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Defending life from the moment of conception

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Baroness Warnock opens up about her anti-life views

24 July 2006

Baroness Warnock has asserted her anti-life views in a question and answer session in a British paper. Lady Warnock, whose 1984 report led to the legal regulation of IVF and embryo experimentation in the UK, answered a range of question on ethical issues such as abortion, euthanasia and eugenics in The Independent. When asked why she supported the right to assisted suicide she claimed that she was "moved more by compassion than reason." She said that people should die when "you are sure that you are a burden, and enjoy no compensatory pleasures." [The Independent, 24 July] Alison Davis of disability rights group No Less Human commented: "It is not compassionate to tell suffering people that they are right to feel hopeless and that death is in their best interests. And it is not in accordance with reason to suggest that killing people is the right way to alleviate suffering. Mary Warnock makes it clear that she does not know when life begins, that she would not feel remorse for aborting a baby with Down's syndrome, and that she believes it right for elderly people who are "sure" they are a burden to "shuffle off" and die. In fact she is acting according to neither compassion nor reason."

A pro-abortion American columnist has claimed that pro-life campaigners do not speak out against IVF clinics and are therefore inconsistent in their beliefs. Michael Kinsley, in his article "Where's the Logic?" published in the National Post, wrote: "If embryos are human beings with full human rights, fertility clinics are death camps--with a side order of cold-blooded eugenics. No one who truly believes in the humanity of embryos could possibly think otherwise." He alleges that among pro-life activists "no one objects, or objects very loudly." Pro-life campaigners in America have pointed out that the pro-life movement has consistently opposed IVF and that IVF treatment is indeed as destructive as embryonic stem cell research. Judie Brown, president of American Life League, said, "Playing God by creating humans in petri dishes is simply wrong. The pro-life movement needs to address the evils of in vitro fertilization with the same diligence with which we denounce all other forms of abortion." [Life Site, 21 July]

Australian premiers are facing criticism over their support for legalising embryonic stem cell research. Victoria Premier Steve Bracks and New South Wales Premier Morris Iemma, both of whom are Catholics, have faced strong opposition from Australia's Catholics. Melbourne Archbishop Denis Hart said that the debate had "neglected to bring into focus the very real health gains, and practical therapies which had come from research using adult and placental stem cells which did not require the creation and destruction of a human embryo." [Cath News, 24 July] Mr Iemma has also been criticised by fellow Labour party members who say that he has "rolled over to Catholic doctrine" after he announced that he is planning to split from attempts by Victoria, Queensland and the ACT to legalise stem cell research. It is a significant change of policy from his predecessor, Bob Carr, who promoted the legalisation of such research. A friend of his described Mr Carr and his likeminded colleagues as "educated humanists with Protestant backgrounds" and claimed that the government "is now in the hands of Calabrian choirboys". He said, "There is no way that a Wran or a Carr would have accommodated a Catholic influence in the shaping of policies on stem cells. What has happened here is that the cabinet has fallen back on the Catholic prejudice against medical research." [The Sydney Morning Herald, 22 July]

The British scientist Stephen Hawking has criticised EU states that want to ban embryonic sem cell research. He said, "I strongly oppose the move to ban stem-cell research funding from the European Union. Europe should not follow the reactionary lead of President Bush." His criticism came on the day that an attempt was made in Brussels to prevent money from the European Union's £37bn science budget being spent over the next seven years on research into human embryonic stem cells. His criticism included countries such as Germany, Austria, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Lithuania, Luxembourg and Malta, all of which want to change the way that the budget is spent. [The Independent, 24 July] A letter by the German research minister seen by Reuters reportedly said: "The European Union science programme should not be used to give financial incentives to kill embryos." [Guardian Unlimited, 20 July]

Black and Caribbean girls will be the targets of the Government's latest drive to slash the teenage pregnancy rate. New guidance ordered by Children's Minister Beverley Hughes will urge teenage pregnancy agencies to engage more with ethnic minorities. [The Times, 21 July] But an editorial in The Times said that the dispensers of contraception also have a responsibility to promote abstinence. [The Times, 21 July] Paul Tully, SPUC's General Secretary, said the government was targeting abortions at ethnic minorities. "Today's figures indicate that the Department of Health is pursuing a policy of ethnic cleansing in Britain - under the cover of its abortion policies," he said. Figures show that Black British girls have proportionately more abortions.

The feminist Germaine Greer has criticised the British government's approach to teen pregnancy. Writing in the Times, she said that the Children's Minister Beverley Hughes is continuing to misunderstand the situation of many girls in certain social groups where young single motherhood is an acceptable part of life. She criticised the government's promotion of abortion as "a futile attempt to undo what should not have been done." She wrote, "Often in these social groups there is a deep repugnance for abortion, which will be offered to the young woman repeatedly, from her first recourse to health professionals. If she gives in to the pressure and accepts abortion, denying her innermost feelings, her self-esteem will be damaged, possibly irrevocably." [The Times, 24 July]

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger of California yesterday authorized a $150 million loan to fund California's stem cell institute, just one day after fellow Republican President Bush vetoed expanded federal funding of embryonic stem cell research. Schwarzenegger said the state could not afford to wait to fund the research to help millions who suffer from chronic diseases and injuries. [Guardian Unlimited, 21 July]

An animal rights group in America has said it supports embryonic stem cell research as a means to stop animal research, according to columnist Steven Milloy. [Fox News, 21 July]

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