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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 4 December 2003

4 December 2003

4 December 2003 The EU has failed to agree whether or not to fund embryo research, reports. The European Commission has said that despite the apparent stalemate, funding proposals might be decided on an individual basis. [, 4 December ] The Commission of the bishops' conferences of the European Community has expressed regret that agreement on appropriate ethical guidelines was not reached on the issue, stating that this may result in the European Commission 'taking decisions on such funding in a context of legal and ethical uncertainty.' [COMECE, 3 December ] Researchers at the University of Illinois, Chicago, have successfully used rat stem cells to create bone and cartilage, forming the structure of a joint in the human jaw. It is hoped that this procedure could be used in the future to repair human jaws, knees and hips damaged through injury or illnesses such as rheumatoid arthritis. [Chicago Sun-Times, 3 December ] The pro-life arm of the Canadian Catholic bishops' conference has written to the health minister to express concerns over a government proposal to make the morning after pill available without prescription. Bishop Pierre Morissette, chairman of the Catholic Organisation for Life and Family, told the minister: "women have a right to know that what is described as 'emergency contraception' may in reality be a form of early abortion." [CWNews, 3 December ] Researchers from the Institute of Child Health in London have suggested that children who have short mothers and overweight fathers are at higher risk of heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes later in life. However, the results did not find that the mother's weight determined health risks to the child. [Ananova, 4 December ] A professor of bio-ethics has been attacked for advocating the sale of organs from living donors. Dr Jacqueline Laing, senior lecturer in the department of law at London Metropolitan University, described the proposal made yesterday to the British Medical Association by Dr John Harris, professor of bio-ethics at Manchester University, as contrary to commonly held ethical and legal principles. Dr Laing also argued that legalising organ sales could create a "market in murder" if the 1995 draft of the Mental Incapacity Bill was enacted. Dr John Harris is a leading proponent of other unethical proposals, including reproductive cloning. [Daily Mail, 4 December]

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