Bits & Pieces

Canada

There are five federal by-elections on April 3: Calgary Heritage, Calgary Midnapore, Markham-Thornhill, Ottawa-Vanier, and Saint-Laurent. The Conservatives are expected to hold on to the pair of Calgary seats while the Liberals are expected to be re-elected in the Ontario and Quebec seats … Transgender activist Christin Milloy settled a human rights complaint with Ottawa over disclosing one’s sex on government-issued identification. Social Development Minister Jean-Yves Duclos said the government will only collect such information when it is needed for legitimate purposes or there is a benefit to do so, although he did not elaborate on how such determinations will be made. The settlement applies to the issuance of social insurance numbers, but Milloy hopes it will have broader implications for all government documents including passports … A branch of the Saskatoon public library cancelled an event hosted by Conservative Party leadership contender Brad Trost saying the “controversial nature” of the meet-and-greet could lead to protests. Local pro-life groups were encouraging supporters to meet Trost on Jan. 28 and Trost issued a statement saying he thought the topic scared the librarians more than the threat of protests: “If this was an environmental group with a bunch of unemployed oil patch workers protesting, I don’t think they would be getting the boot” … Conservative leadership contender Andrew Scheer released a policy saying he would like to make maternity and parental benefits tax-free to give “more choice to parents of newborns” … A Mainstreet Research poll found that 54 per cent of provincial voters support a merger of the Alberta Progressive Conservative and Wildrose parties, with 37 per cent opposed. Among PC supporters, 72 per cent back the idea of a merger, while 65 per cent of Wildrose supporters say the same. Pro-life former federal MP Jason Kenney is running for the PC leadership, campaigning on uniting the parties before the next election to defeat the NDP government of Rachel Notley … On Feb. 7, a group of politicians and euthanasia activists called on the government to broaden Canada’s euthanasia and assisted-suicide law passed last June. Josh Patterson, executive director of the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association, which has already launched a constitutional challenge against the law, said too many Canadians are disqualified from seeking medical aid in dying. The law prohibits minors and the mentally ill from being killed and limits euthanasia to competent adults with serious or incurable diseases whose death is foreseeable. The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition said the limits are illusory. In December, the federal government asked the Council of Canadian Academies to launch a review of the law and report back by December 2018.

United States

Politico reported on a leaked version of the House of Representatives budget that defunds Planned Parenthood. Politico reports that the budget would have no trouble passing the House but may not get past the Senate. The Republicans hold a 52-48 edge in the Senate as two GOP senators, Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) and Susan Collins (Maine) indicated they would not support a budget that defunds Planned Parenthood. Pro-life Vice President Mike Pence would vote to break any Senate tie assuming the no other Republicans oppose the budget … After Teen Vogue published an article, “What to Get a Friend Post-Abortion,” Newsbusters reported that in the first two months of 2017, the website published 63 articles promoting abortion or criticizing restrictions on abortion.

International

Tanya Davies, Minister for Women in Australia’s New South Wales, came under fire for admitting, “personally I am pro-life.” Davies added, “in my role I am there to support all women and I will support all women, and I will listen to all women.” Claire Pullen of the Women’s Electoral Lobby said “it is a concern if the Minister for Women wasn’t prepared to take into account the community standard,” claiming “the overwhelming majority of people in New South Wales are pro-choice.” She said the Minister for Women should be “prepared to trust women and doctors to make personal medical decisions.” Davies indicated she was open to making changes to the state’s abortion laws but Premier Gladys Berejiklian said there will be “no change in policy” related to abortion … The Daily Mail reports that new MRI technology developed by the iFind team at King’s College London allows parents to see details and movement in a 20-week preborn child. The paper reports, “unlike ultrasounds, the high-tech scan shows beneath the baby’s skin” so it captures the beating heart of the child. The Daily Mail notes that “the incredible detail reveals how fully formed a foetus is at 20 weeks and reignites the debate on lowering the current 24 week legal limit on abortion in the UK.” British Health Minister Jeremy Hunt has mused about lowering the current 24-week threshold to 12 weeks … The New York Times reports that the town of Overtornea, Sweden is considering giving municipal employees time off during the workday to have sex with their partners. Per-Erik Muskos, a town councilor, said such a policy could boost the municipality’s dwindling population a boost – “we should encourage procreation” – and improve health because “sex is also a great form of exercise.”

 

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