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feminist news round-up 24.06.12


Fun with IVF

A medical ethics panel in Britain has recently supported IVF in cases of three parents, as long as the procedure is safe and effective. In such cases, the baby would be genetically related to their father (i.e. the sperm donor), and their two mothers – both of whom donate eggs. The procedure has been quite controversial in bioethics and has been banned in the US, however it can provide a useful way to combat genetic defects.

Earlier in June, two men were declared the first same-sex parents of a child (conceived through IVF) in New South Wales. The men were named on the birth certificate with no woman on there. This was thanks to a court ruling in which the judge determined that it was in the child’s best interests.

Unfortunately, the right of same-sex couples, defacto couples who have been together for less than two years, and single people to IVF treatments is under threat in the state of Queensland. The LNP government have proposed to change surrogacy laws which limits who gets access to IVF, despite that Campbell Newman promised before the election that those laws would not be changed.

IVF has had an interesting (albeit short) history in Australia, and recent events have been no different. On an individual level, the process can be emotionally and physically difficult, on a political level, there have been consistent struggles over rights to it.

China: Forced Abortion

It seems that struggles over reproductive rights are happening all over the world, even if the form is a little different. This week, the Chinese government has apologised for forcing a woman to have an abortion on the grounds that she failed to fill out some paperwork. Feng Jianmei was seven months pregnant with her second child when she was kidnapped by the Chinese government and her foetus was given a lethal injection without her consent. China has a very strict one-child policy, and Feng Jianmei failed to apply to have the second child in filing the relevant paperwork. The world was made aware of this happenstance as disturbing photos were circulated on the internet of Feng Jianmei lying in bed next to the foetus.

Sexting and Abusive Relationships

A Victorian Parliamentary inquiry has been told that many young women feel trapped in relationships because they fear that if they were to break up with their partners, the partner would release nude pictures of them. Often these relationships are abusive and the fear provides a potent barrier for the young women to get out. The Eastern Community Legal Centre made the submission, which said, ‘Clients have instructed that they have felt the need to reconcile, or worse, to engage in unwanted sexual relations as a way to prevent the threat from eventuating.’

India: Girl Beheaded Over Lifestyle

A man in Rajasthan, India, walked through his village with the severed head of his daughter before being arrested by police. The man was upset with his daughter’s lifestyle – she apparently had affairs with men and eloped with one of them. He was so enraged that he beheaded her with a sword.

‘Women Their Own Worst Enemy’

More from Queensland – Michael O’Dwyer, of the LNP, was at an event talking about his party’s recent landslide victory in the last Queensland state election. Many questions put to him asked him to comment on the lack of gender diversity in the new state parliament. He said that there aren’t as many women in politics because they are more interested in shoes than politics. For this reason, they are ‘their own worst enemy’. He also stated, ‘So something, I’m sorry ladies, needs to be done from your perspective to try to build women up to look and sound like leaders and talk about the attributes of a female being a leader rather than talking about their appearance.’

Puberty at 5 years old

Recent research in the UK has revealed that girls are experiencing signs of puberty as early as five years old. The average age in which girls start experiencing puberty is 10. The researchers do not have a definitive answer as to why this is so, but they expect that higher levels of obesity may have something to do with it. Stress may also be a factor that accelerates the onset of puberty. The early onset of puberty can be a sign of a physical problem and is generally associated with a higher rate of breast cancer in later life, as well as bullying at school.

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