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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 29 November 2002

29 November 2002

29 November 2002 The government of Namibia has ruled out liberalising abortion law for at least the next 10 years. Dr Libertina Amathila, the Namibian health minister, appeared to support legalised abortion, but said that pressure from religious groups meant that the people would not accept it. A law dating from 1975 outlaws abortion in Namibia in most cases, although there are a number of exceptions. A draft law to liberalise the law further was proposed in 1996, but was shelved three years later in the face of vigorous pro-life campaigning. [, 28 November; via Northern Light ] Health managers in south Wales have admitted that they mistakenly informed a pregnant woman that she had a rare blood disorder which would probably result in her child being stillborn. After doctors at Llandough hospital told 23-year-old Francesca Mears that she had a serious form of thalassaemia, she went as far as making an appointment for an abortion. She decided to keep her child, and when she gave birth to a healthy son, it was revealed that she did not have thalassaemia at all. Ms Mears now intends to sue the Cardiff and Vale NHS Trust over the mistake. [icWales, 29 November ] Two opinion polls in the US have indicated the existence of a growing generation gap on the issue of abortion, with younger people being far more likely to oppose abortion than their parents or grandparents. In a Zogby poll, one third of respondents aged between 18 and 29 believed that abortion should never be legal, compared to 23% of those aged 30 to 64 and 20% of those aged over 65. A similar poll conducted by the University of California, Berkeley, found that people aged between 15 and 26 were about 10 percentage points more likely than older people to support restrictions on abortion. [Yahoo! News, 28 November ] Scientists have discussed the possibility of injecting human stem cells into mouse embryos in a debate at the New York Academy of Sciences. Some scientists believe that this could result in mice which would respond to diseases in a more 'human' way, allowing researchers to develop more effective treatments. However, others are concerned that the resulting creatures would be like mouse-human hybrids because the stem cells could lead to the development of human brain cells or sperm in the mice if they were allowed to grow to maturity. [BBC News online and Metro, 28 November] Reports do not indicate whether the scientists were discussing the use of stem cells destructively extracted from embryos or adult stem cells. A meeting of IVF experts in Japan has been told about successful trials of a new fertility treatment which may avoid some of the many ethical problems of IVF. Dr Osamu Kato told an IVF society meeting in Kobe about the success of clinical trials of a technique whereby a doctor removes ripe ova from a woman after she has had sexual intercourse and places them in the back of the uterus, directly in the path of the sperm. The technique should avoid the massive loss of early human life which is usually involved in IVF treatment. [LifeSite, 28 November ]

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