One-child policy relaxed in disaster area

CHENGDU, China – Local officials announced that China’s one-child policy will be relaxed for parents whose only child was killed or severely injured in a May 12 earthquake. It is estimated that nearly 7,000 classrooms were destroyed during the quake that struck at 2:28 p.m. on a school day, resulting in the deaths of an estimated 10,000 children. The death toll from the quake continues to climb past 65,000, with an unknown number of people missing and nearly four million left homeless. Qualifying parents may apply for legal permission and receive a certificate to have another child. The one-child policy was introduced in 1979 as a measure to control population growth and has led to coerced abortions, forced sterilization and infanticide. Typically, any child who is born in addition to the one child is considered an “illegally born” child, resulting in huge fines for the family. Chinese officials said that those families who lost their “legally born” child can now register their illegally born child as a legal child and those who lost an illegal child will have their fines suspended, but not refunded.

South African abortionists

JOHANNESBURG – South Africa’s Sunday Times newspaper has discovered that doctors there are committing illegal late-term abortions, uncovering two cases in one city over one week. Nomgcobo Sangoni runs an illegal abortion facility doing abortions up to 33 weeks in the pregnancy. James Kyagulanyi is offering illegal late-term abortions up to 23 weeks into pregnancy at the Mdantsane Medical Centre. In South Africa, abortion is completely legal up to 12 weeks and up to 20 weeks under certain conditions. Sangoni told the paper, “We do abortion past 20 weeks. It is illegal, to a certain extent. We don’t attend to patients who want it for social reasons, such as being poor, but if (the patient) is ill.”

Woman charged with illegal abortions

SAN DIEGO – Bertha Pinedo Bugarin, 48, was arrested after a year-long investigation by the San Diego County district attorney and charged with 10 felony counts, including performing medical procedures without a licence, after posing as a doctor to commit abortions. Some of the abortions were unsuccessful and several women required hospitalization after severe complications. Her Chula Vista facility advertised on Spanish-language television and charged $500 for abortions. “This defendant preyed on women in the Hispanic community,” district attorney Bonnie Dumanis said in a statement.

McCain signals pro-life position

WASHINGTON – During a virtual town hall meeting intended to win over independent voters and disaffected Democrats who supported Hillary Clinton, Republican presidential candidate John McCain re-iterated he is pro-life. He said: “We have to change the culture of America. We have to convince people of our view that the rights of the unborn are as important as the rights of the born.” He repeated his promise to choose judges who, like Chief Justice John Roberts, is pro-life, although he refused to set a pro-life litmus test saying, “I believe that interpretation of the Constitution, and only that, should be the criteria for Supreme Court justices.” He criticized the models that Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama has offered as judicial appointments, such as pro-abortion justices Ruth Bader Ginsberg and Stephen Breyer. McCain also criticized Obama for his support of partial-birth abortion, saying, “I am unalterably opposed to partial birth abortion.” One notable exception to McCain’s pro-life position is his support for embryonic stem cell research.

Children returned to polygamists

SAN ANTONIO – The Texas Supreme Court has ruled that children removed from the polygamist Yearning for Zion Ranch must be returned to their parents after Child Protective Services were unable to prove that there was any immediate danger posed to them. The ranch was raided after police received a tip from a 16-year former member of the group, who allegedly married and had a baby with a 60-year-old man at the age of 15. The 16-year-old girl has not been located. The court found that CPS had overstepped its bounds and authority when seizing the children. Parents are allowed to regain custody of their children under the conditions that they stay within the state of Texas unless given court permission to leave and take a parenting class. More than 400 children were seized from the ranch after allegations of sexual abuse and molestation emerged in April. CPS said that the investigation into the allegations will continue. A spokeswoman said, “We feel very strongly about this case and the safety of these children.”

Activists seek human rights for chimp

AUSTRIA – Animal rights activists have appealed to the European Court of Human Rights to have a chimpanzee legally declared a person. The Association Against Animal Factories argues that recognition of legal personhood is required for the chimp, so that it may be appointed a guardian by the court to care for it in case its housing facility is shut down. The Austrian Supreme Court upheld the lower court’s decision that rejected the request to have a guardian appointed for the chimp in January, ruling that only people can have guardians. The chimp, furthermore, is neither in danger nor impaired and so does not meet the legal requirements for appointed guardianship. The group’s president, Martin Balluch, stated, “We appeal to the European Court of Human Rights, because everyone is entitled to a fair trial, even chimps.”

Legal prostitution in New Zealand

AUKLAND – The Prostitution Law Review Committee examining the state of prostitution in New Zealand five years after the Prostitution Reform Act of 2003 liberalizing the practice, found that the number of prostitutes remains stable. It also found that 93 per cent of women cited money as the reason for entering the field and that the barriers to exit include “loss of income, reluctance to lose the flexible working hours … and the camaraderie and sense of belonging that some sex workers describe.” The majority of sex workers surveyed said legalization has done little to reduce violence and the committee found that despite age limitations, 1.3 per cent of prostitutes were under the age of 18. Associate Justice Minister Lianne Dalziel said the report proved liberalization has worked and that the number of prostitutes has not increased. Yet, critics point out that the committee only talked to women within the legal system of prostitution and thus, there was no way of knowing how many prostitutes continue to work in the sex black market.