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08 November 2005 @ 12:11 am
A mother says she is confident of changing government guidelines that allow girls to have abortions without their parents' knowledge Source: BBC

The judicial review starts tomorrow. Realistically, I have my doubts that this will turn UK law on its head overnight. As has been previously stated regarding young people and the law:

It is lawful for doctors to provide contraceptive advice and treatment without parental consent providing certain criteria are met. These criteria, known as the Fraser Guidelines, were laid down by Lord Fraser in the House of Lords' case and require the professional to be satisfied that:

* the young person will understand the professionals advice;
* the young person cannot be persuaded to inform their parents;
* the young person is likely to begin, or to continue having, sexual intercourse with or without contraceptive treatment;
* unless the young person receives contraceptive treatment, their physical or mental health, or both, are likely to suffer;
* the young person's best interests require them to receive contraceptive advice or treatment with or without parental consent.

Although these criteria specifically refer to contraception, the principles are deemed to apply to other treatments, including abortion.

In other news, the House of Lords recently had a discussion in committee about defending the upper legal limit of abortion in the UK. Speakers included: Polly Toynbee Guardian columnist; Melody Drnach National Organisation of Women, USA; Baroness Joyce Gould Chair All Party
Parliamentary Pro-Choice and Sexual Health Group; Chris McCafferty MP; Laura Moffat MP; Emily Thornberry MP; Diana Holland TGWU; Jo Salmon NUS National Women's Officer. The upper legal limit of abortion is currently 23 weeks and 6 days.

Unfortunately, I didn't get a chance to attend, and I have yet to see anything substantial in the news about it, aside from what has been said by anti-choice groups. Needless to say, when I see anything which highlights any of the points raised, you will be the first to know.

The abortion/depression link was recently called into question in a study. There is no credible evidence that women who terminate an unwanted first pregnancy are at a higher risk of depression, researchers say Source: BBC

BPAS were recently informed that they were not breaking the law regarding late termination of pregnancy referrals, however, their handling of the case was criticised. A charity that referred abroad a woman who was seeking a late abortion was not breaking the law, an inquiry says Source: BBC

A paper published by the Journal of the American Medical Association found that It is unlikely foetuses feel pain until the last few weeks of a pregnancy Source: BBC
 
 
04 November 2005 @ 12:48 am
Due to being married to my degree and chained to my desk, I've been neglecting this community a little. However, after my exams this Monday, I intend on rectifying this. A few things I intend on doing...

* Keeping up to date with the most recent stories in the UK. This includes the outcome of the request of a mother wanting to have the right to know if her children have had/in the process of seeking abortion.

* Updating events in Parliament. Including a recent talk in the House of Lords discussing the protection of the current legal limit.

* Working alongside abortioninfo to produce a comprehensive piece on surgical instruments/medication used during an abortion. Most anti-choice sites scaremonger using pictures of outdated equipment and what the said equipment does, and it would be a good idea to have an informative piece, to take away any lingering fears about what happens during medical and surgical abortions.

* Marie Stopes International recently published a survey on the reasons why women choose to have a late abortion (i.e. 19+ - 24 weeks gestation). I'll put together a piece on that.

* BPAS and their comments about the kinds of contraception being offered to women.

If anyone has any further ideas, please comment or email me.
 
 
01 July 2005 @ 12:01 am
Taken from Marie Stopes International

"Worried about getting pregnant in Thailand or where to buy condoms in Cuba? Then pack a copy of 'Your Passport to Sexual Health', the different sort of travel guide from the Marie Stopes International Global Partnership.

The publication, which provides women tourists with tips before, during and after their holiday, has been such a success since its launch in the UK three years ago that it's gone into its third edition.

"We're delighted that it's become the sexual health bible for women travellers, GPs and hospitals. It's a pocket-sized guide that contains useful information on contraception and women's health problems - and it's useful even if you're not travelling," said Dr Marianne Parry, Medical Advisor for Marie Stopes International.

