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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 18 August 2003

18 August 2003

18 August 2003 A Cardiff lesbian is pregnant with Wales' first Internet baby, conceived through sperm bought via the website Man Not Included. According to the report in Wales on Sunday, 25 women try for Internet babies in Wales every month, with the website allowing women to choose donors for characteristics ranging from ethnic background to weight. 'Internet conception' as it is being called, has been condemned by some groups for setting aside the rights of children and turning them into commodities. [, 17 August ] An article published in the journal Human Fertility and supported by the British Fertility Society has argued that human cloning-for-birth is unethical and impractical. The author, Dr Lorraine Young, cites the warning offered by cloned animals, with their high rate of miscarriage and poor long-term health. Professor Alison Murdoch, chair of the British Fertility Society, commented: "Dr Young's conclusions show that it's not only morally questionable to try to clone a human, it's also practically unacceptable." [Healthy Pages, 18 August ] A study published in the British Medical Journal has reported that pregnant women taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or aspirin may increase the risk of miscarriage by up to 80%. Aspirin suppresses the production of prostaglandins which are necessary for successful implantation and could cause abnormal implantation to occur. Paracetamol works only in the central nervous system rather than the whole body and was not found to contain the same risk of miscarriage. Dr Melanie Davis of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists said that pregnant women should not be overly concerned, as the study is a small one and women are already advised against using painkillers such as aspirin during pregnancy. [Healthy Pages, 18 August ] A UK doctor who was found guilty of sexual harassment and of serious professional misconduct after he removed a woman's ovary and part of her bowel during an abortion, has lost his job at a Liverpool hospital. Dr Andrew Gbinigie was not struck off the medical register after the botched abortion, which took place in Birmingham in November 2000, but was subject to certain restrictions such as only being permitted to practise in hospitals with intensive care facilities. [, 17 August ] Demographers attending an International Statistical Institute meeting in Berlin have warned of the global problems expected as a result of a rapidly ageing population and falling birth rates. Joseph Chamie, director of the UN Population Division, noted: "Fertility is the engine of demographic growth and we don't see it going up." However, he stated that few politicians are addressing the problems posed by an ageing population, such as the possible need to raise retirement age, reduce benefits and increase taxes and immigration. [Reuters, 15 August ] An article published in The Tablet has drawn attention to the lack of international regulation of human and animal cloning. The focus of the article is on animal experimentation, including the development of transgenics, but it draws attention to the UK's liberal cloning laws and the move towards practices such as egg harvesting from aborted baby girls. [The Tablet, 16 August] The Economist magazine has published an article playing down the level of euthanasia deaths in Holland. It states that most medical killing is achieved by withdrawing treatment or overdosing with painkillers, which it characterises as distinct from direct means such as lethal injections of drugs. [The Economist, 16 August]

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