Mississippi moves closer to banning abortions after 15 weeks

Updated 28 February 2018
0

Mississippi moves closer to banning abortions after 15 weeks

MISSISSIPPI: Mississippi moved a step closer on Tuesday to passing the United States’ most restrictive abortion law when a state Senate committee approved a bill banning most procedures after 15 weeks of gestation.
The measure, House Bill 1510, now heads to the full Senate after passage by the Public Health and Welfare Committee, Lt. Governor Tate Reeves said in a statement. Current state law bans abortion at 20 weeks after conception.
A vote is expected in the Republican-controlled Senate by March 7, a spokeswoman for Reeves said by phone. The bill passed the state House of Representatives earlier this month.
“I appreciate the work of the committee and look forward to seeing our state continue to lead the way in protecting the lives of unborn children,” said Reeves, a Republican who presides over the Senate.
Republican Governor Phil Bryant told the Mississippi Today website after passage in the Republican-controlled House this month that if the Senate approved the measure he would sign it.
A representative for Mississippi’s only abortion clinic, the Jackson Women’s Health Organization, could not be reached for comment.
Seventeen states ban abortion at about 20 weeks after fertilization or its equivalent of 22 weeks after the woman’s last menstrual period, according to the Guttmacher Institute, which opposes abortion limits.
The Mississippi bill includes an exception in the case of severe fetal abnormality or a medical emergency, which it defines as a threat to the woman’s life or a serious risk of impairing a major bodily function.
Felicia Brown-Williams, the Mississippi state director for Planned Parenthood Southeast, has told Mississippi Today the proposed ban was unconstitutional and bad policy.
The US Supreme Court legalized abortion in its 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling. It has banned prohibiting abortion before the fetus is able to live outside the womb, usually seen at about 20 weeks of gestation.
The Guttmacher Institute said last month that about 926,200 US abortions were performed in 2014, down 12 percent from 2011.
Americans tend to split roughly down the middle on abortion access, with 49 percent saying they supported it and 46 percent saying they opposed it in a 2017 Gallup poll. (Reporting by Ian Simpson in Washington Editing by Leslie Adler)


Gaming addiction classified as mental health disorder by WHO

Updated 18 June 2018
0

Gaming addiction classified as mental health disorder by WHO

  • Addiction to video games has been recognized by World Health Organization as a mental health disorder
  • The International Classification of Diseases now covers 55,000 injuries, diseases and causes of death

GENEVA: Obsessive video gamers know how to anticipate dangers in virtual worlds. The World Health Organization says they now should be on guard for a danger in the real world: spending too much time playing.
In its latest revision to a disease classification manual, the UN health agency said Monday that compulsively playing video games now qualifies as a mental health condition. The statement confirmed the fears of some parents but led critics to warn that it may risk stigmatizing too many young video players.
WHO said classifying “gaming disorder” as a separate addiction will help governments, families and health care workers be more vigilant and prepared to identify the risks. The agency and other experts were quick to note that cases of the condition are still very rare, with no more than up to 3 percent of all gamers believed to be affected.
Dr. Shekhar Saxena, director of WHO’s department for mental health and substance abuse, said the agency accepted the proposal that gaming disorder should be listed as a new problem based on scientific evidence, in addition to “the need and the demand for treatment in many parts of the world.”
Dr. Joan Harvey, a spokeswoman for the British Psychological Society, warned that the new designation might cause unnecessary concern among parents.
“People need to understand this doesn’t mean every child who spends hours in their room playing games is an addict, otherwise medics are going to be flooded with requests for help,” she said.
Others welcomed WHO’s new classification, saying it was critical to identify people hooked on video games quickly because they are usually teenagers or young adults who don’t seek help themselves.
“We come across parents who are distraught, not only because they’re seeing their child drop out of school, but because they’re seeing an entire family structure fall apart,” said Dr. Henrietta Bowden-Jones, a spokeswoman for behavioral addictions at Britain’s Royal College of Psychiatrists. She was not connected to WHO’s decision.
Bowden-Jones said gaming addictions were usually best treated with psychological therapies but that some medicines might also work.
The American Psychiatric Association has not yet deemed gaming disorder to be a new mental health problem. In a 2013 statement, the association said it’s “a condition warranting more clinical research and experience before it might be considered for inclusion” in its own diagnostic manual.
The group noted that much of the scientific literature about compulsive gamers is based on evidence from young men in Asia.
“The studies suggest that when these individuals are engrossed in Internet games, certain pathways in their brains are triggered in the same direct and intense way that a drug addict’s brain is affected by a particular substance,” the association said in that statement. “The gaming prompts a neurological response that influences feelings of pleasure and reward, and the result, in the extreme, is manifested as addictive behavior.”
Dr. Mark Griffiths, who has been researching the concept of video gaming disorder for 30 years, said the new classification would help legitimize the problem and strengthen treatment strategies.
“Video gaming is like a non-financial kind of gambling from a psychological point of view,” said Griffiths, a distinguished professor of behavioral addiction at Nottingham Trent University. “Gamblers use money as a way of keeping score whereas gamers use points.”
He guessed that the percentage of video game players with a compulsive problem was likely to be extremely small — much less than 1 percent — and that many such people would likely have other underlying problems, like depression, bipolar disorder or autism.
WHO’s Saxena, however, estimated that 2 to 3 percent of gamers might be affected.
Griffiths said playing video games, for the vast majority of people, is more about entertainment and novelty, citing the overwhelming popularity of games like “Pokemon Go.”
“You have these short, obsessive bursts and yes, people are playing a lot, but it’s not an addiction,” he said.
Saxena said parents and friends of video game enthusiasts should still be mindful of a potentially harmful problem.
“Be on the lookout,” he said, noting that concerns should be raised if the gaming habit appears to be taking over.
“If (video games) are interfering with the expected functions of the person — whether it is studies, whether it’s socialization, whether it’s work — then you need to be cautious and perhaps seek help,” he said.