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JULY 29 2011 THE CATHOLIC HERALD
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Figures reveal IVF destruction of embryos
BY SIMON CALDWELL
MORE than 30 human embryos are destroyed for every successful live birth by IVF, Government figures have shown for the first time.
British scientists have created and destroyed more than three million human embryos by IVF in the last 20 years, the figures show.
But fewer than 100,000 embryos created in test tubes have been successfully implanted into women to result in live births in that period.
A total of 155 embryos categorised as animal-human “admixed” hybrids have also been created for destructive experimentation in the last three years, the figures show.
Altogether 3,144,386 embryos have been created in British laboratories since the passage of the 1991 Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act.
These have resulted in just 94,090 births, meaning that in the region of 32 embryos are created and destroyed for every live birth. It also means that 3,050,296 embryos have been destroyed, stored, lost or researched upon in destructive experiments.
Lord Alton of Liverpool, a veteran pro-life campaigner, said he found the Department of Health figures “staggering”. He said: “We are creating and destroying human embryos on an industrial scale.”
He said the figures revealed the folly of spending huge amounts of money on treatments which usually failed at a time when there are 600 abortions a day and just 70 babies put up for adoption each year.
“We would be less than human if we didn’t feel joy for the parents of a newborn baby and even if IVF has helped them to have that child it is right to celebrate with joy that they have a child in that family,” said the crossbench peer.
“But we shouldn’t remove from the debate how many other human embryos are discarded without any thought in order to achieve that object.”
“I think the real work that should be going on in fertility treatment is to fund the development of implantation techniques which don’t require the destruction of human embryos.”
The figures, disclosed by Health Minister Lord Howe in a written answer to a question posed by Lord Alton, reveal that a total of 1,455,832 embryos were discarded during cycles of IVF treatment.
A medical worker at an IVF unit at the University of Wales in Cardiff
They also showed that 764,311 have been stored for possible future use, that 101,605 were handed over to researchers and that the rest were lost while women attempted to become pregnant.
IVF has a success rate of only 15 per cent, though the numbers of babies created in this way has risen in the last three years to about 12,000 a year. The cost of a single cycle is usually more than
£4,000, which is sometimes met by the NHS.
The “cybrid” animalhuman embryos were created following the passage of the 2008 Human Fertilisation Embryology Act when they
Photo: Ben Birchall/PA Wire were legalised for research for the first time.
Licences to carry out research on cytoplasmic hybrids were granted to King’s College London and Newcastle University.
CATHOLIC and Anglican bishops have united in showing support for Travellers about to be evicted from their Dale Farm site near Basildon, Essex. The community featured in the BBC documentary The Big Gypsy Eviction earlier this month.
In a joint statement Bishop Thomas McMahon of Brentwood and the Rt Reverend Stephen Cottrell, Anglican Bishop of Chelmsford, said: “We write to express our very deep concern at the de
Bishops criticise plan to evict Essex Travellers BY DAVID V BARRETT
cision to evict travellers from the Dale Farm site in the near future.”
More than 1,000 Travellers live at the site, the largest in England and possibly in Europe. But about half of the 100 pitches do not have planning permission from Basildon Council, which has announced its intention to evict the Travellers if they do not leave by the end of August.
Irish Travellers and Romany Gypsies have lived on the site legally since the 1970s. But in 2001 Travellers also began setting up illegal pitches on protected greenbelt land. Although the travellers own the illegal half of the site the council has refused them planning permission, leading to protracted legal battles and increasing confrontation.
The eviction is expected to cost up to £9.5 million, to be paid for by the Home Office, Essex Police Authority and Basildon Council.
The bishops said: “While we recognise that Travellers, like others, are not above the law, nevertheless half the
Dale Farm site is already recognised as lawful and it would seem to the benefit of all to authorise the adjoining site rather than spend millions on eviction in these days of austerity and cutbacks.
“Above all, we feel that the solution lies in providing more permanent authorised sites around the country rather than spending such a prodigal sum on eviction.” Although councils used to be legally required to make provision for Travellers and Romanies, this obligation was removed in 1994 and since then many councils have closed sites, making the residents homeless. Some of the residents at the Dale Farm site moved there after other councils closed the sites they had previously lived on. The Government has cut £30 million from its funding for new sites.
The bishops drew attention to the fact that the Dale Farm site was well-established, and that the children attended a local school. They said: “We are particularly concerned that breaking up this long-standing and close-knit community and its way of life will be a serious trauma for all concerned and especially the children who have stability and support at the excellent Crays Hill primary school that most of them attend.
“The Pope echoed these sentiments recently in an address to Travellers when he called on governments to help provide housing, employment and education as the foundation to help travellers integrate more into our society.”
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Vandals target Mother Teresa Sisters’ convent Archbishops urge Holy Land tourists to ‘engage reality’
BY DANIEL COPPEN
SISTERS belonging to Mother Teresa’s order have been left terrified after vandals damaged their home in Glasgow.
The Sisters woke on the night of July 12 to the sound of a smashing window. They stayed on the upper floor of their house, afraid to investigate the noise.
Vandals have previously targeted the home of the Sisters of the Missionaries of Charity on several occasions. In other incidents windows were broken, a vegetable garden disturbed and a statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary stolen, but later returned.
The Sisters said they decided not to report the latest incident to police because they had not seen who had caused the damage. They have not reported any of the other incidents.
James Macmillan, the award-winning composer who made a landmark speech on sectarianism in Scotland in 1999, said he was concerned by the vandalism.
