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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 8 August 2003

8 August 2003

Half a million people in the UK aged between 45 and 69 are being asked to donate DNA samples as part of the UK Biobank project. The aim is to produce a database of genetic material, along with information about the donors such as medical histories, surroundings, diet and lifestyle, so as to study the links between genes and environment. "This is going to generate a lot of important scientific information," said John Bell, regius chair of medicine at Oxford University. "We now have this fantastic opportunity for research, coming from 25 years of revolution in molecular knowledge." [Taipei Times, 7 August]

The executive director of the Fort Myers African and Caribbean American Center has criticised the high levels of abortion among African-American women. African-Americans make up 12% of the US population but account for 35% of abortions and Planned Parenthood admitted as early as 1992 that abortion services were deliberately targeting African-American women. Ismael Hernandez is particularly critical of black politicians and public figures who support a procedure that has claimed the lives of approximately 13 million black babies in 27 years. He concludes by commenting: "In the past racists snatched black babies from their mother's arms and sold them into slavery. Today, they snatch them from their mother's womb and throw them in the garbage." [news-press, 8 August]

Following the news that Italian scientists had successfully cloned a horse, UK researchers have expressed concerns about the health risks to cloned animals, particularly premature ageing. The vast majority of embryonic clones fail to implant, miscarry later in pregnancy or are born with severe birth defects. Those that are born apparently healthy may have subtle defects that only show up later. "What could happen is that the clone is born looking quite normal and its early life is quite normal," explained Professor Reik of the Babraham Institute, "but later on these animals could develop all sorts of diseases - infectious diseases." [BBC, 7 August]

Anthony Fisher OP, bishop-elect and SPUC president, will debate against the euthanasia advocate Dr Philip Nitschke at Sydney University on Monday. The debate has been organised by the university's Catholic Chaplaincy to open Life Week and will be co-hosted by other university societies such as the Medical Society and the Student Union. Other speakers include the pro-life GP Dr Catherine Lennon. [Catholic News, 8 August]

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