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Defending life
from conception to natural death


House of Lords approves embryology bill

7 February 2008

The House of Lords approved the Human Fertilisation and Embryology bill without accepting any substantial restraining amendments. An attempt by Baroness Williams of Crosby to ensure that embryos could only be used for research when no alternative exists was rejected. The Lords failed to divide on the bill, giving it an unopposed third reading. The bill will now go to the House of Commons. [SPUC director's blog, 4 February, and Official Report, 4 February] SPUC will campaign to expose the evils contained in the bill and urge people to lobby their MPs to vote against it. [SPUC, 4 February] In response to concerns expressed during the debate, the government has introduced amendments that would require clinics to tell parents of the importance of telling children if they were conceived using donor gametes. The requirement to consider the child's need for a father is expected to be removed. [Sun, 4 February]

Scientists in Newcastle upon Tyne, England, claim to have produced human embryos each containing DNA from two women and one man. The scientists say they will be able to eradicate a range of hereditary diseases involving mitochondrial DNA. The technique entails creating an embryo with mitochondrial disease and then transferring the nucleus to an egg cell from a different mother to create an embryo with different, disease-free mitochondria. Mitochondria contain DNA, but are not part of the nucleus. Professor Doug Turnbull, who leads the team at the city's university, hopes that Britain's first genetically modified babies might be born within three years. [Telegraph, 5 February]

The Pope has said that everyone has a duty to protect human life, according to his or her situation. Benedict XVI spoke on the theme of "serving life" to thousands of pilgrims gathered for the noon Angelus on Sunday, which was being celebrated in Italy as a Day of Life. [LifeSite, 4 February]

Italian Gynaecologists at Rome's leading medical schools have issued a call for doctors to resuscitate very premature babies, including those who survive attempted abortions. The document was published by the medical faculties of Rome's La Sapienza and Tor Vergata universities and the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart on the eve of the Day of Life organised by the Italian bishops' conference. Ms Livia Turco, the health minister, who opposes any restriction to Italy's abortion law, was said to be outraged at the proposal, saying that it was cruel to go against the will of the mother. [LifeSite, 4 February]

A study published in the Archives of Psychiatry reports that babies whose mothers suffer severe stress such as bereavement during the first three months of pregnancy increase their risk of developing schizophrenia later in life by 67%. Professor Philip Baker said the absolute risk was still small, but said that risks to babies in the early stages of pregnancy had been neglected. The study was funded by the Tommy's baby charity, and based at its Manchester research centre. [Daily Mail, 5 February]

A baby born 16 weeks premature will celebrate her first birthday tomorrow. Charlie Jo Glover weighed only 1lb 4 oz when she was delivered by emergency caesarean at the Royal Bolton Hospital, England, on 6 February last year. Her parents, Michael Glover and Janice Snalam, from Wigan, were told that she had a 50% chance of being severely disabled, but after tests, she has been given the all-clear. [Daily Mail, 4 February]

It has been suggested that there is so much advice given about diet during pregnancy, that many women are being confused. Ms Janet Pollard, who leads a regional children's service in the UK national health service, says that pregnant women should seek advice from their midwives or obstetricians, rather than relying on reports in the media. [Netdoctor, 4 February]
The Ninth US Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that Arizona state infringed free-speech rights by refusing to issue licence-plates for cars with the motto "Choose Life". When Life Coalition, which cares for women in crisis pregnancies, made its application in 2002, it was turned down; a decision that was upheld by the federal court. Ruling in favour of Life Coalition, Judge Richard Tallman said that messages on number plates were private not public speech. [CNA on EWTN, 2 February]

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