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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 6 October 2003

6 October 2003

6 October 2003 The Italian government has announced plans to tackle the country's population crisis, the BBC reports. Italy has the lowest birth rate in Europe and is facing an economic crisis, leading the government to propose raising the retirement age from 60 to 65 and offer cash incentives for couples who have more than one child. However, the trend towards single children families has been blamed on poor family support and the lack of facilities such as crèches and after school care. [BBC, 2 October ] Catholic hospitals in New York will be forced to distribute the morning after pill to rape victims if a bill passes in the next few days. The New York bishops opposed the bill initially until wording was added allowing staff to refuse the drug if it was determined that the woman was already pregnant. [CWNews, 3 October ] The two women who lost their high court case to have their embryos implanted without their partners' consent have asked for them to be adopted. Lorraine Hadley told BBC radio's Women's Hour: "At the end of the day, it's still a life that was created. Even if I can't have them, Wayne [her ex-husband] might consider we donate them so that at least someone else might benefit." A spokeswoman for the HFEA stated that there was no legal reason why adoption could not take place but that a new consent form might have to be drawn up for it to proceed. [BBC, 3 October ] Research published in the Lancet has suggested that complications during pregnancy rather than birth are the major causes of cerebral palsy in children. Scientists from Newcastle and Liverpool cited inflections, blood defects and both low and high birth weight as possible causes. Cerebral palsy is the leading cause of serious physical disability in children in developed countries. [BBC, 3 October ] The Council of Europe's parliamentary assembly has voted overwhelmingly in favour of a resolution to ask President Bush to reverse the Mexico City Policy. The Council has called for an "enlightened debate with the United States on the harmful effects of the re-establishment of the 'Mexico City policy'." Ans Zwerver, a Dutch Socialist member of the assembly claimed: "All women should have access to abortions performed under secure and accessible conditions." The Mexico City policy was first enacted by President Reagan in 1984, prohibiting USAID from funding organisations that promote or carry out abortions abroad. It was reversed by President Clinton and reinstated by President Bush. [LifeNews.com, 4 October ] Scotland's first national cord blood bank is to store umbilical cord stem cells to treat children suffering from cancer or blood diseases. Cord blood is now known to be a rich source of stem cells and doctors believe that it will be used to treat diseases such as MS, Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and stroke in the future. It is thought that 200,000 parents worldwide have stored their babies' cord blood privately because of the potential medical benefits. [The Sunday Herald, 5 October ] School nurses in South Devon will shortly begin giving out the morning after pill to children as young as 11, subject to agreement by the governors of individual schools. The nurses will be able to give out the pill without contacting the child's doctor or parents along with a 'holistic information package' about contraception, STIs and whether or not it is an appropriate time to engage in a sexual relationship. [Herald Express, 4 October ] SPUC national director John Smeaton said: "Parents need to be made aware of the practice of allowing school nurses to give pupils these pills. Their true nature and high dosage needs to be made public and we must get MPs to reverse the government's decision. Although our prime concern is that morning-after pills can cause abortion, parents also need to know that they are being made available to children who are way below the age of consent, and that such provision is confidential." [SPUC source ]

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