In brief: Italy approves use of RU-486
Rome – Italy has approved the use of the abortion drug RU-486, capping years of debate and defying opposition from the Vatican, which warned of immediate excommunication for doctors prescribing the pill and for women who use it.
The Italian Drug Agency ruled after a meeting that ended late Thursday that the drug, which terminates pregnancy by causing the embryo to detach from the uterine wall, cannot be sold in pharmacies but can only be administered by doctors in a hospital.
The agency said in a statement that the pill can only be taken up to the seventh week of pregnancy, and not up to the ninth as is the case in other countries. Women who used the pill between the seventh and the ninth week of pregnancy incurred more risks and had often needed surgery, it said.
Activists blast baby-dropping
New Delhi, India – Rights activists lashed out at local officials who allowed hundreds of infants to be dropped from the roof of a mosque in western India in the belief that the fall – which ends when the babies are caught in a bedsheet – would ensure good health and prosperity for their families.
The ritual at the Baba Umer Durga, a Muslim shrine, is believed to have been followed for nearly 700 years, and each year hundreds of people, both Hindus and Muslims, take part in the ritual.
Local officials told television news stations Friday that there had been no reports of injuries.
The infants were dangled Thursday from the roof of the shrine near Sholapur, about 280 miles south of Mumbai, before being dropped about 50 feet onto a bedsheet held aloft by parents and other believers.
Baby crocodile escapes on plane
Cairo, Egypt – An official at Cairo airport said a foot-long baby crocodile wriggled out of a passenger’s hand luggage and caused panic on a flight from the United Arab Emirates.
A crew member on the EgyptAir flight from Abu Dhabi rounded up the wayward reptile and calmed passengers. The airport security official said the animal was seized and given to the Cairo Zoo.
Transporting exotic animals in and out of Egypt is illegal, and none of the passengers on Friday’s flight claimed ownership of the baby croc.