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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 28 October 2003

28 October 2003

28 October 2003 A US couple who wanted to be one of the first to have a cloned baby, have almost given up after receiving a letter from Dr Panos Zavos requesting $80,000 to fund their cloning treatment. Kathy and Bill, whose surname was not divulged on their request, claim that they were led to believe that cloning a human being would be about as expensive as IVF and that they would receive a "significant reduction" if they talked to the media. They turned to Dr Zavos after numerous failed IVF treatment cycles because they could not face being childless. Kathy said that Dr Zavos told them that a news organisation would provide the money for them but they have heard nothing further. "This has gone on for a long time now," she admitted. "I have lost confidence in this. It is just my feeling, I just don't think it is ever going to happen." [Sunday Herald, 26 October ] Over 500 international scientists have gathered in Singapore for what is thought to be the world's largest meeting on stem cell research. The three-day International Stem Cell Conference will address biological, clinical and ethical issues surrounding stem cell research. [Freeserve News, 28 October ] Researchers at Harvard University have used stem cells from a mouse embryo to create inner ear 'hair' cells, the BBC reports. Hair cells, which turn sound vibrations into nerve signals, are often depleted irreversibly in old age, causing hearing loss in four out of five people over 65. However, Professor Tony Holley of Sheffield University, stated that possible treatment was many years off as transplanting new hair cells into the ear would prove extremely difficult to achieve. [BBC, 28 October ] One of Spain's autonomous regions, Andalucia, has clashed with the national government after it announced plans to exploit a possible loophole in the law to set up an embryonic stem cell bank. The Spanish national healthy ministry is challenging the plan as it could violate Spanish national law and are expected by senior researchers to be successful. [The Scientist, 27 October ] The head of the delegation of the Holy See to the UN, Archbishop Celestino Migliore, has addressed the UN on the subject of human cloning, Vatican News reports. In his address, Archbishop Migliore summarised many of the arguments used for and against a UN ban on human cloning and stressed the basic scientific and humanitarian principles against all forms of human cloning. [Vatican News, 27 October ] The husband of Terri Schiavo has appeared on CNN's 'Larry King Live' to justify his determination to end his wife's life, The Guardian reports. During the interview, Michael Schiavo claimed that Terri had expressed a wish not to be kept alive artificially before her collapse in 1990 and that he was determined to fulfil her wish 'if this is the last thing I can do for Terri.' He denied preventing Terri from receiving therapy and dismissed criticism that he had abandoned her for another woman, stating: "I'm fortunate to have two women in my life that I love very much." The attorney working for Terri Schiavo's parents responded: "It's hard to know what to believe with him because he says whatever the occasion demands or what is in his financial interests." [The Guardian, 28 October ] The affidavit of a nurse who cared for Terri Schiavo states clearly that Michael Schiavo denied Terri even the most basic therapy whilst she was in her care, that Mr Schiavo became visibly excited when she appeared to be dying and that her medical notes were repeatedly interfered with. Carla Sauer Iyer also affirmed that Terri was 'alert and orientated' when she nursed her, communicating through sounds, gestures and expressions of emotion. [Terrisfight.org ] Fears have been expressed that a psychopath who murdered his baby daughters could have fathered hundreds of children through sperm donations, Metro reports. Heine Nielsen, who is now serving life imprisonment, is thought to have made 520 donations to a Danish sperm bank which supplies 40 countries. One expert urged women who believed themselves to be pregnant with his children to have abortions in case they had Nielsen's genes. [Metro, 27 October]

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