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Government accused of letting costs decide abortion policy; FERTILITY: Pro-Life Alliance dismisses as `potentially dangerous' efforts to offer faster, easier terminations.

Byline: HELEN COOK

ANTI-ABORTION groups yesterday accused the Government of ``cost-cutting'' and being ``obsessed'' with abortion after it emerged that women are to be offered faster, easier terminations.

The Pro-Life Alliance said the latest move to offer faster, easier terminations through family planning centres was also ``potentially dangerous''.

The Government plans to allow family planning centres to give so-called medical abortions, which were only previously available in hospital wards and special day units, according to a report in The Observer yesterday.

A Department of Health spokesman said that the scheme would operate within the existing legal framework.

The DoH said it was intended to eliminate the wide variations in waiting times for abortions across the country which can range from as little as two weeks in some areas to about six to eight weeks elsewhere.

If a woman is to have a termination the risks of suffering physical or psychological damage are reduced the earlier it is done.

A medical abortion avoids the need for surgery altogether and involves the woman taking two doses of separate drugs which induce a miscarriage.

But Josephine Quintavalle, of Pro-Life Alliance, said, ``You save a lot of money not using anaesthetics. It is quicker, easier and cheaper - I would put cheaper in very big capitals.''

``This move is irresponsible and short term,'' she said.

But a DoH spokesman said, ``This is not about cost-cutting, using the medical abortion just means people do not have to have surgery. Currently 81pc have surgery, if they do not need to, it makes things quicker and less traumatic.''

Ms Quintavalle claimed abortion would soon move from family planning clinics to GPs, gradually becoming easier and easier until it became ``impossible to keep track'' of the situation.

She said the ``DIY'' method, which induces an abortion, could be dangerous for teenage girls.

``These are not drugs for children - there is the potential for danger particularly in the developing body. The idea of younger girls using this is just unbelievable.''

Both the Pro-Life Alliance and the charity Life believe the government is ``obsessed'' by abortion.

Nuala Scarisbrick, of Life, said, ``Women's bodies seem to be targeted at every stage by a government which seems to be obsessed with abortion more so than any other government in the past 30 years.''

She said about the latest move, ``This dupes women into thinking it's as easy as going and having your hair colour changed.''

The charity believes a longer waiting time would give women time to reflect on the options.
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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Jul 8, 2002
Words:418
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