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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 26 January 2001

26 January 2001

26 January 2001 Baroness Young, a Conservative member of Britain's House of Lords, has tabled a motion aimed at reversing the reclassification of the abortifacient morning-after pill. The Levonelle-2 morning-after pill was made available throughout the UK from pharmacists without a doctor's prescription earlier this month. The House of Lords is due to debate the morning-after pill next Monday. Organisations representing some doctors, nurses and pharmacists have written an open letter to members of the House of Lords urging them to approve the reclassification of Levonelle-2. The letter described the reclassification as "a responsible and socially beneficial development". [Metro, 26 January; PR Newswire, 25 January; via Northern Light ] The leader of Roman Catholics in Uganda has urged the faithful to vote for pro-life politicians. Cardinal Emmanuel Wamala, archbishop of Kampala, said that abortion and certain other immoral acts were "contrary and offensive both to God's law and to our own culture". [LifeSite, 25 January ] Researchers in the UK have discovered a way of enabling the regeneration of bone and brain cells. The technology, developed by Dr Bradley Singer of Sheffield University and Dr George Foster of Cardiff University, provides yet another potential alternative to the use of embryonic stem cells and so-called therapeutic cloning. The technology reportedly cancels the process whereby cells die after dividing a limited number of times, meaning that such cells could be multiplied indefinitely in culture dishes. It is hoped that within 12 to 18 months these immortal cells could be used to repair bones, and that within a few years they could also be used in the treatment of Parkinson's disease. [The Times, 26 January ] The Canadian government is considering legislation which would legally sanction destructive experimentation on human embryos. Allan Rock, the federal health minister, is reportedly planning to introduce a national policy on reproductive and genetic technologies during the next session of parliament. The policy would ban cloning of human embryos, but would also establish a regulatory agency to issue licences for research on donated embryos of up to 14 days old. At present there is no formal legal regulation of such practices. [LifeSite and National Post , 25 January] Police in New South Wales, Australia, are investigating the death of a 72-year-old woman linked to Dr Philip Nitschke, the pro-euthanasia campaigner. Dr Nitschke, who is co-operating with police, confirmed that Norma Hall had asked to see him after deciding to end her life. Margaret Tighe, chairwoman of Right to Life Australia, suspected that the news was a stunt orchestrated by Dr Nitschke to keep the issue of euthanasia on the public agenda. [Reuters, 23 January; from Pro-Life Infonet] The parents of conjoined twins Mary and Jodie have decided that a plaque commemorating the unborn will be placed on Mary's grave. Mary, who was killed during the operation to separate her from Jodie, has been buried on the Maltese island of Gozo. In a interview screened on British television last night, Mr Michaelangelo Attard, the twins' father, said: "When people see something like that, they might think twice and say, 'Oh they went through all this,' and change their mind about abortion." [LifeSite, 25 January ] The British government has announced that 3 million pounds will be spent on a programme to cut the number of women who smoke during pregnancy. Co-ordinators with sole responsibility for anti-smoking initiatives will be appointed in 101 health authority areas. 24 percent of women admit to smoking during pregnancy, despite the fact that it is thought to cause miscarriages and increase the risk of a stillbirth by 30 percent. [The Independent, 26 January ]

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