Three Dutch Protestant denominations have agreed to merge into a new denomination, the United Protestant Church in the Netherlands, although the unification project is at least two years from fruition. The groups are the 2.1 million-member Netherlands Reformed Church, the 700,000-member Reformed Churches in the Netherlands, and the 20,000-member Evangelical Lutheran Church in the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

Pioneer medical missionary Eleanor Solta—died November 4 from injuries suffered when a fire broke out in her apartment in Mafraq, Jordan. Soltau, 80, cofounded the Annoor Sanatorium for Chest Diseases in Mafraq, a Christian outreach to nomadic Bedouins. She was the daughter of American missionary T. Stanley Soltau.

Christian Sandsdalen, 79, on December 3 became the first Norwegian physician convicted of first-degree murder in connection with assisted suicide. In 1996, Sandsdalen had given a lethal dose of morphine to a 45-year-old woman who had multiple sclerosis. Oslo City Court ruled that the doctor should have found another way to relieve the patient's pain.

Backed by Roman Catholic lawmakers, Poland's lower house of Parliament on December 17 reinstated a law that prohibits abortion unless the fetus is irreparably damaged, the mother's life is endangered, or the pregnancy is a result of rape or incest. The legislation replaces a 1996 law that allowed first-trimester abortions for women facing "financial or emotional" hardship.

—The Turkish Supreme Court on December 3 denied an appeal by Soner Onder, ordering that the Syrian Christian finish another six years of his 12-year prison term. Onder has been incarcerated since a Christmas 1991 firebombing by Kurdish terrorists in Istanbul. ...

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