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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 17 July 2002

17 July 2002

17 July 2002 Tesco, the British supermarket chain, has announced that its pharmacies will no longer provide the abortifacient morning-after pill to girls under the age of 16. The change of policy, which was announced today, comes after a concerted campaign by SPUC and other pro-life groups against Tesco's participation in a government-backed scheme to make the morning-after pill available in some stores to underage girls without prescription. However, Tesco will continue to provide the morning-after pill to women aged 16 and over. Lucy Neville-Rolfe, Tesco's corporate affairs director, said: "The changes we have now made to our scheme, which are effective from tomorrow, reflect how we listen to customers and react to their concerns." [Tesco, 17 July ] John Smeaton, national director of SPUC, said: "Tesco's decision is a step in the right direction and shows what can happen when pro-life people are prepared to stand up and be counted. However, SPUC's campaign against the morning-after pill will continue. It can cause an early abortion and yet it can be freely given to children in schools and sold in pharmacies without any reference whatsoever to the abortion law. The government is deceiving women and their promotion of the morning-after pill to reduce teenage pregnancies is actually disguising the increasing numbers of abortions taking place." [SPUC, 17 July ] Five motions for resolution attacking the Catholic Church are being distributed among members of the European parliament. The motions have been sent to MEPs together with a covering letter by Maurizio Turco, an independent member from Italy. The motions attack the interference of the European Catholic bishops in European Union affairs, denounce the Catholic Church's opposition to "voluntary interruption of pregnancy", criticise Catholic attacks on "fundamental rights and freedoms such as the right to sexual and reproductive health", and call for the cancellation of the Holy See's permanent observer status at the United Nations. [SPUC Europe, 17 July] SPUC has called on the UK to interpret a United Nations convention on children's rights as applying from conception rather than from birth. In a letter to the UK parliament's joint committee on human rights, SPUC has pointed out that the British government interprets the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child as applying only after a live birth. However, this contradicts the 1959 Declaration of the Rights of the Child which states that the child "needs special safeguards and care, including appropriate legal protection, before as well as after birth". [SPUC, 17 July ] The Catholic bishops of England and Wales have issued a strongly-worded contribution to the British government's public consultation process on its guidelines for dealing with incapacitated patients. There is concern that these guidelines (entitled "Making Decisions") constitute a step towards extending the practice of euthanasia by omission. The response issued by the English and Welsh bishops' conference, together with the Linacre Centre for Healthcare Ethics, criticises the government for its interpretation of a patient's "best interests" and its uncritical stance on present practice, including the provision of abortions for mentally disabled women and the deliberate killing of patients in persistent vegetative states. [CCS, 16 July] It has been reported that President Bush is planning to reject the advice of an American fact-funding mission to China which found no evidence of United Nations support for coercive abortion programmes. The White House has refused to release the mission's report, and a spokesman said that no decision had yet been made on whether to withhold US funds from the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), which is involved in Chinese population control initiatives but denies active involvement in abortions. 48 members of the US congress have written to President Bush demanding to know why he has continued to withhold $34 million in US funding for the UNFPA. [Pro-Life Infonet , 15 and 16 July]

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