The 'morning after pill' dramatically increases the chances of life-threatening ectopic pregnancy. That was the verdict of Sir Liam Donaldson, the government's chief medical officer, who issued a note to all doctors warning them of the dangers of prescribing the pills yesterday. He also ordered drugs firm Schering AG to change the wording of patient information leaflets to make it clearer that there is a risk of ectopic pregnancy. 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." The government notice is at: www.doh.gov.uk/cmo/cmo_35.htm#20 (this link isn't live - you need to copy & paste it into your browser.)
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