Iran closer to legalizing abortion

TEHRAN – Mehrangiz Morovati, a member of the Iranian parliament, claimed that abortion is not prohibited by the Quran and that she will seek approval of a proposed law legalizing the practice. “The draft of abortion therapy was passed with the official permission from supreme leader of Islamic Republic and other religious authorities, so in this respect, it doesn’t contradict Quranic spiritual values,” Morovati claimed. The bill, which allows abortion in the first four months of pregnancy in cases of fetal deformation or when the mother’s life is in danger, was approved in July by Parliament, but requires final approval later this year.

Pro-life victory in Poland

WARSAW – In a close vote on Feb. 15, Poland’s parliament deferred debate on legislation that would have made abortion there legal. The ruling ex-communist Democratic Left Alliance, deciding a debate on abortion would hurt their already-diminishing popularity, delayed discussions until after an election set for September. Defeat of the motion was by a margin of 199-183. The Alliance had campaigned on liberalizing theabortion law when it won in 2001, but figured that discussing the law in the months before the election would be unwise. Abortion was made illegal in 1993 after the collapse of communism. Currently, Poland allows abortion if pregnancy results from rape, for children with a malformation, or for women in situations where continuance of the pregnancy may pose a grave health risk. The new law would have brought in abortion on demand for the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. Poland has been pressured by the United Nations in recent years to relax its prohibition on abortion.

Teachers support immoral sex ed

LONDON – A survey commissioned by the Times Educational Supplement suggests that 59 per cent of school teachers think that, during sex education classes, pupils should be told how to obtain an abortion; 84 per cent back telling pupils about the “morning-after” pill and 98 per cent think that children should be taught about contraception. On the plus side, three-quarters of respondents to the TES poll supported informing parents that their underage daughters are seeking abortions. John Smeaton, national director of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, said, “It is not part of the job of educators, teachers or head teachers to promote the killing of unborn children. They have no business promoting unethical practices, which harm the welfare of children in their charge.”

Swedish pastor acquitted of hate crime

STOCKHOLM – Swedish Pentecostal pastor Aake Green has been acquitted on appeal of committing a hate crime for preaching last year in his church that homosexuality is “something sick” and that homosexuals are “a deep cancer tumour on all of society.” A lower court had convicted Green in June 2004 under Sweden’s hate-crimes legislation and sentenced him to 30 days in jail. In February, an appeals court ruled there was “no evidence” that Green’s comments were meant to provoke hatred of homosexuals and that the law was never intended to prevent someone from expressing publicly a personal opinion on passages of the Bible.

Church, PM get abortion debate started

CANBERRA – Australian Prime Minister John Howard said he is not opposed to a renewed debate on abortion, as a coalition of 12 church groups lobbied for restrictions on late-term abortions. The coalition of churches is calling for funding of a study to ascertain the physical and psychological effects of abortion and has urged the government to pass informed consent laws and waiting periods for women considering abortion. The group also wants to see an elimination of late-term abortions. Howard said, “I think some of the ideas being put forward about providing people with assistance in relation to choices, I think they’re good. It’s good to look at the issues from a practical positive point of view, rather than an argumentative one.” Howard also criticized the fact that whenever someone “expresses a view on abortion … they are jumped upon from a great height.” The church coalition includes officials from the Anglican, Catholic, Baptist, Presbyterian, Buddhist, Hindu, Lutheran, Sikh, Salvation Army, Wesleyan and Seventh-Day Adventist faiths.