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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 25 September 2002

25 September 2002

25 September 2002 The Vatican's representative at the United Nations has condemned human cloning for so-called therapeutic purposes as discriminatory and "a new kind of racism". Delegates are meeting at the UN in New York this week to consider a proposal for a global ban on human cloning for reproductive purposes, but pro-lifers are trying to secure a comprehensive ban on all human cloning. In his address to the meeting, Archbishop Renato Martino, the Holy See's permanent observer to the UN, rejected any distinction between reproductive and so-called therapeutic cloning, describing the latter as "a new and terrible form of slavery" because it would lead to a "subcategory of human beings" destined for the convenience of others. [Zenit, 24 September ] The Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC) has forced the British Foreign Office to address human rights abuses committed under China's one-child policy for the first time. Following criticism by the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee initiated by SPUC, and pressure from SPUC's 45,000-strong membership, the Foreign Office has included a section on the one-child policy in its Human Rights Annual Report (2002 edition issued yesterday). The report expresses "concerns ... such as enforced sterilisations, the abortion of female foetuses and the abandonment of female children", noting that these "are also a source of concern for many Chinese people." Anthony Ozimic, SPUC's political secretary, said that the government could only claim to be implementing an ethical foreign policy once it followed the US example and stopped funding the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) which supports China's population control programme. [SPUC media release, 24 September ] Pro-lifers in Australia have welcomed a decision by the attorney-general of New South Wales to consider the extension of manslaughter laws to include the death of unborn babies. Margaret Tighe, president of Right to Life Australia, said that the move further highlighted current inconsistencies in the law regarding unborn children right across the country. Queensland is currently the only Australian state to have a law protecting unborn children from violence other than that perpetrated by abortion. [Daily Telegraph (Australia), 25 September ] The results of research carried in the UK have suggested that nearly half of women are misinformed about the side effects of the morning-after pill. Dr Peter Knapp of the University of Leeds found that most women knew how to obtain the drug, but that the side-effects "were often exaggerated or wrongly attributed to the medicine". A spokesman for SPUC observed: "The reports of Dr Knapp's findings do not even allude to the abortifacient effect of the morning-after pill, which causes tens of thousands of early abortions in the UK each year. Women are being deliberately and cynically misinformed about this aspect of the morning-after pill, which is wrongly described as a contraceptive." [Reuters and SPUC, 25 September] A spokesman for US President Bush has criticised the new law in California supporting destructive research on human embryos which was signed by Governor Gray Davis on Sunday. Ari Fleischer, the White House press secretary, said: "[The President] believes that all policies, state or federal, need to respect the culture of life. He differs with Governor Davis on this." Pro-life groups across the US have also criticised the law. Wendy Wright of Concerned Women for America said: "It's disturbing because it's a fundamental disregard for human life." [Los Angeles Times and Washington Times, 23 September; via Pro-Life Infonet ] A nationwide survey of Americans has found that younger people are more likely to hold pro-life views than those in their parents' generation. The study by the University of California Berkeley found that 44% of respondents aged between 15 and 22 supported restrictions on abortion, compared to only 34% of adults aged between 27 and 59. [Daily Californian, 25 September ] Other opinion polls in the US has shown greater opposition to abortion. One opinion poll conducted by Gallup earlier this year found that only 25% to 27% of the US population believed that abortion should be "legal under any circumstances" [see digest for 25 July ]. The manufacturer of the RU-486 abortion drug for the US market has claimed that more than 100,000 American women have used it since it was licensed by the US authorities in late 2000. Danco Laboratories also revealed that there had been a 36% increase in sales of the drug, which is sold under the tradename of Mifeprex, in the first eight months of this year. RU-486, or mifepristone, is taken together with another drug to expel the aborted foetus and is said to be 92% to 95% effective in ending pregnancy. [ABC News, 24 September ]

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