LIFEalerts 18 February 2016

Abortion USA – March for Life aims to defend rights of the unborn Brazil – Activists use Zika epidemic to press for abortion USA – D.A. Who Indicted Daleiden Received Cash from Abortionists Attorney USA – Ohio Senate De-Funds Planned Parenthood by $1 Million Alternative Medicine UK – Alternative medicine faces ban USA – Kratom Can Offer Relief but Sometimes a Relapse Euthanasia Canada – First euthanasia case – but was it legal? USA -American medical Association debates assisted suicide Belgium – Euthanasia continues to rise in Belgium IVF& Surrogacy UK – Genetic pattern in womb linked to IVF failure Vietnam – Surrogacy offered to parents who qualify Medical Ethics UK – On the verge of editing the genome of human embryos USA – Embryo custody battles on the rise USA – Complications of “effective referral” UK – London sperm bank allegedly promoting eugenics Pedophilia Indonesia – Sex abusers of children to be chemically castrated UK – Viewers of child sex abuse could lose homes Pornography   USA – Man puts up Billboard Addressing the Destructive Nature of Porn USA – Porn viewing escalates in India even though it is banned Canada – Police are warning teenagers of the dangers of “sexting” Canada – Sex Education curriculum to be released soon Same Sex Attraction USA – Republican lawmaker seek bans on LGBT conversion therapy Sexual Exploitation USA – The 2016Polaris Project Report United Arab Emirates – A centre of human trafficking and prostitution USA – Victims of Human Trafficking Must Be Treated As Victims USA – Five Harmful Myths About Human Trafficking Substance Abuse South Africa – Children are overprescribed mind-altering drugs USA – Drug Overdoses Hit Record High USA – Supportive Home Environment Helps Kids of Meth Addicted Moms Canada – Teens who use cannabis at risk of schizophrenia   Abortion   USA – March for Life aims to defend rights of the unborn On Jan. 22, 1973, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down all existing state laws protecting unborn children from abortion. The National Right to Life Committee estimates that over 58 million unborn children have been aborted in the United States since then. After 42 years of abortion on demand, numerous studies show that abortion hurts women spiritually, physically and emotionally. Post-abortive women have higher rates of sterility, miscarriage, substance abuse, and suicide as well as breast cancer. This year marks the 42nd annual March for Life in Washington, D.C. The March for Life is the longest consecutive demonstration in U.S. history.   Brazil – Activists use Zika epidemic to press for abortion The abortion debate has been reignited in Brazil amid fears about severe birth defects linked to the Zika virus which causes defects such as microcephaly in foetuses, though the link is yet to be scientifically proven. A group of Brazilian academics and activists has created a petition to ask the country’s Supreme Court to allow abortions for women who have contracted the virus. The group, based around the Anis Institute of Bioethics, Human Rights and Gender at Brazilia University, successfully campaigned in 2012 to add a third exception to Brazil’s ban on abortion. Now in addition to medical emergencies and rapecases, women can legally seek an abortion if their child is suffering from anencephaly.   USA – D.A. Who Indicted Daleiden Received Cash from Abortionists Attorney Devon Anderson’s re-election campaign received more than $25,000 from attorney, Chip Lewis who works for late-term abortionist, Douglas Karpen. Anderson’s personal relationship with Karpen’s attorney may have contributed to the failure of the grand jury to indict Karpen. Operation Rescue commented, “Where there’s smoke, there’s fire, and there’s just way too much smoke blowing Planned Parenthood’s way in Harris County for us to feel remotely comfortable that Anderson’s office can conduct a fair and impartial investigation”.  A Planned Parenthood board member Lauren Reeder also works for Anderson as an assistant district attorney. Although Anderson indicates Reeder had no role in the Daleiden indictment, there’s really no way of knowing if that is truly the case.   USA – Ohio Senate De-Funds Planned Parenthood by $1 Million Legislation to de-fund Planned Parenthood (H.B. 294) was approved by the Ohio Senate on a 22-8 vote as the House passed the legislation, 62-30. House Bill 294 now heads back to the Ohio House for concurrence, and then on to the desk of Governor John Kasich, who has signed 16 Ohio Right to Life initiatives over the last five years. “With an infant mortality crisis like Ohio’s, our State has to be very deliberate in ensuring that funds combating that crisis go to programs that respect the whole continuum of life,” said Stephanie Ranade Krider, executive director of Ohio Right to Life.   