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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 29 March 2004

29 March 2004

29 March 2004 SPUC has held its first European Conference, bringing together delegates from 22 countries for presentations and workshops on key issues regarding the European parliament and draft constitution. Speakers included Lord Brennan, a Labour member of the House of Lords, Dr Lucio Romano of Italy's Movimento per la Vita, Jonathan Evans MEP, Dana Rosemary Scallon MEP and Professors Richard Wilkins. During the conference, Dana Rosemary Scallon was presented with an award by Dr Jack Wilke on behalf of the International Right to Life Federation for her pro-life work in the European parliament. [SPUC press release, 29 March] The fertility specialist who sparked controversy after he claimed to have implanted a cloned human embryo into the body of a woman is to open a new office in London. Dr Panos Zavos intends to spend two days a month in London meeting couples who want to use pre-implantation diagnosis to select the sex of their child, after which the procedure will be carried out in the US. A spokeswoman for the HFEA said that although 'social' sex selection is illegal in the UK they could not control the process outside the country. [Sunday Herald, 28 March ] The Swedish government is to submit a bill to allow 'therapeutic' cloning, Yahoo News reports. Sweden already permits embryo experimentation for research into IVF, but the new bill would allow cloning by somatic nuclear cell transfer and the harvesting of embryonic stem cells for research purposes. [Yahoo News, 29 March ] New figures for Scotland have revealed that areas with the highest levels of deprivation such as Greater Glasgow and Lanarkshire also have the highest rate of stillbirth. Experts believe that poverty is a strong factor in stillbirths, which have been falling in the UK since the Second World War. Scotland's overall stillbirth rate is 5.5 per 1000 births, compared with the European average of 4.9. Smoking and the age of the mother can also be contributing factors but over half of all stillbirths are unexplained. [Scotland on Sunday, 28 March ] A Massachusetts hospital has lost a legal attempt to withdraw food and fluids from a patient known to be against euthanasia, reports. Barbara Howe suffers from advanced Lou Gehrig's Disease and is unable to speak, though she is not comatose, and she told her daughter before becoming ill that she wanted aggressive treatment until she became brain dead. The hospital has not apologised for its behaviour towards Mrs Howe, stating that it would care for her but would not "artificially prolong her life beyond what it should be." [, 26 March ] Britain's rising asthma rates could be tackled by improving the diets of pregnant women, The Independent reports. Britain has the highest rate of childhood asthma in the world, with British children three times more likely to be asthmatic than Italian, French and German children. At a conference to be held next month, Professor John Warner will argue that 75% of asthma cases could be treated in the final three months of pregnancy, by increasing vitamin levels and eventually through the use of drugs. [The Independent, 28 March ] A man has been jailed for nine months for threatening to kill his pregnant girlfriend, Leeds Today reports. Jeremy Lindsay, prosecuting, said that Greg Waller "wanted her to have an abortion but she decided not to. He did not accept the pregnancy and said he wanted to have nothing to do with the baby." Mr Waller blindfolded Martell Henry and tied her hands behind her back before putting a noose around her neck. She freed herself after a struggle and raised the alarm. [Leeds Today, 27 March ]

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