LIFEalerts 18 march 2015

Abortion UK – Parliament Rejects Major Abortion Amendment USA – Study finds maternal health statistics best where abortion restricted UK – Research: Abortion increases risk of mental health problems Alternative Medicine UK – Once again experts find no evidence homeopathy works Euthanasia USA – Oregon’s slippery slope another degree downhill HIV/AIDS No news today Homosexuality USA – Conversion therapy bill clears Oklahoma House committee Italy – Top court: ‘No right to same-sex marriage’ USA – Research: Homosexuals Diagnosed With Cancer More Often USA – Health Warnings of Ocular Syphilis Cases in Homosexuals IVF & Surrogacy USA – The facts about preimplantation genetic diagnosis Thailand – Government Bans Commercial Surrogacy Australia – Convicted Sex Offender Allowed To Keep Surrogate Baby UK – “My brother is the father of my son” Medical Ethics USA – The bioethics of precision medicine Australia – More research needed on the Pill-brain nexus Liberia – Ebola threat fades in West Africa Iraq – Doctors under the black flag of the Islamic State Pedophilia USA – A prospective examination of the abused-abuser theory Pornography

South Africa – Research reveals disturbing findings on youth and porn

USA – Google will ban pornography from its Blogger site

USA – Parent to child talks can curtail pornography UK – Children produce porn themselves Prostitution &Trafficking South Africa – South Africa vows to fight human trafficking South Africa – Hawks rescue seven women from brothel USA – Indiana billboards hope to reduce human trafficking Stem Cells & Cloning No news today Substance Abuse USA – Washington DC legalizes Cannabis use and possession USA – Substance Abuse among Pregnant Teens USA – New Drug Trends in Teens – Pharm Parties USA – Energy drinks in Elementary schools


UK – Parliament Rejects Major Abortion Amendment Sex-selective abortion is a controversial subject that has seen heated debate over recent weeks in the UK parliament. The abortion law needs to be amended to take into consideration a rise in gender-based terminations. The proposal was firmly rejected with 291 to 201 voting to clarify in law that abortions decided on the grounds of gender are illegal. USA – Study finds maternal health statistics best where abortion is restricted A 10-year study, conducted by the MELISA Institute found that in 32 Mexican states, maternal deaths were 23{01b0879e117dd7326006b2e84bcaac7e8fa1509c5c67baf2c9eb498fe06caff4} lower and deaths from complications after abortions were 47{01b0879e117dd7326006b2e84bcaac7e8fa1509c5c67baf2c9eb498fe06caff4} lower in the states with restrictive laws. UK – Research: Abortion increases risk of mental health problems One in 10 of all mental health problems in the UK is a result of an abortion. Tory MP Nadine Dorries, backed by Labor’s Frank Field, has put down an amendment to a Health Bill which requires women seeking abortion to see an independent counsellor first. A study by Professor Coleman of 22 separate projects which analyzed the experiences of 877,000 women of whom 163,831 had had an abortion, showed a 34{01b0879e117dd7326006b2e84bcaac7e8fa1509c5c67baf2c9eb498fe06caff4} greater chance of anxiety disorders, 37{01b0879e117dd7326006b2e84bcaac7e8fa1509c5c67baf2c9eb498fe06caff4} higher possibility of depression, more than double risk of alcohol abuse, a 3 times greater risk of cannabis use, and 155{01b0879e117dd7326006b2e84bcaac7e8fa1509c5c67baf2c9eb498fe06caff4} greater risk of trying to commit suicide.

Alternative Medicine

UK – Once again experts find no evidence homeopathy works

There’s no reliable evidence that health conditions can be effectively treated with homeopathic medicine, according to a statement by the National Health and Medicine Research Council (NHMRC). The statement of the NHMRC’s draft paper was put out for public consultation and there had been a decline in the use of homeopathy in the UK since that report. This lack of scientific research into the use of homeopathic medicine is not unusual and is mirrored across most alternative treatments said Paul Komesaroff, professor of medicine from Monash University and medical practitioner.

