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News, 18 October 2002

18 October 2002

18 October 2002 The German delegate to negotiations on a proposed United Nations convention against human cloning has described the pro-life position of the United States as "morally questionable". In a rare breach of protocol, Christian Müch, the German legal adviser to the UN, criticised the American insistence on a comprehensive cloning ban because it threatened speedy agreement on a convention to ban cloning for reproductive purposes. Germany and France are pushing their plan for a convention which would only ban so-called reproductive cloning but allow the creation and destruction of cloned human embryos for experimental and so-called therapeutic purposes. Meanwhile, German federal politicians have expressed alarm at the position adopted by their delegates at the UN because German law prohibits all forms of cloning. [C-FAM Friday Fax, 18 October ] It is reported that the UK's Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) will suggest that couples should be allowed to choose the sex of their IVF baby for the purpose of "family balancing". A consultation document prepared by the HFEA and seen by the BBC suggests that sex selection techniques used in conjunction with IVF which are presently only allowed on so-called medical grounds should be available to couples who simply want to ensure that they have an equal number of male and female children. [BBC News online, 17 October ] Techniques for sex selection in IVF include sperm sorting (whereby only sperms most likely to contain chromosomes of the desired sex are allowed to fertilise the egg) and pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (whereby embryos of the undesired sex are discarded). Most IVF practices entail a massive loss of early human life. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) has said that research into adult stem cell technology "has the potential to revolutionise the practice of medicine". In a statement issued by the AAOS observed that "research on human adult stem cells suggests great potential for use in the development of tissue and cartilage regeneration especially in the area of transplantation". Dr Joseph Iannotti, an expert in orthopaedic surgery, told an AAOS conference that "adult stem cells have not only proven to be effective in bone healing today, they hold great promise for the future of orthopaedics". [LifeSite, 17 October ] Adult stem cell technology is an ethical and more promising alternative to the use of stem cells extracted from embryos and to so-called therapeutic cloning. The attorney who argued the case for a constitutional right to abortion before the US Supreme Court in the case of Roe v Wade in 1973 has warned that the ruling could easily be reversed. Sarah Weddington warned that President Bush could appoint supreme court judges who would establish a majority on the bench against Roe v Wade, and that the US congressional elections next month were crucial because a Democrat-controlled senate would be expected refuse to approve such nominations. [AP, 17 October; via Pro-Life Infonet ]

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