LONDON, February 14, 2002 ( – High Court hearings on a legal challenge to the reclassification of the morning after pill, as available from pharmacists without a doctor’s prescription, which began Tuesday were completed yesterday. Mr Justice Munby, presiding, said that there was so much to consider that he needed time to prepare his judgment, which may not be delivered until after Easter (the 31st of next month). Health ministers and the leader of the House of Commons have asked to see the judgment five days before it is published in order to prepare to address any public policy implications.

John Smeaton, National Director of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC), the group which launched the challenge, said: “The judge’s comments and the government’s request reflect the seriousness with which this case is being treated.”

Pro-abortion groups complained that the challenge, if successful, would throw the country into disarray as it would also make illegal abortifacient contraceptives such as the pill and the IUD which are commonly used in Britain. SPUC’s lawyer, Richard Gordon, said in court that he would not be pursuing any argument against these other abortifacients but he also said he would not shrink from further social or moral implications of the case against the morning-after pill.

(with files from SPUC News Digest)

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