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West Virginia Women's Right to Know Bill Becomes Law

After 15 years of hard work, West Virginia pro-lifers rejoiced when a Woman's Right to Know bill was passed by the state Senate on a 30-2 vote February 24. Gov. Bob Wise, who vetoed a similar bill in 2002, let the bill become law without his signature on March 6.

If Wise had vetoed the bill, pro-lifers had been hopeful that it could be overridden with a simple majority of the legislature, according to the Beckley Register-Herald. The House also passed the bill with a wide margin, 82-15 on February 21.

"West Virginians for Life (WVFL) would like to commend both the House and the Senate for their courageous stand to protect West Virginia mothers and their unborn children," said WVFL president Charlotte Snead, M.S.W. "All women considering a decision she will live with for a lifetime should have access to medically accurate and balanced information."

The bill requires abortionists to inform women seeking abortions about physical and psychological risks of the procedure as well as alternatives, the Register-Herald reported. The women would then have to wait 24 hours before having the abortion.

"This is a patient's rights bill," said Karen Cross, WVFL executive director. "This is all about protecting the citizens of West Virginia. Women deserve factual information."

German Legislators Demand Ban On All Human Cloning

On a near-unanimous vote February 21, the German Parliament passed a declaration demanding that its government work in the United Nations toward a ban on all forms of human cloning.

Since 2001, German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's government, along with representatives from France, has championed a proposal in the UN that would allow so-called "therapeutic" cloning to create new human beings only to have them killed in experiments, according to the Catholic Family & Human Rights Institute's "Friday Fax."

However, the parliament's declaration strongly denounces such a policy. It states that "an international ban on all cloning must be a goal of German policy," the institute reported.

"This was the strongest possible message the parliament could send to the government," a parliamentary staffer told the institute. "The vast majority in parliament want a comprehensive ban, and they want the government to reflect this position at the United Nations. They fully expect the government to act on these wishes."

The declaration is not legally binding. However, since almost all legislators from the major political parties in Germany supported the measure, experts expect the government will have to take notice, according to the institute.

"There is a good chance for an alliance against cloning," Maria Bhmer, a leader of the Christian Democrats, told the institute. "Together with France, the USA and many other nations we can form an alliance on this important issue for our future."

Nine-Year-Old Girl's Abortion Ignites Controversy in Nicaragua

An abortion performed on a nine-year-old girl in apparent violation of Nicaraguan law has sparked a major controversy in the Central American nation.

The little girl, identified as "Rosa," had the abortion February 20 and reportedly came through in good health. She was allegedly raped by a farmhand in neighboring Costa Rica, where her family had gone to find jobs as migrant workers, according to the Associated Press (AP).

More than a month after the alleged rape, her parents took Rosa to a doctor and learned she was pregnant and was infected by her attacker with two sexually transmitted diseases, the AP reported. The family returned to Nicaragua and asked authorities to allow the abortion.

Nicaraguan abortion law requires three specialists to confirm that the mother's life is in danger or the unborn baby has severe deformities before an abortion can be performed, according to the AP.

A government medical board, however, ruled February 18 that it was not clear that an abortion was necessary to save Rosa's life. Other health officials contended that Rosa's health was in no imminent danger. "The child's physical condition was stable, at least until the day that her parents took her out of our hospital," Nicaraguan Health Secretary Lucia Salvo told Nicaraguan news media, according to the AP.

Despite the board's refusal to approve the abortion, the parents went ahead and found doctors who performed the procedure. Rosa was 16 weeks pregnant at the time, the AP reported.

Officials of the Roman Catholic Church, to which most Nicaraguans belong, had offered to help Rosa carry the child to term. After the abortion was announced, Jorge Solorzano, auxiliary bishop for the Roman Catholic Church's Managua diocese, said that the church "will punish this deliberate abortion with excommunication, not only for the mother and the doctor, but for all of those who helped commit this crime against human life," according to the AP.

Nicaraguan police investigated whether those who arranged and performed the abortion committed any crimes. However, on March 3, the attorney general's office announced that no charges would be filed, the AP reported.

In Costa Rica, police arrested a farmhand and accused him of raping Rosa. Alex Barquero maintains his innocence.

