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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 18 February 2003

18 February 2003

18 February 2003 Pregnant women in Britain have been advised to limit their consumption of tuna and avoid certain other types of fish altogether to protect the health of their unborn children. The UK's Food Standards Agency has warned that amounts of mercury found in tuna, shark, swordfish and marlin could harm an unborn child's developing nervous system. Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, or who are planning to become pregnant, are advised to eat no more than two medium-sized cans of tuna each week, and to avoid the other specified fish entirely. [FSA and BBC News online , 17 February] A British expert in law and bioethics has argued in a national newspaper that the IVF industry is based on a "misguided central premise" that the end of fertility treatment justifies the means. Dr Jacqueline Laing of the London Metropolitan University highlighted the use of IVF to help post-menopausal women to conceive as an example of how the "baby making trade" ignored the interests of IVF babies and the respect due to early human life. Dr Laing argued that, as a result of the flawed reasoning behind the view that those who wanted children should have the right to have them, "human life in its earliest stages is mass-produced, frozen, experimented on and subject to quality control and destruction." [Daily Mail, 18 February] The vast majority of human beings engendered through IVF die before birth. The government of Vietnam has approved a ban on human cloning for all purposes. A decree approved by the Vietnamese government, which will come into effect on 1 May, also prohibits the sex selection of embryos and the donation of sperm, eggs or embryos for fertility treatment. However, the decree on reproductive technologies does allow the practice of IVF treatment to continue. [Radio Australia News, 16 February ] Political analysts in Canada believe that consideration of the assisted reproduction bill currently before parliament will be put on hold until the second half of next month to allow time for the budget to be debated. Pro-lifers have urged their supporters to take advantage of the delay to lobby members of parliament further. The legislation as it currently stands would permit the creation of human embryos for the purposes of experimentation. [LifeSite, 17 February ; see digest for 29 January ] The leader of the Catholic Church in Uganda has urged women to fight vices including abortion and euthanasia. Speaking at a girls' boarding college in Nabbingo, Cardinal Emmanuel Wamala of Kampala warned of the threats posed by various false doctrines on a number of fronts, including "through contraceptives, abortion and euthanasia under the cover of scientific development and economic progress". [AllAfrica.com, 17 February; via Northern Light ] Cardinal Wamala is a staunch defender of human life - see digests for 26 January 2001 and 18 April 2001 . The Catholic deputy president of the Australian federal senate has said that the Catholic Church should adopt "a more aggressive stance" on moral issues like abortion and embryo research to give Catholic politicians the courage to vote in accordance with their faith. Senator John Hogg from Queensland told the Zenit news agency that there was "no valid excuse" for politicians not to do the right thing, but that particular difficulties were experienced by lapsed Catholics or those "who had succumbed to the popular secular argument of the day" in the face of so-called Catholic organisations that were "diametrically opposed to the stated Catholic view and make the politician's stance difficult to defend". [Zenit, 17 February ]

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