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Abortion Law, History & Religion


Abortion Law, History & Religion

Abortion Has Always Been With Us

In 1955, the anthropologist George Devereux demonstrated that abortion has been practised in almost all human communities from the earliest times.1 The patterns of abortion use, in hundreds of societies around the world since before recorded history, have been strikingly similar. Women faced with unwanted pregnancies have turned to abortion, regardless of religious or legal sanction and often at considerable risk.2 Used to deal with upheavals in personal, family, and community life, abortion has been called “a fundamental aspect of human behaviour”.

In primitive tribal societies, abortions were induced by using poisonous herbs, sharp sticks, or by sheer pressure on the abdomen until vaginal bleeding occurred. Abortion techniques are described in the oldest known medical texts.2 The ancient Chinese and Egyptians had their methods and recipes to cause abortion, and Greek and Roman civilizations considered abortion an integral part of maintaining a stable population. Ancient instruments, such as the ones found at Pompeii and Herculaneum, were much like modern surgical instruments. The Greeks and Romans also had various poisons administered in various ways, including through tampons.

Socrates, Plato and Aristotle were all known to suggest abortion. Even Hippocrates, who spoke against abortion because he feared injury to the woman, recommended it on occasion by prescribing violent exercises. Roman morality placed no social stigma on abortion.

Early Christians condemned abortion, but did not view the termination of a pregnancy to be an abortion before “ensoulment”, the definition of when life began in the womb. Up to 400 AD., as the relatively few Christians were widely scattered geographically, the actual practice of abortion among Christians probably varied considerably and was influenced by regional customs and practices.




Evolving Position of the Christian Church

St. Augustine (AD 354-430) said, “There cannot yet be said to be a live soul in a body that lacks sensation”, and held that abortion required penance only for the sexual aspect of the sin.6 He and other early Christian theologians believed, as had Aristotle centuries before, that “animation”, or the coming alive of the fetus, occurred forty days after conception for a boy and eighty days after conception for a girl. The conclusion that early abortion is not homicide is contained in the first authoritative collection of canon law accepted by the church in 1140.6 As this collection was used as an instruction manual for priests until the new Code of Canon Law of 1917, its view of abortion has had great influence.

At the beginning of the 13th century, Pope Innocent III wrote that “quickening” —the time when a woman first feels the fetus move within her— was the moment at which abortion became homicide; prior to quickening, abortion was a less serious sin. Pope Gregory XIV agreed, designating quickening as occurring after a period of 116 days (about 17 weeks). His declaration in 1591 that early abortion was not grounds for excommunication continued to be the abortion policy of the Catholic Church until 1869.

The tolerant approach to abortion which had prevailed in the Roman Catholic Church for centuries ended at the end of the nineteenth century.7 In 1869, Pope Pius IX officially eliminated the Catholic distinction between an animated and a nonanimated fetus and required excommunication for abortions at any stage of pregnancy.

This change has been seen by some as a means of countering the rising birth control movement, especially in France,8 with its declining Catholic population. In Italy, during the years 1848 to 1870, the papal states shrank from almost one-third of the country to what is now Vatican City. It has been argued that the Pope’s restriction on abortion was motivated by a need to strengthen the Church’s spiritual control over its followers in the face of this declining political power.

Early Legal Opinion

Historically, religious beliefs coloured legal opinion on abortion. From 1307 to 1803, abortion before the fetus moved perceptibly or “quickened” was not punished under English common law, and not regarded by society at large as a moral problem.9 Because most abortions took place before quickening, punishment was rare. Even if performed after quickening, the offense was usually considered a misdemeanour. This was the case until the nineteenth century; the entry of the state into the regulation of abortion has been relatively recent.

Two prominent legal cases from fourteenth century England illustrate prevailing practices at that time. In both the “Twinslayer’s Case” of 1327 and the “Abortionist’s Case” of 1348, the judges refused to make causing the death of a fetus a legal offence. The judges were, in this pre-Reformation period, all Roman Catholic.

