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Defending life from the moment of conception

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HFE bill's supporters confident of success

14 March 2008

Supporters of the British government's Human Fertilisation and Embryology bill are reported to be confident that it will become law. Dr Evan Harris MP, Liberal Democrat, said that he thought the number of Labour MPs who might vote against the bill was roughly the same as the number of opposition Tories who would support it. Mr Robert Key MP said the bill would pass even if there was a free vote, with one third of his fellow-Conservatives supporting it. [Financial Times, 14 March] The leader of the opposition has challenged the prime minister over the Labour party's requirement for its parliamentarians to vote in a particular way on matters of conscience. Mr David Cameron urged Mr Gordon Brown to give MPs a free vote on the embryology bill. Labour members of the House of Lords had already had to toe the party line on human-animal hybrids and other sensitive matters. Mr Brown said an amendment on abortion would be exempt from the so-called party whip in the Commons. [ePolitix, 12 March]

The Family Research Council has briefed the US congress on adult stem cells. Representatives from both major parties hosted the event which was addressed by Dr Richard Burt of Northwestern University, the author of an article on adult stem cell therapies in the Journal of the American Medical Association. The council supports state funding for such ethical research. [LifeNews, 13 March] Mr. Jack Kervorkian, who was released from prison last June after serving 8 years for homicide, is reportedly seeking election to the House of Representatives for a Michigan district. [Wikinews, 13 March]

Senator John McCain, the Republican US presidential hopeful, has described the case of the late Mrs Theresa Schiavo as very sad. Our source concedes that nothing more is known about how Mr McCain would have wanted the situation handled. [LifeNews, 12 March] NARAL, the abortion advocates, say Mr McCain's opposition to abortion is a well-guarded secret. They seek to persuade people to vote against Mr McCain. [LifeNews, 13 March] Mr Barack Obama and Mrs Hillary Clinton, Democrat presidential contenders, have both opposed a measure in the US senate which would have required parental involvement in abortion on minors. [LifeNews, 13 March]

The president of the Pontifical Council for the Family has confirmed that churches should not accept donations from pharmaceutical companies which promote abortion. Cardinal Alfonso López Trujillo sent such a message in a letter to Rt Rev Gabriel Reyes, Bishop of Antipolo, the Philippines. Accepting such funds confused the faithful by appearing to condone illicit practices. There was no need to accept money from questionable sources. [GMA, 12 March]

Peru's Catholic church is opposing calls for legal abortion in state hospitals. Archbishop José Antonio Eguren of Piura said: " ... human life is inviolable from the moment of conception. This is not only a commandment of the Christian faith but a natural law written in the deepest part of every man's heart and is valid for both believers and non-believers." [Catholic News Agency, 12 May] Life-size models of unborn babies are being used by the Catholic church in Brazil to promote pro-life attitudes. A parish in Rio de Janeiro archdiocese has also shown videos of abortions. Cardinal Eusébio Scheid, Archbishop of Rio, had described abortion as the worst of crimes. He writes: "The unborn child can never [be] seen as a 'part' of the body of the mother, although he has a vital dependence on her for his development." Our source refers to the previous reluctance of the Brazilian bishops to attack abortion, but cites Cardinal Archbishop of Rio de Janeiro, Eusebio Scheid, speaking out forcefully in defence of the right to life of the unborn. [LifeSite, 12 March]

Sets of foetal models can be supplied internationally by the SPUC Educational Research Trust. [SPUC online shop]

Three quarters of Brazilians support the use of human embryonic stem cells for research according to a survey. Ibope interviewed 1,863 adults. The country's supreme court recently postponed a decision on the matter, which it has been reviewing since 2005. [Angus Reid, 10 March] The poll question does not make clear whether it refers to the use of stem cells from existing cultures or extracting stem cells - thereby killing - further embryos.

Human umbilical cord blood cells have been used to help improve the brain in ageing animals. University of South Florida researchers found improvements in the hippocampus, one of the brain's stem cell centres, after the injection of blood stem cells. [Science Daily, 10 March]

Sexually transmitted diseases are rife among teenage Americans. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that nearly half of black girls have an STD while the rate was 20% among whites. The figures are based on a representative sample of 838 girls aged 14-19. The most common infection was Human Papilloma virus, which infects 18% overall. [BBC, 11 March]

AVM Biotechnology LLC, of Seattle, Washington State, is reported as saying that it will produce vaccines only from ethical sources, avoiding use of tissue from aborted babies which has been the practice in some instances. Debi Vinnedge of the group Children of God for Life which has campaigned against unethical vaccines has been appointed to the company's Advisory Board. .[LifeSite, 11 March]

Eleven percent of expectant mothers in Britain smoke in pregnancy. Some do it to get smaller babies and, thus, an easier birth. The practice is associated with developmental and health risks to the unborn. [Daily Mail, 12 March]

A euthanasia-advocate has reportedly been telling groups of old people about a suffocation machine and how to make poison. Dr Philip Nitschke has held workshops in Australia, before which he asks participants to sign a waiver. A senior law officer has warned him that his activities may be illegal. [UPI on, 11 March]

One of Oklahoma's legislative chambers has passed a law which would require ultrasound scans before abortions. Doctors must already offer an optional free scan. [AP on KTen, 11 March]

New mothers are the target of netmums, a social networking website funded by the British government. Health visitors will give advice through the group. [Nursing in Practice, 12 March]

A Senegalese woman living in New York, NY, was mistakenly diagnosed with an ectopic pregnancy and was administered the methotrexate abortion drug. Ms Mbayme Ndoye is suing Roosevelt Hospital. [UPI on, 12 March]

Teenagers from Essex, England, are to visit Amsterdam, the Netherlands, to talk to experts about the city's approach to sexual health. Their ages range from 14 to 16. [East Anglia Daily Times, 11 March]

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