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Defending life
from conception to natural death


News, 16 January 2002

16 January 2002

16 January 2002 Abortion has been legalised in Afghanistan. Abortion was completely prohibited under the former Taliban regime, but the new interim government has permitted abortions up to the third month of pregnancy when the health of the mother is in danger. Abdullah Fahim of the Afghan health ministry said that, in order to have a legal abortion, a woman would have to obtain certificates from three doctors as well as permission from the health ministry. Those who provide or obtain illegal abortions face up to six months in prison. [The Indian Express, 16 January ; SAPA, via News24, 15 January ] The British government is today appealing against a ruling in the High Court that existing legislation does not regulate destructive research on cloned human embryos. In a judicial review brought by the ProLife Alliance, the High Court ruled last November that the definition of "embryo" in the 1990 Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act did not extend to embryos created by cell nuclear replacement--the cloning technique used to create Dolly the sheep. This meant that human cloning could not be regulated under the 1990 act and that votes in both houses of parliament to authorise destructive research into so-called therapeutic cloning were invalid. The government pushed emergency legislation through parliament in December to outlaw the placing of cloned human embryos inside women, but the hastily passed law did not cover the creation of clones for research purposes. [Ananova and SPUC, 16 January] Pro-abortion doctors in the Republic of Ireland have formed an organisation to campaign for permissive abortion laws. Doctors for Choice, headed by Drs Peadar O'Grady and Mary Favier, is the first such group in Ireland and aims to create a climate in which abortion becomes an integral and respected part of Irish medicine. [Irish Independent, 16 January ] Researchers in the United States have found that drinking alcohol during pregnancy can alter thyroid hormone levels in mothers and unborn children, thereby risking brain damage in the children. The findings in this month's Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research indicate that drinking alcohol can alter thyroid function and thus deprive an unborn child of sufficient thyroid hormone. Professor Timothy Cudd, co-ordinator of the research, explained: "The thyroid hormone system plays important roles in growth, development and in the function of other hormone and organ systems ... Clearly abstaining from alcohol use during pregnancy is the safest course." [BBC News online, 16 January ]

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