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Defending life
from conception to natural death


News, 19 February 2004

19 February 2004

19 February 2004 Professor Ian Wilmut, the scientist who cloned Dolly the sheep, has spoken in favour of human cloning as a form of genetic engineering. He claimed to be 'implacably opposed to reproductive cloning per se' but believed that cloning babies to combat genetic disease would be 'desirable under certain circumstances.' He went so far as to say that it would be 'immoral not to do it.' [The Telegraph, 19 February ] Paul Tully SPUC's general secretary commented: "What Dr Wilmut is effectively calling for is the genetic engineering of human beings, involving the deliberate and calculated destruction of human embryos. It was irresponsible of a respected scientist to support publicly a proposal that is profoundly unethical on so many levels." [SPUC source] Researchers in Hong Kong and China are to establish a brain bank to help in the study of the human brain and diseases such as Alzheimer's. The scientists hope to encourage people to offer their brains and medical records to the centre after they die. [ABC News, 19 February ] A report released by has found that China faces a demographic disaster similar to that faced by many western countries. The ratio of workers to retired people is projected to decline from 10:1 in 1999 to 6:1 in 2020 and 3:1 by 2050, largely due to the effects of the one-child policy. Another effect of the policy is a shortage of girls, with many men resorting to buying brides, particularly from Burma. [, 18 February ] A Catholic journalist has criticised Catholic bishops for 'pressurising' Catholic politicians on issues such as abortion. Clifford Longley stated: "Being racially prejudiced, drunkenness, lying and adultery are all sins but not crimes. Sometimes a compromise has to be reached between the moral law and the criminal law." [BBC, 16 February ] Anthony Ozimic of SPUC commented: "No one of whatever religious persuasion, in any system of government, democratic or otherwise, has a right to impose their malformed conscience upon the unborn by voting for their killing. International human rights law places a primary obligation upon the state not to take human life; in particular, the UN Declaration on the Rights of the Child states that the child "needs special safeguards and care, including appropriate legal protection, before as well as after birth". One suspects that both Clifford Longley and Senator Kerry doubt whether the unborn are children and have therefore concluded that the unborn need not be protected by law." [SPUC source]

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