News, 3 September 2002
3 September 2002
3 September 2002 It is reported that agreement on the final outcome document of the United Nations Earth Summit in Johannesburg is being held up by a disagreement over the issue of so-called abortion rights. The text as it stands states that the provision of reproductive healthcare for women should be "consistent with national laws and cultural and religious values". However, Canada, South Africa and the European Union countries are pressing for the addition of a clause which asserts that it should also be "in conformity with all human rights and fundamental freedoms". This is because they fear that reference to religious values alone would be interpreted as a denial of a woman's right to abortion. Mary Robinson, the pro-abortion UN high commissioner for human rights, said that it would be "a very bad day for women" if the human rights language was not included, but the United States and other pro-life delegations are resisting it. [AFX News, via Northern Light, 2 September ; Reuters, via Miami Herald, 3 September ] Researchers in the US have found embryonic stem cells in the guts of adult rats. Dr Sean J Morrison of the University of Michigan said that it was the first indication that such cells remained in the peripheral nervous system after birth and into adulthood. If these cells can be found in adult humans as well, it might mean that embryonic stem cells could be extracted from adults rather than from embryos. [LifeSite, 30 August ] Ethical stem cell technology provides a more promising alternative to the use of stem cells destructively extracted from embryos and to so-called therapeutic cloning for the treatment of human ailments. Pro-lifers in Kenya have called on the government to enforce laws against illegal abortion. It is reported that the incidence of illegal abortion continues to rise despite the existence of pro-life laws. The Family Life Counselling Association of Kenya has claimed that the authorities are turning a blind eye to illegal abortions, and that abortion is easily available in illegal facilities for a modest fee. [East African Standard, 26 August, via Northern Light ] The Kenyan health ministry is known to support a liberalisation of abortion laws. However, claims of high rates of illegal abortions should be treated with caution because they are a common ploy of pro-abortionists seeking to persuade legislators that legal regulation of abortion is the only way to make an already common procedure safe for women. Such claims are usually completely unsubstantiated.