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From the Countries


Forced Abortions

The Asia Pacific Conference on Reproductive and Sexual Health in Bangkok recently reported that HIV-positive women in Asia are sometimes forced to have abortions. The Asia Pacific Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS interviewed HIV-positive women from Thailand, Indonesia, India, and the Philippines and found that 14% were “coerced into abortion or sterilization and 31% advised not to have a child.”

(Aphaluck Bhatiasevi, “Women ‘often blamed’ for virus,” Bangkok Post, 8 October 2003, quoted in SPUC News, 9 October 2003)

Male Contraceptive

A hormonal contraceptive for men could soon be on the market. The Population Center for Research in Reproduction in Seattle, Washington, has tested a contraceptive injection for men which slowly releases testosterone. The contraceptive will eventually be available on the market as pills, injections, or implants, Some of the side effects reported included weight gain, headaches, and sweating. Another study of male contraceptives was conducted in Australia using a combination of a testosterone implant and a progestin injection, Testosterone is used to “trick men’s bodies into thinking their testes have produced enough testosterone already, so the body switches off testosterone and sperm production.” The progestin, a female hormone, is also used to suppress sperm production. The Australian study was funded by CONRAD, a Virginia-based organization funded “first and foremost” by USAID.

(“Male birth control pill soon a reality,” MSNBC News. 1 October 2003; Jamie Tarabay, “Male contraceptive results show promise,” Associated Press, 7 October 2003)

Chinese Catholics

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops recently released a statement on the needs of Chinese Catholics immigrating to the United States. There are at least 340,000 Chinese Catholics in the United States, but the number is assumed to be much greater because many Chinese are unfamiliar with the practice of registering in parishes. The bishops’ Office of Migration and Refugee Services stated, “Before, most of the Chinese immigrants came from Taiwan or Hong Kong. Now, most of the immigrants come from China, especially Fujian Province. A large number of these are Catholics fleeing China’s forced — sterilization and one-child policies.”

“Pastoral Care for Chinese in U.S. is Posing Challenges,” Zenit.org, 7 September 2003.

Pension Costs Up

A report by the Society of Actuaries in Ireland warns that the ‘cost of providing pensions to retired workers in Ireland will more than double in the next 50 years. The cost of providing health services will jump from 6% of the GDP to nearly 9% by the year 2050. The report suggests that raising the age of retirement to 70 or even 75 may be necessary to help offset these costs. The falling birthrate in Ireland, along with increased life expectancies, has let to a great increase in the number of elderly in the population.

(“Report Urges Crisis Response to Population Implosion,” Irish Pro-Life News, 2 October 2003)

Euros for Babies

The Italian government has announced that it will provide cash bonuses of 1000 euros to parents on the birth of their second child. Italy is facing a depopulation crisis with the lowest birthrate in Europe as well as the most rapidly aging population. The government hopes that by providing this financial incentive they will convince families to consider having more children. Other new measures include raising the retirement age from 60 to 65. Marco Follini, leader of the Christian Democrats, is a supporter of the cash bonus. He states, “Helping families to have more children if they want to is a duty for our country and workforce.”

But will it work? Maura Mitziti, a researcher in Rome, believes that it might. “‘Measures like these have been used in Sweden, and we do see a peak of fertility when the measure is first implemented. But then we see that the attitudes come back to normal levels because it is not just about money.’” One woman interviewed by the BBC summarized the thinking of many Italian parents. She said, “‘People prefer to just have one so they can give the child everything — the best schools, the best clothes, the best everything.’” Everything, for Italians, evidently doesn’t include the gift of a brother or sister to love.

(Tamisin Smith. “Italy baby-cash aims to boost births,” BBCNews.com, 2 October 2003. quoted in SPUC News, 6 October 2003)

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