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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 13 June 2002

13 June 2002

13 June 2002 The Judicial Office of the House of Lords, Britain's highest court, has granted the Pro-Life Alliance leave to appeal against its defeat in the Court of Appeal on the matter of human cloning legislation. The Pro-Life Alliance argues that the UK parliament's decision to authorise so-called therapeutic cloning last year was invalid because cloning is not covered by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990. This argument was accepted by the High Court in November last year, but in January the Court of Appeal overturned the High Court's ruling. The Pro-Life Alliance will now lodge its petition of appeal with the House of Lords on 24 June. A spokesman for the Pro-Life Alliance welcomed the decision, looked forward to a successful outcome, and expressed the hope that a full debate on human cloning would soon take place in parliament. [ProLife Alliance press release, 13 June] The Italian parliament has begun debating government legislation aimed at banning all experimentation on human embryos and the freezing of embryos. The bill does not ban in vitro fertilisation treatment, but blocks public funding of it and states that "the production of embryos is allowed only within the limits strictly necessary to implant one and no more than three". Under the draft law, selective abortion in cases of multiple pregnancy would be strictly forbidden, a measure which critics say would amount to a legal right of the conceived to be born in contradiction to the 1978 law which legalised abortion. [Reuters, via Yahoo! News, 11 June ; LifeSite, 12 June ] The supreme court of New South Wales, Australia, has thrown out three so-called wrongful life cases. Lawyers acting for three people (aged 17 months, 2 years and 20 years) with various disabling conditions had claimed that doctors acted negligently by failing to recommend their abortion. However, the supreme court justices ruled that the concept of wrongful life was not recognised by the Australian courts. Justice Timothy Studdert said that there were clearly identifiable public policy considerations against wrongful life claims, including "the precious nature of life itself, and the erosive effect that the acceptance of such claims would have upon the value to be accorded to human life". [The Age, 12 June ] Scientists in the US have complained that fewer than half of the embryonic stem cell lines available for government-funded research are viable. President Bush announced last year that federal funds would only be made available for research on stem cell lines already in existence, thereby blocking funding of research which caused or benefited from the deaths of any more embryos. However, participants at the annual conference of the Biotechnology Industry Organization have said many stem cell lines would be unusable, and that even these would soon be rendered redundant. Alan Robins, chief scientists of BresaGen, expected that a maximum of only 40 out of the 80 eligible stem cell lines would be usable, and said that a wider ethnic representation was needed because the eligible lines had mostly been derived from spare IVF embryos donated by middle-to-upper class Caucasians. [Zenit, 12 June ] It is reported that US Senator Sam Brownback has agreed to amend his anti-cloning legislation in a bid to ensure its passage through the Senate. Senator Brownback, a lead co-sponsor of the Human Cloning Prohibition Act (which has already been passed by the House of Representatives), had hoped that the Senate would back a permanent ban on human cloning for research purposes (so-called therapeutic cloning). However, he is now proposing a two-year moratorium instead. In a statement issued yesterday, Senator Brownback said: "It is clear that on the issue of cloning, the objective of the Senate Democrat majority is to obstruct the will of the vast majority of the American people, a bipartisan majority in the House and the President." [AP, via Yahoo! News , and Senator Brownback's news release, 12 June]

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