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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 8 November 2002

8 November 2002

8 November 2002 Official statistics revealed by a British government minister yesterday indicate that 925,747 embryos have been created in the course of IVF treatment in Britain since 1991, of whom only 423,153 [46%] were transferred into a woman for implantation. Lord Hunt of Kings Heath, a government health minister, also told the House of Lords that 225,627 embryos had been stored for the parents' later use, 448 were stored for the use of someone other than the parents, 53,497 were donated for [destructive] research, and 294,584 remained unused [and were discarded]. Pro-lifers have estimated that the so-called wastage rate in IVF is even higher than the government admits because many embryos die very soon after fertilisation while still in the petri dish. Only about 4% of IVF embryos survive until birth, and SPUC has estimated that, in fact, around 1,200,000 embryos have died in the course of IVF procedures in Britain since 1991. [House of Lords Hansard, 7 November ; SPUC, 8 November] The new Republican majority leader in the US Senate has promised that there will soon be a vote on federal legislation to ban partial-birth abortions. The bill, which has already been passed by the House of Representatives and has the full support of President Bush, was held up in the Senate by the former Democrat majority leader, pro-abortion Tom Daschle. Senator Trent Lott, the new majority leader following Tuesday's elections, said: "I will call it up, we will pass it, and the president will sign it. I'm making that commitment - you can write it down." [Pro-Life Infonet , 7 November] The secretary general of the Supreme Council of Kenya Muslims has insisted that the proposed new Kenyan constitution must defend life from the moment of conception. Commenting on the work of the Constitution of Kenya Review Commission, Ahmad Khatif Muhammad warned that the definition of life needed to be more clearly defined to prevent "liberal and licentious" interpretations that would allow abortion. The Muslim leader, who is also a former member of Kenya's parliament, wrote: "'Life' should be defined as starting from conception. The definition of 'life' is of great importance ... The new constitution should not give licence to those who wish to terminate the life of the unborn child." [East African Standard, 6 November; via AllAfrica.com and Northern Light ] It has been suggested that the practice of mass weddings could help to prevent sex-selective abortions in India. The dowry system, which remains entrenched throughout much of India, leads to soaring wedding costs and encourages some parents to use sex-selection techniques to abort unborn girls whose dowries would otherwise cost them too much money in the future. However, a Hindu priest in the northern state of Himachal Pradesh reports that a record number of couples will marry in a mass ceremony this year, at which the giving or accepting of dowries is banned. [Independent of Bangladesh, 7 November ]

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