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News, 18 May 2001

18 May 2001

18 May 2001 Pharmacists in the Canadian province of Alberta are voting on whether to ask regulators to let them dispense the abortifacient morning-after pill without a doctor's prescription. The votes will be counted on 1 June. Patty Nixon, executive director of Alberta Pro-life, insisted that allowing pharmacists to dispense the drug would involve them in the abortion industry. [CANOE, 17 May] Thailand's medical council is compiling a list of diseases and developmental anomalies which they assert would justify aborting an unborn child. The recommendations will then be considered by parliament. At present, Thai law only allows abortion in cases of rape or when the mother's life is threatened, but the medical council wants the grounds for legal abortion extended so that abortions could be provided in cases of so-called foetal abnormality or when a mother would suffer mentally were her pregnancy continued. Kamron na Lamphun, the former public health minister, supported the liberalisation of abortion regulations because he said it was not worth allowing babies to be born deformed. [The Nation, 18 May] An American woman has been sentenced to 12 years in prison for killing her unborn child by smoking cocaine. Regina McKnight, aged 24, was found guilty of homicide by a jury in South Carolina after the court heard that the woman had taken crack cocaine during pregnancy. Her child was stillborn in 1999. The verdict was made possible by a ruling of South Carolina's supreme court in 1996 that a viable foetus should be considered a child and that women in the advanced stages of pregnancy could therefore be guilty of abuse. [AP, via AccessWaco.com, 16 May ] The publication of a study which suggests that the legalisation of abortion led to a reduction in the American crime rate in the 1990s [see news digest for 16 May ] has been criticised by statisticians and pro-lifers. David Murray of the Statistical Assessment Service said that legalised abortion could no more explain the reduction in crime than could a whole host of other factors. Ed Szymkowiak, national director of STOPP International, a division of the American Life League, rejected the study as simplistic and also observed that it had offensive racial implications independent from the abortion issue. However, a spokesperson for the Planned Parenthood Federation of America referred to a commentary by Gloria Feldt, the organisation's president, in 1999 when she said: "After all, it offers evidence that Roe v Wade is a success". [Fox News, via Pro-Life Infonet, 16 May; Cybercast News Service, 17 May ] Bishop Elio Sgreccia, vice-president of the Pontifical Council for Life, has called for in vitro fertilisation (IVF) treatment to be stopped. The American Life League's news bulletin quoted Bishop Sgreccia's comments in a recent interview in which he said that IVF treatment "only encourages the production of frozen embryos, and freezing embryos is utilitarianism without mercy". [ALL Communiqué, 18 May] The daughter of the president of Mexico is launching a campaign against unwanted pregnancies among the young by promoting sexual abstinence. Ana Cristina Fox, the 21-year-old adopted daughter of President Vicente Fox, has vowed to fight against the legalisation of abortion in her country. [Zenit , 17 May; SPUC news digest, 5 December 2000 ]

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