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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 11 December 2002

11 December 2002

11 December 2002 The British government is to spend £40 million on stem cell research over two years. [Ananova, 9 December ] SPUC has condemned the almost six-fold increase in funding for research which is aimed at finding ways to generate tissue for spare-parts surgery from cloned human embryos. Paul Tully, SPUC's general secretary, said: "This is a calculated move to promote profiteering at the expense of human beings in the very first days of their lives. In other countries, where cloning of human embryos has been rejected on ethical grounds, treatments from adult-derived stem cells are already in the pipeline, but Mr Tony Blair believes that Britain can gain from the lack of international competition in the field of cloned-embryo stem-cell research." In January of last year the UK parliament approved government proposals to change the law to sanction stem cell research on cloned embryos - so-called therapeutic cloning. The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority is said to be planning unannounced inspections of Britain's 115 fertility clinics. The authority's annual report, due to be published tomorrow, is said to contain plans for a new code of conduct under which spot checks will be made to ensure correct storage and use of eggs, sperm and embryos. The code is expected to require that witnesses are present when sperm and eggs are labelled for storage. The authority is also said to be installing a new computer system to enable it to produce statistics for how many couples undergo IVF, something which it admits it cannot presently do. [Independent, 11 December ] Leading British fertility specialists have called for a limit of two embryos per IVF cycle, claming that it would reduce multiple pregnancies and thus save government money. Mr Richard Kennedy, secretary to the British Fertility Society, has pointed out that multiple pregnancies are costly to the state and funds saved by limiting implantations could be used to make free IVF more widely available. Mr Allan Templeton of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists claims that avoiding all IVF triplets could release enough government funds to cover all IVF treatment. The specialists' comments will be included in recommendations to the government on IVF by the National Institute of Clinical Excellence. [Telegraph, 8 December ] A Scottish woman has been told that five embryos created with another woman's eggs and her ex-husband's sperm have been destroyed at his request. Mrs Margaret Grant of Inverness, who was divorced in January of last year, has asked her member of parliament to help get a change to rules on IVF. She says her only chance of having a family has been snatched from her. [BBC, 9 December ] One of the UK's few home birthing teams is to be disbanded. The service has been run by North Middlesex hospital, Edmonton, London. [Evening Standard, 9 December ]

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