There was a head-to-head Radio 4 encounter on abortion between Ann Furedi (British Pregnancy Advisory Service) and Andrea Williams (Christian Legal Centre) last week. Furedi had all the poise of the smooth experienced campaigner, Williams had all the arguments – and made darn sure she got them across. Listen to the discussion here.
A pity that Williams couldn’t show the new pictures, from the University of Padova, of twin foetuses, as early as 14 weeks, reaching out to each other and then making social contact. The researchers were able to distinguish between accidental and deliberate contact. So, at least for twins, entry into society precedes birth by many months.
Good news continues on the stem cell front. While it has been possible for some time to convert adult stem cells to the pluripotent cells needed, the methodology had certain dangers. But a new, and much safer, methodology has now been developed. Not only does it work, but it does so more quickly, and produces a larger volume of cells. Perhaps the time approaches when the excuse to cannibalise human embryos will begin to sound pretty hollow.
Terms like zygote, blastocyst, embryo, foetus are necessary usage for certain purposes, although their unfamiliarity tends to mask that these are all life stages of a fellow human being. But of course a phrase like “a blob of undifferentiated cells” is even more useful for rhetoric. I wonder whether its users ask themselves why this blob seems always to develop as a human being and never as a horse or a piece of green cheese.
And do they not know that the axis of the embryo, the positioning of the limbs and the head, the front and the back are settled within 24 hours of conception, and even – some maintain – at the moment of sperm entry? That information is nearly 10 years old. (Nature | Vol 418/4 July 2002)
Having been unable to sell in churches for well over a year due to the pandemic, we are now inviting readers to support the Herald by investing in our future. We have been a bold and influential voice in the church since 1888, standing up for traditional Catholic culture and values.
Please join us on our 130 year mission by supporting us. We are raising £250,000 to safeguard the Herald as a world-leading voice in Catholic journalism and teaching. For more information from our chairman on contributing to the Herald Patron's Fund, click here
Make a Donation
Donors giving £500 or more will automatically become sponsor patrons of the Herald. This includes two complimentary print/digital gift subscriptions, invitations to Patron events, pilgrimages and dinners, and 6 gift subscriptions sent to priests, seminaries, Catholic schools, religious care homes and prison and university chaplaincies. Click here for more information on becoming a Patron Sponsor. Click here for more information about contributing to the Herald Patron's Fund