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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 30 January 2002

30 January 2002

30 January 2002 More than 11% of prescriptions for abortifacient morning-after pills at family planning clinics in England last year were for girls under 16. British government statistics have revealed that 25,200 girls under 16--the legal age of consent for sex--were given prescriptions for morning-after pills at English family planning clinics last year. The number of under-age girls taking the drug has increased by 17% since 1999. Professor Jack Scarisbrick, chairman of the Life charity, said: "The ready availability of this abortive agent simply encourages sexual activity and will lead to more sexually transmitted diseases and more infertility in later life." [Mail on Sunday, 27 January] The British media has given extensive coverage to the case of a premature baby who died an hour after birth and whose body was then mistakenly thrown into a laundry bin and put through a boil wash by hospital staff. Queen Mary's Hospital, Sidcup, Kent, has issued an apology to the parents of James Fernandez and a spokesman said that Mr Tony Blair, the prime minister, "sympathises greatly" with the baby's parents. James was born 17 weeks prematurely, which is within the legal time-limit for most abortions in Britain. [BBC News online , 30 January] SPUC has pointed out the hypocrisy in the coverage because more than 100 unborn babies of James's age or older were legally aborted in Britain in 2000 (the last year for which comprehensive data is available). A 75,000-signature petition calling for the defence of human life from conception has been presented to the German parliament in Berlin, where human embryo research is being debated today. 14 organisations arranged the petition under the motto: "To be human from the beginning." [EWTN News, 25 January ] An opinion poll has indicated that Irish voters are split over the proposed constitutional amendment which would ease the country's constitutional ban on abortion. A Market Research Bureau of Ireland survey for the Irish Times says that 39% support the proposals with 34% against. 21% had no opinion and six percent said they would not vote in the referendum, for which a date will reportedly be agreed by ministers today. [AP, via Northern Light, 26 January ; Irish Times, 30 January ] An article in a leading international peer-reviewed pharmacy journal has suggested that failure to inform women of the potential abortifacient effect of morning-after pills goes against the principle of informed consent. An article entitled "Postfertilization effect of hormonal emergency contraception" set to appear in the March issue of The Annals of Pharmacotherapy notes that the active ingredients of morning-after pills can cause the abortion of newly-formed embryonic life. Drs Chris Kahlenborn, Joseph Stanford and Walter Larimore, the authors, conclude that the drug probably causes early abortions more often than is recognised by physicians or patients. [LifeSite, 29 January ; The Annals of Pharmacotherapy, March 2002 ] Scientists in the UK have discovered that a defective blood clotting gene may cause recurrent miscarriages in some women. Dr Raj Rai at Imperial College, London, analysed a control group of pregnant women with a history of miscarriages at about the 12th week of pregnancy. He found that only 40% of women with a mutated gene known as factor V Leiden (FVL) gave birth to a live child compared with 70% of those without the mutation. It is thought that women with the mutation suffer an exaggeration of normal clot-promoting changes during pregnancy, and that their chances of avoiding miscarriage could be improved by anti-blood clotting treatment. FVL is carried by about five percent of Caucasians. [BBC News online, 29 January ] Researchers in Israel have discovered how to ascertain the sex of an unborn child just 16 days after conception. A team led by Dr Yuval Yaron at the Tel Aviv Medical Centre found that, 16 days after conception, levels of the maternal serum HCG hormone were 18.5% higher in women who had conceived a female child than in those who whose child was male. [Ananova, 30 January ]

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