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Defending life from the moment of conception

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Is China planning to scrap the one-child policy?

3 March 2008

Comments by a senior Chinese official have been interpreted by Western journalists as suggesting that the Chinese government is considering scrapping its one-child policy. The Guardian quotes Ms Zhao Baige, vice minister of the national population and family planning commission, saying: "I cannot answer at what time or how [we will decide], but this has really become a big issue among decision makers. We want to have a transition from control to a slowdown [relaxation], incrementally. The attitude is to do the studies, to consider it responsibly." [Guardian, 28 February] Reuters also report that fines for having children for wealthier couples are to be increased. Criticism of the policy has included the demographic problems of having an ageing population and a higher number of boys than girls. [Reuters, 28 February] Anthony Ozimic, SPUC political secretary, warned that Ms Zhao's remarks were likely to be misleading. He said: "Such statements are intended for Western consumption only and specifically designed to mislead Westerners into wishful thinking that the regime's crimes against humanity, such as the one-child policy, are coming to an end." [28 February]

Malta and Poland have dissented from the European Union's line on reproductive health at UN's Commission on the Status of Women meeting in New York, NY. Mr Saviour Borg, Maltese ambassador, said that any position on women's issues "should not in any way create an obligation on any party to consider abortion as a legitimate form of reproductive health rights, services or commodities". Mr Radosław Mleczko, Poland's labour and social affairs minister, made a similar statement. The EU seldom splits on social policy. [Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute, 28 February]

The Pope has praised American pro-life activists (with a possible allusion to President Bush) in an address to Ms Mary Ann Glendon, US ambassador to the Holy See. He spoke of "the efforts of so many of your fellow citizens and government leaders to ensure legal protection for God's gift of life from conception to natural death." Benedict XVI will visit America next month. [Reuters on Yahoo!, 29 February, and CNA on EWTN, 29 February]

Mr Barack Obama, a prospective US Democratic presidential candidate, has said that he will not give in to pressure from pro-life groups to back down from his pro-choice standpoint. In a speech to the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, he said: "On this fundamental issue, I will not yield and Planned Parenthood will not yield." He also dismissed his critics as people who "want us to believe that there's nothing that unites us as Americans - there's only what divides us. They'll seek out the narrowest and most divisive ground." [CNA on EWTN, 28 February] The Catholic League has criticised Senator Obama for his statement that his decision to help to save the life of Terry Schiavo was the "biggest mistake" he had ever made. Mr Bill Donohue, president of the league, said: "He could have taken the opportunity to say that the biggest blunder of his career in public life was his vote to kill a bill in the Illinois legislature that would have provided medical care for infants who survive abortions." [LifeNews, 28 February]

A woman reportedly forged her estranged husband's signature on a form so that she could bear two children using IVF embryos created while the couple were still together. The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) has advised men to tell clinics if their relationships end. The couple have not been identified. The Cambridgeshire clinic which stored the embryos now photographs couples seeking treatment. [Mail on Sunday, 2 March, and Telegraph, 3 March]

British parliamentarians claim that the HFEA's approval for animal-human hybrid embryos mocks parliament, accusing the authority of being excessively "beholden to sections of the scientific community". Their letter to the Daily Telegraph has 40 signatories, including Mr Frank Field MP of the governing Labour party.[Telegraph, 3 March]

Schoolgirls in Plymouth, south west England, are being issued with morning-after pills at school, it has been revealed. Experts at Plymouth's Primary Care Trust said that it was likely that the parents of the children involved had not been informed. Mrs Christine Hudson, a member of Family and Youth Concern, said: "It's deplorable that parents are not allowed to know what's happening to their children." She also said that "in some parts of the country", girls as young as 11 were being given such pills without parental consent. [Herald, 28 February]

The Catholic church has urged Brazil's supreme court to ban embryo research. A 2005 law has allowed the practice but a former attorney general said it violated the constitutional right to life. The bishops' conference denied that the church was anti-science and pointed to successful adult cell research. [Sign On San Diego, 29 February]

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