Will the government outlaw 'suicide-guide' websites?
11 September 2006
A suicide prevention charity in the UK has called on the government to outlaw websites that help people commit suicide. Papyrus, a group which works to prevent young people killing themselves, has criticised websites that give advice on the most painless form of suicide and internet chat rooms where suicidal people can encourage each other. Paul Kelly, trustee and co-ordinator of Papyrus, said that there is a "lack of awareness" about the role of the internet in promoting suicide. [Ananova, 11 September] 20-60 million people try to kill themselves every year, according to two international experts on suicide. Brian Mishara, president of the International Association for Suicide Prevention and Dr Jose Manoel Bertolote, a mental health official at the World Health Organization spoke to reporters marking this Sunday's World Suicide Prevention Day. They said that suicide rates could be reduced if countries limited access to pesticides, guns and medication and did a better job of treating people with depression, alcoholism and schizophrenia. They estimated that more people kill themselves each year than die from wars and murder. [Reuters, 8 September]
New methods of monitoring the risk of a pregnant woman having a stillbirth have been found by scientists in Britain. Researchers at the University of Warwick focussed on the alterations in the hormonal metabolism of pregnant women and the metabolic signals between the mother and the unborn child. They now hope to be able to identify mothers and babies who are most at risk, and to give effective and early monitoring of the risks faced by such women, who are often diabetic. [Medical News Today, 8 September]
The European Parliament has passed a resolution which criticises China's one-child policy. In the resolution, the parliament "expresses its deep disquiet at the numerous violations of women's and girls' rights resulting from forced compliance with the Chinese Government's family planning policy, including selective abortions, forced sterilisations, and the abandonment of girls on a massive scale" and "calls on China to rethink the concrete implementation of its "one-child" policy in order to tackle the economic and social disadvantages inherent in that policy". The resolution was passed by 351 votes to 48, with 160 abstentions. [International Campaign for Tibet, 7 September] Anthony Ozimic, SPUC political secretary, commented: "It should be noted that the Socialist group of parliamentarians abstained, on the grounds that the resolution 'unduly focused on the human rights situation in China.' The Socialist group includes the British Labour party, and the British Labour government supports the activities in China of the international population control groups which help the Chinese regime implement the one-child policy."
Advisers to British government ministers have said that schoolchildren should be given compulsory lessons about the benefits of abortion. The Independent Advisory Group on Teenage Pregnancy has recommended that children as young as five years old should be taught about abortion. They said that the lessons should aim to combat the "myths" that might put teenagers off having abortions. [Daily Mail, 7 September] The advisory group has also said that free condoms should be handed out to children in sports halls, shops and swimming pools. Gill Frances, who leads the group, refused to specify the age of the children who should be given condoms but indicated that it could include children as young as twelve. Robert Whelan of the think-thank, Civitas, said: "Up until now we have always taken a dim view about people who go to swimming baths to talk to little boys about sex. Now it seems to be Government policy. This is not progress." [Telegraph, 8 September]
A 23-year old British woman who had been diagnosed as in a so-called persistent vegetative state has shown doctors that she is mentally active. Neuroscientists at Cambridge University, England, and the University of Liège in Belgium asked the woman, who suffered extensive brain damage in a traffic accident, to perform mental tasks and they then scanned her brain for activity using a new technique called functional magnetic resonance imaging. They found that she could understand people talking to her and was able to imagine various scenarios such as playing tennis, that were presented to her by doctors. Steven Laureys, co-author of the study, which has been published in the journal Science, said: "This is extremely important. It's the difference between life and death. From cases in the UK and the US, we know that end-of-life decisions are of course extremely important and this will definitely change the way we deal with these patients. When you have signs of consciousness, you cannot decide to stop hydration and nutrition." [The Guardian, 8 September]
The prime minister of Trinidad and Tobago has proposed a national constitution that would ban abortion and enshrine in law the right to life of unborn children from the moment of conception. The proposal would reflect current laws, which ban most abortions in the country. The draft constitution has attracted criticism from pro-abortion advocates such as the group Advocates for Safe Parenthood: Improving Reproductive Equity, which has been leading a campaign to legalize abortion in Trinidad and Tobago. A spokesman from the Catholic Church in the country welcomed the proposal and said that a recent poll showed that the majority of people in the country were pro-life. [Life News, 7 September]
A Canadian pro-life women's group has called on their country's government to stop funding a pro-abortion organisation. The group, Real Women of Canada, which has about 55,000 members, wrote to the prime minister Stephen Harper and members of parliament, urging them to stop funding Status of Women, a government agency that promotes and gives money to abortion services. Real Women's letter said that the agency did not represent them and that it has no purpose except "to promote the views of a handful of extremist feminist organizations at the expense of the Canadian taxpayer." [Life News, 7 September]
The government of Chile has announced that the morning after pill is to be distributed for free in the country. Women will now be able to obtain the drug free at health centres and teenagers getting a prescription for it will not be obliged to tell their parents. The move has been condemned by the Catholic Church as well as several city mayors, who have said that they would refuse to comply with the decision, possibly taking it to court or refusing to stock local clinics with the drugs. Senator Soledad Alvear, president of the Christian Democrat Party, has opposed the decision, saying that it: "promotes irresponsible sex at an early age and expands the pandemics that our public health system is trying to fight, like AIDS." [Life News, 6 September]
A consultation exercise has been launched by the British Human Fertilisiation and Embryology Authority on egg donation. The launch was couched in guarded terms including a warning that donors could suffer from ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS), a life-threatening condition. [The Times, 8 September] SPUC comment: Recent publicity around fatal cases of OHSS is embarrassing for the HFEA which licences the creation and use of human embryos as guinea-pigs. The reluctance of women to donate ova to create embryos for experiments is a perennial issue for those promoting cloning, embryonic stem cell research., etc.
A British miscarriage support group is to hold a memorial service for unborn children lost through miscarriage. Grimsby Miscarriage Information and Support Service are holding the church service in conjunction with the International Wave of Light - a candle-lighting service for babies lost in pregnancy, at birth or in the first month of life. Larissa Race, who has had three miscarriages, said: "It is a chance to remember those who lit up our lives for such a short time." [This is Grimsby, 6 September]
A member of the UN women's committee has criticised the UN treaty monitoring process for its promotion of abortion. In a statement read at a lunch for UN delegates sponsored by the pro-life group Focus on the Family, Dr Krisztina Morvai of Hungary, a member of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, questioned the jurisdiction of the treaty monitoring bodies and the committee's focus on issues such as abortion, contraception and prostitution. She wrote: "The present 'pro-choice rhetoric' and practice of most UN bodies, including the treaty monitoring bodies - in areas such as abortion, contraception and sex education for adolescent girls, and prostitution as sex work - should be re-evaluated." [Life Site, 7 September]