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8th January 2003


1. Mother goes abroad to choose sex of next child
2. UK Raelians deny human cloning is hoax
3. U.S. asks Korea to help with Clonaid inquiry
4. Advocacy group wants Bush apology for eugenics.
5. Sterilization Offer to Addicts Reopens Ethics Issue
6. Italy extends 1997 cloning ban for six months

1.  Mother goes abroad to choose sex of next child

7 January 2003

A mother of four boys is preparing to go abroad for treatment to allow her
to have a daughter.

Nicola Chenery and her partner have travelled from their Plymouth home to
London to start the first part of the #6,000 treatment.

Later this week they will travel to an undisclosed European clinic to
continue the treatment known as pre-implant genetic diagnosis (PGD).

PGD is illegal in the UK except on medical grounds, such as when a child is
likely to develop haemophilia or cystic fibrosis.

Ms Chenery, 33, says the treatment will make her family "complete".

"I'm extremely lucky to have my four boys, I just want to balance my
family," she told the BBC.

Rules governing PGD are administered by the Human Fertilisation and
Embryology Authority.

The authority opposes sex selection for family balancing because it implies
one sex is more valuable than the other.


2.  UK Raelians deny human cloning is hoax

7 January 2003;$sessionid$A2BARIAUJ0LH1QFIQMG

The UK head of the Raelian sect, which claims to have produced the world's
first human clones, today denied the announcement was an elaborate hoax.

A freelance journalist who said he would oversee DNA testing to prove
whether or not a clone had been produced suspended his efforts. But Glen
Carter, UK president of the Raelian movement, said journalist Michael
Guillen had stopped his work because people had accused him of being a

Mr Carter said the sect wanted to get the clones tested as soon as possible
to "get the show on the road". Mr Guillen, a former science editor for US
network ABC, was investigating the claims made by the sect's research
company Clonaid that a baby girl named Eve born last month was a clone.

A second "clone" was said to have been born last week to Dutch lesbians and
Clonaid claims three more will be born by the end of January.

Mr Carter told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "I understand his claims and I
understand what he said but it's important to be aware that he's faced a
character assassination for the last couple of weeks or so in the US and
beginning here, where he's been called an idiot, a lunatic, somebody who's
not independent. To be honest with you I think he's just showing his

"It is true that until there is any evidence then there is always the
possibility it's a hoax, I just don't believe that it is a hoax. If you want
to compromise the safety of the family then yes you could end the situation
in a second. But nobody at Clonaid from my understanding is prepared to
split up a family simply to save their own faces, I think that would be
hugely selfish.

"Just because no-one sees the truth does not mean it's an error, as Gandhi
said. When the truth does come out and when the evidence is put forward, all
this frustration will just be seen as exactly as I see it which is childish
arrogance and vanity that scientists want to know now."

Mr Carter said he believed the second child, also a girl, would be the first
to be tested. The testing has been blocked by the American parents of the
first baby, according to Clonaid, the company founded by the Raelian sect
that believes space aliens created life on Earth.

In a statement, Mr Guillen said he had assembled experts to do the work but
suspended the effort last night.

He said: "The team of scientists has had no access to the alleged family
and, therefore, cannot verify first-hand the claim that a human baby has
been cloned. In other words, it's still entirely possible Clonaid's
announcement is part of an elaborate hoax intended to bring publicity to the
Raelian movement."


3.  U.S. asks Korea to help with Clonaid inquiry

6 January 2003

The Food and Drug Administration of the United States has asked for help
from Korean prosecutors regarding an investigation into Clonaid, a
U.S.-based biotechnology firm that recently claimed to have cloned two
humans. Seoul prosecutors said they would cooperate with the FDA, and the
investigation into Clonaid's activities here is expected to become more

The Seoul District Prosecutors Office, which has been investigating the
Korean office of Clonaid since last summer, yesterday said the FDA had
requested information Saturday on its investigation into the firm. Clonaid's
Korean office has claimed that a cloned human embryo had been implanted in a
Korean surrogate mother.

Prosecutors in Seoul last week obtained a statement from officials at the
firm's local office that three Korean women have applied to become surrogate
mothers and that one of them recently left Korea for the United States. But
prosecutors said they were not able to verify the officials' claims.

