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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 1 May 2001

1 May 2001

1 May 2001 It has been confirmed that SPUC's judicial review hearing will take place at 10.30 a.m. tomorrow at the Royal Courts of Justice on The Strand in central London. SPUC will be seeking permission to bring a judicial review of the British government's decision to reclassify the abortifacient Levonelle-2 morning-after pill as a drug available from pharmacists without a doctor's prescription. Mr John Smeaton, national director of SPUC, said: "The government's statutory instrument is an attempt to circumvent the Abortion Act 1967, which provides such limited supervision of abortion as there is. It ushers in an entirely unsupervised abortion by pill procedure ... By it's action, SPUC is seeking to protect women and young girls from harm, and pharmacists from criminal liability when the dangers which are so obvious begin to result in actual harm to those who have obtained the drug from chemists' shops." [SPUC media release, 1 May ] The British government has announced that all pregnant women will be offered non-invasive tests for Down's syndrome in their unborn babies by 2004. Yvette Cooper, the pro-abortion minister for public health, also said that testing would be available for HIV, hepatitis, rubella and syphilis. [BBC News online, 30 April ] An SPUC spokesman commented: "Experience indicates that women who receive positive test results for these conditions are put under great pressure to have abortions. The fact that the pre-natal identification of babies with Down's syndrome or other anomalies has become a priority of public health is truly sickening because it entails a fatal form of discrimination against those human individuals whom society deems to be unworthy of life." An influential committee of the Church of Scotland has endorsed both reproductive and so-called therapeutic human cloning. The Presbyterian denomination's board of social responsibility concluded that cloned humans would be made in the image of God and possess souls like anyone else, and should therefore be accorded full equality with other humans. However, reports suggest that the committee also endorsed the cloning of embryos for so-called therapeutic purposes [a process which entails the creation and destruction of new human life]. It is reported that the committee's conclusions are almost certain to be accepted by the Church of Scotland's general assembly next month. [Scotland on Sunday, 29 April ] The incoming president of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) has said that women should be allowed to keep stocks of the abortifacient morning-after pill at home. Dr Thomas Purdon told the ACOG's annual meeting that women of childbearing age should be offered advance prescriptions for [erroneously so-called] emergency contraceptives because it was "abysmal" that half of all pregnancies in the US were unintended. Dr Purdon looked forward "to the time when we may find emergency contraception to be as common in most women's homes as a first-aid kit." [Washington Post and Reuters , 30 April] Authorities in New Zealand are considering whether to allow human embryos who have been left over from in vitro fertilisation treatment to be donated to childless couples. The National Ethics Committee on Assisted Human Reproduction has been asked to offer guidance on how to regulate the donation of frozen embryos, a practice which already happens in Australia, Britain and the USA. [The New Zealand Herald, 30 April ] A judge in Florida has stopped the dehydration and starvation of Terri Schiavo [see news digest for 25 April ] amid claims that her husband may have lied in court. Mrs Schiavo has been in a comatose state for 10 years after suffering a heart attack, and last week the US Supreme Court refused to review an appeal court ruling that her feeding tubes be removed. However, Michael Schiavo's ex-girlfriend has now claimed that he was lying when he told the court that his wife had requested not to be put on life support. [LifeSite, 27 April ] The governor of Iowa has vetoed a bill which would have required women to receive information on abortion and its alternatives at least 24 hours before they underwent the procedure. The Woman's Right to Know Act had been approved by majorities of more than two to one in both chambers of Iowa's legislature, but Governor Tom Vilsack rejected the measure because he thought it was not the role of the government to influence women's decisions on whether to have abortions. [The Des Moines Register, 27 April ] Researchers in the United States have suggested that pregnant women who take the ecstasy drug can damage the long-term learning and memory abilities of their unborn child. The findings, published in the Journal of Neuroscience, indicate that ecstasy can pose a previously unrecognised risk to the developing brains of unborn children in the third trimester of pregnancy. [AP, via, 1 May ]

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