LIFEalerts 25 June 2015

LIFEalerts 25 June 2015

Abortion USA – More Than 100 Studies Show Abortion Link to Premature BirthsUSA – Abortions declining in nearly all US statesUSA – Missouri Legislature Boosts Funding for Abortion Alternatives
Alternative Medicine USA – Smart bandages, bacteria-sensing gloves and moreAustralia – Chinese medicine ‘a tragedy for Australian science’, critic warns
Euthanasia USA – California Senate approves debated physician-assisted suicide billBelgium – Euthanasia law under fire againNetherlands – Laws as ‘stepping stones’ toward even more radical changes
HIV/AIDS No news today
Homosexuality No news today
IVF & Surrogacy USA – Vitrification versus slow freezingTaiwan – New IVF device may improve fertility treatmentUK – A British lawyer has slammed Britain’s “inhumane surrogacy laws”
Medical Ethics USA – White House backs review of gene-editing technologyAustralia – Not nature OR nurture but nature and nurtureUSA – The bioethics of genetic diversity
Pedophilia Australia – Child sexual abuse can shorten life expectancy, shrinks brainCanada – Pedophiles Are Often Left-Handed With Physical Deformities
Pornography South Africa – Porn viewing surges online in SA USA – Google to ban porn from Blogger China – China wins fight against porn
Prostitution &Trafficking Burma – Corpses of trafficking victims wash ashoreUSA – Utah massage parlors raided in human trafficking crackdownUK – Nigerian trafficking ‘top priority’, commissioner says

Scotland -Campaign launches to bring end to prostitution

Stem Cells & Cloning No news today
Substance Abuse USA – A Blind Eye to AddictionUSA – Cannabis Legalization: Child Pot Exposure Rose 148%South Africa – Codeine is the most abused over-the-counter drug in SA

USA – Colorado Adult Marijuana Use Almost Double the National Average





USA – More Than 100 Studies Show Abortion Link to Premature Births

Over 100 peer-reviewed studies have found that abortion is a risk factor for premature birth in subsequent pregnancies according to Dr. Byron Calhoun, Professor and Vice-Chair in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the West Virginia University-Charleston. A study in the Archives of Gynecology and Obstetrics, found a history of combined surgical-medical abortion is associated with increased preterm birth risk of over 200%. It also found an increased risk of over 360% for women who had medical abortion with curettage. According to the World Health Organization Global Action Report on Preterm Birth, about 15 million babies are born prematurely every year. That is more than 1 in every 10 babies born around the world.


USA – Abortions declining in nearly all US states

Nationwide, the Associated Press survey showed a decrease in abortions of about 12 percent since 2010. Elizabeth Nash, a state-issues expert for the Guttmacher Institute, said a total of 267 abortion restrictions have been enacted in 31 states since 2011. While some of the new laws have been blocked by lawsuits, most have taken effect, contributing to closure of about 70 abortion clinics in a dozen states since 2010. One major factor has been a decline in the teen pregnancy rate, which in 2010 reached its lowest level in decades. The biggest decrease in abortion, percentage-wise, was in Hawaii, where abortions fell from 3,064 in 2010 to 2,147 in 2014.


USA – Missouri Legislature Boosts Funding for Abortion Alternatives

A bill adopted by the Missouri Legislature, Senate Bill 24, known as the “Strengthening Missouri Families Act”, will make approximately $4.3 million in new annual funding available for alternatives to abortion programs.  Sam Lee, director of Campaign Life, observes that amount is twice the level of funding ever appropriated. The Missouri Senate approved Bill 24 by a vote of 25-8.  The House endorsed the measure on a vote of 115-44.


Alternative Medicine


USA – Smart bandages, bacteria-sensing gloves and more

Scientists envision bio-sensing gloves, which could selectively react to different pathological agents. The ability to print antibiotics in topographical patterns could address the need for “smart” bandages, where therapeutics are incorporated and delivered to match a complex injury. Researchers created and tested a custom library of inkjet-printable, functional silk inks doped with bioactive components such as antibiotics, enzymes, nanoparticles, and growth factors. The natural silk polymer stabilized the agents over time and enabled printing in varied mechanically robust formats. When printed on surgical gloves in functional silk inks doped with bacteria-sensing agents, the word “contaminated” changed from blue to red after exposure to E. coli.


