LIFEalerts 28 May 2014

Abortion UK – Ireland women not entitled to free NHS abortions in EnglandUSA – Missouri lawmakers approve 72-hour waiting periodUSA – With New Bill, Abortion Limits Spread in South Alternative Medicine South Africa – Herbal remedies can be toxic: researcher Euthanasia UK – TV personalities agree to assisted death pactBelgium – Belgian doctor shows where the slippery slope ends HIV/AIDS No news today Homosexuality USA – Syphilis Cases Climbing Among homosexual menUSA – Conversion therapy bans stall across the nationUSA – Judge to be impeached after homosexual marriage ruling South Africa – Lifting of ban on homosexuals donating blood IVF & Surrogacy USA – Older infertile couples should try in vitro fertilization first Medical Ethics UK – Concern over new medical experimentation billUK – Conscientious objectors barred from qualification in UK Pedophilia Germany – Pedophile brains ‘abnormally tuned to children’ Pornography USA – Porn magazines to be banned from military basesUSA – The truth about the porn industryUSA – Porn is a public health issue Prostitution &Trafficking Canada – Use provincial laws to fight prostitution Stem Cells & Cloning USA – Controversy over cardiac stem cells could sink “heart failure cure”USA –  bioethics commission calls for ethics education in neuroscience Substance Abuse USA – Synthetic Marijuana Hospitalizes 45 in TexasUSA – Recreational Marijuana May Be Linked To Brain ChangesUSA – WHO says alcohol killed 3.3 million in 2012 USA – Marijuana Legalization In States Making Waves At UN


UK – Ireland women not entitled to free NHS abortions in England

Women from Northern Ireland are not legally entitled to free abortions on the NHS in England, the High Court in London has ruled. The case was brought by a 15-year-old girl and her mother who live in Northern Ireland. Unlike the rest of the UK, abortion is only allowed in very restricted circumstances in Northern Ireland. More than 1,000 women each year travel from NI to have an abortion in other parts of the UK. Because Northern Ireland is not covered by the 1967 Abortion Act, which applies in the rest of the UK, the judge, Mr Justice King, has ruled this was not a discrimination issue.

USA – Missouri lawmakers approve 72-hour waiting period

Missouri’s Legislature gave final approval Wednesday to legislation requiring a woman to wait three days after first seeing a doctor before having an abortion. The measure would triple Missouri’s current 24-hour waiting period and put the state in line with Utah and South Dakota as the only states to mandate a 72-hour time frame. The House voted 111-39 in favour of the measure Wednesday. Under both current law and the new legislation, Missouri’s abortion waiting period doesn’t apply in instances deemed by a doctor to be a medical emergency. But women do have to wait in cases of rape and incest.

USA – With New Bill, Abortion Limits Spread in South

The Louisiana State Legislature has passed a bill that could force three of the state’s five abortion clinics to close, echoing rules passed in Alabama, Mississippi and Texas, and raising the possibility of drastically reduced access to abortion across a broad stretch of the South. The new rules passed by Republican legislatures require that doctors performing abortions must have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals. Abortion providers and many medical experts call the requirement a thinly disguised effort to shut down clinics and undermine the right to abortion under Roe v. Wade. The Louisiana House of Representatives passed the legislation by an 88-to-5 vote. The bill passed the State Senate last week.

Alternative Medicine

South Africa – Herbal remedies can be toxic: researcher

A researcher has revealed that some herbal remedies can contain very toxic elements. “The toxic constituents are capable of causing adverse health effects when consumed, for instance, there are some plant species that contain cardiac glycosides that causes heart problems in humans,” says Salmon Adebayo, a Doctoral Degree candidate at the Tshwane University of Technology. A Ugandan study published in the online journal Plos One, found that “traditional herbal medicine use was independently associated with a substantial increase in significant liver fibrosis in both HIV-infected and HIV-uninfected study participants.” Adebayo’s presentation revealed that more than 80{01b0879e117dd7326006b2e84bcaac7e8fa1509c5c67baf2c9eb498fe06caff4} of South Africans use herbal remedies for their primary healthcare needs.


