News, 16 December 2002
16 December 2002
16 December 2002 The Maltese government has been hailing its EU accession package, including a protocol which formally recognises Malta's right to retain its pro-life laws. Malta was one of 10 countries formally invited to become full members of the European Union last week. If the accession packages are ratified, the countries will join the EU on 1 May 2004. Pro-lifers have expressed concern that EU membership would threaten protection of unborn life in Malta and, even if Malta is allowed to keep its pro-life laws at home, there is a risk that Maltese contributions to the European Union budget could be spent on funding abortions in developing countries or on destructive human embryo research. A spokesman for SPUC, Europe's longest established pro-life group, said: "The pro-life people of Malta should be extremely vigilant in the years ahead to ensure that their country does not go down the same road as Ireland, where the government is now tragically turning its back on its pro-life constitution by funding the promoters of abortion in developing countries both directly and indirectly through the European Union." [Times of Malta and SPUC, 16 December] The US is coming under fire from pro-abortionists at the UN-sponsored Asian and Pacific Population Conference taking place in Bangkok, Thailand, this week. More than 30 countries are represented at the conference, which has been organised by the pro-abortion United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific. Pro-abortionists are hoping that the conference will adopt a series of steps to implement the 1994 Cairo population conference plan of action, but the US is concerned that this plan includes language which is generally recognised as entailing access to abortion. [Pro-Life Infonet , 15 December; Reuters, via ABC News, 16 December ] The Chinese government has approved the establishment of the country's first national stem cell bank. When the facility at Tianjin, close to Beijing, is opened in eight years time, it will probably be the largest stem cell bank in Asia and will run alongside a medical centre for stem cell therapy. [The Straits Times, 14 December ] It is presumed that the Chinese facility will store stem cells extracted from embryos and aborted foetuses. The British government is funding a similar establishment in the UK. Dr Severino Antinori has claimed that the world's first full-term cloned baby will be born in Belgrade, Serbia, next month. Dr Antinori had previously refused to name the location of the birth, but his latest announcement has not dented the scepticism of other experts. [Daily Telegraph, 16 December] A prominent Cuban pro-life doctor who was released from prison on 31 October after serving a three-year sentence has been detained again. Dr Oscar Elias Biscet was detained by police in Havana on 6 December and is reportedly being held without charge. [Miami Herald, 14 December; via Pro-Life Infonet ] Dr Biscet was expelled from the Cuban national health system and then imprisoned after condemning the high abortion rate and was reportedly subjected to torture in prison. Amnesty International declared him a prisoner of conscience. Cuba has one of the highest abortion rates in the world.