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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 1 July 2003

1 July 2003

1 July 2003 Research on aborted girls has focused media attention on the prospect of growing eggs for IVF from foetal tissue. Dutch and Israeli scientists kept alive ovarian follicles from second and third trimester foetuses in the laboratory and some follicles began to develop. Presenting their research at the European society of human reproduction and embryology's conference in Madrid, Spain, they conceded that new techniques would be needed to produce eggs. It is claimed that there is a shortage of women who will donate eggs for IVF. The work was done by Utrecht university and Meir hospital, Kfar Saba. [BBC, 1 July ] Josephine Quintavalle of Comment on Reproductive Ethics said: "I would like to find anybody who is not horrified by this proposal. I would also like to know what sort of woman would accept eggs under these conditions." [BBC, 1 July ] The same conference was told that it was safe to mature eggs in the laboratory. Researchers at Herlev university hospital, Copenhagen, Denmark, found no health or developmental problems among children they monitored who had been produced by in vitro maturation which involves growing immature eggs prior to in vitro fertilisation. Some 200 children have been born as a result of the technique. [Reuters, 30 June ] The use of eggs from aborted girls in fertility treatment is banned by law in the United Kingdom. The fluid in which unborn children grow could provide stem cells which might be used to treat disease. Vienna university scientists found cells in amniotic fluid produced Oct-4 mRNA, a substance which maintains stem cells' ability to change into various types of tissue. The research was presented at the above-mentioned conference in Spain. [BBC, 30 June ] It is unclear from our source whether the fluid would be obtained during childbirth or via amniocentesis. The latter technique can endanger unborn babies. Implanting a single IVF embryo need not reduce the likelihood of live birth and can make multiple pregnancies less likely, according to research by Sydney IVF of Australia, also presented at the Madrid conference. Nearly 400 women were studied and the birth rate was the same among those having a second treatment cycle regardless of how many frozen embryos were used. [Reuters, 30 June ] Reducing the number of embryos implanted may be safer for the children concerned but IVF customarily also involves the discarding or freezing of many embryos before implantation. In vitro fertilisation is becoming more successful among women over 35 in the UK. The success rate has risen from a seventh to a fifth in 10 years, according to research presented in Madrid by Leeds university and the Bridge clinic, London. Younger women's success rates rose from 22% to 24% over the same period. [Daily Mail, 1 July] Failure in IVF inevitably involves even greater loss of human life than success. A film-producer in Colombia is giving land to men who will have a vasectomy. Some 40 men in two poor coastal towns have accepted the offer in the past 18 months. The anonymous producer likes to use the pseudonym of William Tell, the Swiss freedom-fighter, because he says he is fighting the tyranny of fertility. [Financial Times, 30 June ] This scheme shares the characteristics of other population control programmes.

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