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Defending life from the moment of conception

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Abortions in England and Wales hit record high

19 June 2008

Abortions in England and Wales last year were the highest ever. SPUC blames the government's policy of fast-tracking. John Smeaton said: "The figures reflect the Department of Health's (DH) policy of performing an abortion as quickly as possible on any woman enquiring. The policy includes arm-twisting doctors who are reluctant to refer for abortion. Many GPs would refuse to refer women for abortions on medical grounds, or for religious or conscientious reasons. The DH brooks none of these objections, but insists that every woman who enquires about abortion is immediately referred for abortion. There is no counselling routinely offered, and the DH has targets for rushing women through the abortion mill against the clock. Health trusts which miss the target and don't kill enough babies quickly enough are liable to be penalised. Abortion is more than a social malaise. It is a grave abuse of human rights. It harms women and kills children." [SPUC, 19 June] Ms Dawn Primarolo MP, health minister, said: "Our priority is to reduce the time women have to wait for an abortion at what is already a very difficult time for them. These statistics show that we have made considerable progress in this, with over two-thirds of women having their abortion at under 10 weeks in 2007, up from half in 2002." The government was spending more on contraception. [Telegraph, 19 June] There were nearly 205,600 abortions in England and Wales last year. The abortion rate of 18.6 per 1000 residents was the highest ever, as was the rate of child-abortions. The 13-to-15 abortion rate was 4.4 per thousand girls in that age group, and the under-18 rate was 19.8 per thousand. [Department of Health, 19 June]

Two women in Australia have been found guilty in an apparent euthanasia case. Mr Graeme Wylie, 71, who had Alzheimer's, died from a dose of pentobarbital in 2006. Ms Shirley Justins, his partner, has been convicted of manslaughter and Ms Caren Jenning was deemed an accessory to manslaughter. The jury rejected murder and assisted suicide charges. Sentencing is to follow. [Herald Sun, 19 June]

A patient's cloned blood cells have been used to cure cancer of the lungs, lymph nodes and skin, according to the New England Journal of Medicine. Scientists in Washington state replicated CD4+ T white blood cells, which had been primed to attack the melanoma, and put them in the 52-year-old man. British scientists want more trials of the technique. [BBC, 18 June] Harvard University, Massachusetts, scientists have changed pancreatic exocrine cells into beta cells which make insulin, says New Scientist. Oxford University, England, researchers reportedly changed white blood cells into red ones. [Telegraph, 18 June]

The president of the United Arab Emirates has rejected a bill which requires every IVF clinic to have at least one Muslim specialist. Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan says the clause is discriminatory. The federal council consequently wants to set up a committee to ensure IVF is done in conformance with Islam. [Irish Sun, 18 June]

A 14-year-old girl in Poland has had an abortion after controversy about her case. Assertions that rape had happened were found to be untrue. She had asked the Catholic church for help. The government said the decision was hers and her mother's. [Catholic World News, 18 June]

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