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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 1 October 2002

1 October 2002

1 October 2002 The Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC) has expressed concern over latest population figures which reveal that there are now more over-60s than under-16s for the first time among the UK population. SPUC general secretary Paul Tully commented: "Since 1970 there has been a fall in births of one-third. The promotion of abortion and birth control by both private and public agencies, and with massive public funding, have been a major factor in this. These figures show that the systematic promotion of abortion not only has a devastating impact on the lives of individual mothers and babies, but is indirectly fuelling the growing pressure for euthanasia." [SPUC, 1 October , BBC, 30 September ] Ultrasound doctors in Australia have cast doubt on whether women need to know whether their unborn child may have a remote chance of minor fetal abnormality. The Sydney Morning Herald reports Lachlan de Crespigny, director of ultrasound at Royal Women's Hospital in Melbourne, as stating that pre-natal ultrasound examinations are wrongly regarded as routine, often reveal only "imprecise signs" of fetal abnormality and that many expectant mothers have asked doctors not to share "inconclusive findings" with them. [Sydney Morning Herald, 30 September ] Prenatal testing is often used to "search and destroy" unborn children found to have even minor abnormalities. In Britain, a national magazine survey of 3,000 mothers has found that 68 per cent of mothers said that they had been "worried" about pre-natal tests. The survey, commissioned by Mother&Baby magazine, also found that 23% of mothers had a Caesarean section delivery and 25% complained maternity unit staff had been "lacking in compassion and cold". [Mother&Baby, November 2002 edition] The cardinal-archbishop of Detroit, Michigan, is due to issue a statement this Sunday stating that politicians have "a special moral obligation" to oppose abortion. In a new pastoral letter, Cardinal Adam Maida will state that politicians cannot "justify inaction with regard to the dignity of human life simply on the grounds that abortion is the law of the land". The pastoral letter is to be read at all Masses in the Detroit archdiocese marking the annual Respect Life Sunday, which begins a month-long observance of Catholic opposition to anti-life practices. Cardinal Maida will also state that "[w]hen it is impossible to overturn or prevent passage of a law which allows or promotes abortion, an elected official should always seek to limit the harm done by such laws." The body representing Michigan's Catholic bishops has issued a guide for voters in this month's election for Michigan state governor, which describes abortion as "the preeminent threat to human dignity because it directly attacks life itself." Cardinal Maida had previously opposed a failed referendum proposal to legalise assisted suicide. [Detroit News, 29 September, via Pro-Life Infonet , 1 October] Pro-life delegates at the United Nations have managed to delay the progress of a proposal to ban human cloning for live-birth but allow destructive research on cloned human embryos (see news-digest for 27 September ). After five days of discussion in New York, the Working Group on an International Convention against Reproductive Cloning of Human Beings was unable to reach a consensus on language for a ban on human cloning, with the United States, the Holy See and several European countries seeking a moratorium on all types of human cloning until consensus on a ban on human cloning is agreed. Negotiations are due to resume next month. [SPUC delegate Peter C. Smith, 1 October] US scientists have grown teeth from animal adult stem cells. Researchers at the Forsyth Institute, Boston, took cells from adult pigs and cultured them inside the abdomens of rats, which resulted in recognisable tooth crowns containing enamel and dentin. The research is due to be published in the Journal of Dental Research next week. Adult stem cell therapies may offer an ethical and rapidly-advancing alternative to destructive research on human embryos. [Daily Mail, 28 September]. Approximately 1,000 infants have been born using preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD), scientists said yesterday. At a news conference at the Reproductive Genetics Institute in Chicago, USA, the Institute's president Yury Verlinsky claimed that PGD benefits both couples and society by eliminating the cost of care for disabled children. [Associated Press via Kaiser Daily Reproductive Health Report, 1 October ]

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