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LIFE DIGEST: Wisconsin gov. vetoes conscience clause bill; foe of China’s coercive abortion policy beaten; RU 486 death suit filed

WASHINGTON (BP)–It doesn’t pay to be a healthcare provider in Wisconsin and have a pro-life conscience.

Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle has vetoed for the second year a bill that would have helped protect doctors and other medical professions from being forced to participate in such procedures as abortion, embryo-destructive research and assisted suicide.

The legislation “would allow a doctor to put his or her political beliefs ahead of the patient’s medical best interests,” Doyle, a Democrat, said when he vetoed the bill Oct. 14. “[T]his legislation ought to be called the ‘unconscionable clause’” instead of the conscience clause, he said.

Healthcare providers think the legislation is “very necessary,” Wisconsin Right to Life legislative director Susan Armacost told the Associated Press, according to LifeNews.com. “The whole atmosphere is not very amenable to people who don’t want to kill their patients.”

Supporters do not have the votes needed to override Doyle’s veto, Armacost told The Capital Times, a Madison, Wis., newspaper.

ACTIVIST BEATEN –- A blind activist who has campaigned against coercive population control policies in China was beaten recently, as were three lawyers seeking to assist in his case.

Chen Guangcheng, who is blind, was left on the main street of his home town with various injuries after the Oct. 4 beating by local officials, Radio Free Asia reported. Chen, 34, had filed a class-action lawsuit against authorities in the eastern Chinese city of Linyi for forcing women to have abortions and sterilizations.

The lawyers -– Xu Zhiyong, Li Subin and Li Fangping –- had come to Linyi to help mediate between local officials and Chen, who effectively has been under house arrest, according to the report. Unidentified men attacked the lawyers while they were in the city, Radio Free Asia reported.

Officials in many parts of China have practiced a forced population control program for about 25 years in an attempt to curb the birth rate in the world’s most populous country. A law codifying the policy throughout China went into effect in 2002.

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. The program has been marked by coercive sterilization and abortion, but infanticide, especially of females, also has been reported.

The Beijing government announced Sept. 19 it had fired some officials in Linyi for abusing the population control policy, The Washington Post reported. The government, however, did not specify what crimes were committed.

RU 486 SUIT -– A lawsuit has been filed against a California Planned Parenthood affiliate in the death of a young woman after use of the abortion drug RU 486.

The husband and daughter of Hoa Thuy Tran have sued Planned Parenthood of Orange and San Bernardino counties, as well as Danco Laboratories and the Population Council, as a result of her December 2003 death, the Los Angeles Times reported, according to LifeNews.com. Danco Laboratories markets RU 486 in the United States, and the Population Council holds the patent to the drug.

Tran, a 21-year-old college student, died after going through the two-step regimen. Her husband is Charlie Nguyen; her daughter, Destiny Nguyen, is 5, according to the report.

At least four California women have died after taking RU 486. In July, Danco announced two California women had died, one in 2004 and the other in 2005, after using the regimen to abort their unborn children. Danco had previously reported two other California users of RU 486 died in 2003 and a Canadian woman died after its use in 2001. Other reports have cited additional deaths by RU 486 users — three in Europe, one in the Philippines and another in the United States.

Legislation has been introduced that would remove RU 486 from the market while a review is conducted of the Food and Drug Administration’s approval of the drug. The bill is known as Holly’s Law in memory of Holly Patterson, 18, who died of a systemic infection in 2003 after obtaining RU 486 from a Planned Parenthood clinic in Hayward, Calif.

RU 486, or mifepristone, is used as the first part of a process normally occurring in the first seven weeks of pregnancy. That initial action causes the lining of the uterus to release the embryonic child. A second drug, known as misoprostol, is taken two days after mifepristone and causes the uterus to contract, expelling the baby.