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Defending life
from conception to natural death


Blair in US to promote embryo experimentation

31 July 2006

Mr Tony Blair, the British prime minister, is expected to promote embryonic stem cell research in America this week. He will suggest partnerships between Britain and Californian biotechnology firms this week, according to AFP of San Francisco. The BBC say he will suggest that Britain is the place to conduct such research. On 19th July George W. Bush, used his presidential veto to limit US federal funding for embryonic stem cell research. [BBC 31 July]

Sir David King, the government's chief scientific adviser said Britain is in an "enormously strong" position to become the world leader in stem cell research, adding that there were economic and health benefits to making the UK the "global hub" of such research. He said that British scientists wanted to capitalise on a "series of successes" in stem cell research. [The Scotsman 30 July]

It is claimed that only one man in Scotland is donating sperm to help infertile couples have children, and a support group has warned that Britain is facing a "national shortage." In the UK as a whole as few as ten new donors are found each month, and two of the four NHS fertility clinics in Scotland have suspended insemination services. Susan Seenan of Infertility Network UK said "As soon as the Government started to talk about stopping anonymous donation, donors stopped coming forward... We need a campaign to recruit more donors and to make them aware that they don't have any financial or moral obligation." A spokeswoman for the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority insisted evidence of the single donor in Scotland was "anecdotal" and had not been proved. [Daily Record 31 July]

Dr Mohamed Taranissi, the fertility doctor with the best IVF success rates in Britain, is described as "the wealthiest doctor in Britain" by The Times. , His clinic has an annual profit of £3 million. He can now see "no point" in the existence of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority and says that its policies often make little sense to him. He refers to ongoing battles with the Authority, particularly over "egg sharing," in which women donating some of their eggs for research can save thousands of pounds in IVF treatment costs. He says he feels victimised by the Authority. He denies that he supports "designer babies" saying that he is opposed to embryonic sex selection and thinks parents have a "right" to screen embryos "only for serious diseases." [The Times 31 July]

A report by the National Health Service Quality Improvement Scotland notes that at least five Scottish health boards are failing to perform abortions within the recommended waiting time limit of three weeks from referral. The longest wait was more than five weeks. Mr John Sweeny, SPUC Scotland education officer said "Such decisions have often been made in haste. For counselling and information to be comprehensive a woman needs time to think about the life-changing decision she may be making." [Scotland on Sunday 30 July]

Miss Maureen Messent, who used her column in the Birmingham Mail to claim that she helped her terminally ill great aunt to die, has been charged with wasting police time. She claimed she had given Miss Eileen O'Sullivan a fatal overdose of morphine 40 years ago, but police concluded that Miss O'Sullivan died of natural causes. [The Times 29 July 2006]

The family of Mrs Syeda Ahsan, who is in a persistent non-responsive state,,have won their battle to have her cared for at home so that she can receive the spiritual benefits of prayer. The family are Muslims. Mrs. Ahsan has been unconscious since she had two heart attacks after a hysterectomy in 2001. She is expected to live for another six years. The hospital admitted liability, but believed she should be cared for at a nursing home, at a cost of £178,919 a year. Mr. Manazir Ahsan, her husband, believed his wife should be at home with her family, where her 24 hour home care will cost £300,660 a year. The family are delighted at the ruling. [The Times 29 July]

David P. Barash, professor of psychology at the University of Washington says work should begin towards creating a race of human/chimpanzee hybrids, but admits he only wants this because it would offend Christians. He admits to a hatred of "know-nothing anti-evolutionism" and "religious fundamentalists" who hold human life to be sacred, and says "a powerful dose of biological reality would be healthy indeed." [Life Site News 28 July]

The northern Indian state of Hayana has reversed a law barring people with more than two children from running for political office or serving as politicians. The state authorities have admitted that the policy has had "disastrous" social consequences, with couples aborting third babies, giving babies up for adoption or failing to register a child's birth. An effort to overturn the policy failed in 2004 when the Supreme Court said it was "in the national interest" to limit population growth, which it said "posed a menace to be checked." Two other Indian states have already dropped a similar policy. [Life Site News 29 July]

A preliminary report from the Institute of Medicine, an organisation within the US National Academies of Science lists "first trimester abortion" among the risk factors for premature birth, which is associated with cerebral palsy for the child and breast cancer for the woman. The Institute noted that premature birth cost America $26.2bn in 2005. [Life Site News 28 July]

A top provincial court in Argentina will decide within a few days whether to allow a 19 year old women with a learning disability, who is four months pregnant following rape, to have an abortion. Argentina's health minister and its most powerful governor back her family's request to allow the abortion, but two lower tribunals have denied the request, arguing that the constitutional mandate to protect children's rights trumps criminal law. The Governor of Buenos Aires, Felipe Sola, is quoted: "We are not in a theocracy. It is within this disabled rape victim's rights to abort." [Washington Post 28 July]

Police homicide detectives in Hialeah, Florida, are investigating the claim that a baby was born alive in an abortion clinic at about 22 weeks gestation. The baby's body was found in biohazard bag, and detectives believe the clinic tampered with the evidence. The baby's mother had attended the clinic for an abortion the previous day and returned to the clinic complaining of severe pain. The clinic has been closed while the investigation continues. [cbs4 29 July]

A prayer campaign has been launched for Mrs Laura Figeroa, 39, a mother in Argentina who has terminal cancer, but refused to have an abortion which might save her life. She could have had a legal abortion so that she could then have chemotherapy but refused to take the life of her son, Pedro, who was born at 27 weeks. He is now in intensive care and has kidney and heart problems. She said she decided against abortion to show her love "to this child that is coming in the same way that I have shown it [my love] to the other children I have. I want my child to know that I love him and that I will always love him; that I will give my life for him if necessary." She hoped her story would inspire people to value life and oppose abortion, which she called "an abominable crime." [Life News 30 July]

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