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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 25 July 2002

25 July 2002

25 July 2002 Baroness Warnock, whose report on human fertilisation and embryology in the 1980s led to the statutory approval of IVF and destructive embryo research in the UK, has said that infertile men should be allowed to clone themselves for the purpose of reproduction. In her book entitled Making Babies, which will be published next month, Baroness Warnock argues that so-called reproductive cloning should be outlawed in every case "except perhaps in cases of complete male infertility, when all other remedies have failed". [The Herald, 25 July ] The US House of Representatives yesterday passed the latest legislation to ban partial-birth abortions by 274 votes to 151. It received bipartisan support with 65 Democrats voting in favour, but reports suggest that Tom Daschle, the pro-abortion majority leader in the Senate, may try to avoid debate on the legislation in the Senate. President Clinton vetoed bans on partial-birth abortion passed by both the House of Representatives and the Senate on two occasions, but President Bush has signalled his strong support for a ban. The White House has said that it is "morally imperative and constitutionally permissible to prohibit this very abhorrent form of abortion". [PR Newswire, 24 July ; AP, 25 July ] The European Patent Office has moved to close a loophole which could theoretically have allowed the cloning of transgenic humans for reproductive purposes. The governments of Germany, Italy and the Netherlands were among those who complained to the agency that a patent awarded to the creators of Dolly the sheep could have applied to humans as well as to animals. The patent awarded to Edinburgh university and Stem Cell Sciences, an Australian company, gave permission for the creation of transgenic mammals whose cells had been altered. However, the language of the patent did not explicitly exclude its application to humans. [BBC, 24 July ] A fertility specialist has warned that mistakes and mix-ups at IVF clinics in Britain are an everyday occurrence. Dr Sammy Lee, a scientific consultant at the Portland hospital in London, said: "Every day, someone somewhere in the UK is inadvertently messing up... I am aware of the wrong embryos being transferred to the wrong patients at several NHS units during the past 10 years. I have also confidentially been told about a number of cases where the wrong sperm were used to inseminate eggs." [BBC, 24 July ] A spokesman for SPUC commented: "The public is understandably concerned about mix-ups in IVF clinics, but of even greater concern is the fact that the vast majority of babies created by IVF die in the aftermath." An opinion poll has indicated that only a minority of Americans support the 1973 US Supreme Court decisions in Roe v Wade and Doe v Bolton which declared a constitutional right to abortion up to birth. An opinion poll conducted by Gallup has found that only 25% to 27% of the population believe that abortion should be "legal under any circumstances". 51% to 54% believe that abortion should be legal but "only under certain circumstances". 86% support restrictions on abortion in the third trimester, and 62% support restrictions in the second trimester. Only 11% are opposed to informed consent laws which require doctors to inform women about the alternatives to abortion before proceeding with a termination. [LifeSite, 24 July ]

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