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News, 16 August 2002

16 August 2002

16 August 2002 It has emerged that a Chinese family is hoping to cite China's coercive abortion policy in an application for asylum in the United States. Mr Bing Jia and his daughter Yukun are already in the US, but Mrs Hong Jia is thought to have gone into hiding back in China. Mr Jia and his daughter claim that Mrs Jia was forced to have two abortions as part of China's one-child family policy. [AP, via Yahoo! News, 14 August ; Seattle Times, 15 August ] Scott Weinberg of the Population Research Institute in Virginia says that asylum has been granted to many people from China in the US since the mid-1980s. If a woman is fleeing China for fear of the one-child policy, this is regarded as political persecution and so asylum can be granted. An Australian federal senator has described legislation to go before parliament next week to allow destructive stem cell research on human embryos as "fatally flawed". Senator Ron Boswell told a public meeting in Brisbane that embryonic stem-cell researchers had exaggerated the potential benefits of their work, and that ethical adult stem cell technology had greater potential for curing diseases. The bill has the support of John Howard, the prime minister, but it will be the subject of a conscience vote and John Anderson, the deputy prime minister, is among those who will vote against. [Canberra Times and ABC News, 16 August] A survey has revealed that 25% of Afghan women returning from refugee camps in Pakistan had been subjected to abortion or sterilisations by organisations funded by the United Nations. The report, published by the Population Research Institute, also found that pregnant refugees were given abortions in the third trimester of pregnancy if their child was thought to have a developmental anomaly. [LifeSite, 15 August ; PRI report, 14 August ] Researchers in Australia have found evidence from studying unborn babies in mid-pregnancy that future disease may be predicted from earlier signs than previously thought. A team led by Dr Kevin Blake at the University of Western Australia has published a study in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health which indicates that babies who have shorter thighs at the 24th week of pregnancy are more likely to have higher blood pressure when they reach the age of six. Higher blood pressure is linked to ill health in later life. [Nando Times, 14 August ; Kaiser Network, 15 August ] Legislators in California are debating a measure which affirms a right to abortion and also attempts to bind future legislators by forbidding moves to ban abortion in years to come. The Reproductive Privacy Act, which has already been passed by the state senate and has the full support of the pro-abortion governor, is now before the state assembly. Senator Sheila Kuehl, the bill's sponsor, explained that the law was necessary to pre-empt a possible future decision by the US Supreme Court to reverse its 1973 Roe v Wade judgement which would have the effect of re-validating state restrictions on abortion dating from the 1960s still on the statute book. [Washington Times and LifeSite , 15 August]

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