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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 15 April 2002

15 April 2002

15 April 2002 The Roman Catholic Church in Scotland has condemned a decision to let a hospital in Glasgow screen out test-tube babies with genetic anomalies. The UK's Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority has granted a licence to the Glasgow Royal Infirmary to use pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) to check for genetic anomalies in embryos created through in vitro fertilisation. A spokesman for the North Glasgow National Health Service Trust defended the decision on the basis that PGD would only be used to prevent parents from passing on genetic illnesses to their children, but a spokesman for the Catholic Church said: "We are moving into the age of the designer baby where a child is not a person but a commodity to be specified. What does this say about people who have disabilities? It devalues all of their lives. This selection process creates life only to destroy it." [CF News, 14 April] Legislators in Russia have voted overwhelmingly to ban human cloning for five years. The State Duma voted by 260 to four in favour of legislation which prohibits the cloning of humans and the importing or exporting of cloned embryos. Although the ban is for five years, the bill includes provision for its extension or cancellation. [CF News, 14 April] A 33-year-old woman in Kansas has given birth to sextuplets after refusing to have four of them aborted to give the remaining two a better chance. The babies, who were delivered by Caesarean section, were conceived after their mother, Sondra Headrick, took fertility drugs last summer. Mrs Headrick said that she and her husband had not considered so-called reductive abortion to be an option after seeing six hearts beating on an ultrasound video monitor. [AP, 6 April; via Pro-Life Infonet] A senior Vatican cardinal has urged Buddhists to join with the Catholic Church in the defence of life. In a message to Buddhists on the occasion of Vesakh, an important Buddhist feast, Cardinal Francis Arinze, president of the pontifical council for interreligious dialogue, said that it was a duty for members of both religions to build a culture which valued human life. The cardinal observed that the terrorist attacks on 11 September last year shared with abortion and euthanasia the same contempt for human life, and insisted that the right to life had to be defended "from the moment of conception up to the moment of natural death." [Zenit, 9 April ] Official statistics have revealed that nearly half of all recorded pregnancies in Greenland, an autonomous territory of Denmark, were ended by abortion last year. There were 809 abortions in Greenland in 2001, compared to 936 births. This total constitutes a slightly lower abortion rate than in 2000, when there were 887 abortions compared to 936 births. [AFP, 5 April; via Pro-Life Infonet] A Ugandan health official has called for a liberalisation of the country's abortion laws. Speaking at a meeting on reproductive health, Dr Wilfred Ochan, an official in Uganda's population secretariat, claimed that abortion should be more readily available in order to reduce the number of Ugandan women who died each year as a result of unsafe abortions or in childbirth. Abortion is illegal in Uganda except to save the mother's life or in cases of foetal abnormality. [AllAfrica.com, 13 April; via Northern Light ] The numbers of maternal deaths due to abortion and due to childbirth in Uganda are not known. There is no evidence that either figure would be reduced by changing the abortion law. A report in New Zealand has observed that the country was one of the few developed nations to experience a big rise in the number of abortions during the 1990s. The study by researchers at the Otago Medical School, and published in the Medical Journal, also suggested that the demand for abortion in New Zealand was likely to remain high. The number of abortions each year in New Zealand per 1,000 women aged between 15 and 44 rose from 14 to 19 during the 1990s. [New Zealand Herald, 15 April ]

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