Parliamentary Network E-News

Volume 15
No. 2
February, 2021
Focus on the United States

Biden’s Radical Nominees to Oversee Health in the US and World

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is an expansive department of the U.S. government with sweeping oversight on policies related to health in the U.S. and diplomatically, including abortion. The many and varied agencies that the Secretary and Assistant Secretary oversee include Administration for Children & Families, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Food and Drug Administration (FDA), National Institutes of Health, Office for Civil Rights, the Office of Global Affairs, and the Office of Population Affairs.
As a result, President Biden’s nominees for Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS), Xavier Becerra, and for Assistant Secretary, Dr. Rachel Levin, have received intense scrutiny for their radical views as they undergo Senate confirmation hearings. Xavier Becerra, former congressman and current attorney general of California, has a radical position on abortion that former Trump administration officials and pro-life groups warned about inclduing that in California he pushed to further expand state and federal abortion regulations, sued the Little Sisters of the Poor to force them to provide contraception under Obamacare, and filed 15 felony charges against pro-life activist David Daleiden and others for their undercover investigation of Planned Parenthood.
Sen. James Lankford organized a congressional letter to President Biden calling upon him to remove Becerra from nomination to serve as the next Secretary of HHS highlighting his lack of experience. The letter noted Biden’s words at his inauguration about uniting the country and the need to address the pandemic and reopen the country stating,
"Our nation cannot afford to lose valuable time in this battle by installing an HHS Secretary who is not up to the challenges we face. But that is exactly what you propose to do by nominating Mr. Becerra, a man with no meaningful experience in healthcare, public health, large-scale logistics, or any other areas critical to meeting our present challenges.
"Mr. Becerra’s extremism and contempt for those who take a different view contradict your calls for unity. His appointment would sow further division at a time our country needs to heal and would endanger lives at a time our citizens need life-saving treatments, vaccinations, and the freedom to work and worship together."  
Biden’s nominee for Assistant Secretary of HHS, Dr. Rachel Levine, professor of pediatrics and psychiatry at the Penn State College of Medicine, was Pennsylvania’s health secretary. Levine, prior to transitioning to a transgender woman in 2011, was a husband and father of two children. During the Senate confirmation hearing before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, Levine refused to answer a question from Sen Rand Paul about whether or not she supported the government overriding parental opposition to give minors puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones, and/or surgery. Levine dodged the question by responding that “transgender medicine is a very complex and nuanced field,” but added that if nominated she would be happy to meet with him to discuss the issue. Levine’s lack of transparency and refusal to oppose minors making life-altering decisions without parental consent alarmed Paul and a number of other senators.
Levine also opposed religious exemptions to the HHS contraceptive mandate that were granted to the Little Sisters of the Poor and called the exemptions “immoral and unethical.”
Under the Trump administration, HHS Secretary Alex Azar as head of the U.S. delegation to World Health Assembly— the governing body of the World Health Organization— united a coalition of 35 countries under the Geneva Consensus Declaration to commit to protecting women’s health, the lives of unborn children, and the family. President Biden has already removed the U.S. from that consensus which asserted that “there is no international right to abortion, nor any international obligation on the part of States to finance or facilitate abortion” demonstrating his administration’s commitment to radical abortionism.

