mind and told the Irish Times: "There seemed to be very little pressure on me [to push for a referendum], but somehow or other that has changed a good bit in the last six months. I'm hearing from people all over the country on this." He said that any referendum question should attempt to reverse the Supreme Court decision which permitted abortion when the mother threatened suicide. [The Irish Times, 25 October ] The US congress has agreed to increase overseas aid for family planning programmes over the next year from 385 million dollars to 425 million dollars. The wording eliminates a ban on the provision of US aid to organisations which promote or perform abortions in other countries, but delays the expenditure of any money until 15 February. By that time the next president will be in office. Whereas Al Gore would leave out any restriction, George W Bush would be expected to re-instate pro-life restrictions on foreign aid which were first imposed by President Reagan in 1984 but then abolished by President Clinton in 1993. [AP, from Pro-Life Infonet, 24 October]

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