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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 20 September 2001

20 September 2001

20 September 2001 A health authority in Scotland has decided to make the abortifacient morning-after pill available from pharmacists free of charge and is considering whether to apply the scheme to girls under the age of 16. At present, women over 16 throughout the UK can obtain the morning-after pill from pharmacists without a doctor's prescription at a cost of 20 pounds. The Ayrshire and Arran primary care trust plans to make the drug available without charge from selected chemists from November, and the trust's senior prescribing officer revealed that a decision had not yet been made on whether to supply the drug to women irrespective of age or only to those over 16. The Catholic Church and pro-lifers condemned the plan, but Alison Strath, Scottish chairman of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, welcomed it. The Fife primary care trust, also in Scotland, is considering a similar move. [Scotland on Sunday, 16 September ] An appeals court in Bordeaux, France, has ruled that a doctor who failed to tell a pregnant woman that her unborn daughter would be handicapped so that she could have her aborted must pay the child's family around 600,000 francs (58,000 British pounds) in compensation. The court said that the doctor had been negligent in letting Alicia, who is now 10 years old, be born. The French National Ethics Committee and groups representing the disabled have criticised the judgement. [EWTN News, 19 September ] In response to the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Centre last week, Planned Parenthood of New York City (PPNYC) has announced that it is offering free abortions for a limited period. PPNYC is offering "complete reproductive health care", including the provision of medical and surgical abortions, free of charge from 18 to 22 September. [LifeSite, 19 September ] A committee of the Australian federal parliament has recommended a ban on all human cloning and on the creation of embryos for research. The committee was split on whether to recommend the authorisation of research on spare IVF embryos, of whom there are an estimated 60,000 in frozen storage throughout Australia. [Ananova, 20 September] The government of India has announced plans to enforce and tighten the current guidelines which regulate the movement of human embryos in research programmes. In future, the transfer of any embryonic cell lines to researchers abroad will require government permission, the consent of the donor [i.e. the unborn victim's parents], and a commitment to share with the donor any pecuniary benefit arising from the use of the embryo. [M2 Communications Ltd., 18 September; via Northern Light ] An Indonesian maid and her boyfriend have both been sent to prison in Singapore for illegally procuring an abortion. [Abortion is legal in Singapore but must be performed by a registered medical practitioner.] Roslan Osman, aged 36, gave Dwi Astuti, his 24-year-old girlfriend, two batches of anti-ulcer stomach pills to induce abortion. When the child was born dead, his mother hid the body in a shoe box which was then discovered by her employer. The judge said that it was in the public interest to impose a deterrent sentence. [The Straits Times, 20 September ]

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