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SC turns down i-pill plea

New Delhi, Jan. 18: The Supreme Court today dismissed a petition by an NGO seeking to bar the over-the-counter sale of i-pill, an emergency contraceptive tablet, saying it was the same as abortion at home.

The i-pill prevents pregnancy if a woman has it within 72 hours of sexual intercourse. While dismissing the plea by Krupa Prolifers as “not scientific”, the three-judge bench said admitting the plea may “scare people and send a wrong message”.

The NGO contested claims of Cipla, the pill manufacturer which said life does not start at the point of fertilisation but only when the fertilised embryo attaches itself to the uterine wall, which is implantation.

Krupa Prolifers said foetal life begins at the time of fertilisation and not at the time of implantation, which meant taking the pill amounted to making “abortion” possible at home. “This is nothing but termination of pregnancy,” it said.

Kerala High Court had earlier dismissed the petition saying it was only a contraceptive pill and “does not cause abortion”.

Within the first 12 hours of fertilisation, the NGO claimed, the height, blood group, colour and sex of the child was determined. Thus it has the legal status and all the legal rights flowing from such status of a person alive, it claimed.

The i-pill, it said, worked in three different ways — it stops an egg from being released from the ovary, if an egg has been released, it may prevent the sperm from fertilising it. “If the egg is already fertilised, i-pill may prevent it from being attached to the lining of the womb,” it said. This amounted to abortion, Krupa Prolifers added.

“Availability of these types of tablets without restriction would adversely affect the younger generations of the nation and in the long run it would destroy morality and society will fall into anarchy,” it said.

The NGO also claimed that women using an emergency contraceptive pill continuously ran a higher risk of not becoming pregnant later than those using ordinary contraceptive methods. The i-pill also has massive side-effects such as nausea, vomiting, headache, weakness, breast tenderness etc, the petition contended.

By promoting emergency contraceptive pills, the pill-maker was denying the legal rights of “unborn children”, Krupa Prolifers said.

But after a detailed hearing, the apex court rejected the arguments as “not scientific”.

The Chief Justice of India told the NGO that it had been unable to prove the fact that the i-pill was being “misused”. “The market requires it for the people,” he said.

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