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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 16 August 2004

16 August 2004

16 August 2004 Lesbians may find it easier to obtain IVF treatment due to a review of reproductive law being planned by ministers, The Telegraph reports. John Reid, the UK Health Secretary is to overhaul the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act of 1990, claiming that 'changes in societal attitudes and developments in human rights legislation have taken place since the introduction of the Act.' Suzi Leather, the HFEA's chief executive, has described the clause referring to a child's 'need for a father' as an anachronism. [Telegraph News, 16 August ] Leading German doctors and mainstream political parties have called for a ban on all forms of human cloning. This comes after the UK Government gave permission for a research team to clone human embryos for 'therapeutic' purposes. The German government reiterated that the EU should ban human cloning, and that Berlin should issue a critical ethical position. [DW-World. DE, 16 August ] The Vatican has expressed its dismay at the UK Government's decision to permit human cloning. Joaquin Navarro-Valls, a Vatican spokesman, stated: "The Holy Father has always unequivocally condemned all forms of human cloning, even for therapeutic purposes". [Gulf Daily News, 16 August ] Christopher Jones, the Catholic Bishop of Elphin, Ireland, has called for the world to remember the value of human life and to have hope in the fight against killing in all its forms. Bishop Jones delivered the message to thousands of pilgrims at Knock shrine in County Mao. He stated: "Belief in the dignity and destiny of every human person, calls us to human compassion and to the healing care of every single member of the human family." [U.TV, 16 August ] The UK Conservative Party has made a U-turn in its sex education policy, saying that teenagers will be targeted by a new expansion of sex education in order to combat the rise in STIs among the young. Andrew Lansley, the shadow health secretary will explain these new plans at a visit to a clinic run by gays and lesbians in Manchester this week. [The Observer, 16 August ] US researchers have claimed that a mother's instinct to protect her child is triggered by the same hormonal change that makes her more caring. The research was led by Professor Stephen Gammie at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in the USA. It is thought that the brain suppresses the release of certain chemicals during pregnancy and lactation to allow the female to feel fearless and less stressed. [Telegraph, 16 August ] A new study in Ireland has looked at the way men are treated by hospital staff when their girlfriends or wives miscarry during pregnancy. Doctors at the Rotunda Maternity Hospital in Dublin found that many men felt that their grief went unacknowledged by medical staff and that they lacked support after a miscarriage. [Times Online, 16 August ] A man who confessed to killing his girlfriend after he watched the film The Passion of the Christ has been sentenced to 75 years imprisonment. Dan Leach admitted to killing Ashley Nicole Wilson and disguising the murder as suicide because he believed her to be pregnant and did not want anything to do with her or their child. [The Guardian, 14 August ] British couples are going abroad for cheaper IVF treatment, The Times of London reports. 'Fertility tourists', as the couples are becoming known, are taking advantage of the low prices and marginally higher success rates of Eastern European IVF clinics, particularly in countries such as Slovenia and Hungary. [Times Online,16 August] Alison Davis, co-ordinator of the disability rights group No Less Human, has condemned the recent decision to allow researchers to clone human embryos. In a letter to The Telegraph, Ms Davis described cloning as 'highly unethical and completely unnecessary', contesting the widespread assumption that disabled people support it. She writes: "Many journalists have described human cloning technology as 'exciting'. I cannot share this excitement at science that creates one human being only to destroy him or her for my putative benefit." [The Telegraph, 14 August ] A study by the Indiana University School of Medicine has claimed that blood-making stem cells found in bone marrow, umbilical cord blood and some adult blood products, can be used to treat conditions such as leukemia, immune system disorders and to stimulate blood cell production after treatments such as chemotherapy. The study 'Modulation of Hematopoietic Stem Cell Homing and Engraftment by CD26-an enzyme on the surface of stem cells' suggests also that these stem cells can be used to increase transplant success. Study co-author Dr. Broxmeyer stated: "By inhibiting or deleting CD26, it was possible to increase greatly the efficiency of transplantation." [Medical News Today, 16 August ] Two medical experts have called for Australia's 'unclear and complex' abortion laws to be changed to allow abortion at any stage of pregnancy across all states. The call follows the case of a woman who had an abortion at 32-weeks because the child was diagnosed with dwarfism, causing a public outcry and questions over its legality. Abortion was legalised in the state of Victoria in 1969 when there is serious risk to the mother's mental or physical health, a clause that allows for abortion virtually on demand. [The Age, 16 August ]

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