Canada

Testifying before an ad hoc parliamentary committee on bilingualism, Brian Mulroney’s former press secretary, Michael Gratton, condemned the Harper government’s axing of the Court Challenges Program last fall, calling the move “illegal” and “unconstitutional” …Stephen Harper has appointed Judge Warren K. Winkler as chief justice of Ontario. Winkler is seen by insiders as more of a common-sense “country judge” than a judicial activist and far leftist, as was his predecessor, Roy McMurtry, who retired in June … The province of New Brunswick was in court arguing against Henry Morgentaler’s attempt to force the province to pay for abortions committed at his private abortuary in Fredericton. Morgentaler is arguing women should have access to “medically safe abortions that are covered by Medicare.” The province pays for abortions committed in public hospitals … During “Pride Week” in Hamilton, police chief Brian Mullan said his police force stands “shoulder to shoulder” with the gay community. The Hamilton Spectator noted Mullan made his comments while wearing a multi-coloured lei over his blue uniform … One week after city general manager Joe-Anne Priel pulled a gay community guide from Hamilton municipal buildings due to sexually explicit content, the books were ordered reinstated after gay activists complained her comments questioning the appropriateness of paying for sex over the phone were “homophobic” … According to a study funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and published in the U.S. Journal of Health Psychology, only 6 per cent of Canadian cancer patients surveyed said they would “definitely initiate a request to end their lives right away” if euthanasia or doctor-assisted suicide were legal in Canada.

United States

For the second time in his presidency, President George W. Bush has vetoed a congressional bill permitting embryonic stem cell research. These vetoes represent fully two-thirds of the times he has used his veto pen … After voting 9-8 to declare itself officially “pro-choice,” Philadelphia city council reversed itself by voting 13-4 to repeal a Planned Parenthood-drafted motion. Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown, who introduced the resolution at the request of Planned Parenthood, said, “At the end of the day, we have to decide what we want the city to look like and be about.” Roman CatholicBishop Justin Rigali and councillor Brian J. O’Neill both criticized the original declaraton, saying it failed to represent the diversity of opinion on the issue within the city …The Food and Drug Administration has approved Lybrel, the first birth-control pill that eliminates a woman’s monthly period. Planned Parenthood is applauding the move, saying women need more “reproductive choice.” But Christine Hitchcock of the University of British Columbia warns that, “There may be important health conseqences that we don’t know about,” in regard to the birth-control pill, which is to be taken 365 days each year … A report from Judicial Watch exposes the fact that at least three people have died and more than 1,600 people have suffered adverse reactions, including “spontaneous abortions,” after receivingMerck’s anti-HPV (human papillomavirus) vaccine. Judicial Watch president Tim Fittonsays: “Any state or local government now beset by Merck’s lobbying campaigns to mandate this HPV vaccine for young girls ought to take a look at these adverse health reports” …Lt. Col. Bob Maginnis (U.S. Army-Ret.) has spoken out against renewed attempts to liberalize the army’s stand on homosexuals. Currently, the policy of the army is that it will not inquire about sexual orientation – the so-called “don’t ask, don’t tell” compromise between the Clinton administration and Congress reached in 1993. Maginnis warns that allowing open homosexuality in the military could compromise military readiness and troop morale.

International

European nations are objecting to a World Bank health strategy for poor countries, because it does not include references to “reproductive services.” Juan Jose Daboub, the bank’s El Saldvadoran managing director, deleted all references to family planning in a WB strategy prepared for Madagascar … John Smeaton, president of U.K.’s Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, notes that British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who is stepping down this summer, plunged Britain into an “ethical abyss” with changes to end-of-life care, the promotion of abortion and contraception and policies that encouraged sexual promiscuity among teenagers … Japan is reconsidering its baby drop-box policy for unwanted newborns, after an unidentified father left his 3-year-old son at the Jikei Hospital in Kumamoto … The Guardian reported villagers rioted in Red China and attacked family planning officers in four southwestern townships in the wake of the latest crackdown enforcing the country’s one-child policy … The Victorian Law Reform Commission in Australia is urging a change in state and federal laws to permit homosexual couples access to fertility treatments.