News, 14 December 2001
14 December 2001
14 December 2001 A bill which defines abortion as taking place after implantation passed its final stages in the Irish parliament yesterday but there are disagreements in the coalition government over the timing of a referendum on incorporating its provisions into the Irish constitution. Mr Bertie Ahern, the prime minister, said that he still wanted to hold a referendum on the Twenty-fifth Amendment of the Constitution (Protection of Human Life in Pregnancy) Bill in February or thereabouts. Ms Mary Harney, leader of the Progressive Democrats, the junior partner in the coalition, insisted that no decision would be made on the timing of the referendum until after Christmas. A general election is due in summer of next year. [Irish Independent and Irish Times , 14 December] Switzerland's national council, part of the federal legislature, has upheld the country's prohibition on active euthanasia. The Catholic bishops' conference of Switzerland welcomed the move, although expressed disappointment that the legislators had chosen not to limit the activities of pro-euthanasia groups. [Zenit, 13 December ] Scientists claim to have discovered adult stem cells which will cause no immune reaction. Research published in New Scientist magazine reveals that adult bone marrow contains mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) which do not carry the markers responsible for causing rejection on their surface. Ray Chiu of McGill University, Montreal, Canada, reports that the cells have been converted into heart muscle, blood vessels and fibrous tissue. Advocates of human cloning try to justify the procedure by pointing out that clones' stem cells are not rejected but MSCs could be an ethical alternative to such cells. [EWTN News, 13 December ] A government agency in the Philippines has claimed that one in four women there have had a secret abortion. A report produced by the Population Commission states: "Due to lack of options, women risk legal and religious condemnation and even permanent disabilities and the possibility of death to commit or seek out abortions." Dominic Baster, SPUC's international secretary, noted that the language used in the report suggests a pro-abortion agenda. He also pointed out that it was a common tactic employed by pro-abortionists in countries with pro-life laws to make exaggerated and unsubstantiated claims about the numbers of illegal abortions in a bid to have abortion legalised. [BBC News online and AFP via www.inq.7.net , 13 December] Dr Philip Nitschke, the Australian pro-euthanasia campaigner, has said that he hopes to be registered as a doctor in New Zealand before he next visits the country in February or March. He has been invited to New Zealand by advocates of voluntary euthanasia there, but needs to provide certificates of good standing to support his application. [New Zealand Herald, 15 December ] Dr Nitschke killed four of his patients while euthanasia was briefly legal in Australia's Northern Territory in 1996.