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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 28 June 2004

28 June 2004

28 June 2004 One in five UK women use sterilisation to prevent pregnancy, double the European average. According to the study presented at the European Society of Contraception Congress in Edinburgh, UK women chose sterilisation at a younger age and 60% of UK women questioned were not fully aware about reversible forms of contraception. [BBC, 28 June ] Endometriosis, a condition which can cause infertility in women, could be treated with a new drug therapy, BBC reports. Researchers from the Netherlands and the US tested four angiostatic treatments on human endometrial tissue transplanted into mice and found that they inhibited the growth of new blood vessels. The mice did not experience side-effects such as changes in the menstrual cycle or hormone levels that current treatments often cause. [BBC, 28 June ] Mobile phone transmissions could reduce a man's sperm count by nearly a third, according to research carried out at Hungary's University of Szeged. Radiation reduced the ability of sperm to swim by a similar percentage. Experts have yet to reach a consensus about the safety of mobile phones and mobile phone operators say that the findings are inconclusive. [The Scotsman, 28 June ] A professor from the University of Berlin has stated that 'the shadow of eugenics' hangs over German scientists who are disturbed by the role of doctors and scientists in Germany's Nazi past. Professor Rolf Winau said that without understanding the Nazis' work it will not be possible for German scientists to decide on ethical issues such as embryo research. 45% of German doctors at the time were Nazis and some worked in concentration camps. He said: "Not all who used this opportunity did so from unscrupulous motives; however, for many scientists, the scientific impetus triumphed over ethical scruples." Germany currently has among the strictest laws on embryology in Europe. [BBC, 28 June ] Two London fertility clinics are to apply for licences to screen IVF embryos for genes indicating increased risk of breast cancer. One team is also considering a test for genes that cause bowel cancer. Josephine Quintavalle of Comment on Reproductive Ethics commented: "By the time these embryos have reached the age when they are at risk of breast cancer, medical science will have advanced by 30 years and we may even have a cure. What we are doing here is getting away from the concept of curing disease, and towards eliminating the person with the disease." [The Times of London, 26 June ] Pictures have been published of a 12-week-old unborn child moving, yawning and rubbing its eyes in the womb. The pictures were taken using a new type of ultrasound that produces detailed 3D images offering a close look at the behaviour of the unborn child. John Smeaton, SPUC's national director, welcomed the new technology, stating: "These pictures are a wonderful reminder of the fact that the unborn child is a living human being. We challenge abortion providers, in the interests of informed consent, to show these pictures to women seeking abortion." [BBC, 28 June ]

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