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Opinion, Comment & Reviews
  SPUC and emergency contraception

It was reported earlier this week that the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children was to go to the High Court to seek permission to bring a judicial review about the classification of emergency contraception. The organisation has been granted permission to do so. Women have been able to buy the emergency contraceptive Levonelle-2 from pharmacists without a prescription since January. The Society for the Protection of Unborn Children is claiming that the classification of the drug as suitable for sale without a prescription was unlawful. They argue it permitted a criminal offence - the administration or supply of poisons or instruments with the intent to procure miscarriage - under a law dating back to 1861. Granting permission for a full hearing, which will take place by July, Mr Justice Scott Baker said there was 'an arguable case on what is fundamentally a very important question'. He added that it would be better to deal with it in the civil courts than via private prosecutions of pharmacists for supplying the pill. A spokeswoman for the Department of Health confirmed that the government would contest the high court application.

The following response is from BPAS.

BPAS comment on SPUC's legal challenge to emergency contraception

The legal challenge to the sale of emergency contraception is a stunt by a group opposed to emergency contraception, which we are confident will go nowhere.

This marginal group have insisted that emergency contraception was abortifacient in action since it first became available. Repeatedly their assertions have been rebutted by the medical-legal establishment which insists that abortion is the interruption of an established pregnancy ie. an event after the embryo has attached in the uterus.

The product has been confirmed as safe for pharmacy sale by the Committee on Safety of Medicines and the Medicines Control Agency.

Those opposed to emergency contraception have no new evidence on the science of emergency contraception, they have no new evidence to claim it is unsafe. There is no possible justification for the judicial review they desire.

They are entitled to question the morality of emergency contraception but not it's mode of action or safety profile which are matters of fact not judgement.

Those who think emergency contraception need not use it. They should allow other women to make up their own minds.

For further information please contact BPAS director of communications, Ann Furedi on +44 1795 890 557

'Morning after pill challenged', Tania Branigan, The Guardian, Thursday May 3, 2001

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