News, 29 April 2003
29 April 2003
29 April 2003 The British prime minister has reaffirmed his personal support for destructive research on human embryos. In an article for the Wall Street Journal to mark the 50th anniversary of the discovery of the structure of DNA, Tony Blair observed that there were "very understandable ethical concerns about the use of human embryonic stem cells in research" but insisted that "we cannot afford to overlook the potential these cells hold for treating chronic, incurable diseases". Mr Blair said that there needed "to be a genuine dialogue between the public, scientists and governments around the world to explore these issues and to generate a suitable environment for further research". [Gulf Daily News, 26 April ] The UK has some of the most permissive embryo research regulations in the world, and is the only Western country whose parliament has passed legislation designed to sanction the creation and destruction of cloned human embryos in medical research. The results of a survey conducted by a British market research company have suggested that teenagers are being dissuaded from buying the abortifacient morning-after pill because it is too expensive. A survey by Isis Research of 50 high street chemists across Britain found that three in four pharmacists believed that the current £24 price was prohibitive for the under-20s. [Daily Telegraph, 28 April] The morning-after pill became available over-the-counter from pharmacists to women over 16 throughout the UK on 1 January 2001, but evidence suggests that it has done nothing to reduce the number of unplanned pregnancies or registered abortions. Indeed, tens of thousands of unborn babies have been killed before implantation as a result. The lexicon of anti-life terminology recently published in Italian by the Vatican contains a strong affirmation of the inviolability of human life from the moment of conception. The document, prepared by the Pontifical Council for the Family [see digests for 23 January and 4 April ] and soon to be released in English, contains one passage which has been translated as: "No law in the world, no political system can ever make abortion lawful nor the right to abortion, which is in itself unlawful." The document also observes that any state which attacks the right to life from the moment of conception until natural death "is not democratic", and condemns so-called emergency contraception as a form of abortion. [LifeSite, 25 April ; The Tablet, 12 April ] President George W Bush has urged the US Congress to pass the Unborn Victims of Violence Act this year. The bill would recognise an unborn child who is injured or killed as a result of a federal crime as a legal victim so that a second charge could be brought on his or her behalf. Ali Fleischer, the White House press secretary, said: "The President does believe that when an unborn child is injured or killed during the commission of a crime of violence, the law should recognise what most people immediately recognise, and that it that such a crime has two victims." [LifeSite, 28 April ] The law would not affect the current status quo with regard to abortion law.