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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 7 August 2003

7 August 2003

7 August 2003 Italian scientists have created the world's first horse clone after 328 attempts, the BBC reports. Prometea was born 10 weeks ago at the Laboratory of Reproductive Technology in Cremona, near Milan, a breakthrough that could have major implications for the future of horseracing. Scientists have now successfully cloned sheep, mules, pigs, rabbits, cats, goats, mice and cattle. [BBC, 6 August ] In spite of China's one-child policy, nearly 500 fertility clinics have opened in recent years, with 12,000 Chinese couples seeking help with fertility problems in 2001. The growth of the fertility industry has been attributed to a stronger economy, the shift from traditional to modern medicine and changing attitudes towards infertility. Government officials are said to be clamping down on the clinics. [, 6 August ] Researchers at the Duke University Medical Centre in North Carolina have manipulated the genes of mice to alter colour and disease susceptibility by feeding their mothers vitamin supplements during pregnancy. The study highlights the importance of external factors on gene expression but more research is needed before the findings can benefit humans. [The Guardian, 7 August ] The Foundation for the Study of Infant Deaths is to fund a research project at the University of Manchester looking into the links between genes and cot death. Preliminary research suggests that many cot death babies have a variant of an immune system gene that makes them less able to resist infections and it is hoped that the team will identify the genotypes accounting for cot death. [, 6 August ] From 1 September, Texas will legally define an 'individual' to include an unborn child from the moment of fertilisation as opposed to 'a human being who has been born and is alive'. The change in definition offers legal protection for the unborn, but even though it could lead to murder charges for those who cause pregnant women to miscarry, it does not cover legal abortion. Defence attorney James Granberry commented: "We're gonna allow mothers and doctors at the mother's behest to commit what would otherwise be capital murder for anybody else." [, 7 August ] USAID is funding programs in Central and South America and Africa that promote 'reproductive health' among children, according to a report by the Population Research Institute. Children are targeted with explicit sexual material, such as posters advertising flavoured condoms which feature the faces of children as young as 7, and are being provided with abortifacient drugs and devices and manual vacuum abortions through Family Health International's YouthNet program. [EWTN, 5 August ] Sir David Attenborough, a former controller of BBC2, is supporting a conference organised by the Optimum Population Trust to be held in Oxford in September. Sir David believes that population control through free contraception is the only way to save endangered species. The OPT wants to reduce the population of the UK by half, from 59 million to 30 million. [The Catholic Herald, 8 August]

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