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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 28 March 2003

28 March 2003

28 March 2003 A member of Guernsey's parliament who supports the legalisation of doctor-assisted dying has described the slow progress of an official investigation into the matter as "absolutely disgraceful". Members of the parliament voted by 38 to 17 in favour of launching an investigation into assisted suicide six months ago, but the president of the committee charged with organising the investigation has admitted that the working party still has no chairman and has not even met. Deputy Pat Mellor said that he was appalled by the delay and claimed that it demonstrated the lack of seriousness with which the matter was being addressed. Campaigners for doctor-assisted dying have sent postcards to every household on the island asking for support. [Guernsey Press and Star, 27 March; see digest for 14 March ] Guernsey is an autonomous British protectorate in the English channel 20 miles off the coast of France. The Canadian government may attempt to overturn a House of Commons amendment to its bill on assisted human reproduction intended to ensure a total prohibition on human cloning, according to "reliable sources". LifeSite, a Canadian pro-life news resource, has heard that the Liberal government might seek to have the amendment, which prohibits cloning by "any technique", overturned in the Senate, where it has a reliable majority. It is also reported that the third reading and final vote in the House of Commons on the bill, which authorises destructive research on human embryos, will now take place next Wednesday. [LifeSite, 27 March ] The Jesuits in the United States have issued a statement to explain and affirm their "renewed stance in defence of human life". A document entitled "Standing for the Unborn" released this week by the 10 US provincials of the Society of Jesus seeks to "underscore the correctness of Catholic Church teaching regarding abortion". The document describes abortion as "a key social evil" which has cost more than 39 million American lives since 1973, and affirms that the Jesuits are compelled to speak out against "a spirit of callous disregard for life" which shows itself directly in abortion but also in other evils such as violence and discrimination. [CNS and US Jesuits' document , 25 March] A number of Irish pro-life groups are seeking clarification of the grounds for two abortions performed on Irish teenagers in Britain and paid for by the Irish state over the past year. Two area health boards have admitted paying for girls in their care to have abortions in Britain [see digest for 17 March ] but no further information has been provided. Pat Buckley, director of the European Life Network in Ireland, said: "We are not seeking to identify the girls in question, but we are extremely concerned that Irish taxpayers' money has been used to pay for these two girls to have abortions across the Irish Sea. We wonder why there appears to be a veil of secrecy over the grounds for these abortions, when the supreme court has only allowed abortions in cases of threatened suicide. Every abortion is a tragedy for all concerned." [ELN, 28 March] The International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF), the world's largest abortion promoter, has launched what it calls a "Safe Motherhood Appeal" to coincide with Mother's Day in the UK on 30 March. IPPF is asking for donations for the work of its affiliated family planning associations, many of which provide abortions, in developing countries. The campaign is being fronted by Claire Rayner, a pro-abortionist and a famous British agony aunt. [IPPF News, 20 March ; SPUC] The Catholic archbishop of Sydney has welcomed news that a grant of 50,000 Australian dollars made available by his archdiocese to support ethical adult stem cell research has been taken up. Archbishop George Pell, the leading Catholic prelate in Australia, congratulated Professor Alan Mackay-Sim of Griffith University for winning the grant, which will be used to research the potential of stem cells extracted from the inner lining of a patient's own nose to treat Parkinson's disease. [Archdiocese of Sydney, 25 March] Adult stem cell technology constitutes an ethical and consistently more promising alternative to the use of embryonic stem cells and to so-called therapeutic cloning. The state senate of North Dakota has voted by 46 to zero in favour of a law to ban the cloning of human beings for both reproductive and research purposes. The US Congress is also considering a comprehensive cloning ban. [KXMC News, 27 March ]

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