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Defending life from the moment of conception

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weekly update, 23 to 29 March 2006

29 March 2006

weekly update, 23 to 29 March 2006 The price of abortifacient morning-after pills is expected to fall by 12% after Mr Gordon Brown, the British finance minister, announced a cut in sales tax on birth control supplies. The reduction in value added tax from 17.5% to 5% will mean that morning-after pills will cost £22 instead of the present £25. Some 70 MPs signed a parliamentary motion in favour of such a tax cut. Ms Anne Weyman, chief executive of the Family Planning Association, welcomed the news, and said: "We'd also like to see increased funding for a wider distribution of free condoms and emergency pills across healthcare services." [BBC News, 23 March ] Pope Benedict has called abortion today's gravest injustice. Speaking to the Vatican's representatives to international organisations, the pope mentioned the attacks against the unborn and the family at the United Nations, and the difficulties that are faced in opposing such attacks. He said: "These injustices can adopt many faces. For example, the face of disinterest or disorder, which can even go so far as to damage the structure of that founding cell of society that is the family; or perhaps the face of arrogance that can lead to abuse, silencing those without a voice or without the strength to make themselves heard, as happens in the case of today's gravest injustice, that which suppresses nascent human life." [LifeSite, 20 March ] Every school in England is to have a birth control nurse, according to new government guidelines. The Department for Education and the Department of Health have unveiled plans to place nurses in all primary and secondary schools who will be able to "provide contraceptive advice to pupils and emergency contraception and pregnancy testing to young women". Nurses are also expected to help girls to arrange abortions and should be aware of "confidentiality issues". This means that schoolgirls will be able to be given the morning after pill and undergo abortions without their parents' knowledge. [Daily Mail, 24 March ] Paul Tully, General Secretary of SPUC commented: "SPUC has recently attacked the government for turning schools in abortion-advice centres. This initiative renews the attack on families and innocent children. The blatant promotion of secret abortion and abortion-inducing birth control in schools is an abuse of the educational system, an abuse of responsible parents, and an abuse of children - both schoolchildren and the unborn." The Royal College of Obstetrics and Gynaecology has said that premature babies are "bed blocking" in Britain's hospitals. The College said in a consultation document that the "increasing tendency to try and rescue babies at lower and lower gestations" was taking up too much time and expense. The document was written as a report to the Nuffield Council of Bioethics, which is currently investigating whether babies born at under 25 weeks should be kept alive or left to die. The report recommended that the issue be looked at in financial terms: "Some weight should be given to economic considerations as there is a real issue in neo-natal units of "bed blocking"." Kelly Sowerby, who has had three premature babies, called the report a "heartless disgrace." She said, "Even if the odds were tiny I wanted to fight for my son to have a single chance of life." [Telegraph, 27 March ] Researchers are developing a new birth control pill based on the drug mifepristone (RU486). Scientists at the University of Edinburgh suggest that the pill might not carry the risks of breast cancer that are associated with current daily pills. Professor David Baird has said that it may even protect women against cancer. The BBC report says it would work by stopping the monthly cycle. Dr Rosemary Leonard, a London GP and medical writer and broadcaster, said: "This is highly speculative. It is really not yet known how this particular pill works, and what the long-term implications are. Once you start talking about stopping the action of the ovaries, you then start looking at the whole hormonal picture, and that is when you think: what is this doing to long-term health?" [BBC News, 28 March ]

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