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Defending life from the moment of conception

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weekly update, 14 to 20 June

20 June 2006

weekly update, 14 to 20 June The European Parliament has voted by a slim majority to support funding of research with human embryonic and adult stem cells. In the first reading of 7th Research Framework Program, the Parliament approved funding of research by a vote of 284 to 249. "Scientifically, there is no reason to make a moral distinction between an embryo at the very beginning of his or her life and after implantation in the womb or after 14 days," said Monsignor Noël Treanor, secretary-general of the Commission of the Bishops' Conferences of the European Community. "Human dignity does not depend -- and must not be made dependent -- on decisions of other human beings." [Zenit, 16 June ] The issue is due to be considered, on a date to be confirmed, by the Council of the European Union, the EU's legislative body, which consists of ministers from each EU member-state. Ireland's Minister for Enterprise and Employment, Michael Martin, has said that the Irish government will not try to block the decision to allow EU funds to be used for human embryonic stem cell research, which is prohibited in many member states including the Republic of Ireland. MEP Liam Aylward, who like the majority of Irish MEPs voted against the funding, said that "My particular concerns are in relation to the right of individual member states to control the research that is carried out in their countries as well as guaranteeing the utmost respect for the sanctity of human life and the dignity of the human being". .[Irish Times, 19 June ] The Irish bishops intend to fight the decision, urging the government to press for it to be overturned by the European Council of Ministers. [Irish Independent ] A mother whose abortion failed is suing the NHS for £250,000. Stacy Dow had an abortion in 2001, when pregnant at 16 with twins. One twin survived the operation and is now four years old. Miss Dow's lawyers argue that their client was not told that her abortion might fail, and the Tayside University Hospitals NHS Trust is therefore guilty of breach of warranty. However, health service lawyers say there is no contract between patients and health boards. Miss Dow defends her decision to seek compensation, saying "I have a child now that I wasn't planning to have and the hospital should take some responsibility for that... I wouldn't dream of giving [my daughter] up for anything now. ...but some day I'm going to have to tell her she could have had a brother or sister. How am I ever going to tell her what I did?" [The Daily Record, 20 June ] The Catholic Church has voiced its opposition to bioethics of a "scientific and materialist nature" that denies the existence of limits. Explaining the publication of the document "Family and Human Procreation" on June 6 by the Pontifical Council for the Family, Cardinal Alfonso López Trujillo said "that the family and fertilization are gifts of the Lord and not 'products' of science and technology. Without this truth there is the risk of degrading the doctrine of the Church, which holds that in procreation, all stems from the conjugal love between a man and a woman." [Zenit, 16 June ] Spain could be the first country to give human rights to apes under a law proposed by members of the ruling Socialist coalition. Under the law, it would not be possible to own a chimpanzee, gorilla or orangutan, which would instead be under the "moral guardianship" of the state. The Archbishop of Pamplona and Tudela, Fernando Sebastian, has said that the proposed law is the result of a "ridiculous or distorted society". He said, "We don't give rights to some people - such as unborn children, human embryos, and we are going to give them to apes." [The Telegraph, 10 June ]

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