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Defending life
from conception to natural death


News, 26 October 2004

26 October 2004

26 October 2004 Scientists at the University of Toronto have found that adult stem cells taken from retinas of human cadavers regenerate when transplanted into the eyes of mice and chicks. The technique could eventually be used to treat degenerative eye diseases such as retinitis pigmentosa and macular degeneration, two of the commonest forms of blindness in the developed world. [BBC, 25 October ] The Catholic Church in Spain is organising a demonstration in Madrid against government proposals which include restricting protection of the unborn by expanding abortion access. Letter-writing campaigns and petitions are being organised through dioceses and parishes in preparation for the demonstration, to be held in December. [The Guardian, 26 October ] The Japanese Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare is to ban the import by individuals of the abortion inducing RU-486 drug. RU-486 is unauthorised in Japan without a doctor's prescription but has been purchased over the Internet. [Japan Today, 26 October ] The Former leader of the Conservative Party, Ian Duncan Smith, has voiced concerns that the Mental Capacity Bill will allow euthanasia through the withdrawal of food and fluids. Mr. Duncan Smith warned that, in spite of assurances that the bill does not change the law on euthanasia, the bill has 'carefully left open' issues such as the withdrawal of food and fluids and granting legal power to third parties to make such decisions. He said: "I can't help feeling that you cannot just hand over the power of life and death to a third party, as at the moment we will have the possibility of withdrawing food and water to a person and starving them to death." [Waltham Forest Guardian, 21 October ] In response to the Law Society's support for the Mental Capacity Bill, Dr Jacqueline Laing, senior Lecturer in law at London Metropolitan University issued the following comment: "The Law Society may in future come to regret its race to support the government at this crucial committee stage. The Mental Capacity Bill appears to invite human rights violations and breaches of Articles 2, 3, 5, 6 and 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights. Its understanding of disability is essentially a profoundly discriminatory one." [SPUC source] The Catholic Church has brought out a compilation of its teaching on social issues, including abortion. The Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church describes abortion as a 'horrendous crime' that represents 'a dangerous threat to a just and democratic social existence.' [, 25 October ]

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