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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 27 April 2000

27 April 2000

27 April 2000 Two new techniques have been developed by fertility scientists which would allow women using donated eggs for in vitro fertilisation to pass on most of their own genes. Both techniques involve the removal of the donor egg's nucleus, and then either the mother's chromosomes are injected into the egg, or the mother's egg is 'glued' to the donor egg and the pair of eggs are then induced to fuse. The father's sperm is also introduced for fertilisation. The French, Italian and Spanish scientists on the team claim that their research will aid the development of so-called therapeutic cloning of embryos to produce body parts, but insist that the experiments are not aimed at human reproductive cloning. Even though the nucleus of the donor egg will be removed, some of the donor's genetic material will remain in the mitochondria. This has prompted Nuala Scarisbrick, of anti-abortion charity Life, to describe the fact that a child would end up with the genes of two women as "utterly repugnant to anyone who has a traditional view of the creation of life." [The Daily Telegraph, Daily Mail&Metro, 27th April] The Science Editor of The Guardian newspaper in Britain has concluded that stem cell therapy will go ahead and that the use of five or six-day-old embryos will become increasingly necessary. He writes, "Just as there are not enough donor hearts to meet demand for transplant surgery, so there will not be enough donated embryos to meet the demand for therapeutic cloning." [The Guardian, 27th April] The US Senate health appropriations subcommittee has been considering stem cell research. Superman actor Christopher Reeve addressed the committee yesterday arguing that it is unethical for donated unused embryos "that will never become human beings" to be thrown away when they could help save thousands of lives. However, Senator Sam Brownback disputed this argument and compared embryo destruction for science to Nazi experiments on Jews which followed the rationale "these people are going to be killed, why not experiment on them?". Furthermore, research on embryos was branded unnecessary because some stem cells do roam inside adults' bodies and could be used as an alternative. [Associated Press, 26th April (from Pro-Life Infonet)] [This bulletin is privately circulated by the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, www.spuc.org.uk, 5/6 St Matthew Street, London, United Kingdom, SW1P 2JT, +44 20 7222 3763. The reliability of the news herein is dependent on that of the cited sources, which are paraphrased rather than quoted. Opinions expressed are not necessarily those of the society. Please forward this bulletin to other interested parties. To unsubscribe, send an appropriate email to information@spuc.freeserve.co.uk]

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