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Defending life from the moment of conception

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Psychologist criticises 'politically-motivated' survey

22 August 2008

A member of the American Psychological Association has criticised that organisation's survey of the effects of abortion on women's mental health, saying it is politically motivated and bad science. The project concluded that a single early abortion did not increase the likelihood of significant mental problems. Dr Rachel M MacNair, research director for Consistent Life, Missouri, and an official reviewer of the report, points out that the task force's conclusion was based on a single British study. Furthermore, that research actually found a higher incidence of drug overdose among women who had had abortions. Dr MacNair writes: "'[S]cience' means what the [association] says it means, rather than what those of us trained in a university might have been taught. ... [C]iting only one study in support of a politically-desired conclusion cannot be explained in any other way than a politically-motivated exercise." [John Smeaton, 18 August]

Federal health officials in the United States have reportedly watered-down a new regulation aimed at protecting health care workers who have a conscientious objection to abortion. A draft of the regulation no longer defines standard birth control pills and inter-uterine devices as abortifacients, following pressure from pro-abortion groups. The regulation threatens to remove funding from employers who dismiss employees for refusing to be complicit in abortion. [Reuters, 21 August]

The big-parties' likely candidates for the US presidency have shown their differences on life issues at a debate hosted by a California church. Senator John McCain, Republican, and Senator Barack Obama, Democrat, were each asked when a baby got human rights. Mr McCain said: "At the moment of conception," adding that he would be a pro-life president. Mr Obama replied to the question: "I think that whether you are looking at it from a theological perspective or a scientific perspective, answering that question with specificity, you know, is above my pay grade." [Irish Times, 18 August] Mr Obama said his worst personal failing has been his use of drugs as a young man. [Metro, 17 August] Mr Obama has frequently voted for abortion.

An expert group is expected to advise that the UK's state health service should extend and give higher priority to IVF provision. The Expert Group on Commissioning NHS Infertility Provision, established by the government, believes that lack of IVF services causes psychological damage to infertile couples. Ms Dawn Primarolo MP, health minister, is expected to write today to primary care trusts directing that frozen as well as freshly produced embryos should be used in IVF cycles. [The Times, 22 August]

Around one person in 12 in Scotland has made a so-called living will, according to the former Voluntary Euthanasia Society. At a debate in Edinburgh, Dr Hazel McHaffie of that city's university said: "It takes a strong person in the medical team who feels they can go with the person who will be dead and who is left with the living people to cope with. Medics will proceed with caution when relatives jump in." [Sunday Herald, 18 August]

Scientists in the United States have claimed that they can produce significant amounts of transfusable blood using embryonic stem cells. Advanced Cell Technology claims that the artificial blood cells that it has produced are comparable to those used in normal blood transfusions. The team is reportedly conducting research and tests without using embryos. [Telegraph, 20 August]

The family of a woman expecting septuplets in Egypt considered abortion but rejected it because of their Muslim religion. Mrs Ghazala Khamis's children were successfully delivered by caesarean section. She appears to have taken fertility drugs. [Evening Standard, 18 August]

The child of a mother in Wales who was attacked at home was saved by being delivered by caesarean section. Ms Nerys Price was hit on the head by car thieves when she was due to give birth in two weeks. [Daily Mail, 17 August] An unborn child was saved by emergency caesarean in New York after his mother had been hit by a bus. Mrs Donnette Sanz died soon after the accident but Sean Michael is expected to survive. [Evening Standard, 16 August]

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