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Defending life from the moment of conception

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Scientist: Public is being misled over human-animal hybrid embryos

10 September 2007

A prestigious American scientist has said that the public is being misled over claims that the creation and destruction of human-animal hybrid embryos will lead to cures for diseases, Speaking at the National Conference of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, Dr James Sherley, who is senior scientist in Programmes in Regenerative Biology and Cancer at Boston Biomedical Research Institute, said: "The shortage of human eggs has led scientists to look to using human cells and animal eggs to create hybrid embryos but this is a distraction. The likelihood that this will give the type of embryonic stem cells needed for such research is unlikely. The whole debate has been misrepresented...The public is not being told that these cells can't be used to cure defects in adult tissues, that embryonic stem cells provide only short-lived repair, that there is a problem with tumours. They also can't renew themselves as they cease to become stem cells. This is an 'engineering' problem as these cells can't do what's needed." [SPUC, 9 September]

The Pope has said that abortion is the antithesis of a human right. Addressing Austrian politicians and diplomats in Vienna, His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI said: "The fundamental human right, the presupposition of every other right, is the right to life itself. This is true of life from the moment of conception until its natural end. Abortion, consequently, cannot be a human right - it is the very opposite." He appealed to political leaders not to regard children as "a form of illness" and also warned against the increasing prevalence of euthanasia. [Zenit, 9 September]

Guardian associate editor, Madeleine Bunting, has called for more debate about population management in her column in her paper, and asks if the UK government should run a "policy of persuasion" to make people have no more than two children. She wrote: "There's no point giving up your meat and your car, recycling your rubbish and producing lots of children." She cites environmentalists Christopher Rapley of the Science Museum and Jonathon Porritt of the Sustainability Development Commission who have expressed support for population management. [Guardian, 10 September]

A mother of twelve children, who refused to abort her 11th child after a doctor warned that the birth would kill her, may be on the way to canonisation, after the Vatican approved her widower's request to pursue sainthood for his wife. Gwen Coniker, who died at the age of 62 in 2002, was a pro-life campaigner and co-founded the Apostolate for Family Consecration in Ohio with her husband Jerome, with whom she had 12 children. [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 10 September]

In two different Latin American countries, government action prevented two abortions from being carried out last week. In Argentina, a judge ruled in favour of the unborn child in the case of a girl with learning difficulties who had been raped by a close friend of the family. The Infant Maternity Hospital San Roque was ordered to cancel its plans to abort the child, who is now under the protective custody of the Council for Minors. In Nicaragua, where all direct abortions are illegal, a pregnant ten-year-old girl has been placed under the care of the Ministry of Health following pressure from the "Women's Network Against Violence" for the girl to be allowed an abortion despite the fact that doctors have claimed it would pose risk to the girl's life. She is currently receiving treatment in Managua, Nicaragua's capital. [LifeSite, 6 September]

A report from The Population Research Institute has warned of a "systematic and international strategy" by pro-abortion groups to introduce abortion into Latin American countries where it is still illegal. This strategy consists of introducing pregnant women to abortifacient drugs. The report says: "This type of 'guidance' is nothing other than manipulation, as the choice they are presenting is the one they have already decided on for these women from the beginning." [Catholic News Agency, 6 September]

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