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News, 12 December 2002

12 December 2002

12 December 2002 An embryologist has been convicted of deceiving eight women by arranging for them to have saline solution placed in their wombs instead of embryos. Mr Paul Fielding, 44, was yesterday found guilty of assault and false accounting by a court in Southampton, England. Mr Fielding, who has been in debt, was paid £50 for each false procedure and concealed his actions through improper record-keeping. Judge John Boggis said Mr Fielding could go to prison, though the court is to consider psychiatric reports next month. The process of implantation will have been painful for the women and three were injured. The 39 embryos who should have been implanted were instead stored. [Telegraph, 12 December ] Although Mr Fielding's case has led the authorities to claim that IVF procedures were being tightened up, no significant improvements have been made. The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority has admitted that it secretly licensed a scientist in Scotland to take stem cells from embryos some four years before the UK parliament approved such research. The authority gave covert permission for the work to Mr Austin Smith of Edinburgh university in 1997 yet embryo research was only allowed in January of last year. Lord Alton of Liverpool, the pro-life politician, said that the authority and Mr Smith had been contemptuous and the action may have been illegal. [LifeSite, 11 December , and Sunday Herald] Stanford university, California, is to clone human beings as part of a new research institute which has been anonymously funded with $12 million. The work will be directed by Dr Irving Weissman who, as chairman of a National Academy of Sciences panel, testified to the US senate in support of cloning. Dr Weissman has suggested controversy about his plans is politically motivated, apparently oblivious to the ethical implications. [BayArea.com, 10 December ] Although President Bush has limited federal funding of stem cell research, American law does not forbid such privately-supported work, including cloning. Tuesday's Independent newspaper suggested that British ministers had drafted legislation to let friends and relatives make medical decisions for patients who could no longer express their wishes. An article by Mr Robert Verkaik, legal affairs correspondent, suggests that the law would let people appoint others to make decisions for them, though written directives of what should be done would not be given statutory force. [Independent, 10 December ] SPUC is urgently investigating this report. It has been known for some time that the government plans such legislation, which would legalise euthanasia despite protests to the contrary. Some premature births could be prevented by maintaining the level of the G alpha S protein which relaxes muscles in the womb, according to Newcastle university, England. Researchers believe that an untimely drop in the level of the protein can bring on early labour. Two thirds of babies who die soon after birth will have been born prematurely. [BBC, 12 December ] A draft law in Texas would allow for lawsuits and criminal prosecutions in the case of unborn children who were killed in accidents or through attack. The Prenatal Protection Act would change the state's penal code so that those who injured or killed an unborn child could be prosecuted for murder, assault or intoxicated manslaughter. The law's proponents say that it will not stop abortion but pro-abortion campaigners fear it will. [Houston Chronicle, 11 December ] The Catholic church is to publish a 1000-page dictionary which will expose euphemisms used by advocates of abortion to conceal their aims. The Pontifical Council for the Family will next year issue the Italian-language Lexicon of the Family which will, for example, show how "voluntary interruption of pregnancy" is used to mean abortion. Cardinal Alfonso López Trujillo, head of the council, said that language used about women, children and families in the United Nations and national parliaments was "almost Orwellian". [LifeSite, 11 December , and l'Avvenire] New Zealand's Abortion Supervisory Committee has complained in its annual report that there are insufficient medical staff to care for women who have had abortions, with just two cities' health authorities providing a full service. [Stuff, 12 December ] This could be an attempt to suggest that pro-life medical staff are being uncaring or it could be a ploy to obtain more resources for New Zealand's abortion system. Australia's Catholic bishops have criticised last week's senate approval of destructive research on human embryos . Archbishop Philip Wilson of Adelaide said that a class of expendable humanity had been created, that human life had become a commercial commodity and that the uses to which such life would be put were unproven. [EWTN, 9 December ] A pro-life and pro-family campaigner has won damages and an apology from Brook Advisory Centres after the charity suggested that her legal challenge over contraception and abortion for the under-16s had led to more teenage pregnancies. Mrs Victoria Gillick questioned the legality of government guidelines in 1983 and Brook criticised her in the text of a fact-sheet, though it does not admit to libelling her. [BBC, 12 December ] SPUC has welcomed the outcome and has congratulated Mrs Gillick.

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