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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 21 March 2003

21 March 2003

21 March 2003 The Population Research Institute is concerned that, if President Saddam Hussein is deposed, the USAID organisation will fund groups which lobby for legal abortion in Iraq. Mr Steve Mosher, president of the Virginia-based institute, described similar outcomes in Albania and Pakistan. He predicted alarm at such developments on the part of Iraq's one million Christians as well as the country's Muslim citizens. [LifeSite, 20 March ] Family doctors in New Zealand are performing euthanasia and helping patients commit suicide, according to an anonymous postal survey of 2,600 physicians by Auckland university. Dr Kay Mitchell's study found 225 cases of doctors' withholding treatment or increasing doses of painkillers with at least the partial objective of causing an earlier death. One patient was a child. Rev Dr Michael McCabe, director of the country's Catholic bioethics centre, said that the evidence could undermine trust in doctors. Dr John Adams, chairman of the New Zealand medical association, said that a doctor's primary obligations included the preservation of life. Parliament is soon to consider legalising assisted suicide. [New Zealand Herald, 21 March ] The risk of miscarriage and premature birth can be reduced by treating bacterial vaginosis in pregnant mothers with the clindamycin antibiotic. Since some cases of the disease are symptom-free, St George's hospital, London, which made the discovery, advises that women are screened for it before becoming pregnant. The hospital studied some 6,100 expectant mothers attending their first antenatal check. Of the 8% with vaginosis, those who took clindamycin were 10% less likely to miscarry or give birth prematurely. The disease can lead to endometriosis which can harm the lining of the womb and threaten foetuses. [BBC, 21 March ] Children created by in vitro fertilisation (IVF) could be significantly more prone to urological defects such as the development of the bladder outside the body. Johns Hopkins children's center, Maryland, found that such disorders were around seven times more likely in IVF children. The centre's Dr John Gearhart called for more research and suggested that couples considering IVF should not be put off by his findings. The study was based on 78 patients with cloacal-bladder exstrophy epispadias, which can be treated with reconstructive surgery. [Journal of Urology on Science Daily, 19 March Scientists have grown human embryonic stem cells on human bone marrow to avoid the transmission of animal viruses from the more conventional medium of mouse cells. Johns Hopkins medical school, Maryland, found that marrow stromal cells, also known as mesenchymal stem cells, supported the undifferentiated growth of primitive embryonic stem cells. Dr Linzhao Cheng said that marrow cells didn't "carry the ethical baggage of the abortion debate." [Science Daily, 19 March ] While the use of human marrow is not controversial, research on embryos, including those deemed surplus to IVF treatment, involves the manipulation and destruction of human beings. The majority of doctors being consulted by the Taiwanese legislature on assisted death have called for hospice care instead of euthanasia. Dr Chen Jung-chi of En Chu Kung hospital, Taipei, led medical witnesses in urging more palliative care. Lawmakers have considered euthanasia in response to an appeal from Chang Chien-chih, a leukaemia patient. Mr Liao Yi-lin of the Taiwan medical association told the hearing that it was impossible to be sure that a patient's decision to ask for assisted death had been freely made. [Taiwan News, 20 March ] Scientists addressing a meeting in Taiwan have been reported as opposing "reproductive" cloning while being keen on "therapeutic" cloning. Mr Bertrand Jordan, a French geneticist of Marseille-Genopole, and Mr Chen Su-chee, who introduced IVF to Taiwan, told a seminar at the city's French institute that, while they opposed cloning for birth, they approved of cloning for research. Mr Jordan isolated and sequenced an HLA gene in 1982. [Taipei Times, 19 March ]

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