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Defending life from the moment of conception

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weekly update, 27 September to 3 October

3 October 2006

weekly update, 27 September to 3 October The Pope has said that there is never any justification for abortion. Addressing the new German ambassador to the Holy See, Benedict XVI said: "[A] life with handicap has equal value and is wanted by the Lord, there is never any guarantee for a life without physical, psychical or mental limitations". [AGI Online, 28 September ] A senior Vatican cardinal has called for action against unethical embryo experimentation. Cardinal Darío Castrillón Hoyos, prefect of the Congregation for Clergy, told a internet video conference of theologians: "To halt the project of human cloning is a moral imperative which must be translated into cultural, social and legislative terms." [Zenit, 1st October ] In his first address to the diplomatic corps, the new Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, referred to "violence under all its forms inflicted on women, and on children who are already born or about to be born" and said that: "The defense of life, from conception until natural death, as well as the defense of the family founded on marriage are also essential topics in social life." [Zenit, 29 September ] A Catholic ethics expert has criticised scientists claiming to have found an ethical way to harvest embryonic stem cells. Researchers at the Prince Felipe Research Centre in Spain have said that they are able to harvest living stem cells from dead embryos, thus avoiding deliberately killing embryos for research purposes. Dr Helen Watt, director of the Linacre Centre for Healthcare Ethics in London said that such an experiment was hard to justify. She said: "There was no intention that any [embryos] survive. To claim that, because some died (or may have died) naturally before they could be killed in research hardly shows that the experiment was justified." [The Universe, 27 September ] A £2 million stem cell research centre is to be built in Scotland. The Roslin Cell Centre, Edinburgh, has the support of Edinburgh University, the Roslin Institute and the Scottish National Blood Transfusion Service. It will provide stem cell lines for research and therapy and, according to a spokesman for Scottish Enterprise Edinburgh and Lothian, "act as a catalyst for the future development of the stem cell sector." [The Scotsman, 27 September ] A couple who were advised by doctors to abort their unborn child because he had a cyst in one lung have brought him home for the first time since his birth in June. Rachel Whittaker and Dr Matt Capehorn were told by doctors at Jessop's Hospital, Sheffield, that their baby's congenital cystic adenomatoid malformation meant that he would not survive pregnancy. However, Professor Kypros Nicolaides operated on the baby in the womb to drain the cyst at the Harris Birthright Centre in London. [This is London, 26 September ] Anthony Ozimic of SPUC commented: "Although we rejoice that baby William was saved, we greatly regret that Professor Nicolaides does not stand up consistently for unborn children. As well as performing abortions, including on disabled babies, he has developed techniques used to 'search and destroy' disabled babies. We would urge him to reject this deeply conflicted approach and defend the lives of all his patients."

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