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Defending life from the moment of conception

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Govt announces date for embryology bill debate

1 May 2008

The UK government has announced that MPs will debate its Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill on Monday-week (12 May). [Provisional business, House of Commons, 1 May] An obstetrician in Britain who regularly performs scans on unborn children is calling for elimination of medical justification for abortions but also a reduction in abortion threshold. Professor Stuart Campbell describes the children he scans at between 20 and 24 weeks as "baby-like" and too developed to be aborted. He wants to see an end to the need for two doctors' consent for abortion and writes: "... today, when 99% of abortions are carried out for social reasons and only one per cent because of foetal abnormalities, [medical consent] has become something of a farce." [Telegraph, 1 May]

Mr Thomas Hammarberg, human rights commissioner for the Council of Europe, has said that Ireland must introduce legislation for abortion based on the 1992 "X case" and on the 1983 pro-life amendment to the constitution. Mr Hammarberg wants Irish law changed to allow abortion. He said that if abortion legislation is not passed, Ireland may face [further] cases in the European Court of Human Rights which has already ruled against Irish abortion law in the past. Mr Hammarberg claimed that vulnerable women such as under-age girls and migrants were suffering "serious consequences." [Irish Independent, 1 May]

Uruguay's president will veto a measure which would allow first-trimester abortion on virtually any grounds. Christian churches and groups welcomed the undertaking by Mr Tabaré Vázquez, an obstetrician, to defy his party's line. Abortion is reportedly already allowed in cases of rape or poverty. [LifeSiteNews, 30 April]

Italy has liberalised its artificial reproduction regime, allowing pre-implantation genetic diagnosis and IVF for couples where the man is HIV-positive. The present government says the changes were necessary after court rulings on the constitutionality of current arrangements. Church leaders reportedly hope that Mr Silvio Berlusconi's incoming government will reverse the changes. [Catholic World News, 30 April]

Expectant mothers in Australia will be able insure their babies against developmental anomalies and stillbirth. The ING company was criticised by midwives for playing on pregnant women's fears. [AFP on Yahoo!, 27 April]

A UK regulatory body is to ban the collection of umbilical cord blood by untrained people from 5 July. Private storage facilities have provided couples with collection equipment but the Human Tissue Authority suggests that it may not always be used properly. Clinics will need to ensure that only trained staff perform the task according to procedures. [Independent, 1 May]

Smoking in pregnancy can lead to smaller babies, according to Sydney University, Australia, research on some 40 women. [Adfero on View London, 30 April] Western women's adoption of low-calorie diets could be leading to fewer boys' being born, say university researchers at Exeter and Oxford, England. [Independent, 23 April] A Swedish study suggests that pregnant women who drink alcohol often say they do not. The women's claims were contradicted by physical tests. The study involved 103 women,. Only one said she had drunk a lot (four glasses a week) but seven others, who claimed they didn't drink at all, showed signs of drinking significant amounts. [Reuters, 24 April]

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