News Articles

LIFE DIGEST: British mother eliminates embryonic children to gain healthier baby

WASHINGTON (BP)–A London woman is carrying Great Britain’s first baby guaranteed to be free of inherited breast cancer, but she had to eliminate several of her other embryonic offspring to do so.

Doctors used pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD), a controversial screening method, to determine which of the 11 embryos created by means of in vitro fertilization (IVF) had the gene that would have resulted in a female child having a 50 to 85 percent chance of developing breast cancer, according to The Times of London.

Six of the embryos tested positive for the gene and were rejected. Two embryos without the gene were implanted, producing a pregnancy of 14 weeks as of June 29. Two others were frozen, The Times reported.

The 27-year-old mother, who desires to remain anonymous, and her 28-year-old husband are fertile, but they chose IVF and PGD because of the prevalence of breast cancer on one side of the family. The husband had tested positive for the gene, known as BRCA-1.

“For the past three generations, every single woman in my husband’s family has had breast cancer, as early as 27 and 29,” the mother said, according to The Times. “We felt that, if there was a possibility of eliminating this for our children, then that was a route we had to go down.”

R. Albert Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., said July 1 on his weblog the development again shows some lives are considered by some people to be unworthy of life.

“The laboratory is now a dangerous place for human embryos,” Mohler wrote. “They can be destroyed for stem cell research, frozen pending sale and rejected after genetic testing. This points to a very sad reality –- there is now a search and destroy mission targeting human embryos considered unworthy and unwanted.

“Where does this stop? The designation of any trait –- even the negative designation -– creates a designer baby. Someone has decided that some trait is unacceptable.

“In this case it was a gene linked to cancer,” he wrote. “What next? We already know that the vast majority of babies diagnosed with Down syndrome are now aborted. How long before there is a preimplantation screen for that syndrome? Couples are now screening embryos for gender. How long before athletic ability or earning potential is linked to a gene? Blond hair? Blue eyes?”

APPEALS COURT FREES S.D. LAW — The U.S. Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis lifted June 27 a lower-court order blocking enforcement of a life-affirming, informed consent law enacted by South Dakota in 2005.

Among other requirements, the law calls for a doctor to inform a woman seeking an abortion that the procedure “will terminate the life of a whole, separate, unique, living human being” and that the pregnant woman has an “existing relationship with that unborn human being.”

The joint Planned Parenthood office of Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota won a preliminary injunction against the law before a federal judge. After a three-judge panel of the Eighth Circuit upheld the judge’s injunction, the decision was appealed to the entire appeals court.

In its 7-4 decision, the appeals court said Planned Parenthood failed to show it would be likely to succeed in arguing the law’s “living human being” language “is untruthful, misleading or not relevant to the decision to have an abortion.”

Jordan Lorence, senior counsel of the Alliance Defense Fund, which filed a friend-of-the-court brief for Family Research Council, said in a statement, “A woman’s life is worth more than Planned Parenthood’s bottom line. Anyone truly concerned about the interests of women supports making sure they have access to all the information necessary to make a fully informed decision. Planned Parenthood, on the other hand, has argued adamantly to restrict the information women have about the lives of their pre-born babies.”

The case is Planned Parenthood v. Rounds.

‘LIFE PRIZES’ TO BE GIVEN — A new program has been inaugurated to award as much as $600,000 annually to people who have advanced the pro-life cause in the United States.

The Gerard Health Foundation, which funds pro-life initiatives globally, announced the program, titled “Life Prizes,” July 8. Beginning in January 2009, the awards will be presented to as many as six recipients each year.

The prizes will be given to pro-life leaders in such areas as public advocacy, scientific research and legal action.

Cathy Ruse, the program’s executive director, said its main purpose “is to reward those who are preserving the culture of life through their charitable enterprises or through advocacy programs that defend and preserve the sanctity of human life. We also hope to encourage young people to embrace and create a culture of life for future generations to come.”

More than 100 pro-life leaders have been chosen to make nominations for the awards by Aug. 15. Gerard will narrow the field to 20 finalists, who will be reduced by a selection committee to the prize recipients.

JINDAL SIGNS CLONING FUND BAN — Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, a Republican, has signed into law a bill banning state funding of all human cloning, his office announced June 26.

The measure not only bars human cloning to produce a live birth, typically referred to as reproductive cloning, but cloning to produce an embryo for experimentation, known as research (or therapeutic) cloning. In the latter, stem cells are extracted typically from a five- or six-day-old embryo, which results in the destruction of the tiny human being.

Stem cells are the body’s master cells that can develop into other cells and tissues, giving hope for the development of cures for a variety of diseases and other ailments. While embryonic stem cells have failed to produce treatments in human beings, stem cells from non-embryonic sources have produced treatments for at least 73 human ailments, according to Do No Harm, a coalition promoting ethics in research.
Tom Strode is the Washington bureau chief for Baptist Press.