News, 8 January 2002
8 January 2002
8 January 2002 Research by an American fertility expert suggests that a previously unrecognised factor jeopardises the survival of embryos created through in vitro fertilisation (IVF). It appears that, in many cases, the mother's immune system attacks and kills newly-conceived embryos. Professor Alan Beer of the Chicago Medical School is suggesting that the women's immune system treats their embryos like a cancer. He found that seven out of 10 women in a trial group who had undergone three failed IVF treatment cycles had higher than normal levels of the tumour necrosis factor alpha chemical (TNF alpha), which is also responsible for certain autoimmune diseases. When he administered treatments for excessive TNF alpha to 100 women who had suffered repeated IVF failures, 78% of those under 35 then became pregnant. [BBC, 7 January ] The pro-abortion Dublin Well Woman Centre has reported an unprecedented demand for abortifacient morning-after pills over Christmas and new year. The centre also claimed that more Irish women than ever travelled to Britain for abortions last year, and that the only way to reduce the Irish abortion rate was by improving access to contraception in Ireland. [Irish Independent, 8 January ] An SPUC spokesman pointed out that the experience in Britain was that, as access to contraception has increased, so has the registered abortion rate. New research suggests that women who smoke cannabis during pregnancy may be stunting the growth of their children. Writing in the British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, a team of researchers from the UK and New Zealand claim that the effect of smoking one cannabis cigarette a week during pregnancy is comparable with that of smoking 15 tobacco-only cigarettes a day. [BBC, 7 January ] The US Senate will shortly consider legislation to prohibit all human cloning. Under the proposed law, which has already been passed by the House of Representatives, anyone who cloned a human being could be imprisoned for up to 10 years and fined up to $1 million. However, it is thought that the measure is unlikely to be passed because a majority of senators last year expressed their support for embryonic stem cell research. [Washington Times, 7 January; via Pro-Life Infonet ] US President Bush has banned the use of federal funds for destructive research on embryos, including cloned embryos, but it presently remains legal in private facilities.