News, 23 October 2002
23 October 2002
23 October 2002 Participants in an international bioethics forum have agreed a number of resolutions in defence of the human embryo. About 600 people attended the conference on the embryo in Brussels last weekend, which opened with a message of support from Pope John Paul II. At the end of the meeting, the participants requested the prohibition of all forms of manipulation of the embryo, including cloning, and an end to the subsidising of research on embryos which "violates in them the dignity of humanity". [Zenit, 22 October ] The supreme court of Arizona has ruled that poor women have a right to publicly funded abortions when the procedure is deemed 'medically necessary'. Arizona state law had restricted Medicaid funding for abortion to cases of rape, incest or danger to the life of the mother. However, a lawsuit brought by abortion clinics and doctors claimed that the law was discriminatory, and the supreme court justices agreed with their argument by three votes to two. [AP, via ChannelOklahoma.com, 22 October ] The Roman Catholic archdiocese of Santa Fe in New Mexico has distributed a flyer which provides a non-partisan pro-life evaluation of political candidates to all its 92 parishes. The archdiocese has asked the parishes to distribute the information flyer, which was prepared by Right to Life New Mexico ahead of elections next month. The flyer has proved controversial because it observes that the Democratic candidate for governor has shown a lack of respect for life whereas his Republican opponent is pro-life. [LifeSite, 22 October ] Pro-abortionists in Canada are suing two Canadian provinces over their refusal to pay for abortions. The Canadian Abortion Rights Action League is supporting Dr Henry Morgentaler, a prominent abortionist, in his lawsuits against Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. They claim that the provinces are obliged to fund the full cost of abortions in private clinics under the Canada Health Act [although this appears to be based on the erroneous assumption that elective abortions are medically necessary]. Dr Morgentaler has launched similar actions against Quebec and Manitoba. [Canada Press, 22 October ] A team of American researchers has developed a technique for multiplying umbilical cord stem cells in the laboratory. Stem cells from the umbilical cord are already used in the treatment of leukaemia, but doctors have previously only been able to extract enough stem cells to treat a child. Scientists at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle have now managed to multiply the most primitive type of stem cells by as much as 100 times. Mr Ken Campbell of the UK's Leukaemia Research Fund commented: "This demonstration is a significant step towards possibly expanding the use of blood stem cells for treatment of an adult." [NewScientist.com, 22 October ] The use of stem cells from umbilical cord blood is an ethical alternative to the destructive extraction of stem cells from embryos and to so-called therapeutic cloning.