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News, 12 December 2000

12 December 2000

12 December 2000 Members of the Scottish parliament have criticised the British government for its plans to make the Levonelle-2 morning-after pill available from pharmacists without a doctor's prescription throughout the United Kingdom. Responsibility for prescription drugs, as with abortion legislation, was reserved to the UK's national parliament in Westminster when other powers were devolved to Scotland. Nicola Sturgeon, health spokesman for the Scottish National Party, claimed that the matter should be debated in the Scottish parliament because of the implications for women's health. She pointed out that there were a number of potential health complications associated with the use of such a potent drug. Mary Scanlon, the Conservative party's health spokesman in the Scottish parliament, also criticised the government's move, saying that it sent out "entirely the wrong message". [The Scotsman, 12 December] The Swiss House of Representatives has voted to legalise abortion up to the 12th week of pregnancy. Under the legislation, women wanting an abortion would have to submit a written request to a doctor. The doctor would then be obliged to inform the applicant of the medical risks and alternatives such as adoption. The measure will now be considered by the Swiss senate, and reports suggest that, if approved, it would be put to a referendum. Even though abortion officially remains illegal in Switzerland, there are said to be about 12,000 performed each year. [Swissinfo, 12 December ] The pro-abortion International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF), based in London, has welcomed a further grant of 8.8 million dollars from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Mr Gates, founder of Microsoft, and his wife have now reportedly donated more than 20 billion dollars for the work of IPPF, which includes the promotion of abortion. [Reuters, 11 December; from Pro-Life Infonet] An Irish national newspaper has pointed out that the report of the all-party Oireachtas Committee on the Constitution, which considered the abortion issue, urged the general availability of the morning-after pill and claimed that "the legal presumption must be that it is not regarded as an abortifacient". The Irish Medicines Board recently refused to license the Levonelle-2 morning-after pill on the basis that it worked as an abortifacient and therefore contravened Ireland's constitutional protection of the unborn. The Irish Independent claims that Levonelle has been licensed for use in every other member country of the European Union except Greece. [Irish Independent, 12 December ] The British government plans to make Levonelle-2 available over-the-counter from pharmacists from the first of next month throughout the UK, including in Northern Ireland. An Austrian Catholic bishop has drawn parallels between legalised abortion and the crimes of the Nazis. Bishop Andreas Laun, an auxiliary bishop in Salzburg diocese, was commenting on the case of Dr Heinrich Gross, who was charged earlier this year with the murder of disabled children during the Nazi era. The bishop observed: "Dr Gross as a Nazi doctor killed disabled children--only four weeks later than we do. Must Dr Gross go to prison just because he was too late? We do it too. That's pure hypocrisy." [LifeSite Daily News, 11 December ] Bishop James T McHugh of Rockville Center, New York, has died. He has been described as a leader of the American Catholic bishops' pro-life efforts, and last October he banned all pro-abortion politicians from speaking in diocesan establishments [see news digest for 11 October ]. Having previously served as the coadjutor, Bishop McHugh had led the diocese of Rockville Center alone since January. His funeral Mass will be celebrated by Cardinal Bernard F Law of Boston on Friday. [Catholic News Service, 11 December ]

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