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Defending life from the moment of conception

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weekly update, 26 April to 1 May

1 May 2007

weekly update, 26 April to 1 May The body which regulates human embryology research in the UK has launched a public consultation on whether scientists should be allowed to create human-animal hybrids for research. The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) has produced a consultation paper explaining future possibilities in embryo research. There will be a public meeting in London next month, and an opinion poll and online questionnaire are planned. The HFEA will announce its recommendations in the autumn. [BBC, 25 April ] SPUC is calling on its supporters to ask more than 200 UK charities to justify their support for such research. [SPUC, 26 April ] Two British couples with family histories of breast cancer are expected to be given approval by the HFEA for embryo screening for the gene which is associated with increased risk of developing the disease. The HFEA has already agreed in principle. This time last year the authority ruled it acceptable to screen embryos for genes which raise the risk of cancer in adulthood by between 60% and 80%. Previously it was restricted to genes that carried a 90% to 100% chance of causing a disease. [Times, 26 April ] Embryos found to carry genes associated with a risk of cancer will be discarded. The Dutch government has lifted restrictions on the Women on Waves abortion ship project and given it a new licence. The ship will be able to sail under a Dutch flag in international waters, pick up women from countries where abortion is illegal, and give them abortion-inducing pills. It is planned to target Ireland, Malta and Poland, European countries which still outlaw abortion, as well as South American states. Rebecca Gomperts, who runs the project, said they are seeking to have lifted remaining restrictions, such as a requirement to find a partner hospital in any region to which they travel, and only to perform abortions up to seven weeks of pregnancy. [Times, 24 April ] The College of Catholic Lawyers in Mexico is to complain to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights about the legalisation in Mexico City of social abortion in the first three months of pregnancy. Fr Hugo Valdemar, spokesman for the Archdiocese of Mexico City, said the new law went against a clause in Mexico's constitution that says the state must defend human life "from conception until its natural end." [Scotsman 27 April ] The city's legislature voted earlier last week for abortion on demand in the first 12 weeks. Current laws allow abortion in cases of rape, threat to the mother's life, or severe medical conditions of the child. [CNN, 24 April ] Women for Life International, a pro-life feminist group in the USA, has joined the protest by many groups and individuals against the proposal by Amnesty International to adopt a stance in favour of abortion. Molly White, co-founder of the group, said: "The proposed policy is not only in direct conflict with the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights ... but adoption of such a policy will set a precedent for worldwide, unfettered fetal genocide, worldwide exploitation of pregnant women, especially poor women, and a worldwide epidemic of violence against women and the girl child." [EWTN News 26 April ] A British school has admitted giving out more than 300 morning-after pills over the past four years without informing parents. A woman doctor or nurse is available to give prescriptions four days a week at Lutterworth Grammar School, Leicestershire, which has 1,900 pupils, more than a third of them aged 16 to 19. Many family campaigning groups have objected, but the headmaster says the policy is right for the school. Approximately a third of school pupils in Britain have access to condoms and other birth control through schools or clinics. [Mail on Sunday, 29 April ]

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