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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 13 December 2002

13 December 2002

13 December 2002 A programme to help pregnant women stop smoking has succeeded in only a fifth of cases. A Cardiff university survey of some 1,500 expectant mothers found that just 19% of women using the five booklets in the Stop for Good programme had not smoked for seven days after 26 weeks of pregnancy. Urine tests proved that some respondents who claimed to have given up had not done so. The British government is committed to cutting the number of pregnant smokers from 23% to 15% by 2010. Smoking in pregnancy has been linked to miscarriage and low birth weight. [British Medical Journal and BBC, 13 December ] Almost a third of pregnant women in London have their unborn children aborted, according to UK census figures for last year. In eastern England around one fifth of pregnancies are terminated. The statistics also show the birth rate in England and Wales at an all-time low. [BBC, 12 December ] Dr Irving Weissman, who will direct a new research institute at Stanford university, California, has denied that his work will involve human cloning. Dr Weissman prefers to refer to the technique he will use as cell nuclear transfer, but other researchers say that the process, which creates an exact replica of the cell donor, is cloning by another name. [AP on Seattle Times, 11 December ] A bio-pharmaceutical company has been licensed to develop human tissue from adult stem cells. Athersys of Ohio is to exploit discoveries by Minnesota university researchers whose findings suggest that adult cells can be changed into almost any other type of cell. [Ledger-Enquirer, 11 December ] Such work would provide an ethical alternative to the use of cells from cloned humans. Uruguay's lower chamber has passed a bill which would allow abortion up to 12 weeks' gestation. The draft law will go to the senate but, if it is passed there, President Jorge Batlle is expected to veto it. The bill would make Uruguay the first south American country to legalise abortion. [Pravda, 12 December ] Campaigners are battling over abortion at the week-long Fifth Asian and Pacific Population Conference in Thailand which ends on Tuesday. Catholics for a Free Choice say they aim to stop America's attempt to undermine agreements reached at the 1994 Cairo conference on population and development. The Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute said that many countries were aligning themselves with the Bush administration and the International Women's Health Coalition praised US efforts to amend the language of agreements such as that made in Cairo. [LifeSite, 12 December ]

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