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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 5 April 2004

5 April 2004

5 April 2004 British government attempts to reduce teenage pregnancy seem to be failing and appear also to have contributed to an increase in sexually-transmitted disease. In research to be presented to the Royal Economics Society, Dr David Paton, professor of industrial economics at Nottingham University Business School, points out that teenagers use more birth control if the cost of using it is reduced. Free morning-after pills are part of the government strategy. The study also reportedly observes how sexually transmitted disease among older teenagers has risen by 30% in the past five years, during which the government has operated its £63m strategy. [Guardian, 5 April ] Film of a vacuum abortion at four-weeks' gestation is to be shown on Channel 4, the British television station, on the 20th of this month. Viewers will also be shown aborted babies of four, 10 and 21 weeks' gestation. Most Rev Peter Smith, who speaks on citizenship for the English and Welsh bishops' conference, said such images: "could prove a powerful anti-abortion message". Archbishop Smith pointed out how lives were also lost through the use of morning-after pills, IVF and embryo experimentation. SPUC has provisionally welcomed the programme, saying that women had a right to know what abortion involved. The Daily Telegraph newspaper has welcomed the film, saying there are too many abortions. The film's female producer is reportedly pro-abortion and is said to have had an abortion herself. The Marie Stopes organisation co-operated in the making of the film. In 1997 and 2001 the ProLife Alliance's election broadcasts showing images of abortion were banned. [Guardian , Telegraph , Daily Mail, and English and Welsh bishops, 5 April] It is now a crime in the US to harm an unborn child while attacking his or her mother. President Bush signed the Unborn Victims of Violence Act on Friday (2 April). Supporters of abortion are concerned that the measure recognises unborn children as human. Senator John Kerry, the likely Democrat contender for the presidency, opposed the law. [BBC, 2 April ] The proportion of babies born naturally in England has risen while caesarian sections have stopped increasing and there have been fewer induced births. Government figures show that 47% of births last year were natural compared with 45% in 2002. The number of caesarians had been rising annually by around one percent since the 1980s. Doctors are soon to be officially advised that the state will only provide free caesarian sections on medical grounds. Women will be told of the complications which the procedure can cause. Babies born by caesarian reportedly have a higher risk of breathing difficulty. More than a fifth of births in England are by caesarian. [BBC, 1 April ] Guidelines for treating pregnant diabetic women should be improved, according to research on more than 300 women by Utrecht university, the Netherlands. As is customary, the women had a blood test in each of their pregnancies' three trimesters. There were complications among those whose blood sugar levels were, under current guidelines, deemed safe. Problems included pre-eclampsia and developmental anomalies in the children. [BBC, 5 April ] Preliminary research results suggest that steroids could be used to prevent miscarriage. A Surrey, England, hospital studied 300 women and found that the steriods, also used to treat asthma, appeared to stop women's immune systems from attacking their unborn babies. The course of treatment might cost less than £20. The research results have been submitted to a medical journal by Mr Hassan Shehata of Epsom and St Helier Hospital. [Epsom Guardian, 1 April ] A study of women in north-west England suggest that IVF works better in summer than winter. Liverpool university researchers found that less of the gonadotrophin hormone was needed to stimulate ovulation when the days were longer. Implantation was also more likely, as was a live birth. Natural pregnancies occur more readily when there is more daylight. [ic Cheshire, 1 April ] Babies' teeth could be a good source of stem cells for vital therapies, according to Mr Howard Morris of Royal Adelaide Hospital, South Australia. Mr Morris is reported as saying that the pulp in such teeth, which children shed naturally, is more accessible and richer than adult tissue. [Reuters, 4 April ] Such material would have none of the ethical problems of cells from human embryos. Complete capillary blood vessels have been grown from stem cells for the first time by scientists at Kyoto University, Japan. It would appear from our source that the cells were embryonic and they may have been human. [Medical News Today, 4 April ] Pressure is being applied on American Catholic clergy to follow the lead of Archbishop Raymond Burke of St Louis, Missouri, in refusing communion to Senator John Kerry, the likely Democrat candidate for president. A Vatican representative has been quoted as saying that Senator Kerry's support for abortion was a potential scandal. [Telegraph, 4 April ] Media in north-west England have reported on local preparations for SPUC's lobby of the Westminster parliament in the last week of this month. Mrs Mary Donlan, the organiser of a meeting in Preston on the subject last weekend, was quoted as saying that patients were already being denied food and fluids in British hospitals. She warned that the government's Mental Incapacity Bill would give legal backing to "such deadly practices". Doctors would be forced to withhold ordinary care from patients who could not communicate. Some patients would be left to die from dehydration. [Preston Today, 1 April ] The Vegetarian Society of the United Kingdom has produced a free booklet about vegetarianism in pregnancy and infancy. A spokesman claimed that vegetarian and vegan diets were suitable for expectant women and for babies. Health workers could not always provide adequate information and relatives sometimes persuaded vegetarian women to eat meat in pregnancy and give it to their children. [MIDIRS, 2 April ]

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