News, weekly update, 14 to 18 July

Women are to be offered supplies of the morning-after pill in advance of need via a web-site. DrThom, a web-only service registered with the health service regulator, said it would do everything reasonable to ensure that the medication, costing £15.99, did not fall into the hands of under-age girls, but admitted that young girls would be able to get it easily. Elly Turner of Life criticised the scheme. [The Daily Telegraph, 15 July]

The implementation of the Mental Capacity Act came a step nearer when the Government published a consultation on rules for the new Court of Protection and responses to the consultation on Lasting Powers of Attorney. The new court, which will begin operating next April, will be able to make decisions about the welfare matters, including health care, of mentally incapacitated patients. The consultation will run until 6 October. The consultation on Lasting Powers of Attorney ended on 14 April and 118 responses were received. [Government News Network, 17 July] The Mental Capacity Act 2005 gives statutory authority to euthanasia by omission.

A small study by the Trust for the Study of Adolescence on behalf of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation claims that many teenage parents in deprived areas plan to conceive their babies, often to make up for their own negative family experiences. Beverley Hughes, the children's minister, deplored the study, saying of the idea that parenthood was positive for some teens, "we reject that view completely". The study was based on interviews with 51 young mothers and fathers aged 13-22 living in six deprived areas of England. Suzanne Cater wrote the report. Meanwhile, research has found that many teenage girls see having a baby as a better option than a low-paid "dead-end" job. [BBC News Online, 17 July]

The head of the Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority has said that the law will eventually allow the creation of a human being without a man. But Suzi Leather, a Christian, said any technique should be considered at a moral level. "We need to look at whether it is necessary to use these techniques and also how their use might impact on any potential child," she said. Whilst fully endorsing embryo research and IVF, she said that most of the general public did not agree with sex selection. [The Independent, 17 July]

A Washington Post journalist has said the number of American medics filing lawsuits and complaints over religious discrimination is likely to intensify as more embryonic stem cells are used to treat disease and more states legalise physician-assisted suicide. [Washington Post, 16 July]


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