Media Watch

Feminists Defend Fujimori Population Programs

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS/REUTERS, June 30—Even as a Peruvian congressional commission concluded that former Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori conducted a “no-holds-barred sterilization campaign” aimed at minorities, the impoverished, Catholics and traditional families, Peruvian feminist groups have rallied behind the disgraced, deposed president's family planning policies, according to the Associated Press.

The congressional commission said in the June report that Fujimori's programs had the help of the U.S. Agency for International Development and the U.N. Population Fund.

Susana Chavez of the feminist organization Manuela Ramos defended Fujimori's program as “excellent in terms of access and information.” She attacked current Health Minister Fernando Carbone and Prime Minister Luis Solari for cutting government funding for artificial contraception and refusing to support the abortifacient “morning-after pill.”

The Manuela Ramos group claims that of the 600,000 Peruvians born each year, at least half are unwanted or ill timed; the organization does not say how it knows this.

The AP reported that current president Alejandro Toledo's health ministry has focused its energy on making births safer rather than preventing them.

Belfast Campaigners Laud Review of Abortion Law

INDEPENDENT CATHOLIC NEWS, July 7—The leading pro-life group in Great Britain, the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, has welcomed a decision by Belfast high court Justice Brian Kerr to review the legality of abortion in Northern Ireland.

Independent Catholic News quoted Betty Gibson, chairman of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children in Northern Ireland, who said: “The pro-abortion lobby … wants to make abortion widely available in Northern Ireland and claims that the law here is unclear. [The society]'s case is that the law is perfectly clear. The law on abortion in Northern Ireland gives considerable protection to unborn children, which is what the overwhelming majority of people here want.”

As Mo Mowlam, a former secretary of state for Northern Ireland, once put it when she complained about the strength of opposition to abortion here: “It's called democracy.”

Two Leading Bishops Die

CHALDEAN NEWS AGENCY/VHEADLINE.COM, July 7—July has seen the deaths of two important Catholic clerics at opposite ends of the world, according to local news services.

In Beirut on July 7, Chaldean Patriarch Mar Raphael I Bidawid, an outspoken critic of U.N. sanctions against Iraq since its 1990 invasion of Kuwait, died at age 81 after nine months of illness. After studies in Rome, he returned to his native Iraq as a priest in 1947. He served as rector of the seminary in Mosul and bishop of Amadya in northern Iraq. In 1966 he was transferred to the Diocese of Beirut and became patriarch of the Chaldean Catholics in 1989.

In Venezuela, Cardinal Ignacio Velasco Garcia, archbishop of Caracas, died July 6 at age 74,, a Venezuelan news Web site, reported. Cardinal Velasco gained renown recently by taking part in the civil campaign to recall and remove from power leftist Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

Cardinal Velasco was ordained a priest in the Salesian order in 1955. He was made a bishop in 1989 and appointed archbishop of Caracas in 1995.