House Passes $1.9 Trillion Relief Bill with No Abortion Funding Ban

The Democrat controlled House of Representatives passed a massive COVID-19 relief bill that failed to include a ban on use of funds for abortion as agreed to in previous relief bills. According to House Pro-Life Caucus Chair Rep Chris Smith“In a radical departure from all previous COVID-19 relief laws—the bill before us today mandates taxpayer funding for abortion on demand.”
Prior to the vote on the House floor on the American Rescue Plan of 2021, Smith noted that the Rules Committee refused to even allow a vote to consider the McMorris Rogers-Foxx-Walorski Amendment—cosponsored by 206 Members—to ensure that taxpayers aren’t forced to subsidize abortion.
“Prevents taxpayer dollars under the new COBRA credit and current law premium assistance tax credits from being used to subsidize health insurance plans that cover elective abortion, and also prohibits the use of taxpayer dollars authorized for public health grants and the delivery of health services that are not directly related to preventing and treating COVID-19, to be used for elective abortions.”
Pro-life groups had warned that under the American Rescue Plan of 2021, global health funding, health insurance subsidies, and funding of the Title X program could go to elective abortions, abortion coverage, and pro-abortion groups both in the US and globally.
In his floor remarks, Smith recalled that President Biden once supported pro-life protections against abortion funding, as do a majority of Americans according to recent polls. “Mr. Biden once wrote constituents explaining that his support for laws against funding for abortion by saying it would 'protect both the woman and her unborn child’,” Smith said. 
Reps. Jackie Walorski, Cathy McMorris Rodgers, and Virginia Foxx wrote in a statement:
Unfortunately, House Democrats did not include Hyde Protections in the $1.9 trillion reconciliation bill…President Joe Biden supported it for years as a Senator. Democrats also joined us in prohibiting taxpayer funded abortions in all the previous COVID-19 relief packages.
“The Majority should reconsider their hyper-partisan plan of using reconciliation as a vehicle to fund more abortions. With so many Americans in despair because of this pandemic, we should be coming together to provide hope, healing, and a better future for every person in this country. To save more lives and recognize the dignity and value of every life, we urge bipartisan support of our Amendment.”
The American Rescue Plan of 2021 passed by a party-line vote of 219 to 212, with two Democrats joining all Republicans in opposition to the bill which now goes to the Senate.

Democrat Senators Refuse to Protect Babies Who Survive Abortion

Senators sought to provide protection to babies who survive abortion through enactment of the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act, sponsored by Sen. Ben Sasse, that would legally require babies who survive abortion be treated as any other infant of the same gestational maturity. But the effort fell victim to a Democrat-led filibuster receiving 52-48 votes, eight votes shy of the 60 needed to overcome the filibuster. Democratic Sens Joe Manchin and Bob Casey Jr voted for the bill.
Sen Sasse said that the fierce pushback from pro-choice activists was revealing. “Planned Parenthood and others refuse to draw a line between abortion and infanticide. That’s what their lobbying the last week has shown. That should tell us something about what these groups are really about,” he said.

Pro-Life Bills Introduced in House and Senate

Pro-life Members of the House and Senate have been busy introducing pro-life legislation since the beginning of the 116th Congress. So far 28 legislative initiatives have been introduced while numerous pro-life amendments have been offered in committee. The legislation varies and includes the Informed Consent Act that would criminalize any abortion or sterilization procedure that occurs without informed consent; the Dignity for Aborted Children Act which would require that abortionists arrange for the respectful disposition of the remains of unborn children by cremation or interment; the Protecting Life in Crisis Act that prohibits any funds authorized or appropriated for the purposes of preventing, preparing for, or responding to the COVID–19 pandemic, domestically and internationally, from going towards abortions or abortion coverage.
A number of the bills are reintroductions. Rep Chris Smith, co-chair of the Congressional Pro-Life Caucus, has reintroduced his No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act (H.R. 18) with Senator Wicker sponsoring it in the Senate (S.92). The Act makes permanent the long-standing Hyde Amendment as well as similar provisions banning federal funding of abortion by ensuring that no federal dollars are used to pay for abortion and health plans that include abortion.
“When federal taxpayer dollars are not available to help effectuate the demise of unborn babies, lives are saved,” said Rep. Smith who also emphasized, “Abortion violence must be replaced with compassion and empathy for women and for defenseless unborn baby girls and boys.”
Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-MO), a cosponsor of Smith’s legislation, said: “The No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act codifies critical federal policy protecting the unborn: the Hyde Amendment. It’s long past time to make Hyde protections permanent, ensuring human rights for our children and listening to the voices of our nation’s citizens.”
Smith explained, “Lives have been saved by the Hyde Amendment. Over two million people who would have been aborted instead survived and their mothers benefited from prenatal health care and support.”
 “This bill represents exactly what the American people support: Not a dime of their tax dollars going to fund abortions,” Hartzler continued. “I commend Rep. Chris Smith for introducing this legislation and am proud to stand alongside him in our fight for life.”
Smith also reintroduced the ‘Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act’ (H.R. 1080), with Sen. Graham introducing it in the Senate (S.61). Sponsored by a third of U.S. House, the Act recognizes the medical evidence that unborn children feel pain.
“We know that by twenty weeks unborn babies killed by abortion experience excruciating suffering and physical pain,” said Smith. “This unconscionable human rights abuse must stop. Pain, we all dread it. We avoid it. We even fear it. And we all go to extraordinary lengths to mitigate its severity and its duration for ourselves. Yet every day, a whole segment of human beings is being subjected to painful—and deadly—procedures.”
Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tennessee, introduced the Title X Abortion Provider Prohibition Act to prohibit the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services from giving Title X grants to groups like Planned Parenthood that promote and/or provide abortions.
“We must close loopholes that allow for abortion giants like Planned Parenthood to receive federal funding,” Blackburn said. “This legislation will help end taxpayer-funded support for the abortion industry and protect the unborn.” 
She said the money would be better spent on comprehensive healthcare rather than groups that make money killing unborn babies in abortions. 
Planned Parenthood receives more than half a billion taxpayer dollars annually, largely through Medicaid reimbursements and Title X grants.

