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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 28 February 2002

28 February 2002

28 February 2002 International pro-life leaders have warned that Christians in Ireland cannot in conscience support proposed constitutional changes concerning abortion and that the country's Roman Catholic bishops have misunderstood the legal effect of proposed amendments. A letter to all Roman Catholic priests in the republic, which urges them to advocate a "no" vote in Wednesday's referendum, has been signed by Dr Jack Willke (president of the International Right to Life Federation), John Smeaton (director of SPUC in the UK), Jim Hughes (national president of the Campaign Life Coalition in Canada) and other pro-life leaders from Australia, Canada, Italy, Kenya, the UK and the US. [SPUC, 28 February ] The Roman Catholic church in Germany has announced that it will provide financial assistance to pregnant women who may otherwise decide to have an abortion. The German episcopal conference will allocate €6 million (about £3.7 million) each year to the project which will offer assistance to women who decide not to have abortions after visiting an abortion consultation centre. [EWTN, 27 February ] The Wellcome Trust, a British independent research charity, is reportedly planning to make millions of pounds available for destructive stem cell research on human embryos. The trust is expected to give grants to three teams of scientists carrying out research on embryonic stem cells. Reports suggest that the decision by a House of Lords select committee to endorse destructive research on human clones will make Britain the world leader in such research. The UK's Medical Research Council is hoping to attract top stem cell specialists from abroad to carry out destructive experiments in Britain. [The Guardian, 28 February ] A woman with a genetic mutation which causes the early onset of Alzheimer's disease has selected a child without the condition using pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD). The child, who is now 18 months old, was chosen from among her siblings using PGD by experts at the Reproductive Genetics Institute, Chicago. It is thought to be the first time that PGD has been used to screen out embryos with this mutation. [BBC, 27 February ] Sinn Féin, an Irish nationalist political party, has confirmed its support for abortion. Ms Joan O'Connor said that her party supported access to abortion when a pregnancy resulted from rape or incest, or when the mother's physical or mental health was threatened. [The Irish Examiner, 21 February ] The government of Taiwan has banned destructive research on cloned human embryos with immediate effect. The department of health said that a consensus against cloning had been reached after three public hearings. [Zenit, 20 February ] Pope John Paul II warned yesterday that the acceptance of abortion could lead to the downfall of democracy. Addressing the eighth general assembly of the papal Academy for Life, the Pope said that an interpretation of human rights which failed to respect the reality of human nature could "drive democratic regimes to transform themselves into totalitarian regimes". The Pope explained: "The distinction sometimes made in certain official documents between a human being and a human person to then apply the right to life and physical integrity only to people who are already born is an artificial distinction without scientific or philosophical foundation... Every human being, from his conception to his natural death, has the inviolable right to life and deserves all respect due to the human person." [Yahoo! News, 28 February ]

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