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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 22 May 2000

22 May 2000

22 May 2000 Morning-after pills could soon be freely available in the UK over the counter from pharmacists without a doctor's prescription. The British Department of Health issued a press release last Friday with the news that the Committee on the Safety of Medicines had recommended the re-classification of the Levonelle 2 morning-after pill for women aged sixteen and over, and a statutory six-week consultation process would now commence. After this time the Medicines Control Agency will present its recommendation to health ministers and new regulations would have to be laid before parliament. In its own media release, the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children condemned the move and warned that pharmacies could become abortion facilities. Paul Tully, general secretary, said, "Not only is the morning-after pill abortifacient, but it also threatens the woman's health." He went on to mention that use of the morning-after pill increased the risk of ectopic pregnancies and also pointed out the danger of handing out the powerful drug without reference to a woman's state of health and medical history. [SPUC, London, 19 May] [You can see the Department of Health's press release by going to http://pipe.ccta.gov.uk/coi/coipress.nsf/gdh and then clicking on the item dated 19/05/2000 which deals with the reclassification of Levonorgestrel.] A popular health drink has been found to contain a substance which can cause pregnant women to miscarry. Scientists in the UK have found that many aloe vera drinks, used to aid digestion, actually contain significant amounts of aloin, which is known to cause stomach upsets and miscarriages. This is despite the fact that some manufacturers have described their products as aloin-free. Aloin is found naturally in the aloe vera leaf but levels of it were reduced after it was discovered to be an irritant more than 20 years ago. [Metro, 22 May] The US House of Representatives may vote on Roe vs Wade next Thursday (25 May). A resolution expressing approval of the landmark 1973 Supreme Court decision which gave American women a constitutional right to abortion was approved in the Senate by 51 votes to 47 last October and adopted as an amendment to the partial-birth abortion ban. Now National Right to Life, an American anti-abortion group, expects pro-abortionists to ask the House of Representatives to vote on whether it agrees with the Senate decision. It would be the first time the House has ever voted on Roe vs Wade, but the resolution would not have any legal force. [National Right to Life, 19 May; from Pro-Life Infonet] Pope John Paul II used his birthday address to the Vatican diplomatic corps to renew his call for the defence of life. Speaking to representatives of 171 nations which maintain official diplomatic relations with the Vatican, the Pope said, "Yes, life is a gift that results from an act of love. And, therefore, it must be welcomed with love, respected, cultivated, promoted and defended by all means when it is threatened." [Zenit news agency, 19 May] A Catholic priest has claimed that the authorities in Cuba have expelled him for opposing abortion. Fr Miguel Jorda distributed leaflets defending unborn life all over his parish. He says that the Cuban government stationed megaphones playing loud music outside his church and that he was finally expelled when he took up another megaphone himself and denounced the trampling of human rights in Cuba even before birth. Fr Jorda explained that out of a total population of 12 million, Cuba registers 130,000 abortions each year. [Zenit news agency, 19 May]

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