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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 14 June 2002

14 June 2002

14 June 2002 Saudi Arabia has announced its intention to begin embryonic stem cell research within three months as part of a plan to become the biotechnology capital of the middle east. Speaking at an international biotechnology conference in Toronto, Dr Sultan Bahabri, chairman of the Jeddah BioCity project, said that four scientists would establish the Saudi Arabian stem cell research project. He added that the project would initially be hampered by a lack of human embryos because Saudi law currently prohibits the use of spare IVF embryos and all forms of human cloning. [AP, via Zawya, 13 June ] SPUC's national director has expressed concern at a decision to allow the demolition of a Catholic church in Middlesbrough, England, to make way for a development by Tesco, a chain of supermarkets which is providing the abortifacient morning-after pill. John Smeaton asked: "Does the building of a new Tesco depend on the acquisition of the site currently occupied by the church? If so, nothing should be agreed until Tesco desists from its policy of supplying abortifacient drugs." A spokesman for Middlesbrough diocese, which is headed by Bishop John Crowley, said: "I know the bishop is very, very concerned about the whole Tesco business, but we have to balance that with the fact that Middlesbrough is a town which is dying because of a lack of jobs..." [Catholic Herald, 14 June] South Africa's health minister has complained that too few doctors are prepared to provide abortions. Manto Tshabalala-Msimang said that the country's public health system should take more responsibility for providing "a termination service that is able to respect and act on women's choices" in order to eliminate abortion-related deaths. [News24, 13 June ] Abortion was legalised in South Africa in 1996. Black American pro-lifers are mounting a concerted campaign this month to draw attention to the fact that abortion is far more prevalent among blacks than other ethnic groups. While blacks make up only 12% of the US population, a third of all abortions are performed on black women. This amounts to 13 million unborn babies in the past 20 years. Rev Jim Goode of Black Americans for Life said that his organisation was setting up help lines for black women in crisis pregnancies and distributing brochures and car bumper stickers. [Focus on the Family, 13 June; via Pro-Life Infonet ] A diplomatic storm has erupted in Beijing over Chinese plans to deport North Korean refugees to their own country, where it is claimed that pregnant women face forced abortions [see digest for 11 June ]. Western nations are refusing to hand over North Koreans who have taken refuge in their embassies in Beijing because China has a treaty with North Korea requiring the immediate repatriation of all defectors. [Daily Telegraph, 14 June]

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