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Defending life
from conception to natural death


21 February 2005

21 February 2005

21 February 2005 Official figures released by the Department of Health have revealed that 1023 girls aged 14 and under had abortions in 2003, The Daily Mail reports.

One in five abortions in the UK are carried out on teenagers, amounting to some 35,000 a year.

[The Daily Mail, 21 February ] The UN General Assembly's legal committee has approved a declaration calling for a ban on all forms of human cloning.

[Reuters, 21 February ] Anthony Ozimic, SPUC political secretary, commented: "This vote adds the strength of the international community to the many voices which are already calling upon Britain to halt its cloning programme pending the agreement of an universal convention banning human cloning with the force of international law."

Spain has voted to approve the European Constitution by 77%, though 9 in 10 Spaniards admitted that they know very little about what the constitution is about.

A BBC reporter in Madrid described the turnout as 'embarrassingly low' at only 42%. [BBC, 20 February ] The Spanish Bishops' Conference called for a boycott of the referendum in protest against the Spanish Government's support for abortion.

[The Observer, 20 February ] Portugal's Socialist party has won the general election and pledged to hold another referendum on the country's abortion laws.

[The Times of London, 21 February ] A study of human and animal brain activity in the womb has suggested that consciousness does not begin until birth.

Professor David Mellor is to present his research at a conference organised by Compassion in World Farming next month.

Joe Aquilina, an obstetrician and gynaecologist at St Bartholomew's and the Royal London hospitals, said that unborn babies are known to respond to pain.

He stated: "It's difficult to prove whether babies feel pain, but it's very difficult to prove that they don't , so the consciousness debate will go on."

[The Sunday Times, 20 February ] A book written by Pope John Paul II has been criticised for referring to the Holocaust in the context of abortion.

The book entitled "Memory and Identity: Conversations Between Millenniums" contains the comment in relation to Hitler's rise to power: "We have to question the legal regulations that have been decided in the parliaments of present day democracies. The most direct association which comes to mind is the abortion laws."

Paul Spiegel, head of Germany's Central Council of Jews responded: "Such statements show that the Roman Catholic Church has not understood or does not want to understand that there is a tremendous difference between factory-like genocide and what women do to their bodies."

[The Guardian, 19 February ] Researchers at the University of Adelaide in Australia have questioned whether the lack of natural growth factors in the culture in which IVF embryos are grown could have long term health effects.

IVF and ICSI babies are more likely to be low birth weight and to die shortly after birth than babies conceived naturally, but it is not yet known what the lifelong effects of IVF are.

[Medical News Today, 18 February ] Scientists from the University of Illinois have coaxed adult stem cells taken from bone marrow into fatty skin tissue in experiments using mice.

Professor Jeremy Mao told the conference of the American Association of the Advancement of Science that the technique could be used to create other soft tissue and could be used for skin grafts and reconstructive surgery following a mastectomy. [, 18 February ]

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