Australia – Chinese medicine ‘a tragedy for Australian science’, critic warns

The inclusion of traditional Chinese medicine in the free trade agreement between Australia and China is a step backwards for the health system and for science, one critic warns. Chinese medicine was the subject of a side letter from Australia’s Trade Minister Andrew Robb to the Chinese government, which outlined plans to strengthen cooperation on traditional medicine and could open the door for hundreds of contractual service providers from China to be officially registered to work here. According to Professor of neurophysiology and co-founder of the group Friends of Science in Medicine, Dr Marcello Costa the agreement would give unwarranted legitimacy to Chinese medicine.


<Back to Top>




USA – California Senate approves hotly debated physician-assisted suicide bill

The California Senate approved a physician-assisted suicide bill that would allow some terminally ill patients to obtain medication to end their lives, even as opponents criticized the bill as dangerous. The bill, which was approved 23-13 in the Senate, now moves on to the state Assembly, said Kathy Smith, a spokeswoman for Democratic Senator Bill Monning. If it becomes law in California, the most populous U.S. state would join Oregon, Washington State, Montana and Vermont in allowing some form of physician-assisted suicide. The bill got a boost last month after the California Medical Association dropped its three-decade opposition to physician-assisted suicide, changing its position to neutral, in the first such move by a state medical association.


Belgium – Euthanasia law under fire again

A leading academic has published a stinging critique of how Belgium administers its euthanasia law. In the Journal of Medical Ethics, Rafael Cohen-Almagor, professor of politics at the University of Hull, says Belgians should be alarmed by the deliberate shortening of lives of some patients without their explicit voluntary request. Consent is supposed to be a cornerstone of Belgium’s euthanasia act, but after surveying reports and articles of the number of patients who are killed outside of the law it is disturbing. “Ending patients’ lives without request is more common than euthanasia. Social and peer pressure makes it difficult for those who oppose euthanasia to uphold their position in the liberal culture that has been developing,” says Cohen-Almagor.


Netherlands – Laws as ‘stepping stones’ toward even more radical changes

Former member of one of the Dutch Euthanasia Evaluation Commissions, Theo Boer, had changed his mind and had begun to warn other countries of his concerns about the Dutch experiment. “Perhaps the mere existence of a law is an invitation to see assisted dying as normal instead of as a last resort. The Dutch and Belgian laws on assisted dying, instead of being a respectful compromise, much rather function as stepping stones towards more radical changes in the way we organize our deaths. The offer of assisted dying may be a relief to some. But it also sends unwanted signals to terminal patients, elderly citizens, to people suffering from life, yes, to anyone who knows that life can be very, very hard.”


<Back to Top>




No news today


<Back to Top>




No news today


<Back to Top>


IVF &Surrogacy


USA – Vitrification versus slow freezing

Vitrification in contrast to slow freezing is an efficient method for cryopreservation of human cleavage stage embryos which provides a higher survival rate, minimal harmful effects on post-warming embryo morphology and it can improve clinical outcomes. Successful cryopreservation of human embryos was first reported in 1983 by Trounson and Mohr with multicellular embryos that had been slow-cooled using dimethyl sulphoxide (DMSO). Subsequent modifications of the technique, introducing 1,2-propanediol and sucrose as cryoprotectants and slow-cooling to −30°C prior to plunging into liquid nitrogen, has resulted in the introduction of cryopreservation as a standard method offered by virtually every full-service IVF program world-wide.


Taiwan – New IVF device may improve fertility treatment

A team of researchers from National Tsing Hua University and the National Health Research Institutes in Taiwan has developed a technique to more effectively grow and screen embryos prior to implantation. The results, published in the journal Biomicrofluidics, from the American Institute of Physics, could facilitate more targeted selection of embryos to implant leading to higher IVF success rates and ultimately lower costs. Researchers developed a way to culture embryos in a plate of open micro-wells, so each well contains just one or two embryos. The system gives each embryo its own microenvironment, allowing researchers to determine on a case-by-case basis which ones are the most viable.


UK – A British lawyer has slammed Britain’s “inhumane surrogacy laws”

Following a decision in the High Court to take a one-year-old girl from her surrogate mother and give her to her gay parents, well-known British solicitor and legal analyst Jon Holbrook argues that bearing a baby in utero is a morally significant fact that courts should take into account. It is a gross injustice to ignore the intense psychological and emotional bond that arises from childbearing: “The law on surrogacy now treats the birth mother as little more than a vessel.” He argues that we need to rethink the contractualism of surrogacy laws like those in Britain to take into account the emotional complexities of surrogacy. 106


<Back to Top>


Medical Ethics


USA – White House backs review of gene-editing technology

The White house has backed calls for an in-depth ethical review of gene-editing technology. The move came swiftly after Chinese scientists announced they had altered the genome of non-viable human embryos. John P. Holdren, the white House science advisor said that “The Administration believes that altering the human germline for clinical purposes is a line that should not be crossed at this time.” “Research along these lines raises serious and urgent questions about the potential implications for clinical applications that could lead to genetically altered humans. The full implications of such a step could not be known until a number of generations had inherited the genetic changes made, and choices made in one country could affect all of us.”


