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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 8 June 2004

8 June 2004

8 June 2004 58 out of 100 US senators have signed a letter asking President Bush to reverse restrictions on embryonic stem cell research. Some have used the occasion of Ronald Reagan's death to further their campaign, with Senator Dianne Feinstein claiming that "embryonic stem cell research might hold the key to a cure for Alzheimer's and other terrible diseases." Ken Lisaius, a Whitehouse spokesman, said: "The president remains committed to exploring the promise of stem cell research but at the same time continues to believe strongly that we should not cross a fundamental moral line by funding or encouraging the destruction of human embryos." [The Guardian, 8 June ] Nancy Reagan has spoken in support of embryonic stem cell research, which supporters of such research hope may sway pro-Reagan Republicans. [The Times of London, 8 June ] Tony Abbott, Australia's Federal Health Minister, is considering restricting the ability of young teenage girls to obtain the abortifacient morning after pill. Australian women have been able to buy the morning after pill over the counter since January, a decision opposed by the Australian Medical Association who have welcomed Mr Abbott's move to reconsider teenage access to the drug. [Cathnews, 8 June ] The National Stem Cell Centre in Melbourne, Australia, has offered to distribute human embryonic stem cells to researchers around the world free of charge. Steve Bracks, the Victorian Premier, announced the news at an international biotechnology conference in San Francisco. He said: "This is where Australia has leadership because we know across the United States they have difficulties accessing embryos for stem cell research." [AAP, 7 June ] The UN Population Fund (UNFPA) released a report last month entitled: "Working from Within: Culturally Sensitive Approaches in UNFPA Programming" in which it details ways in which Catholic teaching on issues such as abortion and contraception can be undermined through the use of dissenting groups. The report comments: "Within the Catholic Church, certain progressive branches exist, including the Communidades Eclesiais de Base, whose Catholic clergy understand the harsh realities of the country's poor and are ardent advocates on their behalf." It also cites its involvement with a Brazilian organisation Pastoral de Crianca, which promotes maternal health through natural family planning. UNFPA used its brief partnership with Pastoral to promote contraception and to add "a certain legitimacy to its efforts" before Pastoral ended the relationship. [C-Fam, 4 June ]

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