House Passes Equality Act—Threat to the Unborn

Another demand from pro-abortion organizations for the Biden administration and the Democrat controlled Congress listed in the Repro Blueprint has passed the House of Representatives with support from President Biden-- “Congress must pass and the administration should properly and swiftly implement the Equality Act”. The House passed the bill which threatens laws against abortion, including conscience protection laws, which are likely to be classified as ‘discriminatory’ according to the language in the legislation.

The measure passed by a vote of 224-206 forbids discrimination based on “sex”—defined as including “pregnancy, childbirth, or a related medical condition”—in places of “public accommodation” including “any establishment that provides … health care … services.” An “establishment” is not limited to a physical facility or place. The bill also states that “pregnancy, childbirth, or a related medical condition shall not receive less favorable treatment than other physical conditions.”
The Act also adds a new protected category against discrimination based on “sex (including sexual orientation and gender identity)” to four major parts of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 previously directed against discrimination based on factors such as race, color, or national origin. An analysis of the bill—The “Equality Act”: Threatening Life and Equality— by Richard Doerflinger and published by the Lozier Institute explains:
“H.R. 5 bears its name and enjoys such support because supporters describe it as simply a way of ensuring that gay, lesbian, and transgender Americans have equal rights with other Americans. But this description is grossly inaccurate. Among other things this bill attacks the lives of countless unborn children, endangers Catholic and other pro-life health care providers, provides a basis for challenging all state and federal limits on public funding of abortion, and treats religious believers as second-class citizens who must violate their fundamental moral convictions to serve the goals of the pro-abortion movement.
“The ‘abortion as health care’ campaign advanced by the Equality Act effectively defines the unborn child out of existence. It treats the child as merely a “physical condition” of the mother that health professionals are called on to address through corrective treatment,” writes Doerflinger.
Five committee chairmen of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) sent a letter to Members of Congress asking them to oppose the bill and warning of the threats posed “to both people of faith and of no faith, with respect to mandates impacting charities and their beneficiaries in need, health care and other conscience rights, taxpayer funding of abortion, freedom of speech, women’s sports and sex-specific facilities, and more.”
“Rather than affirm human dignity in ways that meaningfully exceed existing practical protections, the Equality Act would discriminate against people of faith,” they concluded.
Defending Life

Pope Francis Reminds Ambassadors of Value of Life

In his meeting with ambassadors to the Holy See, Pope Francis reflected on the numerous crises unleashed by the pandemic and on other problems affecting the world. Pope Francis noted that the pandemic forced the world to confront two unavoidable dimensions of human existence: sickness and death. He said, “In doing so, it reminded us of the value of life, of every individual human life and its dignity, at every moment of its earthly pilgrimage, from conception in the womb until its natural end.”
Pope Francis spoke of the tragedy of culture of death laws that allow the destruction of life under the guise of rights stating, “It is painful, however, to note that under the pretext of guaranteeing presumed subjective rights, a growing number of legal systems in our world seem to be moving away from their inalienable duty to protect human life at every one of its phases.”
He called for governments to increase provision of health care for all and spoke of the need to give dignified care to each human being stating that all are equal in dignity and asked the question: “If we deprive the weakest among us of the right to life, how can we effectively guarantee respect for every other right?”

