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Guttmacher Study: Abortions Fall to 40-Year Low.


The number of abortions performed in the United States has dropped to the lowest level in 40 years, a study said, pointing to more contraception use rather than increased restrictions on access to the procedure.

In 2011, an estimated 16.9 abortions were carried out per 1,000 women aged between 15 and 44 — 1.1 million in absolute terms.

It was lowest number since 1973, when the figure stood at 16.3 per 1,000, the Guttmacher Institute found.

Between 2008 and 2011, the abortion rate fell by 13 percent, as procedures were performed increasingly earlier in pregnancy.

The study, being issued Monday, noted that during that same period, the number of abortion providers fell by just 4 percent and clinics offering the service by just 1 percent.

The number of abortions reached a peak in 1981, with 29.3 terminations for every 1,000 women.

“With abortion rates falling in almost all states, our study did not find evidence that the national decline in abortions during this period was the result of new state abortion restrictions,” said Rachel Jones, lead author of the study.

“We also found no evidence that the decline was linked to a drop in the number of abortion providers during this period.”

Instead, the drop coincided with a steep dip in the numbers of overall pregnancy and birth rates.

“Contraceptive use improved during this period, as more women and couples were using highly effective long-acting reversible contraceptive methods,” Jones said.

The devastating economic recession had also prompted many women and couples to delay pregnancy or childbearing.

Since early 2011, many states have implemented laws making it harder for women to seek abortion — with 205 new restrictions enacted between 2011 and 2013, more than the entire decade before.

“As we monitor trends in abortion going forward, it is critical that we also monitor whether these state restrictions are preventing women who need abortion services from accessing them,” said Guttmacher Institute official Elizabeth Nash.

The study was based on analysis from a census of all known abortion providers in the United States and will appear in the March 2014 issue of the Guttmacher Institute’s “Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health.”

Anti-abortion activists welcomed the reported dip in the numbers, insisting it validated their campaigning.

“That abortion rates and numbers continue to decline is heartening because it shows that women are rejecting the idea of abortion as the answer to an unexpected pregnancy,” said Carol Tobias, president of the National Right to Life group.

“Overall, this latest report from Guttmacher shows the long-term efforts of the right-to-life movement to educate the country about the humanity of the unborn child and to enact laws that help mothers and their children are having a tremendous impact.”

 

© AFP 2014
Source: Newsmax.com

Pope Tweets Backing for Huge American March for Life Rally.


Pope Francis has used Twitter to back an annual anti-abortion rally, the March for Life, which is expected to draw tens of thousands of activists to Washington on Wednesday.

“I join the March for Life in Washington with my prayers. May God help us respect all life, especially the most vulnerable,” he said on his Twitter account in a message that was quickly re-tweeted thousands of times.

 

The Argentinian-born pontiff has some 11.5 million followers on his Twitter account in several languages, @pontifex.

The Washington rally is one of the key events of the pro-life movement in the United States, where abortion is one of the most polarising issues in politics.

 

Earlier this month, Francis called abortion “horrific”, using some of the strongest language on the issue since his election last March.

Francis alarmed some conservatives last September with comments in an interview with a Jesuit magazine suggesting the Church should shake off an “obsession” with such divisive issues as abortion, contraception and homosexuality.

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© 2014 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.
Source: Newsmax.com

Obama Reaffirms Commitment to Legal Abortion.


President Barack Obama is marking the 41st anniversary of the Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion by reaffirming his administration’s commitment to protecting a woman’s access to safe, affordable health care and her constitutional right to privacy, including the right to reproductive freedom.

In a written statement, Obama says the guiding principle of the court’s landmark decision is that all women should be free to make their own choices about their bodies and health. The justices’ Jan. 22, 1973 has been challenged ever since.

Obama commented Monday as thousands of anti-abortion demonstrators gathered in Washington’s sub-freezing weather for an annual march protesting the decision.

Obama says his administration also resolves to reduce the number of unplanned pregnancies, support maternal and child health, and build safe, healthy communities for children.

© Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Source: Newsmax.com

Huckabee: Democrats’ ‘War on Women’ Claim Demeans Females.


Republicans must fight the phony “war on women” tag that Democrats have slapped on them — a charge that is “incredibly demeaning” to U.S. women, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee says.

