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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 26 September 2002

26 September 2002

26 September 2002 The South Korean government has proposed a bill to restrict destructive research on cloned human embryos. It is reported that the Life, Ethics and Safety Measures bill also bans so-called reproductive cloning, as well as the genetic treatment of embryos and fetuses. The bill makes human cloning punishable by 10 years in prison, but a specially-created ethics committee will be authorised to permit cloning. A health ministry official told a Korean newspaper: "We decided to ban the cloning because it can be misused for human [reproductive] cloning." A US-based cult claimed in July that it had implanted a cloned embryo into a Korean woman two months previously. [ news service, 25 September ] Destructive stem cell research on human embryos has been approved by the lower house of the Australian parliament. After 35 hours of heated debate, a bill to allow stem cell research on human embryos unused in IVF treatment was passed by 99 votes to 33 in the 150-seat House of Representatives. The legislation still requires from the upper house, the Senate, where the vote is expected to be much closer. [Reuters, 25 September ] The House of Representatives voted 229-189 in favor of the Abortion Non-Discrimination Act (ANDA), a bill to protect the right of hospitals to refuse abortion procedures. The bill, designed to strengthen a similar law passed in 1996, states the conscience protections apply to all those involved in providing health care, including health plans, hospitals, and individual health professionals. Currently, 86 percent of American hospitals do not allow abortions to be performed. President Bush's administration have supported the bill, stating in a statement on Wednesday that "hospitals and health care professionals should not be forced to perform or participate in abortions''. [Pro-Life Infonet , September 25, 2002] A survey of young American adults has found significantly higher sympathy for pro-life views compared with older adults. The survey by the University of California, Berkeley was based on interviews with over 1,000 randomly chosen Americans nationwide of different age, ethnic and gender groups. It found that 44 percent of interviewees aged 15 to 22 supported government restrictions on abortions, compared with 34 percent of interviewees aged 27 to 59. The study's project director Douglas Strand said that this difference may be due to increased media attention instigated by pro-life groups to the abortion issue. [Survey Research Center, University of California, Berkeley, via Pro-Life Infonet , 25 September 2002] An Italian gynaecologist has been ordered to pay child maintenance to a patient who had an unwanted pregnancy following a failed sterilisation. Dr Ruggero Pasqualetto of Venice must pay 105,000 euros (around £70,000) to his patient, identified only as 'Signora A.S.', in compensation for psychological stress suffered and maintaining the child during his school years. 'Signora A.S' gave birth to a baby boy on New Year's Eve 1996, despite having undergone an operation to close her fallopian tubes. She claimed that Dr Pasqualetto had offered her an abortion when her pregnancy test proved positive, saying "don't worry Signora, we'll get rid of it". [BBC News Online Health, 26 September ] Girls as young as 11 are being offered the abortifacient morning-after pill in a south London school. The school nurse at Chestnut Grove school, Balham, was given permission by the school's governors and the local Wandsworth Primary Care Trust to dispense the Levonelle-2 brand of morning-after pill at her weekly drop-in sessions. It is reported that some parents of children at the school have criticised the scheme, claiming they were informed but not consulted. Parents can opt out by requesting in advance that their daughter is not offered the hormonal pill. Conservative local councillor in Wandsworth Stuart Finn described the pill as "abortive" and claimed its use to reduce teenage pregnancies "flies in the face of any empirical use of statistics, of evidence, of data". [This is Local London, 26 September ]

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