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Defending life
from conception to natural death


News, 6 July 2001

6 July 2001

6 July 2001 Warnings about prenatal sex-selection from the UK embryology authority have been decried by SPUC. Paul Tully, SPUC general secretary, said: "The HFEA's warnings about gender-selection and designer babies have a hollow ring to them. The authority already allows pre-implantation genetic diagnosis for disability. All such diagnosis is discriminatory because it results in the destruction of human life for one reason or another. Even if young embryos aren't discarded because of their gender, they can still be discarded because of a suspected developmental anomaly. This sends a horrific message to disabled members of our supposedly caring society." [SPUC media release, 6 July ] British health authorities could compete in terms of the number of patients from whom they withdrew food and fluid, a doctor has told the Medical Ethics Alliance. Dr Greg Gardner was warning of the possible consequences of the implementation of a new version of British Medical Association guidance on life-prolonging treatment, which suggests that information about euthanasia by dehydration and starvation should be submitted to health ministers. [Catholic Herald, 6 July] A male nurse has admitted killing nine women who had Alzheimer's disease at a Swiss home for the elderly. Lucerne police are trying to find out how the women were killed and whether there were similar incidents in places where the unidentified man worked before. The director of the city's social services has described the deaths as incomprehensible. [AP on Yahoo! , 5 July] Unborn children in America could be defined as people under proposed changes to eligibility to health insurance. Mr Tommy Thompson, the health secretary, wants foetuses to be classified as low-income children and thus qualify for help with pre-natal care and delivery. Opponents fear this could establish a principle which would undermine legal abortion. [Star Tribune, 6 July ] The leader of the majority in the US House of Representatives has been joined by two Republican colleagues in urging President Bush to prohibit federal funding for embryo research. Representatives Armey, Delay and Watts said: "The federal government cannot morally look the other way with respect to the destruction of human embryos, then accept and pay for extracted stem cells for the purpose of medical research." [CNN, 3 July ] Multiple births, which can be premature and need treatment, have increased in England and Wales. Fertility treatments and older mothers mean that, while the chance of having twins 10 years ago was one in 50, one child in 37 is now born a twin. [BBC, 5 July ] A new prenatal scanner offers detailed, multi-dimensional images of unborn babies as early as seven weeks' into gestation. The Voluson 730 can detect cleft palates and Down's syndrome. Advocates of the scanner's use describe how seeing detailed pictures of unborn children helped the mother of a child with a cleft palate bond with the child and discuss post-natal surgery. Another mother claimed that seeing her child persuaded her to give up smoking. [BBC, 5 July ] Manufacturers of scanners cannot ensure that their equipment may not be used to detect conditions in children who are subsequently aborted. The Catholic bishops of Belgium have described euthanasia as morally unacceptable, as the county's senate debates its legalisation. The bishops warn of social pressure on the weakest. [Zenit, 5 July ] Defects in cloned animals suggest that human cloning will be unsafe, though Clonaid, an American company, claims it is near to cloning a person. US researchers found that cloned mice had genetic anomalies. Professor Ian Wilmut, who cloned a sheep, warned that human cloning would result in abortion and in children who lived for only a short time and/or whose development was unconventional. [BBC, 6 July ] Caesarian sections make subsequent conventional births more dangerous, according to the New England Journal of Medicine. In such cases, the likelihood of rupture of the uterus is increased and prostaglandins further increase the danger. [The Times, 6 July ] Epidural anaesthetic could be risky for mothers and babies, increasing the likelihood of forceps deliveries. Researchers at St Thomas' hospital, London, advocate lower epidural doses, though babies delivered with such anaesthesia take longer to become vigorous and are more likely to need help with breathing. [BBC, 5 July ] The German Social Democrat/Green government will not accede to a request from the Christian Democrat opposition to ban imports of human embryonic cells. The law forbids the creation of embryos for research but does not forbid imports. [CNN, 3 July ] The French constitutional council has over-ruled the Polynesian government's objections to the extension of France's abortion law to the islands. [Radio Australia News, 5 July ]

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