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News, 13 March 2003

13 March 2003

13 March 2003 The House of Lords, Britain's highest court, ruled definitively this afternoon that so-called therapeutic cloning is legal. When parliament voted to authorise the creation and destruction of cloned human embryos for research purposes in December 2000 and January 2001, it did so by amending the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990 by way of a statutory instrument. The ProLife Alliance then challenged the legislation on the grounds that cloning was outside the scope of the 1990 Act, an argument which was backed by the High Court in November 2001. However, the Court of Appeal overturned this ruling a few months later. The ProLife Alliance then appealed, and today five law lords rejected this appeal unanimously. [BBC News online, 13 March ] Anthony Ozimic, SPUC's political secretary, commented: "The Lords have interpreted the law in an alarmingly elastic way so as to allow destructive research on human beings created through cloning. Such shifting of the goalposts is unacceptable. Extending the definition of an embryo in the 1990 Act is a matter for parliament, not for the courts." The US Senate appears set to approve a ban on partial-birth abortions after three amendments designed to limit the scope of the ban were rejected yesterday. Senators voted by 60 to 38 against a proposal which would have introduced an exception to allow partial-birth abortions to protect the health of the mother [in addition to the existing exception to save the mother's life] and then by 56 to 42 against referring the bill back to a committee so that certain constitutional issues could be addressed. Later in the day senators also rejected by 60 votes to 35 an amendment designed to ban only abortions performed after the child is outside his or her mother and considered viable. [Boston Globe, 13 March ; MSNBC News, 12 March ] The parliament of Queensland has become the first state legislature in Australia to authorise destructive embryonic stem cell research. In a conscience vote, legislators passed a bill to authorise embryo research by 65 to 20 after a marathon two-day debate. The law is similar to that passed by the federal parliament and allows scientists to conduct research on surplus IVF embryos created before 5 April last year while banning human cloning. Ronan Lee, a backbench MP, claimed that the state government had circulated information which noted that embryos were not important because they were "smaller than a full stop". He observed: "We ought to look at them not as though they are worthless but with wonderment. We ought to treat them with respect." [Daily Telegraph (Australia) and LifeSite , 12 March] The upper house of the UK's parliament has approved the first stage of a bill to ban euthanasia by starvation and dehydration. The Patients' Protection Bill, tabled by veteran pro-life campaigner Baroness Knight of Collingtree, was given a second reading in the House of Lords last night and sent without a vote to a committee for further consideration. The bill has received support from across the political spectrum. Lord Howe, the Conservative health spokesman, said: "[T]he volume of letters and e-mails that I have received on the subject testifies to the widespread concern that exists among the public about the treatment of terminally ill and frail elderly people in our hospitals." Lord Carlile, a medical lawyer and Liberal Democrat peer, said: "What cannot be acceptable is the deliberate withdrawal of the very basis of human life - food and water, nutrition and hydration." [House of Lords Hansard, 12 March ] A Catholic archbishop and a religious superior in Kenya have censured a nun for expressing pro-abortion views at an international conference. Archbishop Ndingi Mwana a'Nzeki of Nairobi and Sister Elizabeth Achieng, superior general of the Little Sisters of St Francis, rebuked Sister Anne Nasimiyu Wasike, also of the Little Sisters of St Francis, for making comments in favour of abortion at a conference in Addis Ababa on Monday. The comments were then covered by the international media. The archbishop and Sister Achieng affirmed that abortion was a crime and that the views of Sr Wasike, who is also a university professor, were completely against the position of the Church. [East African Standard, 12 March ] It is reported that the three top judges recently appointed to the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague all have links to the pro-abortion movement. LifeSite, a Canadian pro-life news resource, has discovered that Philippe Kirsch, the Canadian president of the ICC's 18-judge panel, as well as the two vice-presidents from Costa Rica and Ghana, all have a record of pushing a radical pro-abortion agenda. [LifeSite, 12 March ] Pro-lifers have warned that the ICC could be hijacked by pro-abortionists who might be able to interpret a denial of access to abortion as a crime within the ICC's jurisdiction.

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