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  • The Know Daily - Wednesday 20 March 2024

The Know Daily - Wednesday 20 March 2024

🪸 The decriminalisation debate, how underwater speakers could save coral reefs + a happiness masterclass in Finland.

Read in 5m 24s Listening to Halle 

📝 A leading women’s healthcare charity calls on MPs to decriminalise abortion 

🪸 Playing sounds to coral reefs could help them thrive 

🎧 Spotify’s latest “Loud and Clear” report

Dove Stone in the Peak District National Park recently celebrated the planting of one million sphagnum moss plants, which are key to supporting healthy ecosystems and biodiversity in the area. The milestone was achieved thanks to the work of dedicated volunteers, with one telling local paper the Oldham Chronicle that it felt “really special” to help local nature, adding: “there is always a great community spirit”. 

📝 What does decriminalising abortion really mean?

Leading women’s healthcare charity MSI Reproductive Choices has called on MPs to decriminalise abortion in England and Wales, pointing to the “unprecedented” number of women facing criminal investigation.

What would decriminalisation look like?
At present, abortion is legal up to 24 weeks with the approval of two doctors. After this cut-off, terminations are allowed only in very limited circumstances - and after 10 weeks, the procedure must be carried out in a clinic or hospital. Outside of this, abortion remains criminalised under the 1861 Offences Against the Person Act and the Infant Life Preservation Act 1929, carrying a maximum sentence of life imprisonment. 

In November 2023, Labour MP Diana Johnson put forward an amendment to the Criminal Justice Act that would stop the possibility of women in England and Wales being prosecuted or jailed for ending their own pregnancies. 

As MSI explains, this would not fully decriminalise abortion or remove the 24-week limit, but rather end the “rare and distressing” instances in which women face criminal investigation or even prison for ending their pregnancies. In such instances, women require compassion rather than punishment, says MSI.

Why is MSI calling for this now?
The charity has advocated for decriminalisation for decades, but argues that it has become all the more urgent given the “unprecedented” number of women facing investigation. MSI says it knows of up to 60 criminal inquiries in England and Wales since 2018, compared with almost zero before.

While it’s not yet confirmed when the amendment will be put before parliament, recent polling of MPs for The Times found that the majority favour decriminalisation - and Johnson told The Guardian she was “hopeful” the amendment would pass. The Health Secretary and the Chancellor have even indicated that they may vote for the amendment.

Why does this matter?
MSI has stressed that if MPs do vote to decriminalise women seeking abortion, it will send an important global message at a time when reproductive rights are increasingly under threat. This is most notable in the 2022 overturning of the right to abortion in the US, with the end of Roe v. Wade.

Nevertheless, there are glimmers of hope. Many Latin American countries have eased restrictions in recent years, and in 2022 MSI successfully campaigned to change the abortion law in India so that all women - married or not - have the right to safe and legal abortion. 

2024 is set to be the biggest election year in history, with voters heading to the polls in over 60 countries. This, says MSI, makes it all the more important that governments, organisations and donors show their support now for reproductive rights. 

To find out more about MSI’s work around the world and to support them at this critical time, click here.

🙋‍♀️ TRIVIA TIME

Which supermarket has been told to change its loyalty card branding, after losing a long legal battle with Lidl on Tuesday?

A) Co-op
B) Tesco
C) Aldi

Scroll to the very bottom for the answer.

Our newsletters are free, but our work is valuable. Back independent, female-founded journalism for just 24p per edition. This directly supports keeping our content free for all and ensures we can pay our team a fair wage.

🪸 Coral concert

Playing sounds of healthy coral on underwater speakers could help damaged reefs to thrive, a new study has found.

What does healthy coral sound like, exactly?!
It makes a lot of clicking, grunting and scratching noises, said BBC Newsround - and that’s down to all the wildlife that lives there. Previous studies have shown that coral larvae (or baby coral) will swim towards these sounds, and researchers recently decided to investigate this theory further.

Got it. And what did this new study find?
Researchers from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts - who conducted their study in the US Virgin Islands - found that coral larvae were up to seven times more likely to settle on a struggling reef where healthy sounds were played through underwater speakers.

Researchers hope that attracting coral larvae to damaged reefs will help them to recover.

Why does this matter?
Their findings - published in the Royal Society Open Science journal - could “provide hope” for reef recovery at a time of significant threat, said the BBC. Coral reefs are home to around a quarter of all marine species, but since the 1950s, over half the world’s reefs have died. Pollution, overfishing and record-high ocean warming have all been cited as factors.

What’s the bigger picture?
As The Guardian pointed out, scientists are developing a number of innovative approaches towards reef preservation. In June last year, the world’s first living coral biobank opened in Australia, and researchers are looking at ways to make coral more resilient to warming seas.

One expert told the paper that the successful recovery of the world’s reefs would provide a blueprint for helping other species in the face of climate change. “If we can save reefs, we can save anything,” he said.

🎧 Turn it up: Spotify released its latest “Loud and Clear” report on Tuesday - and for the first time ever, indie artists accounted for around half of all royalties paid out by the platform. 

🇭🇰 Hong Kong: The legislature yesterday passed a controversial new security law that grants the authorities “more power to quash dissent”. 

📉 UK economy: Inflation fell to its lowest level in more than two years last month, new stats show - meaning that prices are now rising more slowly

📦 Parcel lottery: A shop that sells still-sealed unwanted Amazon parcels by the kilo has opened in Brussels, Belgium. 

🇫🇮 School for smiles: Finland - the world’s happiest country - is letting a handful of guests in on the secret with a 5-day, completely free happiness masterclass this summer. Get your applications in ASAP!

The first day of spring 🌸 

Come for: The vernal equinox - aka the first day of astronomical spring in the UK - aka longer and warmer days on the horizon!

Stay for: Overheating when you wear your winter coat and scarf on public transport (Esther learned this the hard way yesterday). 

We’ll leave you with this guide to the best places to see blossom across the UK - and if you know a special spot, please let us know!

 

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Trivia answer: B) Tesco has been told to stop using its Clubcard Prices logo, after the Court of Appeal sided with Lidl on Tuesday. Do you think the branding is similar? 🤔

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