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News, 11 June 2002

11 June 2002

11 June 2002 A British test-tube baby pioneer has said that he supports reproductive human cloning as a treatment for infertility. Dr Robert Edwards, whose work on in vitro fertilisation led to the birth of the world's first test-tube baby in 1978, said that the needs of childless couples should take precedence over other considerations if the cloning process could be perfected. Dr Edwards stressed that he would only support cloning for reproductive purposes if researchers could overcome the present problem of "horrific" abnormalities in cloned animals, but Josephine Quintavalle, director of Comment on Reproductive Ethics, warned: "You could never perfect cloning on humans without experimenting on humans, and that is something that the world has agreed should never happen again after Nazi Germany." [The Washington Times, 9 June ] It is reported that forced abortions and infanticide have become common in North Korean prisons. The New York Times has reported claims by North Korean defectors that the country's prison officials routinely give pregnant inmates injections to induce abortions, or smother newborn babies to death when pregnancies go undetected. According to the report, forced abortions in North Korean prisons have become common since China recently began to deport thousands of refugees back to the country. The killings have "nationalistic overtones" because guards intentionally single out refugees thought to have been impregnated by Chinese men. [New York Times, 10 June; via Pro-Life Infonet ] Canadian Lutherans will decide on Saturday whether to become more proactive in the pro-life campaign. The Lutheran Church of Canada, which has 80,000 members across the country, is holding its triennial conference in Kitchener, Ontario. Leonard Harms, director of the denomination's social ministry service, said that he was optimistic that a proposal to establish a national right to life organisation would be approved by delegates. He said: "There's growing concern among Lutherans across the country about life issues like embryonic stem cell research, abortion and cloning. They want us to be more organised to make our voices heard." [CP, via Brockville Recorder and Times, 7 June] A man has been sentenced to life imprisonment in the US for killing his unborn child. John Broe, aged 25, was sentenced on Friday by a court in Cincinnati to serve two consecutive life sentences for the murders of his wife and their unborn child last September. Mrs Broe was five months pregnant at the time of the killings. [The Cincinnati Enquirer, 8 June ] The US senate could start debating whether to pass a comprehensive ban on human cloning as soon as this week. Senator Sam Brownback, who is co-sponsoring a bill to ban all human cloning, has said that he might attach the legislation as an amendment to another bill if his colleagues continue to delay debate on the measure, which has already been passed by the House of Representatives and has the full support of President Bush. It is thought that a number of senators remain undecided on the issue. [Baton Rouge Advocate, 9 June; via Pro-Life Infonet ] Concerns have been raised in Thailand that women are making dangerously excessive use of the abortifacient morning-after pill as a regular method of birth control. Records of family planning clinics in Bangkok suggest that it is not uncommon for women to be taking more than 10 morning-after pills a month, and many of them are reporting a variety of side-effects associated with use of the drug. The morning-after pill has been sold over the counter in Thailand for 15 years, but many users continue to misunderstand how to take it and how it works. According to the Bangkok Times, studies have also indicated that the morning-after pill is being used by men to exploit women. [Bangkok Post, 10 June]

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