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Defending life from the moment of conception

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39 years since Britain legalised abortion

27 October 2006

Britain legalised abortion 39 years ago today. A group of physicians in the UK have drawn attention to research suggesting that abortion can increase the risk of mental problems in women. In a letter to today's Times newspaper, the 15 doctors write that women should be warned about the psychological problems of abortion, and they call on the bodies which regulate obstetricians, gynaecologists and psychiatrists to change their guidance. The research which they cite was published in The Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry in January. [The Times, 27 October] The newspaper also carried an article about Ms Sue Hulbert who suffered from long-term depression after an abortion. She said: "I had never suffered from any mental illness before and I had never been depressed and, really, I am the last person who you would expect to react like this. But I was haunted by my abortion and it robbed me of all my confidence." Ms Hulbert was helped by British Victims of Abortion. [The Times, 27 October] To mark the anniversary, there was a vigil and procession in Glasgow, Scotland, and, in a homily, the Catholic Bishop of Paisley said: "The unborn child has a fundamental and inalienable right to life that cannot be abrogated by any man-made law." [Christian Today, 27 October] An opinion-article in the Guardian newspaper laments what the author sees as a stigma about abortion and calls for it to be made more easily available. [The Guardian, 27 October]

A quarter of abortions in Scotland are repeats, with some women opting for abortion five times or more. Last year four fifths (more than 2,500) of Scotland's repeat abortions were second abortions, 16% were third abortions and the rest were the fourth or more. Women under 25 make up more than two fifths of those having their second abortion. 152 women last year had had three abortions by the time they were 25. Nearly 40 had had at least four. Ian Murray, director of SPUC Scotland, said: "These figures suggest that some young women use abortion as another form of birth control. A number of MPs are currently calling for a reduction in the upper time limit for social abortions. If they are really concerned about women they will join with us in offering women real choices and support through better care and counselling facilities. Abortion is not the answer to a woman's crisis pregnancy." SPUC Scotland obtained the details by invoking legislation on disclosure of information. [SPUC Scotland, 27 October]

The European parliament yesterday rejected three amendments to the European Union budget which would have removed funding from government and organisations' programmes which include coercive abortion, involuntary sterilisation and infanticide. Shortly afterwards, the parliament condemned China for allegedly shooting refugees. Ms Kathy Sinnott, MEP for Ireland south, welcomed the condemnation but said: "Why do Tibetans try to escape from China? Because of these very barbaric practices that in addition to the religious and political persecution blights the life of all the minorities and conquered peoples within the territory China now claims to rule." She asked the European commission what part EU aid was playing in that suffering. [Ms Sinnott's office, 26 October]

Nicaraguan legislators have approved what appears to be a total ban on abortion. Rape victims will reportedly not be exempted. [Reuters, 27 October]

Making birth-control more widely available does not cut pregnancy or abortion rates, according to the American bishops' pro-life secretariat. Ms Susan Wills, an associate director, was responding to an article in the Washington Post and supported her point with the results of research in Britain, China, Sweden and the US. [Kaiser Network on Medical News Today, 26 October] A fifth of women in Britain using birth-control use long-term drugs and devices, such as implants and coils. [Daily Mail, 24 October] Such birth-control may cause early abortion.

Four fifths of women whose eggs have been frozen at a New York, NY, clinic would consider using donated sperm to have a child if they could not find a partner, according to a survey of 20 women. Two fifths were definitely prepared to be single parents. [The Times, 27 October] Children conceived with donated sperm are resentful of the fact, say the results of research by Dundee university, Scotland. [The Scotsman, 25 October]

A meeting of Catholic bishops from throughout the Americas has described life-related issues as a top priority. [Zenit, 24 October] Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver, Colorado, has said that abortion should be a foundational issue for Catholic voters. [Denver Post, 23 October]

A committee on vaccination is expected to advise the British government to encourage women in the later stages of pregnancy to be vaccinated against influenza because the disease strains the heart and lungs during childbirth. [Guardian, 25 October] Pregnant women should avoid crushing tamoxifen tablets before they take them because inhaling the medication is dangerous. [BBC, 25 October]

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