"Morning-After Pill" Is Fought in U.S. and U.K.

Group Wins Right to Press Full Legal Fight

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NEW HAVEN, Connecticut, MAY 2, 2001 (Zenit.org).- The "morning-after pill" is under attack on both sides of the Atlantic.



In the United Kingdom, a pro-life group won approval to proceed with a full legal challenge to over-the-counter sales of the potentially abortifacient pill.

In the United States, meanwhile, the Knights of Columbus criticized the new head of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists for calling on the nation´s OB-GYNs to routinely offer their patients advance prescriptions for the pill.

In England, the High Court decided today to allow the Society for the Protection of the Unborn Child (SPUC) to bring a judicial review of the decision to make the medication more easily available to over-16-year-olds, BBC reported. Previously it was only available on prescription from a doctor.

The British court decision does not mean a reversal of the current policy, but simply allows the case to be heard in full, BBC said.

SPUC says that the morning-after pill, which can be taken up to 72 hours after intercourse, is in fact a method of early abortion, and, as such, should be subject to abortion legislation.

A spokesman for the Family Planning Association said that she found the legal challenge "extraordinary," particularly as the Attorney General had, in the 1980s, decided that emergency contraception did not constitute a form of abortion.

But SPUC insists that pharmacists who supply the Levonelle-2 pills could be committing a criminal offense. The 1861 Offenses Against the Person Act prohibits the supply of any "poison or other noxious thing" with intent to cause miscarriage.

From New Haven, Connecticut, Supreme Knight Carl Anderson issued a statement against the pill-prescription plan proposed by Dr. Thomas Purdon on Monday.

"This drug can and does act as an abortifacient," Anderson said. "It will destroy a new human life already conceived. According to [the OB-GYN college´s] recommendation, women may end up, unknowingly, aborting their newly conceived child. As always, doctors should protect and preserve life, not routinely hand out prescriptions for its destruction.”