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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 5 January 2004

5 January 2004

5 January 2004 57% of IVF couples would consent to their 'spare' embryos being used for research purposes, a survey has revealed. Experts claim that consent depends upon the amount of available information about stem cell research, with Professor Alison Murdoch, chairman of the British Fertility Society, claiming: "When people understand this issue they tend to look on it favourably." [, 5 January ] A spokesman for SPUC commented: "Given the nature of IVF and the huge death rate of the embryos involved, it is unsurprising that the majority of IVF couples also accept destructive embryo research." [SPUC source] IVF specialists have criticised a decision by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) to reduce the number of embryos that can be implanted into the womb from three to two, Sunday Herald reports. The restriction is an attempt to reduce the number of multiple births in the UK which have increased with the growth of IVF treatment. Professor Gedis Grudzinkas, director of the Bridge Centre fertility clinic in London, said that they would back individuals who challenged the new rules. "We are preparing to take the HFEA on because this is a human rights issue," he said. [Sunday Herald, 4 January ] A charity that supports victims of domestic violence has decided not to support the distribution of condoms to under-16s because it is illegal for under-16s to have sex and because the majority of minors who are sexually active are involved with older men. "Older men who have sex with under-16's are paedophiles," said Clare Philipson of Wearside Women in Need. "We don't want to send out the message that we think it is alright for children to be having sex, because we don't, and we certainly don't want to be helping abusive men cover their tracks." [Sunderland Today, 3 January ] The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) received funding from 142 governments this year, excluding the US but including many countries in Europe, the Middle East and North Africa. [, 4 January ] John Smeaton, SPUC's national director, commented: "It is a tragedy that governments continue to fund an organisation that promotes abortion in developing countries rather than meeting the social and economic needs of the people." [SPUC source] An abortionist has been sentenced to nearly 35 years in prison after being convicted of 22 counts of sexual abuse. Dr Brian Finkel performed 20% of abortions in the Phoenix area of Arizona. His lawyer has said that he will appeal his conviction. [, 3 January ] A report published in Nature Biotechnology has suggested that human embryonic stem cells develop genetic abnormalities after growing in a laboratory. According to Peter Andrews of the University of Sheffield and James Thomson of the University of Wisconsin, similar changes to those observed in the stem cells occur in some types of cancer cell. [Bioedge, 2 January ]

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