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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 5 August 2002

5 August 2002

5 August 2002 Pro-lifers have warned that the Irish government is in danger of breaching the country's constitution unless it blocks European Union funding of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF). The European Commission announced last month that it would provide 32 million euro in extra grants to UNFPA and IPPF for 'sexual and reproductive health programmes' in 22 developing countries to replace blocked US funding. However, this would mean that Irish taxpayers would be contributing towards these programmes, which will include the provision and promotion of abortifacient drugs and devices in contravention of Ireland's pro-life constitution. Pat Buckley, director of European Life Network (Ireland), has written to Bertie Ahern, the Irish taoiseach, to ask why Ireland is allowing the funding to go ahead and to remind him of the recipients' involvement in abortions. [Catholic Times, 4 August] An unborn child who is conceived at the same time as a so-called hydatidiform mole can be born alive and well, according to British researchers. As many as three in every 10,000 pregnancies are molar - in which an error during the process of fertilisation means that a tumour known as a hydatidiform mole develops instead of a normal foetus. A proportion of women with molar pregnancies also become pregnant with a normal child, who then shares sustenance and develops alongside the hydatidiform mole as if they were twins. In this case doctors usually advise the mother to have an abortion, but researchers at Hammersmith Hospital and Imperial College in London have found that as many as 40% of these women can give birth to a live and healthy child, while the tumour is easily treated if it becomes malignant. [BBC News online, 4 August ] The government of Thailand is to make low-cost morning-after pills available from hospitals, clinics and pharmacies without the need for a prescription in a bid to reduce unwanted pregnancies. The country's deputy public health minister announced on Friday that the abortifacient drug would be produced by the Government Pharmaceutical Organisation and sold for 30 baht - about 45 British pence. [AFP, 2 August, via Pro-Life E-News] A professor described as Britain's leading stem cell pioneer has accused the UK's fertility and embryology watchdog of being scientifically ignorant and not up to the job. Professor Austin Smith, director of the Centre for Genome Research at the University of Edinburgh, criticised the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) for lacking the necessary expertise and for failing to win public support for the creation of embryos specifically for research purposes. Josephine Quintavalle, director of Comment on Reproductive Ethics (CORE), said: "I think Austin Smith will have a difficult job convincing the public that this is acceptable. It is difficult enough for the public to accept that supplies [of frozen embryos] are used for experimentation." [Sunday Herald, 4 August ] Researchers at Southampton university in England are studying unborn children in an attempt the establish the cause of osteoporosis in the elderly. Osteoporosis affects one in three women in the UK, and causes bones to become extremely fragile and liable to fracture. The researchers believe that skeletal growth throughout life depends on dietary factors at work even within the womb. The research could allow doctors to identify at birth those who are at higher risk of developing osteoporosis in old age. [BBC News online, 3 August ] A prominent Australian scientist has said that he will use tissue from aborted unborn babies in the culture of embryonic stem cells if the creation of new stem cell lines is approved. To date, embryonic stem cells have been grown on cultures derived from foetal mice, but Professor Alan Trounson, director of the institute of reproduction and development at Monash University in Melbourne, wants to test cultures derived from human foetal tissue. With 90,000 abortions performed in Australia each year, Professor Trounson observed that the relative abundance of foetal tissue available was one of the attractions. [Sydney Morning Herald, 5 August ]

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