By Dominique Soguel
Saturday, May 3, 2008
A Spanish judge from Barcelona, Elisabet Castello, dropped charges against 21 women accused of performing illegal abortions, El Periodico reported April 30.
The case concerns the clinic of Dr. Carlos Morin, mired in scandal for conducting late-term abortions. The judge said the patients acted with the conviction that they were not violating the law.
Abortion in Spain is legal in three instances: when the pregnancy poses a grave risk to the mother's physical or mental health, is the result of a crime or when the fetus is severely deformed. Illegal abortions can be punished.
Several defendants claimed they received reassurances that "everything was legal." Of the 21 accused, none received legal guidance and few underwent psychological evaluations as required in the absence of crime or physical health justifications for an abortion.
Castello argued Spanish society has held a generalized belief that voluntary abortions are legal since the three exclusions to a blanket ban were introduced in 1985. She also noted that no sentences had been issued against women who had undergone the procedure in recent years.
Legal liability, she added, should fall on the clinician not on the patient.
Abortion also hit Uruguay's headlines after police raided two clandestine abortion clinics April 30, El Espectador reported. Eleven individuals, including doctors, were arrested.
Investigations expanded to two more clinics on May 1.
Doctors contest that investigation methods violate confidentiality laws, as police used the clinics' address books and patient databases to round up women suspected of abortion. Several women were admitted to hospitals for gynecological examinations as part of the investigation.
Women who undergo voluntary abortions in Uruguay can face three to nine months in jail.
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The Vietnamese adoption system is under-policed and rife with corruption, fraud and baby-selling, according to a U.S. Embassy report obtained by the Associated Press. In protest, Vietnam will not renew its adoption agreement with the United States after it expires in September, AP reported April 28.
Adoption brokers prey on vulnerable women in poor villages and on mothers saddled with unaffordable medical bills, according to the U.S. Embassy report. In some cases, children are parted from their mothers by family members and given up for adoption without the mother's consent.
With adoption restrictions tightening in China, the most popular country for adoptions overseas, many Americans, including actress Angelina Jolie, have turned to Vietnam as an alternative. The United States took in more than 828 adopted Vietnamese children in 2007, up by 400 percent from the previous year.
Bilateral agreements reached between Vietnam and the United States in 2006 allowed the resumption of adoptions barred in 2003 because of corruption. Currently, there are 42 U.S. adoption agencies licensed in Vietnam and U.S. parents pay up to $25,000 in adoption fees.
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