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Defending life from the moment of conception

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weekly update, 10 January

10 January 2008

weekly update, 10 January UK teenage pregnancy figures have rocketed under the government's supposed crackdown 10 years ago, statistics have shown. The Department of Health, which set a target of halving reducing teenage pregnancies by 2010, has admitted that "progress needs to accelerate" following the news that the UK now has the highest teenage birth-rate in Europe. Mr Norman Wells of the Family Education Trust said: "The problems associated with teenage pregnancy will never be solved so long as the Government persists with its reliance on yet more contraception and sex education. What we need is a radical change away from a culture which has reduced sex to a casual recreational activity." [Telegraph, 31 December ] The government has been criticised for its focus on sex education and easy access to birth control. Professor David Paton, an economist at the Nottingham University Business School, said: "The underlying social deprivation of an area, family breakdown rates and religion seems to have a greater effect on teenage pregnancy rates than more obvious policies such as sex education or providing access to family planning. There has been a tendency for the Government's teenage pregnancy strategy to focus on creating schemes where teenagers can get the morning after pill or other forms of family planning at school or clinics. The danger with this sort of approach is that it can lead to an increase in risky sexual behaviour amongst some young people. There is now overwhelming evidence that such schemes are simply not effective in cutting teenage pregnancy rates." [Telegraph, 3 January ] Three quarters of the Irish population believe that morning-after pills should be more readily available, a study commissioned by the Irish Pharmaceutical Union suggests. The pharmacists say that the drug should be available over the counter. This comes just two months after Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin issued a letter urging priests to defend the sanctity of life in their sermons. The letter said: "The Church is opposed to all direct attacks against innocent human life such as abortion, abortifacient pills and devices, the abortion pill and the morning-after pill." [Sunday Independent, 6 January ] In a newly released report, the UN's population agency (UNFPA) has stated that its primary focus is the promotion of contraception, especially among the young. UNFPA also intends to put pressure on governments to spend more money on reproductive health services, and to promote the increased use, and quality, of contraceptive services. Despite claiming to be abortion-neutral, the organisation has been accused of supporting forced abortions in China. [Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute, 3 January ] Maternity units in Northern Ireland are discharging new mothers on the day they give birth, the Royal College of Midwives has said. Ms Breedagh Hughes, college secretary in Northern Ireland, claimed that hospitals were under-resourced and overstretched due to the rising birth rate and the lack of qualified midwives: "There are just 12 more midwives employed now than this time two years ago. Yet there are 2,000 more births." She said that if the situation continued, the safety of mothers and babies would be "compromised." [Belfast Telegraph, 5 January ]

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