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News, 21 September 2001

21 September 2001

21 September 2001 Health chiefs in Scotland have admitted that there is no evidence to suggest that easier access to the abortifacient morning-after pill will actually reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies. Alison Strath, general secretary of the Royal College of Pharmacists in Scotland, said: "We don't know if this reduces teenage pregnancies, but other pilot schemes have shown that women like the pharmacist as a point of access for emergency contraception, and that it should therefore be freely available." Scottish doctors who are opposed to easier access to the morning-after pill have called on the Scottish Executive instead to tackle the root causes of teenage pregnancies and abortions. Dr Anne Williams, a general practitioner in Glasgow, said: "Instead of spending three million pounds on [this] project, it is time the government tried to tackle the core problems of deprivation which are behind the high rates of unwanted pregnancies." [Scottish Daily Mail, 18 September] The 1990s saw a five-fold increase in prescriptions for the morning-after pill in the UK, yet overall the rate of abortion rose. The pro-abortion United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) has signed deals with the governments of Pakistan and Nicaragua. On Tuesday, the UNFPA signed a deal with Pakistan worth nearly three and a half million dollars for the "enforcement of activities to provide relevant information about family planning services". A separate deal with the Nicaraguan human rights defence office entails a series of programmes to promote the so-called reproductive rights of women, children and adolescents. There are restrictive abortion laws in both Pakistan and Nicaragua. [LifeSite, 20 September ] A US federal judge has blocked the enforcement of Ohio's ban on partial-birth abortions, also known as dilation and extraction. Citing last year's US supreme court decision which overturned Nebraska's partial-birth abortion ban, US district judge Walter Rice said that the law was unconstitutional because it would not allow a doctor to perform the procedure when it may be safer for some patients. A spokesman for Ohio Right to Life insisted that there was no credible evidence that dilation and extraction would ever be safer than other abortion methods. [Las Vegas Sun, 20 September ] The Roman Catholic Church in Poland has reportedly expressed concern that the former Communists could liberalise abortion law in the country if they win Sunday's elections. Opinion polls indicate that the ex-Communists are set to take power from the current Solidarity-led government. [AP, via Northern Light, 21 September ] A man in the American state of New York has been charged with second-degree abortion for the killing of an unborn child of less than 10 weeks' gestation. Clayton R Tucker Jr., aged 25, is accused of punching and kicking a pregnant woman in her midriff with the result that she miscarried the following day. State law stipulates that a person is guilty of second-degree abortion if he or she commits an abortive act against a female who is less than 24 weeks pregnant unless it is "justifiable" and done with a physician's consent. Mr Tucker could face up to four years in prison if convicted. [Press Republican Online, 20 September ] An American Episcopalian woman priest has spoken out against attempts to pass the Child Custody Protection Act which would criminalise her pro-abortion work. Rev Katherine Ragsdale has dedicated herself to transporting underage girls to states where they can receive abortions without parental consent. She has vowed to continue her work, which she describes as "God's calling". [AgapePress/IFRL Daily News, 19 September ]

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