In 1670, the question of whether or not abortion was murder came before the English judge, Sir Matthew Hale. Hale decided that if a woman died as a result of an abortion then the abortionist was guilty of murder. No mention was made of the fetus.

This tolerant common-law approach ended in 1803 when a criminal abortion law was codified by Lord Ellenborough. The abortion of a “quick” fetus became a capital offence, while abortions performed prior to quickening incurred lesser penalties. An article in the 1832 London Legal Examiner justified the new laws on the grounds of protecting women from the dangerous abortion techniques which were popular at the time:

“The reason assigned for the punishment of abortion is not that thereby an embryo human being is destroyed, but that it rarely or ever can be effected with drugs without sacrifice of the mother’s life.

In the United States, similar legislative iniatives began in the 1820’s and proceeded state by state as the American frontier moved westward. In 1858, the New Jersey Supreme Court, pronouncing upon the state’s new abortion law, said:

“The design of the statute was not to prevent the procuring of abortions, so much as to guard the health and life of the mother against consequences of such attempts.”

During the nineteenth century, legal barriers to abortion were erected throughout the western world. In 1869 the Canadian Parliament enacted a criminal law which prohibited abortion and punished it with a penalty of life imprisonment. This law mirrored the laws of a number of provinces in pre-Confederation Canada; all of these statutes were more or less modeled on the English legislation of Lord Ellenborough.

Pressure for restrictions was not coming from the general public. Physicians were in the forefront of the crusade to criminalize abortion in England, the U.S. and Canada. They were voicing concern for the health of women and the destruction of fetal life. However, “there is substantial evidence that medical men were concerned not only for the welfare of the potential victims of abortion but also to further the process of establishing and consolidating their status as a profession.” Women were turning to midwives, herbalists, drug dispensers and sometimes quacks to end their pregnancies, and doctors wanted to gain control over the practice of medicine and elevate the status of their profession.

Race and class were also factors in the passage of the new wave of anti-abortion laws. Abortion was increasingly being used by white, married, Protestant, middle and upper class women to control their family size. “Nativists” (those who were “native-born” to the new country) in Canada, for instance, voiced their concern about what they called the “race suicide” of the Anglo-Saxon population9 in relation to the burgeoning French-Canadian and “foreign” immigrant populations. Anglo-Saxon women who refused maternity by employing contraception or abortion were condemned as “traitors to the race”. Accordingly, the Canadian parliament made contraception illegal in 1892, following the example of the U.S.

The Feet of the Unborn......yea.....definitely wasn't a baby

Another interpretation of the trend toward more restrictive abortion legislation focuses on nation states’ demographic concerns. Powerful social pressures for population increase meant that “the concern was perhaps more for the quantity of human beings than for the quality of human life.

In the words of the authors of Our Bodies, Ourselves:

“.just at a time when women’s increasing understanding of conception was helping them to avoid pregnancy, certain governments and religious groups desired continued population growth to fill growing industries and new farmable territories.”

Despite its criminalization, women continued to regard induced miscarriage before the fetus “quickened” as entirely ethical, and were surprised to learn that it was illegal.21 Women saw themselves as doing what was necessary to bring back their menses, to “put themselves right”. In the words of historians Angus and Arlene Tigar McLaren,

“Doctors were never to be totally successful in convincing women of the immorality of abortion. For many it was to remain an essential method of fertility control.”
21

Women continued to have abortions in roughly the same proportions as they had prior to its criminalization.5 After it was criminalized, abortion simply went underground and became a clandestine and therefore much more dangerous operation for women to undergo.

