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Opinion, Comment & Reviews

Comment on SPUC judicial review verdict
By British Pregnancy Advisory Service
April 18, 2002

BPAS, Britain's largest provider of abortion services, welcomes the decision from the High court today and would argue that it was the only sensible conclusion to this absurd legal case.

We feel that this legal challenge brought by SPUC was never about women's rights or freedom to choose. It was a failed tactic by SPUC to draw attention to their marginal beliefs in the face of little public support. It was clear from the outset that their chances of success were pretty slim. The definition of pregnancy has been established in medical law for decades. The redefinition that SPUC were seeking today wanted pregnancy to be defined as beginning when the sperm penetrates an egg. Had the ruling gone in their favour this would have thrown up difficult questions about the legality of regular contraception, abortion and fertility treatment. The far-reaching consequences would have undermined everything about reproductive technology and clearly this isn't the way modern society wishes to go.

Today's decision is a victory for women who want to take control of their lives and reproductive health.

Family planning and sexual health organisations were clearly concerned about this legal action. But it is important to recognise that we may see more of the same in the future. Anti choice organisations are increasingly resorting to judicial reviews to make themselves heard. You need only look at two recent cases brought against the BBC and the HFEA. It may seem a cynical view, but legal challenges give anti abortion organisations a political platform and wide media coverage that would have otherwise eluded them.

Emergency contraception has been in existence for nearly 20 years and for most of that time organisations like SPUC have been saying it is a form of abortion. Clearly they have exhausted all other avenues and a judicial review seemingly gives their minority view some credence. No one should be surprised or alarmed when other legal challenges follow.

What is most important here, and shouldn't be forgotten is what women need and what women want. Women should be able to regulate their fertility through the use of contraception and abortion. And modern society relies on it. Emergency contraception is not a problem but a solution to the possibility of an unwanted pregnancy. A small minority of people may find emergency contraception unacceptable and they have every right to hold those views and decide not to use it. But, for the thousands of women who are willing to take steps to prevent unplanned pregnancy, we are delighted that they will have the freedom to continue to do so.

Denise Darrell-Lambert,
Communications Manager,
British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS)
Tel: 020 7612 0206 or 07775 991588.

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