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BPAS claims huge growth in abortion pill

31 May 2006

BPAS (formerly the British Pregnancy Advisory Service) has said that the abortion pill RU-486, mifepristone, accounted for nearly a third of the 32,000 abortions it provided in 2005 to women in the first nine weeks of pregnancy, making BPAS the single biggest provider of the abortion pill in Europe. Ms Ann Furedi, chief executive of BPAS, said that demand for the pill has "taken off" since they started allowing women to complete the abortion process at home. She said that "what makes it attractive to women" is that "it is the woman having the abortion rather than a doctor doing it to them." Michaela Aston, spokeswoman for the LIFE organisation, said: "RU-486 is a powerful and dangerous cocktail of drugs." She noted that it had been responsible for the deaths of at least 10 women worldwide. [The Times 29 May]

Figures from the Office for National Statistics show that, between 1996 and 2004, more than 20 women had abortions at later than 20 weeks of pregnancy because their babies had been diagnosed as having club feet. Another four babies were aborted in the nine year period because they had extra digits or webbed feet. The charity Antenatal Results and Choices defended the abortions. The director of ARC, Ms Jane Fisher, said: "This is not part of a move towards designer babies. These are difficult and painful issues." Sue Banton of Steps, a support charity for parents of children with foot disabilities, expressed disquiet. [The Times 29 May]

Pope Benedict spoke at the former Nazi concentration camp at Auschwitz during his visit to Poland. He spoke of "the cynicism of that regime which treated men and women as material objects, and failed to see them as persons embodying the image of God... They were seen as part of the refuse of world history, in an ideology which valued only the empirically useful; everything else, according to this view, was to be written off as 'lebensunwertes Leben' - 'life unworthy of being lived'." [Zenit 28 May]

Katie Grant writing in the Scottish Sunday Times has called for scrapping the Scottish Executive approach to reducing teenage pregnancy and abortion by promoting sex education and contraceptives. She points to the negative effects of the sexual health policies in Scotland, including increasing abortion rates among under-20s and the emotional scars abortion can leave. Rates of underage pregnancy are particularly high in the Lothians, which was part of a pilot scheme to prevent under-age pregnancies. [Sunday Times 28 May]

A report titled "Raising Expectations" by the UK government's Basic Skills Agency, highlights the fact that pregnancy can be the ultimate wake-up call, according to Ms Carol Taylor, executive director for national development at the agency. She noted that many girls who became pregnant initially had low expectations but quickly became highly aspirational, with the help of classes on parenting and basic skills. Ms Nona Dawson, a research fellow at Bristol University and an expert on teenage pregnancy, has found that young mothers develop a new found "belief" in education for their own and their child's sake. Charlotte Savage who joined one of the Basic Skills projects now describes getting pregnant at 16 as the "best thing that ever happened to me." [The Observer 28 May]

The public are being asked to choose a series of picture warnings to appear on cigarette packets. They can give their opinion on a website set up by the UK Department of Health. One of the pictures which may be used is that of an unborn baby with the words "Smoking when pregnant harms your baby." [BBC 26 May]

A white couple have told how a mistake at an IVF clinic run by the Leeds NHS Trust, which led them to have mixed race twins, "threatened our marriage and our whole existence." An Asian man's sperm was wrongly used to impregnate the woman's eggs at a fertility clinic run by Leeds National Health Service Trust. [The Guardian 30 May]

Two Chinese activists, including Mao Hengfeng, who has fought China's one-child policy for many years, have been taken away by Shanghai police. Ms Mao was detained on 23 May, ahead of the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre on 4 June. The Guardian notes that Ms Mao reportedly served almost two years in a labour camp for her 15-year campaign to abolish China's one-child policy. Since her second pregnancy in the late 1980s she has been detained in psychiatric wards, coerced into having an abortion and removed from her job. [The Guardian 27 May]

Shaukat Aziz, the Pakistani prime minister, has urged religious scholars to educate people about the importance of small families, to "ensure socio-economic development." He said "We may fail to deliver our promises of improving quality of life of the people without achieving our objective to control rapid growing population." [Islamic Republic News Agency 30 May] Dr Majid Katme of SPUC's Muslim Division said: "Islam encourages all Muslims in the world to produce many children, according to prophetic statements. Big extended families are the norm in Islam. In the Holy Book Al Qur'an, God Almighty has guaranteed the sustenance of every new child born.... He also warned us not to 'kill our children for fear of poverty'."

The Ecuadorian constitutional court has unanimously concurred with a lower court ruling prohibiting the sale of the Postinor 2 morning after pill. The suit to have the pill banned was put forward by Fernando Rosero Rohde, president of a local pro-life group in November 2004. He said the ruling was "an historic day for Ecuador." [Life Site News 29 May]

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