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Defending life from the moment of conception

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15 December 2004

15 December 2004

15 December 2004 The US National Institute of Health has awarded a grant to researchers at the University of Georgia to develop a test derived from embryonic stem cell lines for screening drugs which could be used in treating spinal muscular atrophy. Steven Stice, the primary investigator involved in the project, expressed hope that they will be the first to make use of human embryonic stem cells in human medicine. [Medical News Today, 15 December ] State Department officials in Washington have said that China's one-child policy remains a source of various abuses, including forced abortions and infanticide. The case of Mao Hengfeng, a woman who was subjected to a coercive abortion, confined to a psychiatric ward and allegedly tortured, was cited in testimony before the House International Relations Committee. Harry Wu, a human rights activist who spent 19 years in Chinese labour camps, said that 'the one-child policy is the most pervasive source of human-rights violations in China today'. [The Guardian, 14 December ] A High Court judge has given permission for a mother from Manchester to challenge the Department of Health over guidelines concerning underage abortion. Current guidelines state that under-16s can undergo abortions without parental consent or knowledge. Mrs Sue Axon, who has two daughters and had an abortion herself some years ago, argues that parents should have a legal right to know if their daughters are considering abortion. [BBC, 14 December ] The Israeli Knesset is considering a bill that would legalise euthanasia by omission, the Jerusalem Post reports. The bill's proposals include legally binding living wills and the use of respirators which could be set to turn themselves off automatically after a given time. The Bill comes shortly after a terror attack victim woke from a coma and asked to live after his parents had asked doctors to turn off his respirator. [BioEdge, 14 December ] The president of the Italian Senate, who describes himself as a non-believer, has stated that 'the embryo is a person from conception'. In a public discussion with Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger at the Lateran University today, Marcello Pera also appealed to fellow non-believers 'not to be in a hurry to convert desires into rights, and rights into sacrosanct principles'. [Zenit, 14 December ] A Dutch hospital that made headlines when it admitted practising euthanasia on newborn babies has claimed that the practice is already widespread. Dr Edmund Verhagen of Groningen Academic Hospital, who made the claim in a statement last week, also said that his request to the Ministry of Health to consider whether euthanasia can be practised on people 'with no free will' was supported by the Netherlands' eight teaching hospitals. No action has been taken by the Dutch government against Groningen, although euthanasing newborns is currently illegal. [LifeNews, 14 December ]

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