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Defending life from the moment of conception

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Lord Winston expresses regret at low IVF success-rate

12 June 2008

Professor Lord Winston, the British fertility expert, has expressed regret at the continuing low IVF success-rate. The rate, he said, was 30% and practitioners tended to treat more promising patients. There needed to be a better way of getting good ova and pre-implantation testing should be improved. [Telegraph, 9 June] Anthony Ozimic of SPUC commented: "IVF is wrong, not only because it entails the destruction of embryos not selected for implantation, but also because it abuses human beings by subjecting them to the control of technicians and technology. Fertility researchers should promote ways which respect children as gifts expressing their parents' love for each other, instead of reducing children to lifestyle commodities or research material. Natural fertility techniques are far more successful than IVF in assisting couples to conceive."

The British Fertility Society is suggesting that there is no evidence which supports the usefulness of embryo-testing in IVF treatment and that it should no longer be routinely offered. The society questions claims that pre-implantation genetic screening can help treatment for over-35s, women who miscarry and those for whom IVF often fails. It suggests the £2,000 technique could actually impair treatment and wants it restricted to clinical trials. [PA on Channel 4, 12 June, and Daily Mail, 12 June]

American scientists working on human embryos complain of a shortage of eggs and want to be allowed to buy them from women. Harvard, Massachusetts, researchers, reportedly interested in cloning, found that women preferred to sell their eggs to fertility clinics after realising that state law forbade the university from paying for them. A $100,000 campaign yielded just one donor. [Nature, 11 June]

A baby girl in Texas who was taken out of the womb to have a tumour removed was replaced in her mother and was then born naturally 10 weeks later. The growth was detected by scanning, six months into Ms Keri McCartney's pregnancy. [Sunday Mail, 8 June] Surgery has been performed in utero at 22 weeks' gestation. Medics in Melbourne, Australia, pierced the mother's abdomen and used laser-light and electricity to cut away amniotic tissue which was restricting blood supply to the baby's legs. The child was born at 30 weeks and had more surgery. The procedure may have been done earlier in pregnancy than ever before. [AFP on Yahoo!, 9 June]

A patient, presumed dead, revived as transplant-surgeons in Paris began the process of removing his organs. The city's university hospital's ethics committee has reportedly been told that doctors massaged his heart for 90 minutes before surgeons arrived. He began breathing and now can talk and walk. France recently changed its law to allow the harvesting of organs without a declaration of brain-death. [Telegraph, 10 June]

Adult stem cells have been used to treat a patient's back. Colorado surgeons operated on a spinal disc with somatic cells to alleviate severe pain by hydrating the disc. The state's governor has signed a bill to support adult stem cell research. In Minnesota, marrow and umbilical tissue was reportedly used to treat an infant's skin disease. [Catholic News Agency, 8 June] Cells from the nose could treat Parkinson's, according to researchers in Queensland, Australia, who put human nasal material into rats' brains. Griffith University found the tissue produced neurons which released dopamine. [Medical News Today, 8 June]

The Federal Bureau of Investigation has indicted two people whose company allegedly made false claims about stem cell therapy. Ms Laura Brown and Mr Steve Van Rooyen of Swiss-based Advanced Cell Therapy are said to be on the run after they promised a 90% success rate to at least one multiple sclerosis patient who was not helped by the treatment. In Britain, the Multiple Sclerosis Society advised sufferers not to seek such therapy. [Sunday Mail, 8 June]

New Zealand authorities could re-impose a ban on a book which describes ways of committing suicide. Dr Philip Nitschke's Peaceful Pill Handbook was last year suppressed in Australia. Right to Life New Zealand has been given leave to appeal against the lifting of an initial ban there. [LifeNews, 9 June]

A man from Liverpool, England, has been jailed for killing an unborn child. Mr David King, aged 31, kicked Ms Hayley Cain who was pregnant with their son, later born dead. Mr King has expressed regret. [BBC, 11 June]

The Labour party could lose Catholic votes in Scotland because of its support for animal-human hybrids and the current abortion regime. The warning comes in a letter to a newspaper from Mr James MacMillan, a Catholic musical composer. He addresses his remarks to the party's leader in the Scottish parliament, reportedly calling the UK parliament's decisions immoral. [Scotsman, 12 June]

Human ovulation has been filmed during a hysterectomy in Belgium. The Louvain university surgeon observed the process which took 15 minutes. [BBC, 11 June]

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