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Defending life from the moment of conception

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Woman with leukaemia treated with umbilical cord blood

18 September 2008

A woman in England with leukaemia is being treated with umbilical cord blood, according to a newspaper feature which marks the opening this week of a repository for such material. Ms Lita Jempson, who received chemotherapy, says she feels much better. The Anthony Nolan Trust, which is hosting the tissue bank, says that it could help the 400 people in Britain for whom a bone marrow donor cannot be found. Our source suggests umbilical cells could be used also to grow body parts in the laboratory. [Daily Mail, 16 September] African Caribbean patients have had problems finding donors, but a mother from that ethnic group has become the first to donate her baby's umbilical blood in London. [I am Colourful, 16 September]

The Pope has emphasised that it is for God to decide when people die. Speaking in Lourdes, France, he said that seriously ill people should pray that they might accept death at a time of God's choosing. Benedict XVI also called for employers to give staff time off work to be with dying relatives. [Irish Independent, 16 September, and LifeNews, 15 September]

Senator John McCain, Republican US presidential candidate, says he wants a culture of life, where women with unwanted pregnancies would be helped with bringing their babies to term. He said on television that states should decide the abortion issue and that he respected the rights of the unborn. [LifeNews, 17 September] Mr McCain supports federal funding for human embryo research yet says he opposes the abandonment of ethics for the sake of science. [Catholic News Agency, 18 September] Embryo research is unethical because it involves killing innocent humans.

A woman who was threatened with sterilisation in China is seeking asylum in America under the UN convention against torture. A Georgia court has upheld Shao Yu Yuan's right to appeal against a previous refusal of asylum. She says many other women in Fujian province had been subject to forced abortion or sterilisation. [Medical News Today, 16 September]

A senior US judge has repeated his message that the courts have no right to rule on abortion law. Mr Antonin Scalia of the supreme court told one of the many public meetings he addresses that abortion should be legislated on by elected lawmakers, and that the constitution was a relatively static document. [LifeNews, 16 September] Abortion is principally allowed in America under a 1973 supreme court ruling.

An abortion survivor appears in a television advertisement which denounces Senator Barack Obama, Democrat candidate. Ms Gianna Jessen, 31, was born despite being in saline solution for 18 hours. She says to viewers: "If Barack Obama had his way, I wouldn't be here." She urges Mr Obama to support measures to ensure that babies who survive abortion are not left to die. [CNA on EWTN, 17 September]

Senator Joseph Biden, Democratic party US presidential running mate, has now been corrected by 14 bishops on his claim that his support for abortion does not conflict with his Catholic faith. Mr Biden said on TV that, while he believed that life began at conception, it was "inappropriate in a pluralistic society" for such beliefs to be enshrined in public policy. The prelates have cited Catholic teaching to the effect that state must protect human life at all stages. The Bishop of Tulsa, Oklahoma, said it was false to assert that the matter was restricted to private faith. [LifeSiteNews, 15 September] The Catholic bishops' conference has applauded the government for proposing regulations to protect health workers' conscientious objections to abortion. Medics were under pressure from professional organisations and lobby groups. [Catholic News Agency, 17 September]

The first government licences to clone humans in Australia have been issued. Sydney IVF Ltd will be allowed to use somatic cell nuclear transfer to make embryos from which to take stem cells. [National Health and Medical Research Council, 16 September] Our source makes the customary false distinction between therapeutic and reproductive cloning. All successful human cloning produces a new human person, whether or not he or she is allowed to be born or is killed for research.

Ecuador is to hold a referendum on issues including a measure which could reportedly "open the door to abortion". Catholic prelates offered Masses with large congregations to help citizens prepare for the vote on Sunday-week (the 28th). [Catholic News Agency, 16 September]

Google has lifted its ban on pro-life advertisements after a British charity took it to court. The Christian Institute argued that the search engine allowed ads from abortion providers and other organisations which promoted abortion and was thus discriminating on religious grounds. A settlement was reached out of court. The sponsored link reads: "UK abortion law - Key views and news on abortion law from the Christian Institute." [Independent, 18 September]

A new sex education pamphlet is aimed at six-year-olds in Britain. FPA, formerly the Family Planning Association, is sending the cartoon-based publication to schools. The Family Education Trust implied that years of value-free sex education had not had a good effect and that starting it even sooner would make things worse. [Times, 18 September]

Failure to treat maternal asthma in pregnancy could increase the risk of premature birth, according to US research. There have been concerns that asthma treatments could harm the unborn. [Reuters, 16 September]

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