Abortifacients for girls as young as 12
4 December 2007
Public healthcare officials in the UK have authorised prescribing the morning-after pill, which may cause abortion, for girls as young as 12 without parental knowledge, the Daily Express claims. 84% of National Health Service primary care trusts (PCTs) say that they permit secret prescription of the MAP to girls under 16 - the legal age of consent. 70% of PCTs say that they would be prepared to threaten denying pharmacists a license if they refused to comply with this policy. [Daily Express, 3 December] Paul Tully of SPUC commented: "The determination of health service officials to pursue the failed policy of providing birth control drugs - including drugs which the manufacturers say are abortifacient - is further evidence of the contempt in which conscientious practitioners are held. If this route is pursued, only those prepared to co-operate in the surreptitious corruption of children will be allowed to run pharmacies."
A study at Oxford University suggests that some Indian women in the UK are aborting baby girls. Dr Sylvie Dubuc analysed the birth rates of various ethnic groups in England and Wales, and found a significant sex imbalance in this group. She said that sex -selective abortion is the most probable explanation. The BBC has uncovered evidence that some women travel to India where the law against the practice is widely flouted. [BBC, 3 December]
A UK charity has called for greater assistance for parents of premature babies. Because premature babies spend much of their early life in hospital, this can use up most of a mother's maternity leave, as well as incurring extra costs for transport, meals out, and extra childcare for other children. Mr Andy Cole, chief executive of Bliss, said he would like to see the government calculating maternity and paternity leave differently when babies are born early. A government spokesperson said this would not be practicable, pointing out that maternity leave and maternity pay had both been increased recently. [BBC, 29 November]
Scientists have found that a gene that is known to suppress cancer also enables the embryo to implant in the womb. The findings, published in the journal Nature, suggest that the P53 gene which helps reduce damage to DNA also regulates a factor which, if not controlled, inhibits implantation of the embryo in the womb-lining. [PA on Channel 4, 28 November]
A Northern Ireland member of the House of Lords has called on the UK government to resist any attempts to extend the 1967 Abortion Act to the province. Speaking against the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill, Baroness Paisley of St George's reminded the house of previous assurances that this change would not happen without the consent of the Northern Ireland assembly, whose cross-party opposition to abortion was made clear in a debate on 25 October. [Official Report, House of Lords, 21 November]
Members of the Portuguese Medical Association are circulating an internet petition urging the association's leadership to maintain its anti-abortion ethical code. Earlier this year, the government legalised abortion on demand during the first trimester, and is now putting pressure on the nation's doctors to change their code of ethics. More than 700 doctors have so far signed the petition, and the official spokesman for the association has repeatedly denounced the government's threats and has refused to capitulate. [LifeSite, 28 November]