House rejects sex-selection abortion ban

Posted May 31, 2012, at 8:04 p.m.

WASHINGTON — The House on Thursday fell short in an effort to ban abortions based on the sex of the fetus as Republicans and Democrats made an election-year appeal for women’s votes.

The legislation would have made it a federal crime to perform or force a woman to undergo a sex-based abortion, a practice most common in some Asian countries where families wanting sons abort female fetuses.

It was a rare social issue to reach the House floor in a year when the economy has dominated the political conversation, and Republicans, besieged by Democratic claims that they are waging a war on women, struck back by trying to depict the vote as a women’s rights issue.

“It is violence against women,” said Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., of abortions of female fetuses. “This is the real war on women.”

The White House, most Democrats, abortion rights groups and some Asian-American organizations opposed the bill, saying it could lead to racial profiling of Asian-American women and subject doctors who do not report suspected sex-selection abortions to criminal charges.

Suicide attacks target police in Afghanistan

KABUL, Afghanistan — A series of Taliban bombings targeted police officers across Afghanistan on Thursday, killing nine officers and a civilian, local officials said.

The deadliest attack took place in southern Kandahar province when a suicide bomber detonated his explosives-laden vehicle at the entrance to the Arghistan district police headquarters at 9:45 a.m. Javid Faisal, a spokesman for the provincial governor, said four police officers and one civilian were killed and an additional 12 people — including five schoolchildren — were wounded. Arghistan is near the border with Pakistan.

In another incident, a blast at a police checkpoint in the eastern province of Nangarhar, on the outskirts of the capital, Jalalabad, killed two officers, said Ahmad Zia Abdulzai, the spokesman for the provincial governor.

In northern Kunduz province, a vehicle carrying the local anti-terrorism chief struck a roadside bomb in the Dashte Archi district, killing the official, Malem Qamar, and two other police officers, said Sayed Sarwar Hussaini, a spokesman for the Kunduz police chief. Two police officers and a civilian were wounded in the blast.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attacks on their website, calling it part of their spring offensive, which they’ve dubbed “al-Farooq.” That’s the surname of the second man to succeed the Prophet Muhammad as the leader of the Islamic faith.

The attacks came a day after the United Nations released new figures showing that civilian casualties in Afghanistan dropped by 21 percent in the first four months of this year, compared with a year ago.

Bomb attacks in Iraq kill 18 people, wound 53

BAGHDAD — Bombs exploded at a crowded Baghdad restaurant and a near police patrol Thursday, among attacks that killed at least 18 people and wounded 53 in Iraq’s bloodiest day in more than a month, police and hospital medics said.

Five blasts hit the capital, and the northern city of Mosul was the scene of a fatal shooting attack.

Violence has fallen in Iraq since a wave of sectarian bloodshed in 2006 and 2007, but insurgents carry out frequent attacks on security forces and civilians to undermine the Shiite-led government. The violence threatens the stability of the country following the pullout of U.S. forces in December.

In northwest Baghdad, a parked car exploded outside a busy restaurant in the Shiite neighborhood of Shula, killing 13 people and wounding 37, police officials said.

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