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Defending life
from conception to natural death


News, 13 November 2000

13 November 2000

13 November 2000 An audit of Britain's 118 in vitro fertilisation (IVF) clinics has revealed that frozen embryos have been destroyed as a result of power failures, or implanted into the wrong women as a result of mistakes in data collection. The audit, which was carried out by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA), found that electricity disruptions at "various" centres had led to the deaths of an undisclosed number of embryos in frozen storage. Errors in data collection led one former HFEA inspector to suggest that 1,000 test-tube babies may have been implanted into the wrong women, leading to as many as 30 live births. The Sunday Times newspaper focused on the cases of four particular women. Two of them had their last remaining frozen embryos thrown away by mistake, one had another woman's embryo implanted which she then killed by abortion, and one wasted eight years of IVF treatment until it was discovered that she had been fitted with an [abortifacient] intrauterine coil all along. [The Sunday Times, 12 November ] It has emerged that the Alder Hey Children's Hospital in Liverpool, England, has kept a collection of 400 dead foetuses, most of whom died in abortions or at birth. The bodies were collected from various hospitals in the north-west of England, and it is claimed that this was without the knowledge or consent of parents. Hugh Lamont, a spokesman for the hospital, claimed that the collection of foetuses had been known about before, but did acknowledge that "the likelihood" was that no consent had been sought for the storage. [BBC News online, 13 November ] The British government has reaffirmed its policy of promoting access to so-called reproductive health services in the developing world. Clare Short, secretary of state for international development, stated in a written parliamentary reply: "The government are committed to the principles of freedom and choice in reproductive health services ... and to ... attain universal access to reproductive health services before 2015." [Hansard, 8 November] The World Health Organisation includes access to abortion in its official definition of reproductive healthcare. It has been reported that China may remove its one-child family policy after 2010. Chen Shengli, spokesman for the State Family Planning Commission, said that the policy introduced in the 1980s had only been a "tentative measure" and that population growth had now been restricted to about one percent. [Kyodo News, 7 November; from Pro-Life Infonet] Abortions and abortifacient devices have been an important part of the one-child policy in practice. There will be an adjournment debate on embryology in the British House of Commons next Friday (17 November). It is seen as another opportunity for MPs to debate the issue of research on cloned human embryos ahead of a free vote in parliament on whether to authorise such research. This free vote had been expected before the end of the year, although Mrs Margaret Beckett, leader of the House of Commons, appeared to suggest that the vote might be postponed. In an answer on the floor of the house, she said: "We regard these as profound and serious matters which should be thoroughly aired, not least in the House, without a commitment being made or framework being set. Of course, when orders might be made ... is for discussion and can be looked at in the long term." [Hansard, 9 November; SPUC] In a debate between the leaders of political parties contesting this month's general election in Canada, Stockwell Day, Alliance party leader, held his ground on the issue of abortion and said: "I happen to be one of those people who believe life begins at conception. Many doctors agree with that, many do not. Many citizens agree with that, many do not. I have always said that it should be talked about in a very respectful way." [LifeSite Daily News, 10 November ] As the confusion and acrimony surrounding the result of the US presidential election intensifies, a prominent pro-abortion campaigner has criticised Ralph Nader, the pro-abortion Green party candidate, for possibly costing pro-abortion Al Gore the election. Kate Michaelman, president of the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League (NARAL), said of Nader: "Not to recognise what was at stake--or to dismiss it if he did--was dangerous and represented a type of arrogance." NARAL had run advertising campaigns in seven states urging pro-abortionists to vote for Al Gore, as George W Bush is regarded as having good pro-life credentials. [Zenit news agency, 10 November]

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