UK – TV personalities agree to assisted death pact

Two TV personalities Judy Finnigan and husband Richard Madeley have said they have agreed to an assisted death pact should one of them fall seriously ill. This, even though these headline-grabbing comments go against advice of organizations like the World Health Organisation, which says that discussions about suicide and assisted suicide need to be handled very carefully, to prevent taking your own life or helping someone to die appear normal. Changing the law so you can kill a loved one, or be killed would put many vulnerable people at risk who might be pressured into ending their life, because they might feel that they had become either a care or financial burden.

Belgium – Belgian doctor shows where the slippery slope ends

Dr Wim Distelmans, is organizing an instructional tour to Auschwitz, the Nazi extermination camp in October, according to him, an ‘inspiring’ surrounding in which to ‘clarify confusion about euthanasia’. What it does show is how little distance there is between Belgian euthanasia in 2014 and Nazi death camps in 1944. Linking the right to die and the Nazis is a no-no in most circles. In fact, they lost their arguments as soon as they mention the word “Nazi”. Dr Kevin Fitzpatrick the Director of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition Europe and a leader of Not Dead Yet UK, and Dr Tom Mortier, replied, ‘we have never, ever, linked him to the atrocities, the inhumanity, and the repellent euphemisms of the Nazi era. He has done this all by himself.’


No news today


USA – Syphilis Cases Climbing Among homosexual men

Cases of the sexually transmitted disease, once almost eliminated in the United States, have more than doubled among men who have sex with men (msm) since the year 2000, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “We are very concerned about what we consider this rising epidemic of syphilis among msm,” said Dr. Gail Bolan, director of the CDC’s division of STD prevention. “This is a consistent, disturbing trend.” In 2000, the year with the fewest cases of syphilis, there were 6,000 cases nationwide. In 2013, there were more than 16,000 cases of syphilis, 91 percent of these in men. “We haven’t seen case numbers like that since back in the ’90s,” Bolan said.

USA – Conversion therapy bans stall across the nation

A movement to ban the controversial practice of “conversion therapy” that counsels homosexual children and teens on how to become straight is meeting with unexpected problems. Christopher Doyle, a licensed clinical professional counselor who supports sexual orientation change efforts, said the bills were losing because of coordinated efforts by ex-gays. They are also arguing that there can’t be a scientific basis for the claim that the therapy is harmful to children since “there is actually not one study” on sexual orientation change efforts and the impact on minors, Mr. Doyle said.

USA – Judge to be impeached after homosexual marriage ruling

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee a former presidential candidate and staunch social conservative, called on the state’s current governor, Mike Beebe (D), to call a special session of the state legislature to remove Judge Christopher Piazza from office who struck down the homosexual marriage ban that he signed into law 17 years ago. ” Huckabee asserted, Piazza “decided that he is singularly more powerful than the 135 elected legislators of the state, the elected Governor, and 75 percent of the voters of the state. Huckabee also blasted Piazza for issuing his ruling after the close of business Friday, which made “it impossible for the attorney general or other attorneys to file for an immediate stay of his overreaching decision.”

South Africa – Lifting of ban on homosexuals donating blood

In the past, homosexual men were seen as being at high risk of being infected with HIV and could only donate blood to SANBS if they had been celibate for six months or longer. The policy made in 2006 was widely criticised as discriminatory, unfairly targeting homosexual men while allowing heterosexual people who engaged in equally risky or casual sex to donate. Vanessa Raju, SANBS Communications Manager, confirmed that the non-discriminatory policy had been put in place that favors people in monogamous relationships, regardless of sexuality.

IVF &Surrogacy

USA – Older infertile couples should try in vitro fertilization first

Middle-aged couples who want to have a baby but are having trouble conceiving should go straight to in vitro fertilization (IVF), skipping other types of fertility treatment, a new clinical trial recommends. Researchers found that women aged 38 and older were more than twice as likely to become pregnant through IVF within their first two cycles of treatment than if they used oral or injectable fertility drugs. They also were twice as likely to have a successful birth from that pregnancy. These findings should cause insurance officials to reconsider their refusal to cover IVF, given that pregnancy occurs more rapidly with IVF and with fewer complications, said Dr. Tomer Singer, a reproductive endocrinologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.

