LIFEalerts 10 April 2014

Abortion USA – Abortion insurance law taking effect in MichiganUSA – War on women when men force abortionUSA – Abortion restrictions pass 85-6 out of Louisiana House Alternative Medicine South Africa – Traditional Medicine Almost Kills Baby Euthanasia UK – Assisted suicide moves closer as UK Government allows free voteUK – Cameron comes out against assisted dyingUSA – Connecticut Bill to Legalize Assisted Suicide Defeated in Committee HIV/AIDS No news today Homosexuality No news today IVF & Surrogacy Australia – Study finds IVF adults just as healthyUSA – Some Doctors Suggest Milder, Cheaper Form of IVFUK – Age limit for IVF treatment increased Medical Ethics USA – Rethinking informed consentUSA – Nation must debate “mitochondrial transfer”UK – Doctors call for revision of baby organ donation rulesUK – Stillborn babies incinerated to heat UK hospitals Pedophilia South Africa – Dad turns teen in for naked ‘selfies’USA – Police break up ring sharing indecent images of childrenUK – Mom, 21, slept with 8-year-old boyNetherlands – Advocate general wants pro-paedophilia group banned Pornography No news today Prostitution &Trafficking UK – Britain’s prostitution laws are a messCanada – Prostitution law consultations find little consensus among police Stem Cells & Cloning Japan – Doubts mount about new stem cell paper Substance Abuse USA – Marijuana’s health effects need more study, say expertsUSA – Rules require child-proof packaging, outlaws marijuana laced sweetsCanada – Medical marijuana users no longer allowed to grow their own potUSA – Marijuana may hurt the developing teen brain


USA – Abortion insurance law taking effect in Michigan

Michigan residents who buy health coverage in the private marketplace will not have access to abortion coverage, even if a pregnancy is the result of rape or incest. A new law prohibits insurance companies from covering abortion services unless customers purchase separate add-ons to their insurance plans ahead of time. The Abortion Insurance Opt-Out Act was passed in December by the Republican-controlled Legislature after a debate. Proponents say the law protects those who object to abortion from having any of their premiums used to cover the procedure for other customers in their group plans or within the health-care exchange. Opponents say the bill threatens women’s health by limiting access to a procedure that is legal and constitutionally protected.

USA – War on women when men force abortion

A Texas organization has been uncovering the dark side of the nation’s abortion industry by exposing what happens when men use the procedure to escape responsibilities. Mark Crutcher, the founder and president of Life Dynamics, noted that the early feminist leaders in America were openly opposed to the legalization of abortion. “They understood that legalized abortion has nothing to do with women’s equality,” he said. “Women don’t need surgery to be equal to men. What abortion is, is a safety net for sexually predatory and sexually irresponsible males.”

USA – Abortion restrictions pass 85-6 out of Louisiana House

The Louisiana House of Representatives passed a bill 85-6 that would restrict access to abortion services. The legislation now heads to the Louisiana Senate. Abortion rights advocates have said the proposal would immediately close three of Louisiana’s five abortion clinics. Sponsored by Rep. Katrina Jackson,  the legislation would require physicians who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of the facility where the procedures take place. It also imposes a 24-hour waiting period on abortion-inducing medication as surgical abortions. Some doctors in private practice would also have to register with the state as an abortion providers and their name, location and status as an abortion provider would be public information.

Alternative Medicine

South Africa – Traditional Medicine Almost Kills Baby

When it comes to traditional medicine, some parents are torn between the advice of nurses and that of their own parents. For a Mpumalanga mother, this battle of wills almost cost her baby’s life. When Lerato was born, nurses told Ngobeni to bring Lerato back within a week for a check up, but Ngobeni’s mother advised against it. The next day Lerato got diarrhea, but her mother told her not to worry because that was normal. Finally the baby was taken to the nearest hospital. Nurse Ntombi Zungu said young mothers often find themselves in situations similar to Ngobeni’s. “Some young mothers sometimes feel disempowered as parents because their own parents have so much power over them.”


