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Defending life
from conception to natural death


Scientist warns of IVF dangers

17 February 2009

An academic scientist says clinicians suspect that IVF carries developmental risks for the children it produces. Dr Richard Schultz, associate dean for natural sciences at the University of Pennsylvania, is among several specialists calling for more research to ascertain such risks. Our source suggests that studies have found that the fertility technique leads to "abnormal patterns of gene expression" and increased likelihood of genetic disorders, prematurity and low birth weight.. One piece of research in the US was by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on more than 14,000 babies. Scientists at Johns Hopkins University, Maryland, found an unusually large number of IVF children with Beckwith-Wiedemann syndrome. Our source also mentions Angelman syndrome in this context. IVF consent forms at Brigham and Women's Hospital, Massachusetts, reportedly mention a possible risk. The medium in which embryos are grown may affect them. [New York Times, 16 February]

Amnesty International wants doctors in Mexico to be required to perform abortions after rape and to provide abortifacient birth control. The country's health minister changed a draft measure so that it allows medics to object on conscientious grounds. The human rights group recently held demonstrations in Madrid, Spain, and Mexico City. Amnesty says international agreements are being violated. Its petition mentions so-called reproductive rights. Mexico's National Pro-Life Committee says legal abortion actually violates treaties which protect children. The Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute said there was no right to abortion. [LifeSiteNews, 16 February]

Mr Barack Obama's threatened reversal of President Bush's ban on federal funding for new embryo research is imminent, according to a close presidential adviser. Mr David Axelrod told Fox News that the president was currently considering the move. The previous president only funded research on existing embryonic lines. The Food and Drug Administration recently approved a trial of human embryo cells for therapies. [Reuters, 16 February]

The leader of Democrats in the US House of Representatives will meet the Pope in Rome tomorrow. Ms Nancy Pelosi claims she is a Catholic but she supports abortion. The Holy See says he is meeting her in his role as the Vatican's head of state. The church denies that she is to be given an award. [Catholic News Agency, 16 February]

A 13-year-old could take a paternity test after two other boys claimed to be the father of a baby born recently to a girl of 15 in southern England. Alfie Patten was reported as having conceived the child with Chantelle Steadman of East Sussex. [Independent, 16 February] Ms Steadman disagrees with the other boys' claims. [Telegraph, 16 February] Material from the British government's Teenage Pregnancy Unit shows teenage fatherhood in a positive light. A spokeswoman said the media had stereotyped young parents, yet boys could be good fathers. Dr Patricia Morgan, the sociologist, said fatherhood before 16 should be a matter for the police. The government's teenage pregnancy strategy is failing to reach its targets. [Mail, 17 February]

A woman in western England tried unsuccessfully to abort her son who she believed had been harmed by drugs which she was taking for a gynaecological problem. Ms Katie Hartley, 24, complains that doctors did not detect her pregnancy earlier so she could stop the medication. A substance which she reportedly took to kill the boy at 17 weeks' gestation did not work. Instead, Ms Hartley delivered the child, whom she named Cane-Philip, alive. He is said to have died in her arms after four minutes. She says: "He was so perfect ...". There is to be a funeral for the child. [Weston and Somerset Mercury, 16 February]

A woman has admitted concealing her baby's birth, and a court in England has been told how a newborn child was found in a flooded refuse container, wrapped in blood-stained towels. It is suggested that Ms Sarah Silvester, 34 and a mother of four, pretended to her partner that she had had an abortion. There is evidence that the child had been born alive; the mother may have been delirious. The judge in Lincolnshire said Ms Silvester was a good mother to her other children and had not acted criminally. He gave her a non-custodial sentence. [Grimsby Telegraph, 16 February]

SPUC has begun to prepare for the next UK general election. The organisation is offering to tell voters where their representatives stand on life issues, and will send briefings to those who request them. John Smeaton, national director, wants to make the right to life a voting issue. He points out that 4,000 babies are killed by abortion every week in Britain. Human life was: "the top priority political issue for citizens concerned about the common good." John can be emailed as to order flyers or to request information. [John Smeaton, 16 February]

Nurses in Britain are being consulted by their professional body on assisted suicide. The Royal College of Nursing says it has been prompted to seek members' views by recent suicides at Dignitas, Switzerland. A page about the consultation on the college's website says: "The notion of ending a human life is a profound and emotive concept, particularly for health professionals whose values and code of ethics are orientated to improving and maintaining health wherever possible." The college's briefing on the subject mentions how the government's Coroners and Justice Bill would "modernise the law". The deadline for members' responses is 22 May. [Royal College of Nursing, 16 February]

More and more expectant mothers in Britain are taking prescribed anti-depressants. Drugs like Prozac and Seroxat were supplied to almost one pregnant woman in 20 during a 15-year study by University College London. Such substances have been linked to problems with neonatal complications. [Times, 17 February]

Maternal consumption of seafood in pregnancy has been described as crucial to prenatal brain development. Prof Michael Crawford, head of the Institute of Brain Chemistry and Human Nutrition, London, England says omega-3 fatty acids in fish are important. He cited a study which suggests a relationship between fish in pregnancy and infant cognitive development. [Irish Times, 17 February]

An unidentified 12-year-old girl's pro-life video on YouTube has been praised. The girl, who may be in Canada, reportedly describes the large number of abortions and says: "That means all those lives, gone! All that potential, gone! And all that hope in the future gone!" [Catholic News Agency, 16 February]

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