Guide for the Annunciation, Day of the Unborn Child

The pro-life office of the US Catholic Conference of Bishops (USCCB) has prepared a guide for parishes, schools and ministries to follow for celebration of the Annunciation on March 25. A growing number of countries recognize the feast as the Day of the Unborn Child. According to the USCCB:
“In modern times, this feast day has taken on special meaning in Respect Life ministry. Scientific advances have allowed us to confirm that life begins at conception. This solemnity helps us to recognize the gift of new life from its very beginning. It calls us to reflect on how we are to care for, protect, and welcome new life, as the Blessed Mother did for the Christ child. The Solemnity of the Annunciation also coincides with the anniversary of the papal encyclical Evangelium vitae (The Gospel of Life). This Church teaching on the value and inviolability of every human life remains an indispensable source of truth for all people.
"Written by Pope St. John Paul II, Evangelium vitae was appropriately given in Rome on March 25, 1995.
“To help you celebrate the Solemnity of the Annunciation, sample timelines, homily helps, announcements, activities, and more are provided.”

Plea to President Biden to Not Fund Abortion in Africa

Upon President Biden’s overturing of former President Trump’s Protecting Life in Global Assistance Policy, which had stopped US funds to international organizations that performed or promoted abortion, the Culture of Life Africa prepared a video message. “A Message to President Biden: The Unified Voices of Africa” features “Africans from different countries across the continent and also from different works of life, speaking out against the funding of abortion in Africa.”
Obianuju Ekeocha, the Nigerian founder of Culture of Life Africa said: “It has been disheartening to see western donor nations using the advantage of their wealth to push their anti-life position on African nations.” According to Ms. Ekeocha: “I wanted to ask my brothers and sisters and my dear friends who are in different African countries exactly how they feel about the United States, the wealthiest country in the world, the most powerful country in the world, coming into African countries and funding abortion organizations.”
The messages on the video include the following:
Amaka: “This is a request, actually a plea, to the incoming American President, Joe Biden, to please not fund abortion in African countries. Please, we do not need funding for abortion.” 
Ellen, a student: “In my culture we support life from the beginning until the end. I am against abortion because abortion is about killing innocent babies in the womb of their mother. I am also against the funding of abortion in Africa by any foreign country.” 
Chisom: “I’m an African and an African woman. I do not believe in taking lives, destroying it nor killing it. We do not need abortion. Why must abortion be funded and given priority in my country? I am here to tell you and appeal to you that we do not want it. We stand against it and do not believe in it.” 
Meanwhile, Members of the U.S. Congress continue to oppose President Biden’s decision to allow U.S. foreign assistance funding to international NGOs that perform and promote abortion in Africa and other regions of the world. House Pro-Life Caucus Co-Chair Chris Smith discusses his letter signed by 120 congressmen and women calling on Biden to reconsider and reverse the decision to overturn the Protecting Life in Global Health Assistance Policy, previously called the Mexico City Policy.
International Pressure for Abortion