Illinois Baby Born at 12-1/2 Ounces Is Thriving

Michael Despain, who was born in an Illinois hospital at 26 weeks' gestation October 18, weighed in at a tiny 12-1/2 ounces after being delivered in an emergency Caesarean section. Although his twin sister Jennifer did not survive for long after birth, Michael continued to grow and went home with his family February 11 weighing 4 pounds, 9 ounces.

"I'm nervous and anxious," his mother Janet told the Chicago Tribune. "But I'm ready for him to come home."

According to Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, Illinois, Michael is the third smallest baby born in Illinois.

Doctors delivered the twins after tests showed they had stopped growing and had irregular heartbeats, United Press International (UPI) reported. Jennifer's lungs were too underdeveloped to survive, and she died six hours after birth. But Michael was able to overcome the collapse of one lung and continue to thrive.

"Although he could fit in the palm of your hand, Michael did not have as many complications as you might expect for a baby born that small," said neonatologist Dr. Charles MacDonald in a Christ Medical Center news release. "That allowed us to focus on giving him enough nutrition to grow and helping him breathe on his own."

Michael's family, mom Janet, dad Jeff, and siblings Joe and Danielle, took him home to Monee, Illinois, February 11 after he spent four months in the hospital. His parents were able to hold him for the first time December 13, nearly two months after his birth, UPI reported.

"It's pretty amazing," Mrs. Despain told the Associated Press. "I just didn't think it was possible for him to live. He looks perfect to me."

Parents of Down Syndrome Baby Win "Wrongful Birth" Suit in Canada

The divorced parents of a baby born in Canada in 1997 will receive compensation for the birth of their daughter (legally termed "wrongful birth"), since the mother testified she would have had an abortion if she had known the baby had Down syndrome.

A British Columbia Supreme Court justice awarded parents Liu-Ling Zhang and Simon Fung more than $300,000 for emotional distress and the cost of raising their daughter Sherry. The money will mostly go to Fung, since Sherry lives with her father and his second wife in Los Angeles. Zhang will receive only $10,000 in damages since she has seen her daughter only eight times in her five years of life, the Vancouver Province reported.

The lawsuit was brought against Dr. Ken Kan of Richmond, British Columbia. The judge ruled that Kan should have given Zhang an amniocentesis test to determine if the baby had Down syndrome, since Zhang was 35 years old, according to the Province. The chance of conceiving a child with the syndrome increases as the mother ages.

"Because of the doctor's negligence, the mother did not have the opportunity to abort," Guy Collette, lawyer for the parents, told the National Post. Zhang testified that having a baby with Down syndrome "totally disrupted our plans," the Province reported.

Disability rights advocates condemned the decision. "I think it's a very big mistake to make that connection [between the syndrome and abortion]," Elizabeth Dolman of the Canadian Down Syndrome Society told the National Post. "Making that decision devalues people with Down syndrome and suggests their lives aren't worth living, and that just absolutely isn't true."

Planned Parenthood to Join Milwaukee City Clinic

To the dismay of Wisconsin pro-lifers, the Milwaukee Common Council endorsed a plan to allow Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin to join a city health clinic to provide "contraceptive counseling." With a 10-5 vote March 4, the council ignored strong community objections to housing the abortion provider in a clinic subsidized by taxpayers, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.

"Planned Parenthood is the state's largest abortion provider and will use the proposed site to refer women for abortions," said Marianne Linane, chair of Wisconsin Right to Life's Milwaukee Chapter. "If Planned Parenthood is successful in getting into this facility, they would refer women right over to their own profit-oriented Milwaukee abortion clinic to have abortions."

Aldermen who voted against the measure recognized that the community would be outraged by the council's decision. "This is truly an insult to their deeply held, passionate religious convictions," Alderman Bob Donovan told the Journal Sentinel.

Planned Parenthood will offer "contraceptive counseling, cancer screening, and testing for sexually transmitted infections" at the city-owned Northwest Health Center, according to the Journal Sentinel.

It will use a $20,000 federal grant to pay for the services, which would be mostly free to clients, the Journal Sentinel reported. Although Planned Parenthood cannot provide or advocate for abortions while using the federal funds, it will be able to give out information about abortion.

"The City of Milwaukee should not be in the business of promoting the abortion industry," said Linane. "The taxpayers of Milwaukee will not stand for any plan that allows Planned Parenthood, the state's largest abortion provider, to occupy any taxpayer-owned building.">EN >END
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Publication:National Right to Life News
Geographic Code:1U5WV
Date:Mar 1, 2003
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