March 15th 2008

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Articles from this issue:

CANBERRA OBSERVED: Will the economy spoil Rudd's party?

THE ECONOMY: Higher interest rates the wrong way to cut inflation

EDITORIAL: Horse flu: Canberra makes the victims pay

PREDATORY PRICING: Defending small business and farmers

NATIONAL AFFAIRS: Ten concerns about Rudd's first 100 days

STRAWS IN THE WIND: Warmer oceans? / Revenge of the nerds / The left assault on the student mind

ENVIRONMENT: Climate change: fallacies in the Garnaut report

REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH: Time for moratorium on abortion?

CHINA: Beijing's human rights record: why we must act

ASIA: Sri Lanka at the brink

RUSSIA: From Putin to Medvedev: a new Russia?

EASTERN EUROPE: Communist old guard still not defeated

Fuel price deception (letter)

The real 'stolen generation' (letter)

BOOKS: UNSTOPPABLE GLOBAL WARMING Every 1,500 Years, by S. Fred Singer and Dennis T. Avery

BOOKS: THEIR DARKEST HOUR: People Tested to the Extreme in WWII, by Laurence Rees

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Time for moratorium on abortion?

by Babette Francis

News Weekly, March 15, 2008
Support for a worldwide moratorium on abortion has come from the most surprising quarters, writes Babette Francis.

The idea for a worldwide moratorium on abortion originated with Giuliano Ferrara, a non-Christian journalist and former head of the Italian Communist Party, Turin. Although he was associated with a movement that identified itself with abortion and euthanasia, Ferrara is now pro-life.

He was inspired by the Vatican's United Nations statement on the death penalty moratorium which read: "In welcoming the adoption of this draft resolution, the Holy See again calls on all states to take a consistent view on the right to life, in a way that their support for this important draft resolution would equally mean their support for protection of the life of the unborn."


After introducing the idea on television last December, Ferrara published it in his opinion journal Il Foglio. From there it spread to the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano and the Italian bishops' journal, Avvenire.

Ferrara is joined by Lenin Raghavarshi, Indian atheist and winner of the Gwangju prize for human rights, who told AsiaNews: "It is ridiculous to suggest that abortion is a solution to hunger, to control population growth. What's more, the concept - typical of UN organisations - that over-population represents the greatest danger to the health of a nation has no basis at all in reality.... In reality the world should look at socio-economic and political issues to eliminate hunger, poverty and misery among people."

Raghavarshi identifies the global push for abortion with an agenda that serves the interests of multinational corporations at the expense of the poor and vulnerable.

He added: "Malthus promoted the theory that the problems of the world, like poverty and other inhuman situations of the marginalised, are due to population, but this is a completely unscientific and false theory. Multinational companies - who thrive on the industry of population control and push this agenda through false propaganda - want to market and promote their products because their sole aim is profit."

British philosopher Roger Scruton, whom New Yorker magazine once called "the most influential philosopher in the world", immediately endorsed Ferrara's call for an international moratorium on abortion, according to Italian Catholic news agency Chiesa.

Ferrara says he wishes to bring together intellectuals such as Mary Ann Glendon, former Harvard professor, now US ambassador to the Vatican, and American bioethicist Leon Kass, to sign the petition. He would like to see five million pilgrims of life and love, all in Rome next summer, to request that the UN's Universal Declaration of Human Rights be amended to include "the right to be born".

Barely a few weeks old, the call for a moratorium on abortion has been supported by people of several countries, enthused at using a UN resolution against the pro-abortion policies of UN agencies.

"It is a human matter, yes? Not only for people of religious faith," said Lola Velarde, president of the European Network Institute for Family Policies, in Spain. "The moratorium is the perfect tool to raise public awareness about what abortion really is. It is a pro-life moment for us as we approach our national elections in March. The incumbent president, José Zapetero, is the radical pro-choice candidate, and he does not want to address the issue of the moratorium in the platform. Before now, abortion was never mentioned - now the topic is on television."

Rev. Casimiro Song, secretary of the Korean Bishops Conference, told AsiaNews: "We welcome the UN adoption in December of the moratorium on the death penalty, and we think it is logical ... to extend it to a moratorium on abortion. Human life begins from the moment of conception....

"The number of criminals executed every day is only a tiny proportion compared with the thousands of innocent human lives killed by abortion every day throughout the world."

Politically, a moratorium is an inspired vehicle for peaceful change. Because the UN's death penalty moratorium is strictly voluntary (the resolution being non-binding), compliance is achieved by pressure from within the international community. Similarly, the abortion moratorium does not call for overturning laws in nations where the procedure is legal. Rather, it calls on policy-makers to oppose it as social policy.

A moratorium on abortion was never the goal of the UN resolution on the death penalty, which is scheduled again as an agenda item at the 63rd meeting of the UN General Assembly later this year.

UN delegates and staffers typically ignore the Vatican's call for a "consistent ethic of life", so it should be a fascinating session - the linking of the death penalty and abortion will concentrate the minds even of liberal politicians.

- Babette Francis is the national co-ordinator of Endeavour Forum Inc., an NGO with special consultative (observer) status with the Economic & Social Council of the UN.

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TRANSGENDER: one shade of grey, 353pp, $39.99

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