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February 29, 2012

Holder: 1st Amendment Allows Gov to Force Catholics to Buy Sterilization, Contraception

(CNSNews.com) - The Justice Department will defend against any legal challenge to the new Obama administration mandate to force employers to provide abortion-inducing drugs, sterilization and contraception, even if it goes against their conscience, Attorney General Eric Holder told a House subcommittee Tuesday. The Department of Health and Human Services rule, part of Obamacare, violates the freedom of conscience for Catholics and other religious groups that expressed their objections to the mandate, opponents say. Already there is litigation asserting that the rule violates the First Amendment’s guarantee to free exercise of religion.

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February 29, 2012

Md. Governor to Sign Same-Sex Marriage Bill Thursday

Gov. Martin O'Malley says he will sign Maryland's same-sex marriage bill into law on Thursday, reversing the stance on traditional marriage he has held for most of his political career. O'Malley, a Democrat, publicly opposed same-sex marriage until about a year ago. Last month, he introduced the same-sex marriage bill as part of his legislative package.

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February 29, 2012

Georgia House Set to Vote on Fetal Protection Bill

A bill limiting abortions past 20 weeks of gestation passed the Georgia House Rules Committee today, and could receive a vote by the full chamber as early as Wednesday. HB 954 — the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act — includes an exception for late-term abortions to be performed when the mother’s life is at risk, but otherwise bans them based on science showing that preborn babies are capable of feeling intense pain.

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February 29, 2012

Texas Defunds Planned Parenthood Completely

The federal government may soon be shutting of Medicaid funding to Texas after the Lone Star State followed through on legislation last week to completely defund Planned Parenthood. State Health and Human Services Commissioner Tom Suehs signed the final rule into law last Thursday saying no family planning agency that performs or promotes elective abortions will receive any of the $16 million of state funding — and approximately a dozen Planned Parenthood offices across the state have closed so far. The rule takes effect on March 14; the state Legislature passed the law last June.

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February 29, 2012

House Judiciary Committee Contemplates Contraceptive Mandate

The U.S. House Judiciary Committee held a hearing today about the Obama administration’s decision to force religious employers to pay for contraceptives and possible abortifacient drugs in health care plans. Four witnesses testified at the hearing, entitled “Executive Overreach: The HHS Mandate Versus Religious Liberty.? Only one, Dr. Linda Rosenstock of the University of California Los Angeles, supported it.

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February 28, 2012

Activist Asserts Contraceptives for ‘Women and Girls’ Will Reduce Carbon Emissions

(CNSNews.com) – Giving women and girls access to contraceptives is good for them and it's also good for the planet, activist Kavita Ramdas said at a discussion about “women’s health? and “climate adaptation? at the Woodrow Wilson International Center in Washington, D.C. on Monday. "[E]mpowering women to time their pregnancies would reduce carbon emissions significantly," said Ramdas, referencing several studies that make that point.

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February 28, 2012

Allies under assault

WASHINGTON and NEW YORK—The last couple months, says Saddleback Church pastor Rick Warren, have been a "perfect storm" for the erosion of religious liberty. He cites New York City's ban on churches meeting in public schools (which tossed two Saddleback-planted churches out of their places of worship), the court decision overturning Proposition 8, and the Obama administration's mandate that employer-provided insurance pay for employees' contraceptives, which affects Saddleback-affiliated organizations because they self-insure.

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February 28, 2012

Youcef Nadarkhani’s Case Proves World Still Concerned About Religious Freedom

The American Center for Law and Justice's sources in Iran confirmed Sunday that Youcef Nadarkhani is still alive, although it is still believed that Iranian courts have issued an execution warrant for the Christian pastor. Middle East experts and international affairs organizations agree that Nadarkhani's case has caused the global community to transcend politics in unified support for the Iranian evangelical, and proves that there is concern for religious freedom around the world.

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February 28, 2012

Wash. Considers Law Mandating Abortion Coverage

A bill has made it through Washington's House and is now being considered in its Senate that would require almost all health plans under the state's jurisdiction to offer coverage for abortions. The bill provides conscience clauses to protect religious organizations, however the exemptions are inadequate, according to critics. The bill, called ESHB 2330, would make Washington the first state to mandate any health insurer who covers maternity services to also cover abortions. The only other state considering similar regulations is New York, although its bill is not as far along in the legislative process.

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February 28, 2012

Senate Prepares to Vote on Religious Protections Bill

The U.S. Senate will likely vote this week on an amendment to protect the religious freedom and conscience rights of employers who object to offering possible abortifacient drugs in employee health plans. Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., introduced the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act (S.1467) last August, and recently offered the bill as an amendment to transportation legislation being debated this week. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., had previously blocked the amendment from getting a vote.

