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Defending life from the moment of conception

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weekly update, 5 December

5 December 2007

weekly update, 5 December An amendment that would remove foetal abnormality as a ground for abortion has been tabled in the House of Lords. Baroness Masham of Ilton, who is disabled, has proposed the amendment to the British government's Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill in order to remove the discrimination that allows babies with anomalies to be aborted up to birth, whereas there is a time limit of 24 weeks for able-bodied babies. [Times, 1 December ] Peers will also consider a proposal to allow gametes grown in laboratories from stem-cells to be used in IVF. Lord Patel, former president of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, is expected to make the proposal so that, should the technology become available, it would be permitted without further legislation. [Sunday Times, 2 December ] A Northern Ireland member of the House of Lords has called on the UK government to resist any attempts to extend the 1967 Abortion Act to the province. Speaking against the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill, Baroness Paisley of St George's reminded the house of previous assurances that this change would not happen without the consent of the Northern Ireland assembly, whose cross-party opposition to abortion was made clear in a debate on 25 October. [Official Report, House of Lords, 21 November ] A study at Oxford University suggests that some Indian women in the UK are aborting baby girls. Dr Sylvie Dubuc analysed the birth rates of various ethnic groups in England and Wales, and found a significant sex imbalance in this group. She said that sex -selective abortion is the most probable explanation. The BBC has uncovered evidence that some women travel to India where the law against the practice is widely flouted. [BBC, 3 December ] Public healthcare officials in the UK have authorised prescribing the morning-after pill, which may cause abortion, for girls as young as 12 without parental knowledge, the Daily Express claims. 84% of National Health Service primary care trusts (PCTs) say that they permit secret prescription of the MAP to girls under 16 - the legal age of consent. 70% of PCTs say that they would be prepared to threaten denying pharmacists a license if they refused to comply with this policy. [Daily Express, 3 December ] Paul Tully of SPUC commented: "The determination of health service officials to pursue the failed policy of providing birth control drugs - including drugs which the manufacturers say are abortifacient - is further evidence of the contempt in which conscientious practitioners are held. If this route is pursued, only those prepared to co-operate in the surreptitious corruption of children will be allowed to run pharmacies." A British man who privately donated sperm to a lesbian couple is being made to pay child support. Mr Andy Bathie of London has no legal rights over the two children, but the government's Child Support Agency is having money removed from his wages. The couple split up and the children's mother says she was forced to tell the Agency the name the father or face loss of her (state-funded) income support. . [Daily Mail, 3 December ] Scientists have found that a gene that is known to suppress cancer also enables the embryo to implant in the womb. The findings, published in Nature, suggest that the P53 gene which helps reduce damage to DNA also regulates a factor which, if not controlled, inhibits implantation of the embryo in the womb-lining. [PA on Channel 4, 28 November ]

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