During the latter part of the nineteenth century, European views on the restriction of abortion were spread by the colonial powers throughout Africa, Asia and beyond.2 The strict prohibitions of Spain are reflected in many statutes decreed in South America, for example. Toward the end of the 19th century, China and Japan, at the time under the influence of Western powers, also criminalized abortion for the first time.2

American historian James C. Mohr makes the point that from an historical perspective, the nineteenth century’s wave of restrictive abortion laws can be seen as a deviation from the norm, a period of interruption of the historically tolerant attitude towards abortion.22

Twentieth Century

“From the second half of the 19th century, through World War II, abortion was highly restricted almost everywhere. Liberalization of abortion laws occurred in most of the countries of Eastern and Central Europe in the 1950s and in almost all the remaining developed countries during the 1960s and 1970s. A few developing countries also relaxed their restrictions on abortion during the same period, most notably China and India.”23

A number of factors have been recognized as contributing to this liberalizing trend.24 Attitudes toward sexuality and procreation were changing, and the reduced influence of religious institutions was a related factor.24 In some countries, rubella epidemics and thalidomide created awareness of the need for legal abortion. In others, there was concern about population growth. Illegal abortion had long been a serious public health hazard,25 and eventually women being injured or dying from unnecessarily dangerous abortions became a concern. Arguments were made in favour of the right of poor women to have access to abortion services. More recently, women’s right to control their fertility has been recognized.24

While the pace of abortion law reform has slowed, the overall movement is still in the direction of liberalization. Recently, however, restrictions have increased in a few countries.24

“As often happens when rapid social change occurs, the movement to legalize abortion has generated resistance and a counter movement. Strenuous efforts are being made to increase restrictions on abortion and to block further liberalization of laws, especially in the United States. [and] the former Communist countries,.but [anti-abortionists] are also highly visible in Canada, England, France, Germany, Italy. and other developed as well as developing countries.
”24

The degree of liberalization has varied from country to country. Abortion laws are usually grouped according to “indications”, or circumstances under which abortions can be performed. The most restrictive laws either completely ban abortions or restrict them to cases where the pregnancy poses a risk to the woman’s life. Other laws also consider risks to the physical and mental health of the woman or her fetus. Some also allow abortion for social-medical or economic reasons, as in the case where an additional child will bring undue burdens to an existing family. The broadest category allows abortion on request (usually within the first trimester).


ENDNOTES

1. George Devereux, “A Typological Study of Abortion in 350 Primitive, Ancient and Pre-Industrial Societies”, in Therapeutic Abortion, ed. Harold Rosen, New York: The Julian Press Inc., 1954.

2. H.P. David, “Abortion Policies”, in Abortion and Sterilization: Medical and Social Aspects, J.E. Hodgson, ed., Grune and Stratton, New York, 1981, pp.1-40.

3. Nan Chase, “Abortion: A Long History Can’t Be Stopped”, Vancouver Sun, May 1, 1989.

4. Wendell W. Watters, Compulsory Parenthood: the Truth about Abortion, McClelland and Stewart, Toronto, 1976, p.52.

5. Deborah R. McFarlane, “Induced Abortion: An Historical Overview”, American Journal of Gynaecologic Health, Vo. VII, No. 3, May/June 1993, pp.77-82.

6. Jane Hurst, “The History of Abortion in the Catholic Church: The Untold Story”, Catholics for a Free Choice, Washington, D.C., 1983.

7. Wendell W. Watters, p.79.

8. Ibid, pp.92-3.

9. Alison Prentice et al, Canadian Women: A History, Harcourt Brace

Jovanovich, Canada, pg.165.

10. Donald P. Kommers,”Abortion in Six Countries: A Comparative Legal Analysis,in Abortion, Medicine and the LawFourth edition, J.D. Butler & D.F. Walbert, eds., Facts on File, N.Y.1992, p.312.

11. Janine Brodie et al, The Politics of Abortion, Oxford University Press, Toronto, 1992, p.9.

12. Jimmey Kinney.Ms., April 1973, p.48-9.

13. A. Anne McLellan, “Abortion Law in Canada”, in Abortion, Medicine and the Law, op. cit, p.334.

14. Donald P. Kommers, p.317.

15. James C. Mohr, Abortion in America: The Origins and Evolution of National Policy, New York: Oxford University Press, 1978.

