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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 1 August 2002

1 August 2002

1 August 2002 The British government has admitted that the country's falling birth-rate threatens funding of state retirement pensions. Baroness Hollis of Heigham, a work and pensions minister, told parliament on Tuesday that the current ratio of 3.4 working people per retired person would fall to around 2.4 by 2030, and that "an increase in the birth rate would help to reduce any future demographic pressure on the National Insurance Fund." [written answers, House of Lords Hansard, 30 July ] Paul Tully, SPUC's general secretary, commented: "This is perhaps the first realisation by this government that the decline in births, caused by the culture of abortion and population control, threatens the welfare state. The government still promotes and funds abortion and other measures designed to cut the birth-rate. Such policies should be urgently reversed. The shifting age structure of the population shows that abortion is destructive not only of defenceless human life in the womb but of the family, the economy and social well-being." [SPUC, 1 August ] A white woman who gave birth to black twins created through in vitro fertilisation (IVF) [see report of 8 July] has been found to be their mother. Their father is not her partner but could be a man involved in IVF at the same fertility clinic. Dame Elizabeth Butler-Sloss, president of the English high court's family division, has issued a statement describing the results of genetic tests and saying that the case raises difficult issues of family privacy and medical confidentiality. [BBC, 31 July ] The US senate is to consider ratifying a UN treaty, parts of which are opposed by pro-life groups because they promote abortion. On Tuesday the senate's foreign relations committee approved the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women, which is also criticised for favouring the legalisation of prostitution. The committee which seeks to enforce the convention is accused of a radically pro-abortion bias. A two-thirds majority in the senate would be needed for ratification and President Bush could veto the treaty. [LifeSite, 31 July ] The US National Institutes of Health has responded to a call from the Institute of Medicine for better treatment for dying children by allocating $2.5m for research on infant palliative care. The funds will also be used to find ways of making such treatment more widely available. Each year some 50,000 Americans die before they are 18 but most hospices concentrate on helping adults. [Reuters on Yahoo!, 30 July ] Young girls needing cancer treatment which could sterilise them might have their ovaries removed for use in subsequent in vitro fertilisation, if techniques used on mice can be replicated in humans. Scientists at Gunma university, Japan, claim they have created healthy mice using immature eggs. Chemotherapy and radiation treatment can cause infertility. [Nature via Reuters on Yahoo!, 31 July ] At least two fifths of British women consume so little iodine that there could be problems with the prenatal health of any children they might have. Low levels of the substance have been associated with poor mental development and miscarriage. The Tayside child health institute, Scotland, performed the study on iodine, which is found in dairy products, fish and seaweed. [BBC, 31 July ]

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