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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 31 January 2003

31 January 2003

31 January 2003 The Catholic archbishop of Vancouver in British Columbia has stated that Catholic politicians may not support legislation to regulate destructive embryonic stem cell research. Some MPs have invoked section 73 of the 1995 papal encyclical Evangelium Vitae [which is generally understood to rule that legislators may vote for a measure which assuages but does not repeal an unjust law] as justification for voting in favour of the bill on human reproduction currently before parliament. However, Archbishop Adam Exner declared that "in no way can section 73 be used to justify such a vote" because the proposed legislation would not diminish the evil in an already existing law but positively create an unjust law where no law had previously existed. [LifeSite, 30 January ] The Southern Baptist Convention, the largest protestant denomination in the US, is trying to ensure that all its overseas missionaries sign a revised statement of faith and message which includes a rejection of abortion. All the missionaries are being contacted by telephone and asked to sign the statement which was revised in 2000 and affirms, inter alia,: "We should speak on behalf of the unborn and contend for the sanctity of all human life from conception to natural death." [Church Central, 30 January ; SBC statement of faith, 2000 ] The European Union's commissioner for development and humanitarian aid has defended the EU's policy of providing financial support for pro-abortionists in developing world countries. 47 members of the European parliament wrote to Commissioner Poul Nielson in November to seek clarification regarding EU aid for the pro-abortion United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) - the world's largest abortion promoter. In his reply earlier this month, Mr Nielson wrote: "...the Commission supports the right of men and women to make a free and informed choice about the number and spacing of their children... we recognise that unsafe abortion is a reality... where abortion is legal for given indications it should be safe." Mr Nielson went on to praise UNFPA and IPPF as "longstanding partners of the Commission in the field of population and reproductive health" and criticise "powerful US lobby groups" who were trying to "compel the EU... to take [a] position against abortion." [SPUC, 31 January] Officials in Singapore have tried to reassure those opposed to human cloning by claiming that their country's embryonic stem cell research programmes should not be confused with 'cloning people'. Philip Yeo, co-chairman of the Economic Development Board, said yesterday: "The trouble with the stem cell debate is that a lot of people are confused between what we are trying to do from a treatment point of view - cure people - and trying to clone people." [The Straits Times, 31 January ] Singapore has become the second country in the world, after the UK, to introduce regulations which authorise the creation of cloned human beings for research purposes. President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo of the Philippines has insisted that government plans to promote "birth spacing" by using "modern technology" do not entail the promotion of abortion or artificial contraception. In response to an enquiry from the country's Catholic bishops, the president said that the modern technology she had referred to was a new way of propagating natural family planning methods. The executive director of the government's Population Commission insisted: "Abortion will never be part of any family planning programme of our government; it's also against the constitution." [Kaiser Network, 28 January ; Asia Times online, 31 January ] The German Catholic bishops have firmly rejected the use of pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD). Germany's National Council on Ethics recommended last week that PGD should be authorised to screen for genetic anomalies [see digest for 24 January], but Cardinal Karl Lehmann of Mainz, chairman of the bishops' conference, said: "We remain true to the view that an embryo has all the rights and the dignity of a human being from the start." [CNS, 30 January ]

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