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Defending life from the moment of conception

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Expert warns about embryo bill dangers

21 December 2007

Dr David King of the campaign group Human Genetics Alert has accused the Government of failing to appreciate the dangers inherent in the Human Fertilisation and Embryology bill. In a letter to the British public health minister Dawn Primarolo he said "Genetic modification degrades human subjects into objects, to be designed according to the parents' whim." Paul Tully, general secretary of SPUC noted that the legislation could "open a Pandora's box" and said that embryo destruction is "a denial of the right to life and human dignity." [Daily Mail, 21 December]

The British Fertility Society (BFS) is to advise its members not to offer pre-implantation genetic screening (PGS), a method of choosing embryos with the best chance of developing normally by screening for genetic disabling conditions. The BFS says there is no evidence that PGS works and it could damage patients' chances of achieving a pregnancy. Professor Richard Anderson of the University of Edinburgh, said "Patients should be informed that there is no robust evidence that PGS for advanced maternal age improves live birthrate. Indeed ... the live birthrate may be significantly reduced following PGS." [Times, 21 December]

Lisa Allinson, 34, who was left in a coma after she suffered pre-eclampsia which caused a massive stroke, woke from the coma after six weeks to be told she had become a mother. After six months in hospital, she has now been allowed home to celebrate her baby's first Christmas. [Telegraph, 21 December]

Nicola Shearer, 31, who kept an online diary blog of her pregnancy, died in hospital of complications shortly after giving birth to a baby boy. The baby is well and is expected to go home soon. An investigation has been launched into her death. [Metro, 21 December]

Cardinal Joseph Zen, bishop of Hong Kong, has called on society to promote families as children's first educators in the area of sexuality. In a pastoral letter for Christmas Cardinal Zen responded to a push towards giving information about contraception to young people and proposing "timely abortion" as the solution to unplanned pregnancy. His letter came in response to a Family Planning Association of Hong Kong poll showing 50% of higher secondary students said premarital sex is OK and 25% were pro abortion. [Zenit, 20 December]

A study by the University of Vermont has shown that children whose parents have completed a programme to improve their communication skills with their children are significantly less likely to have or plan to have sexual intercourse within the next year. Dr. Rex Forehand said "It's not only important for parents to communicate with their children about sex; it's important how they do it." [similar source on Reuters, 20 December]

Following investigations that have uncovered illegal abortions and "morbid practices" in several clinics in Madrid and Barcelona in Spain, the Spanish Socialist Party has decided to consider restrictions on abortion. The Spanish President, Jose Luis Rodriquez Zapatero has called on the party to "reflect" on current laws on abortion to decide whether any limits might be made on time limits and grounds for abortion. [Catholic News Agency, 20 December]

SPUC has today moved into its new headquarters in south London. Details are given on certain versions of this email, as well as on the society's website.

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