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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 20 May 2003

20 May 2003

20 May 2003 The Levonelle abortifacient morning-after pill will become available on prescription in Ireland next month. Doctors already prescribe Ovram, a high dose of oestrogen and progesterone which can stop ovulation or prevent embryos from implanting in the womb. Levonelle has fewer side effects, it is claimed. The Irish medicines board deemed Levonelle abortifacient in 2000 but revoked its ban the following year, saying that it was actually a contraceptive. [Irish Independent, 20 May ] Mr Patrick Buckley, director of the Irish-based European Life Network, told SPUC: "It is essential that the constitution is upheld and I am taking immediate legal advice to see what steps can be taken to stop abortifacient morning-after pills becoming available on prescription." The US's Food and Drug Administration is reported to be considering allowing the supply of Plan B morning-after pills without prescription, and it could decide within a year. The administration approved morning-after pills for prescribed supply a few years ago. Some doctors advise women to get prescriptions in advance to use in emergencies. Planned Parenthood offers prescriptions on-line and, in four states, doctors can authorise pharmacists to give Plan B to women without a visit to the surgery (doctor's office). [CBS, 20 May ] The Catholic church in Scotland has claimed that, if more people had known about the many failed attempts to clone the first mammal, public opinion would have been more resolutely against animal cloning. The Roslin institute of Midlothian, Scotland, failed 276 times before a cloned sheep was successfully born in 1996. Dr Donald Bruce, director of the (Presbyterian) Church of Scotland's society, religion and technology project, called the Catholic church out of touch. Dr Bruce is on the ethics committee of PPL Therapeutics plc, the Roslin institute's commercial arm. The institute called the Catholic claims nonsense. [Scotsman, 20 May ] The institute's Professor Ian Wilmut last year applied for permission to carry out human parthenogenesis, a cloning technique where an unfertilised egg is stimulated in the laboratory to start dividing and become an embryo without being fertilised by sperm. [SPUC, 25 November 2002 ] A dissenting judge's opinion has been published in the case of the BBC's ban on a ProLife Alliance election broadcast which showed abortion. Disagreeing with his four House of Lords colleagues, Lord Scott of Foscote said that a "reasonable decision maker" would not have concluded that it was wrong to broadcast images which would offend many viewers. Such a decision maker would have paid "due regard to [the ProLife Alliance's] right to impart information about abortions to the electorate subject only to what was necessary in a democratic society to protect the rights of others". The House of Lords, England's highest court, ruled on the 10th of last month, though the full judgement was only published recently. [Incorporated Council of Law Reporting, 15 May ]

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