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Defending life from the moment of conception

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Deep concerns over MPs' report on embryo bill

1 August 2007

British parliamentarians have produced a report on the government's draft Human Tissue and Embryos Bill and SPUC is deeply concerned about it. If the committee has its way, wide areas of embryo research would be exempt from licensing and the regulatory authority would have unprecedented new power. The legislators on the group propose much more generous permission for inter-species embryo creation than is even in the draft bill, and they want broader grounds for creation of 'saviour sibling' embryos as well as a weakening of the law against so-called reproductive cloning. Paul Tully, SPUC general secretary, said: "The report is good news for ethically insensitive researchers, would-be cloners and other maverick scientists. It is bad news for IVF embryos and for the idea that law should have an ethical framework." [SPUC media release and longer critique, 1 August] The proposed law could mean that birth certificates would indicate the origins of people conceived with donor gametes. The 18 members of both parliamentary chambers heard nearly 50 witnesses and received more than 100 written submissions, including from SPUC. [Guardian, 1 August] Two members of the committee have also expressed anxiety. Mr David Burrowes MP and Ms Geraldine Smith MP write: "We are very concerned that, by facilitating 'hybrid' experiments, the Bill will inevitably have the effect of further diverting money away from adult stem cell research - which has given rise to more than 70 successful patient therapies - to embryonic research, which has produced no therapies whatsoever." The committee had lacked consensus. [letters, Daily Telegraph, 1 August] It has already been announced that the draft Bill will be introduced to Parliament during its next session later this year.

A doctor has been accused of hastening a patient's death to get his kidneys for transplant. Prosecutors in California claim that Dr Hootan Roozrokh prescribed excessive drugs for Mr Ruben Navarro, 25. The defendant's lawyer alleges a witch-hunt, and the case continues. [Times, 1 August]

Changes to the US health system could constrain treatment for the elderly. The National Right to Life Committee has written to senators suggesting that moves by the House of Representatives could prevent old people from using their own money to supplement their healthcare and, thus, have to rely on inadequate schemes. [LifeNews, 31 July]

Boys conceived using an artificial technique seem to have less testosterone. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism reports that researchers at Copenhagen University Hospital, Denmark, found abnormally low levels of the sex hormone in male infants who were the result of intracytoplasmic sperm injection. [Reuters, 31 July]

A hospital in England wrongly told a mother that her miscarried child had been cremated. The Princess Anne hospital, Southampton, has apologised to Ms Lisa Bertelsen for not telling her that her 12-week child's body was actually in its pathology department. The baby will reportedly be buried. [BBC, 31 July]

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