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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 2 September 2002

2 September 2002

2 September 2002 The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority has licensed fertility clinics in London and Nottingham, England, to screen IVF embryos for anomalies such as Down's syndrome. The editor of the Bulletin of Medical Ethics has expressed concern but Ms Suzi Leather, the authority's chairman, has said that the move will not allow for the creation of designer-babies but will help avoid the trauma of miscarriage. [BBC, 2 September ] Ms Leather has conceded in a television interview that pre-implantation genetic diagnosis may not be safe. She also expressed concern at sex-selective procedures and suggested that she would not object to parliamentary debate on designer-babies. Ms Leather said that a stored embryo was merely a potential pregnancy "and not the same as that embryo being implanted inside a woman and developing." [BBC News 24, 2 September] China's new family planning law, which took effect yesterday, means that parents who have more than one child can be fined up to six years' income. The law, which standardises penalties nationally, will apply to foreign nationals married to Chinese and to Hong Kong residents. Since its inception 22 years ago, the one-child policy has been ignored, particularly in the countryside. [Straits Times, 2 September ] Women's organisations and health-care groups in India have complained to the National Human Rights Commission that the country's policy against coercive population control is being violated. Some states deny votes, loans, jobs and school-places to families with three or more children. [CWNews, 1 September] An American study suggests that women undergoing IVF in states which require that the procedure is paid for by health insurance are less likely to give birth because doctors implant fewer embryos. Researchers at Brigham and Women's Hospital, Massachussetts, suggest that, if couples pay for IVF, doctors implant more embryos because they are under greater pressure to succeed. [New England Journal of Medicine, 29 August, on CNN, 1 September ] Scientists from Cambridge and Manchester, England, and Iowa have claimed that van der Woude syndrome, a type of cleft lip and palate, is caused by the IRF6 gene on chromosome 1. The research results have been presented as providing a way of preparing parents who are expecting a child who is found to have the syndrome and of treating such children in utero, though the knowledge could also be used to screen IVF embryos. [Guardian, 2 September ] Life, the pro-life charity, ran a stall at the V2002 rock music festival in Staffordshire, England, last month. Life's Ms Julie du Plessis reported that many people accepted literature from the stall and there was no hostility. A mobile pharmacy at the event supplied morning-after pills. [Total Catholic, 1 September ]

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