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Kate Guthrie: Where is Jeremy Hunt’s evidence on abortion?

11 Oct, 12 | by BMJ Group

It may have been a throw away comment as part of a wider interview but the new Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has reiterated his belief in a reduction of the abortion time limit to 12 weeks.  This, he says, is his personal view based on evidence. So what is the evidence?

Scientific opinion is that the prognosis for viability and subsequent normal development below 24 weeks is poor; below 20 weeks, it doesn’t exist. Data from the EPICure studies provide the evidence. Medical advances may mean that we are now able to treat extremely preterm infants but sadly their outcomes are still very poor and not improving.  The most recent Office for National Statistics figures are proof of this sad reality. Vital organs such as the lungs are still developing, and survivors cannot exist outside the womb without very invasive interventions. more…

Marge Berer: Jeremy Hunt supports 12 week limit for abortion

8 Oct, 12 | by BMJ

At the Labour conference last week, Andy Burnham accused Jeremy Hunt of failing to make any statements about important current health service issues in parliament since he became health secretary. What a pity he decided to speak up last week, because now we know just how uninformed he is. Hunt said he favoured reducing the abortion time limit to 12 weeks. Really? How much more irrelevant can it get with this government? But he wasn’t alone. Maria Miller, who became women’s minister in the recent shuffle, had already expressed her personal opinion on the abortion time limit in the Guardian. Theresa May was then pushed to take a view on the Today programme on Saturday, and (not to be left out) David Cameron also offered his two cents’ worth on the BBC. A bit like lemmings, except that they all had different views, and the government, according to Cameron, has no plans to put forward legislation anyway. Still, every news outlet in the country seems to have picked up on it. Is that what the media are for these days—to report every off-the-cuff, unthought-out opinion that comes down the road? Give me a break. This is non-news. more…

Marge Berer: Independent abortion counselling? Whose problem?

1 Sep, 11 | by BMJ Group

Marge BererNadine Dorries MP is a very skilful politician. She decides there is a problem, for which she has absolutely no evidence. She not only manages to get her problem on to the front pages of the newspapers but also on to the agenda of the House of Commons. Having spoken to her about it, the Department of Health (DoH) agrees to take it up and resolve it without putting it before Parliament. But the DoH have no evidence of a problem either. Nadine Dorries wants to make life harder for the one in three women in this country who will have an abortion in their lifetimes. But what excuse does the DoH have? One can only presume they were trying to stop Dorries from stealing the limelight from Andrew Lansley’s NHS bill next week, which is contentious enough without her. Today, as reported by the Guardian,  Downing Street has intervened. more…

Vasiliy Vlassov: Russian women’s reproductive rights in grave danger

16 Aug, 11 | by BMJ Group

Vasiliy VlassovAccording to current Russian law, women can ask for an elective abortion up until 12 weeks of pregnancy. Between 12 and 22 weeks, an abortion can only be made on the basis of medical or so called “social” indications laid out by the government. Over the years, the government has dramatically decreased the number of reasons that women can qualify for a late abortion. For instance they have eliminated the right to perform a second trimester abortion if the parents are both unemployed. This has been done under the pronatalist pretext, though in practice the share of abortions made for medical or social reasons has never risen much higher than 2% and 3% of all abortions respectively. more…

Bob Roehr on Mila Means – a physician at the centre of the US abortion wars

4 Aug, 11 | by BMJ Group

Demonstrations for and against the question of abortion are going on all this week outside a clinic in Germantown, Maryland, in the suburbs of Washington, DC. Opponents of abortion have also broadened their attack to seek greater restrictions on sex education and reproductive health. They have particularly targeted government funding and services contracts for the medical charity Planned Parenthood. As that plays out, the BMJ spoke with a physician at the traditional epicentre of the US abortion wars. more…

Neil Chanchlani: Conscientious objection

2 Aug, 11 | by BMJ Group

Neil Chanchlani“See one, do one, teach one?”

Gone are the days when medical students did what they were told, learnt what was on the syllabus, and spoke when spoken to.

“See one, do one, teach one?” Not a chance.

Instead, they conscientiously object. more…

Edward Davies: Abstain from emotive rhetoric, please

26 May, 11 | by BMJ Group

Edward DaviesWhen I read yesterday that “anti-abortion group” Life had been asked to join a government advisory panel on sexual health, my heart sank a bit.

Not because they have been asked to join – it strikes me that in a group of a dozen or so organisations to have one representing this view is probably not entirely at odds with the views of the public our government aims to represent – but because of the language. more…

Vidhya Alakeson on the US election

5 Sep, 08 | by BMJ Group

After the Democratic Convention last week, when healthcare featured in almost every major speech, I had been waiting all week to see whether the Republicans would talk about it at all during their Convention in Minneapolis. Yesterday, on the last day of the Convention, healthcare reform finally got a mention when John McCain took to the stage to deliver his acceptance speech. more…

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