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Defending life from the moment of conception

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IVF babies 'have higher brain defect risk'

10 March 2006

A study carried out by consultants at the Rotunda Hospital, Dublin, Ireland and the Crumlin children's hospital, Ireland has found that children conceived through IVF are at higher risk from two brain defects, the Times reports. Cathy Allen and Professor William Reardon found that IVF children are three times as likely to suffer from Weidemann-Beckwith's Syndrome and Angelman's Syndrome. The researchers say that the low overall incidence of these conditions and the small number of IVF children they were able to examine mean that further investigation is needed to determine the extent and cause of the link between these brain defects and IVF. [The Times, 5 March]

The Australian government is to devote Aus$51 million over the next four years to make free pregnancy counselling widely available. It is proposed to set up a National Pregnancy Support Helpline which will give women information on "a full range of services and organisations available to support pregnant women". The counselling will be provided by professional counsellors who do not have financial links to abortion providers, and women will be free to decide which organisations they want further assistance from. [Medical News Today, 6 March]

A woman who founded a pro-life pregnancy help centre in South Dakota has spoken of the harassment she receives from pro-abortion opponents. Leslie Unruh, of the Alpha Center in Sioux Falls, S.D., said she had received hate-mail, threatening phone calls and coat-hangers in the post from opponents who say South Dakota's new law against abortion will lead to women dying from illegal abortions. The new law, signed last Monday by Mike Rounds, the state governor, is opposed by the new Planned Parenthood president, Cecile Richards, who vowed to "use all legal options available to prevent this law from taking effect." [AgapePress, 7 March]

A nurse in Punjab, Pakistan alleges she was raped by three men after she refused to carry out abortions. Rubina Kousar said "I was constantly put under pressure over the course of six months to carry out illegal abortions on two women but I refused. And so revenge was taken... They have threatened my family with dire consequences if we do not settle this. But this is not the past when we can get pushed around. God will give me the courage to fight them". Abortion is only legal in Pakistan in cases where the mother's life is at risk. [, 5 March]

Some Australian couples are travelling to the United States for IVF treatment in order to select the sex of their baby. A clinic in California operates a technique, entailing embryo cell removal, to screen embryos for their gender prior to implantation. Sex selection is prohibited in Australia. [, 5 March]

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