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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 22 December 2003

22 December 2003

22 December 2003 The Catholic archbishop of Birmingham, England, has criticised the British Pregnancy Advisory Service for encouraging women to buy morning-after pills in anticipation of the festive season. Most Rev Vincent Nichols accused the service of encouraging young people to act irresponsibly. Girls under 16 will be offered the pills without their parents' knowledge. [Sunday Mercury, 21 December ] Governor Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota and his health commissioner are resisting criticism of a state website which says that some research shows a link between abortion and breast cancer. The health department website also says that some studies suggest there is no link. The Minnesota Medical Association reportedly calls the site misleading and confusing. The state branch of the American College of Obstretricians and Gynecologists is described as saying the site is deceptive. [KARE 11, 19 December ] An Australian judge has ruled that, in cases of assault, an unborn child should be treated as part of his or her mother. Mr James Spiegelman, the New South Wales chief justice, was deciding in the case of a man who attacked his pregnant girlfriend causing a miscarriage at 24 weeks. A lower court ruled that Mr Phillip King had procured a miscarriage, an offence carrying a maximum five-year sentence. Mr King could now serve 25 years for maliciously causing grievous bodily harm. Mr Bob Debus, the state's attorney general, plans next year to make it an offence to kill an unborn child. [Sydney Morning Herald, 20 December ] The health editor of the Observer newspaper has written of how drunkenness can damage ovaries and thus harm women's fertility. Ms Jo Revill also points out how intoxication can lead to casual sex which spreads diseases that can cause sterility. [Observer, 21 December ] The British Association for Sexual Health and HIV want sufferers from sexually transmitted diseases to get treatment more promptly. Patients can wait three weeks for an appointment and the association wants this cut to 48 hours. Clinics are reportedly overwhelmed by the need for their services. Cases of syphilis have increased by some 375% since 1997, since when chlamydial and gonococcal infections have risen by 70%. [BBC, 20 December ] A British pharmacy chain is to offer free kits to test for chlamydia, the sexually transmitted disease which affects women's, and possibly also men's, fertility. Branches of Boots are to give out the urine-testing kits in Merseyside in the new year. [Observer, 21 December ] The Center for Reproductive Rights of New York and Washington, DC, has told Focus on the Family and (formerly Pro-Life Infonet) to stop writing about its pro-abortion strategy. On the 12th of this month we reported on how the centre had similarly threatened the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute of New York. The formerly secret memoranda which describe the centre's campaign for an international right to abortion are part of the US congress's official record. [Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute, 19 December ] The Catholic church has welcomed the ban on partial-birth abortion in Ohio, on which we reported on Friday. Ms Cathy Cleaver Ruse of the American bishops' pro-life secretariat called partial-birth abortion extreme and careless. It had no place in a civilised society. [Catholic News Service, 19 December ] Parents reportedly exert the greatest influence on teenagers' decisions about sexual activity yet they do not think they do. A telephone survey of 1,000 teenagers and 1,000 adults in the US found that 45% of young people listened most to their parents while just 31% were chiefly influenced by friends. The National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy's research found that parents thought they had little influence on teenage sexual behaviour. [LifeSite on Catholic World News, 19 December ] Scotland's Catholic bishops will next weekend call on their people to build a culture of life. A letter from Cardinal Keith O'Brien, president of the bishops' conference, to be read at Mass will also announce a "day for life" on 31 May. [Zenit, 21 December ] A letter to today's Irish Examiner newspaper warns that Ireland could assist in "a new and more terrible Auschwitz" by co-operating with research on human embryos. Dr M E MacConaill of County Cork mentions how Dr David Prentice, the stem cell expert at Indiana state university, has pointed out that no clinical treatment has currently arisen from embryo research. Dr MacConaill urges Ireland to pursue only ethical research. [Irish Examiner, 22 December ] Florida's supreme court has ruled that a pesticide has caused sight-defects in unborn babies. The DuPont company of Delaware must pay nearly £4m to a family whose child's development was affected by the Benlate fungicide. Some 30 families in Britain are seeking similar compensation [The Herald, 22 December ] Expectant mothers should avoid contact with sheep during lambing, according to a British government warning. In a small number of cases, infections in ewes can cause human miscarriage. [Western Mail, 22 December ] Improved maternal health and diet mean that the number of large newborn babies in Britain has risen by a fifth in 10 years. Experts welcomed the development but warned of the dangers of fast food. Babies weighing at least 10 pounds (4.54 kilograms) are deemed large. [Sunday Times, 21 December ] Scientists hope to produce dehydrated stem cells for therapeutic use away from conventional medical facilities. California university (Davis) researchers have dried and re-hydrated mesenchymal stem cells from bone marrow, some of which grew and divided. Stem cells are conventionally kept at minus 140 degrees Celsius. [Nature, 19 December ]

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