Morning-after pill access "has had no effect on reducing abortion rates"
19 September 2006
A leading advocate of easier access to the morning after pill has admitted that such access has had no effect on reducing abortion rates. Writing in the British Medical Journal, Professor Anna Glasier, director of family planning at the Lothian Primary Care NHS Trust, said: "Despite the clear increase in the use of emergency contraception, abortion rates have not fallen in the UK." [BBC, 15 September] Anthony Ozimic, political secretary, the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC): "Evidence continues to grow that state-sponsored promotion of birth control is counter-productive in reducing abortions among teenagers. The government's strategy of promoting the morning-after pill is proving to be a disaster, especially for young people and above all for the embryonic unborn children who may be aborted by the pill. Promoting morning-after pills may also encourage risky sexual behaviour and appears to be fuelling the explosion in sexually transmitted infections among young people. Over the past five years the numbers of abortions on under-16 year-olds each year has not declined. The number has increased slightly overall in fact."
The British government's National Institute for Biological Standards and Control met on Sunday to confirm release of six embryo stem cell lines. The cells are being made available through the Medical Research Council's stem cell bank established in 2003, which aims to hold and supply every stem cell line, including adult as well as embryonic cell lines. The bank now holds about 40 lines, but aims to expand this to hundreds. Countries around the world will be invited to participate in the scheme. Lord Naren Patel chairs a committee that will vet users of the bank. If successful, the stem cell bank will allow an unprecedented scale of stem cell experimentation. Only a small number of laboratories have managed to produce viable stem cells, but scientists will now be able to use embryonic and adult stem cells without creating them. [18 September, Guardian]
The UK's Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) may limit to one the number of embryos transferred per IVF cycle. A consultation paper outlines the dangers and costs associated with twin births, the number of which has doubled since the 1970s. Prof Salidtya Bhattacharya of Aberdeen University said, "Twins are five times more likely to suffer cerebral palsy and 50 per cent are born premature." [18 September, The Scotsman]
Four Britons have travelled to Switzerland for assisted suicide in the last six weeks. Dignity in Dying (DID), previously known as the Voluntary Euthanasia Society, said that this brings to the total to 54. The British membership of Dignitas, the Swiss assisted suicide clinic, now stands at 800. DID also urged the government to allow time for an assisted dying bill should one come before Parliament again. [17 September, Scotland on Sunday]
The kidnapping and sale of Chinese children has been revealed as families desire more male children. An investigation by a SkyNews correspondent who met with a number of parents in secret found that hundreds if not thousands of children, predominantly male, have been abducted from families, and sold to others who want more children. When parents try to find their missing children they are persecuted by the police, and have their efforts hampered. The sibling of one child who was kidnapped said, "My mother said, 'If we can't find him, I think I will die.'" [18 September, Sky News]
An American doctor has been sentenced to 6 years in prison for carrying out euthanasia on a patient. Dr James Bischoff of Ennis Montana, pleaded guilty to negligent homicide and fraudulently obtaining drugs in the euthanasia death of 85-year old Kathryn Dvarishkis who died on July 16, 2000. Mrs Dvarishkis' daughter, Sandy, said that Dr Bischoff had brought up the subject of euthanasia with her mother and had discussed it with her at some length. [Life Site, 13 September]
Most IVF clinics in Britain are short of sperm donors, according to a survey by the BBC. Fifty of the 74 clinics surveyed said they either had no sperm or insufficient supplies and many reported waiting times of six months or more. The Department of Health said that some clinics had succeeded in recruiting new donors. It is thought that the recent legislation removing donor anonymity has led to the shortage of donors. Olivia Montuschi, of the Donor Conception Network, said: "It is also because many clinics, opposed to the ending of anonymity and unable to believe that the government would actually do it panicked donors by saying that the law could possibly be retrospective or that donor conceived people would make huge demands on them." [BBC News, 13 September]