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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 12 December 2003

12 December 2003

12 December 2003 The Italian senate has approved a law banning the use of surrogate mothers and donor eggs and sperm in IVF treatment, BBC reports. The bill also bans embryo freezing, pre-implantation screening and restricts treatment to married couples or those in a stable relationship. Senator Elisabetta Alberti Casellati said of the bill: "This law says 'enough' to the abuses. It recognises that an embryo is a person and as such must be protected from the point of conception." [BBC, 11 December ] The Hashmi family, who asked doctors to use IVF to create a 'designer baby' who could donate tissue to their older child, have suffered a miscarriage. Shahana Hashmi told a Leeds radio station that she was "absolutely gutted" but that they would try again. [BBC, 10 December ] France's lower house of parliament has approved a draft law that would ban 'therapeutic' and 'reproductive' human cloning. The legislation is due to be voted on by the upper house in February. [Reuters, 11 December ] Researchers from Massachusetts have created mouse sperm from embryonic stem cells that have been used to successfully fertilise mouse eggs. It is claimed that this may lead eventually to new infertility treatments and research into birth defects. [Irish Examiner, 11 December ] A feature in the Telegraph has drawn attention to the plight of women who desire large families but are prevented from having more children because of economic constraints or the opposition of their husbands. The article describes the situation as "an infertility born of pragmatism, not biology; the emotional suppression, for practical reasons, of an all-too-healthy fecundity." [The Telegraph, 10 December ] The pro-euthanasia group End of Life Choices (formerly the Hemlock Society) has launched a $60,000 campaign in Florida, including speeches and newspaper advertisements, in the midst of the Terri Schiavo case. Pat Anderson, the attorney for Mrs Schiavo's parents, has accused the group of exploiting the case. He said: "Floridians need to know that this is the Hemlock Society with a new name, and they are trying to hide their pro-euthanasia agenda. They are using Terri Schiavo to promote euthanasia." [Sun-Sentinel, 10 December ] The decision by the US house of representatives to ban patents on human organisms, including in vitro embryos, has been hailed as a pro-life victory. However, the Biotech Industry Organisation claims that the ban "sets a dangerous precedent and stifles research" because it will prevent the patenting of cell lines, stem cells and genes. Lori Andrews, director of the Institute for Science, Law, and Technology at the Illinois Institute of Technology, questioned BIO's agenda, commenting: "Perhaps where others of us see smiling babies, BIO sees dollar signs." [Culture of Life Foundation, 9 December ] The Centre for Reproductive Rights (CRR) has threatened legal action against C-FAM after it disclosed details of CRR's global strategy to bring about international abortion on demand. CRR claims that "disclosure of this material has caused, and further disclosure will cause, CRR irreparable harm" and has demanded that C-FAM return all copies of memos, cease any further dissemination of information and "identify to the Center all persons and organisations, including email addresses, to whom C-FAM disseminated the Center's proprietary information." The CRR memos have already been introduced into the permanent US Congressional Record. [CWNews, 11 December ]

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