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Defending life
from conception to natural death


News, 12 September 2000

12 September 2000

12 September 2000 A researcher has told the British Association's annual meeting in London that babies can detect language while still within the womb and begin to distinguish their mother's voice before they are born. Dr Todd Bailey, of Cardiff University in Wales, observed that newly born babies can recognise a foreign language only a few days after birth and concluded: "We think that the baby hears the sound of the mother's voice in the womb, even though it is heavily filtered, and takes in the speech rhythms of the mother tongue, especially during the last five months of gestation." [Daily Mail&Daily Telegraph, 12 September] It has been reported that an Australian company has imported human embryonic stem cells from the United States, skirting a ban on the removal of stem cells from embryos in Australia. The company, called BresaGen, imported the cells from WiCell, a non-profit organisation set up by an alumni group of the University of Wisconsin. This university has a patent on a technique for proliferating cells. Terry Debitt, a spokesman for the University of Wisconsin, said: "Anyone who gets them, they have their own lifetime supply." [Wired News, 8 September] The overseas aid programme announced last week by Canada's international co-operation minister, which totals 2.8 billion [Canadian] dollars over five years, will include provisions for reproductive health services, including abortion and abortifacient means of birth control. Background information supplied by the Canadian International Development Agency explained that the emphasis on so-called reproductive health was because "experts believe that family planning practices would probably bring more benefits to more people at a lower cost than any other single health initiative currently available". A further aid package of 5 million dollars will be directed specifically at improving access to "reproductive and health services" for young people in Bangladesh. [LifeSite daily news, 8 September] Commenting on the resolution passed last week in the European parliament opposing all forms of human cloning, Professor Gonzalo Herranz, director of the bioethics department of the University of Navarre, held out hope that the British government could still change its mind. The professor, who has been presiding over a conference in Rome, said: "The Nazis also used prisoners of war to study death by freezing. It was not sadism; the purpose was to save the life of pilots who crashed into the sea. However, what progress is there in science involving the death of an individual? ... People are more conscious of the repugnance of research with embryos than scientists, and the political world has understood this." [Zenit news agency, 8 September] 40,000 people are expected to join a march through Mexico City on 24 September to protest against the recent liberalisation of abortion laws by the city's mayor and legislature. Cardinal Noberto Rivera Carrera, archbishop of Mexico City, signalled his personal support for the demonstration last Sunday. [Zenit news agency, 11 September]

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