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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 5 December 2002

5 December 2002

5 December 2002 Earlier today the Australian senate approved a bill to authorise destructive research on human embryos by 45 votes to 26. The bill will now return to the lower house of parliament for approval of some minor amendments before being presented to the Governor General for royal assent. Mr John Howard, the Australian prime minister, welcomed the vote and said: "I have no doubt that we've done the right thing in pushing the bill through." However, the independent pro-life senator Brian Harradine declared it a sad day and revealed that he had even considered resigning after the bill went through. [The Financial Times online and ABC , 5 December] The prime minister of Malta has announced that his government has negotiated a "special ad hoc protocol" with the European Union on abortion as part of the country's accession package. The Maltese government hopes that its full membership of the EU from 2004 will be confirmed at a summit of EU leaders in Denmark next week, but concerns have been raised inside Malta that the EU would try to force Malta to abandon its legal protection of unborn life. Prime Minister Eddie Fenech Adami told parliament that these concerns had been addressed by the protocol, which would be released shortly. [The Times of Malta, 5 December ] The Indian parliament has approved legislation to tighten the penalties for performing illegal abortions. The measure, passed today, amends the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act 1971 to impose a penalty of between two and seven years' imprisonment for operating an unlicensed abortion facility. It also delegates the power to approve abortion clinic licences to the government and establishes district level committees to oversee abortion practice. [Hindustan Times, 5 December ] The Catholic bishops of Mexico have condemned all forms of human cloning in a new document entitled "Pastoral Reflections on Cloning". The bishops declare that human cloning is an attack against the dignity of the person and represents "a regression for humanity, as no nation can promote a healthy and constant development without the recognition of the right to life of every human being from conception". The bishops also observe that cloning is illegal in Mexico because the Supreme Court of Justice has confirmed that the pro-life constitution protects all human beings from the moment of conception and/or fertilisation. While condemning so-called therapeutic cloning, the bishops encourage research into ethical adult stem cell technology. [Zenit, 3 December ]

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