Want to lower the abortion rate? Support pro-choice policies

The chief lesson of a new report is that making abortion illegal or hard to get doesn’t end abortion, it just makes it less safe

Want to lower the abortion rate and prevent maternal deaths worldwide? Support pro-choice policies. That’s the takeaway from a new report from the Guttmacher Institute, which looks at abortion around the world.

The chief lesson of the report is one pro-choice advocates have known for years: that making abortion illegal or hard to get doesn’t end abortion, it just makes it less safe. And opposition to abortion tends to come along with opposition to contraception and women’s rights more broadly – and the limited contraception access that results means a higher abortion rate.

Around 22,800 women die every year from unsafe abortions. These deaths are almost entirely preventable

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Eradicating poverty would dramatically reduce TB cases, study finds

Preventative measures, like poverty reduction, could be just as effective in tackling the disease as drugs and vaccines

Programmes to tackle poverty could be just as effective in the fight against tuberculosis as medicines and vaccines, research has found.

Eradicating extreme poverty would lead to an 84% reduction in TB cases by 2035, according to a report published to coincide with World Tuberculosis Day on Saturday.

Related: The giant rats that love avocado – and can diagnose deadly TB | Kate Lyons

Related: Drug-resistant superbug to blame for deadly typhoid outbreak in Pakistan

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Time for change: Ann Enright on Ireland’s abortion referendum

In the coming weeks, voters in Ireland will have the chance to repeal the eighth amendment, which recognises the equal rights to life of a foetus and the mother during pregnancy. We must send a message to the world, the author declares

Recently I spoke to a reasonable, sane Irish woman who said that she was against abortion and because she was so reasonable and sane, I was curious what she meant by that. Was she against the morning after pill? Certainly not. What about chemical abortifacients? They did not really worry her too much. So, what about terminations before 12 or 13 weeks, the time when woman are often given the all clear to confirm their pregnancy to family and friends? This woman was not, all things considered, against terminations during this window, when pregnancy is not considered medically certain. She was also, just to make clear, in favour of abortion in cases of fatal foetal abnormality, rape and incest. In 1983 this woman might have voted “against abortion”, despite the fact that she is not against abortion, especially if it happens during those weeks when the natural loss of an embryo is called miscarriage. She just found abortion, in general, hard to vote “for”. Had there been no referendum in 1983 – where people with a range of uncertainties were asked for a single “yes” or “no” – then limited abortion might well be available now in Ireland, in the way that the morning after pill is legally available and widely used.

The 1983 referendum was a little like the Brexit referendum – a population voting about something that seemed, on one side, clear, and on the other, contingent and hard to describe. As it turned out, the language problem worked both ways. In order to bring the issue to a vote, a new legal term had to be minted, one that did not appear in any previous laws. The eighth amendment to the Irish constitution acknowledges the right to life of “the unborn” and this seemed to invent a new category of rights-holder, possibly a new kind of person. By acknowledging the “equal right to life of the mother” an impregnated woman was changed from a human being into a relationship, that of motherhood, and a peculiar equivalence established. Pregnancy was a binary state, in which two souls temporarily shared the same blood supply. The question of who had it first was neither here nor there and a fertilised egg was a grown adult, temporarily inconvenienced by being a few hundred cells large.

How does access to abortion vary across the UK?

Acknowledging the 'right to life' of the unborn seemed to invent a new category of rights-holder – a new kind of person

Related: Ireland's government approves abortion referendum bill

In 2016, Britain and the US voted for the tribal and symbolic –in Ireland we had a tribal, symbolic vote in 1983

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I was belted at school. It felt unfair, but was it harmful? | Ian Jack

Corporal punishment used to be popular. Now it is argued that the experience condemned pupils to poor health in later life

I imagine he had wanted to be Matisse. Instead, he found himself teaching art to teenage boys in a Scottish provincial town, class after class, day after day, year after year. Life had flashed past. In 1924 he visited the British Empire exhibition at Wembley as an art student, to be thrilled by the new products he found there. Now, 30-odd years later, he stood in his teacher’s black gown before form 2F and tried to interest us in this experience: how it was there that he first saw how abstract shapes – a circle, a triangle, a rectangle – could be the basis of a design for a fabric or a poster, such as the one he was asking us to draw for a shipping line. But we had begun to chat among ourselves.

