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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 12 November 2003

12 November 2003

12 November 2003 The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) is recommending that the government continue to ban sex selection except on 'compelling medical grounds' after a year-long review of its regulations. Suzi Leather, the HFEA chairman said that at least 80% of responses they received were opposed to permitting sex selection as were 69% of those who took part in an independent Mori poll. Dr David King of Human Genetics Alert commented: "Sex selection is the exercise of sexism at the most profound level - deciding who gets to live. If you are not prepared to accept and parent both a boy or a girl, you should not be a parent." The British Medical Association welcomed the decision. [The Telegraph, 12 November ] Alison Davis, co-ordinator of No Less Human stated: "It is not enough to oppose sex selection for "social" reasons. The practise of detecting and discarding embryos who either have a disability or are of the sex likely to be affected by a disability will still be allowed, and thus the fatal eugenic discrimination against disabled individuals will continue." [SPUC source] A baby girl who survived after her twin died in an ectopic pregnancy is celebrating her first birthday. Freya Stafford was given a one in 50,000 chance of survival, but was born healthy weighing 7lbs 4 ounces. [BBC, 11 November ] John Smeaton, SPUC's national director said: "This is a beautiful story about human survival. So much for the pro-abortion argument that the early human embryo is not viable. Here is a case of an embryo that did not implant in the lining of her mother's womb, found somewhere else to implant and has lived to tell the tale." [SPUC source] Michigan Right to Life is working on a petition that would allow a state ban on partial birth abortion to be approved without the governor's signature, The Guardian reports. Gov. Jennifer Granholm vetoed a bill defining birth as the moment when any part of the baby's body protrudes from the body of the mother. However, if the group were able to collect 254,000 signatures in 180 days, a simple majority in both legislative chambers would be sufficient to establish the new law. [The Guardian, 11 November ] A married woman who claims she became pregnant after rape has failed in a legal bid to keep the baby secret from her family. The woman managed to hide the pregnancy and birth from her husband, who could not have been the father because he had had a vasectomy, and then placed the baby in foster care. However, the courts have ruled that the adoption process cannot go ahead without the husband being informed, as it must be clarified that he is not the father. Judge Rex Tedd expressed reservations about the woman's story, describing her as "an evasive and unreliable witness". [ITV, 11 November ] Dana Rosemary Scallon has challenged the Irish government to clarify its position regarding cloning and embryo research, Icderry reports. Speaking in Donegal, Ms Scallon stated: "In September, the Government itself went against the Irish Constitutional protection of life from conception, when it voted to fund destructive embryo research in the EU... Actions speak louder than words, therefore it is time to seriously question the motivation as to why our politicians continue to say one thing and do another. It is also disturbing that they constantly ignore Ireland's constitution in pursuit of appeasing the EU." [icderry, 11 November ] In a speech to scientists on Monday, the Pope denounced medical treatment using embryonic tissue as 'morally contradictory.' John Paul II who himself suffers from Parkinson's Disease, stated: "Any treatment which claims to save human lives, yet is based on human life in its embryonic state, is logically and morally contradictory, as is any production of human embryos for the direct or indirect purpose of experimentation or eventual destruction." [Newsday, 10 November ] A woman who was thought to be in a persistent vegetative state following a stroke but who then recovered, has spoken about her ordeal in a television interview. Kate Adamson, who was in fact conscious though unable to communicate, had her feeding tube removed for eight days she describes as 'sheer torture' and was even operated on without adequate anaesthetic. She said: "Michael [Schiavo] on national TV had mentioned last week that it's a pretty painless thing to have the feeding tube removed. It is the exact opposite." [partial transcript on, 5 November ]

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