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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 12 December 2001

12 December 2001

12 December 2001 The Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (UK) has responded with grave disquiet at the decision of the Irish bishops to "welcome and support the new proposal" for amending the Irish constitution on abortion. The proposal includes a radical new definition of abortion which means that the early embryo, prior to implantation in the womb, will not be covered by the proposed amendment. The National Director of SPUC in the UK, John Smeaton, said: "The action of the Bishops in supporting the wording of this referendum is deplorable. They are giving credence to a proposal that suggests that early abortion can be discounted. The suggested wording has other serious flaws besides." [SPUC media release, 12 December ] A scientist working with Advanced Cell Technology of Massachusetts (which claims to have cloned a human) has described the anomalies she encountered while working on animal cloning. A feature on the New York Times website tells of how Dr Tanja Dominko came across embryonic animal cells with no chromosomes, with multiple nuclei, or which resembled cancer cells. After 300 attempts over three years, Dr Dominko's laboratory work could only produce a placenta without a foetus. [New York Times, 11 December ] The Chinese government has approved research on cloned humans though it is opposed to allowing clones to be born. [People's Daily on SciDev.Net, 12 December ] French scientists claim to have produced the first living cloned rat embryo. The GenOway company of Lyons says that the clone which was extracted from a foster-mother after 12 days' development had "no apparent abnormalities". [Reuters on Yahoo!, 10 December ] Japanese researchers have used monkeys' foetal stem cells to treat spinal injuries in other monkeys. [Japan Times, 11 December ] A drug which may prevent miscarriage and cure pre-eclampsia is to be tested on Australian women next year. The treatment involves using the transforming growth factor beta hormone to stop a mother's immune system from rejecting a foetus when it detects proteins reflecting genes from the child's father. The GroPep company of Adelaide estimates that half of miscarriages are caused by a reaction to such proteins. Research to date on mice has been promising. [Ananova, 12 December ] The US congress has been told that just one middle-aged American in 10 knows that the federal Medicare programme pays for hospice treatment and palliative care for the terminally ill. A report by the Alliance for Health Reform warns that the rising cost of painkillers is putting stress on the system. [Nando Times, 10 December ] A 16-year-old boy is hoping to have his sperm frozen so that, after a sex-change operation, he can bear a child created in vitro with a woman's egg. A Catholic church spokesman described the intentions of Mr Jamie Cooper of Birmingham, England, as "very wrong", as well as criticising the use of public funds to help him and warning that any child produced in the suggested way might suffer from emotional instability. [The Scotsman, 12 December ]

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