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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 17 September 2002

17 September 2002

17 September 2002 The synod of the Greek Orthodox Church has criticised a draft law which would allow artificial insemination and fertilisation [IVF]. Legislation proposed by the Greek government to outlaw human cloning and sex selection, except on serious so-called medical grounds, also provides for IVF for married and unmarried women. The synod described this as a serious threat to Greek family values. [Pro-Life E-News, 16 September] The Orthodox Church affirms the sacredness of life from conception, and IVF involves a hugely disproportionate risk to the lives of those babies created by it. Christopher Reeve, the actor who famously played Superman in several films and who was paralysed in an accident in 1995, has criticised the Catholic Church and US President Bush for obstructing research into so-called therapeutic cloning. He believes that stem cells extracted from cloned embryos may have the potential to cure him of paralysis, and he is currently supporting a move in the US Congress to ban cloning for reproductive purposes while authorising so-called therapeutic cloning. [BBC News online, 17 September ] All cloning is reproductive insofar as an individual and distinct human being is created in every case. Ethical adult stem cell technology has consistently demonstrated greater therapeutic potential than has the use of stem cells extracted from embryos. The US House of Representatives is due to debate a bill which would allow all private and religious medical institutions to resist pressure to provide abortion. The Abortion Non-Discrimination Act is intended to guarantee the right of all health care entities to abstain from involvement in abortion, after the courts had begun to interpret an abortion conscience clause in a 1996 law as applying only to individuals and not to institutions as a whole. [Pro-Life Infonet, 17 September] The doctor who developed the foetal heart monitor has died at the age of 96. Dr Orvan Hess began work on the monitor when he was a researcher at Yale University in the US during the 1930s. In 1957, Dr Hess and another doctor were the first to detect and record electrical cardiac signals from an unborn baby. The monitor has been described as the most widely used technique in obstetrics other than ultrasound, and has been credited with helping medical staff to reduce the number of stillbirths. [New York Times, 16 September; via Pro-Life Infonet] An appeals court in the US has ruled that a state law in Indiana which obliges women to receive counselling before an abortion is constitutional. A lower court had struck down the provision in a 1995 law which required abortion clinics to provide women with information on the alternatives to abortion at least 18 hours before the abortion was carried out, but this ruling was reversed by the 7th US Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago by two votes to one. [AP, via World News, 17 September ]

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