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Defending life from the moment of conception

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Italian court: 'Right not to be born' does not exist

21 July 2006

Italy's Cassation Court issued a decision on July 18 clarifying that under Italian law there is no such thing as a "right not to be born," in response to parents attempting to sue doctors who fail to recommend abortion when the child is likely to be disabled. These are known as "wrongful birth" or "wrongful life" suits. The Italian court decision was given in response to a couple who claimed damages against their doctor because their child was "deformed" and had they known of it they would have sought about in another country. Italian law allows abortion for danger to the mother's health and the court said "a so-called 'eugenetic' [sic] abortion is not admissible unless foetal deformations endanger the mother's health" [Life Site News 19 July]

Dr Panos Zavos of the University of Kentucky, a maverick fertility expert has described in the little-known specialist journal Archives of Andrology, an attempt to produce the world's first cloned human baby. He copied the technique used to produce Dolly the sheep, and one of the embryos reached the four cell stage, but failed to implant in the woman's uterus. Dr Zavos claims that since submitting the paper he had transferred cloned human embryos to another five women including a 52 year old British woman earlier this year, but none had resulted in pregnancies. He claimed that these embryos developed up to the 10-12 cell stage. Mr Richard Gardner, Chair of the Royal Society's working group on stem cell research said "... a four-cell embryo is very early stage and doesn't tell you anything about whether it would be able to develop further." [The Guardian 20 July]

The Auxiliary Bishop of Sydney, Australia, Anthony Fisher, has attacked a business arrangement between the government of the State of New South Wales and Australian Biotechnologies. This is a company set up to develop and market products from corpses. Up to 1200 a year will be supplied through government run mortuaries. Bishop Fisher said this could undermine the established practice of tissue donation rather than sale. He said "Altrusim and gift should be the ruling values in the human tissue transfer area." Bishop Fisher also expressed concern about a recent proposal to extend organ donation preparation to patients while they are still alive but certain to die after so called cardiac death. In the past only brain dead patients have been prepared as transplant donors. [Catholic News 20 July]

The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) has issued a statement saying that they "would find it most regrettable if Amnesty International were to adopt a position promoting access to abortion" noting that the group is deliberating whether or not to support abortion as a human right. Last month Vatican Cardinal Renato Martino condemned Amnesty's proposed move. The CCCB said "This change in policy would make it difficult for Catholics to continue supporting the work of Amnesty International." [Life Site News 19 July]

Jinfend Zhu, a Chinese woman living in New Zealand who made NZ$28,000 by importing and selling illegal abortion pills has been jailed for 20 months. She sold the pills to fellow students through a Chinese-language website, and had her parents send the pills from China. [New Zealand Limited 20 July]

Scuffles broke out outside a Chinese court where Chen Guangcheng, a blind activist who raised concerns about forced abortion and sterilisation was due to be tried. He had accused officials in Linyi city, Shandong province, of breaking family planning laws in their enforcement of the one-child policy. He has been under house arrest since September 2005, and is charged with public order offences. His trial was postponed at the prosecution's request. A new date for the trail, which has already been delayed once, has not yet been set. [BBC News 20 July]

President George W. Bush has commented on the bill to allow federal funding for embryonic stem cell research, which he has vetoed. He said "This bill would support the taking of innocent human life in the hope of finding medical benefits for others. It crosses a moral boundary that our decent society needs to respect. So I vetoed it." He was surrounded by children who had been adopted as frozen embryos, and said "these boys and girls are not spare parts." He also mentioned that ethically obtained stem cells are already being used in medical treatments. [Washington Post 19 July]

Condoms specially made for 13 to 16 year olds could soon be on sale in Britain. The new style condoms went on sale in Germany yesterday and the makers, Durex, want to launch them in the UK next year. Durex say it is designed for younger, less experienced users. Mr Matthew O'Gorman of LIFE said it was "sick and irresponsible. ." The fpa (formerly the Family Planning Association) welcomed the move saying "all initiatives that promote young people to have safe sex should be encouraged." [British Nursing News Online 20 July]

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