Alternative Medicine   UK – Alternative medicine faces ban Ministers in the United Kingdom recently announced that the National Health Service could ban doctors from prescribing homeopathic remedies. ”We need governments around the world to recognize the dangers of promoting homeopathy for life-threatening illnesses,” said Robert Hagan, a biomolecular scientist at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. We are calling on the WHO to condemn the promotion of homeopathy for treating TB, infant diarrhea, influenza, malaria and HIV. Homeopathy does not protect people from, or treat, these diseases. Paula Ross, chief executive of the Society of Homeopaths, agreed with the concerns about promoting homeopathy remedies.   USA – Kratom Can Offer Relief but Sometimes a Relapse A Southeast Asian leaf called Kratom affects the brain like an opiate and can be addictive. “It’s a fascinating drug, but we need to know a lot more about it,” said Dr. Edward W. Boyer, University of Massachusetts Medical School and a co-author of several scientific articles on Kratom. Because it’s categorized as a botanic dietary supplement, the FDA cannot restrict its sale. The FDA did ban the import of Kratom into United States in 2014. However, the DEA has listed it as a “drug of concern” not a controlled substance, which would require proven health risks and abuse potential. Kratom’s narcotic effects have been known for centuries in its native Thailand who banned it decades ago amid widespread abuse.   <Back to Top>   Euthanasia   Canada -Was the first euthanasia caselegal At least one person and perhaps three have been euthanized in Quebec since the Canadian province’s legislation went into effect in December. Dr Georges L’Espérance, president of the death-with-dignity group (l’Association québécoise pour le droit de mourir dans la dignité), said that he was not aware of the circumstances surrounding the deaths. Although the Supreme Court struck down the prohibition of assisted suicide and euthanasia in February 2015, the legality of the deaths is disputed, as the deaths in Quebec preceded the Supreme Court’s concession and thus were technically illegal.   USA -American medical Association debates assisted suicide The latest issue of JAMA (Journal of American Medical Associations) showcases the views of leading American doctors and lawyers on physician-assisted suicide (PAS). The theme is captured by the headline above one of the articles: “Physician-Assisted Dying: Turning Point?” After California legalized it last year, other US states could follow. Nothing novel emerges from the discussion, other than a sense of impending change.   Belgium – Euthanasia continues to rise in Belgium The latest statistics released by Belgium’s Federal Evaluation and Control Commission for Euthanasia, put the total of recorded cases in 2015 at 2021 (a rise of over 100 cases from 2014).Wim Distelmans, head of the commission, attributes the surge to an increase in the reporting of euthanasia by doctors. Distelmans said the actual total of deaths in 2015 might be much higher than reported. “Remember, there could be some euthanasia cases carried out but which are not declared so we cannot say for certain what the position is”.   <Back to Top>   Same Sex Attraction   USA – Republican lawmaker seek bans on LGBT conversion therapy A Republican lawmaker is proposing legislation in New Hampshire to ban therapy aimed at changing the sexual orientation of minors, a move that is sure to cause friction within the party. Eric Schleien said he doesn’t think it’s possible to change someone’s sexual orientation through so-called conversion therapy but some fellow Republican lawmakers say the effort could undermine religious liberty and parental rights. If Schleien’s bill passes, New Hampshire would become the fifth state to ban the practice. The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to legalize gay marriage nationwide last year ignited a new fight over religious liberty, with some people arguing that being forced to recognize gay marriage violates religious freedom.   <Back to Top>   IVF&Surrogacy   UK – Genetic pattern in womb linked to IVF failure ‘Many women undergo a number of In- Vitro Fertilisation (IVF) cycles without success despite having good quality embryos and, up to now, it has been unclear whether or not the lining of the womb may be the cause of that,’ said Nick Macklon, Chair in obstetrics and gynaecology at the University of Southampton in UK.In this new study, scientists have identified a genetic pattern in the womb that could predict whether or not IVF treatment is likely to be successful. The discovery would help clinicians understand why IVF fails repeatedly in some women. The study was published in the journal Scientific Reports.   