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Defending life from the moment of conception

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New ethical code for scientists "confused and inadequate"

13 September 2007

The chief scientific advisor to the British government has set out a universal ethical code for scientists, which includes a call to minimise the impacts of research on people. Professor Sir David King has outlined a seven point code, which is being called science's equivalent of the Hippocratic Oath. Professor King said: "We believe if every scientist followed the code, we would improve the quality of science and remove many of the concerns society has about research." [BBC, 12 September] Anthony Ozimic, SPUC political secretary, commented: "This code seems confused and inadequate. Simply assenting to "minimise impacts on people, animals and the environment" may not prevent some scientists promoting abortion, destructive embryo research and other anti-life practices on spurious grounds. Some might read this as equating people to animals or the environment. The ethical weakness of this code suggests that some scientists may have forgotten the part science played in the last century in the abuse and deaths of vast numbers of innocent people deemed to be sub-human."

The British government is to fund a scheme in which women who donate their eggs for research are to be offered cut-price fertility treatment. A course of IVF costs around £1500 of which the Medical Research Council will pay half, in return for half the eggs that are produced. Josephine Quintavalle of Comment on Reproductive Ethics said: "This is exploitation of those who will be enticed into taking part because of financial inducements. It's sheer hypocrisy when the [Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority] says no money should exchange hands for fertility treatment. It also creates the circumstances where the tendency would be to over-stimulate women to produce more eggs, when targeted treatment using less stimulation is becoming the gold standard." [Daily Mail, 12 September]

A British newspaper has published an article in which a number of women who have had an abortion describe their experiences. Four of the women interviewed in the Daily Mail said they regretted having aborted their child and call for a lower time limit on abortion, while two maintained they had no regrets. Sue Hulbert, one of the women interviewed, said: "Not a day goes by ... when I don't regret my abortion. ... At all stages of pregnancy it is a human life - but at 24 weeks it can survive out of the womb." [Daily Mail, 12 September]

A breakthrough in identifying stem cells in womb tissue could lead to treatments for gynaecological conditions, according to Australian scientists. Researchers from Monash University, Victoria, believe they have found a technique to isolate stem cells from the lining of the uterus which could be used for tissue engineering and treatment for common conditions such as endometriosis and pelvic floor prolapse. [PA on Channel 4, 13 September]

A British woman and her unborn baby were saved after she was treated with a pioneering form of blood transfusion. Samantha Manning, 24, lost two litres of blood during the caesarean birth of her daughter, Venice, but did not want a traditional blood transfusion as she had an extreme fear of infection. Doctors at Coventry's University Hospital treated her instead with "cell salvage", a procedure which involves collecting the patient's blood, filtering it and transfusing it back into the patient. [icCoventry, 12 September]

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