Preemie Baby's Survival Could Have Big Impact on Abortion Debate

The survival of pre-term baby Amillia Taylor, at 21 weeks gestation the youngest know child to survive premature birth, has produced an increase in media debate on the abortion issue. Mainstream media outlets in the United States have acknowledged that the baby's life raises "big questions" about legal abortion, Weighing less than 10 ounces and just nine inches long, Amillia was born one month earlier than the date considered viable for most babies, 25 weeks. About half of the babies born at 25 weeks will survive. Abortion laws are often based on an assumption of viability, with the cut-off being set at the point where babies would be likely to survive outside the womb.

ABC anchor Charles Gibson made the account of Amillia's survival the top story on World News February 20th, calling the baby, "A tiny miracle that raises big questions in the debate over abortion," according to a blog report by Brent Baker posted on Feb.20.

"The fact that she has survived and grown to more than four pounds, and is about to go home, is a miracle, yes, but a miracle that may have an effect on the debate over abortion. And it may change what people think about life."

Dan Harris, pro-abortion reporter for ABC, pointed out that in most of the country, Amillia could have been legally aborted well past the point of her birth.

"Only one state, North Carolina, explicitly prohibits aborting a fetus at the point at which Amillia was born; 12 states permit abortion at that point; 23 states leave it to a doctor to decide whether the fetus is viable; and in 14 states, there are no laws on the books that would prevent such an abortion." Even when she was released from the hospital to go home, at 35 weeks, Amillia was still three weeks from her natural birth date and could legally be aborted in many states if she had remained in her mother's womb.

Same-Sex Civil Unions Could Pass in Four States This Year

After suffering a series of stinging defeats last year, homosexual activists may be on the verge of significant victories this year as state legislatures consider passing same-sex civil unions bills. Legislators in at least four states-Hawaii, New Hampshire, Oregon and Rhode Island-are examining civil union bills that would grant homosexual couples the legal benefits of marriage. A fifth state, Washington, is considering a domestic partnership benefits bill that would give same-sex couples some of marriage's legal benefits.

In all five states, supporters believe they have a good chance at success. Homosexual activists see civil unions as the next-best thing to full-blown "gay marriage," as well as a natural stepping stone to "marriage." Some legislators see civil unions as a compromise.

Pro-family leaders, though, disagree. "We think civil unions as they are proposed here in Hawaii are exactly the same as marriage, but with a different title," Hawaii Family Forum Executive Director Kelly Rosati told Baptist Press. "So, we don't see it as much of a compromise."

Baptist Press

U.S. Anglicans Given Sept. 30 Deadline

World Anglican leaders have issued an ultimatum to the U.S. Episcopal Church, demanding an end to the appointment of gay clergy and the blessing of same-sex couples.

The ultimatum gives U.S. bishops until September 30 to respond to the communique, issued after archbishops met in Tanzania.

The leaders also announced that the U.S. Episcopal Church must allow members who oppose gay clergy to worship under a newly-formed pastoral council. The document announced the setting up of a pastoral council to represent the international church leaders in the US. Anglicans who do not agree with the Episcopal Church's stance on homosexuality would be able to worship separately, under the auspices of the council. The body is to be made up of five members, three of whom will be appointed by non-U.S. clergy.

IRPP News Update

Christians in Iraq Welcome Troop Surge

Iraqi Christians have been anticipating the arrival of thousands of American military forces after President George W. Bush pledged to send 20,000 additional soldiers to join roughly 130,000 troops already in Iraq. Stefan de Groot, who works in Iraq for Netherlands-based Christian rights group Open Doors, said the anarchy in cities such as Baghdad and Mosul has made Christians pessimistic. "Almost nobody sees a future full of roses," he said. Christians are often caught in the crossfire of Sunni and Shiite Muslim militants as well as other separate criminal groups. "All of these groups have reasons to kidnap and even kill Christians. In most cases the main motive is money as Christians in many cases are belonging to Iraq's middle class and often have their own businesses," De Groot explained. He added that Christians are also targeted as they don't have an armed militia ready to carry out revenge attacks, besides the fact that Muslims want to spread Islam and force Christians out. Despite the bloodshed, Open Doors Netherlands and other groups have reported a growing interest in Christianity in Iraq.

