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News Summary 14 September

14 September 2016

IVF already involves much discarding of embryos

Embryos might be created without eggs, scientists say

Researchers at Bath University have conducted an experiment with mice which they say “hints” that human embryos may one day be created without using human egg cells.

The researchers proposed this scenario after producing a litter of mice by fertilising unusual mouse egg cells called parthenogenotes with mouse sperm.  One of the research team, Tony Perry, suggests that the research could lead to other cells being used instead of sperm or eggs to create embryos.  Some news outlets have said the proposal may lead to the creation of human “motherless babies”.

Dr Anthony McCarthy of SPUC commented: "If similar techniques were ever tried in humans using parthenogenotes or adult cells, many new lives would be manufactured and destroyed before any child was eventually gestated by a woman, let alone allowed to be born. Already, IVF involves much discarding of embryos, and new forms of laboratory conception involve new research on embryos and further 'quality control', as well as disrespecting the dignity of human reproduction. Infertility can be a very painful experience, but not all proposed solutions truly respect the couple or the child they want to have."

Northern Irish doctor resigns over laws surrounding abortion for “fatal foetal abnormality”

Dr Caroline Gannon, a pathologist who investigates the deaths of babies, has resigned over interventions by Northern Ireland’s attorney general, John Larkin, who has defended laws against abortion in cases of “fatal foetal abnormality”.   

Dr Gannon said Mr Larkin's support for the right to life of disabled babies made her role untenable.  In November 2015, the attorney general appealed against a Northern Ireland High Court judgement which ruled that NI’s restrictive law on abortion breaches human rights law. The court stated that cases of “fatal foetal abnormality” should be grounds for legal abortion. The law on abortion in these cases is currently under review, with the court considering, among other things, the attorney general’s argument that allowing abortion in these cases discriminates against children with disabilities.  Mr Larkin has also argued that there is no agreed clinical definition of “fatal foetal abnormality”, and allowing abortions in these cases discriminates against children with disabilities. (It is not clear whether or how Mr Larkin's support for the long-standing legal position in Northern Ireland relates to  requests by parents for post mortem examinations on aborted babies.)

Click here to read the commentary by SPUC's Liam Gibson. 

Ugandan health minister says she has “no plans” to legalise abortion

Dr Jane Ruth Aceng, the minister for health of Uganda, has said that her ministry has no plans to introduce a bill to legalise abortion in the country.

Speaking to New Vision she said “I have read several reports in the press that we are working on a bill to legalise abortion but that is not true.” Her statement comes two weeks after religious leaders in Uganda issued a statement saying that they had learnt about plans on the ministry to legalise abortion, which they strongly condemned.

Irish Eighth Amendment has “saved 100,000 lives”

A report from the Pro-Life Campaign has estimated that more than 100,000 lives have been saved in Ireland by the country’s pro-life laws.

The report, which was released on 7th September, but has received media attention in the last few days, estimates the total number of abortions women in Ireland would have had if the rate was the same as England and Wales. On that basis, 304,000 abortions would have taken place in Ireland between 1994 and 2014. Instead, women from Ireland underwent 108,000 abortions abroad, with the group claiming that as many as 196,000 lives were saved. Comparisons made against Spain and Belgium in the report estimate that 121,000 and 75,000 lives were saved respectively.

Commenting at the launch of the report, Cora Sherlock of the Pro Life Campaign said: “Taking a conservative read of what is contained in the actuarial report, there are tens of thousands of Irish people alive today thanks to the 8th Amendment. It is reasonable to posit that well in excess of 100,000 people owe their life to this Amendment.”

The Report:

News coverage:

New study on euthanasia trends in Belgium released

A new study on euthanasia trends in Belgium has been published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.

To summarise the findings briefly, the study found that the number of officially reported euthanasia cases in Belgium increased from 235 in 2003 to 1807 in 2013 across all age groups and in all settings. The researchers also noted an increase among people with conditions other than cancer and in people over age 80. There were also increases in euthanasia among people without a terminal disease and those with psychiatric disorders.

The Report:

News coverage:

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