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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 22 June 2001

22 June 2001

22 June 2001 The governments of France and the United States have proposed complete bans on human cloning. In contrast to the ban on cloning for reproductive purposes proposed by the British government, the French and American bans would include so-called therapeutic cloning. The administration of US President Bush announced its support for a total ban at a congressional subcommittee hearing on Wednesday. The proposed French legislation would allow destructive experimentation on human embryos left over from in vitro fertilisation treatment, the subject of a review being undertaken by the US government. [Washington Post, 21 June ; EWTN News, 22 June ] A top medical columnist has reversed his position on the alleged link between abortion and breast cancer. Last year Dr Thomas Stuttaford assured women that there was no evidence of a causative link and that abortion was "a safe procedure". However, last month in an article for The Times newspaper, Dr Stuttaford announced a change of mind. He wrote: "Breast cancer is diagnosed in 33,000 women in the UK each year; of these, an unusually high proportion had an abortion before eventually starting a family. Such women are up to four times more likely to develop breast cancer." [LifeSite, 21 June ; The Times, 17 May ] A bill to legalise voluntary euthanasia is to be introduced in the New South Wales parliament. Dr Philip Nitschke, a prominent campaigner for euthanasia, is seeking a meeting with the state's premier to lobby for a free vote on the legislation. The federal government overturned a similar law passed in the Northern Territory in 1996, but would be unable to intervene in the same way in New South Wales because states are sovereign. [The Australian, 22 June ] 31 members of the US House of Representatives have urged Tommy Thompson, the health and human services secretary, to consider the potential of tobacco-aided adult stem cell research as an ethical alternative to research involving the destruction of human embryos. A letter written by Rep. Ron Lewis, and co-signed by 30 of his colleagues, informs Mr Thompson that a corporation in Kentucky, in conjunction with the Navy and the National Institutes of Health, has identified genes and proteins which cause the self-renewal of adult stem cells. These can then be stimulated by proteins found in tobacco plants. [Pro-Life Infonet, 20 June] Italian legislators have proposed laws to protect human embryos from experimentation and give pharmacists a right not to dispense the abortifacient morning-after pill. 56 parliamentarians from the political right and left have presented a draft law which would change article 1 of the Italian civil code to make juridical status operative from the moment of conception rather than from birth. This would put an embryo's interests above those of companies seeking to use them in experiments, but would not outlaw abortion. The other draft law, which was presented by two members of the Biancofiore coalition which supports the present government, would guarantee the right of pharmacists to conscientious objection. [Zenit, 21 June ] The American Heart Association (AHA) has reportedly reversed its policy of active support for destructive embryonic stem cell research. While the AHA's official policy is still in favour of embryonic research, it is neither lobbying President Bush to authorise federal funding of the research, nor spending any of its budget on experiments involving embryos. It is reported that the AHA reversed its position in the face of concerted opposition by pro-lifers across the country which would have led to a significant reduction in the level of donations. [Los Angeles Times, 21 June ] The people of Slovenia have voted in a referendum to prohibit recourse by single women to artificial insemination. 72.4 percent voted to abolish a law passed two months ago which authorised the practice. [Zenit, 21 June ] The governor of Ohio has signed a two-year budget bill which prohibits the use of state money for any family planning programme which involves either the provision or promotion of abortion, including abortion counselling and referral, except in medical emergencies. [Catholic News Service, 21 June ]

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