EU Criticizes Poland’s Ban on Eugenic Abortion

The European Parliament held a joint committee hearing on Poland’s pro-life laws and policies prompted by the recent ban on abortion for unborn children with a disability; abortion exceptions in cases of rape, incest or when the health of a pregnant woman is at risk remain legal.
The hearing by the Committee for Women's Rights and Gender Equality (FEMM) and the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) was titled "Attacks on abortion rights and breaches of the Rule of Law in Poland". In her remarks, the European Union’s (EU) Commissioner for Equality, Helena Dalli from Malta, recognized that the EU cannot dictate abortion policy for member states but she still advanced a biased pro-abortion position.
Dalli stated, "As you are well aware, the EU has no competence on abortion rights within a member state and thus, abortion legislation is up to the member states concerned. However, when making use of the competences, member states must respect fundamental rights which bind them by virtue of the constitutions and commitments under international law. 
“It is also worth noting that both the Council of Europe human rights commissioner, and a group of UN human rights special mechanisms, have expressed the opinion that this substantial restriction to legal access to abortion goes against Poland's international human rights obligations." 
There is no international right to abortion and no international obligation to legalize abortion despite this false pro-abortion claim. In his response, Poland’s Representative to the EU Andrzej Marek Sados defended Poland’s decision saying it “was the ‘exclusive responsibility’ of a state to regulate what constitutes a legal termination.” 
He said: "In the Polish legal system, courts and tribunals are an authority that is separate and independent from other authorities. Nonetheless, I would like to point out that in accordance with the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, health policy remains a competence of the member states. 
The Commission of the Bishops' Conferences of the European Union (COMECE) weighed in sending a letter to the President of the European Parliament David Sassoli in which they reminded him that neither “European Union legislation nor the European Convention on Human Rights provide for a right to abortion, leaving the matter consequently to the legal systems of the Member states”. They stressed that the Catholic Church seeks to support women in life situations arising from difficult or unwanted pregnancies and calls for the protection and care of all unborn life.
Read more here.

Jamaica: EU Funded Report Promotes Abortion as Cost Saver

The European Union funded a report by the Caribbean Policy Research Institute (CAPRI) titled Coming to Terms: The Social Costs of Unequal Access to Safe Abortions designed to influence policy makers into legalizing abortion. The publication is filled with one-sided arguments supporting legalized destruction of children in the womb citing so-called “benefits” including that less “unwanted children” among poor women will result in a lower crime rate.
The report laments that abortion in Jamaica “is largely debated as a religious, moral, and human rights/women’s rights issue” and that neither the economic costs of lack of access to abortion or the economic benefits of the legalization of abortion have not been considered.
During the launch of the publication, Minister Juliet Cuthbert-Flynn, MP, State Minister in the Ministry of Health and Wellness expressed her view that the “morality issue” surrounding abortion is preventing the country from “moving forward with the legalization of abortion” and urged church officials to be guided by different studies and reviews being done on the issue.
Anglican priest Rev. Sean Major-Campbell stated his view at the launch, “Discussions on abortion should not be limited to religion and morality and if the churches are not prepared to consider the social implications of the practice, they best take a back pew and leave the discussion solely to the policymakers.” 
He added, “When it comes to human-rights issues like access to abortion, it is a matter that the State needs to address.”
The report concluded with three recommendations. First, the Jamaican Parliament should hold a “secret conscience vote” to repeal sections of the Offences Against Person Act that criminalize abortion and replace it with legislation permitting “medical termination of pregnancy upon request” up to 24 weeks of gestation with exceptions for abortion after 24 weeks.
The idea of a secret vote is explained that it is needed “to protect elected parliamentarians from fear of retribution by religious groups, some of whom have expressly stated their intention to mobilize against any elected official who votes to legalize abortion.”
Second, the report states that minors should be able to access abortion without parental involvement.
Third, it promotes public funding of abortion noting, “bearing in mind that the public costs of complications of abortion and/or of unwanted children is exponentially greater.”

Argentina and IPPF Partner on “How to Legalize Abortion”