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February 28, 2012

Maine Gathers Petition Signatures to Redefine Marriage

A group of people seeking to redefine marriage in Maine has succeeded in getting enough petition signatures to put the question before voters in November. In Maine, it takes a minimum of 57,277 valid petition signatures for citizens to propose legislation. Secretary of State Charles Summers announced Friday that the drive to create marriage licenses for same-sex couples yielded 85,216 valid signatures, out of the 96,137 collected.

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February 28, 2012

Federal Court Orders New York City to Back Off Policy

On Friday, a federal district judge ordered New York City to allow churches in all five boroughs to continue meeting in public schools on weekends until a court case concerning the matter is ultimately resolved. After the U.S. Supreme Court declined last December to hear the case of a Bronx church that had been banned from meeting in a public school, New York City officials gave all churches meeting in schools a Feb. 12 eviction notice. However, all other community groups are still allowed to rent school facilities from the city for their own purposes; the city claims that allowing Christian churches to meet in them is an unconstitutional government “endorsement? of religion.

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February 28, 2012

Ethicists Argue in Favor of ‘After-Birth Abortions‘ as Newborns ’Are Not Persons’

Two ethicists working with Australian universities argue in the latest online edition of the Journal of Medical Ethics that if abortion of a fetus is allowable, so to should be the termination of a newborn. Alberto Giubilini with Monash University in Melbourne and Francesca Minerva at the Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics at the University of Melbourne write that in “circumstances occur[ing] after birth such that they would have justified abortion, what we call after-birth abortion should be permissible.?

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February 24, 2012

Obama Adviser Argued: Kids from Big Families Have Lower IQs

(CNSNews.com) - John P. Holdren, the top science adviser to President Barack Obama, wrote in a book he co-authored with population control advocates Paul and Anne Ehrlich that children from larger families have lower IQs. The book—"Human Ecology: Problems and Solutions"—argued that the United States government had a “responsibility to halt the growth of the American population.?

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February 24, 2012

Federal Court Says Part of Marriage Law Unconstitutional

A federal judge in San Francisco said Wednesday that part of a federal law defining marriage is unconstitutional because it bans benefits for same-sex partners of government employees. Karen Golinski, who works for the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, married her partner shortly after the California Supreme Court redefined marriage, and before voters reaffirmed the definition of marriage as the union of one man and one woman by passing a constitutional amendment known as Prop. 8. When she asked to have her partner added to her insurance plan, she was denied, based on the federal Defense of Marriage Act.

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February 24, 2012

Court: Pharmacists Don’t Have to Dispense Certain Drugs

A federal court ruled Wednesday that pharmacists in Washington state have the right to refuse to dispense “emergency contraception? drugs that could take the life of a preborn baby. Instead, pharmacists who object for religious or moral reasons to dispensing possible abortifacients have the right to refer customers to other pharmacies — trumping a rule created in 2007 law that said any Washington pharmacist who didn’t dispense the drugs would lose his job.

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February 23, 2012

Small religious colleges mount legal challenge to contraceptive mandate

President Obama's "accommodation" to religious organizations earlier this month on the contraceptive coverage mandate has not quelled the furor as at least a half-dozen groups, primarily small, religiously affiliated colleges and universities, take the administration to court over the rule. "The First Amendment protects Americans from mandates that require us to act against our own convictions," Geneva College President Ken Smith said in a statement.

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February 23, 2012

Judge Rules State Can’t Make Pharmacies Sell Plan B Contraceptives in Violation of Religious Beliefs

TACOMA, Wash. -- Washington state cannot force pharmacies to sell Plan B or other emergency contraceptives, a federal judge ruled Wednesday, saying the state's true goal was to suppress religious objections by druggists - not to promote timely access to the medicines for people who need them. U.S. District Judge Ronald Leighton heard closing arguments earlier this month in a lawsuit that claimed state rules violate the constitutional rights of pharmacists by requiring them to dispense such medicine. The state requires pharmacies to dispense any medication for which there is a community need and to stock a representative assortment of drugs needed by their patients.

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February 23, 2012

Pelosi: Catholic Church ‘Has Not Enforced’ Its Teaching on Contraception

(CNSNews.com) - During an event at Texas A&M University on Monday, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) claimed the Catholic Church has not enforced its teaching on contraception and that the church now wants the federal government to enforce that teaching for it.

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February 23, 2012

Spread attack

Ave Maria University filed suit Tuesday in U.S. District Court against the federal government over the Obama administration’s contraceptive mandate, bringing the total number of lawsuits filed against the policy to six. (See “Colleges in court,? Feb. 20.) The suits—five filed by colleges and universities and one filed by the Catholic cable network EWTN (Eternal Word Television Network)—are spread across the nation’s appellate court districts, part of a coordinated effort lawyers hope will help put the cases on a fast track to the U.S. Supreme Court.

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