Long tolerated, euthanasia now legal in Netherlands

AMSTERDAM — Passed by the Dutch parliament last April, the law permitting active euthanasia came into force Jan. 1. Tolerated for decades, euthanasia is now governed by what euthanasia advocates claim are stringent restrictions, including that euthanasia is only available to Dutch residents who have developed a relationship with their family doctor and who are deemed to be in unbearable pain. Yet the BBC reports that international euthanasia organizations have been inundated with calls about how to take advantage of the Netherlands’s liberal euthanasia law. The BBC also reports that, “The debate is now moving a step further, deciding whether elderly people should be prescribed a suicide pill when they feel the time is right.”

Bishop defies Pope on abortion counselling

FRANKFURT — Frankfurt’s Bishop Franz Kamphaus is the only one of the 27 German Catholic Bishops who continues to openly defy Pope John Paul II by offering counselling certificates to pregnant women who can use the certificates to obtain abortions. In November 1999, German bishops agreed to end the practice of handing out abortion counselling certificates, which permit Catholic counselling services to remain within the official system of counselling centres.

One-child policy becomes official

BEIJING — China has codified the country’s coercive population control policy, which has been enforced for 21 years. The policy officially limits urban families to one child and allows rural families to have a second child if their first child is a girl. As a result of the nearly quarter-century unofficial policy, the widespread use of sex-selective abortions and female infanticide, China now faces a demographic imbalance of 117 boys for every 100 girls.