Argentina’s Embassy in Washington, DC partnered with International Planned Parenthood Western Hemisphere in a webinar hosted by the Inter-American Dialogue to “offer insights on the legalization of abortion in Argentina and the impact it will have on our region.”
The embassy sent invitations to official Washington inviting participation in the webinar The Road to Legal Abortion in Argentina explaining that legalization was a 15-year process that “involved multiple actors, from government officials and parliamentarians to feminists, academics, and the National Campaign for the Right to Legal, Safe and Free Abortion.”
Argentina is promoted as a 'model' on how to legalize abortion using violence against women as the starting point. The invitation explained:
The effort that drove the legalization of abortion in Argentina offers a useful example of a movement that evolved from mobilizing around a single issue – violence against women – to expanding its demands and ultimately building the political power and coalition necessary to transform the legal framework of abortion. In this sense, it provides valuable lessons for social movement building, political mobilization, and broadening women’s rights frameworks to encompass sexual and reproductive health and rights as key to women’s full inclusion and enjoyment of citizenship and the strengthening of democracy.
“Many expect that the Argentine example could have repercussions elsewhere in Latin America, a region that has long had one of the most restrictive legal frameworks regarding abortion and sexual and reproductive health and rights.”
Speakers included Argentina’s ambassador to the US, Jorge Argüello, and Vilma Ibarra, Legal and Technical Secretary of the Presidency and representatives from IPPF, Catholics for the Right to Decide, and members of the Inter-American Dialogue including its president, Michael Shifter.
Watch the event here.
In its own news article about the legalization of abortion in Argentina, the Dialogue laments strong religious and cultural beliefs against abortion in the region:
“The Catholic and Evangelical churches continue to wield significant religious, political, and societal influence in LAC. Although declining, religion remains crucial to the region’s cultural identity and the concept of “gender ideology” continues to rise. Additionally, there has been a growing number of more conservative, evangelical churches, especially in Central America, where abortion laws are the strictest... These conservative forces have fostered the concept of ‘gender ideology’, which casts access to abortion, reproductive rights, and other gender equity policies as threats to traditional families and values.”

Focus on the United Nations

Rapporteur on Health Seeks Permanent Ban on US Pro-Life Policy

The UN’s Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, Dr. Tlaleng Mofokeng from South Africa, expressed her personal support for legislation in the U.S. Senate to permanently prohibit any future president from stopping US assistance funds from going to international organizations the perform or promote abortion.
She tweeted her support for The Global Health, Empowerment, and Rights Act (Global HER Act) calling for its passage on twitter. The bill would not only repeal President Trump’s Protecting Life in Global Health Assistance Policy—previously known as the Mexico City Policy—which President Biden has already done, but would prevent a future president from reinstating the policy.
Before her selection as Special Rapporteur on the Right to Health, Dr. Tlaleng Mofokeng participated in lobbying efforts at the U.S. Congress along with Population Connection. The tweet from Dr Tlaleng Mofokeng@drtlaleng included: “…we must continue to do epic things to send a strong message to Congress to pass the HER Act. I know I can count on you always @popconnect
She also retweeted Catholic for Choice’s promotion of abortion-inducing drugs and telemedicine: “Medication abortion and telemedicine are safe and easy methods to both guarantee patient safety and provide essential healthcare during the pandemic.”
The blatant pro-abortion activism from the individual whose responsibility is to monitor the situation of the right to health around the world and report “on the realization of the right to health throughout the world, including on laws, policies, good practices and obstacles, making recommendations to promote and protect this right and to support States’ enhancement of public health” is emblematic of the problem that strategic positions at the UN are held by radical abortion activists who use their offices to promote their agenda.

Holy See: Must Respect Inalienable Human Rights

The Vatican Secretary for Relations with States, Archbishop Gallagher, addressed the 46th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in a video message during which he called upon the United Nations to “rediscover the foundation of human rights, in order to implement them in an authentic fashion”, as the world continues to take measures to combat the Covid-19 pandemic.
Archbishop Gallagher highlighted the Preamble of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which declares that “the recognition of the inherent dignity of all members of the human family and of the equal and inalienable rights constitutes the foundation of freedom, justice and peace” and the UN Charter asserts "faith in fundamental of human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women, and of nations large and small.”
He warned that any practice or system that would treat rights in an abstract fashion, separated from pre-existing and universal values, risks undermining their reason for existing, and in such a context “human rights institutions become susceptible to prevailing fashions, prevailing visions or ideologies”.
He also warned that there is a risk "of undermining the value a right is intended to uphold when it is divorced from its fundamental basis."
The Archbishop further cautioned that "in such a context of rights devoid of values, systems may impose obligations or penalties that were never envisioned by state parties, which may contradict the values they were supposed to promote." He added that they may even “presume to create so-called 'new' rights that lack an objective foundation, thus drifting away from their purpose of serving human dignity.”

