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Defending life from the moment of conception

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Premature birth "caused by harassment at work"

7 January 2008

A British woman has claimed that she gave birth prematurely because of harassment at work from her boss. Mrs Naomi Mainwaring gave birth to her daughter Niamh a month prematurely in June 2007. She told an employment tribunal that she blamed the premature birth on "months of personal harassment" following her announcement that she was pregnant, from her superior Mrs Lesley Crinson, a partner with the Short Richardson and Forth law firm in Newcastle. Mrs Mainwaring does not intend to return to work for the firm. [Daily Mail, 3 January] It would appear from our source that the case continues.

The Pennsylvania supreme court has ruled that a sperm donor who was promised that he would not have to support the children cannot be forced to do so. Mr Joel McKiernan had made an agreement with Ms Ivonne Ferguson, his former girlfriend and work colleague, that he would donate sperm but would not have to pay child support and would not have visitation rights. He was subsequently sued by Ms Ferguson and, in former court rulings that have now been overturned, he was forced to pay up to $1,500 a month to support the twin boys born in 1994. Mr Arthur Caplan, chairman of the department of medical ethics at the University of Pennsylvania, said that the supreme court's decision was unusual. He added: "It sounds like the Pennsylvania court is trying to push a little harder into the brave new world of sperm, egg and embryo donation as it's evolving." [Guardian, 3 January]

The first umbilical tissue bank in India is due to open by the end of March. The bank, which is a venture of Jeevan Blood Bank, a not-for profit community bank, will use 70% of its capacity for public storage, which will be subsidised by the remaining 30%, which will be used for private storage. It aims to collect at least 40,000 units of stem cells from umbilical cord blood in five years. [The Hindu, 4 January]

A pro-life helpline for pregnant women established by the Australian government has allegedly failed to meet its objectives. The helpline was set up by Mr Tony Abbott, the former health minister, as part of a number of measures introduced after he was unable to stop the introduction of the abortion drug RU-486. It has reportedly received about 4,000 calls in its first year, less than the average of 5,000 calls a year received by its predecessor which closed down. The helpline will now be closely monitored by the Rudd government. [Australian, 4 January]

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