He said: “It is no surprise to Scottish Catholics that attacks like these are ongoing. And it is no surprise that the Scottish media chooses to ignore them. It is also no surprise that the nuns choose to keep their counsel and pray for the souls of their attackers. That is the way most Catholics here have learned to behave. The shameful sectarian nature of Scottish society is now gradually becoming known to the outside world. This particular form of sectarianism has a specific name in Scotland – anti-Catholicism.”
A spokesman for the Catholic Church in Glasgow said: “This kind of attack on the Sisters of Charity, whose vocation is to help the poorest of the poor, is utterly deplorable. Those who commit such crimes should be deeply ashamed of their actions.”
The home of the Sisters of the Missionaries of Charity in Glasgow was founded over 25 years ago, and currently is home to four of the Sisters of Mother Teresa.
The Missionaries of Charity Order, which was founded by Mother Teresa in 1950, now consists of over 4,500 Sisters and is active in 133 countries. Their duties involve caring for the ill, refugees, lepers, the aged, patients with Aids and abandoned children.
Providing services such as schools and soup kitchens, they are able to educate street children and feed the homeless. With 19 homes in Calcutta alone aid is provided for everyone in need, regardless of their social state and religion. Their Aids hospice, leper colony and schools help to achieve this goal.
BY SIMON CALDWELL AND JILL, DUCHESS OF HAMILTON
CATHOLIC and Anglican leaders have challenged Christians to find new ways to establish lasting peace in the Holy Land, including changing the nature of pilgrimages.
International Christian, Jewish and Muslim delegates at the two-day Conference on Christians in the Holy Land, at Lambeth Palace last week, considered concrete steps that might be taken by ordinary people to help to resolve enduring tensions that have forced millions of Palestinian Christians to flee their homeland in the past 50 years.
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, said the “approach to pilgrimages” needed to change beyond a “tourist venture” to allow visitors “to engage with the reality on the ground”.
“The idea that out of this conference we might generate a new template about how pilgrimages might look like, that has come into focus,” Dr Williams said.
Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster said: “One of the greatest characteristics of this conference, I think, has been the sensitivity, almost the reverence, [with] which people have spoken and listened to each other.
“I think that on listening to the different voices – Jewish, Muslim and Christian – this conference has modelled some of the outcome it would like to promote.”
Instead of just concentrating on bleak political issues, such as increased settlement building, the Israeli Security Wall, checkpoints and Gaza, many of the 90 delegates put forward practical, manageable projects.
One that received much praise was a housing project on some land on the road between Bethlehem and Jerusalem. As many people are unable to obtain mortgages on their own, the Latin Patriarchate will be underwriting 20-year mortgages for them.
This “bottom-up” economics approach fitted in with the aims of a new charity, Friends of the Holy Land, of which both Archbishop Nichols and Dr Williams are patrons.
The charity has sought to help Christians in Bethlehem and other areas of the West Bank in many small ways. It has already changed the lives of over 60 elderly women by setting up St Martha’s House, a day care social centre which provides everything from hot lunches and outings to hairdressing and medical aids.
Dr Michael Whelan, chairman of Friends of the Holy Land, said: “We also help with the micro-financing of new businesses. A candle factory is being discussed at the moment. And we are boosting their trade by selling olive wood carvings from Bethlehem here in England.”
NEWSBULLETIN Anti-euthanasia protest to be held outside Parliament DISABILITY rights campaigners were to stage an anti-euthanasia protest outside Parliament on Wednesday in protest at the Government’s policy.
The event was to be led by Nikki Kenward of the campaign group Distant Voices, who was “locked in” after contracting Guillian Barre Syndrome, which left her paralysed except for the ability to wink an eye. Mrs Kenward, who has never regained the use of her legs, fears that pressure is mounting on Parliament and in the courts to allow the killing of seriously sick, disabled or minimally conscious, but incapacitated, patients. A review is being conducted of the care of the 6,000 mentally incapacitated patients in the British healthcare system.
Baby survives birth at 23 weeks A BABY has become Britain’s most premature infants, surviving after doctors had advised an abortion.
Jacob McMahon survived against the odds after he was born on February 22, just 23 weeks into pregnancy, at a weight of 1lb 4oz. Last week, aged just five months, he was deemed healthy enough to leave hospital with his mother Sara Fisher, 25, and father Scott McMahon, 26.
Doctors had advised that Miss Fisher to abort Jacob after his twin sister, Emie, died when she was born at 21 weeks and six days due to an infection. Jacob followed eight days later, 12 hours before doctors would have demanded a final decision from the family on whether to abort. Jacob joins a growing list of babies who have survived despite being below the upper abortion limit of 24 weeks.
Trust to set up university A NEW Catholic university college for the Liberal Arts is planned for London. The college, to be run by the Benedictus Trust, will offer a foundation year with one term in Italy and a threeyear undergraduate course.
The Trust’s website says the university will offer an education “that is faithful to the teachings of the Catholic Church” and will be “mindful of the central position of Christianity” in western civilisation.
Bishop to address priests THE FIRST Confraternity Colloquium, the annual event organised by the British Confraternity of Catholic Clergy, will be addressed by Bishop Mark Davies of Shrewsbury.
The event, which takes place at the Reading Oratory school on October 27 and 28, will also include talks by Mgr Andrew Wadsworth, director of ICEL, and Edmund Adamus, Westminster’s director of pastoral affairs.
Parishes urged to mark papal visit BISHOP Kieran Conry of Arundel and Brighton is urging parishes in England and Wales to mark the first anniversary of the papal visit by sharing memories of the event.
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