Medical Ethics

UK – Concern over new medical experimentation bill

Experts are seriously alarmed at the new Medical Innovation Bill, intended to allow doctors greater freedom to experiment on dying patients. Legal philosopher Jaquline Laing concludes: “In short, medical experimentation on patients is mainstreamed while no clear conditions as to what would constitute degrading and inhuman treatment are anywhere outlined. Indeed, the very possibility of degrading and inhuman treatment is not considered, whether in the language of the bill or in any preamble, and safeguards nowhere outlined.” The Academy of Royal Medical Colleges is opposing the bill on similar grounds. They argued that the prudential requirements set out by the bill were too lax, and furthermore that the bill could turn medical innovation into an individual activity.

UK – Conscientious objectors barred from qualification in UK

The UK Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has barred doctors and nurses from qualifications if they refuse to prescribe or administer contraceptives. Dr. Peter Saunders, head of the Christian Medical Fellowship, said,  “If you look at non-Catholic Christians there would be many who may have no objection to contraception and see it as responsible behaviour but who draw the line at prescribing contraceptives meant to be taken after fertilization”. David Jones, director of the Anscombe Bioethics Centre in Oxford, said, “This is a form of unjust discrimination against professionals on the basis of their personal beliefs and, indirectly, a form of discrimination against patients who share the same beliefs and who may wish to be treated by professionals with a sympathetic understanding of their position.”


Germany – Pedophile brains ‘abnormally tuned to children’

The brains of pedophiles are abnormally “tuned” to be attracted to the faces of children, according to a study conducted by Dr Jorge Ponseti from Christian-Albrechts University in Kiel, Germany. 56 male brains were scanned by scientists, including 24 pedophiles, while they looked at photos of men, women, boys and girls faces. The same face and sexual processing regions of the brain were stimulated when adults saw photos of men and women and when pedophiles looked at images of children. The findings confirmed previous research showing that human face processing reflects sexual preferences. However, the study found no reason as to why pedophile brain’s preferred children.


USA – Porn magazines to be banned from military bases

Morality in the Media has demanded the Pentagon take pornography magazines off the shelves at military bases because they are ‘sexually exploitative’. Also, military wives have complained that easy access to porn at bases is breaking up their marriages because their husbands come back from deployment addicted to porn. Pornography is sexually exploitative and the military has a sexual exploitation problem, according to deputy executive director for Morality in Media, Casey Capozzoli. Selling sexually explicit material on base is against the law, according to the Military Honor and Decency Act, passed in 1996. The Department of Defense Appropriations Bill 2014, to be released in June, directs military officials to start the process of pulling the magazines off the shelves.

USA – The truth about the porn industry

Gail Dines, an academic and author of an explosive new book about the sex industry, ‘Pornland: How Porn Has Hijacked Our Sexuality’, interviewed a number of men in prison who had committed rape against children. All were habitual users of child pornography. They all said that they got bored with ‘regular’ porn and wanted something fresh. They were horrified at the idea of sex with a prepubescent child initially but within six months they had all raped a child. Child porn has increased significantly in popularity in recent years, with almost 14m internet searches for “teen sex” in 2006, an increase of more than 60{01b0879e117dd7326006b2e84bcaac7e8fa1509c5c67baf2c9eb498fe06caff4} since 2004.

USA – Porn is a public health issue

The Coalition to End Sexual Exploitation is looking at pornography as a complex social problem that should be framed as a public health issue. Dawn Hawkins of Morality in the Media says porn sites get more visitors per month than Netflix, Amazon and Twitter combined. A third of all downloads contain porn and the Internet hosts 4.2 million porn websites. Porn is without doubt the most powerful form of sex education today, with studies showing the average age of first viewing porn is between 11 and 14. According to Mary Anne Layden of the University of Pennsylvania, who specializes in sexual trauma, pornography has been a factor in every case of sexual violence that she has treated as a psychotherapist.

