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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 5 March 2001

5 March 2001

5 March 2001 A survey of doctors and pharmacists in London has indicated significant opposition to the reclassification of the abortifacient morning-after pill as a drug available from pharmacists without prescription. The research, published in the journal of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, indicated that 45% of family doctors and nearly a quarter of pharmacists were against the reclassification. 57% of pharmacists and more than a third of doctors believed that the reclassification would lead to reduced use of routine birth control methods. [Daily Mail, 5 March] A Scottish couple who paid for in vitro fertilisation treatment in Italy after being refused permission in Britain to select a female child through pre-implantation genetic diagnosis [see news digests for 5 October and 18 October 2000] have failed in their attempts to produce a daughter. The only embryo Louise and Alan Masterton managed to produce was male. Their son has now been frozen so that he can be donated to an infertile couple. Mrs Masterton commented: "We were devastated after living in hope for three days that the fertilised embryo could have been a girl." [BBC News online, 4 March ; Daily Telegraph, 5 March] Henry M Wade, the former attorney in Dallas county, Texas, who was named as the defendant in the Roe v Wade case, has died at the age of 86. Lawyers filed a lawsuit in Dallas county on behalf of "Jane Roe" in 1969, claiming that state restrictions on abortion were unconstitutional. Wade eventually lost the case in the US Supreme Court in 1973 when the justices declared a constitutional right to abortion. Norma McCorvey, the "Jane Roe" in the case, went through with her pregnancy and gave birth to the child. She is now a pro-life campaigner. [Dallas Morning News, 5 March ; AP and Reuters, 1 March, via Pro-Life Infonet; etc.] The Australian Democrats have called on the federal government to make the RU-486 abortion drug freely available in the country. Senator Meg Lees, leader of the Democrats, told parliament that RU-486 was the only drug which needed the approval of the minister of health every time an import application was made and that, as a result, Australian women found it harder to access the drug than in other countries. The Democrats' request is not likely to clear the senate because the Labour party opposes any change. [AAP via ninemsn, 28 February ] Members of the House of Delegates in the American state of Maryland are considering a measure which would force hospital doctors to dispense the abortifacient morning-after pill in cases of rape. In a written testimony to legislators, one woman urged them to make the drug more easily available by describing her pregnancy as "a continuation of the assault on my body and my self-esteem". The Catholic Church in Maryland is opposing the measure. Jeff Caruso, a Catholic spokesman, pointed out that the morning-after pill could work as an abortifacient and said: "Once [conception] happens, you have two lives instead of one." [Washington Post, 3 March ] Abortion providers in South Carolina have been given four months to comply with the state's abortion regulations after the US Supreme Court allowed the rules to stand last week [see news digest for 27 February ]. A US district judge set the deadline after the abortionists applied for a delay in the enforcement of the rules, although a spokeswoman for the state authorities said that 120 days was not much longer than the state would have given the clinics anyway. [AP, via The Post and Courier/Charleston.net, 2 March ]

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