“The next boy who talks gets the belt,” he shouted, and a second or two later singled me out as a culprit. It seemed unfair – I hadn’t been talking any more than the rest – but I went to the front and stretched out my arms so that they met in front of me, one hand supporting the other. I can’t remember how many he gave me – probably three or four rather than six (“six of the best” was the phrase) – but he cracked the belt down along the hand, from fingertips to wrist, rather than across it at 90 degrees. He was too furious and out of control to be accurate. The belt’s tails reached my lower arm, and by the time I went home two purple stripes had risen on the tender skin. My mother was angry; she even talked briefly of registering a formal complaint. I was glad when the subject was dropped.

Related: Some parents call it a loving smack. I call it violence | Susanna Rustin

Teachers kept the belts in handy drawers or looped over their shoulders and under their gowns as a gunslinger might

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Could we have done more to save my dad from cancer?

Dad died three months after his diagnosis. But one question haunts me: should we have asked for a second opinion?

I keep a file on my phone. It is a list of clinical trials, academic papers, cutting-edge treatments I could try if my cancer ever comes back. To know my disease, I reason, is to beat it. In that regard, I understand my genetic status and how that could affect my chances with various immunotherapy drugs. I know the name of a good surgeon in Germany who has had excellent results. Should my cancer come back, I have a plan, an exit strategy that isn’t death.

When my father was told he had a terminal brain tumour, he thanked the doctor and went for a walk across the dunes with my mother. They sat in a cafe and drank coffee. Dad had a tuna and sweetcorn sandwich on white bread, a treat he allowed himself instead of his usual brown.

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Mass protests in Poland against tightening of abortion law

Thousands join demonstrations against government’s new effort to restrict access to procedures

Thousands of people have joined protests in Warsaw and other Polish cities against the latest attempt by the conservative government to restrict access to abortion.

In Warsaw on Friday, people held banners that read “Free choice” and “A woman is a human being”, and chanted slogans demanding reproductive freedom.

Related: How Poland’s far-right government is pushing abortion underground

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Pineapples set to topple avocados with Britons wanting more

Supermarkets say pineapple is UK’s fastest growing fruit with sales surging 15% in 2017

For a while avocados had it all their own way as Britons smashed them on toast and whizzed them up for smoothies but there is a new pretender to the fruit crown – 2018 is shaping up to be the year of the pineapple.

Supermarkets say demand for the tropical fruit is at an all time high after a dramatic reappraisal by shoppers who increasingly view it as as an ingredient for curries, barbecues and cocktails as well as fruit salads.

Related: Earliest ever British strawberries arrive on supermarket shelves

Related: Aprium, anyone? The pick of hybrid fruit and vegetables

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Patient groups criticise Hunt for ditching NHS waiting time targets

Health secretary faces backlash after telling trusts the standards will not have to be met next year

Jeremy Hunt is facing a backlash from patient groups over his decision to let hospitals flout key NHS waiting time targets next year.

The health and social care secretary has told NHS trusts they do not need to meet standards that require them to treat 95% of A&E patients within four hours and 92% of people awaiting non-urgent care within 18 weeks.

Related: Percentage of A&E patients treated within four hours at lowest ever level

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Great sadness about Tory devastation | Letters

Mary Moser, a 97-year-old reader, remembers when the NHS was founded and is angered by underfunding and privatisation today. John Marriott fears crucial services and facilities will soon disappear

I shall be 97 this year (Feedback from a 96-year-old reader that made my day, Open door, 12 March). I started reading the Guardian as a young woman and have loved it ever since. It is dropped through my letterbox every morning, and my day revolves around reading the various sections – the news and comment, the sport, arts and reviews, and of course the quick crossword, which I have a go at every night before going to sleep.

