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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 15 February 2002

15 February 2002

15 February 2002 Scientists in the United States have announced the birth of the world's first successfully cloned cat. The kitten, named CC, was born on 22 December at Texas A&M University. She was the only kitten to be born alive out of 87 cloned cat embryos transferred into a total of eight adult cats. It has been claimed that the failure rate in human cloning would be even greater. [Guardian, 15 February ; see also news digest for 12 March 2001 ] The Irish supreme court has dismissed an appeal against deportation by a pregnant Nigerian woman. Lawyers for the 32-year-old, who is due to give birth in May, had argued that, since article 40.3.3 of the Irish constitution recognises the rights of unborn children, she could only be deported if the deportation order referred also to her child. The high court rejected this argument last month and yesterday the supreme court concurred. The reasons will be made public later, although the case against the woman had been that article 40.3.3 related only to the right to life and that abortion was not an issue in this case. [Irish Times, 14 February ] It is reported in the United States that the members of President Bush's council on bioethics have given up hope of reaching a consensus on the ethics of human cloning for medical research. Leon Kass, chairman of the council, said that the council would instead present a thoughtful discussion of the issues to the president, members of Congress and other policy-makers. President Bush has already said that he opposes all forms of human cloning, both for so-called therapeutic and reproductive purposes. [Las Vegas Sun online, 15 February ] The justice select committee of New Zealand's parliament is to conduct an inquiry into the role and functions of the country's Abortion Supervisory Council (ASC). Members of the justice select committee are unhappy about a lack of information in the ASC's annual report and an apparent unwillingness on the part of the ASC to take responsibility for the report. The ASC's report for 2001 indicated that the number of abortions performed in New Zealand has been rising steadily since 1980 and that the total of 16,103 abortions for 2000 was the highest ever. [New Zealand Herald, 15 February ] Another legal challenge to the Irish abortion referendum, which is scheduled for the sixth of next month, has failed. Mr Denis Riordan, a college lecturer in Limerick, was refused leave by the high court in Dublin to challenge the legality of the poll and costs were awarded against him. [Irish Independent, 15 February ] Legislators in Virginia passed two bills this week which would allow anyone who killed an unborn child in an assault on a pregnant woman to be charged with homicide, and give doctors a right to refuse to provide chemical as well as surgical abortions. Both bills were passed by the House of Delegates without debate and will next be considered by the state senate. [Virginia Times-Dispatch, 13 February ] A so-called informed consent law which took effect in Kentucky 11 months ago has led to a considerable drop in the number of abortions, according to the director of two abortion facilities. The present informed consent law requires women to undergo counselling before having an abortion, although a ruling last October stipulated that such counselling may be given over the telephone. During discussions in the state legislature on more legislation which would require face-to-face counselling before an abortion, Ms Dona Wells revealed that the number of abortions performed at one of her clinics in Louisville had fallen to 3,057 last year, compared with 3,828 the year before, because of the counselling requirement. [Cincinnati Enquirer, 14 February ]

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