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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Order Too Late to Stop Abortion, BBC Reports

LONDON -- Anti-abortion activists won a court order Tuesday to prevent a woman from aborting one of the two children she was reportedly carrying, but the BBC reported that the pregnancy had already been terminated.

"The BBC has learnt this evening that the operation has definitely taken place. It's believed to have been carried out ... at Queen's Charlotte Hospital in March," reporter June Kelly said on BBC radio.

Since the case was first reported in the Sunday Express newspaper, activists had offered pledges of more than ?45,000 ($77,000) for the woman, who has not been identified, if she would cancel the abortion.

Spokeswomen for Queen Charlotte Hospital and the National Health Service said rules of confidentiality prevented them from confirming or denying the BBC report.

Earlier in the afternoon, the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children on Tuesday won an injunction against Queen Charlotte Hospital until 10 a.m. Wednesday preventing the termination of the pregnancy.

According to news reports, the woman was 28, unmarried, had one child and was in "straitened circumstances."

The leader of a doctors' group which supports the current law permitting abortion Tuesday denounced what she called the "auctioning" of the healthy fetus, and accused anti-abortion groups of using the case to whip up support.

The story has received extensive coverage in the British media since the weekend. The woman's obstetrician, Professor Phillip Bennett, was quoted by a Sunday newspaper as saying he had agreed to choose one twin to abort because she said she couldn't cope with two more babies.

Bennett was quoted in the Sunday Express as saying the woman was in "straitened circumstances" and he had agreed to her request to abort one of the twins.

The controversy came a week after fertility clinics destroyed some 3,300 frozen embryos unclaimed by couples. The destruction program, under law limiting storage to five years, stirred a fiery ethical debate.

Britain legalized abortion in 1967, and in 1990 cut the time limit from 28 weeks of pregnancy to 24 weeks. Some 165,000 abortions are carried out each year.