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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 16 May 2003

16 May 2003

16 May 2003 National government funding for measures to cut teenage pregnancy, including the provision of abortifacient morning-after pills, has been significantly inceased in a local authority area in south-east England. Medway council, Kent, will receive £105,000 in this financial year, a 75% increase on the previous year. [BBC, 15 May ] On Wednesday we reported on a school in England which was going to give its pupils morning-after pills. The English court of appeal will today explain why it decided last month that the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority could authorise the creation of so-called designer babies to serve as tissue donors for sick older siblings. The Hashmi family of Leeds wanted to have a number of IVF embryos created and then have them screened to see which would be able to provide a bone marrow transplant for Zain, their four-year-old son who has thalassaemia. [Sky, 16 May ] A judge in Florida has postponed deciding whether an unborn child can have a guardian. Governor Jeb Bush ordered state lawyers to seek such an appointment, as we reported on Wednesday. Judge Laurence Kirkwood did not decide either whether the mother, who is mentally disabled, could have a guardian. In 1989 the state's supreme court ruled that unborn children could not have guardians because they were not people. Press reports suggest that, if both mother and child were given guardians, there could be conflict if aborting the child (of six months' gestation) was considered. [Irish Examiner, 16 May , and CNN, 15 May ] The man accused of planting a bomb in a federal government building in Oklahoma City in 1995 has been charged with killing two unborn children who died in the explosion. The babies' mothers, Ms Robbin Huff who was 32 weeks pregnant and Mrs Carrie Ann Lenz who was some 27 weeks pregnant with her son, also perished along with more than 160 others. The state's chief medical examiner has testified that the children could have lived outside the womb. Oklahoma recognises viability at 24 weeks and charges those who kill children after then with first degree murder. Mr Terry Nichols is awaiting trial. [San Diego Union-Tribune, 14 May ] In California a husband has been charged with the murder of his wife and unborn child. Mr Scott Peterson is accused of killing Mrs Laci Peterson, 27, and their unborn son, given the name Conner, whose body was found on a beach with his deceased mother last month. The case continues. Republicans want it to be a federal crime to harm or kill a foetus and Senator Orrin Hatch, a supporter, confirms that such a measure would undermine abortion rights. [BBC, 15 May ] A Canadian government agency is to start funding research on human embryos after a moratorium expired last month. Dr Alan Bernstein, president of the Canadian Institutes for Health Research, says he will apply funding even if legislation to allow the work is not passed by parliament. Dr Margaret Somerville, an ethicist of McGill university, regretted the institutes' disregard for democracy and warned of the proposed research's ethical significance. [LifeSite, 15 May ] Drug companies in Australia may have to indicate whether their products have been developed with human embryos. The government has told the Therapeutic Goods Administration to consider and report on a proposal from Mr Brian Harradine, an independent senator. Information about a drug's origins would need to appear on packaging and in advertising. [Sydney Morning Herald, 16 May ] Twins who had a serious condition while in the womb have been born well, after they were operated on in utero. At 19 weeks' gestation it was found that the two girls, in Georgia, USA, had twin-twin transfusion syndrome where one child receives more blood than the other. Some amniotic fluid was removed but taking too much might have caused premature birth. The operation involved cutting blood vessels between the twins. Mrs Carrie Mercer carried the babies to term and they were born with similar sizes and weights. [Thomaston Times, 14 May ] Concerns about the effects of methyl mercury in fish on the unborn may be exaggerated or unfounded. Johns Hopkins hospital, Maryland, studied pregnant mothers in the Seychelles where the diet includes a lot of fish and found no evidence of developmental problems in their children. Earlier this year the UK's Food Standards Agency told expectant mothers to eat no more than two medium cans of tuna a week. [BBC, 15 May ]

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