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Defending life from the moment of conception

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Embryology bill passes first hurdle

14 May 2008

British MPs have allowed the government's Human Fertilisation and Embryology (HFE) bill to advance to its next stage, with 81% of those who voted backing the proposed law. Ms Geraldine Smith MP of the ruling Labour party expressed revulsion at the bill's proposals to allow hybrids and saviour siblings. Mr Gary Streeter MP, Conservative, pointed out that embryo-research had not produced any therapies. [BBC, 12 May] Paul Tully of SPUC said: "This result is very disturbing. In the debate [on Monday] we heard yet more promises of therapies that could come from such research. In 1990 we were told that breakthroughs were imminent and yet nothing has been achieved save the destruction of countless human embryos." [12 May] SPUC supporters are urging MPs to oppose pro-abortion amendments to the bill which is back in the Commons on Monday and Tuesday. [13 May]

Andrew Lansley, Tory spokesman on health, said that he would support an amendment to allow abortion on demand by scrapping the two signature requirement. [Telegraph, 13 May] John Smeaton, SPUC national director, has said: "Shame on Andrew Lansley" [SPUC director blog, 14 May]

The HFE bill would allow cloned humans to be born, according to several academics. A letter to a newspaper points out that the bill repeals the 2001 Human Reproductive Cloning Act. Signatories include Professor David Albert Jones, professor of bioethics, St Mary's University College, Twickenham, Professor John Keown, professor of Christian ethics, Georgetown University, Professor John Haldane, director of the centre for ethics, philosophy and public affairs, University of St Andrews, Professor Janet E Smith, chair of life ethics, Sacred Heart Major Seminary, Detroit, and Dr Gregory K Pike, director, Southern Cross Bioethics Institute, Adelaide, South Australia. [Telegraph, 13 May]

An opinion survey suggests that four fifths of the British public want more parliamentary debate on the HFE bill. A ComRes poll of 1,000 respondents for Comment on Reproductive Ethics found that people thought the three hours allowed for discussion of animal-human hybrid embryos was inadequate. [The Times, 13 May] The Catholic Bishop of Paisley, Scotland, wants more attention paid to human embryos' moral status. Rt Rev Philip Tartaglia points out that 10 years of human embryo research has yielded nothing useful. [Herald, 14 May]

The Pope has lamented 30 years of legal abortion in Italy, saying it has devalued human life. Abortion did not solve women's or families' problems. [Union-Tribune, 12 May] Benedict XVI praised and encouraged the Italian Movement for Life, saying that they had saved lives and should not fear. [LifeSiteNews, 12 May]

Scientists say they have genetically modified a human embryo. Researchers at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center reportedly put a gene in a so-called abnormal embryo. [San Francisco Chronicle, 12 May] Mr Wesley Smith, the American bioethicist, said: "There are plenty of people biting at the bit to genetically engineer embryos, and a cadre of bioethicists and lawyers already laying down the intellectual foundation to create a constitutional right to do it". [LifeNews, 13 May]

The Catholic Archbishop of Kansas City, Kansas, has told the state's governor not to take communion until she repents of her support for abortion. Most Rev Joseph Naumann and his suffragan bishops had tried to persuade Ms Kathleen Sebelius to change her ways but the archbishop eventually wrote to her with his ruling and, after she had apparently disobeyed it, chose to write about it in a church newspaper. [LifeSiteNews, 10 May]

A Brazilian legislator has suggested that women should get state help with giving birth and have their babies adopted without disclosing their identities. Mr Eduardo Valverde hopes the measure would reduce abortion and abandonment of children. Anonymity would be accompanied by exemption from responsibility for the child. [Catholic News Agency, 12 May]
Research on mice suggests that pre-eclampsia could be detected and stopped. One pregnancy in 20 is said to be affected by the condition which includes raised maternal blood pressure. The cause may be genetic, according to studies performed in Massachusetts. [New Scientist, 11 May]

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