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USA – Oregon’s slippery slope another degree downhill According to the Oregon Public Health Division the reasons for 2013 physician-assisted suicides were: Loss of autonomy (93.0{01b0879e117dd7326006b2e84bcaac7e8fa1509c5c67baf2c9eb498fe06caff4}), decreasing ability to participate in activities that made life enjoyable (88.7{01b0879e117dd7326006b2e84bcaac7e8fa1509c5c67baf2c9eb498fe06caff4}), loss of dignity (73.2{01b0879e117dd7326006b2e84bcaac7e8fa1509c5c67baf2c9eb498fe06caff4}), and fear of being a burden on family and friends (49.3{01b0879e117dd7326006b2e84bcaac7e8fa1509c5c67baf2c9eb498fe06caff4}). Fear of pain was a concern in only (28.2{01b0879e117dd7326006b2e84bcaac7e8fa1509c5c67baf2c9eb498fe06caff4}) of cases. There were 105 assisted suicide deaths in 2014 – up from 73 in 2013, a 44{01b0879e117dd7326006b2e84bcaac7e8fa1509c5c67baf2c9eb498fe06caff4} increase and 155 prescriptions for suicide in 2014 – up from 105, a 48{01b0879e117dd7326006b2e84bcaac7e8fa1509c5c67baf2c9eb498fe06caff4} increase. Now Oregon assisted suicide Bill HB 3337 is being debated to expand the definition of people with 6 months to live to 12 months. So citizen jack and Jill came tumbling down and Oregon followed after.

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No news today

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USA – Conversion therapy bill clears Oklahoma House committee

House Bill 1598, which now goes to the full House, says the state will not prohibit or restrict counseling intended to remove attraction to those of their own gender. It also seeks to protect parents who want such counseling for their children. Nothing prevents this type of counseling now. “All across the nation, bills are being introduced to ban parents from having the right to take their children for counseling if they are struggling with same-sex attractions,” says Rep. Sally Kern. Kern also said the debate comes down to those who believe homosexual tendencies are present at birth and those who believe these feelings are subject to change.

Italy – Top court: ‘No right to same-sex marriage’

Italy’s highest appeals court has rejected same-sex marriage stating that there is nothing in the constitution to require the Government to redefine marriage. The court, known as the Cassation Court, did however state that homosexual couples should have “the right to a ‘protective’ law that would ensure same-sex couples have the same rights as unmarried Italian couples”. Italy’s constitution defines the family as “a natural society founded on marriage.” There is strong public opinion against homosexual marriage and the courts have rejected previous attempts to give legal recognition to same-sex couples.

USA – Research: Homosexuals Diagnosed With Cancer More Often

Homosexuals get cancer almost twice as often as heterosexual men, and lesbian and bisexual women who are cancer survivors reported being less healthy than heterosexual women who had the disease. The greater prevalence of cancer among gay men may be caused by an excess risk of anal cancer, and may also reflect the higher rate of HIV infection, which is linked to certain tumors, according to the report in the journal Cancer. “We want to really inform physicians who treat homosexuals, lesbian and bisexual populations to focus on cancer screening,” said the study’s lead author, Ulrike Boehmer, an associate professor at Boston University’s School for Public Health.

USA – Health Warnings of Ocular Syphilis Cases in Homosexuals

Since December 2014, as many as 15 cases of ocular syphilis, a sexually transmitted disease which has led to blindness in several of the individuals, have been reported in men who have sex with men on the West Coast. Confirmed cases in Washington State, San Francisco as well as two suspected cases found in Los Angeles that are currently under investigation are raising alarm among public health officials, community care providers and prevention specialists. Ocular syphilis is typically a complication of primary or secondary syphilis and some strains of Treponema pallidum, the bacterium that causes syphilis, may be more likely to cause eye or central-nervous-system disease.

