News, 1 November 2002
1 November 2002
1 November 2002 Lithuania's parliament is to vote on a bill to liberalise the law relating to abortion and reproductive technologies on 11 November. It is reported that the bill is the initiative of three private reproductive health clinics, one of which is owned by the daughter of Lithuania's prime minister. Fr Robertas Skrinskas, a pro-life leader in Lithuania, says that the measure is being backed by foreign interests and the mainstream media, while a pro-life petition containing 80,000 signatures was largely ignored. [LifeSite, 31 October ] Abortion was legalised in Lithuania in 1955 when it was under Soviet occupation, and in 2000 about a third of recorded pregnancies ended in abortion. Lithuania is one of the 10 countries expected to become full members of the European Union within the next two years. Pope John Paul II has condemned legalised euthanasia in an address to the new Belgian ambassador to the Vatican. Belgium became the second country after the Netherlands to legalise euthanasia earlier this year, but the Pope said that the Church could not hide "her great anxiety and reprobation" in the face of these laws. The Pope continued: "Recognition of the sacred character and the inviolability of every human person, conferred by the Creator, is, in fact, the only authentic defence against the ever possible violation of their dignity." [Zenit, 31 October ] Pro-lifers have warned that the pro-abortion agenda of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) is behind its campaign to highlight claims of high maternal death rates in Afghanistan. A spokesman for the UNFPA said that the number of pregnancy-related deaths in Afghanistan was "extraordinary" and "shocking", and claimed that the main reason for the vast majority of these deaths was a severe shortage of "family planning and emergency obstetric services". A spokesman for SPUC noted that UNFPA's claims of high maternal death rates elsewhere had been shown to be completely unfounded and were part of their campaign for permissive abortion laws. Marie Stopes International (MSI) and UNFPA were quick to establish a presence in Afghanistan after the fall of the Taliban regime, and although neither have said if they will be providing abortifacient methods of birth control or surgical abortions in Afghanistan, it is known that morning-after pills and late term surgical abortions were being provided in Afghan refugee camps inside Pakistan. [BBC News online, 31 October ; SPUC, 1 November] The pro-abortion Democrat majority leader in the US senate has warned that the congressional elections next week are critical for abortion rights. In a fundraising email to supporters of the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League (NARAL), Senator Tom Daschle wrote: "Rarely has so much been at stake for a woman's right to choose in a US senate election. If you and thousands of other pro-choice Americans like you don't act today by giving to NARAL's Save the Senate Campaign, the US senate could fall into anti-choice hands on November 6th - the first day after the election." [CNSNews, 31 October ] There is currently a small pro-abortion majority in the US senate, while the president and a majority in the House of Representatives are against abortion.