It also contains an easy-to-follow guide for over 50 holiday destinations, highlighting where women can get information or services to deal with sexual health problems ranging from abortion to sexually transmitted infections. There's also self-help advice on health problems such as cystitis and thrush, which can occur in hot climates and ruin a holiday.

Women are advised on contraceptive tips such as taking duplicate packets of contraceptive pills and carrying one set in hand luggage in case suitcases go astray, and the message to always use condoms for protection against infection including HIV/AIDS."


Your Passport to Sexual Health
 
 
30 June 2005 @ 11:22 pm
From BBC News:

Doctors at the British Medical Association conference in Manchester have voted against reducing the upper limit for abortion

Representatives overwhelmingly rejected a motion calling for the upper limit to be cut from 24 to 20 weeks. The current time limit has been questioned as medical progress has boosted the survival chances of premature babies.

However, many very premature babies who survive have severe disabilities.

This was the first time the BMA conference had debated abortion limits since 1989.

Representatives at the conference voted by 77% against the motion "that this meeting holds that the upper limit for legal abortion should be reduced in light of new evidence of foetal developments and advances in neonatal care".

Speakers said late abortions were distressing, but often necessary if a pregnancy was detected late or severe abnormalities were discovered in the baby.

Less than 1% of the 190,000 abortions a year in England and Wales are carried out after 22 weeks with 87% before 13 weeks. The abortion rate has more than trebled since it was legalised in 1969.

John McQueen, who proposed the motion, said in the past babies born before 28 weeks would have died, but now they were surviving from as young as 23 weeks. He said it was important there should be a clear window between the viability of a foetus and the upper limit for abortion.

Dr Jan Wise called for delegates to reject any moves to lower the time limit. He said only a small number of abortions were carried out after 20 weeks - often because of difficulties accessing services. It would be "shameful" if the BMA supported lowering the limit, he said. "There is a lot of anguish in deciding to have such a termination. "This puts an extra burden on the vulnerable and weak who have decided to take this terrible last step."

Dr Vivienne Nathanson, the BMA's head of science and ethics, said the result of the vote was "compassion winning out".

She said: "Patients find it an extremely difficult decision to make and for many people late terminations are a result of things that are largely out of their control."

Rest of the article here
 
 
24 May 2005 @ 09:39 pm
Pregnancy tests are available from:

Brook Centres - for under 25s. They provide free pregnancy testing, with immediate results.

Family Planning Clinics

Your own GP

Some Genito-Urinary Medicine (GUM) clinics

Chemists - They can sell a home pregnancy test, or do a test there.

When to take a Pregnancy Test

"Most pregnancy tests state that they work as soon as a period is late (i.e. one day). Most women do not continue to have normal periods when pregnant but some may experience lighter/shorter periods. And for women who do not have a regular cycle it can be difficult to know when a period is due. So it is best to take the test three weeks after having unprotected sex (as this is roughly how long it will take for the hormone levels to show up on the test).

If a test is negative (i.e. the woman is not pregnant) but the woman's period still doesn't arrive a week later, another test should be taken. Periods can be late for other reasons including stress, change of diet, or other health conditions. Women should seek medical advice if they are concerned.

It is important to find out as soon as possible. The earlier a woman finds out she is pregnant, the more options she has. If she decides to keep the baby, it is better to arrange ante-natal care with her doctor early on for the health of the baby and the woman (e.g. so that she can be given folic acid). If on the other hand, she decides to have an abortion, it is also important to act quickly."
 
 
 
24 May 2005 @ 09:26 pm
Brook aims to provide free and confidential sexual health advice and contraception to young people up to the age of 25.

What to expect if you are visiting Brook for the first time

Where is my nearest Brook centre?

Brook's information about abortion

Brook can also refer women for abortion. After this, the woman will require a separate consultation at the clinic or hospital itself.
 
 
24 May 2005 @ 09:19 pm
Taken from Brook

Adults, defined as people over the age of 18, are usually regarded as competent to decide their own treatment. The Family Law Reform Act 1969 also gives the right to consent to treatment to anyone aged 16 to 18.

