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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 30 September 2002

30 September 2002

30 September 2002 Official abortion figures for England and Wales show the number of abortions funded by the state last year was the highest ever at 134,705. 186,274 abortions were recorded and 176,364 were performed on residents. The figures exclude 'hidden abortions' by so-called emergency contraception, but still show the third highest total ever for registered abortions in England and Wales. The figures show the second highest annual total for abortions on residents. 9,910 abortions were performed on non-resident women. Over 75% of abortions are on single women. [Office of National Statistics] Paul Tully, SPUC general secretary, commented: "These figures demonstrate the efficiency of the systematic attack on human life initiated 35 years ago by the 1967 Abortion Act. Each human life is infinitely precious yet the government has taken no effective action to tackle this loss of life on a vast scale." [SPUC, 30 September ] SPUC has applauded the US administration for declaring that pregnant women and their unborn children are eligible to receive state health insurance. SPUC general secretary Paul Tully commented: "From the moment of his or her conception, an unborn child is a fully human and equally deserving of access to health and social care, and insurance and benefit systems must recognise this. Pregnant women, too, need all the protection society can afford, because we know that women in pregnancy are particularly vulnerable." Mr. Tully also called on the British government to make pregnant women eligible to receive child benefit. [SPUC, 30 September ; US Department of Health and Human Services, 27 September ] A Scottish island is exporting seaweed for manufacture as a product for use in cervix dilation prior to abortion procedures. A business on the island of South Uist exports the seaweed to Scandanavia, where Laminaria is formed in matchstick-sized pieces which swell once placed inside a woman's cervix, thereby making access to an unborn child easier prior to an abortion, especially late-term abortions. Laminaria can also be used to assist the fitting of abortifacient intrauterine devices (IUDs) and the drainage of the uterine cavity. A South Uist local councillor David Blaney said: "I'm unhappy to hear some of the product is being used for abortions." [Scotland on Sunday, 29 September ] A study of pregnant British women has found that most women continue to smoke despite receiving anti-smoking leaflets explaining the harmful effects of smoking on unborn children. The department of obstetrics&gynaecology at London's Whittington Hospital surveyed 63 pregnant smokers and 117 pregnant non-smokers and found that only four of the women surveyed quit smoking, only seven reduced their smoking and three women took up smoking. According to official estimates, almost one-third of pregnant women in England smoke during their pregnancies. [Reuters Health via Kaiser Daily Reproductive Health Report, 27 September ] Thousands of women may have been affected while in the womb by a potentially cancer-causing drug. A study by the US National Cancer Institute of 5,000 women known to have been exposed in the womb to deithylstillboestrol (DES) found that these women had an increased breast cancer risk of 40%, rising to 250% for women aged over 40. The drug, a synthetic form of the female hormone oestrogen used to cut the risk of miscarriage, was withdrawn in 1975 due to safety concerns. [BBC, 30 September ]

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