I do not like what’s happening in the world today. I often feel I must be one of the few people who can clearly remember the amazing changes in this country after 1945, not least the beginning of the NHS. It makes me so sad and angry to read about the government’s persistent attempts to destroy it with underfunding and increasing privatisation. I appreciate the Guardian’s continued thoughtful and forthright reporting.
Mary Moser

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What are your experiences of eating disorder services in Northern Ireland?

The Guardian is gathering stories on how effective eating disorder treatment is, and we want to hear your experiences

An eating disorder patient in Northern Ireland has hit out at the state of services in the country, following the death of Sophie Bridges to bulimia.

Felicity McKee, who has lived with a form of anorexia for years, said Bridges death had made her “very angry” but it did feel inevitable the way services are in Northern Ireland.

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More cash will force the NHS to address tougher questions than money | Richard Vize

Hopes are rising for a solution to the funding crisis, but investment must be used to reshape the health service not perpetuate inefficiency

Indications that the government is edging towards a radical, long-term funding settlement for the NHS – as pressure grows from its backbenchers to get a grip on the problem – are raising hopes of a solution to the funding crisis. But more cash will force the health service to address even tougher questions than money.

With NHS trusts running an underlying deficit in the region of £3.7bn, there is a serious risk that the acute sector will rapidly soak up any new cash while primary, mental health and community services will again be left fighting over the scraps.

Related: A royal commission is not the way to solve the problems facing the NHS | Richard Vize

Related: The NHS is under threat. Only a new model of care will save it | Kailash Chand

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Unsane: how film’s portrayal of mental illness is (slowly) improving

Steven Soderbergh’s new film is the story of a women held in a psychiatric hospital. It shows how film-makers are doing a better job with mental health issues

Steven Soderbergh: Unretired. The director announced in 2013 that he was quitting because “movies don’t matter any more”. But he has continued to work steadily since – in television and, since last year, film again. The film he made before announcing his “retirement” was Side Effects, a psychological thriller exploring big pharma, that followed a young woman (Rooney Mara) detained in a psychiatric hospital against her will. His new film, Unsane, is a psychological thriller that follows a young woman (Claire Foy) detained in a psychiatric hospital against her will. It is clear, then, that Soderbergh finds mental illness and psychiatry interesting topics to explore.

He’s not alone. But how has the onscreen treatment of mental illness evolved over the years?

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Integrating health and social care is vital to deliver Jeremy Hunt’s plan | Julia Scott

To improve services, the two sectors must work as one. Here are three priorities for action

Jeremy Hunt’s speech outlining the seven principles for reforming social care was most welcome after another winter of discontent in the NHS. The speech recognised that much of the pressure on the health service is brought about by problems in transitioning patients back into their homes and communities, an issue the Royal College of Occupational Therapists (RCOT) has been talking about for a number of years. The crux of the challenge lies in how to better align health and social care and how to change perceptions of social care so it receives parity with health.

Related: Will Jeremy Hunt's principles for social care reform prove to be pillars of wisdom? | David Brindle

Related: There is no silver bullet for social care, but ministers must not dodge the issue | Colin Noble

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Four in 10 cancer cases could be prevented by lifestyle changes

Actions like drinking less alcohol and keeping weight down could help prevent 2,500 cases a week, figures show

Almost four in 10 cancer cases in the UK could be prevented if British people changed their lifestyles by drinking less alcohol, keeping their weight down, ditching cigarettes and avoiding overdoing it on a sunbed, among other actions, research has revealed.

New figures from Cancer Research UK (CRUK) show that more than 2,500 cancer cases a week are avoidable, with exposure to tobacco smoke the leading factor, accounting for just over 15% of cancer cases.

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New MS drug could slow symptoms of ‘untreatable’ form of disease

Siponimod offers hope for people with secondary progressive MS, in which disabilities get worse over time

A new drug for multiple sclerosis could slow the progression of symptoms of a form of the disease for which effective treatments have proved elusive, research suggests.

It is thought about 100,000 people in the UK and 2,500,000 people worldwide have MS, a neurological condition that can affect speech, movement of limbs and vision, among other things.

Related: Stem cell therapy gives hope to MS patients

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