Pro-life legislation introduced

CANBERRA, Australia – A bill that has the capacity to largely ban some abortions has been introduced in the legislative assembly of the Australian Capital Territory. The bill, presented by an independent member, proposes to ban all abortions after the 12th week of pregnancy, unless the mother is at grave physical risk, and all abortions in the first trimester, unless the mother is at grave physical or psychological risk. The bill also calls for a “cooling off period” of 72 hours before an abortion is performed, and for women seeking abortions to be provided with information including pictures or drawings of unborn children at two -week intervals from conception.

The Canberra Times reports that the bill “has every chance of being passed,” leading to the strictest abortion law in Australia.

Coalition fights population control

BUENOS AIRES – A coalition has been formed among pro-life, pro-family and healthcare groups to fight the population-control schemes of Argentina’s federal government. The schemes remain in place despite reports of drastic under-population in a country unable to fully utilize its natural resources, and an imbalance in the population’s age range.

Meanwhile, reports from the town of Rosario say that the bodies of aborted unborn babies were found in a dried-up well behind an illegal abortuary. Victor Scuizzatto, who is also a suspect in a baby-trafficking case, was arrested.

Youth find abortion ‘unethical’

LONDON – A majority of British young people find abortion, for reasons of abnormality in the unborn child, ethically distasteful , according to a survey by the Pro-Choice Forum, a group that favours a liberal attitude toward abortion. The survey of 300 young people between 15 and 24 suggests the next generation of parents is experiencing a moral backlash against scientific advances in reproduction.

Peter Garrett, of the the British pro-life group LIFE, said pro-abortion groups had better take notice of the finding, or risk being out of step with the opinion-formers of tomorrow. “Young people are saying … ‘We have come to the point where we realize that the ethical dilemmas are much more sophisticated and the machinery you need for making decisions in this area is much more complicated,'” he said.

Sterilization law suspended

BEIJING – A leading Chinese medical ethicist says that the Chinese legislature and ministry of health have effectively suspended parts of a controversial law that permitted doctors to sterilize people with serious genetic conditions. Qiu Renzong said it was “explained” to Chinese scientists in August that they could sterilize couples with genetic conditions only after receiving the couple’s consent or that of a guardian. Renzong said a formal revision of the law would take years, and that the “explanation” has the force of law.

The news comes in the wake of the 18th International Congress of Genetics held in Beijing, which was boycotted by some Western geneticists and served as a forum for strong criticism of China’s eugenics policies.

Abortion toll called ‘tragic’

AUCKLAND – New Zealand’s 1997 abortion toll of 15,208 – one in every five pregnancies – has been characterized as tragic by Jenny Street, president of the country’s Society for the Protection of the Unborn Child. The toll represents a tragedy “for the innocent lives that have been aborted … (and) the devastating effect abortion will have on their mothers,” she said.

The 1997 figures represent a 2.7 per cent increase over 1996, but the year-to-year rate of increase in abortions is decreasing. Health Minister Bill English said this is “a positive sign, but it is too early as yet to know whether it is the start of a downward trend. There is certainly no room for complacency.”

Official laments depopulation effects

LISBON – A leading German official detailed the unhappy social consequences of his country’s depopulation at the recent First World Conference of Ministers in the Portuguese capital. Dr. Reinhard Wabnitz, German minister responsible for youth, noted that in the last 25 years, one-third less children have been born than were needed to keep his country’s population figures constant.

“In the big cities, there are already districts where only a marginal number of children and families are to be found,” he said. “Germany has therefore become a country whose society is no longer used to children and has, at any rate, ceased to be sufficiently child-oriented. Counteracting this trend is a task which we in Germany will have to work at for a long time to come.”

Sterilizing agent banned

NEW DELHI – India has banned the use of quinacrine, originally used as an anti-malarial drug, thus shutting down the largest market for a sterilization technique that has been championed throughout the Third World by U.S. researchers Elton Kessel and Stephen D. Mumford. The drug has so far chemically sterilized more than 100,000 women in 20 developing countries.

The Indian government had been under pressure from women’s groups to crack down on the drug. Women were treated as “guinea pigs,” said Brinda Karat of the All India Women’s Democratic Association, “and the government has a moral responsibility to monitor their health, now that it has admitted the drug is harmful.”

Irish abortions in Britain up

DUBLIN – The number of Irish women who had abortions during the first quarter of this year is the highest ever recorded, according to the UK Office for National Statistics. A total of 1,458 women gave Irish addresses at British abortuaries, a 10.2 per cent increase over the same period in 1996.

The figures drew a predictable response from Tony O’Brien, chief executive of the Irish Family Planning Association. “Once again we have tangible proof that Irish abortion is a daily reality and that neither legislative or constitutional prohibitions or the expense of travelling to England has ever, or will ever, stop Irish women from terminating unwanted pregnancies.”

Abortion activists cite lost ground

WASHINGTON – The U.S. National Abortion Rights Action League is lamenting the loss of abortion “rights” in several areas in a recent report. It said more than 300 pro-life bills were introduced in state legislatures since January, and more than 50 of them had been approved in 23 states during the first half of this year. It singled out Iowa, Kentucky, Kansas, Missouri, Virginia, West Virginia and Wisconsin as “most hostile” to “reproductive freedom” and “reproductive choices.”

The report was issued as word came from State College, Pa. that the local abortuary near a Pennsylvania State University campus is being evicted.