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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 21 December 2001

21 December 2001

21 December 2001 Japan's Society of Obstetrics and Gynaecology has voted to permit the destruction of human embryos to obtain stem cells for medical research. Guidelines in place since 1985 only allow the destruction of supernumerary in vitro fertilisation embryos for research into fertility, but the revised guidelines will extend the grounds to include research into stem cell technology. [Daily Yomiuri, 17 December ] Both houses of the Tasmanian state parliament were recalled from their Christmas holidays to vote through pro-abortion legislation. Members of the Legislative Council passed the bill to amend the penal code unanimously after only six hours of debate. Pro-lifers have warned that the new law will effectively legalise abortion on demand, although those in favour of the change presented it merely as a clarification of the law. The legislation was enacted after a medical student alerted police to the fact that abortions were being performed illegally. [The Mercury and ABC , 21 December] The Canadian province of Quebec is to fund the provision of abortifacient morning-after pills from pharmacists with taxpayers' money. However, women who ask for the drug will still have to pay a $30 consultation fee to the pharmacist. [The Montreal Gazette, 20 December ] About 41% of all registered pregnancies in Quebec are ended by abortion, but experience elsewhere suggests that easier availability of morning-after pills does nothing to reduce the official abortion rate. The president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America has attacked the Mexico City policy, which ensures that no organisation can receive US federal funding if it either provides or promotes abortions abroad. Gloria Feldt described the policy as the "global gag rule" which "imperils women's lives, threatens the spread of democracy and weakens our position as a global leader". She also claimed that the policy "directly clashes with American values". [US Newswire, 20 December; via Northern Light ]

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