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News, 31 October 2001

31 October 2001

31 October 2001 The full judicial review of the UK government's decision to ask parliament to authorise so-called therapeutic cloning takes place today in the English high court. Yesterday the British secretary of state for health applied for an adjournment of the legal challenge brought by the ProLife Alliance, but this was rejected by Mr Justice Crane. The UK parliament voted to authorise so-called therapeutic cloning by passing a statutory instrument under the authority of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990. However, the ProLife Alliance contends that the definition of embryo in this act did not cover cloned embryos, and that therefore the statutory instrument is null and void. [ProLife Alliance, 31 October] The European parliament has voted to end the monopoly on funding for women's groups previously enjoyed by the pro-abortion European Women's Lobby (EWL). In a significant victory for pro-lifers in Europe, members of the parliament (MEPs) agreed that the EWL did not represent the views of all European women and accordingly inserted a new budget line which had the effect of freeing up some funds for use by groups other than the EWL. A spokesman for Euro-Fam, an organisation which promotes pro-life action in Europe, said that the success was achieved because many emails were sent by pro-life individuals throughout Europe to individual MEPs on the subject. [Euro-Fam, 30 October ] Religious leaders in Australia have come together to oppose all forms of human cloning and destructive embryo experimentation. An open letter signed by Catholic, Anglican, Baptist and Jewish leaders affirming "the sacredness of all human beings" has been sent to the country's federal, state and territory governments. The letter condemns the creation of human cloned embryos in laboratories and encourages the development of adult stem cell research. Turning to so-called therapeutic cloning, the leaders write: "...to produce an embryo is always 'reproductive'; to destroy an embryo is never 'therapeutic'." [LifeSite, 29 October ] Participants in a seminar organised by the Medical Association of Thailand (MAT) have supported the legalisation of abortion on the grounds of foetal abnormality. At present, abortion is only legal in Thailand when the woman has health problems or when the pregnancy resulted from sexual assault. However, the MAT has recently proposed an amendment to the law to allow the abortion of unborn children with developmental anomalies. The seminar heard that the Thai public health ministry might reject the amendment on the basis that abortion is against social practice and religious belief. [Bangkok Post, 31 October ] Costa Rica has spoken out in defence of life at the United Nations. Bernd Niehaus, Costa Rica's representative at the UN, told a general assembly committee that his country could not accept any definition of "reproductive health services" that entailed a right of access to abortion. [LifeSite, 25 October ] Pro-abortionists in Ohio are providing abortifacient morning-after pills as part of a travelling clinic initiative in poor neighbourhoods. Planned Parenthood's affiliate in Akron is making use of a $100,000 grant from Summit county to offer the drug, as well as other reproductive health services. [The Beacon Journal, 29 October ] The Catholic bishops of New Jersey have urged Catholics to view the life issue as a determining factor in deciding who to vote for in the forthcoming elections for state governor. Mr Bret D Schundler, the Republican candidate and a protestant, is said to be a strong pro-lifer while Mr James E McGreevey, the Democrat candidate who espouses Catholicism, is said to be pro-abortion. [LifeSite, 26 October ]

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