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IVF &Surrogacy

USA – The facts about preimplantation genetic diagnosis

Preimplantation genetic diagnosis begins with IVF; eggs are harvested and fertilized. Over three days embryos will divide into eight cells. PGD involves removing one or two cells from the embryo. The cells are then evaluated to determine if the inheritance of a problematic gene is present in the embryo, sex of the child may also be chosen. Once embryos free of genetic problems have been identified, the embryo will be placed back in the uterus and implantation will be attempted. Other embryos that are free of genetic problems are either frozen or destroyed while embryos with the problematic gene are destroyed. Life begins at conception therefore the destruction of embryos can’t be condoned. Thailand – Government Bans Commercial Surrogacy Thailand’s legislative assembly has closed loopholes in the country’s public health laws that allowed commercial surrogacy. The law bans all foreign and same-sex couples from seeking surrogacy services. Only married heterosexuals with a Thai partner can apply. There are no fees allowed and the surrogates must be Thai and over 25. They must also be relatives of the parents. No advertising or promotions are allowed and all surrogate agencies and unregistered clinics will be closed. Last year around 150 Thai surrogates carrying babies for Australians were expected to give birth by the end of 2015. Australian officials have negotiated a transition period to enable children and their parents to depart Thailand. Australia – Convicted Sex Offender Allowed To Keep Surrogate Baby Western Australian couple, Wendy and David Farnell, were accused of leaving a twin boy, known as Baby Gammy, with his surrogate mother after they discovered he had Down syndrome. The Baby Gammy case made headlines in August 2014 when Thai surrogate Pattaramon Chanbua alleged the couple abandoned Gammy and returned to Australia with his healthy twin sister, Pipah. Farnell, a convicted child sex offender, retained custody of Pipah late last year after an investigation by the WA Department for Child Protection. Through support of charities and the public, Baby Gammy, Pattaramon and her family have a new home in Thailand. He is also receiving the medical treatment he needs. Pattaramon also applied for Australian citizenship for Gammy and it was granted.

UK – “My brother is the father of my son”

Mary Portas, a lesbian, asked her brother two years ago to donate sperm to impregnate her spouse. Melanie Rickey, said that with her brother’s help, she was able to have a genetic relationship with her son. Horatio calls Ms Portas ‘Mama’ and Ms Rickey ‘Mummy’ while her brother is referred to as ‘Daddy’. IVF specialist Simon Fishel said “It would have been more unusual ten years ago. Now that kind of situation pops up once a month. If they can go for a family donor, that will be preferable and then it would be to a known donor. There’s a very close relationship. You know where the genes are coming from. They are trying to keep it in the family.”

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Medical Ethics

USA – The bioethics of precision medicine President Obama has promised to invest $215 million in a ‘precision medicine’ initiative which will give clinicians tools to identify the specific molecular genetic profile underlying a patient’s condition to offer more effective, targeted treatments. But De Paul University bioethicist Craig Klugeman has raised questions about privacy controls on genetic information: “Privacy is the main bioethical issue raised by the framers of this initiative. Given the record of companies and institutions with maintaining online privacy, I’m not sure we should yet be confident that privacy could be assured. And the Duke Center for Personalized and Precision Medicine points out that studies of publically-available sequence data have shown that patients in research studies can be identified by their genome sequences. Australia – More research needed on the Pill-brain nexus One request universally spurned by doctors is for steroids as performance-enhancing drugs as they damage the liver and heart, among other problems. Then why haven’t the neurological effects of the steroid-based contraceptive pill on women been studied as thoroughly? Three Austrian researchers argue in the journal Frontiers in Neuroscience that it is time to study what the pill does to the brain. “Changes in brain structure and chemistry cause changes in cognition, emotion and personality and consequently in observable behaviors. If a majority of women use hormonal contraception, such changes could cause a shift in society dynamics. Since the pill is the major tool for population control, it is time to find out what it does to our brain. Liberia – Ebola threat fades in West Africa Fears of a public health catastrophe are fading in West Africa after the last known Ebola patient in Liberia was discharged from hospital. No new cases have been reported in Liberia for 13 days, although there could be some in remote areas. Authorities are still tracking about 100 people who may have been exposed to the virus. According to the World Health Organization, there have been over 23,900 reported cases of Ebola in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, with over 9,800 reported deaths. Liberia has suffered the highest number of fatalities, 4,117. About 860 health workers have been infected in these three countries, with nearly 500 deaths. Iraq – Doctors under the black flag of the Islamic State Looking for dramatic examples of dilemmas in medical ethics? Try being a doctor in territory ruled by the Islamic State. One report said ten doctors had been executed for refusing to treat ISIS soldiers because they had forced regular patients out to make room for their own. There are allegations that ISIS is trafficking in organs and that a dozen doctors had been executed for refusing to cooperate. Bioethicist Craig Klugman points out that “The tough question is whether a physician is required to sacrifice his or her life in order to not commit an unethical act. If the physician’s family or self is threatened with death for not participating, should that ultimate price be paid?”

