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Defending life
from conception to natural death


Blair ramps up govt sex ed drive

6 September 2006

Tony Blair, the British Prime Minister, has launched a massive expansion of the Government's sex education policy by vowing "better access to contraceptives" for those under 18, the Daily Mail reports. As a result of this, free morning after pills will be made available to pupils under the age of consent at every school in England. School nurses will be told to give pupils contraception and could even arrange secret abortions for teenagers without their parents' knowledge. Ministers have promised to have teenage pregnancy rates, currently the highest in Western Europe, by 2010, but last month's figures showed the number of teenage pregnancies in England has risen by nearly 12 per cent in ten years. [Daily Mail 6 September] In a speech yesterday, the prime minister set out details of his plan to tackle so-called "problem children" before they are born, which have been called "foetal anti-social behaviour orders" by British media. Clare Tickell, chief executive of the children's charity NCH, said: "Early intervention will help families break the cycle of exclusion but it must be done in a way that does not stigmatise. The government must realise that families need support to change, not to be punished because they are struggling." [BBC News, 5 September] The Society for the Protection of Unborn Children has issued a press release criticising the Prime Minister plans. The Society warns that identifying those who might be a "menace to society" before they are born, will lead to more pressure on health and social workers to provide and promote abortion. Anthony Ozimic, SPUC's political secretary, said "Far from combating social exclusion, Blair's policies are based on social exclusion - exclusion of the unborn from society." [SPUC source 5 September] [Full text of Tony Blair's speech]

One school pupil a week is given emergency birth control in one region of Britain. Primary Care Trusts in Northamptonshire run drop-in centres at 12 schools that give out the abortifacient morning after pill to pupils. There has been opposition to the scheme from parents of pupils but teenage pregnancy project manager Suzy Dion claimed that it would soon diminish. She said: "We are not promoting sex, we are giving them the delay message and offering any sexual health advice that youngsters need.." [Kettering Today, 4 September]

The British government's statistics watchdog has said that illegal abortion should be removed from the category of violent crime. The Statistics Commission called for violent crime to be redefined so as to distinguish between commonly accepted forms of violence and others, including illegal abortion, bigamy and death by dangerous driving. It also criticised the Home Office (interior ministry) for manipulating crime figures so as to show the government's crime policy in the most favourable light and called for the removal of Home Office ministers from any involvement in official crime statistics in order to restore public confidence in their accuracy. [The Guardian, 5 September]

The British health ministry has announced that there is to be a new kind of pharmacist to offer advice on sexually transmitted diseases. Health Minister Andy Burnham said that the Pharmacists with Special Interests (PhwSI), as they are to be known, will give advice and treatment "on patients' doorsteps" for a variety of conditions including sexually transmitted diseases, substance misuse, diabetes and heart problems. The first new specialists are expected to be available next summer. [This is London, 5 September]

Mark Leech, editor of the Prisons Handbook, and a former convict himself, has suggested that so-called voluntary euthanasia should be offered to prisoners facing life sentences. He said he would like to see a procedure similar to that offered at Dignitas the euthanasia clinic in Zurich, Switzerland. [Daily Mirror 6 September]

Fertility treatment in an area of Britain has been suspended for lack of funds. Primary care trusts in Northamptonshire need £33m to pay costs of IVF from last year and this year. Treatment is expected to resume in April 2007. A spokesman for the trusts said: "Funding for IVF treatment has been temporarily suspended but when the service is resumed in 2007, applications for funding will be considered against new countywide criteria." [Kettering Today, 4 September]

A British woman with multiple sclerosis planning to go to Holland for adult stem cell treatment has cancelled her trip after concerns about the safety and effectiveness of the procedure. Agneta Mills, 51, had hoped that the cord blood stem cell treatment offered by Advanced Cell Therapeutics would help her degenerative illness but when she saw an investigation by the BBC's Newsnight television programme questioning the safety and usefulness of the injections, she decided not to go ahead with the visit, for which she had raised £9,000. [This is Exeter, 4 September]

Rajesh Bhardwaj of Delhi, India has been sentenced to ten years so-called rigorous imprisonment for inducing an abortion. Suspecting his his wife of infidelity, he gave her a tablet to procure an abortion telling her that the drug would benefit the child's health. [Hindustan Times 5 September]

The health minister in Argentina has admitted releasing false statistics exaggerating the number of illegal abortions taking place in the country. The pro-life organisation, Portal de Belen, a Catholic home for single mothers, filed a lawsuit against Gines Gonzalez Garcia for falsely claiming that 500,000 secret abortions took place in Argentina each year. Mr Garcia's lawyer, A. Ferrer Vera, admitted that his client had exaggerated the number of abortions taking place but said that it was not a legally punishable crime. Portal de Belen has accused the Argentinian government of "engaging in an explicit effort to confuse and prepare the populace for the decriminalization of abortion, by spreading false statistics and cowardly using the debate about the right to life of innocent children in order to divert the attention of society." [Catholic World News, 1 September]

The first womb transplant could take place within the next two years, according to a team of international doctors. Researchers from Hammersmith Hospital in London along with colleagues in New York and Budapest say that they hope to transplant a human womb from a dead donor within two years. The aim is to enable women with a damaged womb or none at all, to have children. Richard Smith, a gynaecological cancer surgeon, said: "We have had stunningly good results in the laboratory with good blood supply to the organ. We hope to move into human subjects within the next one to two years. The transplant would only be temporary, maybe for two or three years to allow the woman to have children, and then it would be removed." [This is London, 4 September]

Research looking at nearly six million American babies has found that those delivered by caesarean section are more than twice a likely to die in their first month of post-natal life than those born naturally. Seven per cent of surgical births in the British National Health Service - about 10,000 babies a year - follow a request from the mother for a caesarean birth, for no medical reason. Lead researcher Marian MacDorman suggested that the difference could be explained by the fact that labour was an important part of birth and prepared babies for breathing and functioning outside the womb. [Daily Mail 6 September]

Researchers from the University of California, San Francisco, said that the risk of unintended miscarriage from chorionic villus sampling (CVS), had declined over the last 20 years. CVS is a diagnostic test for genetic and chromosomal disorders that involves removing tissue from the chorion, the early placenta. The risks associated with CVS were originally thought to be considerably higher than the other method, amniocentesis, which takes place later in pregnancy. Dr Mary Norton, co-author of the study, said: "We saw that the rate of miscarriage risk attributable to CVS had declined over time. One possible reason is that over time practitioners have become more proficient in performing CVS procedures." [Medical News Today, 4 September]

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