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Defending life from the moment of conception

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Morning-after pill to be given free to 12-year-olds nationwide

7 April 2006

The UK government has extended free provision of the morning-after pill to girls as young as 12 without their parent's knowledge. The programme to allow pharmacists to provide the pill without prescription had been tried experimentally, but is now to be extend to any area where local health officials perceive a problem of under-age pregnancies. [Daily Mail, 7 April] Anthony Ozimic, SPUC political secretary, commented: "The culture of promiscuity fuelled by the morning-after pill is causing immense harm to countless teenagers as well as killing unborn children they may have conceived. Beverley Hughes, the minister for children, admitted last year that the government's strategy was not working, yet they continue promoting the same discredited and lethal approach."

The Children's Minister, Beverley Hughes, has rejected the recommendation of the Bichard Report that social workers should ordinarily notify the police about sexual offences committed against children. Ms Hughes was speaking in Leicester to the Association of Directors of Social Services on 6 April. The Bichard report recommended that, by default, known offences should be reported, but the minister told social service departments that only where there is "reasonable cause to suspect ... harm" should a referral occur. She told health professionals never to report a case of a child involved in underage sex to the police without consulting a child protection expert first. [The Times, 7 April] The Bichard report investigated the background to the murders of Jessica Chapman and Holly Wells in Soham in 2003.

An Australian doctor has been charged with a second count of performing an illegal abortion. Suman Sood is accused of the manslaughter of a foetus and two counts of administering a drug with intent to procure a miscarriage. Sood allegedly gave abortifacient tablets to a 20-year-old woman seeking a late term abortion without giving her proper counselling. The case is set to come for trial in July. [The Australian Daily Telegraph, 7 April]

Mao Hengfeng, the Chinese woman who was imprisoned for protesting against her forced abortion, has allegedly suffered physical and mental abuse while being held in detention for her participation in a hunger strike to support other human rights campaigners. The nationwide hunger strike in support of human rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng took place in mid-February. Mao was held in detention from 13 February to 29 March. During this time, she says that she was restricted to one room in an apartment and was beaten up several times. A number of other participants in the hunger strike are said to remain in custody. [Human Rights in China, 31 March]

Trafficking of women is becoming more widespread in India, according to the BBC, as the birth control programme has resulted in too few women in the country. Sex-selective abortions have served a cultural preference for boys over girls so that in some Indian regions such as the northern state of Haryana, there are only 861 women for every 1,000 men. The national average is 927 women to 1,000 men. In the eastern tribal state of Jharkhand within Haryana, it is estimated that there are almost 45,000 young women who have been sold off as brides against their will. [BBC News, 5 April]

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