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From 2001-JAN to JUNE

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Background information on many aspects of abortion is found in individual essays, e.g. public opinion, clinic protests, clinic violence, parental notification, abortion methods, and post abortion syndrome. Information about the use of stem cells is elsewhere.

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News items:

bullet2001-JAN-22: World: Funding ban reinstated: President George W. Bush reinstated the funding ban for family planning programs run by all international agencies which also provide abortion services, even if the latter is done out of their own funds. His rationale was somewhat confusing. He wrote to the U.S. Agency for International Development: "It is my conviction that taxpayer funds should not be used to pay for abortions or advocate or actively promote abortion, either here or abroad." But no such funds have been involved. Existing legislation prevents foreign grants from being used to fund abortions.

The Planned Parenthood Federation suggested that this decision will increase the number of abortions performed worldwide. By crippling agencies whose main function is disseminating birth control information, the number of pregnancies in the Third World will probable escalate rapidly, causing women to search out local abortion providers.

Reaction was swift:
bulletAnn Stone, chairperson of Republicans for Choice said: "He's supposed to be measuring for drapes on his first day, not interfering with women's rights. To start out like this makes us very sad."
bulletDouglas Johnson, legislative director of the National Right to Live Committee said: "The U.S. government will no longer be using taxpayer dollars to try to legalize abortion in countries in Latin America, Africa, and Muslim countries in which the people are strongly opposed to abortion and believe in the protection of unborn children."
bulletKate Michelman, president of the National Abortion and Reproductive and Reproduction Rights Action League said that President Bush: "has made it clear that he will use his presidential powers to undermine the reproductive rights of the world's women...This should serve as a wake-up call to anyone who thought Bush would not be a threat to a woman's right to choose."

