August
01
 

SPERM DONOR SHORTAGE HITS UK

It's being described as a "crisis" for would-be British mothers: a sperm donor shortage. The lobby group Infertility Network UK is calling for a campaign to recruit more donors. The UK recently abolished donor anonymity, so donors can expect a knock on their door after their biological child turns 18. For most of them, this is not a welcome prospect and as a result, apparently, suppliers have vanished. The Network wants to educate possible donors about the extent of their obligations towards their inconvenient offspring -- there are none, either financial or moral, it says.

The shortage follows the change, but even network spokeswoman Susan Seenan was reluctant to pin all of the blame on the new legislation. In fact, the UK's fertility regulator, the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority, says that it is a "myth" that the change caused the shortage. "What we see is a patchy provision across the country," says HFEA spokesman John Paul Maytum. "Some areas… click here to read whole article and make comments




 
July
18
 

US SENATE FAILS TO LIBERALISE STEM CELL RESEARCH

Although the US Senate has passed a bill loosening restrictions on embryonic stem cell research by a vote of 63 to 37, President Bush is sure block it with the first veto of his five and a half years in office. Currently, federal funding is only available for selected stem cell lines created from "spare" IVF embryos created before August 9, 2001. Since the 63 "yes" votes are four short of the number required to override his veto, the measure has been killed -- at least for the time being.

Not all Republicans in Congress have linked arms with the President on this emotional issue. On the one hand, Senator Sam Brownback, of Kansas, says "It's a very clear issue to the pro-life community. Is the youngest human a person or a piece of property?" On the other, Republican Senator Gordon H. Smith, of Oregon, pleaded that embryonic stem cells could cure Parkinson's disease. "To watch people die of… click here to read whole article and make comments




 
July
18
 

DADS TO BE SUPERFLUOUS IN NEW UK LEGISLATION

 British fathers are to be deemed redundant in the most radical shake-up of fertility laws in 16 years. The Blair Labour government is studying reforms to UK's out-dated 1990 Fertilisation and Embryology Act. The most prominent of these are banning sex selection of embryos and dropping a provision which stipulates that IVF clinics must consider a child's need for a father before providing treatment. Public Health Minister Caroline Flint says told a parliamentary committee that "we are minded to retain a duty in terms of the welfare of the child, but we are thinking that there is less of a case for retaining the law in reference to a father... What's important is that the children are going to be, as far as we know, part of a loving home."

Susan Crane, a former board member of the lesbian and gay group Pink Parents, hailed the move and described the old law as "an anachronism that was judgmental and… click here to read whole article and make comments




 
July
18
 

AUSTRALIAN STEM CELLS ACCORD MAY FRACTURE

Australia may be moving towards a US model of embryo research regulation: a chequerboard of conflicting state and national laws. At last weekend's council of Australian governments, the Federal Government stoutly resisted pressure to lift a ban on therapeutic cloning, along with the largest state, New South Wales. However, the premiers of Victoria and Queensland have become fervent believers in therapeutic cloning as a magic bullet for voters' health, scientists' jobs and government finances. They will probably pass legislation enabling it -- even though their scientists will have to do without Federal funding. The Howard government in Canberra has no stomach for another exhausting national debate on embryos and reproductive technology, despite the views of an expert review committee which last year unanimously recommended both therapeutic cloning and hybrid embryos.

In the week before the meeting, two of Australia's most distinguished scientists gave strong backing to therapeutic cloning. Immunologist , a 2005 Nobel laureate, declared that moral reservations would evaporate… click here to read whole article and make comments




 
July
18
 

PRISONERS RETURN AS RESEARCH SUBJECTS

A major US government report has recommended that prisoners be allowed to participate in clinical trials. This is a practice that has been under a cloud for 30 years after it was found that Pennsylvania inmates were being used as guinea pigs for cosmetic toxicity testing. The Institutes of Medicine says that prisoners might actually benefit from clinical trials if these were in the final phase of Food and Drug Administration approval, did not involve any cosmetic toxicity testing, and ensured that half the subjects were non-inmates. There should be no compensation and no special treatment which might entice prisoners into cooperating.

