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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 12 August 2002

12 August 2002

12 August 2002 Health officials in a London borough have expressed concern at the fact that only a small number of girls have so far made use of a 12-month trial scheme whereby the morning-after pill is being made available free of charge. The London borough of Hillingdon's primary care trust is making the abortifacient drug available confidentially, free of charge and without the need for a prescription to girls aged under 18 in a number of pharmacies throughout the area. However, despite efforts to advertise it, only seven girls are thought to have made use of the scheme in its first two months. [Uxbridge&West Drayton Gazette, 7 August] A spokesman for SPUC said: "Pro-lifers up and down the UK are doing all they can to alert the public to the abortifacient effect and potential health dangers of the morning-after pill. We think that this explains in part why teenagers are more reluctant to use the drug than pro-abortion healthcare officials might expect." The Roman Catholic archbishop of Sydney has said that allowing destructive research on human embryos risks putting humanity on the brink of a disastrous wrong turn. Addressing a rally against embryonic stem cell research in Sydney, Dr George Pell stressed the potential of ethical adult stem cell technology and urged scientists to take up the challenge of "preserving life without wanton destruction". The rally was also addressed by Mr John Anderson, Australia's deputy prime minister. [ABC News, 12 August ] A consultant in foetal medicine has described the state of ante-natal screening in Britain as a "complete disaster". Professor Steven Robson, a consultant at the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, said that it was "completely random" whether or not pregnant women were offerd a pre-natal scan, and that a lack of back-up or expertise meant that "women may receive the wrong information". It is reported in Newcastle that 12-week nuchal fold scans to detect conditions such as Down's syndrome will no longer be available on the National Health Service from the end of this month. [icNewcastle, 12 August ] An SPUC spokesman said: "The use of ante-natal scans to detect unborn babies with developmental anomalies reflects a scandalous eugenicist mentality. The vast majority of babies found to have Down's syndrome in the womb are aborted." The chairman of Intel, the computer component manufacturer, has donated $5 million for destructive embryonic stem cell research. Mr Andy Grove gave the money for destructive research programmes at the University of California San Francisco to mark the first anniversary of President Bush's decision to block US federal funding of research which entailed the further destruction of embryos. Mr Grove hopes that others will match his donation. [SFGate, 8 August ] The Drug Controller of India has absolved himself of responsibility for widespread unauthorised use of the RU-486 abortion drug. Mr Ashwini Kumar said that he had done his duty by issuing guidelines stating that RU-486, or Mifepristone, could not be provided without a prescription or taken other than in a hospital with blood transfusion services available. He insisted that it was up to other authorities to take action when RU-486 was found to be freely available in markets or handed out randomly by pharmacists. It is reported that cases of haemorrhage and incomplete abortion associated with RU-486 have become common. [Hoover's online, 11 August ] A Zimbabwean human rights group is embarking on a nationwide drive to educate women about the health dangers associated with abortion. The Guadalupe Association of Zimbabwe offers counselling to women who have had abortions and runs a number of community projects aimed at alleviating post-abortion trauma and depression. Ela Chihambakwe, the group's director, said that the nationwide education tour was needed because abortion was harmful to women both mentally and physically. [Daily News, Zimbabwe, via AllAfrica.com&Northern Light, 9 August ]

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