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News, 17 November 2000

17 November 2000

17 November 2000 Patricia and Peter Thompson yesterday won their case against the Sheffield Fertility Centre after the High Court agreed that the clinic had breached it contract with the couple by implanting three embryos in Mrs Thompson instead of two. She refused to have an abortion and gave birth to three healthy babies, but sought compensation equivalent to the costs of bringing up the third child. As reported in yesterday's digest, it was revealed during the hearing that Mrs Thompson was the only one of 254 patients who actually gave birth to triplets as a result of having three embryos implanted. Paul Tully, general secretary of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, pointed out that "in many of the other cases, one of the implanted embryos was presumably selected for abortion", a fact which demonstrates "the disturbing commodification of human life which characterises in vitro fertilisation treatment in Britain today". [BBC News online and SPUC media release , 16 November] A study carried out by researchers at Erasmus University in Rotterdam, Holland, has shown that most people would not choose to abort babies found, by pre-implantation genetic diagnosis, to be carrying genes which would lead to disease in later life. Of those surveyed who themselves carried two genes which increased the chances of developing breast cancer, none found selective abortion acceptable. Of those surveyed who did not carry the gene, only a small minority (10 to 14 percent) considered abortion acceptable. [Reuters Health, via Yahoo! News, 16 November ] In the United States, the supreme court of Alaska has heard arguments this week in an appeal against a lower court's decision to uphold the state's ban on assisted suicides. The Compassion in Dying Federation has argued that citizens have the right to die with dignity, but Eric Johnson, assistant attorney general, stressed that a terminally ill adult might be coerced by various factors into opting for suicide when adequate pain relief was almost always available and in many cases patients had a substantial amount of time left to live. The Catholic Church in Alaska submitted its own brief in support of the state law, urging the court not to "constitutionalize private killing". [Anchorage Daily News, 15 November, from Pro-Life Infonet] The president of the Population Research Institute in New York has criticised the United Nations for its "anti-people bias". Steven W Mosher said: "The UN speaks of peace and security, yet through its population control programmes is carrying out a true war against unborn children. This is not a conventional war with soldiers and tanks manoeuvring on a field. But it involves a deliberate effort to kill, and there have been far more casualties from abortion than from all the other wars in the past century combined. Is it not schizophrenic for the UN to preach about disarmament, while at the same time distributing manual vacuum aspirators [used for abortions] and morning-after pills to assault the unborn in utero?" [LifeSite Daily News, 16 November ] At a press conference held in New York, a group of medical experts have pushed for the reclassification of the morning-after-pill so that it could become freely available in drugstores and supermarkets. Dr Carolyn Westhoff, professor of obstetrics, gynaecology and public health at the Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center, said: "There are no risks ... we've got plenty of studies now showing that these products are just safe, safe, safe." Dr Westhoff admitted that she gave all her patients undated prescriptions for the [abortifacient] drug, whether they had asked for it or not, so that they could keep it in a drawer for possible future use. [Reuters Health, via Yahoo! News, 16 November ] The SPUC briefing on the morning-after pill can be viewed at . In addition, information on the dangers, deceptions and drawbacks of the morning-after pill can be viewed at .

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