News, 14 April 2003
14 April 2003
14 April 2003 It has emerged that an amendment to a proposed directive to ban all destructive experiments on human embryos was lost by just one vote in the European parliament last week. Members of the parliament voted last Thursday to adopt a proposed directive on human tissues and cells which would ban all human cloning for both reproductive and so-called therapeutic purposes [see digest for 10 April ]. However, after the amendments to ban all cloning had been passed by acclaim, the president of the parliament called for a roll-call vote on the amendment to ban all destructive research. This vote was then tied on 232 to 232, which meant that the amendment fell. It was for this reason that some pro-life MEPs, including Dana Rosemary Scallon, voted against the whole proposal. [SPUC, 14 April] The creator of Dolly the cloned sheep is pressing ahead with his plans to clone a human embryo for the purposes of medical research. Professor Ian Wilmut of the Roslin Institute near Edinburgh will apply to the UK's Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) for permission to create a clone of a patient with motor neurone disease (MND). The embryo's stem cells would then be extracted - a process which would result in his or her death - and used for research into possible treatments for MND. It is rumoured that the HFEA is open to accepting Professor Wilmut's application. A spokesman for the Association of Medical Research Charities welcomed news of the application, but warned that it could take many years to develop any treatments. [The Scotsman, 12 April ] Ethical adult stem cell technology is consistently shown to provide a more promising alternative to so-called therapeutic cloning - see digest for 11 April . The High Court of New Zealand has ruled that women can complete chemical abortions at home. In a judgement released on Friday, Justice Durie ruled that women who were given the RU-486 abortion drug regimen to procure an abortion did not need to stay in hospital until after their child had been expelled from the womb. In most chemical abortions after implantation, RU-486 (mifepristone) is used to attack the unborn child and another drug is then administered 36 to 48 hours later to expel the dead or dying foetus. This often results in serious bleeding and trauma. New Zealand's Right to Life group described the judgement as "a sad and historic day for unborn children and their mothers" and is likely to appeal. [New Zealand Herald and xtramsn, 12 April] Catholics and Buddhists in Taiwan are urging the government not to consider a proposal to offer abortions to pregnant illegal immigrants from mainland China. The government is considering a proposal to offer abortions to women in a detention camp in northern Taiwan [see digest for 11 April ], but Archbishop Joseph Ti-kang of Taipei told a news conference: "No one has the right to terminate the lives of others. Abortions represent a severe violation of fundamental human rights." Yang Shun-oh of the Buddhist foundation agreed and urged the government to reconsider because "being anti-abortion is more than a religious stance. It is a genuine show of respect for life." [Taiwan News, 12 April ] Police in South Africa are to investigate claims that abortion clinics in Durban are encouraging women to dump their aborted babies in refuse bins. Dozens of dead foetuses have been found in open spaces, refuse bins and toilets over the last few months, and social workers believe that this is because women are completing their [chemical] abortions at home and then depositing their dead babies in the streets in plastic bags provided by the abortionists. [Daily News, South Africa, 11 April ] The grieving parents of a 17-year-old who killed himself have demanded action against websites which promote suicide. Tim Piper, an A-level student from Chippenham in western England, consulted the websites before hanging himself. [The Bath Chronicle, 7 April ] The Australian government announced last week that it was considering laws to crack down on the use of the internet to promote suicide. One of their targets would appear to be Dr Philip Nitschke, the prominent pro-euthanasia campaigner [see digest for 8 April ]. The legislative council of New York City has voted to override the mayor's veto of two bills aimed at facilitating access to the abortifacient morning-after pill. Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a well-known pro-abortionist, blocked the measures to oblige city hospitals to provide the drug to alleged rape victims and to require pharmacists to display signs indicating the availability of the drug on the basis that the former was unnecessary and the latter unenforceable. [LifeSite, 11 April ; see digest for 19 March ] It seems that the first of these measures will apply also to Catholic hospitals in the city.