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News, 9 August 2004

9 August 2004

9 August 2004 The British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS) plans to allow women to use RU-486 abortion pills at home. Mifegyne could be made available for home use as early as next month. Women take two pills two days apart to abort their unborn babies, if they are under nine weeks' gestation. The first pill is customarily given in hospital or at a clinic, and the plan is for the second pill to be taken at home. Ms Ann Furedi, the BPAS's chief executive, said: "The scheme will give women more control over their own abortions." [The Sun, 9 August ] Mrs Eileen Brydon of SPUC said: "Not only does every abortion lead to the death of an unborn baby, but the potential physical and psychological consequences which affect the mother are also being overlooked. The government has admitted that there have been at least two deaths from this drug. The manufacturer of Mifegyne has conceded that it is not easy to administer, and that using it is an appalling psychological ordeal. Women are not being given all the facts, including the increased risk of ectopic pregnancies which can be life-threatening to the mother." [SPUC, 9 August ] The BPAS also wants to give RU-486 abortion pills to women from the Republic of Ireland who could take second dose in their home country. 7,000 women are said to travel from Ireland to Britain for abortion each year. Ireland's Department of Health says it will seek legal advice if it emerges that Irish women are using abortion pills. [The Sunday Times, 8 August ] It is claimed that nearly two-thirds of doctors would ignore living wills. US researchers found that many doctors would ignore a patient's previously-expressed request if his or her family expressed a different view, or if the prognosis was good. [Forbes.com, 9 August ] Senator John Kerry, the Democratic candidate for US president, would lift the ban on stem cell research if elected. Mr Kerry told a radio audience of his intention on the anniversary of President Bush's announcement of restrictions on such research. Mr Kerry said: "Help is on its way". [BBC, 8 August ] Attorneys for Governor Jeb Bush of Florida have argued that a trial is needed to assess the wishes of Mrs Terri Schiavo, who is brain-damaged. Mr Michael Schiavo, Mrs Schiavo's husband, has stated that his wife never wanted to be kept alive if she suffered severe brain damage. Mrs Schiavo's parents are opposing Mr Schiavo. [Guardian, 6 August ] The United Nations is pushing for the government of Peru to allow abortion for Peruvian women. Mr Paul Hunt is to prepare a UN document on the state of human rights in Peru. While the UN Convention on Human Rights does not refer to abortion, the UN is urging the predominantly Catholic country to permit abortion. [LifeSite.Net, 6 August ] Cloning and designer babies are set to be banned in New Zealand after an eight-year debate. MPs are due to have their final say in three weeks on a bill that will regulate all artificial reproduction. Genetically modifying embryos, using eggs taken from fetuses, putting human eggs in animals, and choosing the sex of the baby will all be included in the ban. [TVNZ, 6 August ] It is unclear whether cloning for therapeutic reasons would be allowed. A member of the Italian governing party has proposed that women in Italy should only be allowed one state-funded abortion whatever their financial background. Mr Antonio Gentile has the support of 20 senators from Mr Silvio Berlusconi's Forza Italia and from Alleanza Nazionale, its right-wing coalition-partner. The law would require Italian women to pay for some, or all of the cost of their second or third abortion. The procedure can cost between £1,400 and £2,000. [Guardian, 9 August ] The French government plans to put warnings on bottles of wine to alert women of the dangers of alcohol consumption while pregnant. French wine producers say that the move by Mr Philippe Douste-Blazy, health minister, is a further blow after an official drink-driving campaign hit sales. [Times, 9 August ].

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