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Defending life from the moment of conception

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9 September 2005

9 September 2005

9 September 2005 Scientists have been given permission to create genetically altered babies with a blend of genes from one man and two women.

A group of researchers at the University of Newcastle has been granted permission by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority to use the experiments in an attempt to prevent the inheritance of genetic diseases.

However, the pro-life movement has warned that this is an unacceptable step towards creating designer babies.

The researchers will transfer genetic material created when an egg and sperm fuse into another woman's egg.

In effect, this will mean that the unborn child will have two mothers.

Josephine Quintavalle of Comment on Reproductive Ethics said: "This shows once again that the HFEA does not have any regard for public consultation and the views of the public. It is undesirable to create children in this way. It will shock the world. This is playing around with early human life."

[BBC News, 9 September ] The first human "virgin conception" embryos in the UK have been created at the Roslin Institute, the research centre that cloned Dolly the sheep.

They are made by stimulating a human egg so that is starts to divide like an embryo but without any genetic material from a male sperm cell.

Six of these embryos have so far been created. Dr Paul de Sousa said at a conference in Dublin: "At the moment we have not managed to get stem cells from these embryos but that continues to be our ambition."

[BBC News, 9 September ] There has been a heated debate over abortion on demand in the Australian Senate.

Labor and Democrat Senators wanted the Senate to support a motion granting universal access to so-called sexual and reproductive health services, particularly in the developing world.

Lyn Allison, leader of the Australian Democrats, plans to present this motion to the UN summit meeting in New York next week.

However, the leader of the opposition in the Senate, Ron Boswell, said that the plans amounted to abortion on demand.

The debate became bitter with Lyn Allison calling the pro-life Senators "anachronistic, outdated, conservative people in this place who will deny women their rights." The debate was suspended and will continue next week.

[ABC Online, 8 September ] Researchers have found that a chemical compound, nitric oxide, could extend fertility.

Scientists at Wayne State University School of Medicine in Detroit discovered that nitric oxide appears to slow or reverse the aging of eggs in mouse ovaries and this suggests that it could eventually help older women to have a baby.

[Medical News Today, 9 September ] A terminally ill woman's campaign to legalise voluntary euthanasia has been supported by more than 100 members of the House of Lords.

Kelly Taylor, 29, last month started an attempt to starve herself to death but ended it after 19 days because she was suffering too much.

Her supporters include Lord Joffe, whose Assisted Dying for the Terminally Ill Bill aims to legalise euthanasia.

[This is Bristol, 8 September ] The majority of unborn children produced during IVF treatment are not born alive, according to researchers at Yale School of Medicine.

They found that 85% of embryos transferred during in vitro fertilisation die before birth.

[M2, 8 September ] Children as young as 14 in Sunderland are picking up free condoms from a sexual health drop-in-centre during their school lunch breaks.

Sunderland North Family Zone set up the scheme as a response to the high numbers of teenage pregnancy in the city.

Margaret Mendez from the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children said: ""I am appalled that this is being allowed to happen.

I think parents will be horrified to learn that their children are going for condoms without their knowledge or consent." Approximately 12 condoms a day are given out to schoolchildren. [Sunderland Today, 8 September ]


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