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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 6 December 2002

6 December 2002

6 December 2002 The architect of Britain's embryology law has rejected the idea that human embryos should be treated with "respect". Baroness Warnock, whose committee drew up the report which led to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990, told the House of Lords last night that she now regretted her report's use of the term "respect for the embryo". In a debate on the House of Lords select committee report on stem cell research, Baroness Warnock said: "You cannot respectfully pour something down the sink--which is the fate of the embryo after it has been used for research, or if it is not going to be used for research or for anything else. I think that what we meant by the rather foolish expression 'respect' was that the early embryo should never be used frivolously for research purposes." Other contributors to the debate criticised the 'arrogance' and 'ethical indifference' of the UK in going against the international consensus by supporting destructive stem cell research on cloned human embryos. [SPUC, 6 December] SPUC has condemned the British government for giving more bilateral overseas aid for abortion and population control than for clean drinking water. A newly-published government report indicates that the Department for International Development's 2001/02 bilateral funding commitments are £260 million for "reproductive health services", while "safe drinking water and adequate sanitation" are accorded only £78.8 million. "Reproductive health" is a term commonly used to include abortion, sterilisation and contraception. Anthony Ozimic, SPUC's political spokesman, asked: "How can the government justify spending almost three-and-a-half times more taxpayers' money on preventing the poor from being born than on saving their lives by giving them clean water? Water and food production are basic human needs, but the British government prefers to promote its fixed ideology of population control at the expense of the developing world." [SPUC media release, 6 December ] Pope John Paul II has said that so-called Catholic universities which do not respect the teachings of the Church on bioethical issues cannot be defined as Catholic. Addressing a conference on the topic of globalisation and Catholic universities, the Pope said that faithfulness to Church teaching on "the big questions in bioethics, such as the status of the human embryo and stem cells" was essential because Catholic universities "have the duty to live the teaching of the Magisterium". Meanwhile it was reported that the Jesuit Catholic University of San Francisco offers a website on pregnancy containing links to other websites which provide abortion referrals and the abortifacient morning-after pill. [LifeSite, 5 December and 5 December ] Doctors in London have found that a common bacterial infection is associated with an increased risk of miscarriage between 13 and 16 weeks into pregnancy. Philip Hay and colleagues at St George's Hospital Medical School found that bacterial vaginosis (BV), which can be easily treated by antibiotics and is most common in women who have a new or multiple sexual partners, was a "major risk factor" after the 13th week of pregnancy. The research was published in the British Medical Journal. [Reuters, 6 December ] Official figures released by the US Centers for Disease Control for 46 states and the District of Columbia indicate that just under 862,000 unborn children died in notified abortions in 1999. The total represents a decline of 3.2% from 1998, and continues the downward trend in abortion totals starting in 1991. The abortion ratio of 256 abortions per 1,000 live births in 1999 was the lowest since 1975, although the abortion rate of 17 abortions per 1,000 women [of childbearing age] was the same as in the previous two years. The figures do not include abortions in Alaska, California, New Hampshire or Oklahoma where reporting procedures are different. [Washington Times and LifeSite , 4 December] Two pro-abortion groups were among the top 10 highest spenders among interest groups on television advertisements during the national US elections last month. The Wisconsin Advertising Project at the University of Wisconsin found that Emily's List (which backed female pro-abortion Democrat candidates) came fourth by spending $1.3 million, while Planned Parenthood (the largest US abortion provider) came eighth by spending $660,000. [Guardian Unlimited, 5 December] Despite this expenditure, most pro-life commentators believe that the overall election outcome was a great success for the pro-life cause.

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