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Defending life from the moment of conception

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GPs handing out abortion pills up to 9 weeks

6 December 2007

The state health service in England has been running a pilot project which could lead to family doctors giving girls and women abortion-inducing drugs up to the ninth week of pregnancy. The government has confirmed that trials are happening in two places, though it will not say where. Mr Phil Willis MP, chairman of the House of Commons science and technology committee, welcomed the move. A majority on his committee wanted the removal of the requirement for two doctors' signatures for abortion. Results of the experiment, reported in Pulse, will be published next year. [BBC, 5 December] One source suggests that surgical abortion could also one day be done on family doctors' premises. [Times, 5 December] John Smeaton, SPUC's national director said: "This is part of government policy to increase access to abortion, which will lead to an increase in abortions. Apart from ignoring the rights of the unborn child, the government is ignoring a significant body of medical opinion and human experience which shows that abortion is unsafe for women." [SPUC, 5 December]

The latest report of the Confidential Enquiry into Maternal and Child Health (CEMACH) in the UK has shown an increase in maternal deaths. CEMACH looks at deaths over a triennium (3 year period). In 1985-87 the maternal death rate was 9.83 per 100,000 births. In 2003-5 it rose to 13.95. The enquiry highlights overweight and obesity as a factor that may increase the risk. Dr Gwyneth Lewis, director of CEMACH, said women needed to know that obesity during pregnancy increased the risk of death four or five times, for the baby as well as the mother. BBC, 4 December] and PA on Channel 4, 4 December] The report also found that poor quality care contributed to nearly half the maternal deaths. In many cases, the report alleges, common medical conditions had not been diagnosed and treated in time and, in some cases, doctors and midwives lacked basic knowledge and skills. [Telegraph, 4 December]

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