Congress enacts first abortion restriction since Roe v. Wade
After a U.S. House of Representatives vote last night (roll call), the federal government will finally ban partial-birth abortions, or what some abortion rights supporters call "dilation and extraction."

"After eight long years, Congress will finally send the Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act to a president willing to sign it," House Majority Leader Tom DeLay told The Washington Times. "The debate over the rights of the unborn will continue, and new battles will be fought. But in the meantime, the American people will take this one stand … on behalf of the innocent."

Actually, notes The Washington Post, it's not just the debate over the rights of the unborn that will continue. Opponents of the bill "have vowed to challenge the measure in court, noting that three years ago the Supreme Court struck down a similar law in Nebraska."

But the Family Research Council has a briefing on how the language in H.R. 760 explicitly fits with the Supreme Court's 2000 Stenberg v. Carhart ruling. "It will be imperative that Attorney General John Ashcroft mount a vigorous defense of the law," FRC President Ken Connor says in a separate press release. (The FRC also has a briefing on partial-birth abortion myths,

In talking to the Chicago Tribune, however, the National Right to Life Committee seems to say that H.R. 760 is inconsistent with the logic of Stenberg v. Carhart. But that's okay, says Douglas Johnson, the group's legislative director. "We hope that by time this bill gets to the Supreme Court, there will be five justices who don't adhere to that extreme position," Johnson said. "Sometimes justices change their minds. Sometimes the composition of the court changes. Anything can happen."

Despite the looming court battle, both sides of the abortion debate agree that this is huge news. "It is monumental in that it represents the first real restriction on any form of abortion enacted into law in 30 years," Connor told the Associated Press.

NARAL Pro-Choice America president Kate Michelman agrees: "President Bush and anti-choice leaders in the Congress have crossed the Rubicon towards rolling back Roe."

The Senate passed a similar bill back in March, and President Bush has vowed to sign it. "Passage of this important legislation is a shared priority that will help build a culture of life in America," Bush said yesterday. "I urge Congress to quickly resolve any differences [between the House and Senate bills] and send me the final bill as soon as possible so that I can sign it into law."

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Concerned Women for America and FRC had a run-up press releases yesterday; expect reaction releases today. The American Center for Law and Justice already has a reaction release posted. Newspaper opinion pieces on the bill include:

  • 'Partial birth' mendacity, again | House members who vote for the so-called partial-birth abortion ban will be participating in a cynical exercise that disrespects the rule of law and women's health (Editorial, The New York Times)

  • 'Partial birth,' partial truths | The law would not prevent any abortion, before viability or after. Instead, it would make one particular procedure—one that may be the safest method for some women—a criminal act (Ruth Marcus, The Washington Post)

DNC: What prolife Democrats?
Among the 282 members of the House who voted for the partial-birth abortion ban were 62 Democrats, but the Democratic Party would apparently prefer to deny their existence. Roll Call,a newspaper covering life on Capitol Hill, reported Monday that the Democratic National Committee website links to "279 political and advocacy organizations, labor unions, religious groups and government agencies." But Democrats for Life has been shut out. (The organization has republished the article for free, which isn't available at the Roll Call site without a subscription.)

Last month, 17 House Democrats wrote to DNC Chairman Terry McAuliffe, challenging the group's exclusion, which they say is "ostracism," and contradicts the party's platform, which said, "We respect the individual conscience of each American on this difficult issue."

"Despite all the prattling about 'diversity,' 'openness,' 'inclusiveness,' and other such politically correct twaddle, it is clear that no difference of opinion on abortion will be tolerated," the FRC's Connor said about the news. "Prolife Democrats are victims of abortion apartheid. … No wonder the increasingly marginalized party continues to lose power, influence and elections."

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India and its conversion laws:

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  • Kanchi seer for laws to check conversion | Jharkhand should follow the footsteps of Tamil Nadu and enact a law to check the "forcible conversion", he said (UNI)

  • Meet exposes chinks in Modi religion Act | The Gujarat government is in for a major embarrassment with the Vishwa Boudh Sangh (VBS) planning to organise a mass conversion on June 15, announcing that around one lakh Dalits would embrace Buddhism that day (The Indian Express)

  • Gujarat: 'Communal forces terrorizing minorities' | Expressing anguish over the alleged persecution of Christians by the Gujarat Government in the form of clandestine surveys, the Tamil Nadu Bishops' Council (TNBC) today said the action clearly indicated that communal forces in that State were bent upon "intimidating and terrorizing the minorities" (The Hindu, India)

  • Christian lobby warned against illegal conversions | VHP leader  Acharya Giriraj Kishore says Buddhists and Christians are conspiring against Hinduism (The Hindu, India)

Persecution and violence:

