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Norplant No Longer Available in United Kingdom

The hormonal contraceptive implant Norplant will no longer be available in the United Kingdom as of October. Norplant’s distributors Hoechst Marion Roussel cite the lack of demand for the drug delivery system as the reason for withdrawing the product from the market. The company claims that this action in no way indicates that the product is unsafe. This claim is directly contradicted by the number of women who have suffered as a result of using Norplant. In the United States since 1994, 55,000 women have joined class-action lawsuits against Wyeth-Ayerst, Norplant’s U.S. manufacturer, after having suffered serious side effects, ranging from headaches and weight gain to ovarian cysts and blindness.

In the U.K., where 55,000 women have had the implant, over 400 have joined the Norplant Action Group, which was established in 1995 after many women complained of adverse side effects from using Norplant. Doctors in the United Kingdom were advised by the British Medical Association to stop offering Norplant in 1995 after a disagreement over the amount to be charged for the procedure to implant the device.

Ann Furedi, a spokesperson for the British Pregnancy Advisory Service, called the decision “understandable, but regrettable.” Dr. Sally Hope, a British physician, told the BBC that although she had been trained to insert Norplant, she had never used it because “there were so many problems with putting it in and taking it out .… [I]t required minor surgery to put it in which was rather repulsive —like skinning a chicken” (Health Contraceptive Implant Withdrawn,” BBC News, 30 April 1999; “Drug maker discontinues Norplant contraceptive in Britain,” Associated Press, 29 April 1999).

In June 1996 the Population Research Institute petitioned the United States Food and Drug Administration to withdraw its approval of Norplant for sale in the United States.

Magazine Subpoenaed for Reporting Late Term Abortions

A Canadian weekly news magazine has been issued a subpoena and called to appear before a judge after having reported on the late-term abortions being committed at a hospital in Calgary, Alberta. Alberta Report magazine reported that abortions were being per- formed in the maternity ward of Calgary’s Foothill’s Hospital as late as five weeks before the baby was due.

On several occasions, the infants survived the abortion, only to die several hours later. Nurses were permitted to hold and comfort the infants as they died, but were not permitted to feed them. The nurses themselves are performing as many as 40- 50% of the abortions, which consist of ad- ministering a drug called Cytotec into the vagina. Cytotec causes the woman to go into labor and deliver a dead baby. No allowances are made for maternity ward nurses who object to committing abortions on moral or religious grounds. Foothill’s public affairs manager claimed that having nurses perform abortions is against hospital policy. This claim, however, was contradicted by the minutes of a staff meeting leaked to Alberta Report . Many nurses who object to performing abortions are afraid of losing their jobs if they refuse.

“The present mood is… chaotic, helpless, frustrated and highly emotional,” one nurse reported. Until recently, abortions were performed in a separate area of the hospital separated from regular labor and delivery rooms. In March of this year, late-term abortions were moved to the maternity ward. The Calgary Regional Health Authority has denied the article’s claims and tiled a court statement against Alberta Report, demanding to know the names of the anonymous nurses who reported the information (Canadian Nurses Forced to Perform Late-Term, Genetic-Based Abortions,” Alberta Report, l2 April 1999; “Pro-Lifers Claim Hospital Scrambles to Hide its Horrors,” Zenit, 30 April l999).

Kyoto Critics Slow on US Carbon Uptake

At the Kyoto summit in December 1997, America was taken to task for the amount of carbon it releases into the air by burning fossil fuels. The Summit decided that America must reduce its output of “green-house gases” by 7 percent from its 1990 levels. All Americans, by implication, are guilty of Exploiting the environment for their own selfish lifestyle. A recent article in Science magazine, however, suggests that it may not yet be time for Americans to don sackcloth and ashes. Forbes magazine reports on an article from the 16 October 1998 issue of Science, which makes the startling revelation that the United States’ uptake of carbon is actually slightly higher than its fossil fuel emissions. North America’s fossil emissions run at 1.6 billion metric tons per year, but its terrestrial uptake of carbon is 1.7 billion metric tons per year. Science magazine offers several reasons for this, including regrowth of forests on former farmland and already logged forests, and faster plant growth due to advanced fertilizers. By way of contrast, Eurasia and North Africa emit 3.6 billion metric tons, and only reabsorb up to .5 billion metric tons of carbon.

The Forbes article suggests an additional reason—landfills, which mummify carbon-rich products, rather than letting them decompose and release carbon. In reality, the rest of the world should be praising the United States, rather than casting blame and alleging a myriad of environmental ills. Not surprisingly, however, this news has been completely ignored by those who use environmental concerns to push a population control agenda (Peter Huber, “America, the beautiful carbon sink,” Forbes, 5 April 1999).

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