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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 29 October 2002

29 October 2002

29 October 2002 The countries which are applying to join the European Union are set to sign an agreement which ensures their full participation in the sixth framework programme for research. The so-called memoranda of understanding will mean that the EU candidate countries assume the same rights and obligations under the programme as full EU member states. Philippe Busquin, the EU's commissioner for research, welcomed the agreement, but SPUC has expressed concern. Mr Busquin has been a constant proponent of destructive research on human embryos, and there is a danger that part of the 17.5 billion euro budget of the programme could be used for destructive research after the moratorium on funding for such research expires at the end of next year. This would mean that tax-payers in candidate countries such as Malta and Poland would be obliged to fund destructive research in direct contravention of their pro-life ethos. [MaltaMedia and SPUC, 29 October] British scientists have developed a new technique to facilitate the treatment of cancer patients with ethically derived stem cells. A team at Cancer Research UK has genetically engineered stem cells from donated bone marrow so that they are resistant to chemotherapy. Meanwhile, a mother in Montreal, Canada, has been successfully treated for leukaemia with stem cells extracted from the umbilical cord of her own baby daughter. 27-year-old Patrizia Durante said: "I gave my daughter life, and then she gave mine back." [BBC News online, 29 October ; National Post, 26 October ] A spokesman for SPUC commented: "Almost every day there is further news of the therapeutic potential of ethically derived stem cells. This great body of evidence serves to repudiate entirely the claims of British parliamentarians last year that the authorisation of so-called therapeutic cloning was essential to develop stem cell technology." Pro-lifers in Brazil have expressed concern at the election of an allegedly pro-abortion president. Mr Luiz Inacio Lula won 61% of the votes in the final round of the presidential election on Sunday, but Dr Talmir Rodriguez, Brazil's representative on the board of the International Right to Life Federation, has warned that Brazil's pro-life constitution may now be threatened. The new president's political party has a policy of legalising abortion on demand in the first three months of pregnancy, and there are allegations that his former mistress was put under pressure to abort their child. [LifeSite, 28 October ] It is reported that Australian federal senators are deadlocked over legislation to authorise destructive embryonic stem cell research. A six-member committee of senators is evenly split on whether to recommend the authorisation of destructive research and has produced five different position statements on the legislation. The bill, which has the support of the prime minister and has already been passed by the House of Representatives, is expected to be debated by the full senate next month. [Sydney Morning Herald, 25 October, via Pro-Life Infonet ] Louisiana's department of health and hospitals has sent a written apology to the nurse who claims that she was threatened with dismissal for refusing to dispense the abortifacient morning-after pill [see digest for 25 October ]. Cynthia Day was also offered a reassignment and assured that she would not be required to provide the drug. [Herald Tribune, 28 October ]

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