  • Nsibambi praises martyrs | The more Christians are persecuted and killed the more the church grows, the Prime Minister Apolo Nsibambi has said (The Monitor, Kampala, Uganda)

  • Cambodia continues Islamic crackdown | Police in Cambodia have shut down an Islamic school near the capital Phnom Penh, as part of an apparent crackdown on outside Muslim influences prior to a visit in June by the United States Secretary of State, Colin Powell. (Radio Australia)

  • Were Uganda martyrs really martyrs? | Were these young men exemplary Christian martyrs or, as some have argued, fifth columnists guilty of treason against the state of Buganda, having sold out to impending colonialism? (Kintu Nyago, The Monitor, Kampala)

  • Islamists burn to death Christian pastor, family | Massacre of 59 came as Sudan discussed removal from terror list (WorldNetDaily)

Religious freedom and discrimination:

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  • Prayer at school isn't just a convenience | Different religions have different ways of performing prayers, however, they all share one common fact: You have to pray. (Marwan Marouf, The Dallas Morning News)

Missions and ministry:

  • Oklahoma City prepares for Billy Graham visit | With Graham's visit about a week away, teens gathered to pray around the arena Sunday where the religious icon will speak (Associated Press)

  • Give $155 rebate check to charity, churches urge | Nova Scotians should send a $68-million message to the Hamm government and return their income tax rebates to the premier's office so the money can be used to fight poverty, a coalition of church groups says (The Halifax Herald)

  • Missionaries come from Africa to aid Free Church | The initiative will be launched later this year after concern at the growing number of congregations in Scotland who do not have a minister (The Scotsman)

  • Charity hopes Bible ads bring blessing of cash | Catholic Charities of Denver is rolling out 10 billboards this week that use biblical quotations to encourage commuters to support programs that give food, rental assistance and other help to people in emergencies (The Denver Post)

Sexual ethics:

  • Study links teen sex to depression, suicide | Teen girls who had sexual intercourse were three times more likely to be depressed than girls who had not. Similarly, sexually-active boys were twice as likely to be depressed than peers who had not had sex. (The Washington Times)

  • Cathedral fights plan for live sex at nearby Club Wicked | Southwark Cathedral in south London is objecting to plans by the nearby Club Wicked, which already runs regular fetish evenings, to expand its services to cater for all tastes. (The Daily Telegraph, London)

  • Brothel only meters from church | "Having a brothel operating in a residential area is not healthy. However, we have to realize that if it is closed down here, it will just re-open somewhere else." (Business Day)

  • Criticism of gays riles Georgetown | A Catholic cardinal's statement at Georgetown University's May 17 commencement that the family is "mocked by homosexuality" has sparked protests from dozens of faculty members and students (The Washington Times)

  • Also: Like it or not | Cardinal Arinze at Georgetown (Charles Colson, Breakpoint)

  • Boy Scouts' anti-gay policy challenged | The Cradle of Liberty Council—the nation's third-largest with 87,000 members in Philadelphia and two neighboring counties—unanimously voted this month to add "sexual orientation" to its nondiscrimination policy (Associated Press)

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Same-sex marriage:

  • The renegade Anglican bishop | It is difficult to conceive of any undermining of Christian doctrine or practice that would provoke action from the clerical jellyfish in the House of Bishops (Ian Hunter, National Post, Canada)

  • Bishop 'sells out' over same-sex marriage | The ritual marks both a loss of conviction and an impending moral crisis. (Susan Martinuk, The Province, Vancouver, B.C.)

  • Who needs marriage? | The purpose of the Federal Marriage Amendment, obviously, is to take the issue of gay marriage out of the hands of the courts - and no wonder (Al Knight, The Denver Post)

Church and state:

Politics and law:

  • From TV evangelist to Zambia's vice president | Never in the history of Zambian politics has someone's rise to power been so meteoric as that of Nevers Mumba (BBC)

  • Churches reject 3rd term | The Uganda Joint Christian Council, made up of Anglican, Catholic and Orthodox churches, says, "advocating for abolition of term limits for a President does not reflect well on the commitment to building a democratic culture and should be discouraged" (New Vision, Kampala, Uganda)

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Holy Land:

Interfaith relations and other religions:

  • Tough time for faith | Tony Stephens talks to a Catholic priest who thinks the century of Islam is at hand (The Sydney Morning Herald)

  • Appealing to Muslims | The sentiment required for a successful interaction with Muslims is of course no mushy sentimentality but the love that emulates the love of Christ, says the Rev. Marc Erickson, senior pastor of the large Eastbrook Church in Milwaukee (Uwe Siemon-Netto, UPI)

  • Yoga with a Christian bent | Instructor finds perfect blend of body, spirit (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

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