bullet2001-JAN-18: USA: This is the start of National Sanctity of Human Life Week. Nancy Pruett, director of the American Family Association complained about the number of conservative Christians who have abortions: "Even pro-life believers, when faced with the shame of a pregnancy outside of marriage, will do as King David did...[Christians] will resort to murder to cover the sin. Some don't believe their church would ever accept them if they had [borne] the child. Many Christian parents insist that their churchgoing teen-ager abort rather than bring shame on the family." 1
bullet2001-JAN-29: UK: "Morning-after pills" over-the-counter pills approved: Following an earlier pilot project, British women aged 16 and up have been able to obtain Levonelle from pharmacists and school nurses without a prescription. Baroness Young, a conservative party member, initiated a bill in the House of Lords to ban the sale of the drug without a prescription. She argued that sales would encourage promiscuity, and "undermine family life." It failed by a vote of 177 to 95. Baroness Gould, president of the Family Planning Association, disagreed. She said that most consumers are older woman who had had unprotected sex or a contraceptive failure. She said that these women were "not irresponsible, reckless or promiscuous. They are acting responsibly in trying to prevent an unwanted pregnancy in a world where there is no 100 per cent safe method of contraception and where human beings are fallible." 2
bullet2001-JAN-31: Virginia: Abortion restriction bill: A Virginia Senate committee approved a bill that would require women seeking abortions to wait for 24 hours. The bill would also require the provider to tell the woman the age of the fetus, details of the abortion procedure and explore other options. Governor Gilmore has promised to sign the bill into law if it is passed by both houses of the legislature.
bullet2001-FEB-5: Europe: European Union will offset U.S. cuts in family planning: According to the Guardian newspaper, "Britain and its EU partners are poised to fill some of the gap created by President George Bush's decision to end US payments to [some] international family planning organisations..." 3
bullet2001-FEB-6: USA: New legislation to further restrict RU-486: Senator Tim Hutchinson (R-AR) and Representative David Vitter (R-LA) introduced bills which would require physicians to meet new standards before they would be allowed to prescribe RU-486. They would have to be legally authorized to perform surgical abortions and handle any complications. Under current regulations, they only had to have a linkage to a physician who could perform abortions. Vicki Saporta, executive director of the National Abortion Federation commented: "Claims that this legislation is motivated by a concern for women's health are at best disingenuous, and at worst dishonest.'' 4
bullet2001-FEB-10: USA: Methodists protest President Bush's restriction on funding of international family planning groups: According to ReligionToday: "The United Methodist Church's social action agency is objecting strongly to one of President Bush's first official acts, which restricts the use of U.S. funds for international family planning groups." The order pulls funding from such organizations if they mention abortion or refer patients to abortion providers. Jim Winkler, head of the Board of Church and Society, wrote: "The U.S. Agency for  International Development has found that in every nation where information about contraception and access to methods of birth control are available, abortion rates decline.  Far from pro-life, your action ensures that more poor women and their children will perish."
bullet2001-FEB-14: USA: Congressman sponsors bill to declare fetuses human. According to CNSNews.com: Representative Lindsey Graham (R, SC) has reintroduced his Unborn Victims of Violence Act. Last year's version passed 254 to 172 in the House, but was defeated in the Senate. It would establish federal legal status for fetuses, when their mother is the victim of a violent, Federal crime. This would lead to additional charges against a perpetrator of violence on a pregnant woman. He said: "About half of the states have statutes or judicial decisions that criminalize behavior that harms or kills the unborn. Unfortunately, federal law is silent on the matter." Some groups have come out in opposition to the bill:
bulletThe American Association of University Women said that the bill is "a back-door attack on reproductive rights because choice opponents could argue that the bill states that life begins at conception...[The purpose of the bill] is not to protect women from violence, but to undermine a woman's right to choose."
bulletThe Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, said that the bill  would recognize the fetus as "a separate entity with discreet legal rights independent of the pregnant woman [which] could create future 'fetal rights' that could be used against the pregnant woman." 5
bullet2001-FEB-15: USA: Bill to reverse funding cuts to foreign family planning agencies: Representatives Nita Lowey (D-NY) and Barbara Boxer (D-CA) introduced a House bill to overturn President Bush's ban on funding foreign family planning or contraception programs if they also use money from other sources to advocate for or provide abortions. 6
bullet2001-FEB-21: Vatican: Cardinal calls for Vatican III Conference: According to ReligionToday: The Archbishop of Milan, Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini, has called for a Third Vatican Council to "help the Church face challenges of the future, including the role of women, changing sexual mores, priestly celibacy, contraception and abortion." 7
bullet2001-FEB-22: USA: Opposition to funding cut to foreign family planning agencies: According to the Religious News Service: The General Board of Church and Society of the United Methodist Church supports a bill that would overturn President Bush's ban on funding family planning programs of foreign groups which support abortion with money from other funding sources. The Rev. Jim Winkler said: "Far from being pro-life, restricting international family planning funds as President Bush has done only ensures that more poor women and their children will perish." He pointed out that, according to government statistics, when information on family planning is not readily available, abortion rates rise. 6

This essay continues below.