16. Constance Backhouse, Petticoats and Prejudice: Women and the Law in Nineteenth Century Canada, Women’s Press, Toronto.

17. Terry, “England”, in Abortion and Protection of the Human Fetus 78, (S. Frankowski and G. Cole, eds., 1987).

18. James C. Mohr, p.244.

19. Wendell W. Watters, p. xv.

20. Boston Women’s Health Book Collective, Our Bodies, Ourselves, 2nd ed. (New York: Simon & Shuster, 1971), p.216-7.

21. Angus McLaren and Arlene Tigar McLaren,The Bedroom and the State: The Changing Practices and Politics of Contraception and Abortion in Canada 1880-1980, M & S,Toronto.,1986, p.38-9.

22. James C. Mohr, p.259.

23. Stanley K. Henshaw, “Induced Abortion: A World Review, 1990”, Family Planning Perspectives, Vol. 22, No. 2, March/April 1990, p.78.

24. Stanley K. Henshaw, “Recent Trends in the Legal Status of Induced Abortion”, Journal of Public Health Policy, Summer, 1994, pp.165-172.

SOURCE

World expresses growing alarm over radiation – Cloud to hit US mainland on Friday

Scientists Project Path of Radiation Plume

By WILLIAM J. BROAD
Published: March 16, 2011

A United Nations forecast of the possible movement of the radioactive plume coming from crippled Japanese reactors shows it churning across the Pacific, and touching the Aleutian Islands on Thursday before hitting Southern California late Friday.

U.S. Calls Radiation ‘Extremely High;’ Sees Japan Nuclear Crisis Worsening (March 17, 2011)
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U.S. Urges Wider No-Go Area Around Nuclear Plant (March 17, 2011)
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In Europe and China, Japan’s Crisis Renews Fears About Nuclear Power (March 17, 2011)
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The Lede Blog: Japan Earthquake and Tsunami: How to Help (March 11, 2011)

Health and nuclear experts emphasize that radiation in the plume will be diluted as it travels and, at worst, would have extremely minor health consequences in the United States, even if hints of it are ultimately detectable. In a similar way, radiation from the Chernobyl disaster in 1986 spread around the globe and reached the West Coast of the United States in 10 days, its levels measurable but minuscule.

The projection, by the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization, an arm of the United Nations in Vienna, gives no information about actual radiation levels but only shows how a radioactive plume would probably move and disperse.

The forecast, calculated Tuesday, is based on patterns of Pacific winds at that time and the predicted path is likely to change as weather patterns shift.

On Sunday, the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission said it expected that no “harmful levels of radioactivity” would travel from Japan to the United States “given the thousands of miles between the two countries.”

The test ban treaty group routinely does radiation projections in an effort to understand which of its global stations to activate for monitoring the worldwide ban on nuclear arms testing. It has more than 60 stations that sniff the air for radiation spikes and uses weather forecasts and powerful computers to model the transport of radiation on the winds.

On Wednesday, the agency declined to release its Japanese forecast, which The New York Times obtained from other sources. The forecast was distributed widely to the agency’s member states.

But in interviews, the technical specialists of the agency did address how and why the forecast had been drawn up.

“It’s simply an indication,” said Lassina Zerbo, head of the agency’s International Data Center. “We have global coverage. So when something happens, it’s important for us to know which station can pick up the event.”

For instance, the Japan forecast shows that the radioactive plume will probably miss the agency’s monitoring stations at Midway and in the Hawaiian Islands but is likely to be detected in the Aleutians and at a monitoring station in Sacramento.

The forecast assumes that radioactivity in Japan is released continuously and forms a rising plume. It ends with the plume heading into Southern California and the American Southwest, including Nevada, Utah and Arizona. The plume would have continued eastward if the United Nations scientists had run the projection forward.

Earlier this week, the leading edge of the tangible plume was detected by the Navy’s Seventh Fleet when it was operating about 100 miles northeast of the Japanese reactor complex. On Monday, the Navy said it had repositioned its ships and aircraft off Japan “as a precautionary measure.”

