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Teenage abortion rate hits record high in Scotland

25 May 2006

Teenage abortions reached their highest levels to date in Scotland last year, figures published yesterday reveal. 3,304 out of 12,603 abortions were carried out women under 20, with abortions for under 16s rising by 10% to 341. Mario Conti, Archbishop of Glasgow, commented "Today's figures reveal yet again that the approach of ever greater availability of contraception, ever more explicit sex education, and ever easier access to abortion, is a recipe for disaster". John Sweeney of SPUC Scotland said: "The current programme of providing contraceptive services with its value-free safe-sex message encourages young people to be sexually active. The consequence is more abortions." [The Herald, 25 May]

A Norwegian study has found that IVF is linked to an increased risk of placenta praevia, a potentially dangerous pregnancy complication in which the placenta covers the cervix, blocking the baby's entrance into the birth canal. The study, carried out at St Olav's University Hospital, Trondheim, investigated 845,000 pregnancies, and found that among users of IVF the risk was 16 in 1,000 as opposed to 3 in 1,000 for natural pregnancies. Britain's Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority has said its Scientific and Clinical Advances Group will consider the research. [BBC Health, 24 May]

Sex selective abortion is being carried out in Canada, according to an investigative report by the Western Standard magazine. Journalists found an internal memo from the Women's Hospital in Vancouver which suggested that doctors were carrying out abortions based on the mother being dissatisfied with the gender of the child. The magazine also reports that in parts of Canada with large Chinese or Indian communities, the birth ratio of girls to boys is falling noticeably. [LifeSite, 24 May]

The Independent newspaper has published a letter from Lord Rix, chairman of the learning disability charity Mencap, in which he argues that eugenics still informs attitudes to Down's Syndrome children. Lord Rix criticises that view that sees the birth of Down's Syndrome child as a "tragedy" and points out that while Down's Syndrome cannot be cured, "attitudes can be changed". [The Independent, 24 May]

The Health Minister Livia Turco in the new Italian government has spoken in favour of legalising the abortion pill RU-486, proposing trials of the drug in the first instance. The Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano criticised the proposals, describing RU-486 as a method for "carefree murder". [Reuters, 23 May]

A Northern Irish MP has expressed his relief at the failure of Lord Joffe's assisted suicide bill in the House of Lords, but warns that similar legislation is likely to be introduced, in the Lords or Commons. Nigel Dodds, Democratic Unionist MP for North Belfast, said "It is absolutely essential ... that we remain vigilant ... This is a question of the value of human life and, in my view, human life is sacrosanct and should not be interfered with through the introduction of legislation like this". [UTV 23 May]

A study has found that participating in euthanasia can have adverse psychological effects on doctors. The report by Kenneth R. Stevens, Jr., published by the Physicians for Compassionate Care Education Foundation, takes its data from sources including medical journals, legal investigations and the press, and concludes that "Many doctors who have participated in euthanasia and/or PAS [Physician Assisted Suicide] are adversely affected emotionally and psychologically by their experiences". [LifeSite, 23 May] The study was first published in Issues in Law & Medicine 21:187 (2006).

Researchers in South Africa have found that a type of sleeping pill can temporarily 'wake' patients in PVS (Permanent Vegetative State). Three patients who had been non-responsive for a long period, revived and in two cases were able to talk for four hours after being given Zolpidem. Dr Ralf Clauss, now at Royal Surrey Hospital, who helped to carry out the study said that the drug appears to work by re-activating areas of the brain which become 'dormant' following damage. Mike Barnes, professor of neurological rehabilitation in Newcastle, said that it was possible the patients did not have PVS but a similar condition which allows recovery of consciousness. [BBC News, 23 May]

Fertility clinics are becoming increasingly common in China, the Boston Globe reports. While the country has a strict one-child policy, many infertile couples are seeking treatment in order to conceive their one child. Healthy couples are also said to use fertility clinics, because of the higher chance of conceiving twins or triplets and thus circumventing the ban on multiple children. Our source makes reference to "test tube baby" treatment as well as surrogacy and the exchange of gametes. [The Boston Globe, 23 May]

The Independent newspaper has published an obituary on Dr Lee Jong Wook, the director-general of the UN's World Health Organisation who died on Saturday. Among his cited achievements as head of the WHO is his addition of the abortion drugs mifepristone (RU486) and misoprostol, to the WHO list of essential medicines. [The Independent, 24 May]

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