$700 million lawsuit over Depo-Provera

TORONTO – Pharmaceutical firm Pfizer Inc., manufacturer of the birth control medication Depo-Provera, has been hit with a $700 million class-action lawsuit by Canadian young women alleging the drug caused the onset of early osteoporosis. The suit also alleges Pfizer failed to adequately warn physicians to conduct bone density tests on the drug’s users. Pfizer said it plans to vigorously defend itself against the lawsuit, but the current allegations are the latest in a line of problems that have plagued Depo-Provera. Past reports have found mice exposed to it to be 100 times more susceptible to infection with herpes simplex virus type 2. In December, Maclean’s magazine reported that the drug is being prescribed to a large number of Canadian Aboriginals without proper monitoring.

Politics wins out on morning-after pill

TORONTO – Bowing to pressure mainly from feminist and media elements, as well as Ontario privacy commissioner Ann Cavoukian, the Ontario College of Pharmacists has announced that the so-called morning-after pill, which sometimes causes an early abortion, will be dispensed more freely to women in the province, without a medical history being taken by the pharmacist. Cavoukian complained that screening women for their sexual history before dispensing the drug was an invasion of their privacy. However, pro-life spokespersons pointed out that the MAP is not just any over-the-counter medication – it carries a huge dose of the same kinds of hormones found in the controversial birth control pill. This can lead to serious problems for women with a any of a number of pre-existing medical conditions.

Canadian judge clarifies judicial philosophy

WELLINGTON, N.Z. – In a speech at Victoria University in New Zealand, Supreme Court of Canada Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin said that “unwritten constitutional norms” – that is, unspecified rights – must trump “clearly enacted law,” including constitutions as they are written. her urging that law students ignore actual written law led REAL Women vice-president Gwen Landolt to charge McLachlin with enshrining personal ideological preferences. Ironically, McLachlan described judges overruling elected parliaments as a necessary component of the rule of law. Conservative justice critic Vic Toews responded: “It concerns me very much to hear our chief justice say that judges don’t have to follow what is set out in the law for them. If judges don’t have to follow the Constitution, what will guide them?”

Anti-life advocate honoured by Catholic hospital

ST. BONIFACE, Man. — The St. Boniface General Hospital has recognized Stephen Lewis with an award for “international humanitarian work in health care.” As Ontario NDP leader in the 1960s, he was the first elected politician to call for legalized abortion-on-demand in Canada. In his work at the United Nations and UNICEF in recent years, he supported population control schemes, abortion for minors and promoted condoms as the solution to the AIDS/HIV crisis in the developing world. Kevin Hunter, the spokesman for the hospital’s fundraising arm, the St. Boniface Hospital and Research Foundation, defended the decision to honour Lewis over the protests of Catholic and pro-life groups. He said that the award is not a specifically Catholic award, even though the hospital remains a Catholic institution. Past honourees include Pope John Paul II and Mother Teresa.

Manitoba to pay for all abortions

WINNIPEG – Manitoba’s NDP Health Minister Tim Sale announced a revised government policy that will result in taxpayers covering the entire costs of all abortions in the province. Following pressure from the Jane’s Clinic – a private Winnipeg abortuary sold by Henry Morgentaler to a group of women in 2004 – the province reversed course and relented in its fight to prevent taxpayer dollars from paying for abortions committed at private abortuaries. In April 2004, Court of Queen’s Bench Judge Jeffrey Oliphant ruled that it was unconstitutional to deny paying for abortions done at private facilities, although that decision was overruled on appeal later that year. During the appeal of the April decision, Sale said the courts should not dictate to the province how limited healthcare dollars are spent. Campaign Life Coalition president Maria Slykerman condemned the public funding of an individual lifestyle choice.

Rideau Hall displays ‘Christmas tree’

OTTAWA – The governor-general’s office did an about face when Rideau Hall spokesman Lucie Brosseau called the seasonal evergreen a “holiday tree” in a CBC interview. Brosseau said: “At Rideau Hall, we will be putting up a holiday tree, as we find it reflects the traditions of many cultures and it is inclusive.” Randy Mylyk, spokesman for governor-general Michaelle Jean, told the Ottawa Citizen that it was, in fact, a Christmas tree and the politically correct label was used by a “well-intentioned” employee, but that it did not represent the views of Jean.