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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 12 August 2003

12 August 2003

12 August 2003 International Planned Parenthood reports that the Beijing Municipality has eased its birth control policy to allow couples who fall within certain criteria to have a second child. The local birth control committee claim that the revision is for the protection of citizens and to ensure 'safe labour and health of mothers and children.' [IPPF, 11 August ] However, Dr John Aird, one of the world's leading experts on Chinese population control, pointed out that narrow exceptions to the one-child policy have been in place since 1979, affecting between 5% and 10% of the population. "As long as the basic one-child policy continues, the "rights of local citizens" under the family planning policy are still acutely restricted," he said. [SPUC source] Priests for Life have been granted NGO status at the UN, LifeNews reports. "We are privileged to join so many excellent organisations who have been working at the UN for decades," said Fr Frank Pavone, director of Priests for Life. The pro-life group plans to maintain a strong presence at UN conferences, to participate in subsidiary meetings and propose items for the agenda of the Economic and Social Council. Fr Pavone has encouraged other pro-life organisations to apply for NGO status. [, 12 August ] The development of new monitoring equipment has made it possible to record and study the heart rate of unborn babies. Monitoring of foetal heart rates has been available since the 1960s but the new equipment uses high-tech filtering, amplification and signal systems that can distinguish the heartbeat from background interference and also works in multiple pregnancies. The equipment will be particularly useful in monitoring babies during high-risk pregnancies, such as when the mother has diabetes or pre-eclampsia. [Discovery Health, 11 August ] An article in The New Republic has warned of the greatest threat to Roe v. Wade: the development of artificial wombs and amniotic fluids that would allow the unborn child to develop outside the womb. These developments could make it possible for an embryo to be sustained for the full nine months, making viability effectively possible from conception. "If and when that happens," writes the author, Sacha Zimmerman, "the legal and philosophical premises underpinning Roe could be completely dismantled." [, 12 August ] Brazilian researchers have proposed that a new screening procedure could weed out genetically defective sperm prior to IVF treatment to avert the screening out and destruction of embryos with chromosomal abnormalities. The preliminary findings were presented at the European Society for Human Reproduction and Embryology's annual meeting in Madrid last month, but other scientists question whether sperm can survive the screening procedure undamaged. "It may come about but it's a long way off," said Renee Martin of the University of Calgary, Canada. [Nature, 12 August ] A Danish study has found that overweight or obese women are at increased risk of pregnancy complications, Reuters reports. Risks include high blood pressure, caesarean section, induced labour and abnormally large babies. [Reuters, 12 August ] Cancer patients whose sperm deposits were accidentally destroyed when a hospital freezer broke down are to sue for damages, the BBC reports. The hospital now has 3 months to investigate and decide how to proceed. [BBC, 12 August ] The Vatican is encouraging the UN to ban all forms of human cloning and is publishing a series of articles on cloning in the Vatican paper L'Osservatore Romano. The lead article in the 6 August issue announces the series and sets down the basis for Church opposition to human cloning. [LifeSite, 12 August ]

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