BosNewsLife via MissionNet

Faith-Based Organizations Play a Major HIV/AIDS Care Role in Africa

Between 30% and 70% of the health infrastructure in Africa is currently owned by faith-based organizations, according to a study released Feb. 8 by the World Health Organization (WHO). However, there is often little cooperation between these religious organizations and mainstream public health programs, the report emphasized. The study focused on Lesotho and Zambia, countries with HIV prevalence rates of 23.2% and 17%, respectively in 2005. It found that Christian hospitals and health centers are providing about 40% of HIV care and treatment services in Lesotho and almost a third of the HIV/AIDS treatment facilities in Zambia are run by faith-based organizations. "Since they provide a substantial proportion of care in developing countries, often reaching vulnerable populations living under adverse conditions, faith-based organizations must be recognized as essential contributors towards universal access efforts," said Kevin De Cock, director, Department of HIV/AIDS, WHO.

From a press release from Washington National Cathedral

Proposed Law in India Could Hurt Missions

A proposed amendment to a law on foreign funding of social service organizations in India could seriously hinder the work of an estimated 20,000 developmental organizations, half of which are Christian. Called the Foreign Contributions Regulation Bill, the law would obligate service organizations that receive foreign funding to re-register every five years and enable authorities to revoke registration at any time. At present, registration to receive foreign funding is granted indefinitely. An example of how the law could be used against Christian organizations is the ongoing legal battle of Emmanuel Mission International (EMI) whose registration was arbitrarily dismissed due to two alleged procedural violations. Many organizations believe the new amendment would give sharper teeth to the same nationalist groups who have harassed EMI. The government claims the amendment is needed to keep a check on militant and separatist organizations that raise funds abroad for "anti-national" activities.

Compass Direct News via MissionNet

Canadian Charged for Not Performing Gay Rite

A marriage commissioner in Saskatchewan could be fined $5,000 by a government body because he refused to perform a "gay marriage" in 2005, saying it conflicted with his Christian beliefs. The man, 70-year-old Orville Nichols, gave the two homosexuals the name of another commissioner, who subsequently conducted the ceremony on the date the men wanted. But the homosexual couple nevertheless filed a complaint with the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission alleging discrimination by Nichols. Nichols said in the past he had refused to perform some heterosexual marriages, too, such as those who didn't take it seriously or were involved in abusive relationships, CanWest News Service reported. The province's Human Rights Tribunal heard the case Jan. 31 and will determine what action to take. Canada is one of only five countries that grants homosexual couples marriage licenses. Marriage commissioners hold government positions and perform ceremonies for the public.

Baptist Press

Internet Pornography Threat Greater Than Study Indicates

The threat of pornography to children and teens is even more serious than indicated in research results reported in "Pediatrics," a veteran expert in the field said recently. University of New Hampshire (UNH) researchers reported in the official journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics that 42% of Internet users ages 10-17 surveyed said they had seen online pornography in the previous year. Of those, 66% said the exposure was unwanted.

"The UNH study is welcome and useful, but we believe the percentages are even higher," said William C. "Skip" Mathews, president of Integrity Online, the nation's oldest and largest Internet filter solution provider. "The data is already outdated, other studies have shown higher exposure, and our own experience says otherwise. Plus, children and teens often don't respond openly and honestly to researchers, especially discussing something as uncomfortable as pornography.

Mathews said the data in the UNH study is now almost two years old.

"This is the nature of research, but two years should be looked at like dog years' in Internet time," he said.

From a press release

Pro-Life Laws Cut Teen Abortions by Half

A new study finds that pro-life laws such as parental notification or consent reduced the abortion rate on teenage girls by more than 50 percent. Michael New, a political science professor at the University of Alabama, said that parental involvement laws passed in the 1990s resulted in a "dramatic decrease in the incidence of abortion among minors." In 1985, 13.5 abortions were performed on minors for every 1,000 girls between the ages of 13 and 17. By 1999, the abortion rate for minors had fallen by over 50% to 6.5 per 1,000 teen-age girls ages 13 to 17.

New pointed out that only 20 states enforced parental involvement statutes in 1992 but that number increased to 32 by 2000. Dr. New said that a strong economy and an increase in teenagers abstaining from sexual relations likely contributed to the decline. But, "pro-life legislation enacted during the 1990s, particularly parental involvement laws intended to influence minors, were effective in reducing abortion." According to the study, parental involvement laws reduced the minor abortion rate by an average of 1.67 abortions per 1,000 females between the ages of 13 and 17. In addition, restrictions on the use of state taxpayer funds through Medicaid reduced the minor abortion rate by an average of 2.34 abortions per 1,000 females between the ages of 13 and 17. "The results of two national experiments indicate that pro-life legislationis responsible for the declines in abortion," New said.

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