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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 15 July 2002

15 July 2002

15 July 2002 A British pro-life group has been given permission to mount a legal challenge to the creation and selection of embryos to serve as tissue donors for sick older siblings. Comment on Reproductive Ethics (CORE) was given permission by the English high court on Friday to bring a judicial review of the decision by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) to allow parents to use in vitro fertilisation (IVF) and pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) to create and select so-called designer babies. Josephine Quintavalle, director of CORE, remarked: "We make no secret of our total opposition to the licensing of this procedure on ethical grounds. But the case today was not focusing on ethics but simply on correct interpretation of our law. We argue that, according to the HFE Act 1990, the HFEA was not empowered to make this policy decision in the first place, and that it acted ultra vires." [BBC News online and CORE, 12 July] Plans to provide the abortifacient morning-after pill at the T in the Park music festival in Scotland last weekend were blocked at the last moment. The drug was to have been made available at the event near Kinross in Scotland [see digest for 12 July], but it is reported that the late arrival of the Medicine Man Pharmacy, the company which had booked a space at the event to distribute the drug, meant that there were problems in complying with health and safety regulations and the organisers decided to shelve the plan. [Orange, 15 July ] The Roman Catholic archbishop of Cardiff in Wales has issued a strongly-worded attack on the anti-life policies of the British government. Referring to the growing commerce in embryos and the decision to promote the RU-486 abortion drug more widely, Archbishop Peter Smith, who is also chairman of the English and Welsh bishops' department of Christian responsibility and citizenship, asked: "With the latest government proposals, what on earth has happened to respect for the dignity and worth of human life and personhood? What has happened to the understanding that life is a gift and not a commodity, nor an inconvenience to be disposed of at will?" [CF News, 11 July] Doctors in Italy are refusing to prescribe the abortifacient morning-after pill to underage girls after four lawsuits were brought by parents against doctors who had prescribed the drug. Despite the fact that all four lawsuits were unsuccessful, the Italian Association of Consultant Gynaecologists (Agico) has told its members to stop prescribing the drug to underage girls until the law has been amended to give doctors a clear statutory right to prescribe such drugs to girls without parental consent or notification. [Reuters, via Yahoo! News, 11 July ; LifeSite, 12 July ] Professor Severino Antinori, the controversial Italian fertility specialist, has said that a cloned baby will be born before the end of this year. Dr Antinori told a French newspaper that he had transferred 18 cloned embryos into women, and that the single pregnancy to have resulted was looking good. He refused to reveal the identity or location of the parents. [Irish Examiner, 13 July] A law authorising the importation of human embryonic stem cells into Germany came into effect last week. The German federal cabinet issued regulations last Wednesday stipulating that stem cells could be imported for important research projects, but that this only applied to stem cell lines created before the start of this year. The destruction of embryos for research within Germany remains illegal. [LifeSite, 12 July ] A Catholic bishop in Kenya has expressed "regret and disappointment" at reports that the pro-abortion United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) has implicated his diocese in its anti-life work. In its continuing campaign against the block on US funding for international pro-abortion groups, the UNFPA has cited its "unique and successful" programme with the diocese of Nakuru "to provide peer counselling for adolescents, parents and priests to prevent teenage pregnancies and STIs". However, Bishop Peter Kairo of Nakuru responded by insisting: "At no time shall we be engaged in acts that violate the God-given rights through practices geared towards population control, abortion, condoms and other artificial methods of birth control." [LifeSite and C-Fam Friday Fax , 12 July]

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