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Defending life from the moment of conception

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Scottish govt plans to 'fast-track' women for abortions

2 June 2008

A Scottish governmental agency has published a plan under which nearly three quarters of women requesting an abortion will get one before nine weeks' gestation. Quality Improvement Scotland says there are fewer complications with early abortions. Its report says post-abortion counselling should be provided to women requesting it and that women having an abortion should be offered birth control. The Catholic church said: "There is a very real danger that this fast-tracking may lead to abortion being seen as a routine medical procedure. With our already sky-high abortion rates, this is a very dangerous and very unhelpful message to send out." [Scotsman, 1 June]

The Catholic Bishop of Lancaster, England, has lamented the cheapening of human life. Rt Rev Patrick O'Donoghue said: "Every embryonic human person is a wonder of creation, who possesses the inherent right to realise his or her potential for creativity, love, self-sacrifice, and joy." There was no evidence that animal-human embryos could be of any therapeutic use. Cures for diseases should not be sought "at the cost of de-personalising the unborn and treating them as things to be manipulated and dissected." [Lancaster Guardian, 2 June, and SPUC director's blog, 26 May]

The British government has proposed that human tissue should be used to make cloned embryos without the consent of donors, including dead ones. Health ministers have tabled an amendment to their Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill. Scientists complain that consent can be hard to obtain. [Sunday Times, 1 June] The measure would apply in cases where material may already been given voluntarily, but not necessarily for cloning. The bill's committee stage resumes tomorrow and on Thursday.

Brazil's Catholic bishops have deplored a supreme court decision to uphold a law permitting human embryo-research. They say science proves embryos are human and thus need state-protection. The issue was not a religious one, they reportedly said. [Catholic News Agency, 30 May]

Women are postponing having children by conventional means because they think they can use IVF later. Aberdeen University, Scotland, found that women mistakenly thought the treatment could reverse declining fertility. IVF success rates reportedly fall from 30% at age 30 to less than one percent at 44. The quality of women's eggs declines with age. [Scotsman, 1 June] SPUC objects to IVF in that it amounts to the manufacture of human beings. The practice of IVF assumes that our offspring may be produced in the laboratory, and that the role of the natural mother, in safeguarding with her own body the welfare of the embryo from conception, may legitimately be transferred to other people. IVF thus makes embryos vulnerable, exposing them to the risks of being discarded, frozen or experimented upon. Many thousands of human embryos have perished in the development and practice of IVF.

A child in Australia has been born at 38 weeks after implanting in her mother's ovary. The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists said the case of Durga Thangaraja was one in a million since survival is so rare. The ectopic nature of the pregnancy was not detected until late on. The doctor who delivered the child said that, had he known, he would have advised abortion. [Mail on Sunday, 1 June]

Invasive prenatal tests are inadequate, failing to detect half of chromosomal anomalies, according to research on 100,000 such procedures. Techniques such as amniocentesis fail completely to screen for some conditions, according to the TOMA laboratory, Italy. Researchers want women to be told about the tests' limitations. [BBC, 1 June] Such screening is used as a prelude to abortion's being recommended.

Smoking in pregnancy could raise the likelihood of sudden infant death, according to Calgary University, Canada, research on rats. [Irish Sun, 31 May]

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