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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 21 February 2003

21 February 2003

21 February 2003 The German parliament has almost unanimously urged the government to support a worldwide ban on human cloning. Members of all major parties, including Chancellor Gerhard Schröder's social democrats, supported the declaration, which is nevertheless not binding on the government. The declaration observes that all cloning produces human embryos and is an assault on human dignity. Germany and France are presently advancing a policy at the United Nations which would ban cloning for birth but allow it for research. A leading German Christian democrat expects the two countries to abandon this position. UN negotiations on this issue resume in September. [Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute, 21 February ] The English appeal court has ruled that a woman's former partner is not the legal father of her three-year-old daughter who was conceived through IVF with anonymous donor sperm. The man signed forms to agree to IVF for the woman with whom he was then living but the relationship ended before IVF produced a live birth. Lady Justice Hale said the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act stated that, in IVF treatment, legal fatherhood was established at implantation. The un-identified people involved are from Merseyside. [BBC, 20 February , and SPUC summary, 7 February ] Pro-life lobbyists are concerned that Canadian MPs have received very little notice of today's debate on the use of human stem cells. Consideration of the Assisted Human Reproduction Act was only announced at 3 pm yesterday and many opposition party MPs from western Canada customarily visit their ridings (constituencies) on Fridays. The debate was not on the parliamentary long-term schedule nor is it on today's order paper which was published yesterday. The bill has been given priority over discussion of the budget and the Iraq situation. [LifeSite, 20 February ] The judiciary committee of the Kentucky house of representatives has rejected a bill to ban all human cloning by nine votes to seven. The house passed a similarly comprehensive ban last year but it stalled in the senate. A measure to permit embryo research is pending in the house. [Cincinnati Enquirer, 21 February ] A counselling organisation in Oregon is said to have helped up to 30 people obtain the means to commit suicide last year. Compassion in Dying assisted 21 people in this way in 2000 and 17 in 2001. Oregon legalised assisted suicide in 1998. The US attorney general is trying to overturn that law. Arizona is considering legalising assisted suicide. [Reuters on LifeSite, 20 February ] Drinking coffee in pregnancy increases the likelihood of stillbirth, according to a Danish study of some 18,500 women between 1989 and 1996. Aarhus university found that women who drank more than seven cups a day were twice as likely to miscarry as those who drank no coffee. Caffeine could reduce the placental oxygen supply to the unborn and/or damage their hearts. [British Medical Journal on BBC, 21 February ] Herbal medicines could harm pregnant women and foetuses, and could react adversely with drugs and procedures used in pregnancy. Research by Brigham and Women's hospital and Harvard medical school suggests that the lowering in blood-pressure caused by taking St John's wort can deprive foetuses of blood and oxygen. Ginger and garlic can inhibit blood-clotting. The study's authors urge pregnant women to tell their doctors about any herbal substance they are taking. [National Women's Health Information Center, 18 February ] A Yale university study has challenged the conventional view that premature babies' IQ cannot increase. The research on some 300 children suggests that those receiving early speech therapy, those in two-parent families, and those with educated mothers have an enhanced opportunity to recover for neurological damage. [Journal of the American Medical Association on CNN, 12 February ]

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