With the cooperation of the U.S. agency, Seoul prosecutors expect the
investigation to gain new momentum. "Being limited to investigating
Clonaid's local office has hindered our investigation," a prosecutor said.

Prosecutors privately said they doubt the firm's claim that it has placed a
cloned human embryo in a Korean surrogate mother. But in e-mail interviews
with the JoongAng Ilbo, the firm's local spokesman, Kwak Gi-hwa, wrote "The
Korean surrogate mother definitely exists." He added, "The government has
unwarranted fears about human cloning. Artificial insemination, which once
spurred ethical debates, is accepted now."

 4.  Advocacy group wants Bush apology for eugenics.
Government had to know about sterilizations, it says

7 January 2003

Advocates for the disabled are asking President Bush to apologize on behalf
of the nation for programs operated by North Carolina and 32 other states
that sterilized as many as 65,000 people before ending in the 1980s.

"The federal government had to know something about it if 33 states were
doing this," said Keith Kessler of Dale City, Va., who sent a letter to Bush
this week of behalf of the Disabled Action Committee, an advocacy group that
publishes a national newsletter.

In his letter to Bush, Kessler wrote that governors in North Carolina,
Oregon and Virginia have apologized for sterilization programs in their

Gov. Mike Easley apologized last month in response to a series of stories in
the Winston-Salem Journal that provided details about North Carolina's
program for the first time.

Sterilizations nationwide were carried out as part of the eugenics movement,
which made exaggerated claims that mental illness, genetic defects and
social ills could be eliminated by sterilization. In North Carolina,
children as young as 10 were sterilized under a state program often
characterized by coercion and flawed intelligence testing.

By the 1960s, the program was mainly targeting young black women. The North
Carolina program sterilized more than 7,600 people between 1929 and 1974 and
was the third largest in the country, after California and Virginia.

Three sterilization victims profiled in the Journal all said that a
presidential apology is needed, as well as some form of compensation.

"It (an apology) would mean a lot, but also, what are they going to do about
it?" said Nial Cox Ramirez, 56, of Riverdale, Ga., who was sterilized in

Since Easley issued his apology, victims and legislators have demanded that
the state do more.

"I will be doing everything that I can to make sure that this kind of
practice ceases and desists and will not happen again," said state Rep.
Larry Womble, D-Forsyth.

Womble said that hearings on the state's sterilization program and
reparations to sterilization victims are options to consider when the
legislature reconvenes later this month.

Skip Alston, the president of the state branch of the National Association
for the Advancement of Colored People, agreed. He said that the state NAACP
has put the issue on its legislative agenda.

Alston also has talked to several black legislators about taking up the

"They're very supportive," he said.

Alston also said that the NAACP plans to hold public hearings around the
state as part of its own investigation into the program.

Womble and Alston support the push for a federal apology, as well as U.S.
congressional hearings on sterilization programs in other states.

One member of Congress from North Carolina isn't certain that federal
hearings are needed.

"My first take on it is that this is really something for the states to look
at and the media to open up," said U.S. Rep. Richard Burr, R-5th.

"I'm not sure about any federal review of what went on, with something that
was really driven by the states," said Burr, who added that he might feel
differently if it turns out the federal government helped pay for

If federal money was spent, Burr said, a congressional investigation might
be appropriate "so that we could get some kind of accounting for people on
what did happen (with federal support)."

He said he thought that what went on during the eugenic sterilization
movement "could not happen today."

Newspapers in Virginia and Oregon have also investigated their state's
sterilization programs.

"I think it's just going to keep snowballing," Kessler said.

Before the president apologizes, Kessler said, congressional hearings are

"They would have to be awfully blind or deaf or just plain out of the loop
(not to know)," he said.

Victims are "scattered throughout the United States," he said.

The Disabled Action Committee decided to ask for a national apology because
people with disabilities were among the 65,000 victims, he said.

Kessler doesn't ask for reparations in his letter. He just wants to make
sure that similar programs don't happen again, he said. "If we don't learn
from our mistakes, we're doomed to repeat them."

He is not worried that his chances of a presidential response may be slim.

"I never say never," said Kessler, a quadriplegic.


5.  Sterilization Offer to Addicts Reopens Ethics Issue
6 January 2003

A flier hanging on a pole in Brooklyn looks, at first glance, as if it might
offer a room for rent or a job. There are phone numbers, dollar signs and
tabs for people to tear off and take with them.

