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Defending life
from conception to natural death


weekly update, 18 to 24 October

24 October 2006

weekly update, 18 to 24 October An Australian bishop has told his country's parliament that Catholic hospitals will not use therapies developed from embryonic stem cells. Most Rev Anthony Fisher OP, auxiliary in Sydney, said that the church could not co-operate with the use of cures based on "parts taken from very early human beings that had been killed to get those cells". The church maintains more than 8,000 hospital beds in Australia. [LifeSite, 20 October ] The director of the National Catholic Bioethics Center, Pennsylvania, has pointed out that the church supports adult and umbilical stem cell research, while opposing embryo research. Fr Tadeusz Pacholczyk said that, while adult cell therapies were already curing people, the potential of embryo-based therapies had been exaggerated. [CNA on EWTN, 19 October ] The Portuguese parliament has approved the Socialist government's proposal to hold a referendum on freely allowing abortion up to 10 weeks' gestation. The vote may be held in January and, for it to be valid, half of registered electors must take part. Portugal allows abortion up to 12 weeks in cases of rape, disability and danger to maternal health. [LifeSite, 20 October ] It is claimed that Palestinian women in labour have been stopped from getting to hospital by the Israeli authorities. The Palestinian health ministry says that nearly 70 such women have given birth at checkpoints, with 34 miscarriages and four maternal deaths. [Middle East Online, 21 October ] A policy group whose trustees include peers has suggested that 10-year-olds should be taught about birth-control at school. The Institute for Public Policy Research pointed out that a quarter of under-16s were sexually active. A spokeswoman said: "Our education system must ... start teaching children about the risks involved in sex before they even consider taking those risks." [BBC, 23 October ] A spokesman for the NASUWT teachers' union said that the subject should only start to be taught at secondary school. [icWales, 23 October ] Cardinal Francis George, the archbishop of Chicago, writing in the diocesan newspaper, Catholic New World, has told Catholic politicians that there should be no separation between their faith, their conscience and their votes. He said "The first and most essential principle of Catholic social teaching is the dignity of every human person and one's basic right to life from conception to natural death. Respect for human dignity is the basis for the fundamental right to life. This is a non-negotiable principle." He said that it is "intellectually dishonest" for Catholic politicians to support abortion by saying they do not want to "impose Catholic doctrine on others." [LifeSiteNews, 17 October ] A woman in her 50s, acting as surrogate for her daughter, gave birth in spring 2005 to her grandchild, it was announced at a news conference in Tokyo. IVF was performed using an egg from her daughter, whose uterus had been removed due to cancer, and sperm from her son-in-law. Making the announcement, the director of the Suwa Maternity Clinic, Yahiro Netsu, said he wanted the issue of surrogate mothers to be debated. He has previously defied the guidelines of the Japan Society of Obstetrics and Gynaecology banning surrogate births. [Japan Times 16 October]

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