Australian parliament to debate abortionPERTH, Australia – Australia’s parliament is set to debate the amendment of current laws that prohibit abortion except for the preservation of a mother’s life. A number of bills have been put forth, including one that would allow abortion on demand. The ruling party has proposed a bill that would allow abortions in cases of serious genetic defects.

Intense lobbying of MPs has begun by both pro-life and pro-abortion advocates. Pope John Paul II has issued a statement opposing the liberalizing reforms. Pro-life groups have set up a pro-life “embassy” across the street from Perth’s Parliament House, while pro-abortionists are accusing them of running a “vicious and vindictive campaign.”

EU pushing Ireland to provide abortion info

DUBLIN – The European Parliament has adopted a report condemning Ireland for banning pro-abortion information, says the Irish Times newspaper. The report, prepared by the parliament’s committee on civil liberties and internal affairs, demands that access to such information be ensured in all member states. Brian Crowley, an Irish member of the European Parliament, criticized the report, saying that the matter was outside the competence of the EU.

Crowley also noted that the report called on member states to recognize what amounted to “marriages between homosexuals.” He said      these matters were for each member state to determine on its own.

Spain rejects liberalized abortion … but okays RU-486

MADRID – The Spanish parliament has deadlocked after three votes on whether to allow debate on two bills that propose to liberalize Spain’s abortion law. The bills would have introduced the notion of “psychological harm to the mother” as a condition justifying abortion.

However, Spanish journalists report that the country’s health commission has requested the ministry of health approve the distribution of the abortion pill RU-486. Reports say the ministry agreed to the request within 48 hours. The health ministry must conduct scientific examinations on the drug before it can be distributed.

South African lawyers contest abortion law

PIETERMARITZBURG, South Africa – The South African pro-life lawyers group Lawyers for Truth is staging a constitutional court challenge to South Africa’s liberal abortion law. The pro-life community around the world has been asked to pray for the success of the legal action.

Abortion was legalized in South Africa on Feb. 1, 1997. According to official statistics (which pro-life groups contest as too low), 26,000 abortions have been committed. The law allows for abortion without parental consent for girls 12 and older. Pro-lifers hope for victory since the constitution entrenches right-to-life  principles.

Castro slams abortion as birth control

HAVANA – Cuban President Fidel Castro has condemned the use of abortion as a form of birth control. During a rambling seven-hour speech that followed Pope John Paul II’s visit to his country, the 71-year-old president also criticized promiscuity and “easy recourse to abortion.”

Abortion and birth control are widely and easily available in Cuba’s public health system and the country is reported to have one of the highest abortion rates in the world. “Abortion must not be used as an anti-birth method,” said the president, adding this could pose a health hazard. He said it was his duty as a “revolutionary and public figure” to oppose this.

Castro did not, however, give the Pope unequivocal backing. He called for better sex education, adding: “We don’t have to go back to the Middle Ages and invent the chastity belt again.”

British lawyers vow to pursue ‘flouting’ of abortion law

LONDON – The 3,000-member Association of Lawyers for the Defence of the Unborn says it will not let drop a claim made on a BBC radio program by a National Health Service consultant that doctors flout the law on abortion as a matter of routine.  The Association wrote to the prime minister, the lord chancellor, the secretary of state for health and the attorney-general, asking them to pursue the matter. A Department of Health representative wrote back to say that it was not possible “to hold an investigation into hearsay from an anonymous source.”

“The unwillingness or inability on the part of those who are responsible for enforcement of the law and for the proper regulation of the Health Service to ensure that the rule of law is obeyed shows a completely cavalier approach to the rule of law which no citizen ought to be willing to accept,” remarked Association chairman R.M. Haig.

Record-high abortion rate in Vietnam

HANOI – Vietnam reportedly has the world’s highest abortion rate, with two unborn children killed for every live birth. In cities, the proportion stands about even.

Large families have been a tradition in Vietnam’s agriculturally based society, with children taught at an early age to help out in rice paddies. But in recent years, the government has been encouraging couples to have no more than two children. Couples often have tests to determine the sex of their unborn children, with females likely to be aborted because sons are expected to take care of their parents in old age while daughters become parts of their husbands’ families.

Algerian government wants abortions for raped women

ALGIERS, Algeria – The Algerian government is asking Islamic religious authorities to declare a “fatwa” (religious edict) to allow women who’ve been raped in the ongoing civil violence to have abortions.

Family minister Rabea Mechernene says she expects the Islamic High Council in Algiers to issue the fatwa soon. Correspondents say many women have been raped in attacks attributed by authorities to Islamic extremists, and hundreds of children born as a result of these attacks have been abandoned.

‘Strides’ claimed in efforts to reduce Russian abortions

MOSCOW – On the occasion of the recent International Women’s Day, the Reuters news agency reported that “strides” have been made in efforts to improve family planning and reduce the use of abortion as the main means of contraception in Russia. But the agency also noted that a deficient health care system, particularly in the areas of pre- and post-natal care, is keeping Russian women “at a disadvantage.”

The same news report said that “some attitudes are changing” with respect to social mores and relayed the account of a reception held in celebration of a lesbian St. Petersburg couple who had travelled to The Netherlands to register their marriage.

Chinese abortion policy protested

ISTANBUL, Turkey – About 100 Uighur women, members of the Turkic minority in China, staged a sit-in in front of the Chinese consulate in Istanbul on International Women’s Day to denounce China’s abortion policies. The women also threw dolls into the consulate’s garden. China has been widely accused of conducting forced abortions and sterilizations to maintain its stated one-child-per-family policy.

Vatican official denounces screening of embryos

VATICAN CITY – Bishop Elio Sgreccia, the vice-president of the Pontifical Academy for Life, has reiterated the Pope’s condemnation of prenatal screening and killing of embryos. In an address to the Academy, he noted that such diagnostic tests were characteristic of the eugenics movement which culminated in the Nazi era. Modern technology, he said, has allowed doctors “to select embryos, and proceed like Hitler.”
Meanwhile, the Pope condemned philosophies that view motherhood as a sort of illness. “The search for health as well-being has led to the consideration of maternity itself … as a burden and an illness, creating the suppositions … for the justification of contraception and sterilization, of abortion and even of euthanasia,” the Pope said in an address to a conference on women’s health issues.