“Every woman I know who has an IQ above broccoli tells you that it’s an insult to them that the Democrats play them to be incapable of anything other than helpless and hopeless victims of their own gender, who are just sitting around wringing their hands hoping that Uncle Sugar will provide for them free birth control and a free abortion because it’s the only thing in life that they really care about,” Huckabee told “The Steve Malzberg Show” On Newsmax TV.

“That is incredibly demeaning,” he said Monday.

“It’s extraordinarily outrageous to assume that women, who are capable of running everything from major corporations in this country to running a household, that they’re somehow incapable of controlling their own libido and their reproductive system to the point that if the government doesn’t step in with $9 a month worth of birth control, they’re going to completely fall apart,” Huckabee said.

In recent years, Democrats have tagged the GOP as waging a “war on women” for its efforts to regulate abortion and because of a series of insensitive remarks by Republican lawmakers.

The most infamous example was that of former Rep. Todd Akin of Missouri, who said that abortion in cases of rape was unnecessary because “if it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”

Huckabee said he can’t believe the GOP hasn’t fought back against the Democrats’ “ridiculous” tag — but he has a theory.

“Why Republicans haven’t taken that on is beyond me except for this: you have to believe something in your heart before it can come out of your mouth with much effectiveness, and a lot of times, some of our Republican leaders, they’re not too sure what they believe in their hearts, and therefore they find it more difficult to articulate,” he said.

“But anybody who . . . thinks about it rationally and logically would say that on its face the Democrats [who are] creating this phony ‘war on women’ ought to be pushed back and the Republicans ought to be talking about . . . [women being] accepted as equals, for them to be respected as people who are not victims of gender but capable of anything that a man is capable of. That’s what we ought to be talking about.”

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© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.
By Bill Hoffmann

Responding to Conservatives, Pope Calls Abortion ‘Horrific’.


Image: Responding to Conservatives, Pope Calls Abortion 'Horrific'

Pope Francis, whom conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church have accused of not speaking out forcefully enough against abortion, on Monday called the practice “horrific”.The pope made his toughest remarks to date on abortion in his yearly address to diplomats accredited to the Vatican, a speech known as his “State of the World” address.

“It is horrific even to think that there are children, victims of abortion, who will never see the light of day,” he said in a section of the speech about the rights of children around the world.

Since his election in March, the pope, while showing no signs of changing the Church’s position against abortion, has not spoken out against it as sternly or as repeatedly as his predecessors Pope Benedict XVI and the late John Paul II.

Both of those popes often delivered sermons against abortion, which the Church considers murder.

Conservatives in the Church were alarmed when Francis, in a landmark interview in September with the Italian Jesuit magazine Civilta Cattolica, said the Church must shake off an “obsession” with teachings on abortion, contraception and homosexuality.

His stance favoring mercy over condemnation has disoriented conservative Catholics, notably in rich countries such as the United States, where the Catholic Church has become polarized on issues such as abortion.

Last year, Bishop Thomas J. Tobin of Providence, Rhode Island, spoke for many conservative Catholics when he said he was disappointed that the pope had not addressed “the evil of abortion” more directly.

Conservative Catholic websites have criticized the pope in the past months for what they called his silence on abortion.

 

© 2014 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

Source: Newsmax.com

Pro-Life Advocates Pray Supreme Court Strikes Down Abortion Clinic ‘Bubble Zones’.


 

pro-lifers fighting 'bubble zone'
Chicago enacted a ‘bubble zone’ law, which deprives pro-life sidewalk counselors of their constitutional right to freedom of speech, in 2009. (Courtesy of Illinois Family Institute)

The Pro-Life Action League is calling on all pro-life Christians to pray daily from now until Wednesday, Jan. 15. The focus of these prayers is that the U.S. Supreme Court will strike down all of the restrictive “bubble zone” laws that have deprived pro-life sidewalk counselors of their constitutional right to freedom of speech.

On Jan. 15, the high court will hear oral arguments in the case of McCullen v. Coakley, challenging Massachusetts’ “bubble zone,” the most restrictive in the country. Under the law, pro-lifers may not speak to abortion clinic clients within 35 feet of the entrance. This prohibition effectively scuttles the life-saving outreach of pro-life sidewalk counselors while exempting clinic staff and “agents” (a term which could apply to any abortion advocate).

