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Defending life from the moment of conception

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Chinese minister denies forced abortion reports

15 August 2006

Jiang Zuojun, vice health minister of China, has denied allegations that late-term abortions are common, or that the Chinese state sanctions forced abortions. He did not comment on the ongoing case of Chen Guangcheng, arrested after he attempted to bring a lawsuit against the government over forced abortions and sterilisations carried out in connection with the country's one-child policy. Jiang said "We need to continue to pursue the national family planning policy", which he estimates has prevented 300 million births. Meanwhile Chinese newspaper Xinhua published a report on an official programme, known as 'Care for Girls', which seeks to correct the heavy gender imbalance in China by providing financial incentives for families with only girls and prosecuting cases of sex-selective abortion. [Medical News Today, 14 August]

A Florida woman gave birth in her car after she crashed it while driving herself to a hospital. Kenyetta Biggs, 21, and her baby were rescued when the local deputy sheriff, Stephen Maxwell, came across the partially-submerged vehicle and found Biggs attempting to get out. "As I looked around her I saw the newborn baby lying in the passenger seat with the placenta and umbilical cord still attached." Miss Biggs had not told her family about her pregnancy, but her father said they were welcoming the baby, Myracle, "with open arms". [The Guardian, 14 August]

Research at Kyoto University in Japan has found that the introduction of four defined genetic factors can induce differentiated cells to take on the characteristics of embryonic stem cells. The research has been done using mouse cells by Kazutozhi Takahashi, Shinya Yamanaka and others. Known as iPS, induced pluripotent stem cells, it is hoped that these adult-derived stem cells, may provide an alternative to the use of embryonic stem cells in therapy. However, the researchers have yet to establish whether the technique can be applied successfully and safely to human cells. [Medical News Today, 14 August]

A television presenter has revealed in her autobiography that she buried her still-born baby in a Liverpool, England, park. Kim Woodburn, presenter of Channel 4's reality TV show How Clean is Your House, claims that in the 1960s she gave birth at five months' pregnancy to a still-born boy, having split up with the father a month previously. She buried the baby in a tea-towel in a hole dug with a spoon in a park near her flat. A spokeswoman for the publishers, Hodder and Stoughton, said legal advice had been sought as to inclusion of the material. Merseyside police say no formal investigation has been launched, and they will "decide what action is necessary in due course". [Daily Post, 15 August]

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