The United Nations agency has also detected radiation from the stricken reactor complex at its detector station in Gunma, Japan, which lies about 130 miles to the southwest.

The chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Gregory B. Jaczko, said Monday that the plume posed no danger to the United States. “You just aren’t going to have any radiological material that, by the time it traveled those large distances, could present any risk to the American public,” he said in a White House briefing.

Mr. Jaczko was asked if the meltdown of a core of one of the reactors would increase the chance of harmful radiation reaching Hawaii or the West Coast.

“I don’t want to speculate on various scenarios,” he replied. “But based on the design and the distances involved, it is very unlikely that there would be any harmful impacts.”

The likely path of the main Japanese plume across the Pacific has also caught the attention of Europeans, many of whom recall how the much closer Chernobyl reactor in Ukraine began spewing radiation.

In Germany on Wednesday, the Federal Office for Radiation Protection held a news conference that described the threat from the Japanese plume as trifling and said there was no need for people to take iodine tablets. The pills can prevent poisoning from the atmospheric release of iodine-131, a radioactive byproduct of nuclear plants. The United States is also carefully monitoring and forecasting the plume’s movements. The agencies include the Federal Aviation Administration, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Department of Defense, and the Department of Energy.

On Wednesday, Steven Chu, the energy secretary, told Congress that the United States was planning to deploy equipment in Japan that could detect radiation exposure on the ground and in the air. In total, the department’s team includes 39 people and more than eight tons of equipment.

“We continue to offer assistance in any way we can,” Dr. Chu said at a hearing, “as well as informing ourselves of what the situation is.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/17/science/17plume.html?_r=1

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U.S. shows growing alarm over Japan nuclear crisis

Reuters

By Jeff Mason and Tom Doggett Jeff Mason And Tom Doggett – Wed Mar 16, 7:14 pm ET

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States showed increasing alarm about the nuclear situation in Japan on Wednesday and urged its citizens to stay clear of an earthquake-crippled power plant — going further in its warnings than Japan itself.

As operators of the Fukushima plant pledged to try again to use helicopters to douse overheating reactors, U.S. officials warned about the risks of getting anywhere near the area and relied on their own officials for details about the danger.

“The situation has deteriorated in the days since the tsunami and … the situation has grown at times worse with potential greater damage and fallout from the reactor,” White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters.

U.S. officials took pains not to criticize the Japanese government, which has shown signs of being overwhelmed by the crisis, but Washington’s actions indicated a divide with the Japanese about the perilousness of the situation.

The State Department recommended that U.S. citizens within 50 miles of the plant leave the area or stay indoors.

Japan’s government has asked people living within 12 miles to evacuate and those between 12 miles and 18 miles to stay indoors.

The top U.S. nuclear regulator cast doubt on emergency workers’ ability to cool overheating reactors, saying radiation levels may give them “lethal doses” of radiation.

“We believe that around the reactor site there are high levels of radiation,” said Gregory Jaczko. “It would be very difficult for emergency workers to get near the reactors. The doses they could experience would potentially be lethal doses in a very short period of time.”

An official at Japan’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency said on Thursday morning local time that the level of radiation detected at the plant had fallen steadily over the past 12 hours.

The U.S. military has ordered its forces to stay 50 miles away from the plant, the Pentagon said. There are at least 55,000 U.S. forces in Japan and offshore assisting the relief operation.

US reactors in operation

“All of us are heartbroken by the images of what’s happening in Japan, and we’re reminded of how American leadership is critical to our closest allies,” President Barack Obama said in Washington.

“Even if those allies are themselves economically advanced and powerful, there are moments where they need our help, and we’re bound together by a common humanity,” he said.

CONFLICTING REPORTS

High radiation levels prevented a helicopter from dropping water into the stricken Japanese plant’s No. 3 reactor to cool its fuel rods after an explosion damaged the roof and cooling system. Operators planned to try again on Thursday.

