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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 8 March 2001

8 March 2001

8 March 2001 A team of researchers in the United States have abandoned attempts to treat Parkinson's disease by injecting cells from aborted unborn children into patients' brains after "absolutely devastating" side-effects were observed. A report in the New England Journal of Medicine revealed that in about 15 percent of patients, the transplanted cells had continued to produce excessive amounts of a chemical that controls movement. There was no way to remove or deactivate the cells. Dr Paul E Greene, a neurologist who participated in the research, observed: "They chew constantly, their fingers go up and down, their wrists flex and distend. It's a real nightmare... no more fetal transplants." [Omaha World-Herald, 8 March ] An international survey has revealed that the UK has one of the highest rates of teenage pregnancy despite having the second highest rate of contraceptive use in the world. The figures, collected by Population Action International, a US population control group, indicate that 80% of all British women aged 15 to 44 use contraception, second only to Italy which reportedly has a rate of 91%. This compares to 76% in the USA, 75% in France and 59% in Japan. Turning specifically to teenage pregnancy rates, the report indicates that 2.9 per 100 women aged 15 to 19 gave birth in the UK, compared to 0.9 per 100 in France and 0.4 per 100 in Japan. The equivalent statistic for the USA was even higher than for the UK, at 5.1 per 100. In 1999, there were 95,000 conceptions recorded among teenagers in the UK. 58,000 of these pregnancies resulted in live births, while most of the rest ended in abortions. [BBC News online and Daily Mail, 8 March; other sources] A prominent doctor in India has called on the Indian Medical Association to assist in the campaign against sex-selective abortions. Dr Vasanthi Devi, former vice chancellor of Manonmaniam Sundaranar University, told a meeting of the Campaign Against Sex Selective Abortion that the practice was rampant in the country, despite the passing of the Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques Act. Dr Devi said that many gender screening centres were still functioning illegally and that individual doctors should be put under pressure to abide by their professional ethics. [The Hindu, 4 March ] The Roman Catholic bishops of Japan have issued a pastoral letter affirming the inviolable right to life. Topics addressed by the letter include euthanasia, embryo research and human cloning. The prelates insist that reverence for life "is the most important [thing] ...to help change this new century." [Zenit news agency , 7 March] Bishop Fred Henry of Calgary, Canada, has re-affirmed his recent criticisms of politicians who claim to be Catholic while espousing anti-life views [see news digest for 27 February ]. During a media interview on Tuesday, the bishop expressed his disappointment that some Catholic politicians seemed "to almost take their faith as if this were a privatised sort of matter and kind of checked it at the doors to the parliament, much like you might check a coat ... this is unacceptable for us." Bishop Henry also expressed his opposition to the Catholic funeral held for Pierre Trudeau in Montreal last year. Pierre Trudeau was the former Canadian prime minister who legalised abortion in 1969. [LifeSite, 7 March ] Last Monday marked the ninth anniversary of the Irish Supreme Court's decision in the X case. The ruling allowed a 14-year-old alleged rape victim to obtain an abortion in England after the court decided that the girl's threat of suicide constituted a substantial impairment of her right to life. Ireland's constitution protects unborn human life while respecting "the equal right to life of the mother". The X case judgement has been described as a blatant attempt to evade the demands of Ireland's pro-life constitution. Abortion Reform, an Irish pro-abortion umbrella group, used the occasion to urge the government to incorporate the X case precedent into domestic legislation, while the Mother and Child Campaign called instead for a new referendum intended to outlaw abortion in cases of threatened suicide. [Irish Independent, 6 March ; other sources] An expert on the link between abortion and breast cancer has rejected the idea that abortions are therapeutically necessary for women diagnosed with breast cancer. Writing in The Post-Abortion Review, Dr Joel Brind cited one study on pregnant women with breast cancer in which 20% of those who carried to term were still alive 20 years later, while all the patients who had abortions were dead within 11 years. Dr Brind contends that the hormonal changes in the later stages of pregnancy serve to shut down cell division in the breasts and thus act as a powerful form of natural chemotherapy. Moreover, Dr Brind claims that unborn children demonstrate "a remarkable capacity to withstand aggressive maternal cancer therapy without ill effect". [LifeSite, 7 March ]

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