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Defending life from the moment of conception

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SPUC to challenge sales of the morning after pill in the High Court tomorrow

1 May 2001

SPUC to challenge sales of the morning-after pill in the High Court tomorrow Westminster, 1 May 2001--The Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC), Britain's longest established pro-life group, will tomorrow seek permission from a High Court judge to bring a judicial review of the government's decision to make the morning-after pill available from pharmacists without a doctor's prescription1. The hearing will take place at 10.30 a.m. in Court 2, the Royal Courts of Justice, The Strand. The presiding judge will be Mr Justice Scott Baker. Mr John Smeaton, national director of SPUC, said: "The government's statutory instrument which reclassified the Levonelle-2 morning-after pill is a threat to the health of the nation and, more especially, to the youth of the nation. The standard dosage of the morning-after pill2 delivers 50 times the dosage of the daily mini-pill contraceptive, even though no adequate tests have been conducted into its long-term impact on health.3 "Major television and press reports have highlighted the fact that under-age girls are able to obtain morning-after pills from pharmacies in spite of the 16 years age limit. The policy therefore represents a real danger to young girls and women. Provision of the morning-after pill is not entered on a woman's medical records, and her GP is only informed if she agrees. "The morning-after pill offers no protection against sexually transmitted diseases. Between 1995 and 1998 when the number of prescriptions for the drug was rising towards one million per year, the incidence of chlamydia among 16 to 19-year-olds was increasing by 28% per year. Furthermore, the greater availability of the morning-after pill will not reduce the numbers of unwanted pregnancies or abortions. The abortion rate per 1,000 resident women in 1991 was 13.06, and by 1998 this had risen to 13.92. During this time, use of the morning-after pill rose four to five-fold. "The government's statutory instrument is an attempt to circumvent the Abortion Act 1967, which provides such limited supervision of abortion as there is. It ushers in an entirely unsupervised 'abortion by pill' procedure. It is not right for the government to impose such a burden on pharmacists by allowing them to commit criminal acts under the Offences Against the Person Act 18614. "By its action, SPUC is not simply seeking to stop the unlawful killing of early-developing unborn children. It also aims to protect women and young girls from harm, and pharmacists from criminal liability when the dangers which are so obvious begin to result in actual harm to those who have obtained the drug from chemists' shops." * SPUC is seeking a judicial review of the secretary of state's decision to move the Prescription Only Medicines (Human Use) Amendment (No.3) Order 2000. This statutory instrument reclassified the Levonelle-2 morning-after pill as a drug available to women over 16 from pharmacists without a doctor's prescription, and took effect on 1 January 2001. * Levonelle-2 contains 0.75mg of levonorgestrel. * The World Health Organisation's often-cited research into the claimed safety of the morning-after pill neither explored the dangers of multiple use, nor its impact on under 16-year-olds. The study was also tiny in relation to the huge numbers of women now taking the drug. * See SPUC's earlier media statement dated 23 April 2001 for the reasons why Sir Michael Havers, the attorney general, was wrong in 1993 to state in parliament that the morning-after pill was not prohibited by the Offences Against the Person Act 1861. Even the makers of Levonelle-2 admit that it "may also cause endometrial changes that discourage implantation". It can therefore cause early abortions.

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