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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 10 July 2002

10 July 2002

10 July 2002 The Vatican has condemned the pro-abortion Van Lancker report which was passed by the European parliament last week. Cardinal Alfonso López Trujillo, president of the Pontifical Council for the Family and one of the seven cardinal bishops of the Catholic Church, said that the adoption of the report was "a sad day for this great Europe" and observed: "Truth is submitted to political manipulations, in the effort to impose a mentality which is, really, an advanced spiritual disease." Bishop Elio Sgreccia, vice-president of the Pontifical Academy for Life, also condemned the "amoral" Van Lancker report, which he said stemmed from "an ethical system inspired by political radicalism and ethical nihilism". [EWTN News, 9 July ] New Swedish research has linked autism to smoking during pregnancy. A study carried out at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm and published in the Journal of Epidemiology concluded that women who smoke during pregnancy increase the risk that their unborn child will develop autism by 40%. It is thought that this might be because nicotine blocks transmissions to and from the brain. [Orange Today, 8 July ] The final decision on the European Union's research budget for the next four years will probably be taken by the organisation's Council of Ministers this week. Euro-Fam reports that the council will decide on the details of the Sixth Framework Programme for Research (based on the Caudron report) this week by qualified majority voting. The Caudron report, as passed by the European parliament, authorised EU funding for research involving the destruction of so-called supernumerary IVF embryos (those left over after fertility treatment), but Germany, Italy, Austria, Ireland and Portugal have asked that this should be blocked. [Euro-Fam , 9 July] Republicans in the US House of Representatives have placed the latest measure to ban partial-birth abortions on the legislative fast-track. Supporters of the measure hope to send it to the full chamber within two weeks, but participants in a House judiciary subcommittee hearing yesterday disagreed sharply over whether the measure as it stands could withstand a constitutional challenge. The US Supreme Court threw out Nebraska's ban on partial-birth abortions in 2000 on the basis that it was too broad and failed to include sufficient exceptions. The crafters of the current federal legislation have tried to provide a more precise definition of the partial-birth abortion procedure as well as including an exception for cases when the mother's life is at risk. [Washington Times, 10 July ] An embryologist at Oxford University in England has demonstrated that the process of shaping the human body begins at the moment of conception. Richard Gardner has repeated little-known experiments conducted in New York in the 1980s which show that specific points on a mammalian blastocyst [early embryo] come to lie at particular points which define a top-bottom axis. It had previously been thought that the positions in the body of cells in mammalian embryos were only determined at about the time of implantation. The Nature journal reports: "What is clear is that developmental biologists will no longer dismiss early mammalian embryos as featureless bundles of cells - and that leaves them with some work to do." [LifeSite, 9 July , from Nature, 4 July]

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