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Defending life from the moment of conception

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25 November 2002

25 November 2002

25 November 2002 A newspaper in Birmingham, England, has reported that a local girl had an abortion last year at the age of just nine. The story follows a report in the same paper about plans to make the abortifacient morning-after pill available in youth clubs. The paper also reveals that more than 120 girls under 15 had abortions in the West Midlands region (which includes Birmingham) last year. A spokesman for the British Pregnancy Advisory Service, Britain's largest private abortion provider, said that it was "probably a more positive experience for them to have a termination than to go full term" and urged greater availability of so-called emergency contraception. [Evening Mail online, 23 November ] A spokesman for SPUC commented: "Despite increasing availability of the abortifacient morning-after pill, registered abortions in Britain each year on girls under 16 have risen by 16% over the last decade. This is proof that the policy of providing morning-after pills to children does not work." The scientist who cloned Dolly the sheep has officially applied for a licence to clone human embryos for use in research. Professor Ian Wilmut of the Roslin Institute in Edinburgh has lodged an application with the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) for permission to carry out parthenogenesis - the cloning technique whereby an unfertilised egg is stimulated in the laboratory to start dividing and become an embryo without being fertilised by sperm. [BBC News online, 25 November ] The HFEA intend to consider the application next year if the Law Lords rule that they have the power to do so. The UK is the only western country whose parliament has voted to authorise the creation of cloned human embryos in research. It has been estimated that 170,000 embryos are now dying in the course of IVF treatment in the US every year. LifeSite, a Canadian pro-life news service, based the estimate on official government statistics from the Centers for Disease Control. These statistics, used in a study published in the official journal of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, reveal that 21,501 children were born in 1999 as a result of assisted reproductive techniques, 73.5% of which were IVF treatments. [LifeSite, 22 November ] SPUC has estimated that 1,200,000 babies died in the course of IVF treatment in the UK between 1991 and this year. The bishops of both Catholic dioceses in Malta preached against abortion yesterday. Archbishop Joseph Mercieca spoke about the "monster" of secularism which led some people to regard the human person as a material object, insisted that human beings were persons from the moment of conception, and condemned abortion as murder. Meanwhile, Bishop Nikol Cauchi of Gozo declared that the value of human life was a sacred matter which needed to be protected from conception until natural death. [Malta Media, 24 November ; Times of Malta, 25 November ] Malta is a staunchly pro-life country where opposition to abortion unites politicians and all sections of the community. It is one of the 10 applicant countries likely to join the European Union next year. A pioneer of stem cell research has admitted that adult stem cell technology may have greater therapeutic potential than the use of stem cells derived from embryos. John Gearhart of John Hopkins University, who gained international recognition when he extracted pluripotent stem cells from aborted foetuses in 1998, told a conference earlier this month that the future lay in using a patient's own stem cells in therapy. [LifeSite, 22 November ]

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