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Defending life from the moment of conception

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"Sad victory of politics over science and ethics"

11 March 2009

After President Obama lifted his predecessor's ban on federal funding for research on new human embryonic cell lines, the Catholic bishops' pro-life committee has called the move a sad victory of politics over science and ethics. Cardinal Justin Rigali, Archbishop of Philadelphia and committee chairman, added that the measure ignored the existence of ethical sources of stem cells. Bishop Elio Sgreccia, former president of the Pontifical Academy for Life, also criticised the move, saying it was based on utilitarian logic. Episcopalian, Jewish and Methodist representatives attended the signing of the executive order at the White House on Monday. Democrats for Life of America said they were surprised. [Catholic News Service, 9 March] Anthony Ozimic of SPUC said: "President Obama ... reveals himself as a willing tool of a powerful lobby of vested interests among research companies and eugenicist academics. He promised a new approach to policy but embryonic stem cell research is yesterday's bad idea, not tomorrow's future." [SPUC, 9 March] Shares in stem cell companies rose after the announcement. [Reuters on Yahoo!, 10 March] Mr Michael J Fox, the American actor who has Parkinson's disease, praised the president and Mr Obama spoke highly of the late Mr Christopher Reeve, another performer who campaigned for embryo research. [Daily Express, 9 March, and Telegraph, 10 March] Representative Christopher Smith of New Jersey was principal speaker in a non-voting congressional debate on ethical stem cell research. [CNA on EWTN, 9 March] Mr Obama's order also rescinded another measure enacted by President Bush which promoted ethical research. [LifeSiteNews, 10 March]

America is promoting an anti-life agenda at a current UN meeting. The Obama administration is introducing pro-abortion language to the Commission on the Status of Women's final declaration. The US also wants nations' laws to be reviewed in such a way that abortion supporters could force countries to remove restrictions on abortion. Pat Buckley of SPUC said the pro-abortion campaigners were demanding a universal right to kill innocent children in the womb. [SPUC, 10 March]

Australia has followed the US by lifting a 1996 ban on funding abortion services overseas. The government says it hopes the annual worldwide number of abortions will be reduced from its present estimated 42 million. [Reuters, 10 March]

The Brazilian health minister has publicly praised the doctor who aborted a nine-year-old girl's twins. Mr José Gomes Temporão was speaking at a conference on women's health where the audience gave an ovation to the un-named abortionist. President Lula, who described himself as a Catholic, lamented a church declaration that the adults involved in the abortion were excommunicated. [CNN, 11 March]

Spain could further liberalise its abortion law, allowing the procedure on demand up to 12 or 14 weeks. The socialist government is due to put a measure before parliament which would also allow abortion for disability. [British Medical Journal, 6 March]

Mexico's supreme court has stopped short of establishing abortion as a constitutional right. It was ruling on the legalisation of the procedure in the capital city, which it upheld. The court said there was no obligation to ban abortion but that the unborn appear to have partial rights. [Catholic Family & Human Rights Institute, 5 March]

The International Planned Parenthood Federation is misrepresenting how some types of birth-control work. A statement says it is wrong to believe that injected birth control devices cause abortion. The federation acknowledges that such hormonal substances can prevent implantation. [John Smeaton, 8 March] Some supporters of hormonal birth control mistakenly claim that pregnancy starts at implantation rather than conception.

Increasing numbers of patients leave British state hospitals malnourished, with more than 8,000 sufferers discharged last year. [Daily Mail, 10 March] Terminally ill patients and their families feel abandoned by medical staff, according to a survey by Washington (state) university of 55 cases in America. [Medical News Today, 9 March]

Doctors in an unidentified British hospital want to disconnect a nine-month-old boy from a ventilator but his parents have applied to the high court to stop them. Medical staff claim the brain-damaged child is suffering and cannot recover. The parents hope he might get better. A decision in the case is awaited. [Telegraph, 10 March]

After a 12-year-old boy allegedly conceived a child, school authorities in Leicester, England, have decided to begin compulsory sex education for five-year-olds a year sooner than planned. [Daily Mail, 10 March]

A professor at Oxford University, England, wants aborted children's kidneys and livers to be used for transplantation. Professor Sir Richard Gardner advises the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority. The Christian Medical Fellowship said the procedure would be immoral. Comment on Reproductive Ethics said it was horrifying. Professor Stuart Campbell who has developed prenatal scanning techniques said it would be a shame to waste aborted children's body parts. [Daily Mail, 11 March]

A new prenatal test can detect foetal growth restriction. The BJOG journal has described how researchers at the University of Leicester, England, have developed a non-invasive test to detect oxidative stress. [View London, 11 March]

Unborn children can acquire a taste for alcohol if their mothers drink in pregnancy, according to American research on rats. [Telegraph, 9 March] Another US study suggests migraine in pregnancy presents health risks, including the risk of stroke. The Stroke Association said stroke in pregnancy was rare but migraine sufferers should consult their doctors. [BBC, 11 March]

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