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Defending life from the moment of conception

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Morning after pill threat to later embryos' and women's lives

30 January 2003

Morning-after pill threat to later embryos' and women's lives Westminster, 30 January 2003--Evidence has forced the government to alert young women to the danger of ectopic pregnancy from the morning-after pill. There now appears to be a grave threat to young women's lives. It previously has been admitted by the proponents of the morning-after pill that it kills early embryos by preventing implantation in the womb. Now it appears that it also leads to the deaths of embryos much later in development by causing them to implant in the fallopian tube, and this may threaten the mother's life too. As well as a small risk to the mother's life, there is a very high risk of sterility following an ectopic pregnancy. Commenting on the announcement, John Smeaton, national director of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC), said: "This drug should immediately be removed from the market so that the available data can be fully assessed. It is being given out by the thousands of doses every day to unsuspecting women. It is immoral to continue to present it as an 'emergency contraceptive' when it is known to interfere after fertilisation. SPUC's efforts to insist that the safeguards of the Abortion Act should be applied to the drug were met with outright opposition by the Government and the drug's manufacturers, Schering AG, and were rebuffed by the legal authorities. "Despite the fact that there have been no proper trials on the safety of this drug among under-16s it is now the policy of the Government for school nurses to give this drug to school-girls from age 11 without informing or seeking permission from their parents. "It is particularly reckless for the government also to have made the drug available without prescription as they did in 2001: this means that women may take it repeatedly in a short time span, possibly increasing the risks, including the potentially fatal risk of ectopic pregnancy." Note to editors Sir Liam Donaldson, the government's Chief Medical Officer, has sent a communication to all doctors asking them to be extra vigilant about the morning-after pill because it is related to a high rate of ectopic pregnancy. He also ordered Schering AG to change the wording of patient information leaflets to make it clearer that there is a risk of ectopic pregnancy.

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