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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 8 May 2003

8 May 2003

8 May 2003 The European Union has set up a unit to monitor pro-life organisations. Mr Poul Nielson, the EU's aid commissioner, has referred to well-funded American groups which he says have extreme views on religion and sexuality. Mrs Dana Rosemary Scallon, the Irish pro-life member of the European parliament, is leading opposition to the unit. She is questioning whether the commission can legally use EU taxpayers' money to fund such a unit and says it compromises the commission's impartiality. She has asked for details of the unit's scope, budget and staffing, and suggests that its funding would be better spent on more deserving causes. Mrs Scallon was a signatory to a letter to Mr Nielson which sought clarification of his allocation of €32 million to organisations which promote abortion in developing countries. 56 other MEPs signed the letter, including Dr Ingo Friedrich, vice-president of the parliament, Mr José Maria Gil-Robles Gil-Delgado, former president of the parliament, Mr Francesco Fiori, vice-chairman of the European People's Party, and Messrs Brian Crowley, Liam Hyland and Sean O'Neachtain of Ireland's Fianna Fáil party. The letter pointed out that support for the promotion of abortion in the EU and outside it conflicted with EU treaties. [Irish Examiner, 6 May, and Mrs Scallon's office, 8 May] Peter Smith, SPUC's representative at the European Parliament, said: "I am a British taxpayer working for a voluntary organisation. It is galling in the extreme to know that my taxes, some of which are used to fund the commission, will go to employing people whose job could be to refute the good-quality material which I give to MEPs on matters such as abortion. Not only do pro-abortion non-governmental organisations get EU funding, but EU money is now also going to this attempt to thwart our good work in defence of mothers and their unborn children. However, in the end, the truth will out." Male couples could have babies if techniques using mouse embryos can be also used with humans. Scientists in America and Japan found they could generate both eggs and sperm from cloned embryos. It is suggested that the resulting gametes could be used to create IVF embryos which would be implanted in females. Female couples could not use the technique because they cannot provide Y chromosomes needed to produce sperm. Mouse eggs created through meiosis at Pennsylvania university proliferated easily. At Toyko's life sciences institute researchers developed male mouse germ cells which, when placed in testicular tissue, also underwent meiosis and appeared to become sperm. [The Herald, 8 May , and New Scientist, 7 May ] A state agency in Florida has asked a court to appoint a guardian for an unborn child. The foetus is of six months' gestation and his or her disabled 22-year-old mother is also to have a guardian appointed. It is reported that the child is a result of rape. The woman's disability means she cannot give consent to the removal of fluid from the womb for DNA testing. The request for guardianship in Orange county has come from Florida's department of children and families. [AP via Orlando Sentinel on Gainesville Sun, 7 May ] A London-based chain of clinics has been criticised for offering free IVF to women who will donate their eggs for other people's fertility treatment. Josephine Quintavalle of Comment on Reproductive Ethics accused the Cromwell IVF&Fertility Centre of taking advantage of poor people. The centre has clinics in parts of south Wales and north-east England where there is social deprivation. Women who donate eggs waive their rights over any babies resulting from the recipients' treatment. Several European countries forbid egg donation. The Cromwell centre's Dr Kamal Ahuja predicts that the practice will continue to grow in Britain and claims that it cuts wastage of eggs at IVF clinics. [Reuters on Yahoo! and This is London , 8 May] Africa's first cloned mammal has been produced in the form of a cow. The female calf is said to have been created in South Africa with ear tissue from a cow which gives a record yield of milk. It is now seven years since British scientists created the first cloned mammal, a sheep which died prematurely in February. One of the South African scientists conceded that cloned animals had a low survival rate. [AP on CNN, 7 May ]

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