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China denies one-child policy reports

5 March 2008

China has denied reports circulated in the Western media last week that China is considering scrapping the one-child policy. Wen Jiabao, the Chinese premier, told the annual parliament that China "will adhere to the current policy of family planning, keep the birthrate low, improve the health of newborns and adopt a full range of measures to address the gender imbalance in babies". [Australian, 5 March] Beijing News has reported that "[n]ews of abandoning the one-child policy is inconsistent with the facts", quoting the National Population and Family Planning Commission describing the reports as "incorrect". Beijing News and the Yangcheng Evening News, another state-run newspaper, said that "China will continue to pursue even better its population and family planning policy." [Reuters, 2 March] SPUC warned last week that Western media outlets had misinterpreted misleading comments by Zhao Baige, China's minister in charge of the policy. [SPUC, 28 February] Anthony Ozimic, SPUC political secretary, commented: "The Chinese Communist regime has played its old trick of soft-talking to the Western media, whilst tough-talking to its oppressed citizens, and yet again the Western media fell for it. Journalists should question the words of a regime that has ordered the killing of millions of unborn children and the torture of their mothers."

A physician is alleging that evidence of a link between abortion and breast cancer is being ignored by national bodies and academics. In the spring edition of the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons, Dr Angela Lanfranchi of New Jersey criticises the National Institutes of Health and the National Cancer Institute (NCI). She says the latter's website contains inaccurate information. Dr Lanfranchi, a breast cancer specialist, writes: "[P]regnancy levels of estrogen increase by 2,000% by the end of the first trimester. These same biological facts of breast maturation also account for the increased risk of breast cancer due to induced abortion. Either the scientists at the NCI are unaware of this, or they are avoiding the biological explanation of why an early first full-term pregnancy reduces breast cancer risk." [LifeNews, 3 March]

LIFE Charity have pointed out that sex education and birth control do not cut abortion rates. Writing a response piece in the Guardian newspaper, Ms Michaela Aston cites a survey-article in Obstetrics and Gynecology which says: "To date, no study has shown that increased access to this method reduces unintended pregnancy or abortion rates." She says that many fewer women in Ireland (where abortion and contraception have been restricted) have abortions and writes: "there is no evidence of significant numbers of illegal abortions." The article replies to points made by environmental campaigner George Monbiot, who said: "Who carries the greatest responsibility for the deaths of unborn children in this country? I accuse the leader of the Catholic church in England and Wales, His Eminence Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor." Mr Monbiot also accuses the Pope of "condemn[ing] women to death." [Guardian, 5 March, Guardian, 26 Feb]

The chairman of the UK's Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority has defended his organisation's decision to allow human-animal hybrids, after MPs said it undermined parliament. Mr Walter Merricks says that the House of Commons science and technology committee backed the authority's approach last year and told it not to delay considering applications. [Telegraph, 5 March] Proposals to make explicit provision for licensing animal-human hybrid embryos are in a bill shortly to be debated in the House of Commons.
Brazil's supreme court is due today to rule on human embryos' legal status. [LifeSite, 3 March]

A US federal court has rejected a lawsuit which would have restricted the supply of morning-after pills to prescription-only. The Association of American Physicians and Surgeons and other groups brought the action against Barr Pharmaceuticals Inc, the manufacturers, and the Food and Drug Administration. There could be an appeal.[Reuters, 4 March]
Governor Mike Huckabee has ended his campaign to be Republican candidate for US president. [LifeNews, 4 March] His views on life issues are thought better than those of Mr John McCain, the certain nominee.

Members of the Scottish parliament today debate whether a consent to organ-donation should be presumed. Ms Nicola Sturgeon, health secretary said "There is a desperate shortage of organs for transplant and we are determined to tackle this." 29% of Scots have registered to be organ donors, though surveys suggest 93% agree with organ-donation. [BBC, 5 March]

An anonymous article on a British newspaper's website suggests that some pregnant women's behaviour works against their interests. The author was in a west London maternity-unit for six weeks and says that mothers could be too demanding and ignored good medical advice. Pregnant women smoked on hospital premises and parents insisted on natural birth when it threatened the child's welfare. [Daily Mail, 4 March]

A type of protein associated only with embryo-cells may stop the spread of skin cancer, according to research at Northwestern University, Illinois. Lefty TGFβ proteins are supposed to inhibit malignant melanoma and can reportedly stop breast cancer too. [ScienceDaily, 3 March]

The British health service is using a cervical swab procedure which checks for likely prematurity. The foetal fibronectin test costs £40 and, if the woman is found to be at risk, she is given tocolytic drugs to inhibit contractions. [Observer, 2 March] UK government plans to put folic acid in bread to prevent congenital disabilities are on hold because of a possible link with bowel cancer. Manufacturers who add the substance have been asked to put in less. [Telegraph, 4 March] The National Childbirth Trust in Britain says information from makers of babies' formula-milk is unsatisfactory. [Telegraph, 4 March]

Identical triplets have been born in New York State. The likelihood of such a pregnancy is reportedly one in 200 million. The three Penn family boys were generated through IVF. [Newsday, 4 March]

A trade union has objected to an English university telling pregnant trainee-nurses that they must pay for their own uniforms. [Unison trade union, 3 March] A woman who stole £10,000 from her work in Surrey, England, has been spared jail because she is pregnant. [Surrey Advertiser, 4 March] There have been objections after the Irish government said it would give 41% tax-relief on investments in private hospices. [Irish Independent, 5 March] Cloned animals are less healthy than ordinary ones according to an article by a member of the European Parliament on a Welsh newspaper website. [icWales, 4 March]

Brandenburg, Germany, is to open a centre to commemorate 9,000 mentally ill people killed there as part the Nazi euthanasia programme, "Operation T4". Over 100,000 people in total are thought to have been killed in T4 between 1940 and 1945. [Reuters, 4 March]

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