Saturday, May 17, 2008

Chicago lifts two-year ban on foie gras

Gourmets in Chicago can order foie gras again after the city council on Wednesday repealed a two-year restaurant ban on a delicacy that critics say is produced at cruel expense to geese and ducks. The aldermen voted 37-6 to drop the ban on restaurants serving foie gras, an ordinance that had passed with a single dissenting vote in April 2006. The city had issued a few warnings to restaurants for flouting the ban and one defiant eatery was fined.

Mayor Richard Daley had called the ban the "silliest ordinance" the city council ever passed and said it made Chicago "the laughingstock of the nation." Animal rights groups decry foie gras as a product of inhumane treatment as it is made by force-feeding geese and ducks through a steel pipe put down their throats, expanding their livers to 10 times normal size. In 2004, California passed a law that will end the production and sale of foie gras in the state in 2012. Similar laws have been proposed in a few other states.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals criticized Chicago's move to overturn the ban. "This is industry's dirty political manoeuvring at its worst," the group said in a statement. "Today, that compassionate decision was reversed in a secretive, rushed bow to special interests that benefit from the cruel treatment of animals. It goes against what the vast majority of Chicagoans believe in."

"I thought it was us sticking our nose in something we probably shouldn't have even been in," Alderman Dick Mell told the Chicago Sun-Times newspaper, adding that veal calves and chickens also suffer in confinement.


Australia: Sperm donor law to be refined

Not before time. Sweden take note (not that they will. They know it all)

Men who donate sperm for use in lVF treatment in Queensland will be freed from child support payments under new state laws. Attorney-General and Minister for Justice Kerry Shine said a loophole in legislation would be closed this week to clarify the status of biological fathers.

Mr Shine said the husband or de facto partner of a woman who conceived using lVF treatment automatically assumed legal responsibility for the child. "However, responsibility reverts to a biological father whose sperm is used to impregnate a single woman or woman in a same-sex relationship, even without his knowledge," he said. "This means an lVF father can be pursued for child support payments even though he never even knew the child's mother.

"This is a legal loophole that has potential for abuse. These men are not deadbeats who have fathered children and then tried to avoid their responsibilities. This is a totally different situation and the law should reflect that reality."

Mr Shine said there had ueen no known cases to date - but the amendment would stop any. "Clearly, if we allow this loophole to remain open, it could affect the number of men willing to become donors because of a fear they'll be up for child payments in the future."

The changes, which would go before Cabinet tomorrow and be introduced to State Parliament this week, would protect men who donated sperm from being unfairly targeted by a mother. The amendment would apply to the Status of Children Act 1978, which conferred responsibility on lVF parents to enable them to exercise the legal powers and responsibilities to care for their children.

Mr Shine said the amendment would be retrospective to clarify the status of children born since 1988, when the provisions were originally inserted. "These laws came in when in-vitro fertilisation was a relatively new technology and it is time to update them for the modern world," he said.

Dr David Molloy, director of the Queensland Fertility Group and obstetrics spokesman for Australian Medical Association Queensland, had brought the loophole to authorities' attention. He said it could also have created uncertainty in respect of an IVF child's legal parents.

The article above is by Darrell Giles and appeared in the Brisbane "Sunday Mail" on May 11, 2008.

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