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Defending life
from conception to natural death


Court: Unborn baby 'is not a person until the mother goes into labour'

20 July 2007

An unborn baby is not a human person until the mother goes into labour, South Korea's highest court has ruled. The ruling is based on a case in 2001 in which a 37-year-old pregnant woman gave birth to a stillborn baby two weeks overdue. It was delivered by Caesarean section after the midwife advised her to wait past the anticipated delivery date. The midwife was charged with "negligent homicide" but the supreme court ruled that the child was separate from the mother's body. Fr Lee Dong-ik, professor of medicine at the Catholic University of Korea, called it an "extremely shocking and deplorable verdict", adding that no other country "has such a definitive ruling that an unborn baby is not a human being". [LifeSite, 13 July]

Private IVF clinics in the UK are offering infertile couples unproven and expensive treatments because they are so desperate for business, one of Britain's leading foetal medicine experts has claimed. Professor Charles Rodeck, of University College Hospital, London, told the Observer newspaper: "The commercial world of IVF provision is a very competitive one, so some clinics try to keep a step ahead by offering more interventions than their competitors, even if they know those procedures might not work." [The Observer, 15 July]

All pregnant women in India should have to register with the government and seek its permission if they want an abortion, a government minister has said. Renuka Chowdhury, women and child development minister, says the proposal is aimed at stopping the selective abortion of unwanted girls. A register of pregnancies would help the government crack down on the practice of foeticide which is prevalent in northern India, Ms Chowdhury said. Both prenatal sex determination and selective abortion are banned in the country although many more boys than girls are born. [BBC Online, 13 July]

The National Ethics Council of Germany has voted narrowly in favour of changing the law to make embryonic stem cell research easier. The body, which advises the German government, said 14 of its 24 members voted in favour of abolishing a previously imposed cut-off date of January 2001 for such research. The German Catholic bishops' conference said: "We must not subordinate the protection of life to the freedom of research." Reuters reported that genetic research was a sensitive subject in the country because of Nazi experiments with creating a master race. [Reuters UK, 16 July]

US-funded organisations in league with the United Nations Population Fund are reportedly putting pressure on the Peruvian government and medical establishment to legalise abortion. Having been unsuccessful in pushing for abortion on demand in Peru's congress, these groups are trying to redefine the health in existing laws to include the psychological health of the mother, which would then permit abortion to avoid emotional suffering. This strategy is being used by the abortion lobby throughout Latin America, the Population Research Institute claims. [Lifesite, 16 July]

The English high court has upheld a school's decision to forbid a 16-year-old student from wearing a ring, which symbolises a commitment to chastity, to lessons. Ms Lydia Playfoot, who has attended a school in West Sussex, said: "I was concerned at the number of teenagers who were catching sexually transmitted diseases, getting pregnant and/or having abortions. The Government's sex education programme is not working, and the pressure on young people to 'give in' to sex continues to increase." [Sun, 16 July]

A medical expert has argued that planned breech births could be offered as an alternative to elective caesarean sections where facilities are adequate. In the UK 11% of caesareans are performed due to breech presentation, and research has found that this is the safest option for most women. In an article in The Obstetrician & Gynaecologist, Professor Basil van Iddekinge, of Johannesburg Hospital and University of Witwatersrand, South Africa, sets out the instances when breech births could be offered instead. [Channel 4, 18 July]

IVF children appear to be slightly taller than those naturally conceived, a study in New Zealand has concluded. Investigators at the University of Auckland recruited healthy children aged four years to 10 years who were born at full term. Children born through IVF were just over an inch taller than their peers. [Reuters UK, 13 July]

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