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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 20 October 2004

20 October 2004

20 October 2004 The body which regulates part of the legal profession in England and Wales has expressed its support for the government's Mental Capacity Bill. The Law Society says the bill will protect people who lack mental capacity by providing vital guidance, and will empower people to take decisions. A statement from the society, which regulates solicitors, says: "There is nothing in this Bill which would permit any form of euthanasia." [Law Society, 19 October ] The Bill will actually allow for euthanasia through neglect. Pro-life lawyers have been prominent in campaigning against the Bill. The Centre for Life in Newcastle upon Tyne, England, has taken the first steps towards cloning human beings. Dr Miodrag Stojkovic says the first transfer of a nucleus will take place before the year is out. The government is said to have reassured the centre that the work will be allowed to continue even if the United Nations bans it. The current project is with normal cells but it is reported that the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority is considering letting the Newcastle team also clone cells from a person with type one diabetes. [Telegraph, 20 October ] The chairman of President Bush's bioethics council has criticised the United Kingdom for allowing cloning. Dr Leon Kass says that permitting cloning for research increases the likelihood of cloned humans also being created so that they can be brought to birth. He warned that groups such as the Raelian organisation might clone humans for birth. [Times, 20 October ] South Korea has asked the United States to wait until after a United Nations scientific conference in February before pushing for a UN ban on all human cloning. The American response is awaited while Costa Rica, another opponent of cloning, is reportedly against the delay. Portugal and Uganda also oppose cloning. [Reuters, 20 October ] The chief executive of the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS) has said that her organisation has helped women in Britain obtain late abortions overseas "for at least 10 years". Ms Ann Furedi told the Times newspaper that her organisation occasionally gave contact numbers in Europe and America to women who were pregnant beyond 24 weeks and insistent upon having an abortion. [Times, 20 October ] The British government has asked its principal medical adviser to investigate recent suggestions that the BPAS helps women get illegal abortions in Spain. [The Telegraph, 17 October ] A director of the US National Catholic Bioethics Center has pointed out that the church does not oppose all stem research but just that on human embryos. Rev Tad Pacholczyk told a bioethical conference in Florida of how stem cells can be ethically taken from adult tissue, umbilical cords, placentas, amniotic fluid and dead bodies. [CNA on EWTN, 19 October ] A review of six studies on more than 50,000 women suggests that drugs which stimulate ovulation do not increase the risk of breast cancer. Such drugs are used in IVF and it is suggested that, if IVF is successful, the cancer risk may even be reduced. This may be due to the protective effect of having a child. [The Times, 20 October ] Even if the drugs used in IVF do not increase the breast cancer risk, IVF itself leads to the destruction of many, if not most, of the embryos created. The body which regulates doctors in the UK has reprimanded a gynaecologist for making a false claim in a paper about IVF. The General Medical Council found that Dr Loukas Klentzeris misleadingly wrote that women whom he was studying had taken blood tests. [BBC, 19 October ] Asian people are less likely to have successful IVF, according to a study of 1,200 couples by the University of California, San Francisco. While white people had an around 45% chance of successful implantation, Asians who were having their first IVF might only succeed in 30% of cases. Another study also presented to an American Society of Reproductive Medicine meeting suggested that black people were also less likely to have successful IVF than whites. [BBC, 19 October ] Allowing epidural pain relief to wear off during childbirth may not be as advantageous as has been thought, according to a review by Sydney University, Australia, of five research projects. It would seem that continuous use of such anaesthesia does not significantly increase the need for forceps delivery. Discontinuing an epidural can, however, increase maternal pain. [Reuters, 19 October ] Women's fears of infertility caused by breast cancer treatment may be exaggerated. In a study by Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Illinois, around three quarters of some 660 young women continued menstruating after treatment. A spokeswoman nevertheless warned that menstruation did not equate with fertility. It is suggested that a new treatment regime, involving anthracycline, will reduce the likelihood of infertility and premature menopause. [Reuters, 19 October ]

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