The pro-life plaintiffs are also asking the court to overturn its ruling in Hill v. Colorado, which upheld a less restrictive “bubble zone” in 2000. Since that time, similar laws have been enacted in many jurisdictions across the country—including a 2009 “bubble zone” in the city of Chicago, where the Pro-Life Action League is headquartered.

Eric Scheidler, executive director of the Pro-Life Action League, offers some specifics.

“Three of the dissenters in the Hill v. Colorado ruling—Justices Scalia, Thomas and Kennedy—are still on the court,” he explains. “Only Justices Ginsberg and Breyer remain from the majority. If any two of the new justices on the court—Kagan, Sotomayor, Alito and Roberts—were to side with the Hill minority, all the ‘bubble zone’ laws in the country could be struck down.

“It would be a great victory for the Massachusetts ‘bubble zone’ law to be stricken down, since similarly restrictive laws continue to be enacted against sidewalk counselors, most recently in Portland, Maine. If all the ‘bubble zones’ in the nation were to be invalidated, it would be a tremendous victory not only for the First Amendment but for the countless unborn children whose lives would be saved.”

Scheidler describes how in the time since the Chicago “bubble zone” was enacted in November 2009, sidewalk counselors in the city have faced continued harassment from police, many of whom are unclear about the actual provisions of the confusing ordinance, and that “bubble zones” elsewhere have likewise hampered sidewalk counselors.

It is with these variables in mind that Scheidler and the Pro-Life Action League are calling for this specific period of daily prayer by all pro-life supporters. Scheidler, who is Catholic, suggests a daily novena of the Lord’s Prayer but welcomes the petitions of all pro-life people that the Supreme Court justices will listen to the plaintiffs’ arguments in McCullen v. Coakley with open hearts.

Source: CHARISMA NEWS.

US Asked Supreme Court Not to Allow Catholics’ Contraception Exemption.


 

birth control pills
The U.S. government asked the Supreme Court not to allow Roman Catholic-affiliated groups a temporary exemption from a part of Obamacare that requires employers to provide insurance policies covering contraception. (Ashley Fraser/Postmedia News)

The U.S. government asked the Supreme Court on Friday not to allow Roman Catholic-affiliated groups a temporary exemption from a part of the Obamacarehealth care law that requires employers to provide insurance policies covering contraception.

On Tuesday night, Justice Sonia Sotomayor had granted Little Sisters of the Poor, a Baltimore-based order of nuns that runs nursing homes across the country, and Christian Brothers Services, a group that administers health care plans for Catholic organizations, a temporary injunction preventing enforcement of the so-called “contraception mandate” against them while litigation continues.

Now that the court has received the government’s filing, Sotomayor—or the nine justices if she chooses to refer it to the whole court—will decide whether the injunction should be extended while the case continues in lower courts. There is no deadline by which the court has to act.

The case coincides with the expansion this year of coverage under the 2010 Obamacare law, the most sweeping U.S. social legislation in 50 years. Over time, the law aims to dramatically reduce the number of Americans who lack health insurance, which the U.S. government has estimated at more than 45 million.

The highly partisan issue of health care promises to play a prominent role in November’s Congressional elections, especially amid glitches that have included problems with the website used to enroll people in coverage.

‘No Legal Basis’
In its filing, the government says the groups have no legal basis to file the challenge because of the type of health insurance plan in question. It is a so-called “church plan,” which the government cannot require to provide contraception coverage under existing law.

That’s because church plans are exempt from the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, the federal law under which the authority of the government to enforce the contraception mandate rests, the government has admitted.

The religious organizations accuse the federal government of forcing them to support contraception and sterilization in violation of their religious beliefs or face steep fines.

The 2010 Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare, requires employers to provide health insurance policies that cover preventive services for women, including contraception and sterilization.

The act makes an exception for religious institutions such as houses of worship that mainly serve and employ members of their own faith, but not schools, hospitals and charitable organizations that employ people of all faiths.

As a compromise, the administration agreed to an accommodation for nonprofits affiliated with religious entities that was finalized in July.

Under the accommodation, eligible nonprofits have to provide a “self certification”—described by one lower court judge as a “permission slip”—that authorizes the insurance companies to provide the coverage. The challengers say that step alone is enough to violate their religious rights, regardless of whether employees ultimately receive contraception coverage.

