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LIFE DIGEST: High school seniors favor abortion restrictions, new poll finds; China acts against sex-selection abortion

WASHINGTON (BP)–American high school seniors favor stricter restrictions on abortion rights, but they cannot bring themselves to support overturning the Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion.

A survey released Jan. 5 showed the following pro-life results among 1,000 12th-graders polled:

— About two-thirds of high school seniors believe parental consent should be required before a woman under age 18 can have an abortion.

— About two-thirds say they consider abortion to be always or usually “morally wrong.”

— A majority says a poor woman unable to afford another child should not have a legal right to an abortion.

— If they become pregnant, 70 percent of female seniors say they would not consider abortion while in high school; 67 percent of males in the class of 2006 say they would not want a young woman they impregnated to consider abortion.

— In the case of a 12th-grader who becomes pregnant, 54 percent of seniors say she should give the child up for adoption; 26 percent say she should keep the baby; and 13 percent say she should have an abortion.

The poll, however, showed 62 of the seniors still favor preservation of the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion. About half described themselves as “pro-choice” and said abortion should be legal in “all” or “most” cases.

Dennis Gilbert, a Hamilton College sociology professor, said the college’s eighth poll on “hot button issues” provided a major surprise in demonstrating the conservatism of the class of 2006.

“When they answered our most general questions on the issue, high school seniors appeared supportive of abortion rights,” Gilbert wrote in an analysis of the results. “But their answers to more detailed questions reveal that the great majority of seniors would significantly restrict access to abortion.”

Gilbert’s students at the New York college worked in collaboration with the polling firm Zogby International in conducting the survey.

CHINA ACTS FOR GIRLS — China apparently is following through on its promise to seek the elimination of sex-selection abortion.

The communist regime in Beijing announced Dec. 26 it had enacted a law calling for prison sentences of as many as three years and potentially heavy fines for doctors and other medical personnel who reveal the gender of unborn babies, thereby leading to the abortion of females, Reuters New Service reported.

“Artificial gender selection can jeopardize China’s population structure, leading to social instability,” Chinese parliament member An Jian wrote about the new law, according to Reuters.

Last January, the Chinese government announced a campaign against sex-selection abortion and targeted the year 2010 as the goal for reversing an imbalance that has resulted in 119 boys being born for every 100 girls. At the time, a Beijing official said China’s criminal code would be revised in an attempt to prohibit sex-selection abortion.

Sex-selection abortion is prohibited in the world’s most populous country, which has more than 1.3 billion people, but that has not prevented ultrasound technology from being used to detect female babies and abort them. The Chinese typically favor sons, since they are able to support their parents, especially in their old age, and to continue the family name, according to China Daily, a state-sponsored media outlet.

China has maintained a one-child, population control policy for about 25 years. The policy limits couples in urban areas to one child and those in rural areas to two, if the first is a girl. Other exceptions have been made in some provinces, and the enforcement of the policy has varied among provinces. Not only has the program resulted in coercive abortion and sterilization, but infanticide, especially of baby girls, also has been reported.

BUSH TAKES RECESS — President Bush used his authority to make appointments during a congressional recess to name a pro-life woman to a State Department post after opposition delayed her confirmation in the Senate.

Bush named Ellen Sauerbrey as assistant secretary of state for population, refugees and migration Jan. 5. The president had nominated the former delegate to the Maryland House in September, but the Senate failed to act on her nomination after an October hearing. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D.-Calif, an abortion rights supporter, acted to prevent a confirmation vote on Sauerbrey, according to the Baltimore Sun.

Sauerbrey, 68, was the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women before Bush’s recess appointment.

The Planned Parenthood Federation of America, People for the American Way and various other organizations that support abortion rights criticized the appointment.

“Sauerbrey’s record at the United Nations has been a relentless effort to foist the administration’s anti-choice agenda onto international bodies dealing with population and reproductive health and rights,” said Jodi Jacobson, executive director of the pro-choice Center for Health and Gender Equity. “Although she failed at the U.N., we fear that she will pursue the same agenda, with much greater influence, through her position at the State Department.”