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BPAS: Nurses should be allowed to give abortion pills without doctors' consent

28 November 2006

The British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS), Britain's largest private abortion provider, has said that nurses should be allowed to give the abortion pill to women without the consent of doctors. Ann Furedi, chief executive of BPAS says "We would like to see the restriction removed that means by law women can only have an abortion if two doctors approve." She claimed this requirement was arcane, and that nurses should assess and provide the abortion pill. A Mori poll found that 59% of people favoured abortion on demand and 27% disagreed, compared with 64% and 25% in 1997. Ms Furedi noted that abortion has become a "back up" to contraception which has failed in about 40% of women seeking abortion. [The Guardian 28 November] Paul Tully, SPUC's General Secretary, responded in a press release, noting that in another recent poll just under 90% of women wanted women to be offered advice about alternatives to abortion such as adoption services and 87% wanted the government to fund organisations providing alternatives to abortion. [SPUC source 27 November] Julia Millington of the Pro-Life Alliance said "While some women do find themselves in difficult situations and need proper help and support, the vast majority of abortions are not performed due to any grave or permanent health risk." [BBC News 28 November]

Dr Thomas Stuttaford has said in his column in The Times that repeat abortions are as risky now for the woman both physically and emotionally as they were 30 years ago. He notes that there are still psychological problems for women despite the introduction of early chemical abortions. [The Times 28 November]

Alexander Krutov, a deputy of the lower house of the Russian Duma (parliament) has proposed a bill that says the husband must also sign a consent form to allow an abortion. He said "The decision to give birth to, or murder a baby is an enormous one and it should be made by the parents together." Russia's total fertility rate is 1.28 children per woman and in 2005 the abortion rate had outstripped its birth rate. The abortion rate is creating one of the world's worst demographic crises, with Russia's population declining by about 700,000 people annually. [LifeSiteNews 27 November]

Shona Robison, health spokeswoman for the Scottish National Party (SNP) has said that under an SNP government all pregnant women in Scotland would be offered two scans. Currently in some areas of Scotland pregnant women are not given a second ultrasound scan at 18-22 weeks. [The Herald 28 November]

The Catholic Church in Scotland has criticised the promotion of egg freezing for women who wish to postpone motherhood to further their careers. The Glasgow Centre for Reproductive Medicine is promoting the service, which may cost around £3100. Simon Dames, a spokesman for the Catholic Church in Scotland commented: "Putting careers before family is upside-down thinking. Money doesn't come before any relationship, especially family. In that sense, freezing eggs is a non-starter." [The Scottish Herald, 25 November]

A telephone survey on sex education conducted by ICM for Teachers TV has reported that 80% of parents are not opposed to secondary schools (children from age 11) teaching emotional and relationship aspects of sex. 800 parents were questioned. The TV channel also claimed that the survey showed most parents were not aware whether their teenage children were sexually active. Teachers TV Chief Executive, Andrew Bethell, said that parents were burying their heads in the sand, but Anastasia De Waal of think-tank Civitas said of government ministers: "For years they have been trying to take responsibility away from parents and now they say parents are at fault for not taking responsibility." [The Daily Mail, 27 November]

Two stem cell centres based in Scotland are attempting to produce liver stem cells from human embryos for patients with conditions such as cirrhosis. According to The Scottish Herald, both the Roslin Cells Centre in Midlothian and Stem Cell Services are using human embryos for this purpose. [The Scottish Herald, 27 November]

A new system has been launched in the UK to help doctors to locate the nearest available hospital place for ill newborn babies, BBC reports. Some three babies a day are transferred, sometimes hundreds of miles, because of staff and cot shortages. The National Neonatal Cot Locator should provide doctors with accurate information on cot availability. [BBC, 27 November]

Researchers from the British Columbia Cancer Agency have produced a preliminary study, which suggests that patients who receive stem cell transplants for conditions such as leukaemia have an increased risk of developing secondary cancers within ten years. A review of 900 adult patients who had bone marrow transplants within a period of 20 years found that they had twice the risk of developing cancer than the general population, particularly if the donor was female. However, Donna Forrest who led the research cautioned that this is a first study and that it did not control for factors such as smoking and body weight. [New Scientist, 27 November]

The annual conference of the Scottish branch of the British Psychological Society has heard research that a moderate amount of stress during pregnancy could help the development of the unborn baby. Dr Melanie Gunning of Queen Margaret University College, Edinburgh, stated: "Recent evidence suggests the moderate, everyday stress women experience...may be associated with some better outcomes as infants develop." [The Courier, 25 November]

The British Dyslexia Assocation has welcomed news that scientists may be able to diagnose dyslexia in unborn babies. Researchers from Edinburgh University have helped to identify the gene combination that influences the ability to read fluently. Vikki McNicol of the British Dyslexia Association said: "The earlier dyslexic children are diagnosed and given help, the better their chances of living fulfilled lives." [The Scotsman, 27 November] Prenatal genetic testing by amniocentesis involves risk of miscarriage.

Doctors in Chile have removed a 10 centimetre unborn baby from the abdomen of a newborn baby boy, Reuters reports. The rare case of a twin apparently trapped inside the other's body during pregnancy is thought to be the first of its kind in Chile. [Reuters, 27 November]

A Canadian University is attempting to ban any student club that opposes abortion, Life Site reports. The Carleton University Students' Association (CUSA) is to vote on a motion which argues that pro-life groups "compromise the personal safety and threaten the self esteem of women who may contemplate abortion or have chosen to have an abortion". The motion is to be voted on at a meeting on 5 December and may ban many religious groups. [, 24 November]

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