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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 10 July 2001

10 July 2001

10 July 2001 Women could reproduce without men using a technique which creates embryos by combining female cell tissue with eggs. Scientists in Melbourne, Australia, have succeeded in chemically rendering mouse-cells similar to sperm by removing one of two sets of chromosomes. The team at Monash university say they will know early next year if embryos made with this technique can result in live births. [Daily Mail and BBC , 10 July] The Indian health minister intends to strengthen the law against abortion based on gender, which has been described as rampant. The government will also try to trap doctors who break the law by getting women to pose as mothers seeking an abortion because they are expecting a girl. According to a survey of 90,000 women, only one in 50 prefers female children. [Reuters on news24, 9 July ] The friend of a deaf-mute man with heart disease and prostate cancer has admitted smothering him with a pillow. Mr Raymond Krerowicz had written notes to Ms Donna Trautman asking her to help him die. Ms Trautman has been charged under a Wisconsin law against assisting suicide, though she has conceded that she took Mr Krerowicz's life. [Green Bay News-Chronicle, 10 July ] The vice-president of the Vatican body which studies life issues has descibed the concepts of the pro-embryo and pre-embryo as groundless. ("Pro-embryo" is used to describe embryos in their first eight days of life while "pre-embryo" describes those in their first 15 days.) In a recent address, Bishop Elio Sgreccia of the Pontifical Academy for Life re-stated Catholic teaching that: "From the moment of fertilisation we are in the presence of a new, independent, individualised being which develops in a continuous fashion." Describing the human embryo as a sign of contradiction, the bishop pointed out how the number of published works on the embryo had increased from the early 1970s to the early 1990s. The academy has set up a task force which will itself publish a book on the subject. [Zenit on EWTN, 8 July ] President Bush's policies on abortion will affect Canada as well as the USA, according to pro- and anti-lifers. The Campaign Life Coalition says that Mr Bush's initiatives will stop the denial of the reality of abortion in Canada. The Canadian Abortion Rights League says that, if the unborn are recognised as people, abortion could be undermined. [Canadian Press on thestar.com, 9 July ] Life Issues Institute of Ohio does not expect a big rush for the RU 486 abortion drug, which was recently made available in the state. A spokesman for the institute said that Planned Parenthood of Cincinnati were charging $550 for the procedure but had not sold it aggressively. Planned Parenthood had said that RU 486 needed three visits, cost more, took longer and caused bleeding. The institute's spokesman added that: "Media reports gave us a fair shake." [Life Issues Institute and Cincinnati Enquirer , 9 July] Opposition to the use of embryonic stem cells has come from doctors at Bonn university, Germany, where such work is being undertaken. Dr Volker Herzog, director of the Institute for Cell Biology, has described work on embryo-cells as a "fall from grace" and Gerhild van Echten-Deckert of the Institute for Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry wants alternatives such as the use of cells from adults and animals to be exhausted before human embryos are used. Applications by other German universities for imported embryo cells have been described as an avalanche. [Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 8 July ]

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