News roundup for August 2004

Change to legal time-limit for abortions discussed

BBC report

Tony Blair hinted the 24-week time limit for so-called ‘social abortions’ could be halved. New ultrasound images of 12-week-old foetuses ‘walking’ in the womb led to calls for the limit to change. At prime minister’s questions Blair said that while he had not yet looked at the new medical research, he was sure that “if the situation does change then it would be advisable for us to have another look at the whole question.” Abortions hit the headlines again when doctors were told they could provide terminations to under-16s without their parents knowing. The Department of Health did stress, however, that every effort should be made to find adult support.

New safety service set up using text messages

BBC Report

The father of Lucie Blackman, who was killed in Japan, has set up a Safetytext service. Users write a message detailing their travel plans and a time delay of between 30 minutes and 24 hours. If they have not cancelled the message by then, it is forwarded to a chosen friend or relative. Mr Blackman believes the service would have saved his daughter: “If Lucie could have sent a Safetytext, she may have been found in nine hours not nine months.”

UKIP politician in row over working women

BBC report

UKIP MEP Godfrey Bloom landed himself in controversy after one day in the European Parliament. Bloom landed a seat on the women’s right committee but told the media that: “No self-respecting small businessman with a brain in the right place would ever employ a lady of child-bearing age.” His fellow politicians were outraged, especially when he followed this with: “I just don’t think [women] clean behind the fridge enough”. He faced widespread criticism and MEP Glenys Kinnock promised to keep an eye on him, calling his attitude “absolutely terrifying.”

Vatican attacks feminism

BBC report

The Vatican published a document aimed at addressing the “distortions” of feminism. The letter to Roman Catholic bishops, approved by the Pope, attacked feminism’s “inspired ideologies” that “call into question the family, in its natural two-parent structure of mother and father, and [seek] to make homosexuality and heterosexuality virtually equivalent”. Feminists worldwide condemned the document as a step backwards. Erin Pizzey, founder of the international women’s movement, said the church was in no position to make such statements and called it an “emotionally illiterate organisation.”

More news stories from this month in brief…

  • New handbag scanner deters thieves
  • Lesbianism ‘tacitly encouraged’ in police force of 1940-50s
  • UK sterilisation ‘double average’
  • More help needed for older women experiencing domestic abuse
  • Babies who survive abortions must be given same care as others
  • Alcohol ‘protects against brittle bone disease’
  • Scottish abuse helpline becomes permanent
  • Celebrity mums blamed for new mums’ pressure to lose weight
  • Busy women turn to the internet
  • Botox could treat sexual disorder vaginismus
  • ‘Lager loutettes’ blamed for soaring violence
  • Women ‘not getting top jobs’
  • Brothels could be decriminalised
  • Optimistic mothers have boys
  • Top female doctor: women medics are ‘weakening’ medicine
  • Dove’s ‘real women’ campaign a success