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Defending life from the moment of conception

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Birmingham hospital leading the way in pre-birth life-saving treatment

14 March 2006

A Birmingham hospital has become a pioneer in treating life-threatening conditions prior to birth. Mark Kilby, professor in maternal and foetal medicine at Birmingham Women's Hospital, has developed a treatment for twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome (TTTS) which uses laser and keyhole surgery to seal shared blood-vessels in the afterbirth. TTTS can lead to one twin being 'drained' by the other. Professor Kilby is also carrying out trials of a treatment for congenital urethral obstructions in unborn baby boys, a condition often leading to kidney failure at birth. [Birmingham Post, 14 March]

The European Union has failed to agree on a common policy for the funding of research using human embryonic stem cells. Some countries, such as Austria which currently holds the EU presidency, ban the practice, while other allow it. 15 out of 25 member states voted to continue the current system, by which applications are considered case-by-case. Each applicant must prove that, for example, the proposed research could not be carried out using adult stem cells. Human cloning, including so-called therapeutic cloning, is banned by the EU. [Reuters, 13 March]

The US Conference of Catholic Bishops has issued a 'Statement on Responsibilities of Catholics in Public Life' in which Catholic politicians are called on to remember the "integral unity" of the Catholic faith which "calls Catholics to defend human life and human dignity whenever they are threatened". The statement also affirms that "While it is always necessary to work to reduce the number of abortions by providing alternatives and help to vulnerable parents and children, Catholic teaching calls all Catholics to work actively to restrain, restrict and bring to an end the destruction of unborn human life". [Zenit, 12 March]

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