Campaigners win judicial review on morning-after pill

 Campaigners were granted a judicial review yesterday, in the Royal Courts of Justice, on the legality of supplying the morning-after pill without prescription. The Society for the Protection of the Unborn Child (SPUC) will now dispute the legality of the Government's reclassification of the Levonelle-2 pill at a full hearing before the end of July. The drug, which SPUC says delivers 50 times the dosage of the daily mini-pill contraceptive, was made available from pharmacists from January. Before that date, it could only be obtained on a doctor's prescription. The society's counsel, Richard Gordon QC, told Mr Justice Scott Baker that the move was unlawful because it permitted the commission of a criminal offence, the administration or supply of poisons or instruments with the intent to procure miscarriage. Mr Gordon said that there was a strongly arguable case which raised very serious medical and legal issues, adding: "It is the wider availability and the concomitant social effects which has caused SPUC to be concerned." Granting permission, the judge said that he was persuaded that there was an issue that required to be resolved. He said it was better that the issue was resolved in the civil courts than by way of private prosecutions brought in respect of specific supplies of the drug. The judge said: "There is an arguable case on what is fundamentally a very important question." John Smeaton, national director of SPUC, said: "We are very pleased that this danger to public health, which involves the circumvention of the Abortion Act, is to be examined." He said: "Not only is the morning-after pill a threat to unborn children and to the women who take it, but pharmacists are being put in an invidious position. It is unfair to make high street chemists responsible for all the risks associated with unsupervised abortions. "We are preparing our case and are optimistic about the outcome of the judicial review."

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