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Defending life from the moment of conception

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30 November 2004

30 November 2004

30 November 2004 A woman involved in a bitter legal battle over the fate of her IVF embryos has been denied permission to appeal by the House of Lords. Natallie Evans has six embryos in storage after undergoing IVF treatment with her partner. However, when the relationship ended, he withdrew his consent for their use and they now face destruction. [The Daily Mail, 29 November ] 66.4% of Swiss voters have approved a law allowing embryonic stem cell research but banning human cloning, including cloning for research purposes. Pro-life groups launched the referendum to challenge a law passed by the Swiss parliament in 2003. The Government supported the legalisation of embryo research, claiming that the law set 'clear and strict' limits on the use of 'spare' IVF embryos for research purposes. [International Investor, 29 November ] A group of politicians and sexual health experts who are putting together a strategy document on sexual health for Scotland are considering removing all references to abstinence, claiming that it is 'preachy' and will make sexually active children think that they are 'doing something wrong.' Instead, they say that sex education should lay out relationship 'choices' rather than encouraging children to delay sexual activity. [Scotland on Sunday, 28 November ] A leading bioethicist has presented little-known facts about euthanasia to British parliamentarians. Speaking at a meeting last night at the House of Commons, Wesley J. Smith, a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute, stated that eight percent of infant deaths in the Netherlands are infanticides performed by medical staff, and warned that the current session of the Dutch parliament is seriously considering lowering the age of consent for euthanasia to 12 years of age. Mr Smith also revealed that there are no independent statistics on physician-assisted suicide in the US state of Oregon, where Mr Smith said that "doctor-shopping" for suicide occurs. Mr Smith also rebutted the common misconceptions that motor neurone disesease sufferers will inevitably choke to death and that persons requesting suicide are typically terminally-ill medical patients. [SPUC source, 29 November] Canada is to increase funding to the UN Population Fund to indicate its 'independence' from the US. The US stopped funding UNFPA three years ago because of its involvement with China's one-child policy. Canada is expected to grant $65 million over four years to UNFPA, in addition to its annual contribution of $13.1 million. [, 29 November ] has drawn attention to the misinformation contained in a recent US poll that seemed to suggest that the majority of Americans uphold Roe v. Wade. The survey began by asserting that Roe v. Wade "made abortion in the first three months of pregnancy legal" when in reality it legalised abortion on demand up to six months gestation and after viability to protect a woman's health, a clause that can be very widely interpreted. Douglas Johnson, legislative director of National Right to Life said: "It is way past time for the news media to stop distorting the real terms of Roe v. Wade." He added that the survey "paints a greatly exaggerated picture of public support for the Supreme Court's abortion policy." [, 29 November ] The UK High Court is to decide whether or not a woman with chronic ill health should be helped to travel abroad for an assisted suicide, ITV reports. The woman is in the care of the local authority and the council has asked the court to determine whether aiding the woman's travel would constitute assisting a suicide. [ITV, 30 November ] Paul Tully, SPUC's General Secretary, said in a press statement: "The law on assisted suicide is not in need of clarification. Aiding and abetting a suicide is a crime. The council must ensure that those in their care receive the help and support they need to enjoy and value, not end, their lives." [SPUC press release ] Austrian scientists have cured incontinence in a group of women using stem cells taken from their own arm muscles. The cells were extracted and cultured then implanted into urethra tissue. After one year, 18 out of 20 patients were still continent. [Medical News Today, 30 November ] Lord David Steel, the Liberal Democrat politician responsible for the 1967 Abortion Act, has been awarded the Order of the Thistle, Scotland's highest honour. Lord Steel marks his 40th anniversary in Parliament in March. [, 30 November ] The island of Jersey has published proposed changes to the abortion law that would allow the abortion of babies with Down's Syndrome, spina bifida and other disabilities. Pro-life groups and charities such as Mencap are expected to fight the proposals. [This is Jersey, 30 November ] Korean researchers have helped a paralysed woman to walk after a cord blood stem cell transplant. The 37-year-old patient suffered a spinal cord injury in 1985 and had not been able to stand up since then. She was able to move her hips 15 days after the transplant and her feet responded to stimulation after 25 days. Umbilical cord blood provides an ethical source of stem cells that pose fewer known risks than embryonic stem cells. [The Korea Times, 26 November ] The Argentinean bishop of Avellaneda has said that the Catholic Church will support a pro-life march in Buenos Aires on 11 December. Bishop Ruben Frassia said: "From this Diocese of Avellaneda-Lanus, we wish to invite everyone to get involved... This will be an ecumenical event. Therefore it is not necessary to be Catholic or to be a believer" to take part. [CWNews, 29 November ]

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