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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 8 July 2003

8 July 2003

8 July 2003 The European Commission is to publish proposed guidelines on research grants tomorrow, a move that has sparked fears of a confrontation over the proposal to give grants for human embryonic stem cell research involving 'spare' IVF embryos. Italy, Portugal, Spain, Germany and Ireland have expressed most ethical concerns about funding embryonic stem cell research and may resist the proposals. The creation of embryos for research purposes, legal in the UK, will not be granted funding by the EU. The Commission hopes to have its guidelines in place in time for the ending of the moratorium on embryonic stem cell research funding in December. [Financial Times, 8 July ] The UNFPA has been involved in coercive abortion and forced sterilisations in several countries, according to investigations by the Peruvian Congress, the US State Department and the Population Research Institute (PRI). The Peruvian Congress report claims that the UNFPA gave the Peruvian government millions of dollars to fund forced and coercive sterilisation and acted as Technical Secretary to the sterilisation campaign. According to a letter from the US State Department Delegation to China sent to Secretary Colin Powell last year, "the 32 counties in which UNFPA is involved the population programs of the PRC retain coercive elements in law and practice." UNFPA supporters deny the charges. [, 7 July ] Adult bone marrow cells could be used to repair nerve cells damaged by injury and diseases such as MS, according to researchers from Yale. Dr Jeffrey Kocsis, associate director of the Neuroscience and Regeneration Research Center at Yale University, and his colleagues, have transplanted stem cells from adult bone marrow into rats, producing substantial nerve cell growth. Dr Kocsis has said that he would consider testing the procedure on a human being in the near future. Dr Timothy Vollmer, chairman of neurology at the Barrows Neurological Institute in Phoenix and a leading MS researcher, claims that the potential shown by bone marrow cells could reduce the time needed to develop a safe and effective way to treat MS sufferers by 10 years. [KnoxNews, 7 July ] A doctor from Vermont, United States, will not be reprimanded by the Medical Practice Board for removing a woman from a ventilator and giving her a paralysing medicine after she suffered respiratory failure. Dr Lloyd Thompson III will not be charged with manslaughter or lose his licence to practice, a decision that has caused outrage among euthanasia opponents. Mary Hahn Beerworth of the Vermont Right to Life Committee said that her phone had been jammed since the decision was publicised. "People are pretty outraged," she said. "I believe the state just devalued that woman's life. The very least acceptable move should have been a suspension of his licence. Instead they have invited more abuse. It is an open invitation." However, the Death with Dignity organisation supported Dr Thompson's actions. "He did the right thing, with the wrong medication," said Dr Carmer Van Buren. "The fact is that this was a dying patient, and he was doing everything he could to make a terribly agitated patient die comfortably." However, Dr Van Buren stated that the case did not constitute assisted suicide as the patient did not choose to have her life ended by the doctor. [The Nashua Telegraph, 5 July ] A bill to prevent euthanasia by denial of food and fluids has continued its progress through the British Parliament. The Patients' Protection Bill tabled by Baroness Knight of Collingtree was passed last Friday without a vote at the report-stage and will be considered for a third reading at a date to be announced. The Bill is opposed by pro-euthanasia peer Lord Joffe, whose Patient (Assisted Dying) Bill, is unlikely to make similar progress. [House of Lords Hansard, 4 July ]

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