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Defending life from the moment of conception

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"Global war against baby girls"

13 December 2006

Nicholas Eberstadt of the American Enterprise Institute in Washington DC, a leading demographer, has spoken at a UN conference warning that sex selection abortion is leading to a worldwide imbalance in gender. He calls it a "global war against baby girls." Natural birth rates are about 105 males for every 100 females born, but in some areas of the world the rates are as high as 150 boys per 100 girls. He cited a recent study showing that there are 20 million "missing" baby girls in Asia alone and this is permanently skewing the demographic balance in China and, increasingly, in India too. He thinks it is likely the only remedy will be a curb on all abortions. [EWTN News 11 December]

An Italian court has adjourned to decide whether Piergiorgio Welby, who has muscular dystrophy, is confined to bed, is tube fed and speaks through a computer that reads his eye movements, should have his respirator turned off, so he can die. Mr Welby appealed to President Giorgio Napolitano in October for euthanasia to be legalised so that he could request it. He wants his respirator turned off and to be given sedatives to ease any pain until he dies. The case hinges on whether he is being forcibly administered life-sustaining medical treatment, which is against Italy's constitution. [BBC News 13 December] Alison Davis of No Less Human SPUC's disability rights group said "it would seem that Mr. Welby wants his respirator removed not because it is unduly burdensome treatment but with suicidal intent. He should be given help to value his life, not enabled to end it."

The lack of any British studies into the long-term effects of IVF is criticised in an opinion piece by Jerome Burne. Noting that 1.4% of UK births are now due to IVF, he cites practitioners who want research into such conditions as autism, cerebral palsy and cancer among children, and miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy and ovarian hyperstimulation among women. Critics of the lack of research include Richard Kennedy of the British Fertility Society, Dr Stuart Sutcliffe of the Institute of Child Health, Professor Gedis Grudzinskas of the London Bridge Fertility Centre, and Dr Ian Gibson, MP. [Daily Mail 12 December]

China's social security system will be inadequate to provide for the ever-increasing number of elderly people, unless private and foreign capital can be found to increase the investment. Mr Li Bengong, the vice-director of China's National Working Commission on Ageing, told a news conference that the rapidly ageing population, occurring before the country had become affluent, would need an extension of the social security to the rural areas. Further problems have been caused by financial mismanagement. [Reuters 12 December]

A driver has been given a two-year sentence, with four months in gaol, by a French appeal court after being charged with the manslaughter of an unborn child who never breathed. A 2001 judgment decided that an unborn baby was not a person. The child's parents, Mr and Mrs Dewier appealed after a one year suspended sentence was given by a lower court, and have now set up an association and a website to raise awareness of the legal anomaly. [Gène éthique 4-9 December]

The BBC has obtained video footage which suggests that stem cells are being harvested from aborted and new-born babies for sale around the world. Ukraine has become the stem-cell capital of the world, in a trade based on unproven claims that they can help fight diseases. In the autopsy room of maternity hospital number six in Kharkiv, a campaigner saw corpses that had been dismembered, which is not standard post-mortem practice. [BBC 12 December] SPUC reported in May of this year on the case of Drs Vadym Lazaryv and Vladymyr Ishenko, who fled Ukraine in 2004 after discovering that women were being paid by abortion clinics to provide babies remains. [Pro-Life Times 33]

A Contemporary Catholic Trends poll by Le Moyne College in conjunction with Zogby International has found that 60 per cent of Catholics who go to mass weekly or more believe all abortions should be illegal compared with only 30 per cent of Catholics who never attend mass. Overall 50 percent of Catholics agreed all abortions should be illegal, 49 per cent did not agree. 1505 people on Zogby's database identifying themselves as RCs were questioned in from 5th-10th October. [Life Site News 12 December]

Barr Laboratories' so called emergency contraceptive known as Plan B is now available for non-prescription sales at pharmacies across America, but some independently owned pharmacies have refused to stock it because of a moral objection to it, or a perceived lack of demand. The Federal Drug Administration approved the drug in August for women of 18 and older. Wendy Wright, President of Concerned Women for America said "The battle is not over. There are more things we can do and will be doing." [Medical News Today 12 December]

Michael G. Gravett and his colleagues at the University of Washington will publish a report in the ACS Journal of Proteome Research in January describing research on a non-invasive test to diagnose common infections in pregnancy that are a major cause of premature births and infant deaths. Using rhesus monkeys, they have identified protein biomarkers for these infections in the amniotic fluid which are difficult to diagnose. Intra-amniotic infection (IAI) is an important and potentially preventable cause of preterm birth, responsible for half of extremely premature births and very low birth-weight babies. [Medical News Today 12 December]

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