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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 18 June 2003

18 June 2003

18 June 2003 A technique to screen for chromosomal anomalies has been licensed by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority. Known as 'aneuploidy screening' it is used to eliminate IVF embryos with chromosomal anomalies. Techniques used to screen test-tube babies up to now have looked for specific genetic problems, rather than the more major chromosomal variations. Advocates of the tests argue that they could help reduce the number of miscarriages in IVF, as well as abortions for chromosomal anomalies. [BBC, 17 June ] SPUC maintains that the screening out and destruction of unborn children is morally objectionable at all stages of development. Abortion following pre-natal diagnosis is believed to be relatively frequent in IVF pregnancies. http://www.ivf.net/artman/publish/article_193.shtml A bill allowing Wisconsin health officials to opt out of certain procedures such as abortion, sterilisation and assisted suicide has stirred up the debate over the rights of health officials to opt out of morally objectionable medical procedures. Scott Suder, who helped introduce the bill, stated: 'Many of these professionals have taken a vow to protect life. We need to respect their moral objections.' His view was supported by Cynthia Haq, director of medical student education at the University of Wisconsin, but some claim that the bill will prevent patients from getting the treatment they request. Donna Warzynski, president of the Wisconsin Nurses Association, argued: 'as a nurse, you have a duty. You can't walk away from the patient.' The bill passed 56-35 and will now go to the Senate. [The Daily Herald, 15 June ] A woman who gave birth to a child with Huntington's Disease is to sue her IVF clinic for giving bad advice. She was advised by a member of staff at the Infertility Advice Centre, in Stepney Green that sexual intercourse would help with the IVF treatment and she subsequently gave birth to a child carrying her husband's condition, believing the child to be a result of IVF treatment. [News Shopper, 17 June ] Norma McCorvey, (the protagonist 'Roe' in the 1973 Roe v. Wade case), has asked a Dallas court to consider evidence that abortion is harmful to women, a move that could lead eventually to the Supreme Court reopening her case. The pro-abortion group NARAL, dismissed the case as 'a sad anti-choice publicity stunt.' [BBC, 18 June ] The top editor of the Boston Globe has agreed with a new set of guidelines designed to ensure more balanced coverage of the partial birth abortion issue, following complaints by Douglas Johnson of the National Right to Life Committee about its reporting. Among the recommendations made, it was suggested the term 'partial birth abortion' should be used and that it should not be stated that partial birth abortion is used 'only as a medical necessary'. [CNS News, 16 June ] Barbara Patricia Salisbury, a geriatric nurse from Crewe with 20 years nursing experience, has appeared in court, charged with the attempted murder of five patients under her care. The Mid-Cheshire NHS Trust which runs the hospital, has stated that they are working with the police and claimed that the investigation centred around nursing conduct, not specifically patient deaths. [The Scotsman, 18 June ] The American Medical Association's House of Delegates has given its approval to therapeutic cloning during its Annual General Meeting without opposition from a single delegate. Dr Goldrich, chair-elect of the AMA's Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs said that the decision would allow physicians to pursue the 'science of therapeutic cloning' ethically. [Reuters, 17 June ] Two new animal studies published by Florida researchers have found that stem cells from umbilical cord blood can be used to treat damage to the brain and spinal cord. Both studies, one on mice, the other on rats, demonstrated that the cells made their way directly to the damaged areas of the brain and spinal column. "This is one of the first studies to show the therapeutic potential of human umbilical cord blood cells in ALS, a neuro-degenerative disease model rather than a trauma or injury model," said Paul R. Sanberg, a director of the USF Center for Aging and Brain Repair. "More research is needed to determine the optimal amount of cells to provide better functional recovery and how these cells work in slowing progression of the disease." [www.scienceblog.com, 18 June ] A woman whose baby was born dead as a result of streptococcus B bacterial infection has put forward the case for screening and treatment of the infection in an article in The Times. Streptococcus B is responsible for the deaths of approximately 100 babies a year. A third of adults carry the bacteria and it can be tested for during pregnancy and treated with a simple course of antibiotics. Miranda Ingram points out that, in contrast, routine screening is provided for non-treatable conditions [abortion is offered]. [The Times, 18 June ] A surgeon has resigned from Oldchurch Hospital in East London after staff allegedly refused to resuscitate his elderly patient whom he believed could have survived. The hospital, which has one of the highest post-operative mortality rates in the country, claims that the surgeon, David Shields, had agreed with the order not to resuscitate, and should not have operated on the woman. He denies sanctioning such an order and has won the support of SOS NHS Patients in Need, a group who support families who believe their relatives have died unnecessarily. [The Times, 18 June ]

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