The archbishop pointed to General Comment 36 on the right to life issued by the Human Rights Committee— which called for the removal of laws against access to legal abortion— as an example explaining that "far from protecting human life and dignity, twists its meaning to imply the right to assisted suicide and to end the lives of unborn children."
Legislative News

Thailand: New Law Allows Abortion, Activists Say It Doesn’t Go Far Enough

Thailand’s new law legalizing abortion has gone into effect, a year after a court ruled the country’s law prohibiting abortion was unconsitutional. The new law permits abortion on demand for the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, and afterwards in cases of rape, fetal anomaly and health of the mother. Amendments to extend that period to 24 weeks were rejected by parliament. The bill was opposed by many of the nation’s Theravada Buddhist population, yet pro-abortion groups say the new bill doesn’t go far enough. “It is a positive development to have certain legal grounds that allow abortion, but it is not enough to ensure that all pregnant women can access abortion,” said Jihan Jacob, the Center for Reproductive Rights’ legal adviser for Asia.

UK: MP Slams Regulations Permitting Sex-Selective Abortion in Northern Ireland

Nortern Ireland MP Carla Lockhart criticized the UK government for imposing regulations that will permit sex-selective abortion on Northern Ireland. The new regulations permit abortion on demand in Northern Ireland for the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. A BBC investigation in 2018 reported the use of early pre-natal testing in the UK to determine the sex of the baby and frequently, a resulting pressure to abort. Catherine Robinson with Right to Life UK called it “appalling” that sex-selective abortion is legal, noting that abortion supporters are silent on the issue. “As we see with disability selective abortion, while our nation is doing much to end unjust discrimination against people with disabilities and the unfair treatment of women, those sentiments do not apply to disabled babies or girls in the womb,” said Robinson. 
MP Lockhart was appointed to Co-Chair the All Party Pro-Life group at Westminster alongside The Rt Hon Fiona Bruce MP (Co-Chair) and Sir Jeffrey Donaldson (Vice Chair). Lockhart expressed her enthusiasm for the appointment saying, “Everyone will know my passion protecting the unborn, the most vulnerable in our society. I am deeply humbled by this appointment. It is a mammoth and sobering task as we seek to restore life affirming laws across the United Kingdom.”

Northern Ireland: Bill Seeks to Protect Disabled Unborn Babies from Abortion

Private Member’s Bill seeks to amend Northern Ireland’s new abortion policy to protect unborn children with disabilities imposed by the UK. The law now permits abortion on demand for the first trimester, up to 24 weeks in cases of the mother’s health, and up to birth in cases of fetal disability, including for non-fatal conditions such as Down syndrome and cleft palate. The bill sponsored by MLA Paul Givan would amend section seven of the Abortion (Northern Ireland) (No 2) Regulations 2020. Givan emphasized the need to ensure persons with disabilities are fully protected under the law. “The current law tells those with disabilities that they are worth less than other people, their contribution is less valuable, their lives less important, less full,” said Givan.

South Australia: Lower House Votes to Legalize Abortion

South Australia’s Lower House has approved legislation to legalize abortion by a vote of 29 to 15 after hours of debate. The new bill makes abortion available on demand up to 22 weeks and 6 days gestation, and after that, with the approval of two physicians. Several amendments were adopted to strengthen pro-life protections, including a ban on abortion based on gender, informed consent, and conscientious objection. Pro-life groups and faith leaders criticized the bill and called it “dangerous”. “While specific provisions were added to the legislation around the reasons for the abortion, the sad reality is that there is no protection or consideration for the life of the unborn baby,” said Archbishop Patrick O’Regan. The bill is expected to pass the Senate. 

