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weekly update, 12 December

12 December 2007

weekly update, 12 December The state health service in England has been running a pilot project which could lead to family doctors giving girls and women abortion-inducing drugs up to the ninth week of pregnancy. The government has confirmed that trials are happening in two places, though it will not say where. Mr Phil Willis MP, chairman of the House of Commons science and technology committee, welcomed the move. A majority on his committee wanted the removal of the requirement for two doctors' signatures for abortion. Results of the experiment, reported in Pulse, will be published next year. [BBC, 5 December ] One source suggests that surgical abortion could also one day be done on family doctors' premises. [Times, 5 December ] John Smeaton, SPUC's national director said: "This is part of government policy to increase access to abortion, which will lead to an increase in abortions. Apart from ignoring the rights of the unborn child, the government is ignoring a significant body of medical opinion and human experience which shows that abortion is unsafe for women." [SPUC, 5 December ] The British embryo licensing authority has said that it will not ban multiple embryo IVF treatment. The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) has instead announced a national strategy involving guidelines drawn up by professional groups in an attempt to reduce the rates of multiple births. Mr Walter Merricks, the interim chairman of the HFEA, has written to Ms Dawn Primarolo MP, the health minister, calling on the government to pay for more free cycles of treatment to help with the plan. He said: "We always have in mind that still the greatest risk in the eyes of patients is the risk of not having a baby. Women with access to only one funded cycle of treatment are only acting rationally if they beg for a double embryo transfer in their single chance of becoming pregnant. The risk of a twin pregnancy seems nothing to the risk of no pregnancy." [Times, 5 December ] Women who have had an abortion are more likely to abuse alcohol and drugs, according to an Australian study. Researchers from the University of Queensland studied 1,122 young women, one third of whom had had an abortion. They found that this one third was three times more likely to have abused methamphetamine, heroin or sniffed glue, twice as likely to be heavy drinkers or alcoholics and one and a half times more likely to suffer from depression. Kaeleen Dingle, one of the researchers, said: "... it still remains to be seen what exactly the connection is. It might be that women who have abortions are also more likely to live a riskier and more abusive lifestyle but there's also some evidence to suggest the procedure itself could put women on that path." She also said: "We don't want to in any way deter women who are seeking abortion, but it may be that, based on these findings, some women could do with more GP counselling and more thorough after-abortion care." [LifeSite, 4 December ] Lawmakers in Mexico City have unanimously approved a bill which would allow terminally ill patients to refuse medical treatment, which it deems to include food and water. The bill is being opposed by pro-life activists and the Catholic Church. [LifeNews, 4 December ] An increased level of youth crime in China has been blamed on the country's one-child policy. According to the China Daily, the number of juvenile criminals increased from 33,000 in 1998 to 80,000 this year and two thirds of the four million criminal cases handled annually by Chinese courts involve minors. Shang Xiuyun, a Beijing judge specialising in juvenile crime, was quoted as saying: "With major social transformations under way, children nowadays, who are usually single children, endure more pressure and pain, even though they are called 'emperors' and 'empresses' of the families, compared with when there were several children in each family in the past." [Scotsman, 5 December ]

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