LONDON

Study: Abortion not a cause of mental health problems

Abortion does not increase a woman’s chance of developing mental health problems, according to a British health agency’s review of dozens of studies worldwide over 20 years.

Among women with unwanted pregnancies, those who had abortions were no more likely to suffer from problems including anxiety or depression than women who gave birth, the analysis by the U.K.’s National Collaborating Centre for Mental Health found.

Dr. Tim Kendall, the centre’s director, said mental health problems seemed to be linked specifically to unwanted pregnancies rather than abortion.

The report is likely to be met by skepticism by those opposed to the practice and who believe that terminating a pregnancy can trigger depression or other mental illnesses. The review was released today by Britain’s Academy of Medical Royal Colleges and the Royal College of Psychiatrists.

UNITED NATIONS

Activists demand that world end homophobic violence

Activists called on governments around the world to end homophobic bullying and violence, saying Thursday that gay rights are human rights that must be respected by all.

Judy Shepard, the mother of a young man murdered in an anti-gay crime in the United States in 1998, told the United Nations gathering that people with different sexual identities and orientations are all human beings with similar aspirations.

Anti-gay violence “is hate, it’s ignorance to single out a group of people,” said Shepard, who with her husband founded the Matthew Shepard Foundation after their son was killed.

Rights activists from Lebanon, Nigeria and Thailand joined senior U.N. officials on the panel organized by the Netherlands in advance of International Human Rights Day. Saturday marks the 63rd anniversary of the U.N.-sponsored International Declaration of Human Rights.

U.N. members, with their diverse religious and cultural sensibilities, are often deeply divided over the issue of gay rights.

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip

Civilian man reported killed, 25 wounded from airstrikes

A Palestinian health official says a civilian man has been killed and 25 people, including an infant, wounded in Israeli airstrikes in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.

Rescue services said three separate airstrikes took place early Friday against training facilities of the militant Hamas group. They said one set a nearby house on fire, destroying it and killing a 65-year-old civilian man. Health official Adnan Abu Salmia identified him as Bahajat Zaalan.

Fire also erupted in other homes and some houses were hit by shrapnel. Abu Salmia said the casualties included seven women and children who were crticially wounded.

Gaza officials said an airstrike also targeted a Hamas training facility in southern Gaza, but no casualties were reported. The Israeli military confirmed two airstrikes.

— From news service reports