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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 31 May 2001

31 May 2001

31 May 2001 Australia is to consider a nationwide ban on human cloning. Mr John Howard, the country's prime minister, has written to all state premiers to confirm that the issue will be discussed at the next meeting of the Council of Australian Governments. Presently only three Australian states have implemented laws which ban human cloning, although Australia is a signatory to the Universal Declaration on the Human Genome and Human Rights which affirms that cloning is contrary to human dignity. [Sydney Morning Herald, 31 May ] It is unclear whether the proposed Australian ban would apply to all human cloning, or merely to reproductive cloning as is planned by the British government. The two women who won their respective cases before the US Supreme Court in 1973, thereby establishing a constitutional right to abortion, are asking the courts to set these judgements aside. Norma McCorvey (Jane Roe in Roe v Wade) and Sandra Cano (Mary Doe in Doe v Bolton) will personally file briefs with the US Court of Appeals in Philadelphia today which assert that their landmark cases have proven harmful to the rights of women and should be overturned. The two women are filing so-called friend of the court briefs in the case of Donna Santa Marie, et al. v Christine Todd Whitman, et al. This case has been brought by five women who claim that New Jersey's abortion laws violate the most fundamental constitutional rights of women. [US Newswire, 30 May, via Northern Light ; Pro-Life Infonet, 30 May] The French parliament voted definitively yesterday to extend the legal gestational time limit for abortions from 10 to 12 weeks. The new law also makes the hampering of an abortion an offence and removes the requirement for minors to obtain parental consent before having an abortion, although an adult chosen by the minor must be involved. The law was reportedly passed with almost no further debate. [AP, via Newsday, 30 May ] Representatives of industry in South Korea have called on the government to reconsider plans to ban human cloning [see news digest for 21 May ]. Three organisations which represent the bioengineering industry, including a committee of the Federation of Korean Industries, have submitted a joint recommendation to the government claiming that a complete ban would severely hamper their growing sector and make South Korea dependent on the technology of other countries. They pointed out that research on embryos to treat human illness had already been authorised in Britain and the USA. [The Digital Chosun, 27 May ] The incidence of HIV infection among women in India is increasing, and a growing proportion of them are reportedly deciding to have abortions to prevent their children from being born with the virus. Dr Surjeet Singh, a doctor who holds an HIV clinic, told the Times of India newspaper that there is a growing tendency for women with HIV to opt for abortion. The 57 percent likelihood that a woman with HIV will not transmit the virus to her child can be dramatically increased by the use of anti-HIV drugs. [The Times of India, 13 May ] A Catholic bishop in Ireland has called for a referendum on banning all abortions to be held as soon as possible. Dr Thomas Finnegan, bishop of Killala, said that the safeguarding of the right to life of unborn children had more immediate urgency than the removal of the death penalty from the constitution, which is the subject of a referendum later this month. Bishop Finnegan wrote in a pastoral letter that abortion was "the only form of capital punishment allowed by the Irish courts". In the so-called X case in 1992, the Irish Supreme Court said that a woman could have an abortion because she was suicidal. [The Irish Times, 28 May ]

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