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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 16 October 2003

16 October 2003

16 October 2003 Terri Schiavo's feeding tube was removed yesterday afternoon at the hospice where she has been living, Yahoo News reports. "It's a slow painful death," said her father Robert Schindler, who with his wife has fought to prevent Terri's death for five years. Around 100 supporters are holding vigil outside the hospice, holding banners bearing messages such as 'starvation is murder'. The Schindlers, along with their son and other daughter, intend to stay with Terri until she dies. However, Judge George Greer ruled that they could only see their daughter in the presence of Terri's husband or one of his representatives after they disobeyed a court order and released a video tape to the media showing Terri moving, responding and trying to talk. [Yahoo News , The Independent , 16 October] Women who have multiple births through IVF treatment are more likely to be depressed than women who have single children, according to new research. The results, presented at the American Society of Reproductive Medicine conference in Texas, have raised questions about the "significant social risks" associated with multiple births and the HFEA is currently considering whether to limit the number of embryos that can be implanted at the same time from two to one. HFEA spokeswoman Alison Cook, said: "Women are designed to carry one child: not twins or triplets or quadruplets. Any way we can get fertility treatment births closer to the norm should be considered." [The Independent, 16 October ] Fertility experts are calling for a donor card scheme that would allow young women killed in accidents to donate ovarian tissue, according to a report on Femail.co.uk. The scheme, which the article alleges has the HFEA's backing after a 'major U-turn' against a decision made in 1994, was condemned by reproductive ethics groups. Josephine Quintavalle of Comment on Reproductive Ethics said: "We do not believe children should be conceived posthumously." [Femail.co.uk, 15 October ] The HFEA yesterday issued a press release stating that they would not allow eggs from deceased women to be donated in accordance with a decision made in 1994 and that they had no immediate plans to reconsider the issue. [HFEA, 15 October ] A survey exploring attitudes towards reproductive technology in the US has found that Americans largely support the new technology but that many disapprove of designer babies. There is also a high level of suspicion towards the scientific community, who are largely considered not to have sufficient internal or external ethical limits placed on their research. Men proved almost twice as likely as women to support reproductive genetic technology and 30 percent of Americans feared that developments in this area could be used for the wrong purposes and were 'too much like playing God.' [Reuters, 15 October ] The US pro-abortion group the Centre for Reproductive Rights (CRR) has requested that the legal meaning of sex abuse be redefined to protect abortion clinics from the legal obligation to report abuse, CWNews reports. CRR is asking for abuse to be defined as sexual activity between an adolescent and 'a much older partner' rather than with another minor or 'age-mate' which they do not consider damaging. CRR, formerly the Centre for Reproductive Law and Policy, campaigns for the legalisation of abortion on demand internationally, particularly in Catholic countries in Latin America. [Catholic World News, 15 October ] Researchers at the Medical College of Georgia believe that a molecule found in early pregnancy could help prevent transplant rejection. The HLA-G molecule works by effectively suppressing key immune system cells to ensure that the mother does not reject the developing baby. The researchers found that skin grafts on mice genetically modified to produce HLA-G lasted longer than on normal mice. It is hoped that it could be possible to induce tolerance in transplant patients who currently rely on immunosuppressant drugs to reduce the risk of rejection. However, transplant surgeon Mr Murat Aqyol warned that previous attempts to do this had failed in humans and that HLA-G could only potentially work if the type of donor organ to be used was known months in advance. [BBC, 15 October ] A judge has awarded $5.8 million to the mother of a woman who was murdered for refusing an abortion, LifeNews reports. Cherica Adams was eight months pregnant when the father of her unborn child arranged for her to be killed because she refused an abortion and he did not want to pay child support. The baby survived the shooting which killed Ms Adams but he suffers from cerebral palsy and the money will go towards his medical care. Unfortunately, little of the money is likely to be paid as three of the four men responsible are in prison and one is unemployed. However, Van Brett Watkins, who fired the fatal shot has vowed to provide the family with any money he can and appears genuinely remorseful. [LifeNews.com, 16 October ] Legal academic, Dr Jacqueline Laing has warned of the dangers posed by the Mental Incapacity Bill. In an article in the Daily Mail, Dr Laing considered the recent case of a 91-year-old woman whose relatives had to go to court to force a hospital to feed her. She warned that the Mental Incapacity Bill being strongly promoted by the government with 'scandalous haste' would render incapacitated patients even more vulnerable and prevent people such as Olive Nockels' grandson from intervening to save her life on pain of an assault charge. [The Daily Mail, 10 October]

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