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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 16 February 2004

16 February 2004

16 February 2004 The UN educational, scientific and cultural organisation (UNESCO) has agreed to stop producing documents promoting abortion. In January the secretary of US health and human services wrote to UNESCO's director-general, expressing concerns about a recent UNESCO document "unwanted pregnancy and unsafe abortion". UNESCO has since distanced itself from the publication and circulated an internal memo stating: "As UNESCO does not promote abortion, and no funds are given by Member States to be spent on abortion-related activities or materials, I ask you to ensure that UNESCO's policy in this area is not misrepresented, in particular through publications and co-publications." [C-FAM, 13 February ] An article in the Guardian newspaper has drawn attention to the gender issues surrounding human cloning. It looks particularly at the exploitation of women through the need for supplies of human eggs and the failure of Britain's stem cell committee to consider the negative impact of cloning research on women. [The Guardian, 16 February ] A man whose partner has been seriously ill with multiple sclerosis for 15 years has spoken about their relationship. Ruth Edditts, who is paralysed and receives nutrition through peg feeding, was told that she was dying 12 years ago but Francis Dowding and her daughter have devoted their lives to caring for her and ensure that she has the best possible quality of life. Mr Dowding said: "I think caring is for life as much as loving is, and I resent the implication that other people should make the decision to die for you. Ruth's view was that she wanted all care given at all times and I am going to do that." He also spoke of his distress when medical staff ask if he would like to let her die at every hospital admission. "The expression used by medical staff is: 'Do you really want us to give her all the treatment?' That is upsetting." [This Is Bath, 16 February ] The three mules cloned last year at the university of Idaho have been displayed at the Washington State Convention and Trade Center in Seattle. The research team hope to use cloned mules to look into the causes of human diseases, particularly diabetes and certain cancers. However, the first three cloned mules will not form part of any further experimentation other than tests to determine their level of health. [BBC, 16 February ] A woman is seeking legal advice after she became pregnant following her husband's vasectomy. Mr and Mrs Blake from Plymouth, UK, are looking forward to the birth of their fourth child but have said that people should be aware that pregnancy can still occur after the procedure. [This is the West Country, 14 February ] An alternative to abortion in the form of 'baby hatches' is gaining ground in Germany, designed to help desperate women with unwanted pregnancies. The 'baby hatch' is simply a hatch in a wall containing a bed and blanket where a woman can leave her baby anonymously. The mother retains a hand or foot print of the baby so that she can get back in touch with the centre and reclaim the baby within a certain period of time. If the mother does not get in touch, the baby is put up for adoption. There are now 65 baby hatches in Germany, mainly supported by the Catholic Church and other Christian charities. [Yahoo News, 15 February ] Planned Parenthood is trying to stop abortion facilities giving up the records of women who have had partial-birth abortions. Attorney General John Ashcroft has said that they are needed to determine the medical necessity of the procedure but abortion providers claim that patients' privacy is being violated. [, 13 February ] A South African pro-life group called the Health Professionals Conscientious Objection Campaign is claiming its 'greatest victory yet' after announcing that the staff at a major hospital are refusing to carry out abortions. According to Philip Rosenthal, the group's co-ordinator, "numerous other small hospitals, especially rural ones are refusing to do abortions, but this is the first time a major urban hospital previously doing abortions has stopped." [, 13 February ] A woman who was believed to be in a persistent vegetative state has made a recovery described by doctors as 'miraculous.' Kelly Barker, 35, suffered massive head injuries and went into a coma when she was hit by a truck five months ago. Doctors believed her to have a minimal chance of regaining consciousness and her parents were considering having her life support ended. However, in November she began opening her eyes and moving. She can now sit up, respond to questions with nods of the head, move her arms and walk with assistance. [, 10 February ] An Oregon abortionist has become the second in two months to be convicted of sexually harassing patients. Ronald Stevenson, who ran the now closed Woman's Center of Bend, was convicted on two counts of inappropriately touching a patient. He is due to be sentenced later in the month. [, 14 February ]

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