UK – Assisted suicide moves closer as UK Government allows free vote

Although opinion in the Commons is divided, and doctors, disability campaigners and Churches have warned that a relaxation in the law could leave vulnerable people at risk and damage the doctor-patient relationship, the Government still says it will allow MPs a free vote on Lord Falconer’s Bill introducing assisted suicide, bringing legislation a significant step closer.

UK – Cameron comes out against assisted dying

Prime Minister David Cameron has expressed his opposition to assisted suicide in advance of the issue being debated in Parliament, arguing that people who are terminally ill will feel unfairly pressurized into ending their lives. Mr Cameron has opposed assisted dying before but was speaking out because the private members’ bill drawn up by Lord (Charles) Falconer of is due to be debated in the House of Lords. The bill would allow terminally ill patients to end their lives if two doctors confirm they are unlikely to live more than six months. But opponents to the move, including Lord Carlile and Baroness Butler-Sloss say safeguards in the bill are inadequate.

USA – Connecticut Bill to Legalize Assisted Suicide Defeated in Committee

The Family Institute of Connecticut announced that the Connecticut Bill to Legalize Assisted Suicide was defeated for the second year in a row. “Despite our decisive victory today, the war is not over. Indeed, it may continue for several years.” Peter Wolfgang, the president of Family Institute of Connecticut said.


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IVF &Surrogacy

Australia – Study finds IVF adults just as healthy

Young adults conceived through IVF and other assisted reproductive technologies (ART) have grown up to be as healthy as those conceived naturally according to a recent study. The Murdoch Children’s Research Institute led study found ART children had a higher rate of hospitalisation, asthma and hay fever. While this was attributed to ART parents worrying more about their children’s health, researchers still said it should warrant more investigation. The study of 656 mothers of children aged 18 to 29 found no evidence of increased rates of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in ART children.

USA – Some Doctors Suggest Milder, Cheaper Form of IVF

Some fertility clinics are offering a gentler version of IVF that uses fewer, milder drugs and requires less frequent medical visits. However, the American Society for Reproductive Medicine says pregnancy rates from minimal-stimulation IVF are likely to be lower than traditional IVF, defined as a protocol of milder doses of injectable drugs, oral drugs or a combination that aims for the collection of two to seven eggs. Proponents say it is a good option for patients with a strong response to fertility drugs and are at high risk of ovarian hyper-stimulation syndrome, a dangerous complication. It is also appropriate for women who do not want to be faced with a decision about what to do with embryos they don’t use.

UK – Age limit for IVF treatment increased to 39

The NHS Dorset Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) introduced changes to the age limits that women living in Dorset can qualify for in vitro fertilisation (IVF). The former age range for the service is between 30 and 35 – but  now a new upper age limit of 39 has been introduced. Treatment must be completed by the woman’s 40th birthday. During the period of the interim policy the CCG governing body will be consulting on its proposal to reduce the number of cycles available from two to one. One cycle of treatment would consist of one fresh cycle and one frozen cycle, where embryos have been stored during the fresh cycle.

Medical Ethics

USA – Rethinking informed consent

Since the Belmont Report in 1978 researchers have applied the principle of informed consent to their daily work. Now the authors of that report are questioning their conclusions. In the New England Journal of Medicine, Dr Tom Beauchamp outlines a new set of principles providing for the waiving of informed consent in situations that fall below “a threshold of negative effect”. The authors argue where research has “no or only minor effects on important patient interests” it is permissible to proceed without explicit consent. “It may even be acceptable for an ethics-oversight panel to permit the study to proceed with broad notification to the community of the system, without requiring that individual patients be told about the randomization.”

USA – Nation must debate “mitochondrial transfer”

President emeritus of the Hastings Centre for Bioethics Thomas H. Murray has written a forceful editorial in Science calling for “a nationwide conversation about current and emerging reproductive technologies”. His article focused mainly on the question of mitochondrial manipulation as the FDA is yet to decide whether it will authorize clinical trials of mitochondrial manipulation technologies. “Discussion of the ethics of mitochondrial manipulation cannot be postponed indefinitely”, Murray wrote. “This is a task for the US Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues to pursue, given that its mission is to ensure that scientific research, health care delivery, and technological innovation are conducted in a socially and ethically responsible manner.”

