News, 27 August 2003

Governor Jeb Bush has asked the judge in the Terri Schiavo case to postpone the decision to end her life. Governor Bush's office has received 27,000 emails from people appealing for his intervention in the case but Judge George Greer has said that he probably will not delay the removal of the tube or appoint an independent guardian. Mrs Schiavo's husband has filed an emergency motion to prevent her receiving treatment for a serious infection and has been accused by the Schiavo family's attorney of trying to ensure that she dies before any further legal steps are taken to save her life. [LifeNews.com, 26 August]


Sex selection IVF is being advertised in the New York Times, according to a feature in the Genetics and Society newsletter. The Genetics and IVF Institute uses a sperm sorting procedure trademarked as MicroSort to offer the service for 'family balancing' and the 'prevention of genetic diseases', but sex selection has been fiercely criticised by women's groups and is banned in many countries. Fears have been expressed that public approval of sex selection will help legitimise the bias towards male babies in South and East Asia, where female infanticide, abuse towards the mothers of female babies and sex selective abortion have resulted in serious gender imbalances and an estimated 100 million "missing" girls. IVF sex selection is currently illegal in the UK, but the HFEA is currently reviewing its policies on sperm sorting. [Genetics and Society, 20 August]


A home-made bomb that went off outside a Denver Planned Parenthood abortion clinic this week may have been aimed at two pro-life protestors, LifeNews reports. The two protestors heard a loud bang and found that something had exploded behind their van, causing the upholstery and parts of the ceiling to melt. Police were called to the scene. [LifeNews.com, 27 August]


The head of the pro-euthanasia group Exit New Zealand has been charged with murder after admitting in a book that she gave her mother a lethal injection. In the book, Lesley Martin details trying to kill her mother twice, first with an overdose of morphine and then by smothering her with a pillow, having apparently promised to help her die painlessly. Ms Martin is expected to be tried next year and faces a possible 10-year prison term. [The Age, 26 August]


The ANO party, a junior member of Slovakia's ruling coalition, has fired its economy minister and postponed a debate on legalising abortion to prevent a major government split, EWTN reports. ANO voted against its coalition partners to approve a bill that would have legalised abortion up to 24 weeks and has been threatened with expulsion from the coalition if it tries to pass the law again. President Rudolf Schuster vetoed the bill and ANO will now have to wait until October to pursue the matter further, pending judicial rulings on two abortion-related appeals. [EWTN, 27 August]


The two women whose cases were largely responsible for the legalisation of abortion in the US, Sandra Cano, "Mary Doe" of Doe v. Bolton, and Norma McCorvey, "Jane Roe" of Roe v. Wade, are asking the Supreme Court to reverse the rulings of 30 years ago. Both women regret their part in the legalisation of abortion and see their return to the Supreme Court and representation of women who have been harmed by abortion as the chance to 'right a wrong.' Dianne Donaudy, one of over 1000 women to have provided statements in support of Cano and McCorvey, said: "We're standing with Sandra Cano in saying the Doe decision was a mistake. We want the public, especially women, to know the truth about the tragic and harmful consequences of abortion." [LifeSite, 26 August]


New research is raising concerns about a possible link between the amount of time IVF embryos spend in culture fluids prior to implantation and disruption of genetic imprinting, Newsday reports. The disruption is thought to cause a disorder known as Beckwith-Wiedmann syndrome which affects 1 in 15,000 in the general population but nearly 5% conceived through IVF. The research conducted by Dr Andrew Feinberg of the John Hopkins Medical Institutions in Baltimore and Dr Michael DeBaun of Washington University in St Louis was published in the American Journal of Human Genetics. DeBaun stated: "At this point, we have a strong association between Beckwith-Wiedemann syndrome and in-vitro fertilisation. We need additional data to verify our findings and if confirmed, to understand why there is an association." [Newsday.com, 26 August]


Researchers at the University of Newcastle believe that premature birth could be linked with a fall in the levels of the G alpha S protein that keeps the muscles of the womb relaxed during pregnancy. It is thought that premature births could be prevented if ways were found to maintain the correct levels of the protein throughout pregnancy. Dr Nick Europe-Finner, who is leading the research, stated: "Understanding what triggers off the process of labour and preventing it from happening prematurely will be of lasting benefit to generations of babies." [BBC, 27 August]


The Peruvian bishops' conference has appealed to the minister of health not to legalise the morning after pill again. In a strongly worded statement, the bishops condemn the government's population policy as "anti-life" and appeal to health care professionals "to state with firmness an objection of moral conscience and, with courage, give witness to the inalienable value of human life." [Zenit, 26 August]


A study into depression rates in the US has found that 20% of elderly people suffer from depression and related illnesses but that very few receive adequate treatment. People aged 65 and over constitute 13% of the US population but 18% of suicides. Depression in the elderly can also prove fatal because it often results in elderly people failing to eat properly or to manage their medication. One of the reasons that depression is often missed or left untreated is because of a false assumption that it is normal to be depressed at a particular age. [Yahoo News, 24 August]


An opinion article in The Age entitled 'Has experimenting on human life lost its power to disgust?' draws attention to the media's failure to report on disturbing developments in the area of embryo experimentation such as the creation of rabbit-human hybrids. The article concludes: "it has taken less than two years to habituate ourselves to regarding human embryos as pharmaceutical fodder." [The Age, 19 August]

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