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Ethicist says fertility breakthrough sends wrong message

Salesian Fr Norman Ford of Melbourne's Caroline Chisholm Centre for Health Ethics has said it would be wrong for fertile women to have a recently developed operation to allow them to give birth into their late 40s and 50s.

The media is reporting this morning on world-first surgery developed by Professor Jacques Donnez of the Catholic University of Louvain in Belgium offers new hope to women suffering cancer, and those who want to cheat their biological clocks.

Doctors yesterday announced a cancer patient had become pregnant after her ovaries were removed and frozen six years ago.

Chemotherapy and radiation treatment left the woman infertile before doctors last year re-implanted her ovaries. The woman, 32, stunned fertility experts by conceiving naturally.

Fr Ford said that while he would be happy to see married women with cancer making use of the technique, "the risk to their unborn child would be hard to justify when a woman is fertile and simply wants to extend her career".

"I would have serious reservations," he said.

New hope for young women with cancer (Herald-Sun 1/7/04)

Pregnancy from frozen ovary is world first (Sydney Morning Herald 1/7/04)
Infertile woman expecting baby after ovarian tissue transplant (The Guardian/Associated Press 30/6/04)
Cancer birth world first (Sky News 30/6/04)
First woman pregnant after ovary graft (Reuters/ABC Science 30/6/04)
Ovary transplant pregnancy first (BBC 29/6/04)
Tissue Reimplantation Helps Woman Conceive (Washington Post 30/6/04)
Baby on way after frozen ovary graft (London Daily Telegraph 30/6/04)
Abbott says new stem cells book goes beyond religion (CathNews 2/3/04)
Mercy Health & Aged Care: Caroline Chisholm Centre

31 Jul 2004