Australia – Not nature OR nurture but nature AND nurture

The enduring question of whether our health is governed by nature or nurture has been settled, say researchers from the University of Queensland and VU University of Amsterdam who reviewed almost every twin study across the world from the past 50 years, involving more than 14.5 million twin pairs. The findings, published in Nature Genetics, reveal that on average the variation for human traits and diseases is 49 per cent genetic, and 51 per cent due to environmental factors. “The findings show that we need to look at ourselves outside of a view of nature versus nurture, and instead look at it as nature and nurture”, said Dr Beben Benyamin of the Queensland Brain Institute.



USA – The bioethics of genetic diversity

In a series of fourteen articles the American Journal of Bioethics examines the topic of new reproductive technologies and the ethical issues surrounding the protection of genetic variation in a population. Monash bioethicist Robert Sparrow says if we desire to conserve genetic variation and naturally occurring instances of disability in our world, then why shouldn’t we protect disability and – in extreme cases where disability begins to disappear – impose disability on populations. In a response bioethicist Rosemarie Garland-Thompson argues that the very project of trying to design “the future people we want” is inherently problematic, as we do not have the power to predict all the contingencies of the future world. Hence we should neither impose disability nor attempt to eradicate it.



<Back to Top>




Australia – Child sexual abuse can shorten life expectancy, shrinks brain

Psychiatrist Dr Carolyn Quadrio, an Associate Professor at the University of New South Wales, appeared as a witness at a hearing of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sex Abuse. Dr Quadrio told the hearing the sexual abuse of children damaged brain development and, at worst, resulted in shrinkage of the brain and a shortened life expectancy of 10 to 20 years.


Canada – Pedophiles Are Often Left-Handed With Physical Deformities

A study conducted at the University of Windsor in Canada has found that pedophiles tend to be left-handed and often have superficial facial flaws, known as Minor Physical Anomalies. Results show that certain aspects of neural development could affect a person’s risk for pedophilic tendencies.


<Back to Top>




South Africa – Porn viewing surges online in SA

According to statistics from global online pornography provider Pornhub, South Africans love porn. Locals spent 10 minutes 35 seconds per visit on the porn platform, more than the global average of eight minutes, 56 seconds. Gauteng is the most prolific visitor to the site, accounting for 55% of page impressions, followed by the Western Cape (26%) and KwaZulu-Natal (12%). South Africans also have a wide variety of porn appetites. Globally, the top search term on Pornhub was “teen”, followed by “lesbian”, “milf” and “step mom” and the top country delivering traffic to the platform was the US, followed by the UK, Canada and India.


USA – Google to ban porn from Blogger

Google has said it will ban sexually explicit content or “graphic nudity” on its Blogger platform, asking users to remove the material by March 23. In an update to its policies, it would still allow nudity if the content offers a substantial public benefit, for example in artistic, educational, documentary, or scientific contexts. The update explains that users with sexually explicit content may remain on the platform as a “private” blog that can only be viewed by the administrator and persons with whom the link is shared. Users will also be able to export the blog to another platform if they don’t want to remain on Google, the policy said.


China – China wins fight against porn

China deleted more than three million pieces of pornographic content from the internet in 2014, state media reported on Saturday, as part of a campaign to cleanse the country’s online sphere. Zhou Huilin, a vice director of the National Anti-Pornography and Anti-Illegal Publications Office, said his office had been “remarkably effective” last year.


<Back to Top>


Prostitution & Trafficking


Burma – Corpses of trafficking victims wash ashore

Dozens of corpses have washed ashore in Myanmar’s western state of Rakhine in the last month. Some were believed to be Rohingya Muslims trying to escape trafficking ships, while others were Bangladeshi. At least 47 bodies washed up on beaches and the mouths of rivers, many so badly decomposed they were unrecognizable. They drowned while trying to swim to shore.  Myanmar has denied blame for a humanitarian crisis that has gripped Southeast Asia since early May, with more than 4,600 desperate and hungry boat people rescued in five countries after a massive, regional crackdown on human trafficking prompted some captains to abandon their human cargo at sea.


