October 19th 2002

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Articles from this issue:

COVER STORY: Bush changes US strategic doctrine

NATIONAL AFFAIRS: ALP Conference: triumph of 'spin' over substance

CANBERRA OBSERVED: PM's loopy housing scheme evades rebuke

SOUTH AUSTRALIA: Social 'reforms': Rann's devious politics

STRAWS IN THE WIND: Yes - it is about oil, and arms, and ... doublethink

SUGAR: Behind the sugar crisis

OBITUARY: Ted Serong: a great Australian

FINANCE: A $50 billion war chest for the ALP?

LETTERS: Superannuation and the ALP (letter)

LETTERS: Democrats (letter)

LETTERS: Life matters (letter)

WATER: Wimmera-Mallee major water conservation project underway

CHINA: China will remain the major challenge to America

COMMENT: Share collapse: we've seen it all before

BUSINESS: Just how 'ethical' can business be?

COMMENT: Dysfunctional Victoria

BOOKS: Wilful murder: the Sinking of the Lusitania, by Diana Preston

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Life matters (letter)

by F.M. Hickey

News Weekly, October 19, 2002

The tragic road rage attack presented on the Channel Seven show, Today Tonight on September 27 is relevant to the current Federal Parliamentary Debate on the experimental use of embryonic stem cells.

The victims of the road rage, identified and interviewed on the same program, were a man and his seven months pregnant partner, whose car was twice hit from behind and speared off the road into a telephone pole. This resulted in internal injuries to the woman, causing the loss of her baby, and her ability to have children.

The legal representative on the segment explained that as a result of a current one hundred year old law in the State of New South Wales which states that a foetus does not become a person until it takes its first breath, the distraught victim is prevented from suing the drunken perpetrator for manslaughter, as the child was not deemed to be a person under the law, even thought the victim knew her baby was a boy. She had also named him and she knew he could have survived outside the womb at seven months gestation. After one hundred years of scientific progress, the legal representative recognised that the law needed to be changed.

It may be that all politicians who wish to have an informed vote on the embryonic stem cell debate should avail themselves of current scientific knowledge, so they can at least have an educated conviction of when human life in the womb has protection under the law, one hundred years on - in the year 2002, or risk a possible class action as scientific knowledge multiplies with increasing speed.

Scientists know that 24 days on, from the embryonic stage, life in the womb has a heartbeat. Scientists also know that life in the womb can survive as a person with rights outside the womb at five months gestation and counting.

It is very possible that different States in Australia have different defining times as to when human life acquires legal protection as a person

F.M. Hickey,
North Rockhampton, Qld

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