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bullet2002-FEB-26: South Carolina: Restrictions on abortion clinics: According to Associated Press: Abortion providers in the South Carolina launched a lawsuit claiming that the state was undermining abortion access by requiring them to meet unreasonable standards that are not required of physicians performing any similar low risk procedures. The rules govern "everything from bookkeeping to air flow in clinic offices." The doctors claim that compliance would be expensive and would raise the cost of abortions significantly. Their lawyers wrote: "Under the guise of promoting maternal health, these regulations actually threaten women's health by significantly hindering their access to safe, legal abortions." South Carolina authorities responded that the regulations are very similar to national standards for abortion practices. The U.S. Supreme Court decided to not review the case.
bullet2001-MAR-25: Switzerland: Abortions legalized, sort of: According to the Associated Press, after eight years of bitter debate, early abortions are now legal in Switzerland. A woman who is fewer than 12 weeks into pregnancy will be freely able to obtain an abortion. Abortion had been technically illegal in the country in recent years. However, it had been relatively simple for a woman to obtain an abortion if she had a letter from a second doctor stating that there were sound medical reasons. The National Council voted 107 to 69 in favor of the bill; the Council of States approved the bill 22 to 20. The Christian People's Party had proposed an amendment that would have required the woman to undergo independent counseling; it was rejected. The Party will now attempt to collect 100,000 signatures on a petition which would place the law on hold until it is passed by a referendum. 
bullet2001-MAY-16: USA: Bill to cut funding to foreign family planning agencies passes house: Representative Henry Hyde (R-IL) had introduced a bill to deny funding to family planning agencies around the world. The funding cutoff would only happen to those agencies who also either provide abortions using their own funds, or advocate for liberalization of local abortion laws. House members passed the amendment 218 to 210. Critics suggest that with less family planning education, the number of unwanted pregnancies will increase; this will cause an increase in the number of abortions. A Family Research Council's press release stated that Hyde's "...support emphasizes the principle that the federal government has no right to use the hard-earned dollars of the American people to pay for abortion." Actually, the Council's statement is incorrect. No federal money goes to pay for abortion. The money that will be cut off by this bill goes to pay for contraceptive information. The National Right to Life Committee's press release stated: "The House wisely decided not to send tax dollars to groups that campaign to legalize abortion as a birth-control method in Latin America and Africa." 
bullet2001-JUN: USA: Debate over stem cell research intensifies: Stem cell research offers great hope to over 100 million Americans who suffer from various diseases and disorders, ranging from ALS to heart disease, diabetes and cancer. However, the most useful type of stem cells are derived from human embryos. Extraction of these cells is regarded as murder of a human person by many pro-lifers. Research in government labs is currently suspended. President George W. Bush is expected to make a decision before the end of July on whether to resume research. More details.
bullet2001-JUN-11: Ireland: Dutch abortion ship leaves port: According to the New York Times, a privately financed Dutch ship will sail from the Netherlands to Ireland. It is called "Women on Waves." It has a small operating room on board and a medical staff of two doctors and a nurse. The purpose of the ship is to make abortion, both medical and surgical, accessible to the women of Ireland. The people of Ireland are overwhelmingly Roman Catholic. Irish law bans almost all abortions, including pregnancies generated through rape or incest. It allows abortion only in the case of imminent danger to the life of the woman, including suicidal intent. When the ship is more than 12 miles from shore, it is under Dutch law and can provide abortions on request.
bullet2001-JUN-15: USA: Presbyterian Church (USA) General Assembly considers abortion-related items: The General Assembly considered, but rejected, an overture (motion) to establish a special committee to conduct a study of abortion in a biblical and theological context. A previous study on this topic had been done in 1992. They also declined an overture to direct the Board of Pensions to require notification of a parent at least forty-eight hours in advance of any abortion performed on a minor daughter. They referred two overtures concerning late-term abortions to the Advisory Committee on Litigation and the Advisory Committee on Social Witness Policy8
bullet2001-JUN-28: NJ: Nominee for governor opposed to all abortions: According to AANEWS: "In an astonishing upset against the state's political establishment, Jersey City Mayor Bret B. Schundler yesterday won the Republican nomination for governor, and will face Democratic opponent James E. McGreevey in the November general election...The new GOP gubernatorial nominee is strident in his view that all abortion must be banned, even if the life of the mother is in danger. 'What's the difference of an inch?  If it's illegal to kill the baby once delivered, why is it legal just a few moments before?'  he asked during an interview."

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Continue with news items starting 2001-JULY

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  1. "Churches need to address guilty secret," Religion Today news summary, 2001-JAN-25.
  2. "UK 'Morning-after pill' challenge fails," Maranatha Christian Journal, at: http://www.mcjonline.com/news/01a/20010130c.shtml
  3. Ian Black, "EU to offset Bush cuts in family planning funds," The Guardian, http://www.guardianunlimited.co.uk/bush/story/
  4. Adam Entous, "Republicans launch new attack on abortion pill," Yahoo! News/Reuters, 2001-FEB-6 at: http://dailynews.yahoo.com/h/nm/20010206/ts/ 
  5. "Unborn victims bill sponsor optimistic on passage," CNSNews.com, at: http://www.mcjonline.com/news/01a/20010213a.shtml 
  6. Kevin Eckstrom, "Methodists Support Overturn of Bush's Foreign Family Planning Rules," Religion News Service, at: http://www.religionnews.com/
  7. "Pope moves to ensure successor," 2001-FEB-21, ReligionToday news summary.
  8. Nancy Rodman, "Assembly acts on abortion, other issues," PCUSA News, 2001-JUN-15.

Copyright © 2001 and 2004 by the Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Latest update: 2004-MAR-9
Author: B.A. Robinson

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