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Defending life from the moment of conception

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Minister "under pressure" on compulsory sex education

8 February 2008

Ms Beverley Hughes the UK minister for children, young people and families, has said that she is under pressure to force schools to extend compulsory sex education lessons. At present schools must teach the biological facts of sex to 11-14 year olds. She said the government was conducting a review of its sex education strategy as Britain still had the highest rate of teenage pregnancy in western Europe, despite spending £150 million since 1999 on it. She said there was no "magic bullet" for solving the problem. [Telegraph, 30 January] Mr Chris Bryant MP, an aide to the ruling Labour party's deputy leader, has produced a report on teenage pregnancy suggesting that parents should be sent sex advice packs when their children reach nine. Another suggestion is to make condoms freely available where young people gather, as they are in bars for homosexuals. [Telegraph, 28 January, and Pink, 29 January] Mr Bryant's report is available on the internet at

The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) is backing three bills currently in committee in the Filipino House of Representatives which seek to implement a "two-child" policy in the Philippines. Mrs Eileen Macapanas Cosby, president and founder of the Filipino Family Fund which is campaigning against the bills noted that population replacement was essential to the future of the country. Though backers claim the programme would be voluntary, one of the bills contains criminal penalties including imprisonment for up to six months that would be imposed on those speaking out against population control measures. [LifeSite, 29 January]

The National Right to Life Committee (NRLC) and other US pro-life organisations have applauded President Bush's remarks in his recent State of the Union address, calling for ethical stem cell research and a ban on human cloning. Mrs Darla St Martin, NRLC associate director, is asking Congress to act on his recommendations by approving a bill to ban both reproductive and research-based cloning. She said: "President Bush's unwavering policy has been vindicated as researchers have discovered new, ethical sources for stem cells that show great promise." [LifeNews, 29 January]

Mr Mike Huckabee has been endorsed for US president by Mr Bobby Schindler, brother of Mrs Terri Schiavo who was profoundly disabled and starved and dehydrated to death on her husband's orders. Mr Schindler, who has become a campaigner for the rights of severely disabled people, said "Governor Huckabee has a long and distinguished record of championing the rights of the unborn and vulnerable in our nation." [LifeNews, 29 January]

A GP practice nurse (Karyn Probert) failed to check a patient's menstrual history before giving her a Depo Provera birth control injection on 12 May 2005. She was in very early pregnancy. On 4 August a doctor at the practice fitted an IUD in the patient. A month later the patient thought she was pregnant and a test by the GP confirmed this. Mrs Probert then added a note to her May records saying the patient's last period was 11 May. She was referred for an abortion, which took place in late September. The aborting doctor thought the pregnancy was 16 weeks, but the baby was delivered alive, and a subsequent post-mortem estimate his gestation as 22 weeks. Mrs Probert faces a misconduct charge before the nursing regulator, and denies falsifying the records. [Daily Mail, 29 January] Note: The headline in the Mail is inaccurate. Surprisingly, there appears to be no concern about the doctor who fitted an IUD in the patient without realising she was then four months' pregnant.

A man has appeared in court charged with child destruction and two counts of assault on his girlfriend. Mr David King of Merseyside, England, allegedly kicked Miss Hayley Cain in the stomach when she was 30 weeks' pregnant, and the baby miscarried. [BBC, 29 January]

A report from the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee has found that families caring for people with Alzheimer's disease feel abandoned by the healthcare system. The Daily Mail says such families are "saving the taxpayer £5 billion a year", Many so-called informal carers do not receive help they are entitled to from the government. The UK is in the bottom third of EU countries for treatment of patients with anti-dementia drugs. The committee calls for dementia to be given the same priority as cancer and heart disease in the state health service. [Mail, 23 January]

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