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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 13 November 2001

13 November 2001

13 November 2001 The Population Research Institute has warned that United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) aid to Afghan refugees could include drugs and devices which cause abortion. Mr Steve Mosher, president of the institute, told a recent press conference of how the UNFPA had supplied abortifacient chemicals and abortion equipment to Kosovar refugees in 1999. Mr Mosher quoted the Islamic Institute of Washington, DC, as warning that a single reproductive health kit could undermine any goodwill generated by food-aid. [weekly briefing, Population Research Institute , 12 November] The English high court has awarded more than £1 million to a couple who claimed that their assisted conception was improperly supervised. Mrs Vivien Heath was given drugs to induce ovulation but it appears that medical staff did not adequately check the number of ova produced. Mrs Heath claimed that she was not warned of the possible consequences of a multiple pregnancy. It would have been lawful for some of the foetuses to have been aborted. The Heaths' three surviving quadruplets, who were born at 26 weeks' gestation, have disabilities. [BBC, 12 November ] Scientists might be able to change bone marrow stem cells into adult brain tissue which could treat diseases such as Parkinson's. Research at Thomas Jefferson university, Pennsylvania, confirms other preliminary findings on marrow and brain cells on which we reported last year. A mixture of growth factors and nutrients causes the marrow to change into brain cells, though they change back after a few days. The researchers are working on a way of stopping such reversion. [ScienceDaily, 12 November ] We have also reported on how researchers at Yale and New York universities found that bone marrow might produce tissue for lungs, intestines or skin. The use of bone marrow as a source of stem cells would provide an ethical alternative to the proposed use of human embryos and so-called therapeutic cloning. A British expert on the cloning of animals has called for an enquiry on the ethics of human cloning. Dr Harry Griffin of the Roslin institute, Edinburgh, Scotland, has warned that cloning is unsafe but expects the technology to improve. Until it does, he is calling for formal consideration of the rights of cloned children. Dr Griffin says that the argument on cloning has hitherto been dominated by personalities and debating skills. [Scotland on Sunday, 11 November ] More than 250 health officials from 20 Latin American countries are discussing abortion at a three-day conference in Mexico. The country's National Institute of Health is sponsoring the meeting and the World Health Organisation is involved. While a leading participant insisted that pro-life groups should not worry, opponents have called for the deportation of those taking part. Laws and constitutions of most Latin American tend to be pro-life. [, 13 November ] Mr Michael Bloomberg, mayor-elect of New York, will try to make Republican party policy more favourable to abortion. [Meet the Press, NBC, 11 November, on LifeSite, 12 November ]

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