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Defending life
from conception to natural death


News, 11 April 2003

11 April 2003

11 April 2003 American researchers who have tried and failed to clone monkeys have concluded that human cloning may never be possible. A team at the University of Pittsburgh tried to clone 700 macaque monkey eggs using the technique employed to produce Dolly the sheep, but without success. In the process they identified fundamental biological differences which suggested that the Dolly method "just doesn't work" in primates - including humans. The findings apply not only to cloning for reproductive purposes but also to so-called therapeutic cloning - a fact which further demonstrates the greater potential of ethical adult stem cell technology. [The Times, 11 April] The government of Taiwan is considering whether to offer abortions to pregnant illegal immigrants from mainland China. There are currently 37 pregnant Chinese women in a detention camp for illegal immigrants in northern Taiwan, but sending them home is difficult because China does not recognise the legitimacy of Taiwan's government. Cheng Wen-chang, head of the Taiwanese bureau of immigration, said that births in the detention camp were causing "personnel and financial problems" and claimed that most women did not want to keep their babies and had even resorted to falling down staircases in a bid to cause a miscarriage. [AP, via Yahoo! News, 10 April ] The ProLife Alliance will be taking legal advice on whether it could now take its election broadcast censorship case to the European Court of Human Rights. After the House of Lords ruled yesterday that the BBC was within its rights to refuse to show a ProLife Alliance election broadcast which depicted images of aborted foetuses, a party spokesman said: "We obviously will be fighting on and we mean to show the British people the truth about abortion." [BBC News online, 10 April ] The Canadian House of Commons has completed its debate on government legislation to regulate human reproductive technologies, but the final vote has now been postponed until after the Easter recess. LifeSite, a Canadian pro-life news service, reports that "uncertainty and confusion continue" over the bill after all the parties agreed to consider a motion to send the bill back to a committee over the issue of paid surrogacy. This will not happen until 29 April at the earliest. [LifeSite, 10 April ] The bill as it stands would authorise destructive research on embryos and might still allow for human cloning [see digest for 9 April ]. Pro-lifers and pro-abortionists in the Czech Republic are keeping a close eye on the progress of a legal challenge to abortion in neighbouring Slovakia, where the constitutional court is expected to hear legal arguments later this month on whether the legal right to life protects unborn children. Abortion rates have been falling considerably in both countries in recent years, and Zdenka Rybova, vice president of the Czech Movement for Life, told a national newspaper that Slovakian pro-lifers were an inspiration to their Czech counterparts. However, Radim Uzel, executive director of the pro-abortion Czech Family Planning Association, said that the Czech Republic and Slovakia were in very different situations. He expects that Slovakia will follow Poland's example and eventually pass a ban on abortion because of the influence of the Catholic Church, but this influence is not as strong in the Czech Republic. [The Prague Post, 10 April ]

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