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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 28 August 2003

28 August 2003

28 August 2003 UK doctors have expressed fears that the National Health Service could be overwhelmed with requests for free IVF treatment if it becomes available. The National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) published draft guidelines on Tuesday which proposed making IVF available on the NHS for women aged between 23 and 39 at an estimated cost of £100 million a year. Both the Conservative and Liberal Democrat parties have warned that free IVF could lead to the already financially strained NHS diverting money from the treatment of other conditions. [The Telegraph, 28 August ] Canadian government officials have raised concerns about growing opposition to a controversial bill regulating embryo research. The many clauses of the bill include regulating fertility clinics, restricting human cloning and commercial surrogacy and funding stem cell research using human embryos. One of the most contentious areas of the bill is the proposal to allow government funding for research on 'spare' IVF embryos and aborted foetuses but government House Leader Don Boudria said that he was confident the bill would pass. A final vote is expected in the autumn. [Globe and Mail, 28 August ] A Native American woman is hoping to receive life-saving treatment with the help of her new born daughter's umbilical cord blood, The Billings Gazette reports. Melissa Blackwolf became pregnant whilst being treated for leukaemia but refused an abortion and carried the baby to term even though it meant ceasing chemotherapy for nine months. Finding a bone marrow donor match will be extremely difficult for Mrs Blackwolf as ethnic donors are scarce and it is hoped that her daughter's cord blood will offer a viable alternative. [The Billings Gazette, 28 August ] A study carried out by researchers at the Hadassah-Hebrew University medical centre in Jerusalem have found that end-of-life decisions taken by European doctors vary according to religion, culture and geography. Doctors from southern Europe are less likely to withhold treatment in order to hasten death than doctors from northern Europe, but Protestant, Catholic and non-religious doctors are more likely to withdraw life-sustaining treatment than their Greek Orthodox, Jewish or Muslim colleagues. [Cordis News, 28 August ] Judge George W. Greer has rejected Gov. Jeb Bush's appeal to delay the removal of tube-feeding from Terri Schiavo. Judge Greer stated: "I read [Gov. Bush's letter] because it came from the governor and I respect his position... Beyond that, it is going in the file." A hearing has been scheduled for September 11, at which time a date can be set for the removal of Mrs Schiavo's feeding tube. [LifeSite, 27 August ] The US government has cut off funding for an Aids programme in developing countries because of the involvement of the abortion provider Marie Stopes International. US prohibits the funding of organisations that support China's repressive one-child policy. Both Marie Stopes and UNFPA deny involvement in forced abortion in China. [The Guardian, 28 August ] A new report released by Americans United for Life has found that the spring of 2003 has been a pivotal time for the pro-life movement with the passing of pro-life initiatives across many states. Successes include: bans on human cloning and partial birth abortion, foetal homicide laws, laws regulating abortion and abortion facilities, laws connected with assisted suicide and legislation providing funding for centres offering alternatives to abortion. "The pro-life movement is not going away," said Nikolas Nikas of American's United for Life, "indeed, it is growing stronger and persuading America that abortion is both the destruction of unborn children and the ultimate exploitation of women. This legislative session the States have continued to act to limit that destruction and to prevent that exploitation in a myriad of ways." [, 27 August ] The founder of the Man Not Included sperm donor website is to set up a sister site, Girl Not Included, offering human eggs. Josephine Quintavalle of the campaign group Comment on Reproductive Ethics, commented: "Mr Gonzalez seems to think he is God Almighty, distributing his largesse to the world. He is overlooking what is best for the child, as well as the possible health problems that could come with the donor eggs." [Femail, 27 August ] Three cloned pigs have died unexpectedly of heart failure at less than six months of age, according to a report in Nature. The incident once again raises fears about the safety of cloning animals and the potential of transgenic heart and liver transplants from pigs to humans. Many cloned animals who survive to term become ill and die prematurely, leading most scientists to rule out so-called reproductive cloning in humans as inherently dangerous, though they continue to promote 'therapeutic' cloning as safe. [Nature, 27 August ]

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