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USA – A Prospective Examination of the abused-abuser theory A study by Dr Cathy Wisdom from John Jay College of Criminal Justice empirically examined the commonly held belief that sexually abused children grow up to become sexual offenders and specialize in sex crimes. 908 cases of physical and sexual abuse and neglect aged 0 to 11 years were matched with 667 children without such histories. Both groups were followed up into adulthood. The study concluded that the widespread belief that sexually abused children are uniquely at risk to become sex offenders was not supported by prospective empirical evidence.

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South Africa – Research reveals disturbing findings on youth and porn

The Youth Research Unit (YRU) of the Bureau of Market Research (BMR) within the College

of Economic Management Sciences at the University of South Africa recently conducted a ground breaking Internet safety survey among 1 500 secondary school learners in Gauteng. The YRU research study highlights that a majority (97.7{01b0879e117dd7326006b2e84bcaac7e8fa1509c5c67baf2c9eb498fe06caff4}) of learners who participated in the study have access to the Internet and 95.7{01b0879e117dd7326006b2e84bcaac7e8fa1509c5c67baf2c9eb498fe06caff4} are registered social network services. Approximately a third of learners (31.4{01b0879e117dd7326006b2e84bcaac7e8fa1509c5c67baf2c9eb498fe06caff4}) encountered people who tried to get them to talk online about sex against their will. Also, almost a quarter (22.8{01b0879e117dd7326006b2e84bcaac7e8fa1509c5c67baf2c9eb498fe06caff4}) was asked online to perform sexual acts. Furthermore, the BMR study shows that only a third (31.8{01b0879e117dd7326006b2e84bcaac7e8fa1509c5c67baf2c9eb498fe06caff4}) of learners who experience online sexual grooming report the incident.…/BMR_2015_ONLINE{01b0879e117dd7326006b2e84bcaac7e8fa1509c5c67baf2c9eb498fe06caff4}20SAFETY.pdf

USA – Google will ban pornography from its Blogger site

Google announced to people using their bloggers site that as from March 23, they will no longer be able to publicly share images and videos that are sexually explicit or show graphic nudity. Sites that continue to host pornography after March 23 will be made “private, which means the content will be allowed to remain up, but it will only be accessible to the site’s owner and the people who the user directly shared the blog with. The site will allow nudity if the content offers a public benefit, such as artistic, educational, documentary, or scientific contexts. The announcement is part of a larger campaign by Google to cut down on the amount of porn served by its network.

USA – Parent to child talks can curtail pornography Talking with adolescents can influence self-esteem and curtail pornography viewing in the future. College of Media and Communication assistant professors Eric Rasmussen and Rebecca Ortiz, and doctoral student Shawna White recently completed research published online and soon to be included in the Journal of Children and Media. They discovered the more parents talked with kids about pornography as teenagers, the less those kids viewed pornography after leaving home for college. Talking to them changes attitudes about pornography and encourages them not to look at pornography. Research indicates that starting a dialogue during adolescence can influence their perception of pornography later, as adults. UK – Children produce porn themselves A new research study concludes there is an increasing trend for distribution of sexually explicit content produced by younger children using laptop webcams. The Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) and Microsoft participated in the study, examining 3,803 images and videos of “youth-produced sexual content” depicting young people, and uploaded by the children or covertly recorded by a third party. Children producing and distributing child pornography is a profoundly disturbing trend, according to Dawn Hawkins, Executive Director, National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCSE). She continued that we are in the midst of a public health crisis on pornography. Every person must work to solve this crisis. We know that the long-term consequences to our children involved with pornography are monumental.

