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Defending life from the moment of conception

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Twins born despite selective abortion attempt

7 November 2007

A pair of twins was born at Birmingham Women's Hospital, UK, despite attempts to abort one of them. Ms Rebecca Jones, 35, was told that one of her twins was not growing and would endanger the life of the other, so she accepted medical advice to end Gabriel's life. An attempt to sever his umbilical cord failed, and doctors then cut placenta serving the twins in half. But instead of dying as expected after this procedure, Gabriel started to grow, and He and twin Ieuan were delivered by caesarean section at 31 weeks. They are now seven months old and need no further treatment. [BBC, 5 November]

Dr Hamish Meldrum, chairman of the Council of The British Medical Association (BMA) has said the BMA supports the government's proposed Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill. Dr Meldrum said they looked forward to working with ministers to reform the regulation of human embryology. [eGov monitor, 6 November] The bill featured in yesterday's announcement of the legislative programme (Queen's speech) and is a revised version of the Human Tissue and Embryos Bill.

The Uruguayan senate yesterday approved, by 18 votes to 13, a measure to expand access to abortion. The bill would create an entitlement to abortion during the first three months for any reason, and would allow abortion until birth in cases of developmental anomaly or danger to the mother's life. Archbishop Cotugno of Montevideo deplored the manipulation of procedures that allowed a bill, which failed three weeks ago, to be reintroduced so soon. Mr Tabaré Vázquez, the country's president and an obstetrician, has promised to veto any attempt to decriminalise abortion. [LifeSite, 6 November]

A Nicaraguan student has died, reportedly because surgery for an ectopic pregnancy was delayed. It has been suggested that doctors were afraid to operate for the condition on account of the total ban on abortion introduced in Nicaragua last November. Dr Walter Mendiata, president of Nicaragua's Association of Gynaecologists and a supporter of the ban, said that surgery for ectopic pregnancy was not the same as abortion. The health ministry has reported 84 deaths of pregnant women so far this year, compared with 89 for all of last year and 88 the year before. [Guardian, 5 November]

Drinking alcohol during pregnancy is associated with behavioural problems in children according to a research study from Indiana University. The study, published in the Archives of General Psychiatry, analysed how frequently women drank rather than how much. [Daily Mail, 6 November]

Mr Mitt Romney, who is seeking the Republican nomination for the US presidential election, is in favour of family planning clinics being required to give information on adoption. Speaking yesterday at a Christian adoption agency in South Carolina, he also supported adoption tax credit, to offset the costs of adopting, and allowing states to use federal funds to promote adoption as well as fostering. Mr Romney was an abortion supporter in 2002, but changed his mind in 2004 after a meeting with a Harvard stem-cell researcher. [AP on Guardian, 7 November]

Couples in Scotland seeking IVF with donated gametes are being told they may have to wait up to three years because of a shortage of donors. Dr Mark Hamilton, consultant at the Aberdeen Fertility Clinic, said that there was no shortage before the right to anonymity was abolished. The clinic now has a waiting list of nine months for sperm donations and two years for eggs. [Scotsman, 7 November]

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists is urging pregnant women to be vaccinated against influenza as part their pre-natal care. The disease can be dangerous for both mother and baby, and the drugs used to treat it have not been tested for use in pregnancy. Vaccination provides immunity for the baby as well. It cannot be given to [born] infants under six months old. [Reuters, 6 November]

The US National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy has commissioned a review of sex education studies by sex education analyst Douglas Kirby, a senior research scientist at ETR Associates, a health education body. The sponsors commended Mr Kirby for his thorough and even-handed research, while acknowledging that ETR developed and marketed several of the curricula reviewed in the study. Mr Kirby also wrote several of the studies reviewed in the report. [AP on Guardian, 7 November]

The Protestant first minister of Northern Ireland has praised a Catholic former member of the European parliament in the Republic of Ireland for her stance against abortion. Rev Ian Paisley MP MLA was speaking at the launch of the autobiography of Mrs Rosemary Scallon, who also performed as a popular singer using Dana as her stage-name. [Irish Times, 7 November]

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