Weekly Update: 15 - 21 December
21 December 2005
Catch up on all the big news stories from the past week - here are some you may have missed:
President Bush has been due to sign a bill into law which would increase the availability of umbilical cord blood cells in the US. Cells from the umbilical cord offer an ethical source of stem cells as an alternative to human IVF embryos, and research involving them has already proved fruitful. Congressman Chris Smith, who proposed the Stem Cell Therapeutic and Research Act, said: "Cord blood stem cells are already treating patients and now, for the first time ever, my bill will establish a nationwide stem cell transplantation system once it becomes law." [LifeSite, 19 December]
The two major conservative parties in Germany have announced that they plan to lower the time limit for abortions. The Christian Democratic Union and the Christian Socialist Union aim to "change the scandalous practice" of abortions after 23 weeks into a pregnancy, according to the parties' spokesman for women's affairs, Johannes Singhammer. He said: "No sensible human being can remain calm when a child, which could live, is aborted shortly before its birth, just because it is handicapped. We must urgently rethink the value of life." Abortion is technically illegal in Germany, but abortion is widely tolerated. [LifeSite, 20 December]
A survivor of the Indian Ocean tsunami has reportedly given birth to a girl after undergoing surgery to reverse a tubectomy. Agnes Raj, 26, lost all four of her children in the tsunami. More than 2,500 children in Tamil Nadu, where Mrs Raj and her husband live, were killed in the tsunami. The state is now offering free operations to reverse vasectomies and tubectomies. [Times, 21 December] Note: It is not clear from the report whether the free operations are available to some or all people in Tamil Nadu, or only to those who lost children in the tsunami.
A Birmingham GP has been charged with sending a woman to Spain for an illegal abortion, the BBC reports. Dr Saroj Adlakha is alleged to have arranged for Shilpa Abrol, then said to be 31 weeks pregnant, to have the abortion two years ago. [BBC, 15 December]
More women in the UK are having babies in their thirties than in their twenties, according to the Office for National Statistics. The average age to give birth is 29.6 years of age with women aged 30 to 34 having the highest birth rate. Some fertility experts are expressing concerns about the health risks associated with postponing parenthood. [Independent, 16 December]