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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 3 January 2001

3 January 2001

3 January 2001 British pro-life groups have vowed to continue their campaign against the provision of the abortifacient Levonelle-2 morning-after pill after it was reclassified as a drug available from pharmacists without prescription on Monday (new year's day). SPUC plans to distribute leaflets outside pharmacies, while the Life charity intends to deliver letters to all pharmacists warning them about possible legal action should women suffer adverse side-effects from the drug. A spokesman for Schering Healthcare, the company which manufactures Levonelle-2, said that it feared a "stampede" of women trying to obtain the morning-after pill after new year festivities, despite the fact that supplies of the drug would not be widely available until the end of the month or later. One newspaper has reported that parliament is likely to debate and vote on the reclassification of Levonelle-2 following an attempt by the Conservatives to reverse the change, although the source added that success would be unlikely. [This is London and Sunday Times , 31 December 2000; Daily Telegraph, 3 January 2001] An unborn baby who was given a drip and a blood transfusion inside his mother's womb, even before the legal time-limit for most abortions, is now thriving seven weeks after his birth. Mrs Nicola Sibley had already lost two unborn babies as a result of rhesus haemolytic disease, a condition whereby a mother's antibodies cross the placenta and attack her unborn baby. After Mrs Sibley became pregnant again, Professor David James at the Queen's Medical Centre in Nottingham, England, administered the first of nine blood transfusions directly into the unborn child's abdomen after only 16 weeks' gestation. After 19 weeks, immunoglobulin to protect the unborn child's blood cells was administered via a drip into a tiny vein in his liver. The child, named James after the professor who saved him, was finally born at 34 weeks. [BBC News online, 3 January 2001 ] The legal time-limit for most abortions in Britain is 24 weeks' gestation. The prime minister of Bavaria has called for a large increase in child allowance payments to families as a way of raising the country's falling birth-rate. Edmund Stoiber, viewed by many as the German centre-right's leading contender for the position of federal chancellor, was responding to figures which suggested that Germany's population would fall from 82 million to under 70 million within 50 years. Mr Stoiber commented: "The falling birth rate is a ticking time bomb for the social security system and our whole economy." [Daily Telegraph, 3 January 2001] A new placenta bank designed to provide an ethical supply of stem cells for research was opened in Rome on new year's day. The bank was established at Sacred Heart University with the support of the Vatican. Dr Michael Jarmulowicz, a spokesman for the Catholic Doctors' Guild in the UK, commented: "What they hope to do is bank [the tissue samples], freeze them, and then use them for research. The experiments on the embryonic stem cells are identical [to] ones that can be done on later stem cells." [BBC News online, 1 January 2001 ]

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