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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 11 April 2002

11 April 2002

11 April 2002 President Bush has called on the US senate to ban research on cloned humans and SPUC has welcomed the move. John Smeaton, SPUC national director, said: "The most powerful politician on earth has told the world that he is on the side of the weakest, most vulnerable human beings on earth--human embryos. President Bush has rejected the misleading arguments used to justify experiments on cloned human embryos. We must now work hard to ensure that politicians around the world fully understand the overwhelming scientific and ethical arguments in favour of treating the human embryo with dignity." [BBC, 10 April , and SPUC, 11 April ] British scientists who produced the first cloned mammal have applied for a licence to experiment on embryos. The Roslin Institute, Edinburgh, have asked the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority to let them take stem cells from embryos. The institute is also reported to be considering creating cloned humans. [BBC, 10 April ] UK law permits the creation of cloned humans but forbids their implantation in a woman's womb. The Pope has told the world assembly on ageing, presently meeting in Spain, to use moral principles rather than economic ones when deciding policy on the elderly. A letter from John Paul II describes how human dignity does not diminish with the passage of time nor with the deterioration of health. He adds that the elderly should be seen as a social resource rather than a burden. [Zenit, 10 April ] The British government has launched a consultation on guidance for powers which could be used to order euthanasia by omission. The consultation-process, launched by the lord chancellor's department (justice ministry), aims to produce leaflets based on the government's proposals for the treatment of mentally-incapacitated adults, as contained in its October 1999 document Making Decisions. The leaflets are meant to "set ... the scene for new legislation" and give "guidance [which] will evolve over time, to reflect future changes in law and policy affecting people who lack capacity." [Central Office of Information, 10 April ] The department has thanked, among others, the Voluntary Euthanasia Society (VES) for its assistance in the process, and recommends the VES as a "source of help on consent for treatment", such as living wills. Anthony Ozimic, SPUC political spokesman, commented: "This consultation is a stalking horse for the legalisation of euthanasia. The government has made clear that it wants to establish the means whereby the removal of assisted food and fluids from patients who are not dying can be ordered. This deliberate starvation and dehydration of patients is euthanasia and the government should stop its deceit of claiming that it is against euthanasia."

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