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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 24 April 2001

24 April 2001

24 April 2001 The head of the UK's embryology authority said last night that British scientists who went overseas to conduct types of research on human embryos which were illegal in Britain would not be blacklisted, but could in fact return home to "continuing acclaim". Mrs Ruth Deech, chief executive of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA), was giving evidence at the first hearing of the House of Lords select committee on stem cell research. Mr Paul Tully, general secretary of SPUC, commented: "This admission further undermines the HFEA's claim to be opposed to reproductive cloning. To speak glowingly of rogue scientists while banning their work in the UK is totally irresponsible and unethical." [SPUC eyewitness, London] A fertility unit in Scotland is improving the survival chances of test-tube babies by drilling a hole in the outer casing of frozen embryos. Specialists at Nuffield Hospital in Glasgow are using lasers to 'hatch' the embryos, a practice which reportedly makes them more likely to implant successfully inside the womb once they have been transferred. Success rates for in vitro fertilisation at the hospital have risen from 12 to 32 percent as a result of so-called assisted hatching. [The Sunday Times in Scotland, 22 April] Pro-life groups in the United States have reacted with surprise after Rev Pat Robertson, a former presidential candidate and prominent Evangelical leader, said that Chinese leaders were "doing what they have to do" in response to a question in a television interview about population control and forced abortions. The television evangelist later issued an apology for his remarks and insisted that he had always been pro-life, but maintained that China's one-child family policy was an "obvious necessity". [EWTN News, 19 April ; Daily Telegraph, 20 April] The US House of Representatives will vote on the proposed Unborn Victims of Violence Act tomorrow. Introduced in February, the measure would criminalise the killing or injuring of an unborn child whilst committing certain other federal crimes such as murder, manslaughter, kidnapping or racketeering. The punishment due for the crime would be the same had the injury or death occurred to the unborn child's mother. Tomorrow will also mark the 34th anniversary of the legalisation of abortion by Colorado, the first American state to do so. [Washington Times and Denver Rocky Mountain News, 23 April ] There are reports that pro-abortionists are mobilising in the United States to mount a vigorous campaign should one or even two US Supreme Court justices retire in the summer. There has been no confirmation that any justices intend to retire soon, but observers have noted that this is now the longest period without a vacancy since 1823 and two justices are over 70. Pro-lifers have expressed hopes that President Bush will appoint pro-life Supreme Court justices who might then reverse the 1973 judgement in Roe v Wade, but President Bush has insisted that there will be no "litmus test" for Supreme Court nominees. [The New York Times, via The Orange County Register, 22 April ; other sources] It has been reported that Jodie, the Siamese twin who was separated from Mary in an operation which involved the killing of the weaker sister, could be well enough to leave hospital within two weeks. Jodie is now eight months old and has made steady progress, but will require more operations in the future. [BBC News online, 23 April ]

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