The proposal is controversial. On the one hand, some doctors, like dermatologist A. Bernard Ackerman, says that "There has to be experimentation in medicine, but populations that are aged, vulnerable or defective mentally should not be used." Others question whether prisoners can truly give informed consent. On the other hand, government officials wonder if they might be… click here to read whole article and make comments




 
July
18
 

I’M 16 AND I CAN REFUSE TREATMENT IF I WANT TO”

In another tricky case of informed consent, a 16-year-old Virginia boy has refused to undergo a second round of chemotherapy for Hodgkin's disease. Starchild Abraham Cherrix says that he prefers to treat it with a herbal remedy four times a day under the guidance of a clinic in Mexico. His parents have been charged with medical neglect and the local government has assumed joint custody. Officials are asking the court to order Abraham to undergo a second round of chemotherapy. The teenager agrees with his parents. "This is my body that I'm supposed to take care of. I should have the right to tell someone what I want to do with this body," he says. "I studied. I did research. I came to this conclusion that the chemotherapy was not the route I wanted to take." click here to read whole article and make comments



 
July
18
 

TEXAS “FUTILE CARE” LAW UNDER ATTACK AGAIN

Another weakness in Texas's futile care law has emerged in the case of a woman who suffered brain damage after her breathing tube became disconnected in hospital. Texas hospitals may remove life support from patients when further care is deemed "medically futile". In this case, however, the hospital's negligence may have caused 29-year-old Kalilah Roberson-Reese to lapse into a persistent vegetative state. This case raises questions of whether the law might be used to bury mistakes," says Jerri Ward, a lawyer for the woman.

A newcomer to Texas, Ms Roberson-Reese was pregnant with her first child when she went to the Memorial Hermann hospital in Houston complaining of leg pains, chest pains and shortness of breath. Apparently she was misdiagnosed and doctors later discovered that she had blood clots in her leg. Her child was born by an emergency Caesarean section and died. Her condition worsened to the point where she needed a tracheal tube. This slipped out, depriving her… click here to read whole article and make comments




 
July
18
 

CURES FROM DANDRUFF?

Looking for new sources of multipotent stem cells? Try dandruff. Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine have found that hair follicles are a rich source of adult stem cells which can be differentiated into nerve cells, smooth muscle cells and skin pigment cells. They say that if their approach to isolating and growing the cells can be upscaled, it might some day provide the tissue needed for disorders like peripheral nerve disease, Parkinson's and spinal cord injury. The results were published in the American Journal of Pathology. click here to read whole article and make comments



 
July
18
 

HUMAN EGG TRADE HAS A HUMAN COST

The desire of older professional women to bear IVF children with donated eggs relies upon exploited women in Eastern Europe, the London Daily Mail claims. Investigative journalist Fran Abrams went to Romania and the Ukraine and asked to buy eggs at IVF clinics linked to prominent London clinics.

The issue has been hotly debated after 62-year-old Dr Patti Rashbrook gave birth to a boy, becoming Britain's oldest mother. Ms Abrams found that egg donation had ruined the reproductive system of some poor women in Bucharest. Recently married Alina Ionescu, of Bucharest, for instance, was 18 when she sold her eggs two years ago for ?150. The procedure left her ovaries so scarred that she is now infertile. How does she feel about British fertility tourists? "I would wish those women luck," she told the Daily Mail. "Because right now I can understand how they feel." click here to read whole article and make comments




 
July
18
 

IN BRIEF: India, Britain, US

Peasant misery: Overwhelmed by their struggle with the land, 35 farmers in the Indian state Maharashtra have written to the Indian president seeking euthanasia. A number of farmers have committed suicide in the region in the past year. "We would like to end our lives instead of suffering crop losses every year," they wrote. click here to read whole article and make comments



 

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