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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 26 July 2001

26 July 2001

26 July 2001 The judiciary committee of the US House of Representatives has voted by 18 to 11 to ban human cloning. Mr Douglas Johnson of the National Right to Life committee said that those supporting cloning were out of step with public opinion as expressed in a poll last month in which 86% opposed the creation of embryos who would be destroyed in research. The full House of Representatives should consider the bill in the next few weeks. [Catholic News Service, 25 July ] The Vatican has corrected an impression reportedly given by American government officials that the Pope does not object to experiments on embryos resulting from in vitro fertilisation. A church spokesman quoted from Evangelium Vitae, the Pope's 1995 encyclical, which condemned research on all types of embryo. The speculation arose after the Pope met President Bush on Monday. [Reuters on FindLaw, 26 July ] Nurses will give morning-after pills to girls as young as 12 as part of a pilot-scheme at a youth centre in Derby, England. The health authority running the scheme hopes it will cut teenage pregnancies while the Life organisation has warned of the pills' strength and called the project "criminal".[BBC, 24 July ] In the UK morning-after pills can be sold by pharmacists to 16-year-olds and school-nurses can give such pills to 11-year-olds. Scientists in London are suggesting that stem cells from human bone marrow could be used to repair damaged kidneys. Since such cells could come from the patient's own body, it is less likely that they will be rejected. Researchers have already shown that bone marrow cells can produce liver tissue. [BBC 24 July ] Each development like this one strengthens the case for using post-natal stem cells instead of cells taken from embryos who are killed in the process. American scientists have used human stem cells to effect a partial cure for motor neurone disease in mice. Researchers from Johns Hopkins university, Baltimore, showed evidence to Mr Tommy Thompson, US health secretary, as President Bush considers whether to allow federal funding for human embryo research. [The Times, 26 July ]

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