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News, 3 March 2000

3 March 2000

3 March 2000 The Society for the Protection of Unborn Children has challenged an attempt by Marie Stopes International to link an alleged increase in abortions in Britain to difficulties with obtaining morning-after pills. Paul Tully, general secretary, said that, even though the number of prescriptions for morning-after pills had increased enormously over the past 10 years (now around 75,000 prescriptions annually), there were still as many abortions as in 1990, if not more. Claiming that morning-after pills would reduce the number of registered abortions was unfounded and "part of the agenda promoted by the pro-abortion lobby." There have been calls for such pills to be provided without prescription. [Pro-Life Infonet, 2 March, 2000 and verbatims] The British public are to be consulted on whether morning-after pills should be offered to girls and women over 16 without prescription. The government is said to be divided on the issue, with the prime minister allegedly concerned about moral implications. The health ministry is reserving the right to reject recommendations from the Medicines Control Agency. [Daily Telegraph, 3 March, 2000] The Scottish Bio-Ethics Council has welcomed a ministerial statement on the Adults with Incapacity Bill. Ms Mary Kearns said: "The minister [Mr Iain Gray] was very explicit and no-one can now interpret the Bill as a way open to euthanasia." Mr John Deighan of the Catholic church said: "[Mr Gray] has ruled out the slide to passive euthanasia in hospitals. There can be no ambiguity over this." [Scottish Catholic Observer, 3 March, 2000] Experienced pro-life lobbyists expect that the subject of abortion will be introduced at the annual meeting of the Commission on the Status of Women at the United Nations, which is preparing a document reviewing the status of women since the 1995 Beijing Women's Conference. Campaigners tried unsuccessfully to get an endorsement of so-called emergency contraception at a similar meeting early last year. There may be calls at the current meeting for an end to conscience-clauses which allow doctors to refuse to perform abortions. [Scott Weinberg, 2 March, 2000] Blood-tests are no better at detecting Down's syndrome in unborn babies than other methods, according to a study of some 31,000 pregnancies in Britain. Researchers at Princess Anne Hospital, Southampton, found that such tests did not add to information obtained from ultrasound scans and knowledge of the mother's age. [Guardian and Independent, 3 March, 2000] A law in Kentucky which makes women wait 24 hours before being given an abortion may be ruled unconstitutional. The 1998 law requires women considering abortion also to be given pamphlets with information about foetal development, the abortion-process and alternatives thereto. The American Civil Liberties Union's suit is before US district judge John G Heyburn II. [Pro-Life Infonet, 2 March, 2000] [This bulletin is privately circulated by the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, www.spuc.org.uk, 5/6 St Matthew Street, London, United Kingdom, SW1P 2JT, +44 20 7222 3763. The reliability of the news herein is dependent on that of the cited sources. Opinions expressed are not necessarily those of the society. Please forward this bulletin to other interested parties. To unsubscribe, send an appropriate email to information@spuc.freeserve.co.uk]

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