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Defending life from the moment of conception

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14 February 2005

14 February 2005

14 February 2005 A baby boy survived three attempts to abort him and is thought to be the earliest premature baby as a result of a botched abortion to survive long term, The Times of London reports.

The mother was given a series of abortion drugs at a BPAS facility in Leamingto Spa, Warwickshire, and was told that an ultrasound showed that the baby was dead.

However, on her way home, she felt the baby move and he was delivered in hospital at 24 weeks.

A paper on the case published in the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology has called for a review of late abortions at facilities where there are no staff available to treat babies born alive.

[The Times of London, 13 February ] A woman has gone to the European Court of Human Rights to try to prevent her frozen embryos being destroyed. Natallie Evans underwent IVF treatment with her then partner Howard Johstone in 2001, but the couple split up and Mr Johnson withdrew his consent for the embryos created with his sperm to be implanted.

The British High Court and the Court of Appeal have both rejected Ms Evans' case and the House of Lords decided against considering it. [BBC, 14 February ] Brian Pretty, who campaigned unsuccessfully with his late wife Diane to be allowed to help her to die, has endorsed human cloning.

Diane Pretty wanted her life to be ended with her husband's help using an unspecified method after she became severely disabled with the muscle wasting condition Motor Neurone Disease.

Mr Pretty said of the licence granted to Professor Wilmut to carry out human cloning: "Anything that has the potential to cure this disease must be welcomed." Professor Christopher Shaw of King's College London, whose team will be involved in the work, justified cloning and embryo research by saying: "For social reasons, to avoid pregnancy, society accepts the destruction of these developing embryos all the time. There are possibly hundreds of thousands in the UK every month."

[Sunday Herald, 13 February ] Professor Shaw made similar comments on last week's edition of The Moral Maze where he explicitly referred to hormonal contraception.

A sexual health guide has been launched in Derby to coincide with Valentine's Day and the Family Planning Association's Contraceptive Awareness Week. The guide is part of a 10-year attempt to reduce the number of teenage pregnancies in the region.

[BBC, 13 February ] The New Zealand euthanasia campaigner who was convicted of attempted murder last year has failed in her attempt to have the conviction overturned. Lesley Martin was charged after she published a book in which she described trying to kill her terminally ill mother, but she was released from prison after serving just over half of her 15-month sentence.

Three Appeal Court judges rejected the claim that Mrs Martin acted with diminished responsibility in a state of despair.

[The Guardian, 14 February ] Researchers at the University of Central Florida have found that treating bone marrow cells with a compound called bromodeoxyuridine may increase the chances of them developing into neural cells to treat damage caused by conditions such as Alzheimer's. Professor Kiminobu Sugaya and his team hope that transplants from blood or bone marrow will eventually be used to treat Alzheimer's and other neurological diseases.

Unlike embryonic stem cells, adult stem cells do not pose the risk of rejection because they are extracted from the patient's own body and provide an ethical basis for research and treatment.

[Medical News Today, 11 February ] The Australian Democrats have launched a pro-abortion petition seeking no changes to Australia's abortion laws.

Senator Allison claimed that the current debate on abortion has so far been one-sided and male-dominated, stating: "We think that it is time to kick off the debate and a good way of doing that is for people who want to see no change in our reproductive health laws and services able to say that directly to parliamentarians."

The head of the Uniting Church in Australia has argued that there is no need for further debate and that the current laws are acceptable.

Some pro-life groups have organised an Alternatives to Abortion Forum which will take place on Wednesday. [, 13 February and here ]

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