Mixed signals on U.S. funding of foreign abortion groups

WASHINGTON – White House Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte announced that the Bush administration will deny funding to the United Nations Population Fund for the sixth year in a row, on the grounds that the program co-operates with forced abortion and sterilization in China. At the same time, the Senate voted 53-41 to reaffirm the Kemp-Kasten Amendment, a measure that has prohibited American funding of coercive population control measures since 1985. Contradictorily, the Senate voted to increase funding for the other family planning activities of organizations that commit or refer for abortions.

Nicaragua resists liberalizing abortion

MANAGUA – By a vote of 66-3, the Sandanista-dominated Nicaraguan Congress voted to renew the penal code’s punishment of all abortions, striking down an amendment that would have created an exemption for “therapeutic abortion.” The penal code calls for prison sentences of one to three years, as well as removal of a medical license for two to five years, for anyone who “causes an abortion with the consent of the woman.” Women who obtain an abortion can be imprisoned for one to two years. The unborn are legally recognized in the constitution of many Latin American countries, including Nicaragua. Pro-abortion forces have said they would not bother challenging the law in the courts, noting that many judges were appointed by the members of the parties that overwhelmingly opposed liberalizing abortion.

Social issues take back seat in U.S. voters’ minds

WASHINGTON – The Pew Research Centre for People and the Press released its 2007 Religion and Public Life Survey of 3,002 Americans, which found that 78 per cent said the economy, health care and the environment are among their primary considerations in voting. Seventy-two per cent said the same about the war in Iraq and 38 per cent listed social issues such as abortion and gay “marriage.”

Abortion forced on Chinese couple

QIAN’A, China – Seven years ago, newlyweds Jin Yaniand Yang Zhongchenof Qian’an, China, were subjected to a forced ninth-month abortion when 10 family planning officials broke into the couple’s home and abducted Jin because they conceived five months before they got married, which is illegal in Red China. In September, a Hebei district court agreed to hear their case, in which they are seeking $185,000 as compensation for the resultant sterility. Beijing lawyer Sun Maohang,who represents the couple, says it is the first time a Chinese court has heard such a case, despite the fact that forced abortions are illegal in the country.