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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 1 May 2003

1 May 2003

1 May 2003 Misreading of tests for cystic fibrosis in America may have led to the performance of amniocentesis or abortion. For two years screening, based on tests of blood and saliva, has been available to pregnant women and their partners throughout the US. The American College of Medical Genetics reports that abortion and amniocentesis were performed after the 5T genetic mutation had been detected, yet this anomaly only causes cystic fibrosis if the rarer R117H mutation is also present. A British expert said high standards of laboratory and counselling services in this country meant similar mistakes were less likely here. Testing for cystic fibrosis at birth is universally offered in Scotland, but not yet in England. [New Scientist on BBC, 30 April ] Amniocentesis, a type of prenatal test, can damage foetuses and/or cause miscarriage. When it is used, abortion is invariably an option that is being considered. Cystic fibrosis is not a terminal condition. The high court in London has ordered police to return a poster-sized picture of an aborted child to two pro-life candidates in today's election to the Welsh assembly. Miss Fiona Pinto and Mr Joseph Biddulph were charged a week ago with a public order offence while exhibiting the picture of a 21-week foetus during campaigning in Newport, south Wales. Mr Justice Sullivan yesterday refused a police request that Mr Biddulph and Miss Pinto should be prevented from using the picture for electioneering again. He will later consider consider whether the arrest and confiscation breached the candidates' rights. [Western Mail, 1 May , and see SPUC news summary, 25 April ] A widow wants government funding for IVF to create a daughter using her deceased husband's frozen sperm. Mrs Michelle Smith, 37, of Hampshire, England, who has two sons, has told of the late Mr Bob Smith's wish for a female child and complains about the lack of government support for the process. IVF is more widely state-funded in some other parts of England. The English court of appeal ruled in February 1997 that Mrs Diane Blood had the right in European law to use her dead husband's sperm to conceive a child, although her husband's written consent had not been given. [Daily Echo, 1 May , and SPUC, 11 February 2002 ] It is unclear from our source whether Mrs Smith's intended IVF treatment would involve gender-selection and, thus, the destruction or freezing of male embryos. President Bush has been criticised by the Family Research Council after he urged the US congress to approve a $15 billion AIDS prevention scheme which includes support for groups which promote abortion. Funds would not be able to be used for abortion services and groups would need to keep accounts. A rule going back to President Reagan's time forbids US federal funding of abortion in other countries. Pro-life members of congress may try to amend the measure which would affect 12 African countries. The Family Research Council called the measure in its present form deeply flawed. [San Francisco Chronicle, 30 April ] Texas could join the growing group of US states which require women to wait 24 hours before abortion, after its house of representatives passed a bill on Tuesday by 96 to 41. If implemented, the measure would also require women to be given information about unborn children and abortion, as well as about the increased risk of breast cancer following the procedure. The bill was amended to require the provision of information about so-called emergency contraception [which can be abortifacient] to victims of rape and incest. [Houston Chronicle, 30 April ] Estimates of the number of states with such provisions vary between 18 and 30. An American media personality has told a National Right to Life Committee fund-raising event that the tide is turning in favour of the pro-life movement. Mr Benjamin J Stein, a Jewish lawyer, writer and actor, described how student audiences had applauded his anti-abortion views and attributed the movement's success to President Bush and the Republican party. Tuesday's awards dinner in New York city honoured pro-life people of various religious affiliations. [Catholic News Service, 30 April ]

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