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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 1 July 2004

1 July 2004

1 July 2004 A woman is pregnant after having had ovarian tissue removed before chemotherapy and replaced afterwards. The procedure took place at Catholic university of Louvain, Belgium. [BBC, 29 June ] SPUC's Anthony Ozimic said: "This procedure has been described as a transplant, but it was the woman's own tissue which was involved. We see no ethical problem in this particular patient's case, especially as the child was naturally conceived, rather than through the unethical practice of in vitro fertilisation. However, we fear that the 'fertility industry' could exploit this development to usher in unethical techniques. The same technique might be used to move ovaries between women. Post-menopausal women could be used to provide embryos and eggs for experimentation. Other women might be used as surrogate mothers. Women might donate ovarian tissue to other women, and donated ovarian tissue could be used in sex-change operations." [SPUC, 30 June ] Two-fifths of pregnancies among British 15- to 17-year-olds end in abortion, according to research by Southampton university. All teenagers interviewed found abortion stigmatising and many did not tell their parents. The study found that socially disadvantaged girls were more likely to continue with a pregnancy. [Cumbria online, 29 June ] Ms Ellie Lee, a co-author of the research report, is a co-ordinator of the Pro-Choice Forum. The results of the survey could be used to call for more widely available abortion, including among the socially disadvantaged. Euthanasia has been described as being rampant in New Zealand. Nearly 700 doctors told researchers that they had hastened patients' deaths. In almost 400 cases, the patient was not consulted, including cases where the patient was judged competent. The research is published in the New Zealand Medical Journal. [LifeNews.com, 26 June ] This study follows the pattern of much pro-euthanasia research in trying to implicate doctors in intentional killing, when many of the cases could have been legitimate use of large doses of painkillers in the terminal phase of disease. The Nicaraguan health minister is said to be considering whether an 11-year-old girl who is pregnant after alleged rape by her stepfather "should give birth". A women's movement leader has said that the girl and her family should decide. Mr Jose Antonio Alvarado's predecessor resigned after a nine-year-old alleged rape victim had an abortion last year. [CNN, 25 June ] It is reasonable to assume that the question of the girl's giving birth is posed because abortion is being considered as an alternative. A child was born a few hours before he was due to be aborted with an injection of potassium at Guy's Hospital, London. He was of 25 weeks' gestation and it is suggested that the pregnancy threatened his mother's life. Around half of babies born at 25 weeks survive. [Sunday Times, 27 June ] Most parents who accept donated embryos will not tell their children of the fact, according to research on some 80 families by City University, London. While nine-tenths of couples who had had IVF, and all adoptive parents, intended to tell their offspring where they came from, only one third of recipients of donated embryos were going to do so. Embryos are donated by couples who have had IVF. [Daily Mail, 28 June ] The British media regulator has rejected complaints about a television programme which showed an abortion. Ofcom said that Channel 4's My Foetus, which was broadcast to some 1.5 million viewers in late April, was sensitive and responsible. [Guardian, 28 June ] At the time of the broadcast, SPUC said the film attempted to make abortion seem easy, normal and good. Archbishop Peter Smith, chairman of the department of Christian Responsibility and Citizenship of the English and Welsh Bishops' Conference, said the film could be a powerful anti-abortion message. A new technique will make it easier to detect cystic fibrosis in embryos. Monash University, Australia, have developed so-called gene chips which speed up testing. The Cystic Fibrosis Trust welcomed the development. [BBC, 29 June ] Embryos suspected of having cystic fibrosis are routinely destroyed. A survey suggests that most Germans would agree to the legalisation of pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD). Most respondents agreed with the use of the technique for detecting diseases in IVF embryos but most were against its use for gender-selection. Most opposed cloning humans for birth. As well as PGD, surrogacy and egg donation are also illegal in Germany. [Medical News Today, 29 June ] Research such as this may be used to try to challenge public policy when it ought to spur efforts to help the public appreciate the eugenic nature of PGD. The study suggests a general lack of understanding of the humanity of human embryos, including those conceived in the laboratory. A retired physician from Surrey, England, has challenged the authorities to prosecute him for advising people to travel to a clinic in Zurich, Switzerland, for assisted suicide. Dr Michael Irwin resigned as chairman of the Voluntary Euthanasia Society after being arrested for planning to help a friend to kill himself. Dr Irwin points out how those who have travelled to Zurich with relatives who have killed themselves have not been prosecuted. Assisting suicide is illegal in Britain but not in Switzerland. [Independent, 26 June ] Mr Kenneth Kaunda, the former president of Zambia, has told journalists in Kenya of his wish that African countries should legalise abortion. Mr Kaunda is reported as opposing abortion but thinking it sometimes necessary. [Catholic World News, 25 June ] Kenya is currently the focus of an intensive campaign to introduce liberal abortion laws. Scientists in Israel doing research on more than 180 women have suggested that hypnosis can improve women's chances of becoming pregnant through IVF. A fertility expert at University College Hospital, London, has, however, questioned the representativeness of the sample. [Telegraph, 29 June ] Pregnant mothers can help their unborn babies' bones grow by taking zinc supplements, according to research published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. [Medical News Today, 29 June ] A pro-euthanasia group in Guernsey breached regulations on the use of information about people during the Channel Island's election campaign earlier this year. Guernsey's data protection commissioner found that SpeakUpForGuernsey had put data about its supporters' "philosophical beliefs" on its computers without consent. [This is Guernsey, 29 June ]

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