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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 10 December 2001

10 December 2001

10 December 2001 Pro-lifers in the Irish Republic have claimed that an amendment to the country's constitution has been proposed in order to legalise embryo experimentation. Mr Justin Barrett of the Mother and Child Campaign cited the vote in the European parliament on the 14th of last month to authorise funding for destructive research on human beings at the earliest stages of life. The campaign is opposing the constitutional amendment with posters featuring Mr Bertie Ahern, the prime minister, and Mr Micheál Martin, the health minister, with the slogan: "Don't let them legalise experimentation on babies." [Irish Independent, 10 December ] The proposed amendment defines abortion as the intentional destruction of life after implantation, not fertilisation. The American Medical Association's annual meeting has voted against urging doctors to tell women that some birth control methods can abort young embryos. Mr Walter Webber, senior litigation counsel for the American Center for Law and Justice, said the vote went against the association's policy of promoting informed consent. He commented: "For them to reject this is really for them to say... 'We're going to make an exception for abortifacients, we think patients have the right to know about procedures in general but not when it comes to abortions, at least in the early stages of pregnancy.'" [CNSNews, 7 December ] China has moved to regulate the in vitro fertilisation (IVF) industry. The Chinese ministry of health announced last week that no organisations or individuals would henceforth be allowed to provide assisted reproductive technology without permits from the central and provincial health administrations. A spokesman for the health ministry said that many IVF clinics were staffed by unqualified personnel and were "driven only by huge business profits". Demand for IVF is very high in China because around 10% of couples suffer from sterility, a significant cause of which is the high incidence of abortion. [Xinhua news agency, 5 December; via Northern Light ] The new Roman Catholic archbishop of Cardiff, Wales, preached against abortion, euthanasia and destructive embryo experimentation during his installation Mass last Tuesday. Most Reverend Peter Smith, former bishop of East Anglia, England, stressed that Christians had to show their love for others principally by respecting the life and dignity of all human beings and that, without such respect for life, there could be no true democracy. Archbishop Smith quoted from Evangelium Vitae, Pope John Paul II's 1995 encyclical on life issues. [Catholic Herald, 7 December] Researchers in Sweden have suggested that ultrasound scans could increase the incidence of left-handedness in male children. Professor Juni Palmgren and colleagues at the Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, compared 7,000 men whose mothers had undergone ultrasound tests in the 1970s with 172,000 men whose mothers had not had scans. Those whose mothers had had scans were 32% more likely to be left-handed. Boys were thought to be more susceptible than girls because the male brain continues to develop later than the female brain. The scientists did not find any evidence that ultrasound tests had harmed unborn babies. [BBC News online, 9 December ]

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