UK – Doctors call for revision of baby organ donation rules

In the journal Archives of Disease in Childhood pediatricians want the government to allow “brain-dead” newborns to donate organs. “For an infant awaiting a heart transplant, only a small-sized infant organ can be used …,” researchers said. Currently, using organs from brain-dead children aged between 37 weeks and two months is banned. Donation after cardiac death is permitted, but for practical reasons this option is seldom used. The Academy of Medical Royal Colleges Guidelines say it is “rarely possible to confirm death using neurological criteria in infants under two months of age”. Since only organs from dead donors can be used ethically, UK pediatricians have been told not to transplant them. However, it is possible in Australia and the US.

UK – Stillborn babies incinerated to heat UK hospitals

Ten divisions of the National Health Service have admitted that they have been burning the remains of aborted and miscarried babies as heating fuel with medical rubbish, and two actually used the bodies in “waste-to-energy” plants to heat the hospitals. At least 15,500 foetal remains have been incinerated over the past two years and at one of Britain’s best hospitals in Cambridge, mothers were told their babies had been ‘cremated.’ After a channel 4 program aired earlier this week, the Department of Health immediately banned the practice and health minister, Dr Dan Poulter declared that it was ‘totally unacceptable.’ Sands, a British charity which deals with stillbirth and neonatal deaths, said that cremation is the best policy, never incineration.


South Africa – Dad turns teen in for naked ‘selfies’

 A 17-year-old girl has been sentenced for manufacturing and distributing child pornography, after her father turned her in for sending a man, aged 42, naked “selfies”. The Grade 10 student, who is pregnant, was given a three-year suspended prison sentence after entering a plea agreement at the Welkom Magistrate’s Court last month. The newspaper reported that in February, the father found explicit messages and photographs on her phone and turned them over to the police. She had apparently been corresponding with the 42-year-old and two teenage boys. The middle-aged man who received the photographs was convicted of child sexual grooming and also received a three-year suspended sentence.

USA – Police break up ring sharing indecent images of children

Officials in the US have dismantled a huge international ring sharing indecent images of children – one of the largest such operations ever uncovered, American authorities say. They say that 14 men running a secret, members-only website have been arrested. About 250 children, mostly boys from the US, appeared on the site. The website had more than 27,000 subscribers, many of whom have been charged in individual cases. The 14 men arrested have been charged with conspiracy to operate a child exploitation enterprise. At the time it was dismantled, the illegal website contained more than 2,000 shared webcam-captured videos of mostly juvenile boys, officials say.

UK – Mom, 21, slept with 8-year-old boy

A 21-year-old UK woman has been sentenced to two years in prison after being found guilty of having a long-term sexual relationship with a child. She had been 16 when she began sleeping with the boy who was eight years old at the time. And was caught when the boy began bragging about the affair; he claims they slept together up to 50 times. The woman was found to be highly immature, and sentenced only to two years, of which she’ll only serve 12 months. She’ll  also be placed on the sexual offender’s registry for ten years and will denied contact with children under the age of 16.

Netherlands – Advocate general recommends banning pro-paedophilia group

The advocate general has recommended the Supreme Court ban the paedophile association Stichting Martijn, signalling the end of a legal battle which has been going on since 2011. The Martijn Foundation campaigns for the legalisation of sexual contact between adults and children and has been the subject of a convoluted legal battle for years. The advocate general, Vino Timmerman, said he recognised his position conflicts with freedom of expression and freedom of association rules. However, the protection of children should weigh more heavily, Timmerman said. This position is also key in European and international law. The advocate general’s recommendations are usually accepted by the Supreme Court.


