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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 17 April 2001

17 April 2001

17 April 2001 A British government minister has condemned the selective abortion of children with Down's syndrome. Brian Wilson, a new foreign office minister, said that the use of amniocentesis tests which resulted in the elimination of 95% of children found to have the condition was "grotesque". Mr Wilson, who has a nine-year-old son with Down's syndrome, also condemned the fact that the "assumed social good" of eliminating Down's syndrome babies was considered so important that 400 unborn children without Down's syndrome died as a result of amniocentesis tests each year in Britain in order to identify 100 children with the condition. Mr Wilson added that the loss of so many Down's children to abortion meant that the "few who do make into the world" were not given the care which should be given to them in a civilised society. [Daily Telegraph, 14 April] Alan Milburn, the British health secretary, is expected to announce this week that new legislation will be introduced to ban so-called reproductive human cloning. The announcement will amount to an admission that the definition of a human embryo contained in the 1990 Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act does not cover cloned embryos. This has been called the "Macduff loophole" by the ProLife Alliance, which is currently pursuing the point in a judicial review of the statutory instrument which authorised destructive research on human clones. [The Times, 16 April ] The Dutch health minister has said that elderly people who are "tired of life" should be allowed to take a suicide pill. Mrs Els Borst-Eilers said that the use of such a pill should be carefully regulated to ensure that those taking it really were "tired of life and desperate to die". She added that the idea did not come within the provisions of the euthanasia law passed by the Dutch senate last week because this only allowed doctors to kill patients in "unbearable suffering". The opposition Christian Democrats criticised Mrs Borst-Eilers for proposing a step further on from the euthanasia law only a couple of days after it had been passed. [CNN, 14 April ] The United States Supreme Court has thrown out a challenge to a federal law which protects access to abortion clinics. Pro-life campaigners from New Jersey had argued that Congress overstepped its authority to regulate commerce on an inter-state basis when it passed the 1994 Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act, but the Supreme Court justices had already rejected a number of challenges to this law on other grounds and rejected the latest appeal without comment. [Washington Post, 16 April ] One of the three researchers to be awarded a Nobel prize for the discovery of the structure of DNA has called for the development of designer babies. Dr James Watson wrote in a British national newspaper that scientists should be allowed to remove so-called bad genes which caused conditions such as Huntington's disease, diabetes or even cancer from sperm, eggs and embryos, thus making "less random the sometimes most unfair courses of human evolution". [Independent and Metro, 17 April] Further information: Dr Watson is an advocate of eugenic abortion and infanticide. He wrote in 1973: "...most defects are not discovered until birth. If a child were not declared alive until three days after birth, then all parents could be allowed the choice... the doctor could allow the child to die if the parents so choose and save a lot of misery and suffering." [Children from the Laboratory, AMA Prism, ch.3, p.2, J.Watson, May 1973] It has emerged that US President Bush's proposed federal budget for 2002 includes millions of dollars for so-called Title X funding of birth control. Ed Szymkowiak, national director of STOPP International, a division of the American Life League, claimed that the pro-abortion Planned Parenthood would take about 66 million dollars from Title X funding in 2002, and that abortifacient chemicals and intra-uterine devices were among the methods of birth control which Title X funding provided. [EWTN News, 16 April ] Scottish scientists have suggested that mothers who eat oily fish during pregnancy may improve the intelligence and sight of their unborn children. Researchers at the University of Dundee found that women who ate oily fish during pregnancy increased the concentration of DHA (a type of fat which is highly concentrated in the brain) in both their own blood and that of their child. Tests have shown that infants with high concentrations of DHA have sharper vision and perform better in problem-solving tests. [Ananova , 12 April]

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