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Defending life
from conception to natural death


News, 17 December 2003

17 December 2003

17 December 2003 The Voluntary Euthanasia Society faces a possible split over the actions of Dr Michael Irwin, who was arrested by police in connection with the death of Patrick Kneen, the Independent reports. Some support his position but the society's constitution insists that members should campaign within the law. Dr Irwin has admitted assisting in the suicide of terminally ill patients in the past and is currently on police bail. [The Independent, 16 December ] A former nurse has been charged with murder after he claimed that he had killed up to 40 patients in US hospitals. Charles Cullen, who has been charged with the murder of a Catholic priest and the attempted murder of a 40-year-old woman, said that he would plead guilty and did not want a lawyer. [The Scotsman, 16 December ] In its obituary of Sir Anthony Hollis, the family law judge, the Times of London chose to single out his ruling in a controversial abortion case involving a 12-year-old girl. The judge, who was also involved in a number of high profile child abuse cases, ruled that the child could undergo an abortion against her mother's wishes. The decision met with serious criticism from pro-life groups at the time. [The Times of London, 16 December ] The US Catholic bishops' conference has produced a review of successful studies in the field of adult stem cell research, including the discovery that bone marrow stem cells can become liver cells and that stem cells taken from the spleen can be used to treat juvenile diabetes in mice. [USCCB ] Seven women are currently on trial in Portugal for having illegal abortions alongside the doctor who performed the abortions and nine accomplices. Abortion is illegal in Portugal except in cases of rape and on grounds of health concerns, but the trial is being used by some politicians and women's groups who want the law liberalised. A spokesman for the ruling Social Democrat party said that the party was ready to consider decriminalising abortion, though other party members have spoken against any change. IPPF claim that up to 20,000 illegal abortions are carried out in Portugal annually. [, 16 December ] A spokesman from SPUC commented: "Before abortion was legalised in Portugal, abortion advocates claimed that illegal abortion was claiming the lives of 2000 Portuguese women a year. This figure was proven to be patently false. Legal abortion came to Portugal on the back of pro-abortion lies. The rule of law is clearly being undermined when the ruling party says it would be happy to see abortion legalised." [SPUC source] Researchers at Advanced Cell Technology of Worcester, Massachusetts, claim to have successfully repeated an experiment to clone a human embryo. They have also carried out human parthenogenesis, a process involving a human egg but not sperm. Critics have questioned in the past whether the cloning process known as cell nuclear transfer has ever worked with humans. [Reuters, 16 December] A 33-year-old woman has been arrested after she attacked a pro-life politician during a demonstration. Jody Carr, who was attending the pro-life demonstration in New Brunswick, Canada, was allegedly hit in the chest by the woman who rushed at him after shouting at the crowd. [LifeSite, 16 December ] The New Jersey state assembly has passed legislation allowing human cloning, reports. The bill bans cloning for reproductive purposes, but permits the implantation of a cloned embryo into a womb, meaning that a clone could be allowed to grow virtually to term before being destroyed for stem cell research. The bill's sponsor said: "Today we are about to take significant action on a significant bill to help a significant amount of people." Opponents noted that the bill would allow body parts to be taken throughout the nine months of pregnancy, aiding an already flourishing trade in foetal tissue. [, 16 December ] A Vatican official has clarified the Church's position following the passing of new laws regulating IVF treatment in Italy. Bishop Elio Sgreccia, vice president of the Pontifical Academy for Life pointed out that though the legislation has been labelled 'Catholic' by some commentators because it restricts IVF treatment, it cannot be described as such because "a law that allows conception in a test tube is never considered licit". [Zenit, 16 December ] An editorial in the Washington Times has argued that years of dedication by the pro-life movement has resulted in a change of heart in the US on abortion. According to polls, more and more people are identifying themselves as pro-life, particularly as a result of the long debate over partial birth abortion. [Washington Times, 15 December ]

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