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Prostitution & Trafficking

UK – Britain’s prostitution laws are a mess

If the government follows the recommendations of a report released on March 3rd by the all-party Parliamentary group on prostitution, prostitutes customers would become lawbreakers. The politicians’ report calls for an overhaul of the muddled laws that govern prostitution in England and Wales. The legislation does not protect vulnerable women, argues the group. It does not crimp demand and so sanctions the sexual exploitation of women by men and fails to recognize prostitution as a form of violence against women. The group proposes criminalizing the purchase of sex and toughening laws on pimping and underage prostitution.


Canada – Prostitution law consultations find little consensus among police

The Calgary police Chief wants to outlaw prostitution altogether. “You can create a series of laws where you come down hard on the user and look at the provider as a victim.” He says officers need the law as a tool to give them access to victimized men and women who were coerced into sex work. “Then you have courses of action to move that person towards treatment or counseling or getting them out of that lifestyle.”

Stem Cells & Cloning

Japan – Doubts mount about new stem cell paper

The world’s leading science journal, Nature, may end up with egg on its face as complaints mount about a recent paper on a radical new method of creating pluripotent stem cells. Stem cell scientist Teruhiko Wakayama, has called for the paper to be retracted after problems surfaced with the images, and allegations of plagiarism. He now says that he is not sure that the cells given to him were really created by the technique. “Overall there are now just too many uncertainties about it. I think we have to wait for some confirmation.” The original paper about “stimulus-triggered acquisition of pluripotency” (STAP) cells was published in Nature in January.

Substance Abuse

USA – Marijuana’s health effects need more study, say experts

Marijuana use rates have risen by 30 percent from 2006 to 2010, according to a new study from the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy and RAND Drug Policy Research Center. What is known is that marijuana has many effects on health, but not all of them are therapeutic. Marijuana increases heart rate and blood pressure when it hits the heart, which may be problematic for some with preexisting conditions. Many receptors and found in different parts of the brain, affecting areas for pleasure and cognition, but also raising risk for addiction because of a flood of the neurotransmitter dopamine, which is linked to pleasure.

USA – Rules require child-proof packaging, outlaws marijuana laced sweets

In the latest wake of problems with the so-called medical marijuana laws the Oregon Health Authority issued draft rules aimed at keeping marijuana-infused foods and candies from children. They essentially ban many marijuana laced sweets and cookies popular with patients and is likely to cause an uproar. Oregon’s draft rules state that a dispensary may not transfer to patients marijuana-infused products “manufactured in a form that resembles cake-like products, cookies, candy, or gum, or that otherwise may be attractive to minors because of its shape, color, or taste.” The rules also require child-proof and opaque packaging so the product isn’t visible from the outside. Cartoon pictures etc are also not allowed.

Canada – Medical marijuana users no longer allowed to grow their own pot

Starting April 1st, Canada’s 40,000 so-called medical marijuana patients wont be allowed to grow their own pot anymore but rather buy them from a licensed dealer. In 2001, the Medical Marijuana Access Program allowed “grow your own” production in private homes and small-scale distribution. But in 2012, then-federal Health Minister Leona Agglukkaq said the number of medical marijuana users was growing “exponentially” and was threatening public safety. So the rules were changed. About 450 companies have applied for licenses, but only a dozen have them. The federal government will also require medical “marijuana” users to submit a form declaring they’ve stopped production and have destroyed any plants, seeds or dried product by April 30th.

USA – Marijuana may hurt the developing teen brain In childhood our brain is larger, says Krista Lisdahl, director of the brain imaging and neuropsychology lab at University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee. During the teenage years, our brain is getting rid of those connections that weren’t really used, and it prunes back. Researchers from Duke University analyzed data gathered over many years from people living in New Zealand. They compared IQs in childhood through age 38 among marijuana users and nonusers. “We found that people who began using marijuana in their teenage years and continued to use marijuana for many years lost about eight IQ points from childhood to adulthood”, says study author Madeline Meier, now a professor at Arizona State University, “whereas those who never used marijuana never lost IQ points.”

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