on SPUC judicial review verdict
By British Pregnancy
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
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
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.
British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS)
Tel: 020 7612 0206 or 07775 991588.