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Defending life
from conception to natural death


weekly update, 8 to 26 September

26 September 2006

weekly update, 8 to 26 September SPUC has condemned Tony Blair's endorsement of embryonic stem cell research in his farewell speech to the Labour party conference. Mr Blair said: "America does not want stem cell research, we do, we welcome it here." Mr Blair was referring to embryonic stem cell research, which kills embryonic children in order to extract their stem cells. US President George W. Bush has banned federal funding for such destructive extraction. Anthony Ozimic, SPUC political secretary, commented: "Not only does embryonic stem cell research kill innocent human beings at their most vulnerable stage of life, but is increasingly redundant in the light of the frequent advances in ethical alternatives such as adult stem cell research. Adult stem cell research is already benefiting human patients in over 70 conditions, whereas embryonic stem cell research has delivered no benefits." Researchers at Newcastle's Centre for Life have published research in Stem Cells saying that they have derived live stem cells from human embryos that were "effectively dead". Professor Miodrag Stojkovic said: "These were embryos which had stopped developing. They were deemed to be dead because they couldn't progress. We wanted to use these cells to show that they could produce embryonic stem cells. It gives us an additional source of stem cells to use in research and that is important because human embryos are very precious. Until now scientists would discard these cells but this gives us an additional source of stem cells. It could be said that this is a more ethical source of cells, but I prefer to think of it more as an additional source." Josephine Quintavalle of Comment on Reproductive Ethics said: "The pragmatic answer to this study is to say that it's totally irrelevant. He doesn't talk about dead embryos in the study but 'arrested' embryos. That's a whole new category and we need to define what that is." [The Journal, 25 September ] The Socialist government of Portugal has announced it will hold a referendum on abortion in January. Voters will be questioned on support for legislation allowing abortions during the first ten weeks of pregnancy. The current law permits abortion for rape, incest, foetal abnormality, or serious danger to the life or health of the mother up to the twelfth week. The opposition party Christian Democrats reiterated their strong position against any widening of the law. [LifeSite, 18 September ] The President of Italy has called for a parliamentary debate on euthanasia after receiving a letter from a terminally ill man campaigning for its legalisation. President Giorgio Napolitano received a letter from Piergiorgio Welby, 60, who suffers from advanced muscular dystrophy, saying that he wanted the right to die "with dignity" and called for Italians to have the same access to euthanasia as the Swiss, the Belgians and the Dutch. Mr Napolitano wrote back saying that he had been "deeply moved and touched" and that he wanted lawmakers to debate the issue of euthanasia. Cardinal Javier Lozano Barragan, President of Pastoral Assistance to Health Care Workers, called for Catholic parliamentarians to act "with consistency". He said: "For the Church, euthanasia amounts to murder, it's as simple as that, and therefore it can never be allowed. It's forbidden by the fifth commandment. God's law is extremely clear on this and there is no room for misunderstanding - one must not kill." [Ansa, 25 September ]

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