The State Department’s warning to U.S. citizens was based on new information collected by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Department of Energy and other U.S. sources.

The United States is trying to deploy equipment in Japan that can detect radiation exposure at the ground level, U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu told a congressional hearing.

The detection system is part of the 17,200 pounds (7,800 kg) of equipment and 39 personnel from the Energy Department sent to Japan, he said. The department has also provided equipment to monitor airborne radiation.

The United States is deploying additional radiation monitors on Hawaii and other U.S. islands even though it does not expect harmful levels of radiation to reach U.S. soil, environmental regulators said.

Chu declined to tell lawmakers, when asked, whether he was satisfied with Japan’s response so far to its nuclear crisis, which began after last Friday’s devastating 9.0 magnitude earthquake and resulting tsunami.

“I can’t really say. I think we hear conflicting reports,” Chu said.

“This is one of the reasons why (the United States is) there with boots on the ground, with detectors in the ground, not only to help assist (the) Japanese power company and the Japanese government but also for our own sake — to know what is really happening.”

Beyond the risk to workers at or near the damaged nuclear plant, one scientist, Dr. Ira Helfand, warned of possible widespread contamination of people and land.

“We need … to focus on the radioactive isotopes being dispersed at some distance from the plant, because this is going to cause a whole different set of health problems,” Helfand, past president of the anti-nuclear group Physicians for Social Responsibility, said in a telephone briefing.

The Obama administration has maintained its support for expanding U.S. use of nuclear energy despite renewed fears about its safety after the events in Japan.

But U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Wednesday that the nuclear crisis raised questions about the use of nuclear energy in the United States.

“What’s happening in Japan raises questions about the costs and the risks associated with nuclear power, but we have to answer those. We get 20 percent of our energy right now in the United States from nuclear power,” she said in an interview with MSNBC in which she emphasized the need for a comprehensive U.S. energy policy.

(Additional reporting by Ayesha Rascoe, David Morgan, Andrew Quinn, Paul Eckert, Matt Spetalnick, Alister Bull, Patricia Zengerle, Steve Holland, Deborah Zabarenko and Phil Stewart; Editing by Peter Cooney)

http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20110316/pl_nm/us_nuclear_usa

U.S. radiation experts try to decipher reports from Japan
By Steve Sternberg, USA TODAY

Updated 7h 37m ago |

The Japanese government’s radiation report for the country’s 47 prefectures Wednesday had a notable omission: Fukushima, ground zero in Japan’s nuclear crisis. Measurements from Ibaraki, just south of Fukushima, were also blanked out.

Radiation experts in the USA say that the lack of information about radioactivity released from the smoldering reactors makes it impossible to gauge the current danger, project how bad a potential meltdown might be or calculate how much fallout might reach the USA.

Japanese nuclear experts are hard at work gathering information, said Fred Mettler, the U.S. representative for the United Nation’s committee on the health effects of radiation. “They’re monitoring and evaluating and watching the meteorology,” he said. “They need to know what the dose rates are in various places, what direction the (radiation is) moving in and what’s causing it.”

Conflicting accounts of the radiation levels emerged in Tokyo and on Capitol Hill. Japan’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency said Wednesday that the radiation detected at the Fukushima plant had fallen steadily over the past 12 hours. But U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) chief Gregory Jaczko told a House energy subcommittee earlier in the day that radiation levels at the Fukushima plant were “extremely high.”

The chief of the U.N. International Atomic Energy Agency, Yukiya Amano, told reporters he will visit Japan to obtain “firsthand information” about the crisis and prod the Japanese government to provide more. Experts from the NRC, led by Charles Casto, were to arrive in the country on Wednesday.

Given accurate readings, U.S. experts can develop computer models of radiation released from the crippled reactors, factoring in prevailing winds, altitude and rainfall, said Owen Hoffman, a radiation expert from SENES Oak Ridge Inc., a consulting firm that calculated risks from Cold War nuclear tests.

