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Defending life from the moment of conception

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NHS 'ignoring IVF guidelines'

8 August 2007

The British state health service is reportedly not following official guidance for the provision of IVF treatment. A government survey has found that, despite recommendations by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, fewer than half of health service providers fund the freezing of spare embryos created during treatment for later implantation. Some fail to provide IVF treatment at all. This has led to calls by organisations such as Infertility Network UK, which presses for greater access to IVF, for the government to create national rules. [BBC, 6 August]

More than 100 members of the US House of Representatives have signed the Unborn Child Pain Awareness Act, introduced by Representative Chris Smith last week. The bill would require abortion providers to inform women of the pain experienced by the unborn child during an abortion and to offer the option of anaesthesia for the baby prior to the abortion being carried out. The medical evidence that unborn children experience pain from at least 20 weeks' gestation is well documented and a number of US states have passed similar acts. [Catholic News Agency, 6 August]

Australia's Catholic bishops have issued a pre-election statement, urging voters to consider pro-life and other social justice issues. The statement speaks of the need to work with "all sides of politics to offer practical support and alternatives to women facing an unexpected pregnancy". It continues: "All life is to be respected, particularly the most vulnerable, including the unborn, the sick and elderly, people with disability, and communities ravaged by poverty, abuse, famine or war." [Cathnews, 7 August]

Mr Rudy Giuliani, a potential US presidential candidate, has refused to answer the question of whether he is a "traditional practising Roman Catholic" and the impact his faith would have on issues such as abortion, should he come to power. Mr Giuliani is reported to be alone among his Republican competitors in favouring abortion rights. [AP on Guardian, 7th August]

A study by the University of Texas suggests that obesity in pregnant mothers might hinder their unborn children's development. The survey revealed that babies of obese mothers were more likely to suffer from a number of developmental anomalies such as spina bifida, heart defects, holes in their diaphragm and gastroschisis, where organs protrude through the abdominal wall. Although it is unknown precisely why this is the case, it is suggested that badly controlled blood sugar levels might be to blame. The statistics of some 10,200 women who had had children with birth defects were compared with the statistics of some 4,000 women whose children were born without such problems. [Telegraph, 8 August]

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