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Defending life from the moment of conception

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Manufacturers admit Plan B is abortifacient

4 January 2007

Manufacturers of the birth control drug Plan B have admitted that it can cause abortion. Schering [NZ] Ltd, which produces the drug for sale in New Zealand, has produced a pamphlet about Plan B, which states that one of the ways in which the drug works is by "Stopping a fertilized egg from attaching itself to the lining of the uterus." Ken Orr, spokesman for Right to Life New Zealand, said: "It is now our intention to again take this issue up with our Minister of Health seeking to have this drug named correctly as an abortifacient and not incorrectly as a contraceptive." [Life Site, 3 January]

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists has begun to recommend that all pregnant women be offered screening tests for Down's syndrome, regardless of their age. Previously, the tests were only offered to women aged 35 and older because it was thought that older women were at a higher risk of having a baby with Down's syndrome. The increase of risk is now considered to be so gradual that an age limit is too arbitrary. Dr James Goldberg of San Francisco Perinatal Associates said: "It's clear there's no magic jump at 35. We've done away with age 35 because the screening tests have gotten much better." [CNN, 1 January] The vast majority of babies in Western countries diagnosed with Down's Syndrome are aborted.

Democrats with an agenda of promoting embryonic stem cell research are due to take control of the US Congress today. The issue looks likely to be a battleground between Democrats and Republicans, as its supporters seek to overturn President Bush's restrictions. [Reuters, 4 January] Nancy Pelosi, the incoming Speaker of the House of Representatives, claims to be a Catholic but supports abortion. Her planned celebratory tour, including high profile visits to churches in Baltimore and Washington, DC, has been criticised by American pro-life groups. Judie Brown, president of American Life League, said: "It is unconscionable for Rep. Pelosi to claim that the Catholic faith is an important part of her life while she relentlessly, categorically denies the teachings of the Church by supporting the killing of children through abortion." [EWTN News, 3 January]

A common operation on the womb increases the risk of giving birth prematurely, according to Australian scientists. Women who have abnormal cervical cells usually have an operation to remove them using a variety of methods including two called cone biopsy and loop diathermy. Researchers from Melbourne University and Royal Women's Hospital in Australia found that having abnormal cervical cells in the first place increases the risk of a premature birth but that undergoing these two methods heightens the risk even further. Phil Steer, editor of the British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology in which the research was published, said: "Women need to know about the risks involved and discuss alternative treatments with their gynaecologist, before going ahead with a procedure that increases the risk of pre-term birth." [BBC News, 3 January]

The chief executive of the Medical Research Council has written in a British newspaper saying that he expects embryonic stem cell research to become more widespread and accepted in 2007. Writing in the Independent, Colin Blakemore said: "Morality is, for all but the most stubbornly impervious to practical evidence, a matter of utilitarian dialectic. Yesterday's moral outrage has a way of becoming today's necessary evil and tomorrow's common good ... what will cause a swing of attitude is the turning point of a mathematical function; in this case the shifting ratio of perceived benefit to theoretical cost ... I predict that the immorality of not helping the undeniably living sick will soon outweigh the good of protecting the never to be born." [The Independent, 4 January]

Undernourished women who take multivitamins in pregnancy can reduce the risk of their baby being born with a low weight, according to Indian scientists. Researchers from University College of Medical Sciences in Delhi studied 200 women during pregnancy who were either underweight or had a low haemoglobin level. They found that children of mothers who took vitamin and mineral supplements were 98 grams heavier and 8 centimetres longer at birth. [Medical News Today, 3 January]

Adult stem cells from extracted wisdom teeth have successfully regenerated teeth in pigs, according to a recent study by American scientists. Dr. Songtao Shi from the University of Southern California School of Dentistry in Los Angeles said: "In this study, we use stem cell technology to generate 'a bio-root and periodontal tissue' along with dental clinical porcelain crown technique to restore tooth function in swine. This is a hybridized approach (stem cell and clinical technologies) leading to reconstruction of functional tooth in an animal model similar to human." The researchers plan to test their technique on humans in the next few years. [Reuters, 3 January]

The Catholic TV station EWTN (Eternal Word Television Network) is scheduling a variety of pro-life programmes on January 22 to mark the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision which made abortion a constitutional right in America. There will be several documentaries and discussion programmes as well as live coverage of pro-life rallies, marches and Masses. [EWTN News, 4 January]

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