A federal judge in Colorado, William Martinez, denied the plaintiffs’ request for an injunction on Dec. 27. The Denver-based 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals followed suit on Tuesday, prompting the last-minute plea to the Supreme Court.

Throughout the country, Catholic groups are asking the courts to exempt them temporarily from the mandate while litigation continues. Most courts have granted the requests. The mandate, which was due to take effect for the organizations on Wednesday, is already in place for many women who have private health insurance.

In separate cases, the Supreme Court already has agreed to hear oral arguments on whether for-profit corporations have the basis to object to the contraception mandate on religious grounds. The court is due to hear the arguments in March and decide the two consolidated cases by the end of June.

Source: CHARISMA NEWS.


Reporting by Lawrence Hurley and Chizu Nomiyama

© 2013 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.

Dershowitz: ‘Brilliant’ Case Led to Obamacare Contraception Delay.


The case brought before the Supreme Court that led Justice Sonia Sotomayor to delay the Obamacare contraception mandate for religious groups was “brilliant,” Harvard Law School professor Alan Dershowitz said on Thursday.

“The lawyers picked a brilliant, brilliant case to bring in front of Justice Sotomayor … What could be more sympathetic to anybody, whether you’re Catholic or not Catholic?” Dershowitz asked on “The Steve Malzberg Show” on Newsmax TV.

“Justice Sotomayor grew up basically in the shadow of that kind of teaching — and these are nuns, who say they can’t violate their own religious principles,” he said.

Story continues below video.

Justice Sotomayor issued the delay late Tuesday at the request of the Little Sisters of the Poor’s Mullen Home for the Aged, a nursing home in Denver operated by the Baltimore-based order of Catholic nuns. The home serves about 100 low-income seniors.

Sotomayor, 59, who is Catholic, began serving on the high court in August 2009.

The order is part of a larger effort by Catholic-affiliated groups nationwide to halt provisions of the Affordable Care Act that require companies, regardless of religious beliefs, to provide contraceptives to their employees.

The Obamacare mandate was scheduled to take effect Wednesday.

The court is scheduled to hear a challenge this spring by Hobby Lobby Inc., the Oklahoma City-based and crafts chain with 13,000 full-time employees.

The company, which won in the lower courts, contends that the contraception mandate violates their religious liberties.

“There are two principles that are clear in American law,” Dershowitz said. “Number one is that you don’t make people violate their religious principles unless it’s a very, very, very, very strong and compelling reason for it. Number two: You don’t give people a free ride and there’s room for compromise.”

Despite Sotomayor’s decision, however, Dershowitz does not believe that Obamacare will be overturned by the court in the Hobby Lobby case.

“This is a relatively small part, and the health bill would have done fine if it didn’t cover this kind of thing and required people to insure for it themselves,” he told Malzberg. “But they decided to go all the way — and inevitably there’s going to be religious conflict, and the Supreme Court is there to resolve these religious conflicts.”

He noted that six Catholics and two Jews currently serve on the high court.

“There’s not a single Protestant on the Supreme Court,” Dershowitz said. “There are going to be a lot of people on that court who are sympathetic to religious views, and so it’s not easy to predict how the case will come out — but it’s an important case.”

The law professor also attacked an editorial in The New York Times calling for clemency or reduced punishment for former National Security Agency subcontractor Edward Snowden for leaking classified information about the agency’s broad surveillance programs last year.

“It would be an outrage to give him an outright pardon. He committed a crime,” Dershowitz said. “He committed a crime knowingly and he had alternatives.”

See “The Steve Malzberg Show” on Newsmax TV each weekday live by clicking here now.

© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

By Todd Beamon

States Have Passed 205 Laws Limiting Abortion in Last 3 Years: Guttmacher.


State legislatures enacted 205 abortion restrictions from 2011 through last year, outpacing the 189 provisions enacted during the entire previous decade, a report from the abortion rights-supporting Guttmacher Institute showed Thursday.

The report named four states as key to the increase, with North Dakota, Texas, Arkansas, and North Carolina passing a combined 26 new restrictions.

The pro-life laws passed in those four states focused on the period during which abortions may be performed, with each passing “fetal pain” laws banning abortions after 20 weeks, The Hill reported.

Arkansas’ and North Dakota’s laws were the most restrictive, with Arkansas passing a 12-week ban and North Dakota restricting abortions after a fetal heartbeat can be detected, which occurs at approximately six weeks, The Hill noted. Those laws are being appealed.

