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IVF "could make infertility more widespread"

15 February 2008

Increased use of infertility treatments like IVF could make infertility more widespread according to an editorial in the BMJ. They say that couples undergoing IVF are more likely to have children with impaired fertility. Prof Jens Peter Ellekilde Bonde, from the Aarhus University in Denmark, and Prof Jørn Olsen, from the University of California, wrote in the British Medical Journal: "With the advent of assisted conception, subfertile couples may have as many children as fertile couples, so that genetic factors linked to infertility will become more prevalent in the generations to come." Alan Pacey of the British Fertility Society said the evidence for this conclusion was lacking at present. Other factors linked to decreased fertility were named as obesity, sexually transmitted diseases, and putting off having children until later in life. [PA on Evening Post, 15 February and Telegraph, 15 February]

Catholic bishops in Kentucky have urged those with pro-life views to make abortion a top priority issue when voting in the upcoming presidential elections. In a letter released to all four dioceses of Kentucky, the bishops wrote: "Our religious beliefs affirm basic human rights and obligations that are essential to the fabric of our social life. The recognition of abortion on demand as [a] legal situation that sanctions an intolerable moral evil calls for a response." They did not urge voters to vote for any particular party or candidate. [LifeNews, 14 February]

A group that gives a voice to women who have been victimised by abortion have welcomed and applauded a report which shows a direct link between having an abortion and developing post-traumatic stress disorder. Mrs Georgette Forney, co-founder of the Silent No More Awareness Campaign, said that the study published in BMC Psychiatry in July 2007 had confirmed what many group members already knew and experienced: "It's really only common sense, though, that a mother who undergoes the trauma of losing her child, whether voluntarily or under coercion from a boyfriend or parent, would suffer consequences from that trauma." [Life News, 14 February]

Sylvia Pimentel, a professor at a Pontifical university, is described as one of the most forthright abortion advocates on the UN's CEDAW Committee in a C-Fam statement. The CEDAW Committee monitors and enforces implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). Countries' restrictive abortion laws are routinely challenged by the committee, despite the fact that the convention avoided any mention of the issue. At a recent hearing delegates from Bolivia were urged "to adopt implementing regulations for existing laws on Bolivian women's right to therapeutic abortion." [Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute, 14 February]

Hundreds of women gathered in Rome and Naples in support of Italy's abortion law. The protest came during what is perceived to be a push from conservatives to restrict the abortion law, and after an incident in which a woman was interrogated by police after aborting her 21-week-old baby. Abortion has been raised as an issue in the April election campaign. News editor Giuliano Ferrara is standing on an anti-abortion ticket. [Rockford Register Star, 14 February]

The Spanish prime minister met the papal nuncio yesterday to express his displeasure at some of the political statements being made by Spanish Catholic bishops. The Spanish bishops' conference recently published a statement denouncing the policies on marriage and abortion supported by the current socialist government. According to a spokesman, the meeting was intended to "address the recent difficulties and confrontations between the Church and the government." The government has already threatened the Church with greater interference in Catholic schools. [CWNews, 14 February]

The German parliament is considering changing the country's laws on embryo stem cell research due to pressure from scientists who claim that the current restrictive policy is hindering life-saving research. In 2002, researchers were banned from producing stem cells from pre-existing stem cell lines. Our Reuters report says that the parties have not adopted positions on the issue, and many legislators are undecided. A vote is due to take place in the middle of March. [Reuters on MSNBC, 14 February]

A Conservative MP in Canada is behind a bill that would allow unborn children to be treated as separate crime-victims in criminal cases. Mr Ken Epp MP said that it was high time that such victims were legally recognised, but the bill has led to accusations that he is attempting to undermine Canada's abortion law. Joyce Arthur of the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada, said: "It definitely is a back-door attempt to attack abortion rights. If you give any kind of rights to a foetus - if you recognize it as a person, as this bill does - it automatically conflicts with a woman's established, constitutional rights." The Unborn Victims of Crime bill will be voted on next month. [Canadian Press, 14 February]

A British couple who saved their frozen embryos from being destroyed after they went over their five-year storage time limit have become parents through surrogacy. Michelle Hickman and Martin Hymers underwent IVF treatment in 2001 while they looked for a surrogate mother to give birth to their child. They had to appeal to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority to transfer the embryos abroad to avoid their destruction. [BBC, 14 February]

An American archbishop has criticised the appearance of Mrs Hillary Clinton at an election campaign at a Catholic college. Archbishop Jose Gomez of San Antonio said that Mrs Clinton's recent rally at St Mary's College was inappropriate given her record on voting for abortion and embryonic stem cell research which is not in accordance with church teaching. [PA on Channel 4, 14 February]

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