Illegal abortions are killing women in developing countries and restrictions demanded by the USA make it worse

In developing countries, the maternal mortality rate is a staggering 239 per 100,000 women, with an estimated 303,000 women dying in 2015. One in 10 of all maternal deaths are caused by unsafe abortions; an estimated 20 million unsafe abortions are performed every year.

We know that providing access to legal terminations would stop women dying, but this remains an issue that provokes huge debate. Women who can’t access them legally still have abortions, but they have to pay bankrupting sums, often risking their lives.

Backstreet abortions are usually done in an unclean and unsafe environment. If they don’t kill women, they often put them in hospital with horrific complications, leaving them infertile, facing major abdominal surgery and enormous medical bills.

What is stopping women from accessing safe abortions? The first is restrictive laws in their own countries, which can extend to a ban…Ludicrously, this problem is compounded by the fact that countries with the most restrictive abortion laws often have the poorest family planning provision.

The second barrier is the tight regulation governing donor aid. The US has a ban on any of its funding being spent on terminations for women. The Helms amendment, a 43-year-old law, stipulates that abortions cannot be funded as a method of family planning. This means that no US foreign aid is spent on the provision of abortions or even advising or promoting abortion services for women. Recent headlines suggest that the US will not even allow its funds to be used to provide terminations for women who have been raped by Isis fighters…

We know that abortions, when performed legally, are cheap and safe. Yet the grim reality is that tens of thousands of women who die in the developing world each year from unsafe abortions do so because policymakers have decided their lives are not worth saving.

With changes in this policy, maternal mortality could be reduced for a low cost. The technology exists and is affordable. A misoprostol pill that induces an early stage abortion costs less than a dollar. This is not an issue of resources and funding, but a value judgment on what women may or may not do with their lives.

Another look back to the world of the Republican Party and the ideology of patriarchal religion held dear to the heart of 19th Century conservatives.

The United States still relies on a model generated by a religious bigot who hated equal rights for non-white Americans as much as he opposed reproductive rights for women. Jesse Helms was a racist thug kept in office beyond any reasonable function except to stand in opposition to the concept of equal opportunity for class after class of Americans. The Republican Party still honors his memory.

Must electric cars go vroom to satisfy nannies and politicians?

With whisper-quiet electric cars set to proliferate, the motor industry is under pressure to give them an artificial noise for safety purposes, but should they sound like traditional petrol vehicles?

It is an unsettling experience watching a car drive around, hearing little more than the whisper of the wind it generates as it glides down the road.

There would have been little time to get out of its way had it gone unseen.

Such a moment is the essence of the debate over how electric and hydrogen fuel cars should sound in the future.

The answer could determine how different cities could sound in 10 or 20 years. The rise of the electric car presents a rare opportunity to tackle the persistent roar of traffic that many city dwellers are used to.

Electric and hydrogen fuel vehicles are inherently quiet. The sound of the tyres on the road is noisier than the engine and this could prove lethal at slow speeds for pedestrians and cyclists. Which is a specious argument. Since there already any number of well-made cars quieter than tyre noise at low speeds.

Motor manufacturers acknowledge there is a problem. Some, like Nissan, are already fitting speakers under the bonnets of these vehicles to emit sounds for the safety of other road users…

So why not just stick with the current sound of a conventional combustion engine?

“That would be losing a huge opportunity,” says Prof Paul Jennings from Warwick University who leads a project looking into alternative vehicle noises…

He says: “The challenge is to create sounds that are as safe as possible but also ones that are much more pleasing for the urban environment…”

“It’s important that the sound is associated with transport and a lot of how people interpret sound is based on their experiences,” says Prof Jennings. “For electric vehicles and futuristic vehicles a lot of those experiences are from the media, from games and from science fiction films.”

We don’t get to have that discussion in the U.S.. Congress already passed a law requiring electric cars and hybrids to make a certain amount of noise. Some offer a range of sounds – including a Star Trek sound.

BTW – you’re committing a crime if you turn off the silly-ass noise. One of the reasons the Leaf has been late for delivery to the States is that it included a small switch the owner could use to turn off the moving sound. That’s against the law so they had to remove the switch and find something decorative to cover the hole.

Nanny State fools in both parties supported that one. Idiots.