Supreme Court won't hear appeal of Indiana abortion law
The Supreme Court yesterday refused to hear the appeal over an Indiana law requiring women to get counseling in person 18 hours before they undergo an abortion.

That means the law will immediately go into effect, though it was passed eight years ago. The Supreme Court's denial of certiorari lets stand a 2-1 decision from the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals upholding the law.

"For the first time abortion providers in Indiana will be required to give women information about the risks," Mike Fichter, executive director of Indiana Right to Life, tells the Associated Press. "We're glad that the court battles look like they're finally over."

Ah, but they're never over, Mr. Fichter. Even this case was in many ways a rehash: in 1992, the Supreme Court's Planned Parenthood v. Casey decision allowed mandatory in-person counseling. And a rehash of the debate over Indiana's law is in the works. "Some [abortion] providers began adjusting their operations immediately, but they also are considering an appeal of the law in state court, The Indianapolis Star reports. "The decision on a new legal challenge under the state constitution could be made by early next week."

In the meantime, however, the abortion lobby is seething. "Obviously we're disappointed," Center for Reproductive Rights attorney Janet Crepps tells the Star. "It's not just that it will prevent some women from getting abortions at all, it will also delay a significant number of other women, and that delay could increase their risks."

One note about the counseling: a lot of it won't be from Planned Parenthood. Of the group's 38 clinics and health centers, three provide abortions, and 13 receive federal funding. Those 13 "will not offer the counseling, in order to avoid any conflict with an abortion ban covering groups that receive federal money," the Star reports.

Mississippi, Utah, Louisiana and Wisconsin similarly require women to get in-person counseling from a health care provider before getting an abortion. In Mississippi and Utah, abortions dropped 10 percent to 13 percent after they started requiring in-person counseling, opponents of the law said.

"Costco church," city strike deal
Remember the fight between Cottonwood Christian Center and Cypress, California, which wanted to force the church to make way for a Costco? The two sides finally worked out a deal, the Los Angeles Times reports. "In a three-way agreement made final by a unanimous vote of the city council on Monday, Cottonwood agreed to sell 18 acres of coveted redevelopment land to Cypress for $18.8 million, resulting in a profit of about $5.3 million. With that money, the church will purchase 29 acres nearby for $17 million," writes William Lobdell.

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"The way I see it is nothing short of miraculous," Cottonwood Senior Pastor Bayless Conley says.

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War with Iraq:

Faith within the armed forces:

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President Bush:

  • Farrakhan condemns Bush | "I want to say to President Bush that you are a radical who has hijacked Christianity," he tells black church leaders. "The preachers have always been apologetic for the evils of the white people." (Chicago Sun-Times)

  • Seeing God as 'a kind of mascot' | Biblical imagery nothing new for U.S. presidents But Bush critics say he's gone to far with `good vs. evil' (Bruce Nolan, Toronto Star)

  • A president's call to prayer | Most Americans appear to appreciate the president's comforting words, drawn easily from his faith (Suzanne Fields, The Washington Times)

Faith-based initiative:

  • Government may team up with churches to help elderly | Polk County's Elderly Services Division is trying to enlist churches and other religious organizations to join a program that would connect volunteers and the elderly or disabled who need occasional assistance (The Ledger, Lakeland, Fla.)

  • Raze the church/state wall? Heaven help us! | With Bush's initiatives, the wall between church and state would become a mere historical marker where separation was once maintained (Jonathan Turley, Los Angeles Times)

  • The ministry behind president's drug program | Bush's plan enters gray area between church, state (San Francisco Chronicle/The New York Times)

  • Choice and charity | To wholly ignore the significance of faith during recovery would be a sterile interpretation of complex human needs (The Washington Times)

Politics and law:

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Church life:


  • Christian TV show wins Telly Awards | Baptist Press's "Truthquest: California" featured young Christians mixing it up in physical challenges and unusual ministry groups (The Jackson [Tenn.] Sun)

  • Ofcom to probe religious programming | Ofcom, the new TV and telecommunications regulator, is expected to launch a fresh investigation into the commitment to religious programming on ITV and Channel 4. (The Guardian, London)


  • Catholic Church edits encyclopedia | When the New Catholic Encyclopedia was issued in 1967, rapidly evolving events made it out of date almost immediately (Associated Press)

  • Doctor calls on Jesus to deliver USA from the hamburger | Drawing on the inspiration of loaves, fishes, water and wine, a doctor from Florida has published a self-help manual, What Would Jesus Eat?, and a companion volume, the What Would Jesus Eat Cook Book (The Daily Telegraph, London)

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