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Defending life from the moment of conception

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IVF couples "wasting thousands on unnecessary, potentially harmful drugs"

20 December 2006

Couples undergoing IVF treatment are wasting thousands of pounds on unnecessary and potentially harmful drugs, according to researchers in the Netherlands. Scientists from the University of Utrecht believe that small doses of the drugs can be just as effective as the expensive high doses that are commonly given. The drugs can also cause the embryos to be damaged as well as dangerous side effects to the mother including a potentially fatal condition known as ovarian hyper-stimulation. Professor Bert Fauser, who led the research, said: "Women are paying a high price financially and they are risking their health and psychological well being when low doses therapy will work for the majority of patients." [Mail on Sunday, 17 December]

The lover of the pregnant woman found murdered near Ipswich, England earlier this month, has expressed his grief and anger at losing "the two most precious things in my life". Mr Sam Jefford had met Miss Anneli Alderton at a drugs rehabilitation unit, but said he did not know that she worked as a prostitute. [Huddersfield Examiner 18 December]

Reuters news site carries a strongly partisan piece on Poland by Gabriela Baczynska. She notes that politicians and religious leaders in Poland wish to amend the constitution to include the right to "life protection from the moment of conception". This would be more restrictive than the 1993 law, which allows abortion in cases of danger to the health or life of the mother, likely disabilities in the baby, and after rape or incest. Baczynska cites claims of hundreds of thousands of abortions in Poland, and that "many more" are allegedly done in neighbouring countries on Polish women. Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski is reluctant to discuss the compromise that exists in the current law. Miss Wanda Nowicka, head of the Polish Federation for Women's Rights and Family Planning, is afraid that the alliance may have partial success. [Reuters, 12 December]

Church leaders in Chile have claimed that the government's programme to provide morning-after pills free to any woman over 14 violates parental rights and the constitution, since emergency contraception can cause early abortions. President Michelle Bachelet, a paediatric physician, has called the programme a matter of social justice. A number of public officials are refusing to co-operate. [LifeSite, 18 December]

Christians have protested outside the headquarters of Wal-Mart Stores Inc. in Arkansas because of the organisation's stance on homosexual issues and its decision to sell the morning -after pill. "Wal-Mart has been blackmailed by the radical homosexual agenda and the abortion industry," said Pastor Flip Benham, founder of Operation Save America, who led the protest. [LifeSite, 18 December]

Midwives and public health officials from 20 countries attended an International Forum on Midwifery in the Community in Tunisia. The event was organised by UN agencies UNFPA and WHO and a midwifery group. [Associated Press Pakistan, 13 December]

A British woman whose rare condition was successfully treated with adult stem cells has said that she plans to go abroad for more treatment. Angie McDonald, 32, from Merseyside suffers from Friedreich's Ataxia, a condition that affects balance, co-ordination and speech. She was injected with stem cells from umbilical cords at a clinic in Rotterdam in the Netherlands last year. She said: "I wouldn't change it for the world; it made me feel so much better. I have a lot more energy, I'm not as shaky, I can even pick up a cup of tea without spilling it. I'm hoping for a booster in February, hopefully that will make me feel even better." [BBC News, 18 December]

A new study on sex education has been issued by the International Planned Parenthood Federation European Network (IPPF) and the World Health Organisation (WHO) with financial support from the European Commission. It claims that birth control information for young people enables them to make informed choices and protect their health and does not hasten the onset of sexual activity. The study is called "Sexuality education in Europe - A reference guide to policies and practices." Dr Marc Danzon, WHO Regional Director for Europe, and Ms Vicky Claeys, Regional Director of the IPPF European Network, are quoted promoting the study [Medical News Today, 17 December]

An ex-colleague of disgraced South Korean scientist Hwang Woo-suk has claimed to have succeeded in cloning a female dog. Lee Byeong-chun, a veterinary professor at Seoul National University, says that a cloned Afghan hound named Bona was born on June 18. He is anxious to assess the reproductive capacity of cloned dogs. Lee was a key member of Hwang's team and instrumental in the cloning of the first dog, Snuppy. Lee has since been suspended from the university for three months for his role in the human stem cell scandal, and faces charges over financial irregularities. [Evening Echo, 18 December] American scientists claim that the world's first cloned cat has given birth to a litter of three healthy kittens. Researchers at Texas A&M University cloned the mother cat, known as CC for Copy Cat in December 2001 using the same technique as that used to clone Dolly the sheep. [The Guardian, 16 December]

A leading British scientist has said that the possible benefits of cloning have been exaggerated. Professor Austin Smith of the University of Cambridge told the Times that cloning research "clearly upsets the general public" while having limited potential for treating disease and adding little to scientific understanding of human biology. He said: "Its prominence is out of proportion to the significance of what's being done, and there are real question marks about whether it has any utility at all." He recommended instead that scientists focus on basic understanding of embryonic stem cells and adult stem cells. [The Times, 18 December]

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