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Defending life from the moment of conception

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Ruth Kelly resigns from the cabinet - but is it over abortion?

24 September 2008

A British minister who is leaving the cabinet may be doing so because of her objection to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill. Ms Ruth Kelly MP, a Catholic, will stop being transport secretary and un-named sources reportedly say she could not have voted next month for the government's measure which will extend the embryology regime and could liberalise abortion. [Telegraph, 24 September] Paul Tully of SPUC said: "Defending vulnerable and innocent human lives is not the exclusive preserve of Catholics, but a duty for everyone. Appalling abuses of early human life are accepted in both current and proposed embryo legislation. Medical staff face harassment and even exclusion if they refuse to provide or refer for abortion or lethal IVF procedures. We encourage MPs of all faiths and none to stand up for the unborn and to oppose the embryo bill."

Premature babies in the UK get poor care, says the Royal College of Nursing and other bodies. A report out today calls for reorganisation of neonatal services, with one nurse per baby in intensive care. One organisation claims that a mere four percent of units have enough staff. [mediLexicon, 23 September] Extremely premature babies, particularly boys, subsequently behave worse than others, according to a study of some 350 children at the age of six in Britain and Ireland in the 1990s. Research by Warwick University, England, included work on the extremely preterm, who are born before 26 weeks' gestation. Problems included hyperactivity, bad conduct and attention deficits. [Reuters, 23 September]

A man in Lincolnshire, England, claims his signature was forged on a form approving IVF. His former partner allegedly imitated his signature to get fertility treatment which produced a son, now aged six years, after their relationship had ended while the man's gametes were still stored. [Mirror, 22 September] The matter appears to be unresolved, with the two un-named parties disputing each other's account of what happened.

Regular exercise helps pregnant women stop smoking. British research found that a quarter of expectant mothers who regularly exercised gave up smoking. This compares well with nicotine patches which, some think, harm the unborn. [Daily Mail, 23 September]

Heavy maternal drinking in the first three months of pregnancy could cause cleft lip or cleft palate in the unborn, according to a study described in the American Journal of Epidemiology. [Reuters, 23 September]

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