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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 17 July 2003

17 July 2003

17 July 2003 Pre-natal screening could soon be available as early as five weeks into pregnancy, The Scotsman reports. Using a technique similar to a cervical smear, the new test could determine the gender of the baby and screen for a range of conditions such as Down's Syndrome and Cystic Fybrosis. If trials are successful, it could be available within three years. [The Scotsman, 16 July ] Alison Davis, National Co-ordinator of No Less Human, stated: "the new test will simply allow babies detected as having a disability to be aborted earlier. The test is just as unethical as existing tests, and just as offensive to disabled people, since killing is killing regardless of the age of the victim. If, as seems likely, the new technique opens up the possibility of pre-natal testing being available to all pregnant women, this will be nothing less than a eugenics programme aimed as eliminating as many disabled people as possible, thinly disguised as offering "choice" to parents." [SPUC source] Hundreds of genetically modified sheep bred by the Scottish biotech company which helped create Dolly the sheep, have been slaughtered yesterday due to the company's financial problems. The sheep were developed to produce proteins for the manufacture of a drug used to treat lung diseases and to try to slow the progress of cystic fibrosis. Julie Simmonds, a biotechnology analyst, said: "the company did not move quickly enough... it is difficult to see how they will still be around in a year's time." [The Independent, 16 July ] A US study into assisted suicide has found that patients who seek medical help to end their lives do so when they are suffering severe pain or discomfort, leading to calls for better palliative care for the dying. The lead author of the study, Dr Diane Meier, said: "It is physicians feeling that they have no other means of responding than refusing or agreeing to honour assisted suicide. I think these data underscore that if we don't pay attention to palliative care needs, we will end up with a nation with an Oregon Death With Dignity Act. The public will insist on controlling how they die because they don't have faith in the medical profession's ability to relieve pain. That would be a shame and devastating." However, pro-euthanasia campaigners argue that assisted suicide is about autonomy not pain. [Healthday.com, 15 July ] An interim report by the Japanese Justice Ministry has called for women who have children through IVF to be legally recognised as mothers, even if the babies are not biologically theirs. [Japan Today, 15 July ] A scientist from Yale School of Medicine has identified two biochemical markers, cyclin E and p27, that accurately assess the health of the lining of the uterus. Dr Harvey Kliman hopes that the breakthrough could help improve fertility treatment. "If the right conditions do not exist, implantation will not occur," he said. "This test, which uses these new biochemical markers, will improve assessment of the endometrium." [Health News, 15 July ] A dossier, obtained by the UK newspaper The Observer, has revealed the close connections between the biotech industry and scientists employed to advise the UK government. The paper expressed particular concern about scientists with vested interests monopolising advisory committees. Former health minister, Michael Meacher said: "I constantly argued that nobody with significant commercial links should be allowed to sit on these bodies. It is vital they are truly independent." [LifeSite, 15 July ] The US House of Representatives has voted 216-211 in favour of a pro-life amendment prohibiting government funding of the United Nation's Population Fund (UNFPA). UNFPA has been accused of involvement in and tolerance of forced abortion and sterilisation in China. Rep. Chris Smith told the House: "since 1979, the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) has been the chief apologist for China's coercive one-child-per-couple policy... the women of China are being oppressed with great impunity by their government." Abortion advocates claim that UNFPA does not support forced abortion. [LifeNews.com, 15 July ] Peter Singer, the professor of bioethics at Princeton University who argues in favour of killing disabled babies up to 28 days after birth, has been awarded the World Technology Network's 2003 Award for Ethics. [LifeSite, 14 July ] Responding to the news, Alison Davis of No Less Human said: "Professor Singer advocates killing both unborn and newborn disabled babies, because of an assumption that disabled lives have less "quality." He also favours euthanasia for disabled people. He has objected to disabled protesters likening his ideas to that of Nazi eugenics, but the comparison is clear." [SPUC source]

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