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Defending life
from conception to natural death


News, 16 July 2002

16 July 2002

16 July 2002 A report by members of Britain's House of Commons to be published this week is expected to call for an urgent review of the 1990 law which established statutory regulation of in vitro fertilisation (IVF) and embryo experimentation. The report by the science and technology select committee is believed to criticise the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority for a series of decisions, such as authorising the use of pre-implantation diagnosis (PGD) to select babies to serve as tissue donors for older siblings. This particular decision is now the subject of a judicial review [see yesterday's digest]. Reports suggest that members of the committee will call for a review of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act because scientific developments have superseded its scope. [The Independent, 15 July ] A report published in Pakistan has recommended the establishment of a prenatal screening programme for thalassaemia major so that unborn babies with the condition can be aborted. The report, prepared by Dr Mohammad Irfan of the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre, notes that at least 6,000 children are born with thalassaemia major every year, an inherited condition which affects the formation of haemoglobin in the blood and necessitates regular blood transfusions. As many as eight million people in Pakistan may have thalassaemia minor [the recessive form of the condition]. [Dawn, 16 July ] A spokesman for the US Catholic Church has welcomed the recommendation of President Bush's bioethics council for a temporary ban on all human cloning, including for experimental purposes. Richard Doerflinger, deputy director of the US bishops' secretariat for pro-life activities, said that the proposed four-year moratorium would "offer ample time to discuss all viewpoints on a permanent policy" and urged the US Senate to follow the House of Representatives in passing at least a temporary cloning ban. Mr Doerflinger also rejected as "morally unacceptable" any compromise which would allow the creation of cloned human embryos [so-called therapeutic cloning] while prohibiting their later survival [so-called reproductive cloning]. [Zenit, 14 July ] The Holy See's permanent observer to the United Nations in Geneva has said that the key to solving demographic problems is not the provision of family planning or reproductive health programmes, which often include abortion, but rather the improvement of the health and status of women. Marking World Population Day last Thursday, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin noted that "the most important factor in establishing the number of children that a family wishes to have is linked to the education of women". [Zenit, 12 July ]

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