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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 7 February 2001

7 February 2001

7 February 2001 Members of the British House of Commons from a range of political parties are urging the government to monitor research on human embryos closely. Stressing the potential of adult stem cell research, Mr Jim Dobbin and other members of the all-party parliamentary pro-life group have tabled an early day motion calling on the government "to monitor research ensuring that no embryo is used where alternatives exist". The group of MPs also observe that the recent organ retention scandal serves to warn against letting the scientific establishment set the boundaries for research. A statement released by the group reads: "...the manner in which the pathology departments of hospitals in many parts of the country simply took the organs from dead children without reference to their parents is symptomatic of the arrogance of some doctors and scientists who think their research should be allowed to over-ride any ethical or moral restrictions." [BBC News online and House of Commons early day motion 292 , 5 February] A baby delivered by Caesarean section in Dubai is reportedly the most premature baby ever born alive. Professor Mohammed Sadeqian at the Al Mafraq hospital said that the baby, whom he described as normal, was delivered after only 21 weeks and three days' gestation, weighing 524 grams, because his mother was suffering from stomach cancer and needed the operation to save her life. The child is being fed his mother's milk via a tube. The youngest surviving premature baby according to the Guinness Book of Records is James Gill of Canada who was born after 22 weeks' gestation weighing 624 grams. [The Indian Express, 4 February ] A website which provides information on abortion has been launched by the Scottish Executive. The site, which contains links to groups offering advice on abortion, contraception and pregnancy, is the latest sexual advice initiative of Ms Susan Deacon, the pro-abortion Scottish health minister. Mr Gordon MacDonald, a spokesman for Christian Action Research and Education, complained that the Scottish Executive was biased against those with pro-life viewpoints. He said: "We run 14 pregnancy advisory centres in Scotland. Why are we not mentioned on this website?" [Daily Mail in Scotland, 5 February] Legislation was introduced in the US Congress yesterday which would impose controls on doctors who prescribed the RU-486 abortion drug, sold as Mifeprex. Senator Tim Hutchinson and Representative David Vitter, both Republicans, introduced proposals which include the requirement for doctors who prescribed the drug also to be legally authorised to perform surgical abortions. President Bush said last year during the presidential election campaign that the decision to authorise RU-486 for sale in the US was wrong. [BBC News online, 7 February ; Reuters, via Yahoo! News, 6 February ] Pregnant women have been advised to avoid certain widely available painkilling drugs after research suggested that they can significantly increase the risk of miscarriage. Dutch researchers found that women who had miscarriages during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy were seven times more likely to have taken non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin, ibuprofen, ketoprofen and naproxen in the week before the miscarriage than women who had live births. The figures, which were published in the British Medical Journal, also suggest that the effects of such painkillers last for several weeks. A spokesman for the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists said that the research had shown an association rather than a causal link between the painkillers and miscarriage, but advised pregnant women to use alternatives such as paracetamol. [The Times, 2 February] Mr Bertie Ahern, Irish taoiseach [prime minister], has said that he is not interested in a referendum on abortion "for its own sake, or one that will cause division". He said that the government would wait until a [constitutional] amendment coupled with legislation could be framed. The report of the all-party Oireachtas committee which looked into the abortion issue is being considered by a cabinet committee. [Irish Independent, 7 February ] The archbishop of Mexico has said that the teachings of Jesus entail the defence of other people's human rights from the moment of conception. Cardinal Norberto Rivera said that "the human being, from its conception, deserves all our respect and is not an object of experimentation". Jesus's teachings, he insisted, must be entirely accepted "and not be accommodated to our own ideas". [EWTN News, 30 January] A judge has asserted that babies have no protection under Canadian law until they are born alive. Justice Patricia Rowbotham of the Court of Queen's Bench in Alberta awarded $60,000 in damages to the parents of a full-term baby who died during childbirth due to the admitted negligence of their physician, but refused an additional payment for the loss of the child. The judge, admitting the legal anomaly, declared: "The Supreme Court of Canada ... [has] determined that a foetus had no legal status until it is a child, born alive and viable." [EWTN News, 31 January ]

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