Vietnam – Surrogacy offered to parents who qualify As Thailand closes its doors to commercial surrogacy, another South East Asian nation has tentatively begun to utilize surrogacy for couples unable to have children.Early last year Vietnam amended its marriage and family legislation to allow altruistic surrogacy. Altruistic surrogacy means a practice whereby a woman agrees, for no financial gain, to become pregnant and bear a child for another person or persons to whom she intends to transfer the child’s care at, or shortly after, the child’s birth.Under new regulations, couples must have not yet had a child, and must show that they are unable to conceive, even with IVF.   <Back to Top>   Medical Ethics   UK – On the verge of editing the genome of human embryos Scientists at the Francis Crick Institute could begin genetically engineering human embryos as early as March if approved.A team led by Kathy Niakan plans to study how embryos develop by systematically disabling genes using CRISPR. However, Dr Calum MacKellar, Director of Research of the Scottish Council on Human Bioethics says:“Allowing gene editing of embryos opens the road to genetically modifying all the descendants of a person as well as full blown eugenics which was condemned by all civilized societies after the Second World War. It is the very future of the way in which societies accept persons with disabilities that is at play since such gene editing procedures infer that they should not have been brought into existence.”   USA – Embryo custody battles on the rise Two embryos were “left over” after Jalesia McQueen and Justin Gadberry used IVF to have twins, now 8. A Missouri County Court ruled that the now divorced couple ‘jointly’ owns the remaining embryos. She wants more children and he wants the embryos destroyed. McQueen’s appeal to the Missouri Court of Appeals is indicative of a broader trend in embryo disputes: affected parties are increasingly appealing to the legal status of embryos as persons to prevent their destruction. Although no US jurisdiction treats embryos as persons entitled to constitutional protection, the Chicago-based Thomas More Society, which is providing legal assistance to McQueen, says that there is legislation in a number of US jurisdictions stating that life begins with conception.   USA – Complications of “effective referral” Whether doctors with a conscientious objection to abortion or euthanasia have an obligation to refer patients is hotly debated. The Ontario College of Physicians and Surgeons, for instance, strongly supports “effective referral” for euthanasia. However, the trial of a 95-year-old former healthcare worker at Auschwitz might make the position of conscientious objectors more plausible. 94-year-old Oscar Groening, dubbed “the bookkeeper of Auschwitz”, was convicted and sentenced to four years in jail, even though he had no direct involvement in the deaths of the camp’s inmates. Perhaps it makes sense for doctors to have misgivings about being complicit in controversial procedures. What is legal now may be condemned in the future and “effective referral” might not be accepted as an excuse.   UK – London sperm bank allegedly promoting eugenics Following complaints about a London Sperm Bank, the Human Fertility and Embryology Authority has asked why donors with medical conditions are being excluded. Fred Fisher, a 30-year-old dyslexic Oxford graduate software engineer was rejected by the sperm bank. “I told them this was eugenics. Would they turn away Richard Branson or Albert Einstein? Steve O’Brien, chair of the Dyslexia Foundation commented: “This is eugenics. It’s trying to say that dyslexics shouldn’t be in society.” A spokesperson for the London Sperm Bank denied that the company’s policy was eugenicist. However, in a now-withdrawn leaflet, it stated that it excluded men with certain conditions to “minimize the risk of transmitting common genetic diseases or malformations to any children born”.   <Back to Top>   Pedophilia   Indonesia – Sex abusers of children to be chemically castrated President Joko Widodo is set to issue a regulation which stipulates a harsher sanction for anyone who commits sexual violence against children. This will involve injecting a hormone to reduce libido and sexual activity, in an attempt to minimize the chances of re-offending.   UK – Viewers of child sex abuse could lose homes People who view images of child sex abuse could lose their homes or pensions under new US-style laws being proposed by a powerful coalition of children’s charities demanding action from the British government. The act would force offenders to pay damages that would help their victims to pay for medical services, therapy, lost income and legal fees.  