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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 2 January 2003

2 January 2003

2 January 2003 A scheme to provide the abortifacient morning-after pill free of charge to women over 16 in Ayrshire and Arran, Scotland, is to be re-introduced after health officials claimed that a pilot scheme had proved successful. Women over the age of 16 can already obtain the morning-after pill from pharmacists without a prescription throughout the UK at a cost of £19.99, but a number of local health authorities are operating schemes to provide the drug free of charge on the basis that the cost may deter some women. During the trial scheme in Ayrshire and Arran, which ran between November 2001 and May 2002, pharmacists recorded 902 requests for the drug, 35 of which were turned down. Under the new scheme, women who request the morning-after pill from a pharmacist will be required to complete a consent form which could then be passed to her GP. [The Irvine Herald, 31 December ] The supreme court of Texas has ruled that the state is not constitutionally obliged to fund abortions for poor women. The justices voted by 8-0, with one abstention, to overturn a lower court ruling and uphold a state law which prohibits the use of state Medicaid funding on abortions except in cases of rape, incest or threat to the mother's life. The court also affirmed that the state had a legitimate interest in promoting childbirth over abortion. Pro-abortionists had argued that abortion was often a 'medically necessary' procedure, and that the state law was discriminatory because poor men were never denied medically necessary procedures. However, pro-lifers observed that the term 'medically necessary abortion' was now interpreted in such a way that it meant 'abortion on demand'. [AP and Pro-Life Infonet , 31 December] A Catholic bishop in Uganda has heavily criticised those who are agitating for the legalisation of abortion in his country. During a speech at a graduation ceremony, Bishop Cyprian Lwanga of Kasana-Luweero affirmed that abortion was murder and that no-one should legalise what God had declared illegal. The bishop said that abortion should not be tolerated anywhere because life was the greatest gift to mankind. [AllAfrica.com, 31 December; via Northern Light ] The regional co-ordinator for sexual health in Manchester, England, has said that medical services are close to breaking point due to increased demand for the morning-after pill and incidences of sexually transmitted infections (STIs). There were 233% more cases of syphilis in Greater Manchester last year, while cases of gonorrhoea and chlamydia increased by 81% and 113% respectively. Alayne Robin urged party-goers to be prepared and carry condoms, but did not allude to any possible connection between higher use of the morning-after pill and higher incidence of STIs. A spokesman for SPUC commented: "The policy of easy access to the morning-after pill is simply not working. Not only is it failing to reduce registered conception or abortion rates, but it may also be linked to spiralling rates of STIs. The greatest victims of this policy, however, are the countless tiny human persons who are being killed by the morning-after pill." [ManchesterOnline, 31 December ; SPUC, 2 January] The Catholic Church in the US is co-sponsoring an advertising campaign to highlight the fact that abortion represents a failure by society to meet women's needs. The Women Deserve Better campaign is being sponsored by the pro-life secretariat of the US conference of Catholic bishops and the Knights of Columbus to mark the 30th anniversary later this month of Roe v Wade - the US supreme court decision that declared a constitutional right to abortion. Advertisements will appear throughout Washington DC bearing the message: "Abortion is a reflection that we have not met the needs of women. Women deserve better than abortion." [PR Newswire, 30 December 2002; via Northern Light ]

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