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HFEA approves plans to create human-animal hybrid embryos

5 September 2007

The UK's Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority has approved plans to create human-animal hybrid embryos for research. [BBC, 5 September] Anthony Ozimic, SPUC's political secretary, said: "This is not just a case of the 'yuk' factor. There are grave ethical and moral objections to this research. Hybrids are being promoted by those with interests in getting money from the government's stem cell research fund. Patients with degenerative diseases are again being exploited. This is a re-run of 1990, when parents of cystic fibrosis children, Parkinson's patients and others were led to believe that creating and killing human embryos was the only hope for treating such conditions. That was a lie and, 17 years on, the same thing is happening again. The HFEA's decision may be overtaken by the draft Human Tissue and Embryos bill, government legislation which seeks to legitimise and extend these practices." SPUC has issued more than half a million leaflets which oppose the bill, and has published a briefing on it. [SPUC, 5 September]

A poll in Britain has revealed that almost three quarters of women are afraid that their lifestyle has reduced their fertility. More than 60% said that they wished they had not waited until their 30s to start trying to conceive. Prof Bill Ledger, a fertility expert from Sheffield University, said: "Human biology says that the best age for a woman to have children is 20 to 35." Other reasons for reduced fertility reportedly include obesity, smoking and sexually transmitted diseases. He also claims that IVF treatment is too expensive, and has become "the preserve of the well off." [Telegraph, 5 September]

The Reuters agency has published claims about illegal abortions in the Philippines, citing the International Planned Parenthood Federation's propaganda wing, the Guttmacher Institute, as an information source. The Reuters story says that around half a million illegal abortions are performed every year. The story also claims that more than 800 or more women die each year from induced abortions. Current government policy in the predominantly Catholic country is advocacy of natural family planning, but some experts claim that the high number of backstreet abortions is due to limited access to artificial contraceptives. Dr Alberto Romualdez, a former health secretary, said: "Supplies (of contraceptives) have already run out in many towns and cities so the situation is rather desperate." [Reuters, 5 September] Abortion-promoters frequently make assertions about huge numbers of illegal abortions in places where they are trying to have abortion legalised.

The Catholic Church in Italy has reignited the debate over Italy's abortion law after a woman had her unaffected twin aborted instead of a sibling with Down's syndrome. Cardinal Camillo Ruini, former head of the country's bishops' conference and the pope's vicar for Rome, said that the time had come to re-examine the abortion law in the light of new medical advances. Ms Livia Turco, health minister, dismissed the proposals, claiming that the number of abortions had declined by 45%. [International Herald Tribune, 4 September]

An American poll reveals that three out of four Republican supporters are opposed to abortion yet many support Mr Rudy Giuliani for president despite pro-abortion views. Mr Giuliani is leading the polls over his fellow Republican candidates by a margin of between 17% and 27%. While most voters agreed that his pro-abortion views were out of the mainstream of the party, 42% said he had the best chance of beating Mrs Hillary Clinton. [LifeNews, 5 September]

Canadian Catholics are looking for direction from their bishops over the response to Amnesty International's decision to promote abortion. Last year, the Canadian bishops' conference issued a statement condemning the organisation's new position on abortion but has not yet released a statement on how local groups should act. Mr John Stadnyk, director of education with Huron-Superior Catholic District School Board, said: "What we're waiting for is some direction from the Catholic bishops on this." The Canadian bishops' conference meets next month. [LifeNews, 4 September]

Breastfeeding mothers who smoke may be depriving their babies of sleep. Babies whose mothers smoked before feeding them napped for 20 minutes less than those whose mothers did not smoke. Dr Julie Mennella of the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia said: "The greater the dose of nicotine in their milk, the greater the disruption of sleep." She added that there was little information as to why this correlation occurred, and said that breastfeeding while smoking was still better than not breastfeeding. [Reuters, 4 September]

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