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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 1 September 2004

1 September 2004

1 September 2004 The Inter Academy Panel, an umbrella organisation for national science academies, has asked members to back a UN ban on so-called reproductive cloning that would permit cloning for research purposes. Professor Richard Gardner, chair of the Royal Society, said: "For countries that have not yet brought in a ban, a UN convention which draws a clear distinction between reproductive cloning and therapeutic cloning will provide invaluable guidance in passing effective legislation." [The Telegraph, 30 August ] The maverick fertility specialist Panayiotis Zavos has been criticised for claiming that his team has experimented with cloning embryos using cells taken from the dead. Richard Gardner of the UK Royal Society's working group of stem cell research and cloning said: "It is grossly misleading to suggest that you can replicate a loved one by producing a cloned person with the same genetic material." [News Scientist, 31 August ] American Life League has launched a Deadly Dozen advertisement, identifying politicians who claim to be Catholic but support abortion. The ad includes figures such as John Kerry and Arnold Schwarzenegger. Judie Brown, ALL's president said: "No matter your political identification, you can't be both Catholic and pro-abortion." [MichNews, 31 August ] A leading scientist has described embryonic stem cell research as 'uncivilised and barbaric' and said that its potential 'has been greatly oversold.' Professor Martin Clynes, head of the Department of Biotechnology at Dublin City University criticised the Irish government's decision last year to support EU funding of embryo research, saying that the government should reject research that involves the destruction of human embryos. [The Belfast Telegraph, 31 August ] An article in a Bristol newspaper has drawn attention to an often forgotten factor in the rise in teenage pregnancy rates - the desire of teenagers to get pregnant. A doctor describes being approached by teenagers requesting IVF treatment after 'years of trying', blaming the need of some young people to have children early on low self-esteem and low aspirations. [This is Bristol, 1 September ] Parents whose son was stillborn as a result of alleged medical negligence have been told by the Texas Supreme Court that they cannot sue for damages. The court ruled to uphold a legal definition that a child is only a person when it starts breathing. Justice Steven W. Smith, the only dissenter, argued that the unborn should be entitled to legal protection. [Catholic World News, 31 August ] A study reported in the scientific journal Nature has cast a disturbing light on the varied practices of IVF clinics on embryo disposal. Some clinics freeze 'spare' embryos indefinitely, others give them a funeral, some are donated for research, whilst others are simply incinerated. Only 3% of clinics questioned avoided creating surplus embryos, whilst only 16% refused to destroy them. The majority handed them to research institutions. Richard Kennedy of the British Fertility Society said: "The use of human embryos is a very sensitive area. They do represent a life. So it is important to have a regulatory framework in place that gives people clear guidelines." [Nature, 23 August ] Alison Davis, co-ordinator of the disability rights group No Less Human commented: "It is not enough to say, as the British Fertility Society do, that embryos "represent" a life. Each individual embryo is a human individual, with the same right to life as any other member of the human race. Every human being, including embryos, deserves to be treated with respect, and accorded their inherent right to life. It is not compatible with these rights for embryos to be created only to be kept in suspended animation, experimented upon, or destroyed in other ways. It is not possible to adequately "regulate" the creation of human embryos in this way. It should be banned." [SPUC source] The Church of Scotland has backed plans for pre-school sex education, the Scottish Herald reports. David Alexander of the Kirk's education committee said that 'relationship education' was essential to protect children from abuse. [The Scottish Herald, 1 September ] Cardinal O'Brien described the new sexual health strategy as 'state-sponsored sexual abuse' of children. [The Guardian, 30 August ]

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