Pro-lifer takes helm of British Tories

LONDON, U.K. – Socially conservative Iain Duncan Smith was elected leader of the Conservative Party, defeating the socially liberal Kenneth Clarke following an often nasty two-month leadership race. The UK’s Society for the Protection of Unborn Children reports Duncan Smith voted pro-life in Parliament on issues of cloning and euthanasia. He made family values central to his leadership bid, although he seemed to waffle in the final weeks saying that he is open to debating the issue of lowering the age of consent and the teaching of homosexuality in schools.

Estonia steps toward easing abortion rules

TALLINN, Estonia – The Estonian cabinet has proposed amendments to the country’s abortion law that would abolish the need for parental consent for minors to have an abortion, after practising doctors lobbied the social ministry for the change. The government said in a release that the social ministry proposed the amendments on the assumption that when a girl is capable of becoming pregnant she should be able to take her own decisions. Parliament will now consider the amendments before it can become law. About 1,000 minors have abortions each year in the small Baltic country.

India leading embryonic stem cell research

BOMBAY, India – Associated Press reports that the United States National Institutes of Health has identified seven prospective human embryonic stem cell lines are being developed “in a steel-encased glass box in the Reliance LifeSciences laboratory behind locked, unmarked doors,” in Bombay. Reliance LifeSciences laboratory, one of 10 labs identified by the NIH that have stem cell lines derived from deliberately destroyed embryos which qualify for U.S. federal funding of such research by the terms announced by President George W. Bush in August, began the development of the cell lines in April. The effort is led by Dr. Satish Toety who has worked with mouse embryos for a decade. AP reports Reliance Inc. has invested $5 million in the laboratory and plans to spend $25 million more in the next few years.

WHO promotes condoms

HANOI, Vietnam – The World Health Organization blamed Asia’s rapidly growing sex industry for the failure of its AIDS control policies. WHO blamed rising income disparities for the expansion of the sex trade, which according to some estimates accounts for 2-14 per cent of the gross domestic product in countries such as Indonesia, the Philippines and Thailand. According to the Associated Press, the report focused exclusively on implementing condom-use programs “to turn the tide of rising HIV” which infects an estimated six million Asians. Pro-family groups say that condom use will likely help little considering the extent of the sex industry which now reaches into bars, karaoke parlours and restaurants.

Peruvian Cardinal speaks out on abortion

LIMA, Peru – Cardinal Juan Luis Cipriani of Lima instructed pastors to deny Holy Communion to politicians and other public figures if they persist in public support for abortion. The archdiocesan Pastoral Commission has sent to all pastors a document, Moral and Legal Dimensions of Abortion, designed to set forth “a pastoral and sacramental response to the increasing culture of death, as well as consistent criteria to deal with this grave moral problem.” It says that those who support abortion “rights” “are committing a grave fault by supporting a crime.”

New Zealand approves RU-486

AUCKLAND, N.Z. – New Zealand’s Ministry of Health has approved Mifegyne, as the RU-486 abortion pill is known in the south Pacific country, as a prescription medicine. However, only doctors licensed to do abortions will be allowed to prescribe it. In August, the government reported that 16,103 abortions were committed in New Zealand last year.

Chilean socialists push radical agenda

SANTIAGO, Chile – The Chilean Supreme Court has recognized the abortifacient component of the “morning-after” birth-control pill and banned its use in Chile, where abortion is illegal. The 3-2 vote overturns a lower court ruling and goes against the health ministry’s approval of the pill, one of several anti-life, anti-family measures of the socialist government of President Ricardo Lagos. The government is pushing liberalization of divorce laws and sex education in schools. He has also criticized religious leaders… For encouraging citizens not to vote for politicians supporting abortion or divorce. Chile is the only Western democracy in addition to Malta where divorce is illegal.