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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 3 December 2001

3 December 2001

3 December 2001 US Senators will today vote on a six-month ban on human cloning which is part of an amendment covering several issues proposed by Senator Trent Lott, leader of the Republican minority. [Washington Post, 30 November ] On Friday we reported that the Senate would not examine an anti-cloning bill passed by the House of Representatives until next year. The parliament of Cyprus took just 30 minutes to pass a law banning cloning and the selection of embryos on grounds of gender. Dr Panayiotis Zavos, a Cypriot, has said that he would produce a human clone by the end of this month. [Ananova, 30 November ] Japan is to allow human cells to be placed in animal embryos for research purposes, though human cloning is to be banned. [Ananova, 30 November ] As with many reports of bans on human cloning, it is unclear whether the American, Cypriot or Japanese measures will truly prevent the creation of cloned people or whether, as in Britain, the ban will just be on the placing of a clone in the womb. Two scientific teams claim to have turned human embryonic stem cells into brain tissue. Researchers in Israel and Wisconsin found that such tissue continued to develop after being implanted in mouse brains. [Nature Biotechnology reported on BBC, 30 November ] Dr David Prentice, an advisor to the US Congress on stem cell research, told a conference in Belgium last month that no advances involving stem cells extracted from embryos had demonstrated any real therapeutic potential. Moreover, embryonic stem cells were far less stable than adult stem cells and so more likely to cause tumours. [SPUC eyewitness] A conference in Hungary last month was told of the successful use of stem cells from blood from umbilical cords. Dr László Ungár told the meeting that such blood might be frozen and stored for 100 years and still be successfully used. [Budapest Sun, 29 November ] Slightly more than half of the 25 members of Germany's national ethics council support the importation of embryonic stem cells, though this is not being interpreted as conclusive. The German parliament is expected to start debating the matter late next month. [Yahoo!, 29 November ] President Bush has ordered an enquiry into "assisted reproduction", which has been taken chiefly to mean in vitro fertilisation. The announcement was made as the president set up his bioethics commission on which we reported on Friday. [LifeSite, 30 November ] The highest French court has ruled that a child with Down's syndrome had a right to be aborted and should be compensated because the gynaecologist did not tell the child's parents about his condition. Bishop André Vingt-Trois, the chairman of the French bishops' family commission, described the decision as an affront to parents who accepted handicapped children. [Zenit, 30 November ] In October we reported on a case in which the same court awarded damages to a handicapped man whose mother had German measles during pregnancy. The United Nations Children's Fund, which is in favour of abortion, has claimed that 1.25 million teenagers become pregnant each year in the industrialised world. The fund said that, in the 28 countries which belong to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, two fifths of pregnant teenagers have their child aborted. [South African Press Association on news24.com, 1 December ] Republicans in New Jersey want to change the state's constitution to ensure that parents are told if their under-age daughter asks for an abortion. Mr Jack Collins, speaker of the state assembly, wants the assembly to vote this month (and perhaps next month too) on whether a referendum could be held in November of next year. [N.J. News, 30 November ]

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