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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 20 October 2003

20 October 2003

20 October 2003 A report from Greenpeace claims that children are being exposed to potentially harmful chemicals from the moment of conception. The report points to a correlation between the rise in some disease rates and the manufacture and use of certain chemicals but admitted that the corresponding figures could be coincidental. Catherine Dorey, the toxico-pathologist behind the study, said: "We may never be certain that there are chemical causes behind these trends, but the evidence cannot be ignored." [The Herald, 20 October ] Pregnant women are risking their unborn children's health because of ignorance about what foods are and are not safe to eat, The Independent reports. In a survey of 500 women, over half believed that they should eat large amounts of fish and saw cod liver oil as a safe supplement, even though official advice says that it should be avoided. One in 10 thought lamb chops unsafe when they are an excellent source of protein, zinc and iron, and over half thought cottage cheese dangerous. [Independent, 20 October ] Human embryonic stem cells have been grown on microscopic frames or 'bio-scaffolds' at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The aim of the research is to prompt embryonic stem cells to develop into different cell types, though scientists have said it will be many years before it is possible to grow whole organs in this way. Dr Shulamit Levenberg, who was one of the authors of the study, stated: "When you give cells a three-dimensional structure on which to grow, it's really a lot more like what's happening in the embryo." [BBC, 18 October ] UK health secretary John Reid will argue against a total UN ban on human cloning this week, requesting 'therapeutic' cloning to be allowed. The UN will be considering various resolutions in New York this week and may vote for one of them or delay pending further discussion. [The Guardian, 19 October ] A spokesman for SPUC commented: "It is regrettable that John Reid should have abandoned his consistent pro-life record to campaign internationally on behalf of as unethical a practice as human cloning." [SPUC source] A mother has complained about a decision by a school to show a video of an abortion to a class of 15-year-olds, claiming that her daughter was 'very, very disturbed by it.' St Cecilia's RC High School in Longridge showed SPUC's video 'The Silent Scream' as part of the RE GCSE course which covers issues such as abortion and euthanasia. Headteacher Margaret Diffley defended the decision, stating that parental permission had been requested and pupils were given the choice of whether or not to watch it. The video screening was shown after school and followed by a discussion led by RE teachers. SPUC development officer Tony Mullett, said: "It is important that schoolchildren are given the facts about abortion, which includes showing what abortion looks like and what the unborn child looks like." [Lancashire Evening Telegraph, 20 October] The BBC is to broadcast a documentary on the abortion ship run by Women on the Waves next week, The Times of London reports. Dr Rebecca Gomperts' ship, dubbed the Hospital of Death, has travelled to Catholic countries such as Ireland and Poland over the past few years, offering the RU-486 abortion pill to pregnant women in an attempt to undermine the constitutions of countries that oppose abortion. Dr Gomperts believes passionately and emotionally in abortion, though she and her crew have been accused of being self-publicists, murderers and neo-colonials. [The Times, 18 October ] Governor Jeb Bush has called a special session of the Florida legislature in a move that could help save the life of Terri Schiavo. At the same time, Circuit Court Judge John Moore plans to hear an emergency petition by a disability rights group on Terri Schiavo's behalf. [, 20 October ] It was also reported at a press conference that a Catholic priest had been denied access to Terri whilst attempting to give her Holy Communion, on the grounds that placing the communion host in her mouth would violate court orders. In a press statement, the attorney for Terri's husband Michael claimed that he did not want 'anyone to do something that would cause Terri distress.' [, 19 October ] 94% of Maltese people agree with the Catholic Church's stance on abortion, according to a survey published in The Sunday Times of Malta. Whereas only 34.6% were in agreement over contraception, abortion held the highest ranking place for concurrence with Church teaching. 82% of people had attended Mass in the past fortnight [The Sunday Times, 19 October ] A BBC report promoting legal abortion has claimed that 'backstreet' abortions are killing hundreds of thousands of Latin American women. The one-sided 'investigation' quotes no pro-life spokesperson and makes no attempt at a balanced approach to the subject, focussing almost entirely on the views of the director of a Mexican pro-abortion campaign, Catholics For The Right to Decide. [BBC, 16 October ]

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