Women to Donate Eggs for Research.  [England] Women in Britain may be allowed to donate eggs for therapeutic cloning and stem cell research to find new treatments for illnesses ranging from diabetes to heart disease.  The government's fertility watchdog, the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA), said on Tuesday it is recommending a change in guidelines that would enable women to provide eggs altruistically for research purposes.  At the moment, only spare embryos left over from fertility treatments are used in therapeutic cloning research.  "We recognise that researchers in the UK who are involved in therapeutic cloning have made public statements over the past year in reference to the need for better quality eggs ..," said HFEA spokesman James Healy.   "The obvious follow-on from that would be to look into the issue of altruistic egg donation."
Britain vs. Bush Gag Rule.   [England] One of George W. Bush's first acts as president five years ago was to reinstate a global gag rule on family planning for health organizations in foreign countries that get U.S. aid.   Under the rule, the organizations had to pledge not to counsel women about abortions or to advocate for liberalized abortion laws in their countries. U.S. law already prohibited them from providing abortions.  The effect has been that health centers in the developing world have had to forfeit U.S. funds, limiting their ability to help couples plan their families using various methods, most of which help avoid abortions.  Last week, the British government, to its credit, stepped in to help fill the gap.  Britain is making a two-year, $5.3 million contribution to a new Global Safe Abortion Program.  An international development minister for Britain, Gareth Thomas, said an absence of sexual and reproductive health services leads to more unplanned pregnancies and more unsafe abortions.  "We work very closely with the Americans," he said, "but we have a very different view from them on abortion.   Friends can disagree."  The British and the International Planned Parenthood Federation, which developed the program, hope that other nations will add to the fund.  The need for more services is acute.  According to the World Health Organization, about 19 million women and girls have unsafe abortions each year.   Nearly 70,000 die from infection or bleeding.
Woman President Re-elected.  [Finland] Left-leaning Ms Halonen, the Nordic country's first woman president, won a narrow victory over moderate rightist challenger Sauli Niinisto, who kissed her hand and conceded defeat.  "The best thing was that there was a huge amount of people involved, supporting Sauli Niinisto and supporting me," Mr Halonen told Finnish broadcaster MTV3.  Official results showed she won 51.8 per cent of the vote with nearly all ballots counted.  "Politics has made a comeback," said Ms Halonen, who was backed by the Social Democratic Party and leftist and labor groups for a second and final six-year term.  Social Democrats have held the presidency since 1982 in Finland, which was the first country to grant women the right to stand for political office a century ago.
Surprise Win in Women's Biathlon.  [Italy] French biathlete Florence Baverel-Robert pulled off a stunning upset by winning the gold medal in Thursday's 7.5-km Olympic sprint.   The 31-year-old, who had never won a top-level competition in 15 years of trying, hit all ten targets before completing the course in a time of 23 minutes, 21.4 seconds.   Sweden's Anna Carin Olofsson won her country's first Olympic silver medal in women's biathlon after missing just once while Ukraine's Lilia Efremova took the bronze.   "I can't believe it.  I really wasn't expected to win," Baverel-Robert told reporters after being hoisted into the air by her team.  "I thought I had better chances in the individual race.  It's a funny sport!"
Women Roll Into the Medal Round.  [Norway] Norway clinched a spot in the women's curling medal round with an 8-1 win over Denmark on Monday _ a match the Danes conceded after only six ends.  Norway (6-2) became the third team to wrap up a berth in the semifinals, joining Sweden (7-2) and Switzerland (6-2).