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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 20 December 2001

20 December 2001

20 December 2001 A conference organised by the European Commission aimed at forming a common European policy on stem cell research and cloning has heard that strict laws against the implantation of cloned human embryos will not prevent some scientists attempting it anyway. Professor Linda Neilsen from Copenhagen University, Denmark, warned the participants: "There will always be people who do not obey laws, who will not accept them, but there is nothing we can really do about that at this stage." [BBC News online, 19 December ] Laws on the treatment of embryos vary within the European Union. While destructive experimentation on embryos is illegal in Ireland, Germany, Austria and Portugal, it is permitted in other countries such as the UK. Dr Sheila Jones, the medical director of the Irish Family Planning Association, has predicted a surge in demand for the abortifacient morning-after pill over the Christmas period. [Irish Independent, 20 December ] John Smeaton, the UK national director of SPUC, commented: "The fact that abortion-inducing morning-after pills are available in Ireland, despite the constitutional protection of human life from the moment of conception, is a matter of deep concern. The confidence of the Irish Family Planning Association in promoting a drug which can work by killing early embryos has no doubt been boosted by the Irish government's intention to repeal legislation which currently provides protection to pre-implantation embryos and by its proposals to re-define abortion in the constitution as the intentional destruction of the unborn after implantation." The US House of Representatives has voted to retain the Mexico City policy, which blocks federal funding of international abortion providers, but to increase the amount of money which could be given to the pro-abortion United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). Members voted by 357 to 66 in favour of a foreign aid measure which: * retains the policy of prohibiting federal funding of any organisation which either provides or promotes abortions abroad * raises the total which might be given to UNFPA budget from $25 million to $34 million--an attempt to raise the amount to $37 million was thwarted. President Bush said that he would veto the measure if the Mexico City policy was not included. He can now decide how much money, if any, will go to UNFPA, and pro-lifers will be campaigning for him to block all such funding. [Reuters, 19 December; via Pro-Life Infonet and C-FAM ] A state appeals court in Florida has ruled that children have the right to sue their mothers for injuries sustained in the womb. Barbara Goodman's seven-year-old daughter was left with severe and permanent injuries after her mother was involved in a traffic accident the day before she was born two months prematurely. Barbara Goodman has been pushing for her daughter's right to sue her for damages. This would mean that her insurance company would be obliged to pay for the child's care. [AP, via South Florida Sun-Sentinel, 19 December ] The chairman of the US Catholic bishops' committee for pro-life activities has condemned suggestions by some senators that a distinction should be made between reproductive and so-called therapeutic cloning. The House of Representatives passed a law to ban all human cloning last August, but the Senate has yet to take up the measure. In a letter to senators, Cardinal Anthony J Bevilacqua, archbishop of Philadelphia, stressed that legislation which permitted so-called therapeutic cloning while preventing "the further development of the cloned human being by requiring its destruction before implantation in a woman's womb" could never be permissible. He wrote: "It would allow unlimited use of cloning to produce thousands or even millions of human embryos in the laboratory--while creating a new government mandate that none of these embryos be allowed to survive. By passing such misguided and ineffective legislation, Congress for the first time would not only allow the destruction of an entire class of human beings but require such destruction." [US Conference of Catholic Bishops, 17 December ]

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