But the offer is intended for a specific group: drug-addicted men and women.
"Get birth control, get cash," the flier reads. "If you are addicted to
drugs and/or alcohol then this offer is for you."

While offers of birth control to drug addicts are common - distribution of
condoms in particular, as a means not only for birth control but also to
stem the spread of AIDS - this offer is much more radical. It offers men and
women $200 to be sterilized or put on long-term birth control.

The group making the offer, Children Requiring a Caring Kommunity, or Crack,
contends that the program is a humane effort to keep children from being
born to women ill-equipped to raise them. Critics counter that it is little
more than a bribe to women to make an irreversible decision, and argue that
counseling is the best method for both ending drug use and promoting
responsible parenthood.

So far, the presence of the group in New York is minimal; it is based in
California, and its only chapter here consists of a 27-year-old office
worker from Brooklyn, who with the help of her husband and another volunteer
has posted fliers across the city and held meetings with hospitals and
community groups. But if Crack's reception in other cities is any
indication, there is likely to be heated debate about the efficacy and the
ethics of its offer.

"The program is fundamentally incompatible with a health care policy that
respects a woman's right to choose," said Donna Lieberman, executive
director of the New York Civil Liberties Union. "It certainly raises policy
concerns for government entities to be providing referrals to this program
or endorsing it in any way."

The organization was started in Orange County, Calif., in 1997 by Barbara
Harris, a housewife and former waitress, after she adopted four children
from the same drug-addicted mother. Children born to drug addicts regularly
suffer emotional scars and medical disabilities and end up in foster care at
taxpayers' expense, she said.

"It's common sense," she said. "Why should a drug or alcohol addict get
pregnant? I watched how my children suffered when I brought them home from
the hospital, and no child should go through that."

Critics, however, say that Crack's stance is aimed not at helping children
but at selective breeding. They point to comments like those Mrs. Harris
made in 1998, when she was quoted in the British edition of Marie Claire
magazine saying: "We don't allow dogs to breed. We spay them. We neuter
them. We try to keep them from having unwanted puppies, and yet these women
are literally having litters of children." The organization has softened its
message, and now refers to itself as Project Prevention as often as it calls
itself Crack.

But opponents say Crack's $200 offer misses the real issue, which is helping
people get treatment for their addiction.

"What she's doing is suggesting there are certain neighborhoods where it is
dangerous for some people to be reproducing," said Lynn Paltrow, executive
director of National Advocates for Pregnant Women. "It suggests they are not
worthy of reproducing. It is very much like the eugenics history in America.
The Nazis said if you just sterilized the sick people and Jews you would
improve the economy."

When it first started, Crack offered payments on a sliding scale, giving
more money to women who chose tubal ligations and men who chose vasectomies
than to those who chose long-term birth control like intrauterine devices,
Norplant or Depo-Provera.

But the criticism was so harsh that the group changed its policy and began
offering a flat payment of $200. Women submit such documents as an arrest
report or doctor's letter to prove they use drugs. They have the procedure
done, usually paid for with government assistance, and then they send Crack
written proof.


6.  Italy extends 1997 cloning ban for six months

3 January 2003

FLORENCE (Reuters Health) - Italy's Health Minister Girolamo Sirchia has
extended for another six months a ban on cloning enacted in 1997, while
waiting for the country's Senate to approve a law on assisted reproduction.

The ban, which forbids any form of experimentation and intervention "even
indirectly" in the field of human cloning, will be valid until June 30, as
written in the state official journal Gazzetta Ufficiale.

Sirchia also extended other articles, which prohibit the commercialisation
of "gametes and human embryos and any genetic material." The validity of a
2001 ordinance, which bans imports of embryos or gametes, has also been
stretched to the same deadline.

The measure has been taken "considering that the reasons which prompted the
previous bans are still subsisting," the ordinance says.

Italy has been waiting for a law regulating assisted fertility for 36 years.
A new, controversial law, which was approved by the Italian parliament in
June, is due to be debated at the Senate in February.

The new regulation would include prison terms of up to 20 years, fines up to
1 million euros, and the end of the individual's career for "anyone who
realises a project which aims to obtain a human being from one starting
cell, genetically identical to another human being, alive or dead."

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