News, 7 April 2003
7 April 2003
7 April 2003 A controversial fertility expert in the US claims to have produced the world's first born-alive cloned human baby. Dr Panayiotis Zavos, who is based in Kentucky, gave no details about the identity of the clone's mother but promised to provide independent confirmation of his claim. He also said that seven other couples were undergoing cloning procedures at secret locations, while thousands more were 'waiting in the wings'. Clonaid, a company with links to the Raelian cult, claimed earlier this year to have produced five cloned babies, and Dr Severino Antinori, an Italian fertility expert who used to work with Dr Zavos, claimed recently that a woman was due to give birth to a cloned baby in January. However, no proof has yet been provided for any of these claims, and many experts have rejected them as untrue. [The Scotsman, 7 April ; see digest for 30 April 2002 ] A bill to legalise abortion is due to go before Indonesia's parliament later this month. A parliamentary commission has completed a draft of the proposed law which will now be put before legislators. Despite the widespread view that abortion is technically illegal in Indonesia under a law passed in 1992, the abortion rate is high and the government even runs its own abortion clinics. [Sydney Morning Herald, 5 April ] A woman has vowed to take her sick child to the US to seek IVF and tissue-transplant treatment if the Appeal Court refuses to allow the procedure in England. Mrs Shahana Hashmi wishes to undergo IVF to create a number of embryos and have them tested using PGD (pre-implantation genetic diagnosis) to find a tissue match for her son who has beta-thalassaemia major. If a match is found she will have the embryo implanted in the hope of carrying the baby to term. Comment on Reproductive Ethics (CORE), which won a high court judgment against the procedure, have claimed that tissue typing for an embryo is not available in the UK and that the Hashmis would have to go to the US in any case. [Telegraph online, 6 April; CORE] In a related development, the UK Thalassaemia Society has complained "in the strongest possible terms" against claims that beta thalassaemia major is a terminal illness. SPUC spokesman Anthony Ozimic commented: "Mrs Hashmi appears to be misinformed about many aspects of the case - medical, practical, and the legal protocol. It seems as if the facts have been misrepresented by interested parties to exploit the family's situation for their own ends." Pro-lifers in Nicaragua have accused those involved in pushing for a nine-year-old rape victim to have an abortion of being interested only in having abortion legalised. Elida Solorzano, a Nicaraguan pro-life leader, said that the remains of the aborted baby were not retained to provide DNA evidence against the girl's rapist, and the girl has now disappeared so that even the ministry of health, which is responsible for evaluating her, does not know where she is. [LifeSite, 4 April ] Meanwhile, another nine-year-old rape victim has given birth by Caesarean section in El Salvador, where all abortions are banned, and both mother and child are doing well. [LifeSite, 4 April ] A Catholic priest in Moscow has told a video-conference of theologians that a pro-life movement is urgently needed in post-Communist Russia. Fr Igor Kowalewsky said that a culture of death had ruled during the Communist era, and that the "after-effects of Communism and the seductive poison of individualism" now had to be combated. He urged the Church to provide "intellectual, apostolic and spiritual resources that can direct the effort of all men of good will to unite successfully in defence of life". [Zenit, 4 April ] Russia is thought to have one of the highest abortion rates in the world.