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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 5 June 2001

5 June 2001

A Scottish survey has indicated that nine out of 10 women who have a second abortion under the Abortion Act are aware of the morning-after pill. However, only 10 percent use the drug [which can itself cause an early abortion]. The doctors who conducted the survey at Forth Park Hospital in Kirkcaldy said that they believed access to the morning-after pill had to be increased to stem the registered abortion rate. A spokesman for the Catholic Church pointed out that the survey demonstrated that so-called emergency contraceptives did not cut abortion rates but promoted promiscuity. [M2 Communications Ltd, 4 June; via Northern Light]

SPUC has told a British parliamentary committee that destructive embryonic stem cell research is "ethically unacceptable and scientifically unnecessary". Britain's longest-established pro-life group has submitted its evidence to the House of Lords select committee on stem cell research, which was set up after votes in both houses of parliament to authorise research on cloned human embryos. The submission outlines the ethical objections to destructive embryonic research as well as practical alternatives. It also makes the point that a public policy in favour of so-called therapeutic cloning will inexorably lead to reproductive cloning. [SPUC media release, 4 June; also see news digests for 23 January and 7 March]

A geneticist in Australia has revealed a new technique for screening out test-tube babies who are likely to develop cancer in later life. Dr David Cram at Monash University in Melbourne said that pre-implantation genetic diagnosis could be applied to identify embryos whose genes predisposed them to develop cancers of the breast, ovaries, bowel, brain, bone and soft tissues, thus removing cancerous genes from the family line. The technique, which has not yet been approved by the authorities, was condemned by pro-life groups as opening the way to eugenics. A representative from the Southern Cross Bioethics Institute said: "You are killing embryos, human beings, just because one day they might be sick." [The Star, Australia, 5 June]

The number of twins and triplets born as a result of in vitro fertilisation (IVF) treatment in New Zealand is at its highest level ever. One in five women who undergo IVF can expect a multiple birth, and 35 percent of IVF recipients are now successful in giving birth. Doctors have said that the greater success rate is due to better procedures and changing lifestyles, although the practice of transferring two or three embryos at a time to increase the chances of at least one surviving is not under review as yet. [New Zealand Herald, 5 June] IVF opponents point out that the treatment involves a grossly disproportionate risk to the lives of individual human beings because the vast majority die before birth, or are killed even before implantation has been attempted.

Hawaii is to use state money to fund use of the RU-486 abortion drug by poor and disabled women. The administration of President Bush has stipulated that federal money can only be used to fund RU-486 in cases of rape, incest or threat to a woman's life, but Hawaii's department of human services has decided to circumvent this restriction. [The Honolulu Advertiser, 2 June]

Legislators in Louisiana have passed a measure which would require outpatient abortion clinics to be licensed and regulated by inspectors. The House passed the legislation as amended in the senate by 95 votes to two yesterday, and it now goes to Governor Mike Foster for his signature. [The Advocate, 6 May]

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