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Defending life from the moment of conception

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Bone marrow stem cells used to reverse early effects of multiple sclerosis

30 January 2009

Stem cells from patients' bone marrow have been used to reverse the early effects of multiple sclerosis. In a trial on 21 adults by Feinberg School of Medicine, Illinois, 17 were less disabled after three years and the others' condition stabilised. The Lancet Neurology journal says a bigger trial is due. The MS Society in Britain said stem cells were showing increasing promise in treating the condition, which 85,000 people in the UK have. [Daily Mail, 30 January]

The congress of Colima state, Mexico, has rejected legalised abortion by 19 votes to one. The Party of the Democratic Revolution said Catholic belief had helped defeat its proposed measure. The same party got abortion legalised in the capital but has been unsuccessful elsewhere. [LifeSiteNews, 29 January] SPUC's national director writes: "What's happened in Mexico shows that with strong religious leadership, from all faiths and none, throughout the world - the pro-life movement not only can prevail, the pro-life movement will prevail." [John Smeaton, 30 January]

A Spanish political party has protested to the US ambassador about President Obama's resumption of funding for abortion overseas. Alternativa Española wants President Reagan's 1984 Mexico City Policy to stay in place. [CNA, 29 January]

The Australian government will soon decide whether to imitate America and fund abortion in other countries. The foreign minister said he would not be pushed but a decision on a report is nevertheless reportedly imminent. Senator Brian Harradine was instrumental in getting the current ban in the 1990s in return for Senate support. The Oxfam charity said such funding was needed to help meet UN Millennium Development Goals on maternal mortality. [Sky, 30 January]

A family doctor in Scotland who supplied sleeping pills to a suicidal 87-year-old woman has said what he did was unacceptable. Dr Iain Kerr, 62, of Glasgow was suspended for six months for prescribing sodium amytal and was addressing a disciplinary panel of the General Medical Council. Physician-assisted suicide, if allowed, would need to be legally regulated, he said, but he also said that he saw no place for it in medicine. Dr Kerr was in the Voluntary Euthanasia Society of Scotland. The panel is due to decide whether he can resume practising. [Herald, 30 January]

A uterine biopsy before IVF doubles the success rate, according to researchers in Israel. The Weizmann Institute of Science and the Kaplan Medical Center, Rehovot, suggest that the damage done to the womb by the procedure makes it receptive to the embryo. [Newswise, 29 January] Even if the success rate is doubled, IVF usually involves significant destruction of embryos, and is seen by some as degrading the human beings involved, even if they are allowed to be born.

Prenatal paternity tests are being used by unfaithful wives in Britain to see whether it was their lovers who conceived their unborn children, whom they may then abort. A company charges more than £200 for the tests and says it does around 500 a year. Some women use the results to choose adoption. The tests increase the risk of miscarriage. Comment on Reproductive Ethics said the practice was worrying. [Daily Mail, 26 January]

An American national TV station and a sporting association have refused to allow a pro-life advertisement to be shown during a championship game on Sunday. NBC and the National Football League say they do not want to broadcast ads about "political advocacy or issues" during the Super Bowl. Mr Brian Burch of Catholic Vote says his organisation's film is positive. It features an ultrasound scan, notes Mr Obama's achievement in becoming president, and refers to each human life's potential. [LifeSiteNews, 29 January] At the time of writing, the YouTube version had been watched more than 850,000 times. There is no abortion imagery in it.

A British charity that deals with progressive supranuclear palsy is concerned that a television drama broadcast last weekend had associated the condition with assisted suicide. The PSP Association regretted how the BBC's A short stay in Switzerland dealt with the brain disease. The group preferred to concentrate on support for sufferers and research for treatment. [Northampton Chronicle and Echo, 27 January]

The British government intends to perform a consultation on whether surrogacy should be regulated by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority. Mr Justice McFarlane, a high court judge, expressed concerns on BBC radio after giving judgement in a surrogacy case. [BBC, 27 January]

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