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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 6 February 2001

6 February 2001

6 February 2001 It has been revealed that Queen Elizabeth II has invested about 200,000 pounds of her private funds in a bio-pharmaceutical firm which experiments on aborted unborn children. The investment in ReNeuron Holdings was made last November by Sir Michael Peat, Keeper of the Privy Purse. The company is understood to conduct work using tissue taken from the bodies of unborn children aborted up to the 12th week of pregnancy. Pro-life and religious groups have expressed concern at the news. Paul Tully, general secretary of SPUC, made the point that no mother can legitimately give consent for her aborted unborn child's body to be used for research. Rabbi Chaim Rapaport, medical ethics adviser to Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, described such research as "a sign of the degradation of society". [Mail on Sunday, 4 February] A 44-year-old woman who is receiving in vitro fertilisation (IVF) treatment at a clinic in Nottingham, England, is being sent to Italy to have her embryos screened for genetic anomalies such as Down's syndrome. Those embryos which do not satisfy the criteria will be killed. Pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) is currently authorised in the UK only for certain conditions such as muscular dystrophy when there is a family history of such a condition, but in Italy it may be used more generally. Dr Simon Fishel, the fertility expert who will accompany the woman to Rome, said that PGD should be made available to older women, those with a history of miscarriages and those who have failed to get pregnant through IVF. He said that to prevent chromosome testing when the technology existed was "ethically unacceptable". [Mail on Sunday, 4 February] The new president of the Philippines has signalled her intention to pursue population policies in line with her Catholic faith. President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo said: "We will push for responsible parenthood and a population policy that is in keeping with our culture ... I do not think there should be a specific budget for contraception." It was reported that workers for the pro-abortion United Nations Population Fund in Manila were outraged by the president's refusal to promote abortifacient birth control or condoms. [LifeSite and Financial Times, 2 February] Plans by Superdrug, a British chain of chemists' shops, to make the Levonelle-2 morning-after pill available through its website [see news digest for 30 January ] have been suspended. It was reported that Superdrug was forced to back down by the Department of Health and the Royal Pharmaceutical Society only a few hours after making its original announcement. The plan has been suspended pending a review of the protocol surrounding the supply of the abortifacient drug, which was made available in the UK from pharmacists without a doctor's prescription last month. [BBC News online, 26 January ] It has been reported that European Union countries might be prepared to fill the funding gap created by US President Bush's decision to reinstate the so-called Mexico City Policy. This policy blocks federal funding of international organisations which provide or promote abortions. Eveline Herfkens, a Dutch government minister, has urged a "quick and strong" response to the American cuts, while Clare Short, Britain's pro-abortion international development secretary, is due to discuss the matter with Poul Nielson, EU commissioner for development, this week in London. [Zenit news agency, 5 February] The Plan-B morning-after pill will be made available from pharmacists without a doctor's prescription in the Canadian province of Saskatchewan from April. Paladin Labs, the distributor of the abortifacient drug in Canada, announced that the drug would cost $15.95 plus the pharmacist's dispensing fee. Meanwhile the Canadian arm of Shire Inc., a British pharmaceutical company, has decided to withdraw kits of Preven, another abortifacient morning-after pill, from the Canadian market due to disappointing sales. [LifeSite and EWTN , 1 February] The Catholic archbishop of Perth, Australia, has urged Christians to consider life issues when they vote and has encouraged pro-lifers to become more involved in politics. Speaking in advance of the parliamentary elections in Western Australia, Archbishop Barry Hickey warned: "We have already seen the almost complete erosion of any legal protection for unborn life in our state, and we know that the push is on to legalise euthanasia..." [LifeSite, 5 February ]

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