Dear ProLife Colleague, here are some bits and pieces of news from the international scene: Hungary: new constition protects life New York, May 5 (C-FAM) Last week, Hungarian President Pal Schmitt signed a controversial new constitution into law that includes a provision for the protection of unborn life “from conception” and the definition of marriage as between a man and a woman. While the new constitution easily passed in the Hungarian Parliament by the governing majority, it was without any participation from the smaller opposition party who walked out before the vote. The Council of Europe, UN staff and non-governmental organizations are also questioning the legitimacy of the new constitution as controversy continues to rage over both the content and the process by which the constitution was passed. Roger Kiska of Alliance Defense Fund was “overjoyed” by the new Hungarian constitution calling it a victory for democracy, for life and the family, and for Hungary. Kiska found “shameful” the attempts by the European institutions to undermine the Hungarian government, a government overwhelmingly approved by popular electoral vote, he said. “I hope that Hungary stays strong in its convictions because what is at stake, life and the family, are too high a price to pay simply to appease the bureaucrats in Brussels.” Sweden: spurns the right to conscientious objection In a direct attack on a Council of Europe resolution, (which upholds the right of medical personnel to conscientiously object to abortion, the Swedish Parliament voted yesterday to campaign against the resolution. The Swedish parliament approved a resolution by 271 to 20 which says “Sweden should support efforts which makes abortions free, safe and legal for all women. Sweden is one of few countries who are central in the international work focusing on sexual and reproductive health and rights.” The resolution includes an instruction to the Swedish delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) to work to change the resolution (which upholds the right to conscientious objection) passed by the COE last October which states the following; “No person, hospital or institution shall be coerced, held liable or discriminated against in any manner because of a refusal to perform, accommodate, assist or submit to an abortion”. John Smeaton, director of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC), a UK-based, UN-recognised pro-life NGO whose lobbying helped pass October’s PACE resolution, commented: “Sweden’s vote today shows the lengths to which the supporters of abortion are prepared to go to promote the killing of unborn children. There are no international conventions which recognise a right to abortion, whereas conscientious objection is a basic principle of international human rights law. October’s PACE resolution was passed in a massively amended form because the original text was an outrageous attack upon the ethical standards of the medical profession, trained to preserve, not end, life. UK: free EC assoiated with increased STI Free access to the “morning-after pill” has not reduced teenage pregnancy and may be associated with a rise in sexually transmitted infections, a study in the United Kingdom found. To measure teenage pregnancies, the researchers looked at all pregnancies in the younger than 18 years and younger than 16 years age groups between 1998 and 2004 using data from the Office for National Statistics. Overall, they found that areas with a pharmacy that offered free EBC saw an average 5% increase in STIs among children younger than 18 years. In children younger than 16 years, the STI rate increased by 12%. STI rates for teens and older women increased consistently during the study period, but the teenage STI rates increased faster as EBC programs were introduced. Published in Infectious Diseases in Children March 2011 Free emergency birth control linked to rise in teen STI rates Girma S. J Health Economics. 2011;doi: 10.1016/j.jhealeco.2010.12.004. UK : abortion rate continues to increase The UK Department of Health annual abortion statistics released yesterday show another increase in the number of abortions and in addition it shows that the number of repeat abortions is also very high. According to a SPUC news release the latest annual abortion figures represent 190,000 unborn babies whose deaths were entirely avoidable. The figures for England and Wales show a slight increase in registered abortions over the previous year. Abortions were 8% higher than 10 years before in 2000.