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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 19 May 2003

19 May 2003

19 May 2003 A judge who ruled that a baby could be created to provide a bone marrow transplant for a sibling has insisted that the decision will not allow parents to select their IVF embryos on social grounds. Lord Justice Schiemann was one of the English appeal court judges who last month found that the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority could allow embryos to be screened to discover if, when born, they could provide suitable tissue. The detailed ruling was released on Friday. [BBC, 16 May ] An SPUC spokesman commented: "As we said at the time of the judgement, this is actually the thin end of the wedge to allowing embryos to be created and selected for non-medical reasons. Many embryos will now be created - and die - in this unethical search for genetically desirable children." Mrs Shahana Hashmi of Leeds, who was allowed to take part in the case, is expected to begin IVF treatment tomorrow to produce a child who might provide bone marrow for Zain Hashmi, her four-year-old son who has the thalassaemia blood disorder. Guardian, 17 May ] It is reported that the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority is to change its rules later this year so that couples undergoing IVF with donated eggs or sperm would be told if the embryos were to be destroyed. Parents are presently only informed if the gametes are their own. Five frozen embryos assigned to Mrs Margaret Grant of Inverness, Scotland, were destroyed after her ex-husband, the embryos' father, withdrew his consent for their continued storage. The embryos were created with a donor's eggs. [Scotsman, 19 May , and BBC, 19 May ] A London man who suffocated his elderly parents has been sentenced to two years' community rehabilitation, a non-custodial penalty. Mr Daniel Gardner, 51, of Plumstead, put plastic bags over the heads of Mr Stanley Gardner, 79, who had blood poisoning and heart trouble, and Mrs Eileen Gardner, 83, who had advanced Alzheimer's. The Voluntary Euthanasia Society said that the burden of assisting the death of terminally ill people should not be on families. [BBC, 16 May ] Anthony Ozimic of SPUC said: "As it seems that this was a case of non-voluntary euthanasia, it is disgraceful for the so-called Voluntary Euthanasia Society seemingly to imply that it was a case of assisted suicide." Italy is to legislate against the sale of human organs after police apprehended three Ukrainian women who auctioned an unborn baby whose organs might have been used for transplant. The gang accepted €350,000 for the child and the authorities are investigating people who expressed an interest in using his or her body parts. The child was born 10 days ago and handed to undercover officers. [Telegraph, 18 May ] The potential of adult stem cells may be even greater than has been thought, after an American biotechnology company suggested that two types of cell were actually the same. It was found that multipotent adult progenitor cells, discovered by Minnesota university, could produce any type of tissue. It was also found that mesenchymal stem cells, discovered by Osiris Therapeutics of Maryland, could produce bone, cartilage, fat and muscle which caused no immune reaction. Genzyme of Massachusetts is now claiming that the cells are not distinct, which suggests that tissue from them would be both versatile and capable of relatively trouble-free transplantation. The findings have, however, been questioned by Dr Leonard Zon of Harvard university, Massachusetts. The discovery could provoke disputes over patents on the cells. [New Scientist, 17 May ] Alaska could be added to the states where women must wait 24 hours for an abortion and be told of the risks. Mr Fred Dyson told his fellow state senators about letters he had received from women regretting not having been given full information about abortion. The senate approved the measure, which would require the health department to give women details of foetal development and adoption agencies, as well as information about abortion clinics. [Juneau Empire, 16 May ] The Canadian health minister has ignored a request to stop government funding for human embryo research pending the passage of a law to regulate it. Ms Anne McLellan avoided answering Ms Carol Skelton MP and said that the Canadian Institutes of Health Research operated "at arm's length" from the government and had no agenda of their own. [LifeSite, 16 May ] France has criticised the Vatican for objecting to the granting of United Nations status to the National Abortion Federation which represents American and Canadian abortion providers. The French representative wanted a decision about the federation to be made on grounds of public health and not moral or religious ones. The Holy See fears that the federation would simply add its weight to pro-abortion campaigning by the likes of the International Planned Parenthood Federation and the Center for Reproductive Law and Policy. [Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute , 16 May] The Catholic bishop of Hexham and Newcastle attended a meeting in his diocese in the north-east of England about the dangers to school-children of morning-after pills. Rt Rev Ambrose Griffiths OSB and 60 others met in Morpeth, Northumberland, under the auspices of SPUC's Wansbeck branch. [Morpeth Herald, 16 May ] The British government is promoting morning-after pills through schools and SPUC is using meetings such as this and a petition to alert parents and others to the dangers. Schering Health Care is this week launching advertising to promote its Levonelle abortion-inducing morning-after pills. The campaign will be aimed at pharmacists and city-dwelling women in their late 20s. Previous promotion has been to raise awareness of the pills. These advertisements will promote the brand. [PR Week, 15 May ]

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