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A stable Iraq?

"A stable Iraq?" Continued...

Issue: "Realities: 2011-2020," Jan. 15, 2011

Abortion test

A landmark abortion case decided last month in Europe did not, as some pro-lifers had feared, create a sweeping and universal right to abortion. In A, B and C v. Ireland, the European Court of Human Rights ruled Dec. 16 that the European Convention on Human Rights' Article 8, which guarantees a right to privacy and family life, did not guarantee a right to abortion in the cases of two women who argued that their pregnancies threatened their "health and well-being."

In the case of a third woman, who feared that her cancer would return if she continued her pregnancy, the court ruled that Ireland violated the woman's right to privacy by failing to establish a clear procedure to determine whether a pregnancy is life-threatening. A 1992 Irish Supreme Court case ruled that abortion is permissible if pregnancy poses a "real and substantial risk" to the mother's life, but Ireland has never passed legislation clarifying the procedures for lawful abortion. Ireland recognizes both "the right to life of the unborn and . . . the equal right to life of the mother" in its constitution.

Birth decline

Good news from the National Center for Health Statistics: The birth rate for both teen and unwed mothers is falling. A preliminary analysis of 2009 data reveals that the teen birth rate fell 6 percent from 2008 to 2009-a record low after researchers became concerned when the rate increased from 2005 to 2007. The birth rate for unmarried women has decreased as well, declining 4 percent in 2009 after charting a 20 percent increase from 2002 to 2008. These trends follow the decline of birth rates for almost all age groups, with the fertility rate overall showing a 3 percent decline in 2009.

Predator era ending

The U.S. Air Force won't buy any more Predators, having completed its scheduled purchase of 268. It will take delivery in early 2011 of the last of the drones that have dramatically shifted the war in Afghanistan and Pakistan, according to Air Force spokesman Lt. Col. Richard Johnson. President Bush expanded the use of Predator drone strikes against militants in Pakistan in 2008, and President Obama has relied on them even more. Of 209 reported U.S. drone strikes in northwest Pakistan, 113 took place in 2010, according to a study by the New America Foundation. Drone strikes were responsible for between 550 to 940 total deaths, the overwhelming majority of which were militants, according to the study. In 2010 those strikes also were responsible for killing 12 militant, Taliban-linked leaders. The Air Force plans to phase in the new Reaper drone to replace Predators.

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