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Defending life
from conception to natural death


News, 1 October 2001

1 October 2001

1 October 2001 An English hospital is seeking permission to create a designer test-tube baby using in vitro fertilisation and pre-implantation genetic diagnosis in order to provide a two-year-old boy with a compatible bone marrow donor. Dr Simon Fishel, a fertility expert at the Park Hospital in Nottinghamshire, said that Zain Hashmi would die unless a compatible donor was found. Even if a suitable embryo could be selected for implantation, there is only about a 30 percent chance that the selected child would survive up to birth. Those embryos who were not selected would probably be destroyed. If the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority do not give permission for the procedure to take place in the UK, Zain's parents would have to go to the USA. [BBC News online, 1 October ] Delegates at the Irish Labour party's bi-annual conference in Cork have voted to support the introduction of liberal abortion law in Ireland. Delegates went against the wishes of their party's leadership by voting in favour of a liberal abortion regime on the basis of a woman's right to choose. Conference delegates also pledged to oppose the Irish government's plans to hold another referendum on the abortion issue. [Irish Times, 1 October ] Switzerland has authorised research on stem cells extracted from surplus IVF embryos. The Swiss National Science Foundation (NSF) has approved a research programme in Geneva which involves the importation of human embryonic stem cells from the USA. The NSF insisted that any research on embryonic stem cells in Switzerland had to be of a non-commercial nature and pursue clearly defined therapeutic goals. [Reuters, via Yahoo! News, 28 September ] A woman who admitted trying to kill her bedridden mother has walked free from an English court. Doreen Marshall, aged 69, crushed sleeping pills into her 90-year-old mother's food because she could no longer bear to watch her suffer. However, after falling unconscious, her mother survived. Judge Daniel Rodwell QC told Mrs Marshall at Aylesbury crown court that he accepted her motive had been "one of mercy and consideration" and gave her a 12-month prison sentence suspended for two years. [The Guardian, 29 September ] Britain's largest private abortion provider has claimed that the country's abortion rate is likely to continue to rise because fewer couples are getting married. Ann Furedi, director of communications at the British Pregnancy Advisory Service, said that fewer couples were marrying and that those who did not were more likely to have abortions, even when co-habiting. She explained: "Whereas in the past women who have had unwanted pregnancies may have put up with it, these days they are much more likely to be less tolerant of their circumstances. It has got something to do with women being more assertive about looking for solutions." [AP, via Yahoo! News, 28 September ] Experts in pharmacology from the UK and New Zealand have warned that safety checks for people buying medicines over the counter in pharmacies are flawed. Dr Saad Shakir, director of the Drug Safety Research Unit in Southampton, and Dr David Clark of the University of Otago in New Zealand have warned in the British Medical Journal that people wrongly assume that drugs are safe if they can be obtained without a doctor's prescription. Both doctors highlighted the need for continued monitoring of the safety of non-prescription drugs because people often did not take them correctly. [BBC News online, 27 September ] The abortifacient morning-after pill has been available from pharmacists without prescription throughout the UK since the beginning of the year. One of the largest fertility clinics in the United States has announced that it will offer couples the chance to select the sex of their children for non-medical reasons using pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD). The American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) recently allowed clinics to use PGD for sex selection, having already approved sex selection by means of sperm sorting. Dr Norbert Gleicher of the Center for Human Reproduction said that he was excited by the ruling and would be offering the technique immediately. [LifeSite, 28 September ; Austin American-Statesman ] Sex selection by PGD involves the creation of embryos by in vitro fertilisation followed usually by the destruction of those who are found to be of the wrong sex in the petri dish. Sex selection by way of sperm sorting does not involve the destruction of embryos of the undesired sex, but still entails a disproportionate risk to the lives of unborn children as all IVF procedures do.

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