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Defending life from the moment of conception

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30 December 2004

30 December 2004

30 December 2004 The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) wants "the special needs of women and girls" to be addressed as part of relief operations among victims of Sunday's tidal wave in the Indian Ocean. Our source suggests that the UNFPA will help establish "temporary health facilities". [Medical News Today, 28 December ] The UNFPA promotes so-called reproductive health which the World Health Organisation, another UN agency, has defined as including abortion on demand. The US State Department has found that the UNFPA is involved in coercive population control. It is not clear what sort of facilities the UNFPA will provide in this case. [SPUC] A pregnant woman was mentioned in reports of those killed by the tidal wave. [IC Wales, 27 December ] Many other mothers and babies will have lost their lives in the tragedy. A prominent doctor at Ireland's National Maternity Hospital, Stephen Carroll, has called for country-wide screening of unborn children for Down's syndrome. Ms May Gannon of Down Syndrome Ireland said: "People with disabilities have the same right to life as everybody else. We cannot use advances in screening techniques to get rid of children." [Sunday Times (Ireland edition), 26 December ] Alison Davis of No Less Human said: "It is instructive to note that two thirds of older pregnant women (who have the highest chance of having an affected baby) would prefer not to know in advance if their child had Down's syndrome. These women are showing true love and acceptance of their child." Several British MPs have signed a parliamentary motion alerting the government to the availability of books, websites and online chatrooms which help people kill themselves. Our source mentions the death of a young woman who died after buying a book about suicide from a prominent web-based bookshop. Mr David Borrow, MP for a Lancashire constituency and a signatory to the motion, is supporting an online petition organised by his local newspaper. [Preston Today, 23 December ] A 55-year-old woman in Virginia has acted as a surrogate mother for her triplet grandchildren. Ms Tina Cade carried the two boys and one girl for Ms Camille Hammond, her daughter, who suffers from endometriosis. Ms Cade had hormonal treatment to slow down her menopause. The children were delivered early by caesarian section because of concerns about Ms Cade's health. [Guardian, 28 December ] The British-based Sunday Telegraph newspaper included pro-life opinions in its leading article on the day after Christmas. The customarily unidentified author wrote: "At this time of year ... it is salutary to be reminded that the rights of the child (born or unborn) deserve to be protected in law and deed with as much vigour, if not more, as the rights of the mother. The most basic lesson of Christmas is that every child deserves the chance to live." [Sunday Telegraph, 26 December ] An American federal government agency has published research on the drinking of alcohol in pregnancy. In a study of some 64,000 US women aged 18 to 44, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that a tenth of those women who were pregnant were drinking, and a fifth of these drank to excess or frequently. A report on the study warns of how drinking can cause fetal alcohol syndrome and fetal alcohol spectrum disorders. The research also warns of the risks associated with drinking when one might become pregnant. The president of the Australian Medical Association is urging his country's government to recommend that pregnant women avoid all alcohol. Dr Bill Glasson says present guidelines are too lax and wants Australia to follow the USA's lead. [Medical News Today, 23 and 24 December] UK stocks of a drug used in palliative care are running low. The government says that diamorphine could run out in weeks, with proper supply only restored in March. [Times, 24 December ] A doctor in Kentucky who is trying to clone humans says that the UK's Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) is forcing couples into aborting babies. Dr Panos Zavos is reported as claiming that the HFEA's policy of forbidding 'social' sex-selection in IVF means that parents abort children on grounds of gender. Countess Josephine Quintavalle of London-based Comment on Reproductive Ethics said: "Correcting the initial wrong of aborting a foetus on the basis of its sex by allowing couples to choose the sex of their child does not make anything right. We would end up with no ethics if that was allowed to happen." [Sunday Herald, 26 December ] Clinical obesity in women giving birth at the Royal Infirmary in Glasgow, Scotland, has doubled over the past 14 years, according to a study by the city's university. The proportion is approaching a fifth, and obesity increases the likelihood of complications including maternal death. It is suggested that the children of such mothers are at greater risk of cancer, heart disease and obesity. [Scotsman, 26 December ] The use of certain household cleaning products during pregnancy could increase the likelihood of asthma in the children who are subsequently born. Bristol University, England, studied 7,000 local children and found that those from homes where certain substances were used had twice the chance of suffering from wheezing which can indicate the start of asthma. Air freshener, bleach, carpet cleaner and paint stripper are cited as possible causes. The use of such products has risen in recent years, as have instances of wheezing among children. The study stops short of saying that the substances cause asthma but it does suggest a "strong link". [Evening Times and the Times , 23 December] The Dutch doctor who has admitted killing newborn babies wants: "clear rules so that no doctor is left facing a murder charge." Dr Eduard Verhagen of Groningen Hospital told a British newspaper of how he precipitated children's deaths to avoid their being left to die of starvation instead. Rt Rev Wim Eijk, the city's Catholic bishop, has criticised the killings and the Vatican has compared the Dutch doctors who take part to Nazi-era medics in Germany. Dr Bert Dorenbos of the Hilversum-based Cry for Life organisation said: "If the condition of handicapped-born babies is really incurable, it should not be necessary to kill them but to treat them humanely until their passing." [Sunday Telegraph, 26 December ] A study by Columbia University, New York City, has found that people with religious beliefs may be less likely to commit suicide. Dr Maria Oquendo's team surveyed nearly 400 people with depression. [Reuters, 27 December ] Research by Turku University, Finland, suggests that women who give birth late in life could live longer. [BBC, 25 December ]

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