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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 19 February 2001

19 February 2001

19 February 2001 British Conservatives have been urged to take a stronger line on the funding of coercive abortion and birth control programmes in third world countries. Launching his party's international development manifesto last week, Mr Gary Streeter, the Conservative's shadow international development secretary, said: "Where there is evidence of coercive birth control policies, we will stop funding. But at the moment there is no specific evidence..." John Smeaton, national director of SPUC, pointed out that British taxpayers fund the International Planned Parenthood Federation, which in 1999 gave £570,725 to the Chinese Family Planning Association (CFPA). Mr Smeaton observed: "There needs to be a tougher approach taken. The fact of the matter is that the CFPA admits that it is involved in coercive birth control programmes." [Catholic Herald, 16 February] A conference in the United States has heard how stem cells taken from umbilical cords could be used to treat stroke victims, thus providing an ethical alternative to the use of human embryos and so-called therapeutic cloning. Professor Paul Sanberg of the University of South Florida told the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science that he had succeeded in converting umbilical cord cells into neuronal cells which had then been injected into rats who had suffered strokes. These cells migrated into the rats' brains and within one or two weeks the rats had experienced a 50% improvement. [BBC News online, 18 February ] The Irish government has reportedly pledged almost to double its funding of the pro-abortion United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) following US President Bush's decision to block American funds. A press release issued by the UNFPA claimed that Ireland was increasing its yearly contribution from $1.2 million to $2.3 million. Norway has also pledged to raise its contribution this year to $24.3 million from $23 million last year. Dana Rosemary Scallon, the pro-life Irish member of the European parliament, noted that Irish aid for the UNFPA was at variance with the country's pro-life constitution. [LifeSite, 16 February ] An unborn child has died after youths threw a missile into a woman's car as she drove along a busy road in the north of England. Police are looking for two boys aged about 12 who threw an object through her windscreen from a bridge near Widnes in Cheshire. The woman, who had not known that she was pregnant, was taken to hospital where a nurse told her that she had lost her child. [The Times, 17 February ] A report claims that abortions in Russia still considerably outnumber births. The data, published by the pro-abortion World Health Organisation, indicates that Russian women registered 1,696 abortions for every 1,000 births last year, compared with 1,971 abortions per 1,000 in 1990. Elsewhere in central and eastern Europe, abortion rates continue to be higher than in the west. Hungary has seen an increase in its abortion rate from 544 per 1,000 births in 1980 to 697 abortions per 1,000 births in 1999. The report observes that Russia and central-eastern Europe, which have about 10 percent of the world's population, account for up to a third of all abortions worldwide. The only eastern European country which has reversed its Communist-era abortion rate is Poland. [International Herald Tribune, 16 February ] Pro-life campaigners in the USA are looking forward anxiously to the deadline of 15 March set by President Clinton's administration for scientists to apply for the first federal grants for research on embryonic stem cells. Scott McClellan, a Whitehouse spokesman, has said that President Bush does not support federal funding for such research, but that he is unlikely to block it until he receives a recommendation from Tommy Thompson, the health and human services secretary. While declaring opposition to abortion, Tommy Thompson has expressed his support for embryonic stem cell research in the past. [Pioneer Planet, 18 February ] A senate panel in Virginia has approved legislation which would make the abortifacient morning-after pill available from pharmacists without a doctor's prescription. The measure is now expected to be passed by the full state senate, although Governor Jim Gilmore's administration is opposed to the measure and he may veto it. [The Virginian-Pilot, 16 February ]

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