John Carr, the coalition’s secretary, said a new law was urgently needed. Estimates suggest that pedophiles in the UK alone could be holding between 150 million and 360 million images of child abuse. “I think this could be a very effective. If guys know they could lose their house or their pension, they’ll think twice.”   <Back to Top>   Pornography   USA – Man puts up Billboard Addressing the Destructive Nature of Porn A Wisconsin 73-year old retired insurance broker, Jim Guell, got tired of seeing billboards advertising adult stores near his home, so he decided to take action. He struggled with pornography as a young man, so he knows how destructive it can be.Guell teamed up with a Catholic fraternal association and raised funds to design billboards which have slogans like “Porn Destroys Love” to counter the billboards being displayed.People are taking notice of the new billboard and have mentioned it to Guell who hopes it will make a difference.   USA – Porn viewing escalates in India even though it is banned Ban or no ban, India is watching more porn than ever. In 2015, India knocked out Canada to grab the third position behind the US and Britain in visiting one of the world’s largest adult websites Pornhub. PornHub received 21.2 billion visits in 2015 – 40,000 visits every minute or 2.4 million per hour. Visits from Smartphone’s alone now account for 53 percent of traffic shares, up from just 45 percent last year.   Canada – Police are warning teenagers of the dangers of “sexting” Police are warning teenagers of the dangers of “sexting” after numerous students are facing consequences for sending nude photos to one another.Durham Regional Police said a parent reported that nude photos of her child’s female classmate were being circulated by a male classmate.An investigation was launched after learning that there were some very disturbing images being passed between students at different schools according to Sgt. Bill Calder.Police have entered into “diversion contracts” with the teens, which are agreements that must be followed in order to prevent criminal charges being laid.   Canada – Sex Education curriculum to be released soon Students will learn about the benefits and potential dangers of online activity in Grade 1 and about “sexting” in Grade 4 under Ontario’s revised sex education curriculum.The guide says students in Grades 1, 2 and 3 will learn initial searching skills and strategies for safe Internet use, including “how to get help for themselves or others if harassment or abuse happens either face-to-face or online.”The primary grade students will also learn the difference between real and fictional violence, in the media or with online games, and “respectful communications” in the gym, classroom and schoolyard.   <Back to Top>   Sexual Exploitation   USA – The 2016Polaris Project Report Thisreport provides 2015 data from the National Human Trafficking Resource Centre (NHTRC) hotline.In 2015, the NHTRC received 21,947 calls, 1,535 web-forms, 1275 emails and 1,472 SMS’s.Of these communications 5973 referenced potential cases of human trafficking.252 of the human trafficking cases reported occurred overseas.In total, 25,696 trafficking cases have been reported through the NHTRC since December 2007.More than 1,600 survivors of human trafficking reached out for help in 2015, a 24{01b0879e117dd7326006b2e84bcaac7e8fa1509c5c67baf2c9eb498fe06caff4} increase over 2014.The top venue for sex trafficking was commercial front brothels and the top industry for labor trafficking was domestic work.   United Arab Emirates –Dubai known as centre of human trafficking and prostitution Dubai, one of seven emirates, is known as a centre for prostitution and sex tourism in the Middle East. Some estimates have 30,000 sex workers there alone where prostitutes offer their services openly. Even though prostitution is strictly forbidden in the UAE and Sharia courts can impose flogging, Dubai, Sharjah and Ras al-Khaimah have shelters combating human trafficking after a law was passed in 2006 criminalizing it. In 2014 only 15 women took their cases to court. An activist for migrants’ rights from one of the Persian Gulf countries, who asked not to be named, says that “literally on a monthly basis” they receive reports about domestic workers sold into sex slavery upon arrival in Dubai.   