Sex-selection IVF

FAIRFAX, Va. – The Genetics and IVF Institute is conducting a Food and Drug Administration-endorsed clinical trial of the new Microsort technology for sex-selection of embryos created using in-vitro fertilization. Thus far, 400 couples have signed on to the trial, which is nearly half-way to completion. The Microsort technique for sex-selection involves using dye to mark sperm and a laser to sort the sperm based on the knowledge that sperm which will produce girls have more DNA. The cost of the procedure is about $20,000 (US). According to the BBC, Rachel Heath, assistant director of education for the pro-life charity Life, said that sex-selection pre-diagnostic screening changes the view of parenthood: “Children are a precious gift, and should be accepted totally unconditionally. We are concerned that children are increasingly being seen as commodities to be manufactured to specification, as though they can be taken off the supermarket shelf.”

Euthanasia not murder, declares minister

PARIS – French Health Minister Jean-Francois Mattei rejected the term “murder” to describe the death last September of a quadriplegic 22-year-old man two days after his mother put an overdose of sedatives in his intravenous drip. Marie Humbert could be formally investigated for “the premeditated administering of toxic substances.” Vincent Humbert, the victim, sent a letter in 2002 to French President Jacques Chirac asking for a dispensation from France’s criminal ban on mercy killing. She administered a substance that led to her son to slip into a coma and on Sept. 26, a doctor administered a lethal injection. Mattei said he did not “accept the term murder” to describe the case. “There is a prohibition which we have held since time immemorial: ‘thou shalt not kill,'” said Mattei. “For a long time, this rule has been applied blindly … But things change with time.”

Over-the-counter ‘morning-after pill’

CANBERRA, Australia – The Australian Medical Association has called on the Australian health minister to reverse a decision to make Postinor, a morning-after pill or so-called emergency contraception, available over the counter in pharmacies. Dr. Rosanna Capolingua, head of the AMA Ethics Committee, said the decision to make Postinor available through pharmacies is short-sighted and trivializes women’s health, because pharmacists are not the right people to be distributing the morning after pill. “The morning after pill is something that women can access for unwanted pregnancies and unwanted pregnancies occur in a whole range of situations,” explained Capolingua. “It is an issue that needs appropriate advice and certainly needs consideration of how the situation occurred and how the situation can be prevented in the future. A pharmacist is not able to provide that sort of advice over the counter in an environment where it is a shop.” The Pharmaceutical Association of Australia, however, welcomed the decision, no doubt because it will increase its business. Dr Stella Heley, an advocate of the changes, admits that easier access to the MAP may encourage sexual activity.

British ‘Dr. Death’ hangs himself

LONDON, England – Harold Shipman, a former family doctor and convicted serial killer, has been found hanging in his prison cell. Shipman, known as “Dr Death,” was serving life imprisonment for murdering 15 elderly women with lethal doses of heroin. A subsequent judicial inquiry found him responsible for a further 200 deaths over a 24-year medical career in Britain’s north. Another 45 died in “suspicious” circumstances. Although his motives were never discovered at the trial, police believe he wanted to control his patients’ fate. “He likes control, and the ultimate control is over life and death,” said Chief Inspector Mike Williams during the trial.

Bucks for approving abortions

AUCKLAND – It has been revealed that many consultants paid by the New Zealand government to advise it on abortion-related issues are healthcare professionals who are getting paid to approve abortions, despite the fact that they already receive a government-funded salary. The media has criticized these consultants for “double dipping.” The Justice Ministry must approve abortions, and doctors are paid $87.50 for every abortion they approve. One consultant that signed off on more than 1,800 abortions was paid $158,000. This is on top of the salary received from district health boards. Ken Orr, a Right of Life New Zealand spokesman, wondered why healthcare professionals who already receive a salary also get “a fee of $87.50 for signing a certificate after a cursory interview lasting a few minutes to see if a woman still wants an abortion.” He noted that the rubber-stamp approval of abortions has done nothing to reduce New Zealand’s “unacceptable abortion rate and should be withdrawn.” In 2002, 17,380 abortions were committed in the country.