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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 23 November 2001

23 November 2001

23 November 2001 The leader of English and Welsh Catholics has accused the British government of supporting human cloning yet opposing cloned individuals' right to life. As reported on Wednesday, the Human Reproductive Cloning Bill will ban the implantation of cloned embryos but not their creation, abuse or destruction. Writing in today's Daily Telegraph, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor describes cloning as unnecessary, because adult stem cells can be used for therapies, and wrong, because it involves destroying human life. The cardinal quotes the late Cardinal Winning of Glasgow, Scotland, as having described human cloning as crossing a moral Rubicon. He also mentions the opposition to cloning expressed in a joint statement by 11 Christian denominations and faiths in January. Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor calls for a total ban on cloning and warns that women would come under pressure to provide eggs for the process. The Life organisation has criticised the bill for not covering the gestation of cloned embryos in men or animals. The opposition Liberal Democrat party's health spokesman has complained about the lack of time for parliamentary debate. [news report and opinion article , Daily Telegraph, 23 November] SPUC's insistence on placing newspaper advertisements which describe morning-after pills as abortion-inducing could lead to fines and imprisonment, according to Ms Donna Mitchell of the Committee for Advertising Practice. John Smeaton, SPUC's national director, is prepared to go to jail rather than accede to the Advertising Standards Authority's ruling that SPUC should change its claim so that it is presented as opinion rather than fact. Ms Mitchell told The Universe newspaper that the Office of Fair Trading, a government body, could prosecute those who infringed the advertising industry's voluntary guidelines. [The Universe and Catholic Times, 25 November] Morning-after pills can affect the lining of the womb so that young embryos cannot implant and are thus aborted. The first document to be personally placed on the internet by a pope has reiterated church teaching on the sanctity of life. Pope John Paul's message, which concerns the countries of Oceania, denies that the church imposes her morality on others but, instead, shares Christ's teaching on human life. All life has to be defended, the document says, particularly that of the vulnerable. [LifeSite, 22 November ] Belgium and the Netherlands have undermined their constitutions by legalising euthanasia, according to the Vatican newspaper. Writing in L'Osservatore Romano, Fr Gino Concetti, a theologian, describes how democratic countries which are supposedly founded on individuals' rights will contradict such basic principles through failing to respect the value of each human life. [EWTN, 22 November ] A bioethical committee in Singapore has approved experimentation on human embryos aged up to 14 days. Lim Pin, chairman of the Bioethics Advisory Committee, said that the personhood of early embryos was "far from being realized". The committee says it is against cloning, though it is unclear whether that means all cloning or just cloning for live births. [inq7.net, 21 November ] The US government is considering ordering smallpox vaccine which is made from a cell line deriving from a child who was aborted at 14 weeks' gestation in 1966. Acambis plc of England and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of Georgia, USA, could be asked to produce enough vaccine for every American in response to fears of germ-warfare by terrorists. [WorldNetDaily, 18 November ] An article in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) argues that, since children are aborted after being found to have Down's syndrome, it is ethical to use pre-implantation genetic diagnosis to choose an embryo to provide material for the medical treatment of a sibling. Dr Robert Boyle and Professor Julian Savulescu of an Australian research establishment suggest that a child would not be psychologically damaged by discovering that he or she was born to provide cells, because the alternative was not to have been born. [Times, 23 November ] Another BMJ article calls for trials before folic acid is added to bread to try to prevent spina bifida among the unborn. Professors Brian Wharton and Ian Booth cite how adding vitamin D to infant foods caused hypercalcaemia in some children, though the Spina Bifida Association supports the addition of folic acid to foods. [BBC, 23 November ] Lawyers for Jack Kervorkian are to appeal to Michigan's supreme court and, if necessary, federal courts after the state's appeal court upheld his murder conviction for helping a 52-year-old man commit suicide in 1998. A recording of the death of Mr Thomas Youk was broadcast on national television. Kervorkian admits to helping more than 130 people to die. [CWNews.com on EWTN, 22 November ]

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