The Guttmacher report said nearly half of the abortion restrictions passed by lawmakers in the last three years fell into four categories: limits on abortion providers, limits on insurance coverage, restrictions on when abortions may be performed, and on medication abortions.

States passed 93 pro-life measures in these four categories during the past three years compared with 22 during the previous decade; new abortion restrictions went from 43 passed in 2012 to 70 last year, the report showed.

In contrast, California passed the first new state law in more than seven years to expand access to abortion, the report said; the state law allows nurses and midwives to perform first-trimester abortions.

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© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.
By Cathy Burke

Thankful Nuns Celebrate Sotomayor’s Contraceptive Mandate Stay.


Image: Thankful Nuns Celebrate Sotomayor's Contraceptive Mandate Stay

By Andrea Billups

A group of Catholic nuns celebrated Wednesday the decision by Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor to issue a stay in a crucial portion of the Obama healthcare law that would have forced religious groups to provide health insurance coverage for birth control and other medications designed to induce abortions.

The Little Sisters of the Poor, a Baltimore-based order that operates nursing homes for low-income elderly around the country, issued a statement praising the justice’s actions.

“We are grateful for the decision of Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor granting us a temporary injunction protecting us from the HHS contraceptive mandate,” the nuns said. “We hope and pray that we will receive a favorable outcome in order to continue to serve the elderly of all faiths with the same community support and religious freedom that we have always appreciated.

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The sisters were represented in the case by attorneys from the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which issued its own statement in the case.

“We are delighted that the Supreme Court has issued this order protecting the Little Sisters,” said Mark Rienzi, senior counsel for the Becket Fund. “The government has lots of ways to deliver contraceptives to people  it doesn’t need to force nuns to participate.”

In defending its healthcare law, the Justice Department had argued that such a mandate for contraceptives offered “no substantial burden on their (nuns) exercise of religion.” The administration said the nuns could complete a self-certification form to opt out of the coverage requirements, turning it over to their health care provider.

“To opt out of providing contraceptive coverage, Little Sisters need only certify that they are nonprofit organizations that hold themselves out as religious and that, because of religious objections, they are opposed to providing coverage for some or all contraceptive services,” attorneys for the Justice Department defended in the appeal.

The nuns would have faced “draconian” fines if they did not comply to the original law,the Los Angeles Times noted.

The Obama administration has until Friday to file a response in the justice’s stay order, which applies only to the nun’s case. Other religious groups and corporations that object to the contraceptive mandate have filed similar motions, which are expected to be heard in March by the high court.

Sotomayor’s Tuesday ruling gave Roman Catholic Church-affiliated organizations temporary exemptions from a part of the Obamacare healthcare law that requires employers to provide insurance policies covering contraception.

She granted the temporary injunction to the Little Sisters of the Poor and Illinois-based Christian Brothers Services, plus related entities.

Sotomayor is giving the government until Friday morning to respond to her decision.

Two different appellate courts had granted stays in three other cases that were pending at the high court, filed by various organizations, including Catholic University of America and non-profits in Michigan and Tennessee, said a lawyer representing the groups. The lower-court actions meant the Supreme Court did not need to act in those cases.

The groups were all asking the courts to exempt them temporarily from the so-called contraception mandate while litigation continues. The mandate, which was to take effect for the organizations on Wednesday, is already in place for many women who have private health insurance.

The organizations accuse the federal government of forcing them to support contraception and sterilization in violation of their religious beliefs or face steep fines.

The 2010 Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare, requires employers to provide health insurance policies that cover preventive services for women, including contraception and sterilization.

The law makes an exception for religious institutions such as houses of worship that mainly serve and employ members of their own faith, but not for schools, hospitals, and charitable organizations that employ people of all faiths.

As a compromise, the administration agreed to an accommodation for nonprofits affiliated with religious entities, which was finalized in July.

Under the accommodation, eligible nonprofits have to provide a “self certification” — described by one lower-court judge as a “permission slip” — that authorizes the insurance companies to provide the coverage. The challengers say that step alone is enough to violate their religious rights.

In separate cases, the Supreme Court already has agreed to hear oral arguments on whether for-profit corporations have a basis to object to the contraception mandate on religious grounds. The court is due to hear those arguments in March and decide the two consolidated cases by the end of June.

Reuters contributed to this story.

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