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In the Press

  • A teenage pregnancy prevention strategy that is credited for halving the rate of conceptions among teenagers in England is to be used as a blueprint in countries that want to emulate its success.

    Alison Hadley, who led the 10-year programme resulting in record lows in teenage pregnancies, has been asked by the World Health Organisation (WHO) to share the lessons of the project so they can be applied globally.

    The teenage pregnancy strategy was set up by the Labour government to address soaring rates of pregnancy in England among teenagers from deprived backgrounds. It resulted in a 51% drop in conceptions over a 16-year period. According to the WHO, very few other programmes worldwide have had such success.

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  • Mainstream churches are haemorrhaging worshippers around 11 times as fast as they can attract new converts, stark research on the state of faith in Britain shows.

    The estimate, in a study by researchers at St Mary’s University in west London, does not count the impact of older churchgoers, who make up the bulk of many congregations, dying.

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  • Three women have handed themselves into a police station in Derry, stating they have procured and taken illegal abortion pills and requesting that they be prosecuted, in protest at Northern Ireland’s restrictive abortion laws.

    Dozens of pro-choice campaigners gathered at Derry police station in support of the women as they handed themselves in for questioning. The women hope to trigger a trial to showcase the archaic nature of the 1861 Offences Against the Person Act – the legislation which makes abortion in Northern Ireland illegal except in extremely rare circumstances.

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  • The daughter of a Fathers4Justice campaigner has described how her childhood was torn apart by the legal fight for her custody.

    Rosy Stanesby, now 17, says she spent nine years caught up in the bitter battle for her time and affection.

    After being restricted to access of just two days every fortnight by the courts, her father Jonathan 'Jolly' Stanesby became one of the most prominent activists in the fathers' rights action group.

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  • British society is increasingly dividing along ethnic lines – with segregation in schools, neighbourhoods and workplaces – that risks fuelling prejudice, according to one of the country’s leading experts on race and integration.

    Prof Ted Cantle, who carried out a report into community cohesion in the wake of a series of race riots in 2001, warned that growing divisions had led to mistrust within communities across the country.

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  • Richard Dawkins has said he is in favour of offending people's religion and it should be offended at every opportunity.

    The controversial atheist academic, 75, argued the public was too worried about being viewed as racist and it was absurd to be accused of racism for criticising Islam.

    Dawkins said this was the result of an “absurd double standard” in the Western world which means people are more anxious about attacking Islam than Christianity.

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  • One of the great joys of language is its evolution, which has perhaps never been as rapid as it is today. The development of new technologies has introduced us to countless innovative terms (last year’s Oxford English Dictionary saw additions including “e-cig”, “pageview” and “sext”), while globalised communications have helped shape changes to the way some words and phrases are employed and understood.

    This has helped to raise awareness of the largely unacceptable nature of some expressions which might previously have been in common. Indeed, there has been considerable debate in recent years about how outmoded language can cause offence. Much of that has been beneficial, although it has morphed especially in the last twelve months into discussion of whether individuals have the right not to be offended.

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  • An Australian politician has made an historic and heartfelt apology for the state of Victoria’s “profoundly wrong” anti-gay laws that saw thousands of people convicted for their sexuality.

    Daniel Andrews, the Victorian premier, apologised for the “abominable” laws that “represented nothing less than official, state-sanctioned homophobia”.

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  • A reader, Ilya, has this takeaway from our debate over sex-selective abortion:

    I lean pro-choice, but I doff my hat to the pro-life camp for this deft maneuver. They have demonstrated that it is logically impossible to be both “pro-choice” and “anti-discrimination.” Why is this the case? Because “choice” and “discrimination” are the same thing.

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  • The Revd Charlotte Bannister-Parker, 52, is an assistant priest at St Michael and All Angels Summertown in the Diocese of Oxford, and acts as the Bishop’s Advisor for Special Projects, including inter-faith initiatives. She is an Associate Faculty Member of the Theology Department at Oxford University, and has a long Oxford pedigree, having been previously on the staff of the University Church of St Mary’s.

    On 7th May, according to reports in Cape Town’s City Press, she officiated at a same-sex marriage in South Africa. Oxford has a long standing relationship with the Diocese of Kimberley and Kuruman in South Africa. Rev Bannister-Parker lived there for a while in 2008, helping the Church to develop its HIV/AIDS ministry.

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