MP David Kilgour (Edmonton Southeast) has quit the Liberal Party and announced that he will not run again … Liberal MP Pat O’Brien (London-Fanshawe) flirts with quitting the Liberal caucus. But he pledges to stay when Prime Minister Paul Martin promises to ask a legislative committee to hold public hearings on the issue of same-sex “marriage,” instead of closed hearings that would limit the witnesses to only lawyers and bureaucrats. O’Brien says he is strategizing with other caucus members, including cabinet ministers, to build momentum to help defeat Bill C-38, the government’s legislation redefining marriage … A CBC-sponsored Environics poll finds 52 per cent of Canadians oppose bill C-38. Just 44 per cent support it … Conservative MP Dean Allison (Niagara West-Glanbrook) reports that 10,000 constituents have given him their feedback on the same-sex marriage bill. Nearly 90 per cent are opposed to Bill C-38. … The National Post reports that even if C-38 doesn’t pass, the vast majority of Canadians – 27,893,786 as of Jan. 1 – “live in jurisdictions where gay ‘marriage’ is already legal” and that “marriage commissioners have been handing out marriage licences to gay couples for almost two years,” so that now, “It’s part of the scenery” … Stats Can reports that sexually transmitted diseases were up in the first quarter of 2004 compared to 2003, including an astonishing 70.45 per cent increase in cases of syphilis … Ontario has established new programs to counsel problem gamblers, but refuses the suggestion of provincial NDP MPP Peter Kormos to prohibit ATM machines on casino floors … The Globe and Mail reports that Manitoba’s net income from video lottery terminals last year was $126.2 million, while Quebec netted $706 million in 2003 from the machines. Alberta estimates VLTs will bring in $575 million this fiscal year.

United States

Kansas Senator Sam Brownback is considering running for the Republican presidential nomination in 2008. Brownback is pro-life and has been a leader in the congressional battle against human cloning and embryonic stem cell research. Currently, he is sponsoring legislation that would inform women of the fact unborn children feel severe pain during late-term abortions. Analysts say he is a long-shot, but may be one of the few contenders who could rally social conservatives to his nomination … The Vermont House Human Services Committee is holding hearings on adopting legislation similar to Oregon’s physician-assisted suicide law. Governor Jim Douglas (R) has indicated he would veto such legislation and House speaker Gaye Symington (D) says she has no plans to allow any debate on assisted suicide … The San Francisco Chronicle reports that California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) is said to be open to signing a state bill that is still pending, which would legalize physician-assisted suicide … Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano (D) vetoes a bill that would allow a conscience clause for pharmacists to opt out of being involved with abortion drugs. The state legislature does not have the votes to override the veto. Arizona Right to Life director Shane Wikfors says Napolitano is “beholden” to Planned Parenthood and abortion businesses … Abortion advocates have filed the Access to Legal Pharmaceuticals Act, federal legislation that would force pharmacists to dispense drugs that violate their moral beliefs, such as the “morning-after” pill. NARAL Pro-Choice America says the bill is needed, because a dozen states either have laws protecting conscience or are considering similar measures. Karen Brauer, president of Pharmacists for Life, says that if the rights of pharmacists are not protected, neither will be the rights of doctors and nurses: “They’ll force women to kill their children … It will be like China. It’s the next logical step.”


Cardinal Cormac Murphy O’Connor calls upon the British government to establish a national bioethics commission. John Smeaton, the national director of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, condemns the idea, noting, “The government and Parliament are strongly anti-life and any such commission is likely to have a substantial anti-life majority” … Prior to the calling of the British parliamentary election, Conservative party leader Michael Howard muses about lowering the upper time limit for abortions, but in the first four weeks of the campaign, does not again raise the issue. Lord Roy Hattersley, a senior Labour party official, endorses the idea of reducing the time limit for abortions in his weekly Guardian column. In 1990, Hattersley voted for an unsuccessful attempt to make abortion legal without limits … Stuart Reid, the deputy editor of The Spectator, says reducing the time limit for abortion from 24 weeks to 20 or even 12 weeks would “serve to make abortion more, not less, respectable” because “reducing the upper limit does not address the core issue: can it be right to take human life on an industrial scale?” … The French parliament approves legislation allowing patients the right to refuse life-saving medical treatment, when 548 of the country’s 551 senators vote for the new law. The measure allows patients or family members of unconscious relatives to request that doctors remove them from life-sustaining machines or medicines. Critics call it a passive euthanasia bill.