One agency equipped to predict where the fallout may travel is the Department of Energy’s National Atmospheric Release Advisory Center at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. The center has tracked radiation emitted by the meltdowns at Three Mile Island in 1979 and Ukraine’s Chernobyl in 1986.

History may offer hints of what’s to come. At Three Mile Island, near Harrisburg, Pa., only a small amount of radiation was released before the meltdown was controlled. Chernobyl spewed radiation for days, which rode wind currents worldwide.

Radioactive iodine falls from the plume in rainfall and settles on the grass, where it’s eaten by cows and builds up in their milk. Decades after Three Mile Island, no cancers or deaths have been conclusively linked to the U.S. disaster. Researchers have logged 6,000 thyroid cancers in survivors of Chernobyl, all in people who were younger than 18 when they were exposed. That’s about one-third of the 14,000 projected to occur.

Thyroid cancer is a major risk because the thyroid needs iodine to make thyroid hormone, which regulates metabolism. For those downwind of Chernobyl, the highest dose exceeded 1 gray, a measure of the radioactivity absorbed in the thyroid.

Children who drank commercial milk during the Cold War nuclear tests received about one-tenth of that, on average, Hoffman said. That was enough to boost their thyroid cancer risk to one in 100, more than twice the usual risk.

The Chernobyl meltdown also contaminated vast tracts of Ukraine, Belarus, Russia and northern Europe with radioactive cesium. “There are still limitations on the export of sheep from Cumbria, in the U.K., and reindeer from Scandinavia,” Hoffman said. Cesium also contaminated fish from Scandinavia’s northern lakes.

Cesium is absorbed by plants and works its way through the food chain, getting into meat and milk. Unlike radioactive iodine, which has a short half life, cesium lingers in the environment. “Radioactive iodine will be gone in a month,” Hoffman said. “Cesium’s going to be around for decades.”

Contributing: The Associated Press

http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/2011-03-17-japanradiate17_ST_N.htm

Low radioactivity seen heading towards N.America

17 Mar 2011 14:35

Source: reuters // Reuters

* Particles not normal, but not dangerous-Swedish official

* U.S. nuclear body sees no “levels of harmful radiation”

* U.N. weather agency predicts northwesterly winter monsoon

(Adds U.S. comment)

By Fredrik Dahl

VIENNA, March 17 (Reuters) – Low concentrations of radioactive particles from Japan’s disaster-hit nuclear power plant have been heading eastwards and are expected to reach North America in days, a Swedish official said on Thursday.

In Washington, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) said radioactivity would disperse over the long distance and it did not expect any harmful amounts to reach the country.

“We expect the United States to avoid any levels of harmful radiation,” NRC spokesman Joey Ledford told Reuters. “We do not anticipate any threat to American interests.”

The Swedish official, research director Lars-Erik De Geer of the Swedish Defence Research Institute, was citing data from a network of international monitoring stations set up to detect signs of any nuclear weapons tests.

Also stressing the levels were not dangerous for people, he predicted particles would eventually also continue across the Atlantic and reach Europe.

“It is not something you see normally,” he said by phone from Stockholm, adding the results he now had were based on observations from earlier in the week. But, “it is not high from any danger point of view.”

De Geer said he was convinced they would eventually be detected over the whole northern hemisphere.

“It is only a question of very, very low activities so it is nothing for people to worry about,” De Geer said.

“In the past when they had nuclear weapons tests in China … then there were similar clouds all the time without anybody caring about it at all,” he said.

TOWARDS EUROPE?

De Geer said the main air movement in the northern half of the globe normally went from west to east, but suggested the direction occasionally changed and at times turned.

In Geneva, the U.N.’s World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) said on Thursday that a “northwesterly winter monsoon flow prevails over the eastern and northern part of Japan” and that this was expected to remain the case until around midnight GMT.

The New York Times earlier said a forecast of the possible movement of the radioactive plume showed it churning across the Pacific, and touching the Aleutian Islands on Thursday before hitting southern California late on Friday.

