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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 6 September 2000

6 September 2000

6 September 2000 The president of the European Commission has acknowledged the serious ethical questions raised by the issue of human cloning, but has declined to express his opinion one way or the other. Instead, Romano Prodi said that the commission would seek to stimulate "open debate that will bring Europeans together around common values" and would not "attempt to legislate or harmonise in this area". He affirmed that "a just balance must be found between ethical rigor, founded on the exploitation of the human body for commercial ends, and the obligation to respond to therapeutic needs". Mr Prodi said that he awaited with "great interest" the opinion of the European Group on Ethics, Science and New Technologies, due to be released on 15 November, and hoped that a greater role would be accorded to this body of experts from different European Union member states in the future. [Zenit news agency, 5 September] The case of the two Siamese twins Jodie and Mary continues in the English Court of Appeal. The Times newspaper reported today that the judges are facing "a puzzle without precedent in English law". The report suggests that the case hinges upon whether Mary, the weaker twin, should be regarded as a living human being in the eyes of the law, with the legal rights of any other [born] human being. If she does have such rights, any attempt to separate her [thus bringing about her death] would constitute criminal assault. Accordingly, the operation could only be carried out with Mary's consent, which her parents have withheld. Lord Justice Ward said of Mary: "She is kicking. Whether she is alive and kicking, I don't yet know." Lord Justice Brooke, also referring to Mary, commented: "This creature ... had no capacity to produce oxygenated blood. What is this creature in the eye of the law?" The court was told that the parents and hospital staff regard both Jodie and Mary as separate individuals. [The Times, 6 September] [The three judges hearing the appeal are Lord Justice Ward, Lord Justice Brooke and Lord Justice Robert Walker. Mr Justice Johnson was the judge in the first hearing and so cannot hear the appeal, contrary to the information given in this digest on 4 September.] The president of Nicaragua has denounced those who support abortion. President Arnoldo Aleman, who was participating with his pregnant wife in a pro-life march last Thursday, said: "The ones who pronounce themselves in favour of abortion are obsolete and maladapted. They think that death reigns in this world when, on the contrary, the situation is different; love must win." During the event, Cardinal Obando Bravo, archbishop of Managua, presented a petition to legislators calling on them to abolish the juridical framework for abortion. Exhorting all politicians throughout the country to declare themselves for or against life, Cardinal Obando said: "A people that kills its children with the support of sinful laws threatens its future and the basis of coexistence, justice and freedom." [EWTN News, 4 September] A report in today's Guardian newspaper in the UK highlights the national debate currently being conducted in Mexico with regard to the country's abortion laws. The report suggests that pro-abortion pressure groups are pleased that the taboo surrounding the subject has been broken by recent events, including the case of a 13-year-old rape victim who failed in her attempt to obtain an abortion and the vote by legislators in Guanajuato to ban abortion in cases of rape. Veronica Cruz, described as a leading feminist in Guanajuato, was not satisfied by the governor's veto of the ban on abortions for rape victims and said: "What we want is for the debate to continue until we get a national referendum." [The Guardian, 6 September]

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