News, 4 June 2007

The British Medical Association will vote at its forthcoming conference on whether first trimester abortion should be carried out by medical professionals other than doctors, whether to abandon the requirement for two doctors to sign an abortion referral form and the possible extension of the Abortion Act to Northern Ireland. In Parliament, it is believed that both sides of the abortion lobby will push for amendments to the draft human tissue bill as in 1990 when the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act was used to create an upper time limit of 24 weeks for abortion and abortion up to birth in case of disability. [Guardian, 4 June]

Police in Poland have raided a house where an illegal abortion was being carried out on an Irish woman. The abortion was later completed at a hospital in Warsaw. [Irish Independent, 2 June]

A senior Swiss prosecutor is leading investigations into so-called death tourism after it emerged that some clinics may be helping people to commit suicide who are temporarily suffering from depression rather than being terminally ill. Dignitas and Exit International arrange for foreigners to commit suicide at their clinics but it is alleged that some clients are prescribed lethal drugs just hours after arrival, making proper medical and psychological assessments impossible. Mr Andreas Brunner stated that he is not pushing for a ban on assisted suicide but is calling for stricter controls to ensure that clients are not rushed into suicide without proper assessment and consultation. [Sunday Telegraph, 3 June]

A study published in the US Journal of Clinical Investigation has suggested that unborn babies' immune systems develop much earlier than previously thought, after babies were seen to produce antibodies in the womb when their mothers were given the influenza vaccine. The vaccine is currently regarded as safe and is recommended for pregnant women in the US, but it is not yet known whether there could be a link between exposure to vaccines in the womb and the development of asthma and other allergies. [Times, 2 June]

The results of a clinical trial have been published in the journal Radiology, showing that uterine fibroids can be treated successfully using ultrasound technology. According to the trial, targeting fibroids using ultrasound stops blood flow, causing significant shrinkage and reduction of symptoms, which include pain, heavy menstrual bleeding and infertility. In the US, fibroids account for approximately one-third of all hysterectomies. [Medical News Today, 3 June]

The effectiveness of a new test to determine an unborn baby's sex as early as six weeks has been questioned by a spokesman for the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists. The test analyses foetal DNA in the mother's bloodstream and is currently unregulated as it is regarded as informational rather than medical. Marcy Darnovsky, associate executive director of the Centre for Genetics and Society, warned that such tests "could normalize gender selection and lead to a scenario where parents are one day picking out their child's characteristics from a catalogue." [Medical News Today, 21 May]

Scottish scientists are developing a device entitled the Prediction of Labour Onset (POLO) to enable pregnant women to predict when they are likely to give birth. IVMD, the company behind it, believe it could save the NHS millions as it would prevent women coming into hospital when they are not yet in labour, but Professor Andrew Shennan, an obstetrician for Tommy's, said that the device is unlikely to make much difference to the management of labour but may assist women who are at risk of premature labour. [The Scotsman, 22 May]

The Jesuit-run University of San Francisco has granted a posthumous award to an abortion supporter at a ceremony at the university's McLaren School of Business. The ceremony was also addressed by Nancy Pelosi, the pro-abortion Speaker of the House of Representatives. [CNA reported on EWTN, 21 May]


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