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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 23 August 2000

23 August 2000

23 August 2000 Professor Robert Winston, a British pioneer of in vitro fertilisation treatment, has admitted that the technique is now big business and often carried out on women who, with the right treatment, would be able to conceive naturally. Reports in Avvenire, an Italian newspaper, revealed that IVF treatment in Britain outside the National Health Service costs 3,000 dollars [about 1,935 pounds] and that Professor Winston believes that, as a result, doctors no longer look at ways of curing infertility. Professor Salvatore Mancuso, director of the Catholic University of Rome's Gynaecology Institute, said: "Professor Winston's own research has proved that microsurgery to reconstruct the fallopian tubes sometimes leads to far better results than would be possible with artificial insemination, where the embryo is literally thrown into the uterus and the probability of its being properly implanted is 15 percent or less." [Zenit news agency, 22 August] Further information: One expert (Dr E L Billings, 1999) has suggested that only 1.7 percent of conceptions generated by IVF treatment result in a live birth. A British newspaper columnist recently revealed that 763,509 embryos were generated by IVF treatment between 1991 and 1998. Of these, 184,000 were stored, 48,000 were used in research and 238,000 were simply destroyed (Boris Johnson, Daily Telegraph, 17 August). It has been reported that American and Italian scientists working in partnership have developed a new and more reliable technique for detecting Down's syndrome in unborn babies. A study published in the Obstetrics and Gynecology journal claims that the new technique, known as UltraScreen, can identify over 90 percent of cases after the twelfth week of pregnancy, 30 percent more than the so-called triple test used at the moment. The new test combines several of the methods used presently to detect the syndrome, but an amniocentesis test will still be necessary to provide a definitive diagnosis. [The Times, 23 August] Rock for Life, a division of the American Life League, has drawn attention to the fact that certain rock bands are supporting a pro-abortion campaign at their concerts. Bryan Kemper, of Rock for Life, identified No Doubt, Santana, the Dave Matthews Band and the Van's recent Warped Tour. He said that they have been collaborating with the Planned Parenthood Federation of America's VOX campaign, which urges 18 to 30-year-olds to vote for candidates who support federal funding for abortion at home and abroad. [PRNewswire, Yahoo! News, 22 August; PPFA's VOX website] A report in an American magazine has claimed that the provision of ultrasound facilities in crisis pregnancy centres has significantly reduced the number of women opting for abortions. This effect of ultrasound was predicted by doctors as long ago as 1983. Directors of centres across the USA have reported cases of women and couples who were determined to obtain abortions but who changed their minds when faced with pictures of their babies alive inside the womb. [World Magazine, 19 August; from Pro-Life E-News, 22 August]

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