USA – Victims of Human Trafficking Must Be Treated As Victims January was Human Trafficking Awareness Month writes Preston Ship, a former prosecutor turned criminal justice reform advocate. It is estimated that half of the victims of human trafficking are children, with an average age between 11 and 14 years old when they enter the world of sex trafficking. Many of these children have run away from abusive or neglectful homes, are living on the streets and are forced into the commercial sex trade to acquire food, shelter, and clothing necessary for survival. They are easy targets for traffickers, who lie, manipulate, threaten, and violently force them into prostitution.   USA – Five Harmful Myths of Human Trafficking The Honorable Judy Harris Kluger, executive director of the Sanctuary for Families in the US says human trafficking is kept under wraps, overlooked and often ignored. Few reliable studies exist about its prevalence and it is important to dispel some often-repeated myths about trafficking. Kluger summarizes them as follows:1: Human trafficking only happens in countries far away from the United States.2: Only women are victims of human trafficking.3: Human trafficking requires physical force or restraint.4: Human trafficking is a small, underground industry that doesn’t affect many people.5: There is nothing I can do to end human trafficking.   <Back to Top>   Substance Abuse   South Africa – Children are overprescribed mind-altering drugs South Africa reports having one of the highest rates in the world of prescribed stimulants for children labelled with so-called Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder – a rate even higher than in the U.S. South Africa also shows antidepressants are being prescribed to children aged two and younger and powerful antipsychotics like Risperdal are approved to treat disruptive behaviour in children older than 5 with mental retardation. Wanting South Africa to avoid the epidemic of psychotropic drug abuse of children seen in the U.S., Citizens Commission on Human Rights International (CCHR) has launched a campaign to inform South African parents and teachers about prescribed psychotropic drug risks in children.   USA – Drug Overdoses Hit Record High In 2014 more than 47000 Americans died from drug overdoses fuelled largely by the abuse of narcotic painkillers and heroin- a 14 percent increase over 2013. Since 2000 nearly 500000 people have died from overdoses, according to a new report from the U.S. Centres for Disease Control and Prevention. “The increasing number of deaths from opioid overdose is alarming,” CDC director Dr. Tom Frieden said in a statement. “To curb these trends and save lives, we must help prevent addiction and provide support and treatment to those who suffer from opioid use disorders,” he said. Oxycodone and hydrocodone, continue to be among the most commonly prescribed narcotic painkillers, and are responsible for more overdose deaths than any other narcotic.   USA – Supportive Home Environment Helps Kids of Meth Addicted Moms Abuse of methamphetamine during pregnancy remains a significant problem as a new study discovers nearly one-fourth of pregnant women seeking treatment at federal facilities were methamphetamine users. The study, scheduled for publication in The Journal of Paediatrics, found that while prenatal methamphetamine exposure can lead to targeted behavioural issues, a supportive home environment significantly decreases the severity and risk of these issues.“In the first study of its kind, we followed children who experienced prenatal methamphetamine exposure, up to the age of 7.5 years and found that adversities, such as poverty and continued drug abuse by a parent, contributed to behavioural and emotional control issues,” said Lynne M. Smith, M.D., lead researcher and corresponding author of the study.   Canada – Teens who use cannabis at risk of schizophrenia Researchers from Western University in Ontario have shed light on the significant, long-term impacts of THC on the adolescent brain, after exposing adolescent rodents to THC. Using a combination of behavioral and molecular analyses with in vivo neuronal electrophysiology, results showed substantial and persistent behavioral, neuronal and molecular changes that are identical to neuropsychiatric conditions, such as schizophrenia. Adolescent rodents with THC exposure were socially withdrawn and demonstrated increased anxiety, cognitive disorganization and abnormal levels of dopamine. This is consistent with sub-cortical DAergic dysregulation, a key characteristic of schizophrenia. Several prefrontal cortical molecular pathways were also profoundly altered. These changes continued into early adulthood, well past the initial exposure. Dr Steven Laviolette, PhD, led the research.   <Back to Top>   Disclaimer: the views and opinions expressed in these articles do not necessarily reflect those of Doctors for Life International]]>