USA – Utah massage parlors raided in human trafficking crackdown

A strike force aimed at cracking down on crimes involving undocumented immigrants raided nearly a dozen massage parlors and apartments targeting human trafficking and prostitution. The Utah Attorney General’s SECURE (Statewide Enforcement of Crimes by Undocumented REsidents) Strike Force raided 11 parlors taking women into custody, citing customers for soliciting prostitutes and arresting the owner. “We believe it’s a criminal enterprise. Authorities believe the women who work in the parlors are being forced into the sex trade, working to pay off debts after being brought into the United States.”


UK – Nigerian trafficking ‘top priority’, commissioner says

Hundreds of people are believed to be brought from Nigeria to virtual slavery in the UK every year. Clamping down on the problem of Nigerians being trafficked to the UK is a main priority, the first independent anti-slavery commissioner, Kevin Hyland said. Research published by the Home Office in December estimates that there are between 10,000 and 13,000 potential victims of slavery in the UK. “The Modern Slavery Strategy”, which was published in November, last year, sets out an ambitious plan, including work with international partners, to increase collaboration and target human traffickers.


Scotland -Campaign launches to bring end to prostitution

A bold move launches across Scotland to challenge the root of prostitution. The campaign – led by Women Support Project WSP) and the Glasgow Violence Against Women Partnership will call on the Scottish public to put pressure on the Scottish Government to tackle the root cause of commercial sexual exploitation.  According to James Coleman the campaign aims to secure legislation in Scotland which criminalizes the buyers of sex, decriminalises those exploited by prostitution and provides support and services to help people exit prostitution safely.  According to Liz Curran, from the WSP, prostitution is abuse, often extreme or violent in nature. Prostitution is never a matter of choice, nor is it a human right, as some campaigners argue.


<Back to Top>


Stem Cells & Cloning


No news today


<Back to Top>


Substance Abuse


USA – A Blind Eye to Addiction

Addiction is America’s most neglected disease. According to a Columbia University study, “40 million Americans age 12 and over meet the clinical criteria for addiction involving nicotine, alcohol or other drugs.” That’s more Americans than those with heart disease, diabetes or cancer. An estimated additional 80 million people in the USA are “risky substance users,” meaning that while not addicted, they “use tobacco, alcohol and other drugs in ways that threaten public health and safety.” The costs to government alone (not including family, out of pocket and private insurance costs) exceed $468 billion annually. Overdose deaths from opioids (narcotic pills like OxyContin, Percodan and Methadone and heroin) have become the fastest growing drug problem throughout the USA.


USA – Cannabis Legalization: Child Pot Exposure Rose 148%

From 2006 to 2013, children’s exposure to cannabis (marijuana) products rose 147.5 percent across the U.S., according to a study published in the journal Clinical Pediatrics. In states with legal medical marijuana, that figured jumped to 610 percent. Most children were exposed after swallowing marijuana edibles. “The high percentage of ingestions may be related to the popularity of marijuana brownies, cookies and other foods,” said Henry Spiller, a co-author of the study and director of the Central Ohio Poison Centre at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio. The majority of children – 75 percent – who ingested pot were under 3 years of age, according to the report.


South Africa – Codeine is the most abused over-the-counter drug in SA

Cough syrup containing codeine is being abused by people seeking a cheap high. South Africa is 1 of the top 50 codeine selling countries in the world. The Hawks on a bust in Germiston confiscated hundreds of boxes of cough syrup. While the sting was underway, a woman dropped by at the dispensary claiming that she was collecting Broncleer to the value of R100 000 for her brother. The depot owner purchased more than 200 000 units of Broncleer, estimated to be worth over R1.7 million, since July last year. Codeine converts into morphine and is an opioid medication used for the relief of mild to moderate pain and to suppress coughing. Use of codeine can lead to tolerance and eventually abuse when more of the drug is needed.


USA – Colorado Adult Marijuana Use Almost Double the National Average

A new a new statewide survey funded by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment found that 13.6% of adults in Colorado are now regular users of cannabis (marijuana).  This is almost double the national rate of 7.4%. Denver, which is home to the most number of marijuana stores, leads the state with 18.5% of adults as current users. Perhaps equally, if not more shocking, 1 in 5 marijuana users reported driving after using the drug. “This study shows once again that legalization promotes marijuana use and worsens its consequences,” stated SAM President Kevin Sabet. “According to state estimates of the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, adult use has risen in Colorado almost 20% since 2012”.



<Back to Top>


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