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Defending life from the moment of conception

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Irish senate to debate embryo protection bill

21 November 2008

The Irish senate will next week debate a bill to ban the creation of human embryos for research and to prohibit research based on such embryos' destruction. Mr Ronan Mullen said his Stem-cell Research (Protection of Human Embryos) Bill was concerned with when life began. It includes fines of up to €250,000 for infringement. Mr Mullen, an independent senator, was supported in his proposal by Mr Jim Walsh and Mr John Hanafin of the Fianna Fáil party and by Mr Paul Bradford of Fine Gael. [Irish Times, 21 November] The philosopher who led the UK enquiry on human embryology in the 1980s will speak in a debate on the subject at University College Cork, Ireland, on Monday. Baroness Warnock reportedly approves of cloning human-animal hybrid embryos. She was also recently quoted as approving of euthanasia. Dr Tom Moore, a biochemist at the college who will also speak in favour of such research, pointed out that morning-after pills were available in Ireland. [Irish Examiner, 21 November] Morning-after pills can cause the death of a young embryo. The college recently decided to carry out embryo research.

Senator Barack Obama, US president-elect, wants to appoint a pro-abortion lawyer to his department of justice review team. Ms Dawn Johnsen, a law professor at Indiana University, was legal director for NARAL (formerly the National Association for the Repeal of Abortion Laws) from 1988 to 1993, and worked for President Clinton. Congressman Rahm Emanuel, Mr Obama's intended chief of staff, supports abortion, as does Mr Tom Daschle, proposed health secretary. Dr Alta Charo of Wisconsin University is to be a bioethics advisor; she supports embryo research. [LifeNews, 20 November, and LifeNews, 20 November] A Vatican cardinal has lamented Mr Obama's victory. Cardinal James Stafford, major penitentiary of the apostolic penitentiary who is from Maryland, said the election was a cultural earthquake and called the senator aggressive, disruptive and apocalyptic. During the presidency Catholics would suffer and weep as Christ had done in the garden of Gethsemane. [Zenit on EWTN, 19 November]

Brazilian police are investigating alleged illegal abortions at a clinic in Campo Grande which closed last year after 20 years. Some 30 women have been convicted, around 150 have been charged and there are more than 1,000 suspects. Those convicted have reportedly been sentenced to do work in crèches and schools for disabled children, with the judge hoping this would change their attitude to the vulnerable. Abortion is allowed in Brazil in cases of rape. The government says it wants a debate on the subject. [BBC, 21 November]
A woman in Pennsylvania has been awarded $1.8m by a jury for being dismissed from her job because she was pregnant. Ms Carole Smith, 36, spent time in a neonatal intensive care unit with her son who had collapsed lungs and pneumonia, and lost her job while still on maternity leave. She has since returned to work for Normandy Properties LLC, which must pay her $600,000 in compensation and $1.2 million in punitive damages. [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 20 November]

Women have excessive faith in IVF, according to research on 724 women by Aberdeen University, Scotland, reported in Fertility & Sterility. More than 80% thought fertility treatment overcame the effect of aging. Just over half of respondents with fertility problems knew that IVF success rates declined between the ages of 30 and 40. Our source suggests that, among women over 40 having IVF, just one in 10 has a live birth. Media stories of older women who have successful IVF may raise hopes unrealistically. The researchers want women to know more about the consequences of postponing childbirth. [Reuters, 20 November] Tragically, the consequences of IVF for most embryos created in that way is death.

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