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Defending life
from conception to natural death


Senator McCain reaffirms support for embryonic stem cell research

29 January 2008

Senator John McCain, one of the potential Republican candidates in the US presidential elections, has reaffirmed his support for embryonic stem cell research in an interview with Catholic reporters in Florida. Mr McCain said his support for such research was "one of the toughest decisions I've ever had ... one reason being very frankly is those embryos will be either discarded or kept in permanent frozen status". The senator, whose voting record is said to be otherwise pro-life, hoped that advances in adult stem cell research would soon make the embryonic stem cells issue academic. [CNA on EWTN, 23 January]

Planned Parenthood plans to spend $10 million during the US elections, in a campaign to try to win a million votes for pro-abortion candidates. The organisation, the nation's largest abortion-provider, only entered the political scene in 2004. "To keep our doors open," said Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards, "it's clear that we need to step into the electoral arena." [CNA on EWTN, 23 January]

US research scientists have reportedly created the whole genome of an organism from simple genetic material. The research, at the J Craig Venter Institute, Maryland, and reported on in the Science journal, entailed manufacturing the DNA of a synthetic version of Mycoplasma genitalium, a simple common bacterium. In future, the technique could allow organisms to be designed for specific purposes like generating biofuels. Concerns have been expressed about the ethical consequences. [BBC, 24 January]

Researchers at the University of Miami, Florida, have found evidence of stem cells in the pancreas in mice. If stem cells can be found in the human pancreas, it could make possible therapies for diabetes. Such cells could be used to generate insulin-producing cells, the deficiency of which causes diabetes. Researchers emphasised that clinical application of their findings was a long way off. [Washington Post, 24 January]

The Catholic bishops of Georgia, USA, have refused to support a proposed pro-life amendment to the state's constitution. The amendment would guarantee the right to life of all human beings from conception. The bishops' statement said that, while they do not oppose the amendment, they have come to the conclusion that it does not offer a realistic method of ending or reducing abortion, since only a change to the federal constitution could do this. [LifeSite, 23 January]

Two pro-abortion leaders have written of the success of pro-life arguments. Frances Kissling, former leader of the so-called Catholics for a Free Choice, and Kate Michelman, former president of the National Abortion Rights Action League, said in the Los Angeles Times that "Twenty years ago, being pro-life was déclassé. Now it is a respectable point of view". They drew attention in particular to how "Pope John Paul II... coined the term 'culture of life.' President Bush adopted it, and the slogan, as much as it pains us to admit it, moved some hearts and minds. Supporting abortion is tough to fit into this package." They also said that showing of images of abortion by pro-life campaigners had been a successful strategy. [LifeSite, 24 January]

A series of sculptures of the developing human foetus are being shown in London. Mr Marc McQuinn's sculptures depict the unborn child at stages from 22 days and are based on medical textbooks and scans of the artist's children. Mr McQuinn, who created the sculpture of a pregnant disabled woman for the fourth plinth in Trafalgar Square, London, said of the pieces: "This one looks like an alien in films. Some are distinctively extraterrestrial. But it's universal because every single person has come from this". [Evening Standard, 24 January, and Daily Mail, 24 January] (Note that the photo captions in several of the pictures are misleading - they may be intended to say "weeks" instead of "months")

A study has shown that babies born before 32 weeks' gestational age are more susceptible to certain infections. The research was led by Dr Robert Goldberg of the Drexel University College of Medicine in Philadelphia, whose group calls for further studies to determine whether treating women at risk of giving birth prematurely with antibiotics would give their babies protection. [Reuters, 23 January]

Under a government scheme in Scotland, pregnant women as well as pre-school age children, are to be give free fruit. The initiative is part of a drive to reduce obesity. [BBC, 24 January]

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