Portugal: Parliament Approves Euthanasia

Portugal’s parliament voted to legalize euthanasia for adults experiencing “extreme suffering and irreversible damage.” The bill requires the person requesting assisted suicide to be able to make the “free and informed” decision. Parliament approved the bill by a vote of 136 to 78, with four abstentions. Portuguese Catholic Bishops issued a statement slamming the bill. "It's absurd to legalize death [...] rejecting the lessons that this pandemic has taught us about the precious value of human life," said the bishops. Pro-life opposition to the bill noted it violated Portugal’s constitution, which calls human life "sacrosanct." The bill now goes to the President who can sign it into law, veto it, or sent it to the Constitutional Court for review.
Executive News

UK: Government Plans to Provide Free Prenatal Screening for Down’s Syndrome

The UK government has announced new early prenatal screening for Down’s syndrome (DS) will be made available this year. The NHS will provide free non-invasive prenatal testing (NIPT) during routine pre-natal care. Advocates for persons with disabilities argue the increased testing will lead to more abortions. A recent study by the National Institute for Health and Research found that 90% of babies diagnosed with DS in utero are aborted. The campaign “Don’t Screen Us Out” has called on the government to study the effects of this testing on the Down syndrome community and establish reforms. “Without corrective action, NIPT may only worsen the culture of informally eugenic anti-disabled discrimination that exists in the Fetal Anomaly Screening Programme”, said the group. Right To Life UK spokesperson, Catherine Robinson, spoke of pressures from the medical community to abort babies with a disability. “There have already been numerous reports from women who, after a diagnosis of fetal disability, felt pressured by healthcare professionals to have an abortion, even when they made it clear that they did not want one,” explained Robinson. “Without reforming this culture, the widespread availability of NIPT is likely to see a further increase in eugenic abortions on those babies with Down’s syndrome”. 

Judicial News

Argentina: Province Judge Blocks New Abortion Law From Taking Effect

Argentina’s new law legalizing abortion has been blocked in the province of Chaco. Judge Martaq Aucar approved a motion by pro-lifers calling the new law unconstitutional. “The execution of abortion procedures restricts, undermines, abuses, limits and alters the right to life of the unborn child, [which is] protected by our legal system from conception,” said the statement. Judge Aucar agreed the law violates the province’s constitution and ordered "a suspension on the application of the abortion law.” Pro-abortion groups, including the National Campaign for the Right to Legal, Safe and Free Legal Abortion are working on their response. In order for the motion to take effect, the Chaco government must first be officially notified of the new law. Province Health Secretary Carolina Centeno said they will respond once that happens. “The law is a law approved by the representatives of the people. From the provincial government, we are going to continue promoting this right to protect women and pregnant people,” said Centeno. It is expected the matter will be resolved through the Argentinian judicial process. 

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In this issue

Focus on United States
Biden’s Radical Nominees to Oversee Health
House Passes $1.9 Trillion Relief Bill with No Abortion Funding Ban
Democrat Senators Refuse to Protect Babies Who Survive Abortion
Pro-Life Bills Introduced in House and Senate
House Passes ‘Equality Act’—Threat to the Unborn
Defending Life 
Pope Francis Reminds Ambassadors of Value of Life
USCCB: Guide for the Annunciation, Day of the Unborn Child
Plea to President Biden to Not Fund Abortion in Africa
International Pressure for Abortion
EU Criticizes Poland’s Ban on Eugenic Abortion
Jamaica: EU Funded Report Promotes Abortion as Cost Saver
Argentina and IPPF Partner on “How to Legalize Abortion”
Focus on the United Nations
Rapporteur on Health Seeks Permanent Ban on US Pro-Life Policy
Holy See: Must Respect Inalienable Human Rights
Legislative News
Thailand: New Law Allows Abortion, Activists Say It Doesn’t Go Far Enough
UK: MP Slams Regulations Permitting Sex-Selective Abortion in Northern Ireland 
Northern Ireland: Bill Seeks to Protect Disabled Unborn Babies from Abortion
South Australia: Lower House Votes to Legalize Abortion
Portugal: Parliament Approves Euthanasia
Executive News
UK: Government Plans to Provide Free Prenatal Screening for Down’s Syndrome
Judicial News
Argentina: Province Judge Blocks New Abortion Law From Taking Effect
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