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Defending life
from conception to natural death


President Bush pledges to veto destructive embryo research

13 April 2007

President Bush has said that he will continue to veto a bill which would allow federal funding for embryonic stem cell research. Speaking after the Senate had voted 63-34 to pass the measure, he said: "This bill crosses a moral line that I and many others find troubling. If it advances all the way through Congress to my desk, I will veto it." [Guardian, 11 April] Christian groups in America have supported President Bush's stance on the bill. Dr. David Stevens, chief executive officer of the Christian Medical Association, said: "Creating human embryos and harvesting their stem cells, ostensibly for disease treatments, is a highly speculative, impractical and unethical proposition." Wendy Wright, president of Concerned Women for America, said: "This over-hyped research would drag money and attention away from what patients really need - ethical treatments that work." [Christian Today, 12 April]

Pregnant women in Britain are afraid to take necessary medication during pregnancy, according to doctors. Dr Jim Kennedy, the Royal College of GPs' head of prescribing, said that the problem could be traced to the thalidomide scandal in the 1950s and 60s when thalidomide resulted in the births of more than 400 disabled babies. He said: "Thalidomide has had a good and bad legacy. Good, because it has led to a tightening up of the regulations surrounding drugs that could affect the foetus. But it has also meant that at certain times we might be being too careful. We are being so careful that we might be denying women reasonable medication. The women are worried that any drug might affect their pregnancy. To an extent, if you treated women like this when they were not pregnant, you would not be treating them properly. Pregnant women are getting a raw deal." [BBC, 8 April]

Immature sperm cells have been created from bone marrow stem cells, according to British scientists. Researchers at the University of Newcastle isolated stem cells from the bone marrow of male volunteers and cultured them in a laboratory, adding a form of vitamin A so that they grew into immature sperm cells. The researchers believe that it may take another 3-5 years of work to produce mature sperm cells. Professor Karim Nayernia, who led the research, said that he hopes the technique could lead to treatment for male infertility. [Guardian, 13 April] Professor Nayernia also claimed that it may be possible for sperm to be made from women's stem cells, saying that there was evidence that this was possible in mice. The researchers' paper said that the research could "raise profound new possibilities such as the possible creation of a child by combining the genetic material of two women". Critics Professor Robin Lovell Badge and Josephine Quintavalle said that the paper had over-hyped the findings [Telegraph, 13 April]

A Chinese government official has been dismissed for having too many children, according to the Beijing News. Qin Huaiwen was sacked for being in violation of the country's one-child policy when it was revealed that he had three daughters with his wife, and a son and a daughter with his mistress. He has also been expelled from the Communist party. [Reuters, 10 April]

A baby hatch, where mothers can leave their children if they cannot look after them, is to be opened for the first time in Japan. Jikei Hospital in the south-western city of Kumamoto, which has links with the Catholic Church, has been given permission by the city government to build an incubator-like hatch with access from the outside where babies can be dropped off safely and anonymously. The Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has criticised the scheme saying: "For a mother and father to abandon a baby anonymously - I don't think this can be forgiven." Yukiko Tajiri, head of the nursing section at the hospital, said that she hopes the scheme will be an alternative to abortion for women facing difficulties with unwanted pregnancies. She said: "We do not perform abortions. We have always been a hospital that values life. I hope that this will attract more women to consult us, so that they know they have more options." [Daily Mail, 5 April]

The Mexican Senate has begun discussing a bill that would legalise passive euthanasia. Senator Lazaro Mazon, the sponsor of the bill, said that it would permit the terminally ill to cease medical treatment and would end prosecution of doctors who follow the patients wishes to end medical care. Senator Mazon said that he had enough support for approval and expected a vote within two weeks. [Reuters, 13 April]

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