It said the projection was made by the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organisation (CTBTO), a Vienna-based independent body for monitoring possible breaches of the test ban.

The CTBTO has more than 60 stations around the world which can pick up very low levels of radioactive particles such as caesium and iodine isotopes.

It continuously provides data to its member states, including Sweden, but does not make the details public.

De Geer said he believed the radioactive particles would “eventually also come here”.

The New York Times said health and nuclear experts emphasized radiation would be diluted as it travelled and at worst would have extremely minor health consequences in the United States.

In a similar way, radiation from the Chernobyl disaster in 1986 spread around the globe and reached the west coast of the United States in 10 days, its levels measurable but minuscule. (Additional reporting by David Morgan in Washington; editing by Diana Abdallah)

http://www.trust.org/alertnet/news/low-radioactivity-seen-heading-towards-namerica/

Swedish Government: Radiation To Cover Entire Northern Hemisphere

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Paul Joseph Watson
Infowars.com
March 17, 2011

Swedish Government: Radiation To Cover Entire Northern Hemisphere 170311top2

Suggesting that levels of radiation leaks from the stricken Fukushima plant are being grossly underreported by Japanese authorities, a Swedish government agency told Reuters today that not only will the radiation reach North America, but it will subsequently cover the entire northern hemisphere.

“Lars-Erik De Geer, research director at the Swedish Defense Research Institute, a government agency, was citing data from a network of international monitoring stations established to detect signs of any nuclear weapons tests,” reports Reuters.

“Stressing that the levels were not dangerous for people, he predicted the particles would continue across the Atlantic and eventually also reach Europe.”

De Geer said he was “convinced it would eventually be detected over the whole northern hemisphere,” according to the report, adding that radioactive particles would “eventually also come here,” referring to Europe.

De Geer’s prognosis arrives on the back of a study of data by the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization, which confirmed that the radioactive plume from Fukushima would reach the Aleutian Islands on Thursday before hitting southern California late on Friday. The CBTO has a network of radiation monitors deployed globally that can detect radioactive particles such as caesium and iodine isotopes.


Experts are correct in assuming that the initial waves of radiation will be low, but expect levels to rise in subsequent days as the effects of the three blasts to impact the Fukushima facility, which occurred on Saturday, Monday and Tuesday, manifest themselves in the form of increased radiation injected into the atmosphere.

“Naturally, with the credibility of every government around the world shot, it is no surprise that most consumer Geiger counter stores are sold out of inventory at this point, at virtually all price points,” writes Tyler Durden.

As we reported earlier, having confidence in the trustworthiness of governments globally who have habitually lied about the true threat posed by radiation, notably after the 3 Mile Island accident and the Chernobyl disaster, is somewhat less than wise.

However, at least the Swedes can be trusted to know a thing or two about detecting radiation. While the Soviets were furiously engaged in a cover-up of the Chernobyl disaster which occurred on April 26 1986, Swedish workers at the Forsmark Nuclear Power Plant were the first ones to detect the fallout from the accident two days later on April 28.

It was only after the workers failed to find the source of any radioactive leak at their own plant that the true horror of what had happened 1,100 km (680 miles) away in the western Soviet Union began to unravel.

The whole planet is united in hoping that Japanese technicians find some way to restore power and water cooling system to the Fukushima plant before that terrible scenario has any chance of repeating.

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The video below shows how far the radiation clouds from Chernobyl spread across Europe, smothering virtually the entire continent within 7 days. Although agencies like the WHO and the IAEA claimed that only 9,000 people died as a consequence, more contemporary studies have shown that nearly a million people have been killed from cancers caused by the disaster over the course of the last 25 years.

Paul Joseph Watson is the editor and writer for Prison Planet.com. He is the author of Order Out Of Chaos. Watson is also a regular fill-in host for The Alex Jones Show.

http://www.infowars.com/swedish-government-radiation-to-cover-entire-northern-hemisphere/