Young people under the age of 16 can consent to medical treatment if they have sufficient maturity and judgement to enable them fully to understand what is proposed. This was clarified in England and Wales by the House of Lords in the case of Gillick vs West Norfolk and Wisbech AHA & DHSS in 1985.

Similar provision is made in Scotland by The Age of Legal Capacity (Scotland) Act 1991. In Northern Ireland, although separate legislation applies, the then Department of Health and Social Services Northern Ireland stated that there was no reason to suppose that the House of Lords' decision would not be followed by the Northern Ireland Courts.

Although it is an offence for a man to have sex with a girl under 16 (17 in Northern Ireland) it is lawful for doctors to provide contraceptive advice and treatment without parental consent providing certain criteria are met. These criteria, known as the Fraser Guidelines, were laid down by Lord Fraser in the House of Lords' case and require the professional to be satisfied that:

* the young person will understand the professional's advice;

* the young person cannot be persuaded to inform their parents;

* the young person is likely to begin, or to continue having, sexual intercourse with or without contraceptive treatment;

* unless the young person receives contraceptive treatment, their physical or mental health, or both, are likely to suffer;

* the young person's best interests require them to receive contraceptive advice or treatment with or without parental consent.

Although these criteria specifically refer to contraception, the principles are deemed to apply to other treatments, including abortion.

Young people under the age of 16 have as great a right to confidentiality as any other patient. If someone under 16 is not judged mature enough to consent to treatment, the consultation itself can still remain confidential

The judgement in the House of Lords referred specifically to doctors but it is considered to apply to other health professionals, including nurses. It may also be interpreted as covering youth workers and health promotion workers who may be giving contraceptive advice and condoms to young people under 16, but this has not been tested in court.

If a person under the age of 18 refuses to consent to treatment, it is possible in some cases for their parents or the courts to overrule their decision. However, this right can only be exercised on the basis that the welfare of the young person is paramount. In this context welfare does not simply mean their physical health. The psychological effect of having the decision overruled would have to be taken into account and would normally only be an option when the young person was thought likely to suffer "grave and irreversible mental or physical harm". Usually when a parent wants to overrule a young person's decision to refuse treatment, health professionals will apply to the courts for a final decision.
 
 
20 May 2005 @ 12:31 pm
Women's Health provides health information on gynaecological health issues such as heavy bleeding, fibroids, hysterectomy, the menopause and HRT, pelvic inflammatory disease and ovarian problems.

Women's Health is a national voluntary organisation and is independent of the NHS and private companies. Our services include a helpline and a series of health information booklets, many of which you can find on this website. We also provide a reference library and a self help support network.

We support and promote every woman's right to make her own informed choices about her health.


Their publication on unplanned pregnancy and abortion care

It's pretty comprehensive, and includes information in obtaining an abortion on the NHS, and also gives links to Marie Stopes and BPAS. It also gives information on chlamydia screening, and rhesus information. Also included is aftercare advice, and doesn't provide links to any anti-choice organisations.

The website also includes information on:

* Cervical smear screening

* Heavy bleeding

* Vulval pain and discomfort

The organisation also lists a helpline on: 0845 125 5254 Monday-Friday 9:30 am - 1:30 pm. They make a point that all their calls are answered by women.
 
 
20 May 2005 @ 12:27 pm
Having an abortion

This website has an extensive list of sources from reputable studies and institutions e.g Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists

It covers:

* What happens during an abortion
* Risks involved
* Other options
* What to expect after an abortion
 
 
Taken from the British Medical Journal:

"According to the new guidance, if your daughter or son is sexually active he or she can be reassured that any healthcare professional seen for sexual health advice or treatment will maintain confidentiality. They should be aware of this through prominent advertising of confidentiality policies in clinics. All staff at the clinic will receive training regarding confidentiality, and action will be taken regarding any breaches.

If a doctor or service is not prepared to offer services to people who are younger than 16 this will be prominently advertised in the clinic, with information outlining where and how advice on contraceptives and sexual health can be obtained locally. Each of these components of the guidance aims to encourage your sexually active son or daughter to seek advice and treatment."