News, 25 June 2004
25 June 2004
25 June 2004 The English court of appeal has ruled that frozen IVF embryos may not be implanted in a woman because the father does not consent. Ms Natallie Evans, 32, of Wiltshire, became infertile after chemotherapy for cancer. Mr Howard Johnston, her partner, took part in IVF treatment but the couple have since split. Lord Justice Thorpe ruled that the embryos should not be destroyed while Ms Evans decides whether to appeal against the judgement. The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act requires the consent of both an embryo's parents at each stage of artificial reproduction. [BBC, 25 June ] A Sydney clinic has announced that it has taken stem cells from a human embryo for the first time in Australia. The Sydney IVF fertility clinic described its work as "world class". Mr Brian Harradine, who represents Tasmania as an independent in the Australian senate, described the granting in April of embryo research licences as the issue of "licences to kill". [LifeSite and Sydney Morning Herald , 24 June] The removal of stem cells is fatal to embryos. The Pope has said that Catholic institutions should be offering "a convincing witness" to church teaching "particularly on respect for human life ...". John Paul II was addressing bishops from the western United States in Rome. [LifeSite, 24 June ] The UK's Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority has asked for more expert opinion to help it decide whether to allow the International Centre for Life in Newcastle upon Tyne to clone human beings for research. [HFEA, 24 June ] It is reported that the World Health Organisation (WHO) has found that polluted air could damage unborn children's lungs. Later this year, the WHO is expected to announce results of studies on animals which show that soot from vehicle exhausts impedes prenatal development. A paper on the subject was circulated at a meeting of European government ministers in Hungary. It suggests that soot in the air could increase the risk of infant respiratory death. [BBC, 23 June ] The Bulgarian Catholic bishops' conference has welcomed a national ban on euthanasia and at least some types of cloning. 93 of the national parliament's 107 members voted against euthanasia earlier this month. Catholic and Orthodox leaders have, however, expressed concern at the legalisation of the "exchange" of embryos (presumably created through IVF) for research. [Zenit, 23 June ] Our source speaks in terms of "a ban on cloning for reproductive purposes, including the donation of cells and tissues." Bans on so-called reproductive cloning tend to permit cloning for research. It is to be hoped that Bulgaria has banned cloning for all purposes. All human cloning is reproductive in that new people are brought into being. The Cardinal Archbishop of Washington, DC, has been reported as saying that withholding holy communion from people who support abortion could harm the church's pro-life mission. Cardinal Theodore McCarrick said that disciplinary action should only be applied after attempts at conversion had failed. [Guardian, 24 June ] The UK's Food Standards Agency has recommended that pregnant women should eat no more than two portions of oily fish a week. It is also recommended that they should eat no more than two tuna steaks and no more than four medium-sized cans of tuna a week. The concern is based on toxins found in such creatures. Pregnant women and those who are breastfeeding should avoid marlin, shark and swordfish because toxins accumulate in those predators' bodies. [Guardian, 25 June ] Naral, the American pro-abortion organisation, is petitioning President Bush not to re-appoint to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) an adviser who opposed the non-prescription sale of morning-after pills. Dr W David Hager's current term of office finishes at the end of this month. The FDA has argued that too few tests of the Plan B drug had been done on teenagers. [lifenews.com, 23 June ] A study of more than 2,000 women suggests that inhaled beta-agonists, inhaled steroids and theophyilline are safe to use in pregnancy to control asthma. The findings, published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, leave a question-mark over oral corticosteroids. There is an association between users of these drugs and premature birth and low birth weight. This could be caused by the steroids or by the severity of the condition they are used to treat. [Nursing Times, 24 June ] Mr Ron Reagan, son of the recently-deceased US president, has criticised the Bush administration's restriction on funding for embryo research. He is quoted as saying: "We're not talking about fetuses, human beings being killed. We're talking about collections of cells in a petri dish that are never ever going to be a human being." [Guardian, 24 June ] Of their nature, human embryos are human beings.