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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 10 August 2000

10 August 2000

10 August 2000 It has emerged that most members of the body which recently recommended that morning-after pills should be made available without prescription in the UK have financial interests in pharmaceutical companies. The Commission on the Safety of Medicines advised the Medicines Control Agency in favour of reclassifying the levonorgestrel 0.75 mg emergency so-called contraceptive pill, which is actually abortifacient, as an over-the-counter drug before the recent public consultation exercise. This exercise ended in June. It has now transpired that some of 39 scientists on the commission have investments totalling 100,000 pounds in various companies which produce drugs, the profits of which depend significantly on the commission's recommendations. Others have received financial support from pharmaceutical companies for their research work. [The Times, 8 August; background information from SPUC, London] The latest figures released by the National Center for Health Statistics in the USA have indicated that the teenage birth rate is at its lowest for 60 years, but pro-life campaigners have pointed out that this is not necessarily good news because of the high abortion rates underlying it. In 1999 there were 49.6 births for every 1,000 girls aged 15 to 19, but in 1997 (the latest year for which pregnancy statistics are available) the pregnancy rate for the same age-group was as high as 90.7 per 1,000. Janet Parshall, spokesperson for the Family Research Council, said: "The fact is that the teen pregnancy rate is about twice as high as the birth rate. This means that half of the teenagers who get pregnant never give birth to a child. We need to be deeply concerned about this discrepancy." [FRC, 9 August; from Pro-Life Infonet] In Michigan, the number of induced abortions fell by 6.8 per cent last year, the sixth year in a row in which the state's abortion figures have declined. John Engler, the state's governor, said that he was proud to report the news. Since 1987, abortions in Michigan have fallen by 46.6 per cent. The total figure for 1999 was 26,207. Credit for the decline has been attributed to television and billboard advertising, as well as to abstinence education and welfare reform. [John Engler's press release, 9 August; from Pro-Life Infonet] In the light of recent concerns over Europe's falling birth-rates, the premier of Bavaria has called on Germans to have more babies. Edmund Stoiber sought to break a taboo on discussing population policy dating back to the Nazi era when he proposed a series of measures to reverse the population decline and called for a change in people's attitudes towards children. [Daily Telegraph, 10 August] A Canadian pro-life group has placed full-page advertisements in three newspapers, claiming that abortion providers are selling body parts from aborted unborn children for personal profit. The Canadian advertising standards authority judged that the advertisements, placed by the Burnaby Pro-Life Society, "demeaned and disparaged Canadian physicians and medical professionals" and pro-abortion groups demanded a retraction. Ivor Brown, of the Burnaby Pro-Life Society, stood by the claims and said that the public deserved to know the facts. [The Vancouver Province, 31 July; from Pro-Life E-News, 9 August]

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