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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 14 February 2002

14 February 2002

14 February 2002 The hearing of evidence and presentation of arguments have concluded in SPUC's English high court judicial review on the supply of morning-after pills without prescription. Mr Justice Munby, presiding, said that there was so much to consider that he needed time to prepare his judgement, which may not be delivered until after Easter (the 31st of next month). Health ministers and the leader of the House of Commons have asked to see the judgement five days before it is published in order to prepare to address any public policy implications. John Smeaton, SPUC national director, said: "The judge's comments and the government's request reflect the seriousness with which this case is being treated." Ireland's health minister has confirmed that a "yes" vote in the abortion referendum on 6 March will guarantee the availability of the abortifacient morning-after pill. Mr Micheál Martin, the Irish health minister, made the assertion during the official launch of the "yes" campaign yesterday. Mr Bertie Ahern, the Irish taoiseach, warned that a "no" vote in the referendum could lead to liberal abortion on demand. Speaking in the Dáil [the Irish lower house of parliament], Mr Ahern said that the constitutional amendment was needed to avoid "the drift to abortion on demand". Debate on the referendum in the Dáil became so heated that the session had to be adjourned. Dominic Baster, SPUC's international secretary, pointed out the inconsistency and absurdity in claiming that a measure which would legalise the morning-after pill was pro-life, and accused Mr Ahern of blackmail in threatening liberal abortion if the referendum was lost. [Irish Independent , Irish Times , Irish Times and SPUC, 14 February] The Roman Catholic archbishop of Los Angeles, California, has cited "passivity toward attacks against the value of human life" as an evil which Catholics should address during Lent. Cardinal Roger M Mahoney said that Lent should be a period to reflect "upon our own lives and circumstances to see what evils can be eliminated" and cited passivity towards abortion as one such evil. [LifeSite, 13 February ] A new study has suggested that women who put off having children until their 30s are at an increased risk of developing breast cancer in later life. The findings by Dr Françoise Clavel-Chapelon and published in the British Journal of Cancer were based on a study of nearly 100,000 French women over a 10-year period. Dr Clavel-Chapelon found that women who had their first child in their 30s were 63% more likely to develop breast cancer before the menopause than women who gave birth at 22. The study suggested that spontaneous miscarriage did not lead to an increased risk of breast cancer, which accords with other studies contrasting the effect of spontaneous miscarriage (which is not thought to increase risk of breast cancer) with procured abortion (which does increase it). [BBC News online and The Scotsman , 13 February; previous SPUC digests, e.g. 4 December 2001 ]

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