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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 1 August 2001

1 August 2001

1 August 2001 The US House of Representatives last night voted by 265 to 162 to adopt a bill to ban human cloning, with penalties of up to 10 years in prison and a $1 million fine. The House rejected a measure which would have allowed cloning for research by 249 to 178. The Senate will next debate the bill, which is supported by that house's majority leader and President Bush. [CNN, 1 August ] SPUC has welcomed the vote. Paul Tully, SPUC general secretary, said: "In the UK any form of cloning--whether for research or for generating cloned babies--could now, in theory, be licensed. Congress's vote should be seen as a clear message for the British government, which is increasingly isolated in its pro-cloning stance. America's decision accords with the European Parliament's call last year for the United Kingdom to reject research on embryos created by cell nuclear transfer. The stiff penalties which the US bill proposes indicate both the serious moral nature of the issue and the need to warn off those with commercial interests in developing cloning." SPUC has voiced its concerns about draft guidance issued by the General Medical Council (GMC), which appears to support euthanasia. In its response to a GMC consultation, SPUC points out that the guidance states that patients can legally appoint a representative who might make life-and-death decisions if they are incapacitated, yet this is not the case in England, Wales or Northern Ireland. SPUC's document also points out that the guidance controversially states that doctors must follow patients' written instructions refusing treatment if they become incapacitated. Such directives have not been legislated for and doctors actually must care for and treat patients rather than hastening their deaths. A doctor who followed a patient's directive to stop treating him or her could be colluding in that person's suicide. On the 20th of last month we reported on how a group of doctors and lawyers had protested at being excluded from a GMC conference about the consultation, as well as warning that the guidance might be legally flawed. A letter from the group appeared in yesterday's Daily Telegraph. A surrogate mother in England is trying to get her child back after 10 years. The girl was conceived through artificial insemination and the mother received £6,500. It is claimed that the child is suffering because of difficulties in the marriage between her father and his wife. [The Times, 30 July ] The number of abortions performed in New Zealand has risen by four percent to just over 16,000 per year. Figures just released for last year show that 19 women per thousand of childbearing age had abortions, which is a higher rate than England and Wales. Abortions among under-16s rose by 13%. [newsroom, 31 July ] On 12 June last year we reported how New Zealand abortions had risen by 3.1% from 1998 to 1999.

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