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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 19 April 2001

19 April 2001

19 April 2001 The British health secretary will announce today that the UK is to become the first country in the world explicitly to ban the birth of cloned babies [see last Tuesday's digest ]. However, media reports have presented the move as a prohibition of human cloning when this is not the case. The new legislation would prohibit the introduction of cloned human embryos into wombs of women, thus outlawing the use of cloning technology for reproductive purposes, but the creation of human clones for the purposes of destructive experimentation and the extraction of stem cells would still be allowed. [BBC News online , Independent , Reuters and SPUC, 19 April] Scientists in the USA have said that damaged spinal cords might be repaired by the stretching of nerve cells. A team at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia are testing a technique which involves gently stretching the axons, or central linking fibres, between nerve cells in the laboratory over a long period of time. They hope that such a technique could enable the gap between damaged nerves to be bridged. [BBC News online, 18 April ] This is yet another line of research which indicates the potential of ethical alternatives to destructive embryonic stem cell research and so-called therapeutic cloning--see the first item of yesterday's digest, for example. Statistics in a new study have indicated that women who have abortions are considerably more likely to commit suicide than women who carry their unborn child to term. Dr David Reardon and others studied the medical records and death certificates of more than 173,000 women in California and discovered that the average annual suicide rate for women who had obtained abortions was 7.8 per 100,000. This compared to an average national rate of 5.2 per 100,000 among all women aged 15 to 44, and a rate of just 3.0 per 100,000 among women who had delivered babies. [LifeSite, 18 April ] A study published last year indicated that women who had obtained abortions were also more likely to turn to drug abuse or die in accidents--see news digest for 13 June 2000 . A 60-year-old man in England is suing doctors for placing a "do not resuscitate" (DNR) order on him in hospital. Chris Gardner discovered the DNR order in his medical notes while staying as a patient in Dorset County Hospital in Dorchester. He contracted an infection in hospital which necessitated the amputation of his legs, and then found the DNR order on Christmas Eve 1999. Mr Gardner is planning to pursue his legal action under the right to life clause of the 1998 Human Rights Act. [The Times, 19 April ] The Canadian government has announced a grant of 982,000 Canadian dollars [439,360 British pounds] for the work of the pro-abortion Planned Parenthood Federation of Canada in central and south America. Maria Minna, Canada's minister for international co-operation, said that the funds would be used to promote "sexual and reproductive health" [a euphemism for access to abortion and abortifacient methods of birth control] among the young people of Brazil, Colombia, El Salvador and Jamaica. [LifeSite, 18 April ] The South African government has reportedly shelved consideration of a bill to legalise euthanasia. The South African Law Commission proposed options related to euthanasia in 1999, but an adviser to the health minister has confirmed that the recommendations will not be considered by parliament this year. [South African Daily Mail and Guardian, 17 April] The leader of the Roman Catholic Church in The Gambia used his Easter homily to condemn abortion and euthanasia. Bishop Michael J Cleary of Banjul described Jesus's resurrection as God's "uprising against death" and said: "...let us vigorously reaffirm the value of human life and its inviolability. Let us appeal to each and every person, in the name of God, to respect, protect, love and serve life, every human life." [LifeSite, 18 April ]

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