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Defending life from the moment of conception

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Doctor jailed for offering sex-selective abortion

30 March 2006

An Indian doctor and his assistant have been jailed for offering to abort an unborn girl on the basis that she was female. Dr Anil Sabhani and his technician Katar Singh were captured on video telling a woman that her baby was a girl and saying that this could be "taken care of". The men were caught in a sting operation carried out by a team of government officials, who sent three pregnant women to his clinic in Fariabad on the edge of Delhi. The use of technology to determine the sex of an unborn child and abortion on the grounds of gender are illegal but continue to be widespread practice in India. This is the first time that doctors convicted of it have been given a jail sentence. [The Times, 30 March]

Abortion has become a major issue in the forthcoming general election in Italy. Both the Italian government and the opposition are focussing on ethics and religion in the lead up to the general election on the 9th and 10th of April. Rocco Buttiglione, a top government minister known for his opposition to abortion, said in a television documentary on the abortion debate, "Politicians should not always tell people what they want to hear, but what they think is true." [BBC News, 29 March]

Two Ukrainian doctors, who were forced to flee their country in 2004 after exposing systematic medical trafficking in the bodies of aborted unborn children, are seeking asylum in Ireland. Vadym Lazaryev and Vladymyr Ischenko were part of a team supported by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, which became concerned about allegations of trafficking of babies for adoption and of aborted or premature babies for "scientific" purposes. They at first received support from the Ukrainian government, but when they revealed government sanction of the trafficking and the involvement of leading doctors, they were told to stop the investigation. They fled the country after an attempt was made on their lives but have been refused asylum in Ireland, and are appealing today (30 March) in Dublin against this verdict. [ELN Special report 28 March]

People who spend thousands of pounds on IVF treatment are vulnerable to exploitation, according to Debora Spar of Harvard Business School. Professor Spar, who has written a book on the IVF market in America called "The Baby Business" and is to address the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority on the subject, said that patients need to "get rid of sentimentality" and see themselves as consumers in an industry that now makes £500 billion a year. She said, "We have to acknowledge that we have created a baby business, to move away from emotion and towards thinking rationally. It sounds cold-hearted, but it's actually more humane for the patients to see the commercial elements of the transaction, rather than to see it purely in emotional terms." [The Times, 29 March]

It can be safe for women with cystic fibrosis to become pregnant, according to a study published in an American medical journal. Researchers from the University of Rochester School of Nursing in New York investigated 216 women with cystic fibrosis and found that lung conditions among those who were pregnant and those who were not were very similar. Dr Ann H. McMullen, who led the research, said, "Improvements in the health and survival of patients with CF have led to increasingly normal lifestyles, including successful pregnancies in women with CF." [Reuters, 29 March]

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