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Defending life
from conception to natural death


weekly update, 3 to 15 October

15 October 2007

weekly update, 3 to 15 October A parliamentary inquiry into abortion legislation in Britain has been advised that chemical abortions are safe to carry out at home. Abortion-inducing drugs are given in two doses with an interval of two days. Current law requires that both should be administered in a clinic or hospital, but the Independent Advisory Group on Sexual Health and HIV testified that it was safe for the second stage to be carried out at home. The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists warned that more research was needed before the law was changed. [Telegraph, 12 October , and Times, 12 October ] The Independent Advisory Group is chaired by veteran pro-abortion campaigner, Baroness Gould (who also chairs the all-party pro-choice group), and includes people from the Family Planning Association, Brook and the Sex Education Forum, as well as abortion practitioners, besides a number of AIDS/HIV experts. The Catholic Church in Spain has opposed the creation of a bioethics committee on euthanasia. Speaking on behalf of the bishops' conference, Fr Juan Martinez Camino said that the Church did not advocate treatment that prolonged suffering, but should death not be hastened either. To do so would introduce insecurity into the health care system. The minister of health last week confirmed the proposal to form a committee to handle cases of patients with untreatable diseases or who resist treatment. [Catholic News Agency, 10 October ] A survey of neo-natal special care units in Britain reveals that the service is over-stretched. The Bliss charity, which conducted the survey, says that lack of funding has resulted in many units being unable to meet the recommended minimum staffing levels, and having to refuse admissions for considerable periods of time. Mothers and babies may have to travel long distances to find the appropriate facilities. Mr Andy Cole, chief executive of Bliss, expressed concern that the government gave less priority to intensive care for babies than for adults and children. [Telegraph, 11 October ] The Journal reports that the Human Tissue and Embryos bill will allow British scientists to carry out virtually any work they like, under licence from the regulating authority. The government's response to the parliamentary committee which studied the draft bill accepts the committee's proposals widening the scope of the regulators. Cytoplasmic embryos, true hybrids which carry both human and animal genes, and chimeras, which are made by mixing embryonic cells from different species and human transgenic embryos, which are human embryos modified with animal DNA may all be created. [Journal Live, 9 October ] A genetics researcher has been awarded the Nobel prize for medicine for his work including work with animal embryo stem cells. Sir Martin Evans, professor of mammalian genetics at Cardiff University in Wales, is know as the chief architect of stem cell research. , which can be removed from mammalian tissue and can be used to grow other types of cells to be used in treating diseases. He shares the prize with his research colleagues, Mario Cappechi, from the University of Utah, and Oliver Smithies, from the University of North Carolina. [icWales, 9 October ] The Australian Catholic bishops' conference has called on Catholics to break off ties with Amnesty International (AI) because of the organisation's new policy of endorsing legal abortion. Archbishop Philip Wilson of Adelaide, president of the episcopal conference, said that AI had adopted a position which goes against the Catholic understanding of the human person and the sacredness of life, and so membership was no longer compatible with Catholic teaching and belief. He urged Catholics to seek other avenues for defending human rights. [CWN on EWTN, 4 October ]

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