Published:25/04/2002, Volume II2, No. 5802, Page 8

The British Medical Association has welcomed the High Court's decision rejecting the Society for the Protection of the Unborn Child's challenge to the sale of emergency contraception in pharmacies.

BMA head of science and ethics Dr Vivienne Nathanson said: 'The High Court has made the right decision in rejecting attempts by SPUC to prevent the sale of emergency contraception in chemists.

Public health minister Yvette Cooper also welcomed the decision, which she described as 'a victory for women's choice and for common sense'.

The High Court decision backed the statement made by the then attorney general Sir Michael Havers in 1983. He said the prevention of implantation which is brought on by emergency contraception products does not amount to procuring a miscarriage. Last week's case hinged on the definition of when pregnancy begins: it concluded that pregnancy begins at implantation - not when an egg is fertilised. Emergency contraception works before implantation.