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Defending life from the moment of conception

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UK couple went to Belgium to screen their unborn child for disability

17 May 2006

A British couple anxious to avoid the birth of a second disabled child travelled to Belgium to obtain pre-implantation genetic diagnosis, the Telegraph reports. Mandy and Philip Baum of Twickenham have one healthy son, and one who suffers from a severe condition known as tuberous sclerosis. With a 50% chance of a third child suffering from the disease, they enquired about screening embryos and selecting a healthy one, but were told it "would have tied up one scientist for a year" to customise the procedure due to the rareness of tuberous sclerosis. Ann Hunt, head of research at the Tuberous Sclerosis Association is quoted warmly approving of the use of PGD to eliminate TS embryos. [The Telegraph, 17 May]

A spokesman for the Catholic church in Scotland has said that the pregnancy of an 11 year old girl demonstrates that government sex education policies have failed. "Apart from anything else, what has happened is illegal as the girl is under age... If a neighbourhood has problems with joyriders, no one suggests that what the offenders need are faster cars. You get them out of the cars and educate them about... their behaviour," the spokesman said. He said calls for more sex education in schools were "completely off mark." The girl told a newspaper she is "really excited" to be having a child. [The Universe, 17 May]

The New Zealand branch of the prominent human rights organisation Amnesty International voted in favour of a policy of advocating abortion earlier this month. New Zealand Right to Life condemned Amnesty's decision "to actively fight to deny the human rights of unborn children and their inalienable right to life". Amnesty International UK has already endorsed the policy. Amnesty International as a whole is expected to decide on the issue in 2007. [LifeSite, 16 May]

Pope Benedict XVI sent a message to the world congress of the International Federation of Catholic Medical Associations at a meeting in Barcelona which closed on Sunday. The message, sent via Cardinal Sodano, urges Catholic doctors "to take care, above all, of those who are not yet capable of defending themselves, as in the case of unborn children, or those who can no longer look after themselves, such as the elderly and terminally ill", in keeping with "the lofty dignity of the human person". [ZENIT, 16 May]

A Singapore newspaper has published a report on a doctor who allegedly carries out abortions illegally. Abortion is legal in Singapore, but regulations require a 48 hour waiting period and counselling as well as formal registration. Singapore's New Paper gives an account of a seedy clinic offering cut price abortions. However, neither the clinic, the doctor involved nor the woman involved is identified in the report. [Electric New Paper, 17 May]

A study carried out at the John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, USA, suggests that moderate stress during pregnancy may improve the baby's development. Researchers found that the children of mothers who experienced stress were more developed at age two than those whose mothers were not stressed. This tendency may be because cortisol, a hormone released during stress, helps the prenatal development of organs, but Professor Janet DiPietro said it could also be because the women with moderate stress levels were women who 'challenge themselves' and 'challenge' their children after birth, accelerating their development. [BBC Health, 17 May]

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