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Tuesday, 20 March, 2001, 21:05 GMT
Decision in abortion fight case
Stephen Hone
Stephen Hone claims partial victory
A man who is taking legal action to stop his ex-girlfriend having an abortion is claiming a partial victory after the clinic promised to order more tests.

The clinic told the High Court that they would not carry out an abortion without making further medical inquiries.

Stephen, a sales consultant from Coventry who has two children from a previous marriage, said he was pleased with the agreement, but "saddened" that the abortion could still go ahead.

"It is a victory in one sense but a loss in the sense that it has still not prevented the abortion of my child."

It is a victory in one sense but a loss in the sense that it has still not prevented the abortion of my child

Stephen Hone

Mr Hone had claimed that the West Midlands health clinic which sanctioned the abortion acted against the 1967 Abortion Act rules because only one doctor was consulted instead of two.

He claimed no questions were asked about the woman's physical and mental state, nor why she wanted a termination.

Tuesday's court decision will not prevent Mr Hone's ex-girlfriend Claire Hansell, having a termination providing the correct procedures are followed.

After the court hearing Mr Hone said he is desperately trying to trace Ms Hansell to discover the fate of the unborn baby.

"Also, I would desperately like to hear from her just to know that she is alright."

Lawyers for Mr Hone are also seeking access to the remains of the foetus, if an abortion goes ahead, so that he can arrange a burial.

The Calthorpe Nursing Home in Edgbaston. Birmingham, where Ms Hansell was originally going to have the abortion, promised not to dispose of the foetus without giving him a week's notice, if they carried out the operation.

Family Division judge Mr Justice Sumner, sitting in London, said the clinic had given a "highly responsible and helpful" undertaking that if Ms Hansell continued to seek an abortion with them that they would not rely on the certificate signed by the doctor she originally saw.

No rights

Currently under the law neither the father nor the foetus have any rights until the child is born.

In 1987 Oxford student Robert Carver tried to stop his pregnant girlfriend from having an abortion. The High Court ruled against him, as did the Appeal Court.

Nicholas Hercules, of the Pro-life Alliance said Mr Hone was acting as a responsible parent.

"Here we have a man who is being responsible, caring and loving over his unborn child.

"If the shoe was on the other foot, so to speak, the CSA would be chasing him for his payments to contribute to the child."

But the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS) said he was putting extreme pressure on his former girlfriend by dragging her through the courts and the media.

Nothing but harm

Ann Furedi, of the BPAS said: "The allegations being made in this case are bizarre. At some point in an abortion consultation a woman is always seen on her own so it is not possible for a partner to know the full details of what was or was not said.

"In any case, it is legal and possible for an abortion provider to arrange for a woman to see the required two doctors at the clinic."

She added: "Any undertaking that fetal remains will not be destroyed without giving notice to the 'father' makes a mockery of this woman's right to confidentiality."

"Because it is the woman who will experience the abortion or the birth it seems proper that it is a decision she should have to take."

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See also:

28 Nov 00 | Euthanasia
The pro-life view
29 Aug 00 | Health
'Abortion causes foetal pain'
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