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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 11 September 2000

11 September 2000

11 September 2000 Cells which were taken from the brain of an aborted unborn baby and then modified to contain genes from a monkey virus are to be injected into the skulls of stroke victims as part of a British trial. Scientists announced at the British Association meeting last week that twelve patients with the most common form of stroke would take part in the trial starting next year, after similar trials were conducted on animals. It is thought that the neural stem cells from the unborn child, whose body was donated to medical research, will divide within a recipient's brain, thus replacing damaged tissue. The cells have been genetically modified using a monkey virus gene so that they do not continue dividing indefinitely. Dr John Sinden, chief scientific officer of ReNeuron, said that he would apply for ethical approval first. [The Daily Telegraph&Independent, 8 September] The father of more than eight frozen embryos, conceived with eggs taken from his wife before she died nearly five years ago, is trying to put them up for adoption before the impending legal time-limit of five years when they must be destroyed. The man, in his early forties and from the home counties of England, had originally sought a surrogate mother for his unborn children so that he could bring them up himself, but his search proved unsuccessful. His wife, who died aged 37 while waiting for a heart and lung transplant, underwent treatment at Professor Winston's fertility clinic and then requested that her offspring should not be wasted. Despite various legal problems, it is expected that the man will succeed in his bid. Gedis Grudzinskas, director of the Bridge Fertility Clinic which is supporting the man's request, observed: "He is running out of time, but we have plenty of couples wanting to adopt embryos and I believe we can help him." [Sunday Times, 10 September] The Washington Times has reported claims that Joe Lieberman, the pro-abortion vice-presidential running mate of Al Gore, made a pro-life pledge to a Connecticut archbishop 12 years ago when he first stood as a candidate for the US Senate. Two months after the election in 1988, he was quoted as saying there were "too many abortions" and that there should be no litmus test against pro-life judicial nominees. Fr Thomas Berry, former secretary of the late Archbishop Whealon of Hartford, said of Mr Lieberman's meeting with the archbishop: "He expressed himself against abortion, all suicide and euthanasia. His position on that was well received by the archbishop and priests." Daniel Cosgrove, then a Democratic town chairman, said that the pledge won Mr Lieberman Catholic support and helped him win the election by the narrow margin of 10,000 votes. Mr Lieberman's spokesman has denied that the meeting took place before the 1988 election. [Washington Times, 11 September] Ontario's health minister has confirmed that the Women's Health Council will receive 373,000 Canadian dollars from the government for a two-year pilot project to make the morning-after pill available from pharmacists without a doctor's prescription. Terry Bisset, chief operating officer of the Women's Health Council, said that the project was likely to start next spring in two districts of Toronto. [Calgary Herald online, on 11 September]

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