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LIFE DIGEST: One in 30 aborted babies is born alive, British study finds; …

WASHINGTON (BP)–One in 30 babies aborted because of severe handicaps survives, according to a new study in Great Britain.

The aborted babies who were born alive died after an average of 80 minutes, but some lived for more than six hours, reported the Evening Standard, a British newspaper.

The report, based on a study of primarily chemical abortions at 20 West Midlands hospitals, caused a pro-life leader to question what the actual count would be if babies who do not have physical impairments are included.

“It begs the question of how many healthy babies must be surviving,” said Julia Millington of Alive and Kicking, according to the Evening Standard. “It would suggest the true figure must be much higher.

“With live births after abortion occurring in 18 out of the 20 maternity units in the West Midlands alone, it is difficult to comprehend the numbers of babies around the country left fighting for their lives.”

Most of the abortions involved in the research were performed using the abortion drug RU 486, according to the newspaper.

The study, which was published in the British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, analyzed nearly 3,200 abortions performed between 1995 and 2004 on children with such impairments as Down syndrome and heart defects. The research found 102 of these babies were born alive.

Most of the children were born from 20 to 24 weeks into pregnancy, but some survived after only 17 weeks, the Evening Standard reported.

Though the report did not provide evidence any of the babies lived for more than several hours, a child born at 24 weeks into pregnancy in Norwich is still living after three years, according to the newspaper.

The West Midlands, which includes six counties, accounts for about 10 percent of the babies born in Great Britain each year.

RU 486, also known as mifepristone, is used as the first part in a two-step process. Mifepristone causes the lining of the uterus to release the embryonic child, causing his death. In mid-term abortions in Great Britain, a second drug, misoprostol, is given vaginally two days after mifepristone and causes the uterus to contract, expelling the baby.

WOES OUT WEST –- Problems continue to mount for California’s $3 billion stem cell research program.

Zach Hall, president and chief scientific official of the California Institute of Regenerative Medicine, resigned April 17, partly because of strife over a building project for research laboratories, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

The stem cell program, which was approved by California voters in 2004, will provide $3 billion in funding from bonds over 10 years for research utilizing embryonic stem cells and therapeutic cloning. Such experiments result in the destruction of human embryos.

The latest dispute is over a plan to construct $300 million in labs. A working group advising the stem cell agency on the building program is deeply divided, the Chronicle reported.

Hall, 69, had planned on retiring at the end of June but suddenly gave his two weeks’ notice April 17 after saying he would have surgery for prostate cancer in May. He also said he was leaving his post early because of “the exceedingly contentious and occasionally personal tone” of a recent advisory group meeting, according to the Chronicle.

The division involves University of California leaders and scientists seeking quick construction of labs on one side and patient advocates seeking a more cautious approach to building on the other, the newspaper reported.

“Zach identified a cultural divide that existed between the scientist members and the patient advocates, and he didn’t want to straddle it anymore,” stem cell board member Jeff Sheehy said, according to the Chronicle.

In December, the institute acknowledged it is “unlikely” any therapies will be fully developed from embryonic stem cell research during the initiative’s 10 years.

THUMBS UP FOR ABORTION PILL –- A U.S. Senate committee rejected April 18 an effort to suspend sales of the abortion drug RU 486.

The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee voted 12-8 against an amendment by Sen. Tom Coburn, R.-Okla., according to LifeNews.com. The vote was nearly along party lines, with Democrats in the majority. GOP Sen. Judd Gregg of New Hampshire voted with the Democrats.

Eight women’s deaths in the United States have been associated with RU 486, as well as nine life-endangering situations, about 120 blood transfusions and more than 200 hospitalizations, Sen. Jim DeMint, R.-S.C., said last year.

The FDA approved the sale of RU 486 in the U.S. in 2000, four months before President Clinton finished his second term.

CUT THE TIES -– The United Methodist Church is being urged to sever its relationship with the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice.

Two UMC agencies –- the General Board of Church and Society, as well as the Women’s Division –- are members of the RCRC, which contends abortion is a religious liberty issue.

The new call for the UMC to pull out of the coalition came after RCRC President Carlton Veazey called the Supreme Court’s April 18 decision upholding a ban on partial-birth abortion a “serious setback for women’s health.” He said the RCRC was “alarmed that the Court has taken a step toward valuing a potential person over the woman whose life may be at risk.”

The UMC’s Book of Discipline says, “We oppose the use of late-term abortion, known [as] dilation and extraction (partial-birth abortion) and call for the end of this practice except when the physical life of the mother is [endangered],” according to the Institute on Religion and Democracy.

The UMC “clearly opposes partial-birth abortion, so to remain affiliated with a coalition that aggressively supports it is inappropriate,” said Mark Tooley, the director of IRD’s UM Action Committee. “The [RCRC] exists solely to provide a faith-based veneer for aggressively promoting the availability of abortion.”

MORE TIME FOR EMILIO — Critically ill infant Emilio Gonzales has gained a further lease on life.

Travis County (Texas) Probate Judge Guy Herman delayed a hearing on the care of the 17-month-old, critically ill child April 18. Herman postponed a hearing set the next day and rescheduled it for May 8 in order to provide a court-appointed guardian with more time to do an investigation and offer recommendations, according to the Austin American-Statesman.

Herman had issued a temporary restraining order April 10, forcing Children’s Hospital of Austin to continue Emilio’s treatment and providing more time for another medical facility to be found for the boy. Until Herman’s order, the hospital was scheduled to remove Emilio from a ventilator that is helping him breathe April 11.

Under Texas’ “futile care” law, the hospital’s ethics committee, acting in agreement with doctors, had decided further treatment of Emilio was futile. It had called for him to be transferred to another facility within 10 days or have his care ended.

Emilio, who has been in the hospital since December, is believed to have Leigh’s disease, a nervous system disorder that normally does not permit sufferers to reach their teenage years, according to National Right to Life News.