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Prostitution & Trafficking

South Africa – South Africa vows to fight human trafficking “We have long grappled with human trafficking,” said Connie Nxumalo, deputy director-general of the Ministry of Social Development. She said South Africa had legislation banning human trafficking, but needed to implement it. In Africa and the Middle East between 2010 and 2012, sexual exploitation accounted for 53 percent according to the UN’s 2014 Global Report on Trafficking in Persons. An advocate of the Department of Home Affairs said the department had provided temporary permits to legalize their stay in the country.

South Africa – Hawks rescue seven women from brothel Several young women have been ‘rescued’ after a raid and two Ugandans have been arrested. Police became aware from a whistleblower who claimed to know of girls who were detained in a flat as prostitutes. The Hawks also found drugs and pornographic materials. The girls were taken to a place of safety where they will receive counselling and treatment. and the suspects will appear in court on charges of dealing in drugs, the Sexual Offences Act and human trafficking. Hawks Major General Mthandazo said they are aware that brothels and prostitution can lead to organized crime and they are sending a message to the traffickers that they will not get away.(103 words)

USA – Indiana billboards hope to reduce human trafficking New billboards aimed at reducing human trafficking are on display across Indiana. They are the result of a collaborative effort between Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller, advertisers and anti-human trafficking groups. They say the goal is to spread awareness of the crime, not just to locals but to visitors traveling to Indiana. There need to be a recognition that this is not voluntary activity on the part of the girls and that primarily they have been abused and trafficked. The ads include statistics and one says that human trafficking was reported in 50 states last year.

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Stem Cells & Cloning

No news today

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Substance Abuse

USA – Washington DC legalizes Cannabis use and possession Citizens of Washington DC are now able to smoke cannabis recreationally and grow a few plants. The limit for the amount of cannabis you are able to posses is 56 grams. Buying and selling is still illegal which begs the question; where do you get your cannabis from in the first place? People from other states will obviously bring in cannabis and distribute it illegally. Washington is not a state but a federal district which means congressional approval is needed for legalization. Due to a loophole according to Mayor Muriel Bowser she hasn’t done anything illegal. Congressmen warned that by legalizing cannabis she would be “Doing so in knowing and willful violation of the law.” USA – Substance Abuse among Pregnant Teens The largest study on substance abuse during pregnancy shows 3 out of 5 teens have used drugs or alcohol during pregnancy. This study shows teens aren’t listening to the messages about the damage you can cause to the unborn baby through drug abuse. What surprised researchers the most was that pregnant teens engaged in substance abuse at a rate much higher than what is seen in teens who are not pregnant. Saint Louis University’s School of Social Work professor and co-author of the study Michael G. Vaughn said, “We found the odds of substance use were roughly 50{01b0879e117dd7326006b2e84bcaac7e8fa1509c5c67baf2c9eb498fe06caff4} lower among pregnant teens reporting consistent parental support as well as those who expressed strong positive feelings about going to school.” USA – The new drug trends among teens is ‘Pharm Parties’ Brittany Gaydosh, 14, went to a party, drank some alcohol then went to a bag filled with pills and took four ecstasy pills and a Xanax. There were also Percocets, Valium and more in the bag. Gaydosh has gone to a lot of these parties called ‘Pharm parties’ which have become popular amongst teens in the USA. Teens are taking painkillers and highly addictive opioids such as OxyContin and Vicodin confirms Dr. Levounis, director of the Addiction Institute of New York in Manhattan. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found more people die from prescription painkillers than from heroin and cocaine overdoses combined. “Addiction to prescription opioids has become the most important problem we face,” Levounis said. USA – Energy drinks in Elementary schools There is a new epidemic involving elementary school students who are drinking highly caffeinated energy drinks to get high. These drinks are extremely dangerous to kids’ health. ”Energy drinks are gateway for elementary school kids,” said Mike Gimbel, a national substance abuse educator. Gimbel said he has also observed a growing fascination amongst students with caffeinated gel strips that you place on the tongue. “One strip is equal to a cup of coffee, but kids are putting five or six in their mouth at once,” he said. Taking just four strips can lead to overdose. The over consumption of caffeine in young children can cause seizures, strokes and even sudden death according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.

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Disclaimer: the views and opinions expressed in these articles do not necessarily reflect those of Doctors for Life International