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19 December 2013

December digest: The barrier to abortion is politics

This month’s top stories on Reproductive Review.

- 1. THE BARRIER TO ABORTION IS POLITICS

Ann Furedi writes, in the Journal of Family Planning and Reproductive Health Care:

In 1972, 100 American professors of obstetrics published a statement setting out the benefits they believed legalised abortion could deliver for their nation and for its women. Forty years later, the next generation of professors have weighed their colleagues’ expectations against their own professional experience, and state: “We have had 40 years of medical progress but have witnessed political regression that the 100 professors did not anticipate”.

The 100 American professors writing today document a barrage of policy and legal assaults that have impeded the development of the abortion services that their mentors strived to achieve. Abortion per se, they conclude, is no cause for clinical concern – but political opposition to abortion is. Conservative resistance to abortion has, according to the authors of the statement published in the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology and reprinted in Contraception, brought threats to: the autonomy of the doctor-patient relationship; evidence-based medical practice; the training of students and residents; and, ultimately, the health of patients.

In short, insofar as abortion is a problem today, it is a matter of its politics, not its practice.

Today’s obstetrics and gynaecology professors know, as a matter of proven fact, that high-quality, affordable, acceptable abortion services can be developed and that they bring social and personal benefits. Their concern is whether such services may be developed. When it comes to abortion, the question is: will governments allow doctors to do their best for patients?...

- 2. UK: NATIONAL SURVEY CHALLENGES ASSUMPTIONS ABOUT SEX AND PREGNANCY

The third National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles (Natsal) reveals major changes in sexual behaviour over the past century, including earlier onset of sexual activity, increasing numbers of older people who are sexually active, a closing of the gap between men and women, and weakened links between sex and reproduction.

- 3. UK: BPAS CHRISTMAS CAMPAIGN HIGHLIGHTS CONTRACEPTIVE NEEDS OF OVER-30s

Christmas presents aren’t the only thing women in their 30s and 40s may be receiving this year - it’s the time of year they are most at risk of an unplanned pregnancy.

- 4. CHANGE IN ADVICE ON EC EFFECTIVENESS IN HEAVIER WOMEN

The European manufacturer of an emergency contraceptive pill identical to Plan B, also known as the morning-after pill, will warn women that the drug is completely ineffective for women who weigh more than 176 pounds and begins to lose effectiveness in women who weigh more than 165 pounds, Mother Jones magazine reports.

- 5. AUSTRALIA: MALE PILL ‘A STEP CLOSER’

New research has been reported that might aid the development of a male contraceptive pill.

- 6. COMMENT: FORCED C-SECTIONS AND STOLEN BABIES

The Alessandra Pacchieri case looks like the ‘stuff of nightmares’, but the problems it highlights are real, writes Jennie Bristow.

- 7. NORTHERN IRELAND: JUSTICE MINISTER TO CONSULT ON ABORTION LAWS

David Ford has said he is going to consult on changing abortion laws to allow women carrying babies with fatal fetal abnormalities to have a termination.

- 8. COMMENT: UK ABORTION LAWS - RELIC OF THE PAST OR A BIG, FLABBY, UNSATISFACTORY COMPROMISE?

A column by Jemima Thackray in the Daily Telegraph poses some sensible questions.

- 9. UK: COURTS AFFIRM ROLE OF CLINICAL JUDGEMENT IN MULTIPLE EMBRYO TRANSFER

The UK’s High Court has ruled that the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority’s actions towards two clinics over a licence condition to impose a maximum multiple birth rate were unlawful.

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