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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 6 December 2001

6 December 2001

6 December 2001 One of the two houses of the Irish parliament has passed a bill to amend the country's constitution concerning abortion. Members of the Dáil Éireann approved the measure by 74 votes to 71. The opposition leader criticised the government for curtailing debate. John Smeaton, national director of SPUC, has called for prayer that the Irish Catholic bishops will oppose the bill's wording of the proposed amendment to the constitution. It defines abortion as the destruction of the unborn child after implantation, not fertilisation, and includes other very serious flaws. The bill will be considered by the Irish senate tomorrow. If it passes, there will probably be a referendum early next year. [Irish Times, 6 December ] Advertisements and telephone counselling will be used to try to help American women stop smoking in pregnancy. The American Legacy Foundation, which is launching the campaign, says that 13% of women admit to smoking in pregnancy and that such smoking is linked to low birth weight and some infant deaths. The foundation also cited how unborn babies' breathing-like movements were reduced within minutes of their mothers' starting to smoke. [CNN, 5 December and Salt Lake Tribune, 4 December ] The head of Advanced Cell Technology (ACT) of Massachusetts has told members of the US congress that his company would create heart, skin and nerve tissue from cloned human embryos within six months. Dr Michael West was addressing a senate subcommittee, whom he urged not to block his work. [New York Times, 5 December ] Yesterday we reported on suggestions that ACT has not actually cloned a human. A committee charged with advising the Swedish government on human cloning has decided in favour of allowing it. The Research Council concluded that the medical benefits of cloning outweighed any moral problems. Sweden has yet to ratify the Council of Europe's ban on the artificial creation of embryos. [Yahoo!, 4 December ] The Indian national government is to legislate to debar doctors who perform abortion on grounds of gender. The country's gender-ratio is increasingly imbalanced with just 927 females for every 1,000 males. [EWTN, 5 December ] Medical staff should avoid pointing ultrasound probes at unborn babies' ears because such equipment exposes them to sound as loud as a train entering an underground station. Researchers at the Mayo Foundation, Minnesota, made the recommendations after using a hydrophone in the uterus to measure the sound made by a scan. [New Scientist, 4 December ] The US census bureau has disclosed that working women are taking less and less time off work to give birth. [Washington Times, 5 December ] A feature on a New Zealand pro-life website refers to the shock experienced by some women when abortion facilities in that country have given them the remains of their aborted children. The clinics say they do this as part of informing women about their treatment. [Abortion Concern, November ]

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