News roundup for July 2003

Jeremy Clarkson accused of sexism: a nation is unsurprised

Media Guardian Report

The female subtitling team for BBC2’s Top Gear have accused the show and its presenter, Jeremy Clarkson, of sexism. In a damning letter to the BBC’s in-house magazine, Ariel, the women complain their patience is running thin after having to subtitle “comment after comment about blokeishness, wives and women”, drawing particular attention to a misogynistic explanation “which saw three bikini-clad woman used to demonstrate the differences between Porsche models.” The producers defended the show, saying millions of viewers would disagree.

Rows over home abortions proposal

BBC Report

Doctors have backed plans to allow women to have early abortions at home, but the decision has outraged anti-abortion groups. With early terminations, a woman takes two separate drugs, two days apart in a hospital or clinic. But the British Pregnancy Advisory Service wants the regulations to be changed so women can take the second pill at home. This provokes bleeding that is heavier than a normal period, with some women experiencing severe, heavy bleeding. A spokeswoman from the anti-abortion charity Life called it a “cynical ploy…to save the costs of keeping women in so they can carry out more abortions.” However, a spokewoman for the Royal College of Obstetrics and Gynaecology called it “an excellent idea” and believed it would be safe and desirable option for many women.

Hormone link to lesbianism

BBC Report

The theory that hormones shape our sexuality was given weight with the discovery that lesbians are more than twice as likely to suffer from a hormone-related condition. Doctors found that 38% of lesbians studied had polycystic ovary syndrome compared to 14% of other women. Lead researcher Dr Rina Agrawal said they believed that hyperandrogenism, a condition associated with the syndrome, may be one of the factors contributing to women’s sexual orientation. She was quick to point out, however, that there was no evidence that polycystic ovaries could be implicated as a “cause” of lesbianism. There was also, she said, no possibility that treating the syndrome could affect sexuality, adding: “We do not view lesbianism as a disease that is in need of a cure.”

Outrage over aborted eggs plan

BBC Report

Anti-abortionists and fertility experts alike have condemned the idea of using eggs from aborted foetuses in IVF treatment. The highly controversial suggestion was put forward as one solution to the worldwide shortage of women prepared to donate their eggs to infertile women. Researcher Dr Biron-Shental said she was aware of the controversy her suggestion would cause but added that “in some place, it will be ethically acceptable.” A spokeswoman from the the charity Life called the idea “utterly grotesque”, asking “Who would want to know that their mother was an aborted baby?” It wasn’t just anti-abortion groups who were uneasy: a spokeswoman from Comment on Reproductive Ethics said: “I would like to find anybody who is not horrified by this proposal.”.

Britons ‘accept’ pay sexism

BBC Report

A small-scale study revealed that many people believe the disparity between men and women’s wages is a result of “natural difference” between the sexes, not discrimination. Female full-time workers currently earn 19% less than their male counterparts. The Equal Opportunities Committee found many people believed choice, not discrimination, led to lower pay and higher domestic duties for women. One man said: “If you’ve got women who take time off to look after children or work part-time there’s naturally going to be a problem of making it through to higher management level.” The study also found that women are at a loss as to how to tackle workplace discrimination.

More news this month in brief…

  • Mums-to-be worry about making a fuss during labour: “sorry” is a word frequently used
  • More women are taking over the running of the household finances
  • Gene ‘switches off ovarian cancer’
  • Clamp-down on Caesareans urged: Commons health committee says pregnant women should no longer be able to opt for the procedure
  • TV presenter John Leslie charged with two counts of indecent assault
  • First human baby could be born in a transplanted womb ‘within three years’
  • Gay sex in private is lawful, rules US Supreme Court
  • Lesbian couple having baby conceived using sperm bought on internet
  • Men ‘filmed woman being raped in pub’
  • Drug could protect foetuses from alcohol
  • Contraceptive patch could replace the pill
  • HRT “doubles breast cancer risk”
  • Mother of four boys pregnant after having IVF treatment to ensure her next baby is a girl
  • Secret of Stonehenge revealed: it’s a giant fertility symbol in the shape of a vagina
  • British Medical Journal controversially says women should be warned about breast screening risks, claiming it could expose them to radiotherapy and surgery more dangerous than the cancer it detects.
  • Dieting mothers ‘put babies on diets’
  • GPs failing to prevent women’s heart disease deaths