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Defending life from the moment of conception

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20 June 2005

20 June 2005

20 June 2005 Scientists from the University of Sheffield in the UK have used embryonic stem cells to create the early forms of cells that become human sperm and eggs.

Professor Harry Moore and his team believe that if they are able to create actual sperm and egg cells and the technique is proven safe, the manufactured gametes could be used in IVF to avoid the need for donors and to provide eggs for cloning experiments.

However, the research is still in its early stages.

[Yahoo News, 20 June ] Four doctors' groups have submitted motions to the British Medical Association (BMA), calling for the upper time limit for abortion to be lowered.

The BMA will debate the issue at its annual conference, though the junior members' forum has already voted to support a lowering of the limit.

SPUC has warned that a bill to lower the upper time limit for abortion would also allow abortion on demand early in pregnancy.

Anthony Ozimic, SPUC's Political Secretary warned: "In 1988, a Gallup poll of gynaecologists found that two-thirds of them supported a reduction in the upper limit for social abortions to 20 weeks or less - yet in 1990 the law changed to allow abortion up to birth for reasons such as disability."

The BMA will also debate a motion calling for a change of policy to support physician-assisted suicide. Dr Michael Wilkes, chairman of the BMA's ethics committee said: "If competent people can now make legally binding decisions to refuse life-saving treatment knowing that treatment will lead to their death [sic], to then go a little bit further where people could make competent decisions to determine the time and way they die, how big a step is that?"

[The Times of London and The Daily Mail , 19 June, SPUC source] Parents' groups and the Catholic Church in Scotland have condemned plans by Glasgow city council to remove the right of parents to withdraw their children from sex education classes.

Peter Kearney, a spokesman for the Catholic Church, described the proposal as exhibiting 'outrageous ignorance', whilst Dr Nanette Milne, Conservative health spokesman in the Scottish parliament said: "If parents feel strongly about withdrawing their children, then I think they should have a right to do so. This is another example of the politically correct world we live in where one size has to fit all."

[The Times, 19 June ] A severely brain-damaged woman is being kept on life support to try to save the life of her unborn child.

Susan Torres suffered a stroke in early May after aggressive melanoma spread to her brain.

The baby is 21-weeks gestation and could survive delivery if he or she survives another month in the womb.

Her husband, Jason, believes that his 26-year-old wife would have wanted the baby to be saved at all costs.

[MSNBC, 17 June ] Florida Governor Jeb Bush has said that a prosecutor is to investigate why Terri Schiavo collapsed 15 years ago.

When Terri's husband Michael discovered that she had collapsed, he allegedly waited between 40 and 70 minutes before calling the emergency services.

[Irish Examiner, 18 June ] Terri's sister Suzanne Vitadamo has said that she is not challenging the findings of an autopsy report released following Terri's death but re-iterated the family's belief that "there is absolutely no evidence that Terri wanted to die of dehydration, or that she believed that the level of one's disability gives anyone the moral and legal right to end another's life." Mrs Vitadamo added: "Terri was dehydrated to death before our eyes. The moral shame of what happened is not erased because of Terri's level of disability."

The report revealed that Terri's condition was not terminal and that she could have lived for another 10 years if she had not had her tube feeding withdrawn.

[, 16 June ] A Polish woman has gone to the European Court of Human Rights, claiming that her health was put at risk when she was refused an abortion.

Alicja Tysiac claims that doctors warned her against becoming pregnant because she risked blindness due to an unnamed condition.

Mrs Tysiac claims that her gynaecologist denied that her health was in danger and destroyed her abortion referral.

Mrs Tysiac is not blind but her condition deteriorated and she says that she cannot afford the corrective lenses she needs. [, 17 June ]

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