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Defending life from the moment of conception

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3 December 2004

3 December 2004

3 December 2004 A report in the British Medical Journal has expressed concern that suicide pacts arranged via the internet known as 'cybersuicides' may be on the increase. Dr Sundararajan Rajagopal wrote that an average of one suicide pact per day was made in England and Wales and that even though the number had decreased by over a quarter in 36 years, the internet could create a new mechanism for them. [Sky News, 3 December ] A study monitoring the effects of ultrasound exposure on unborn babies has found that repeated scans appear to have no long-term effects on children. Ultrasound exposure has been linked to low birth weight, but the physical sizes of children who had and had not been exposed to repeated scans were found to be similar one year after birth. [The Scotsman, 3 December ] A scheme that involved giving 18,000 women advance packs of the morning after pill has been found to have no effect on the abortion rate, BBC reports. Women were apparently 'too embarrassed' to ask for the morning after pill in advance, leading Dr Sally Wyke of Dundee University to comment: "Enthusiasm for distributing advanced supplies of emergency contraception may be misplaced." She added that other ways had to be found to get the pills to women. [BBC, 3 December ] A study conducted at the Sahlgrenska Academy at Goteborg University in Sweden has found that implanting one embryo into a woman's womb during IVF treatment is almost as successful as implanting multiple embryos. Women often have a number of embryos implanted during IVF to maximise the chances of achieving a pregnancy, a practice that often results in multiple pregnancy. According to Professor Christina Bergh and Ann Thurin who conducted the study: "The results show that there were nearly as many deliveries in both groups: 42.9% of the women in the two-embryo group gave birth, compared with 38.8% of the single-embryo group." [Medical News Today, 3 December ] A school bus driver in New York has lost her job after making a comment about embryonic stem cell research to children. Julianne Thompson told them that Mel Gibson had said that embryonic stem cell research had not achieved a single therapy, leading parents to complain to school officials. Ms Thompson is considering legal action. [The Guardian, 3 December ] The French National Assembly has passed a law that would allow euthanasia by omission through the withdrawal of food and fluids. Philippe Douste-Blazy the Health Minister described it as 'a third way, a French way' as it does not permit active euthanasia. The law would also allow terminally ill patients to refuse treatment and recognise living wills. [BMJ, 4 December ]

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