Natural Family Planning Grows

MSNBC, Jan. 5 — Increasing numbers of couples begin each day with a pen, paper, and digital thermometer, recording the woman's basal body temperature, reported MSNBC. Couples then combine the temperature readings with other physiological data to track the woman's fertility cycle and to time sexual intercourse to achieve or avoid pregnancy.

Many proponents of natural family planning see a growing interest among non-Catholics. “It's not just a Catholic thing anymore,” says Patrick Homan, the western region field director for the Couple to Couple League, an Ohio-based institute whose 1,351 teachers offer instruction on natural family planning.

Homan says modern NFP methods rely upon physiological signs such as changes in cervical discharge, body temperature, cervix position, or if it's the “sympto-thermal” method, a combination of all three, to signal whether a woman is fertile. “Modern natural family planning doesn't try to predict anything,” he says. “It's, ‘What you see is what you are.’”

Zambian Parents Block Ads

PANAFRICAN NEWS AGENCY, Jan. 9 — Outraged parents, with the full backing of churches, have succeeded in blocking the airing of explicit condom-use ads on Zambia's national television, reported the Panafrican News Agency.

The controversy began when the ads aired on the Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation in December as part of the worldwide commemoration of World AIDS Day.

Christian groups and concerned parents immediately condemned the ads, saying they were merely a marketing gimmick conjured up by condom manufacturers, reported Panafrican.

In one of the ads, a female teenager is dropped off by a boyfriend at a friend's house where her two friends are braiding their hair under a tree.

The three girls start discussing the boyfriend who has just left and one is heard advising friends that without a condom she will not allow her boyfriend to have intercourse with her.

Panafrican News said that many political pundits believe the Zambian president must have intervened behind the scenes for the reluctant Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation management to quietly withdraw the ads.

In-Womb Heart Surgery

ASSOCIATED PRESS, Jan. 10 — A baby who underwent heart surgery while still in the womb was pronounced fit a week after her birth, reported the Associated Press.

The six-hour surgery in October in Austria involved the reopening of a valve in the right ventricle of the unborn child's heart. Doctors said the operation was the first of its kind for the region.

Baby Johanna was then born by Caesarean section on Jan. 3, the Associated Press reported. She weighed 5.7 pounds. The agency did not give her last name.

After medical tests, doctors said that Johanna's condition was good despite the fact that she underwent a further operation after her birth. Left untreated, she would not have survived until birth, they said.