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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 4 August 2003

4 August 2003

4 August 2003 Research published in the International Journal of Cancer has suggested that abortion decreases the risk of breast cancer. The study conducted by Dr Francoise Clavel-Chapelon at the Institut Gustave Roussy of Villejuif, France, investigated 92,000 women aged between 45 and 60, 22.1% of whom had undergone abortions and 23% of whom had suffered miscarriages. However, the study has been criticised for focusing on older women when the greatest proportion of abortions are carried out on teenagers and young adults. Dr Joel Brind, a leading researcher on the abortion/breast cancer link, claims that there are approximately 6,500 cases of breast cancer caused by abortion every year. [, 2 August ] A Florida appeals court will hear the case for allowing the unborn child of a disabled woman to have a separate legal guardian, TCPalm reports. The appeal follows a judge's decision in June to appoint a guardian for the disabled rape victim but to deny Jennifer Wixtrom's request to be appointed guardian of her unborn child. Abortion advocates have expressed anger at the possibility, claiming that the move could grant personhood to the unborn and endanger abortion rights. [TCPalm, 1 August ] The founder of the Raelian movement, Claude Vorilhon, has been forced out of South Korea amid fears by the Justice Ministry that he might engage in cloning activities. Clonaid, the sect's company, has been investigated over reports that South Korean women may have been involved in cloning experiments. [BBC, 2 August ] Almost all fertility problems are preventable, the director of a London fertility clinic has argued. Professor Gedis Grudzinskas of the Bridge Centre has stated that childlessness could be avoided if women married younger and remained with the same partner. He stressed the need to educate women about the two major risks to fertility - sexually transmitted infection and the postponement of childbearing. "We have to start in schools," he said. "There is nothing we can do for the generation who are in their late 30s. We have got to educate schoolgirls to let them know that their fertility declines in their 30s." [Sunday Herald, 3 August ] A UK charity is calling for women in the late stages of pregnancy to be routinely screened for Group B Streptococcus, a condition that causes the deaths of up to 100 babies a year. Around 100 MPs have backed a motion calling for a governmental investigation into GBS prevention, but routine screening is currently opposed by both the Royal Colleges of Midwives and Obstetricians. [BBC, 2 August ] A blood test taken early in pregnancy could be used to predict those at risk of developing diabetes later on, according to researchers from Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston. The study measured blood levels of a protein called sex hormone binding globulin to predict gestational diabetes mellitus, a condition that can cause complications for both mother and child but which is usually diagnosed in the third trimester of pregnancy. More studies will be needed before the efficacy of the technique can be accurately determined. [Yahoo news, 4 August ] Children born of older fathers are more at risk of Apert syndrome, according to scientists from Oxford University. Apert Syndrome, a bone disorder that affects 1 in 70,000 UK children, is caused by mutation of the FGFR2 gene in the cells responsible for making sperm. The syndrome causes children to be born with distorted skulls and often with webbing joining fingers and toes. [BBC, 2 August ] Intensive behind-the-scenes negotiations have already begun at UN headquarters, ahead of the formal debate on an international convention against human cloning due to resume at the end of September. The debate is broadly split between countries calling for a partial ban on cloning, most notably France and Germany, and those seeking a total ban on all forms of human cloning, such as Spain, Italy, the Philippines, the US and the Holy See. According to C-Fam, a vote on the issue was postponed last year when it appeared that support was moving away from the partial ban compromise. [C-Fam, 4 August ] Legislation was introduced in Washington last week to authorise $15 million of federal funding to subsidise the storage of umbilical cord blood for use in medical treatments. The aim is to allow 90% of the population to source a stem cell match from a source that provides a practical and ethical alternative to embryonic stem cells. [EWTN News, 31 July ] The Florida Supreme Court has upheld a 30-day delay in the removal of the feeding tube keeping Terri Schiavo alive. Mrs Schiavo collapsed under mysterious circumstances 10 years ago and communicates to her family through head and facial movements, tears, smiles and moans. Her parents believe that she could be rehabilitated with new therapy but her husband wants her life ended. [, 3 August ] The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) has announced the appointment of Angela McNab to the position of chief executive. [, 1 August ] The UK Medical Research Council has invited grant applications for research surrounding the area of sexual health, to form part of the evidence base for the government's National Strategy for Sexual Health and HIV, and Implementation Action Plan. The areas cited include the impact of new technologies on fertility control and abortion services. [MRC, 1 August ] A study published in the medical journal The Lancet has found that European doctors are increasingly choosing to hasten the deaths of the terminally ill. Two thirds of the 20,000 deaths studied involved the withholding of life-prolonging treatments or the prescription of pain control that could hasten death. Such 'end-of-life' decisions accounted for 51% of deaths in Switzerland, the highest rate recorded in the study and 23% in Italy, which came out lowest. A separate study found that the demand for assisted suicide has not increased since 1995 with both patients and doctors showing more reluctance towards the practice. [The Times of India, 2 August ] EXIT, the Australian euthanasia campaigning organisation organised a stunt in a Queensland car park last week, measuring carbon monoxide emissions from different models of car so as to determine which ones could be used to commit suicide. The stunt was condemned by euthanasia opponents as "macabre and bizarre." [, 1 August ]

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