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Defending life from the moment of conception

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Attempt to ban creation of human-animal hybrids fails

16 January 2008

An attempt to ban the creation of human-animal hybrid embryos failed last night when the House of Lords rejected Lord Alton's amendment to the British government's Human Fertilisation and Embryology (HFE) Bill by 268 votes to 96. The bill allows research on hybrid embryos for 14 days after their creation. The Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury and Bishop of Winchester spoke in favour of the amendment, as did Lord Tebbit. [BBC, 15 January] The group Christians Concerned for Our Nation held a demonstration outside parliament during the debate. In his blog, SPUC's John Smeaton today writes: "It's now all the more important that pro-lifers contact Peers to urge them to vote against the Bill at third reading which could be as early as the 28th of this month." [SPUC Director blog, 16 January]

Also during the HFE Bill debate, a government spokesperson said it might reconsider a proposal to allow fertility clinics to produce babies with no biological fathers, using cells other than eggs and sperm. This proposal was rejected by the House of Lords last year, following objections from fathers' groups and religious leaders according to the Telegraph. Baroness Royall suggested that the plan could be reintroduced in the Human and Fertilisation and Embryology Bill when it goes to the House of Commons later in the year. [Telegraph, 16 January]

The British prime minister has been challenged to explain why he now supports presuming consent for organ donation, which he voted against in 2004. Mr Andrew Lansley MP, opposition health spokesman, has written to Mr Brown asking for clarification of his policy on organ donation, and whether he intends to bring forward new legislation. The discussion has arisen following the report of an organ donation task force on ways to increase organs available for transplant. The task force did not recommend a presumed consent, and a separate consideration of that is now to take place. [BBC, 16 January]

Doncaster Primary Care Trust (PCT) have said that pharmacies in their area will soon be able to supply morning-after-pills free of charge to girls as young as 13. The move is part of a programme by the PCT, the local statutory health service, to reduce the number of teenage pregnancies. Pharmacists have been given training in young peoples' issues, including in giving advice on how to access routine contraceptive methods. [Doncaster Free Press, 15 January]

A British man who assisted his wife who had multiple sclerosis to commit suicide has admitted manslaughter. Mr Robert Cook pleaded guilty to assisting the suicide of his wife Vanessa but not guilty to murder. The plea was not accepted by the prosecution at the Lewes Crown Court, Sussex, and Mr Cook has been remanded on bail. [BBC, 14 January]

There have been objections to the visit to a Catholic College in New Jersey by Mr Barack Obama who supports abortion and research on human embryos and is seeking the Democrat nomination for president. Mr Patrick J Reilly, president of the Cardinal Newman Society said that it was "irresponsible for a Catholic college and its leadership to host a political rally for an aggressively pro-abortion candidate." Dr Eugene Cornacchia, president of St Peter's College, Jersey City, said that it would welcome any presidential candidate who wished to discuss and debate important issues. [CNA on EWTN, 15 January]

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