Prostitution & Trafficking

Canada – Use provincial laws to fight prostitution

The federal government is expected to introduce amendments to the Criminal Code soon that will revamp the current law, by targeting pimps and johns but exempting prostitutes from prosecution.  A different approach to the problem is needed and if prostitution is to be eradicated, it must also be fought at the provincial level because provincial laws move faster, have fewer procedural impediments, and could pose a far more immediate threat to the sex-trade industry if properly deployed.  We need to stop regarding prostitution as an issue that can only be addressed by the federal government and with tougher criminal laws. A more coordinated approach, using existing provincial laws, could go a long way to reducing the problem.

Stem Cells & Cloning

USA – Controversy over cardiac stem cells could sink “heart failure cure”

An experimental treatment led by Dr Piero Anvera using cardiac stem cells to regenerate heart tissue which was heralded as a revolutionary breakthrough and as a “heart failure cure” in The Lancet, has been retracted, with The Lancet issuing “an expression of concern” about the much-cited paper. “This notice of concern, coupled with the recent retraction, is extremely troubling because of the large number of clinical trials inspired by reports from this group, the many desperate patients potentially affected, and the large amount of federal and private money that has been diverted from other areas of promising research to pursue these ideas,” Professor Jonathan Epstein, of the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine commented.

USA –  bioethics commission calls for ethics education in neuroscience

Calling for the integration of ethics into neuroscience, the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues released the 1st of 2 volumes on the ethics of brain research. The commission’s deliberations were shaped by a number of high-profile ethical disasters such as the fad for transorbital lobotomy, a psychosurgical procedure which cured “delusions, obsessions, and nervous tensions. As Chairperson, Amy Gutmann, of the University of Pennsylvania wrote in the Chronicle of Higher Education: “By integrating ethics into neuroscience research early and thoroughly, we can avoid the need for a future bioethics commission to perform a painful postmortem on the Brain Initiative. Ethics in science must not come to the fore for the first time after something has gone wrong.”

Substance Abuse

USA – Synthetic Marijuana Hospitalizes 45 in Texas

During a 48-hour period over a weekend, 30 people in Dallas were admitted to local hospitals for reportedly overdosing on a synthetic marijuana product known as K2. An APD spokesman said in Texas there is an ongoing investigation into the most recent string of what he called “overdoses.” “This is the first time we’ve seen synthetic marijuana overdoses in ‘mass’ quantities like this. We need to figure out where this stuff is coming from.” Dr. James E’tienne, an emergency physician at Baylor University Medical Center, told Dallas media outlet WFAA-TV, “Several of [the patients] came in with similar symptoms of psychosis, altered mental status, abnormal behavior–ranged from very sedated to an agitated state.

USA – Recreational Marijuana May Be Linked To Brain Changes

New research reports that for each additional joint a person smokes per week, the greater the odds of structural changes to areas involved in motivation, reward, and emotion. “This study raises a strong challenge to the idea that casual marijuana use isn’t associated with bad consequences,” said study author Hans Breiter, psychiatry and behavioral sciences professor at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and psychiatrist at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. “Some of these people only used marijuana to get high once or twice a week. People think a little recreational use shouldn’t cause a problem, if someone is doing OK with work or school. Our data directly says this is not the case.

USA – WHO says alcohol killed 3.3 million in 2012

More than 3 million people died from using alcohol in 2012, for reasons ranging from cancer to violence. More needs to be done to protect populations from the negative health consequences of alcohol consumption, said Oleg Chestnov, a WHO expert on chronic disease and mental health. He added there was “no room for complacency”, warning that drinking too much kills more men than women, raises people’s risk of developing more than 200 diseases, and killed 3.3 million people in 2012. Poorer people are generally more affected by the social and health consequences of alcohol, he said.  More also needed to be done to raise awareness of the damage alcohol can do to people’s health.

USA – Marijuana Legalization In States Making Waves At UN

With Washington State and Colorado opening the door to legal recreational marijuana use, a United Nations report has been published which takes issue with this drift towards legalization. This year’s annual report commented on the legalization of marijuana in Colorado which, it says, has increased the number of drugged driving accidents. INCB President Raymond Yans urges national governments to look at drug policy through a wide angle lens. What is best for the health of the country? The science behind medical marijuana is sketchy and is seen by the U.N. group as dangerous to public health. Although the U.S. has permitted states to approve marijuana for medical use there is no solid research showing it to have legitimate medical applications.

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