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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 13 December 2001

13 December 2001

13 December 2001 The British authority which regulates fertility treatment is allowing the selection of embryos on the grounds of whether their tissue matches a sibling who needs a transplant. The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) made its decision in the light of a request from a couple whose son has thalassaemia which can be treated with a bone-marrow transplant. Paul Tully of SPUC commented: "Once again, tragic cases are being used to justify the abuse of human embryos. This technique means that large numbers of embryos--dozens or even hundreds--will be created in the search for a tissue match. Embryos that don't provide the match will be discarded. Those that match may be transferred to the womb in the hope that they will survive to birth." Josephine Quintavalle of the ProLife Alliance disputed whether it would be in a child's best interests to be created as a tissue-match for someone else. [BBC and SPUC media release , 13 December] Parents are being urged to store blood from their babies' umbilical cords so that it can be used for therapies, including the treatment of blood cancer in other people. The appeal comes from doctors at Wisconsin medical college, who have found that blood from cords is less likely to be rejected by the patient's body. Placing such blood in storage initially costs $1,400 and $100 annually thereafter. [Channel2000, 10 December ] The use of umbilical material has none of the grave ethical problems associated with using human embryonic cells. An in vitro fertilisation technique could carry an increased risk of developmental anomalies. The Pasteur Institute, Paris, has found that intracytoplasmic sperm injection for men with a microdeletion in the Y chromosome can mean that the resulting babies risk having ambiguous genitalia or, if female, will not undergo puberty. A study of intracytoplasmic sperm injection by the Free University, Brussels, also found a slightly increased incidence of abnormality in sex chromosomes. [New Scientist, 12 December ] The publishers of next year's Catholic Directory of England and Wales have been criticised for including details of the Catholic Women's Network whose annual report says that it has no stance on abortion. Mrs Joanna Bogle, a Catholic writer, has pointed out that church teaching does not allow Catholics to be neutral on the matter. Bishop Vincent Malone, the chairman of a panel which checks the Catholic credentials of societies seeking to be mentioned in the directory, has said that some unspecified organisations' entries were published even though the process of scrutiny had not been completed. [Catholic Herald, 14 December] Maryland's Catholic bishops have warned that the state's legislature may try to force Catholic hospitals to give abortion drugs to rape-victims or to refer them to places which will supply such substances. Medical workers can presently decline to assist with abortion and sterilisation. [Catholic News Service, 12 December ]

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