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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 20 February 2002

20 February 2002

20 February 2002 The Irish Referendum Commission has published its information pamphlet which will be sent to all households ahead of the abortion referendum on the sixth of next month. The pamphlet concedes that use of the abortifacient morning-after pill would not constitute abortion in the criminal sense under the proposals. An opinion poll of voters in the key Dublin southeast constituency indicated a majority of nearly three to one against the referendum proposal. [Irish Independent and Irish Independent , 20 February, Irish Referendum Commission website ] A Canadian couple are suing a hospital for destroying their frozen embryos. Laura Palmer and Ronald Matyas claim that Ottawa hospital's fertility clinic negligently allowed three of their embryos to die in February 2000 after the couple had undergone successful in vitro fertilisation treatment. The hospital have observed that there is always a risk of mechanical failure in the freezing process, and that 50% of embryos die either in the freezing or thawing process. Only 15% of thawed embryos who are transferred into a woman are later born alive. [The Ottawa Citizen, 20 February ] Professor Ian Wilmut, the scientist who created Dolly the first cloned sheep, has again expressed his support for destructive experimentation on cloned human embryos while reiterating his opposition to the transfer of any clones into women. Speaking at the university of North Carolina, Dr Wilmut referred to the illnesses which the proponents of so-called therapeutic cloning hope to be able to treat and said: "These are pretty unpleasant conditions...so let's get started." Turning to so-called reproductive cloning, Dr Wilmut observed that only one to five percent of cloned animals were born alive, and that the survivors were plagued with anomalies such as obesity, kidney problems and arthritis. [Ananova, 19 February ] It is reported that US President Bush is refusing to appoint a pro-abortion director of the National Institutes of Health. Tommy Thompson, the health and human services secretary, is said to be pushing for the appointment of Anthony Fauci, who has remained silent on whether he supports abortion and has called for research on tissue from aborted babies. Deal Hudson, a White House advisor on Catholic issues, explained that President Bush had found it difficult to find an appropriate pro-life candidate for the position because scientists did not welcome "those who affirm life in an earnest way". [AP, 16 February; via Pro-Life Infonet ]

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