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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 12 March 2001

12 March 2001

12 March 2001 Dr Harry Griffin, assistant director of the Roslin Institute which cloned Dolly the sheep, has described Professor Severino Antinori's plans for reproductive human cloning as "reckless and criminally irresponsible". The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority, the body which regulates fertility treatment and embryo experimentation in the UK, restated its claim to oppose reproductive cloning and said that there were "lines that should not be crossed". Meanwhile, officials in both Israel and Cyprus have denied that their countries have invited Professor Antinori to establish a cloning clinic. The German media reported that the clinic would be located in Caesarea, Israel, but an Israeli health ministry spokesman insisted that cloning was illegal in Israel. The attorney general of Cyprus said that his country would abide by a Council of Europe protocol which prohibits cloning. [The Independent, 10 March ; AP, via Omaha World-Herald, 12 March ] Experts in cloning technology have pointed out that animal cloning involves a very high failure rate, and that the failure rate is likely to be even higher with humans. Reports suggest that only about one in 10 cloned animals are considered sufficiently well formed to be implanted, and about half of those that survive up to birth suffer from a variety of developmental problems, collectively referred to as large offspring syndrome. Dr Michael West, of Advanced Cell Technology in Massachusetts, said that only about one in 100 cloned human embryos would survive, and that those who did would have navels two or three times bigger than the normal size as a result of the oversized umbilical cords which inexplicably develop during most pregnancies involving clones. [Daily Telegraph, 10 March] It has been estimated that there are 6.7 million abortions performed each year in India. Sheela Mane, secretary of the Bangalore Society of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, also claimed that female infanticide was rife in India. The government acknowledges that two million female children are victims of infanticide each year, but Sheela Mane said that the annual figure could be as high as five million. [AFP, via Yahoo! News, 9 March ] Pro-life campaigners from Latin America have warned that powerful organisations based in the United States are exporting an abortion mentality to their countries which runs counter to their traditional respect for life. The warnings were made at a conference held in Miami, Florida, and attended by representatives of pro-life groups from Colombia, Mexico, Nicaragua, Venezuela and Spain. [CNS, 2 March ] It has been reported that a human-pig hybrid was generated in Australia and allowed to live for 32 days before being killed. Reports suggest that human DNA was injected into an empty pig egg. Michael Wooldridge, the country's health minister, said that there were no plans for an official investigation into what some have seen as an illegal human cloning experiment. [Ananova, 12 March ] Roman Catholic bishops in both Germany and the Philippines have condemned all forms of human cloning, either for reproductive or so-called therapeutic purposes. In a document approved at the end of their plenary assembly last week, the German bishops stressed that so-called therapeutic cloning "degrades the human embryos turning them into simple biological material for other human beings. Alternatives must be found." The bishops of the Philippines also condemned human cloning, stressing that it could never be justified in any circumstances. Archbishop Leonardo Legaspi of Neuva Caseras, chairman of the bioethics office of his country's bishops' conference, listed six reasons why human cloning was inadmissible. These included the points that it went against nature, involved the destruction and manipulation of human beings, and reduced the human person to an object. [Zenit news agency, 11 March ; EWTN News, 10 March ] Concern has been raised in America that women in a majority of states can now obtain the abortifacient morning-after pill over the internet or by telephone without visiting a doctor. In all but 13 states and three US territories, women can obtain the drug through either or Planned Parenthood of America affiliates. It was reported that in a number of states, women can pay $79 to receive an online assessment and then have a prescription phoned to the local pharmacy. [Cybercast News Service, 6 March ] The governor of New Mexico has signed a ban on partial birth abortions into law. Governor Gary Johnson signed the measure, which is meant to take effect from 17 May. The law makes the performing of such abortions a fourth-degree felony unless it is deemed necessary to save the mother's life or to prevent "great bodily injury". [ABQjournal, 6 March ]

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