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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 21 November 2001

21 November 2001

21 November 2001 The British government has announced plans to push emergency legislation through parliament next week to ban live-birth human cloning. The bill will be published tomorrow, and the government plans to rush it through all stages in the House of Lords next Monday (26 November) and in the House of Commons next Thursday (29 November). The bill will not ban destructive research on cloned human embryos which is currently unregulated following last week's judgement by the English High Court invalidating existing legislation. Pro-lifers are being urged to telephone their MPs as soon as possible, to ask MPs to call for a ban on all forms of human cloning. MPs can be telephoned at the House of Commons on (020) 7219 3000. Further information on this campaign can obtained from Anthony Ozimic, Political Secretary to the Directors at SPUC . Colombia has approved sales of the abortifacient morning-after pill. Announcing the decision in Bogotá last Sunday, Mr Miguel Rueda, the country's acting health minister, claimed that the drug was inexpensive and safe for women. Abortion is illegal in Colombia, but health officials claimed that the drug was not abortifacient. The Catholic Church condemned the move. [VOA News, 17 November, via Pro-Life E-News] The Irish government intends to push its proposals to hold a new referendum on abortion through a parliamentary committee within a week, despite opposition demands that all amendments be considered by the full chamber without time limits. Mr Bertie Ahern, the Irish taoiseach [prime minister], hopes that the referendum bill will pass all parliamentary stages by Christmas so that the poll can take place in February. Mr Michael Noonan, leader of the Fine Gael opposition party, said that it was unprecedented and "a disgrace" that the committee stage of a bill relating to a change in the constitution was not being held in a full plenary session. [The Irish Times, 21 November ] The Vatican's representative at the United Nations has said that any international ban on human cloning must prohibit both live-birth [so-called reproductive] and experimental [so-called therapeutic] cloning. After condemning live-birth cloning, Archbishop Renato Martino said of experimental cloning: "This exploitation of human beings, sought by certain scientific and industrial circles, and pushed forward by underlying economic interests, retains all its ethical repugnance as an even more serious offence against human dignity and the right to life, since it involves human beings--embryos--who are created in order to be destroyed." [Zenit, 20 November ] Participants at the second European Pro-Life Forum, held last weekend in Paris, urged all European governments and institutions to respect the fundamental right to life from conception until natural death. A statement issued at the conclusion of the forum, attended by leaders and representatives of pro-life groups across Europe, demanded that human embryos "be granted the same rights and respect as any other citizen of Europe". Accordingly, they "must not be wasted, selected by pre-implantation genetic diagnosis or destroyed for scientific reasons". The statement also condemned euthanasia and suggested legal action against those governments which legalised it. Dominic Baster, SPUC's international secretary, reported from Paris: "The forum demonstrated the common resolve of pro-lifers throughout Europe to defend the fundamental dignity of human beings from the moment of fertilisation until a natural and dignified death. The participants stressed the equality of all human persons, including in vitro and pre-implantation embryos, and renewed their resolve to promote this truth at the European level." Researchers in London claim to have discovered a key gene which causes neural tube defects, the best known of which is spina bifida. Scientists at Imperial College and the Institute of Child Health have suggested that a mutation affecting the LPP1 gene could cause neural tube defects by preventing such tubes from developing normally. Professor Andrew Copp at the Institute of Child Health said that the discovery could facilitate the development of treatments in the womb, although reports suggest that the discovery could more readily be used to identify and eliminate embryos with neural tube defects through pre-implantation genetic diagnosis. [BBC News online, 20 November ] An Italian national newspaper has claimed that an organisation in Turin has been organising so-called death trips to the Netherlands, where euthanasia is now legal. Following the claims in La Stampa, Italian police raided the premises of Exit, a pro-euthanasia organisation, on Sunday and confiscated computers and documents. If convicted, those behind the scheme could face up to 15 years in prison. [Zenit, 20 November ] Pope John Paul II has urged the bishops of Thailand to make fresh efforts constantly to address the "scourge of abortion". Speaking to the Thai bishops in the Vatican, the Pope said that lay people should be trained to promote the family and human dignity "in every area of political, economic, social and cultural life". [LifeSite, 16 November ]

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