Fetal homicide bill "not about abortion," but it is about the promoting a culture of life and protecting the unborn
The U.S. Senate yesterday passed Laci and Conner's Law, also known as the Unborn Victims of Violence Act, by a 61–38 vote. Two amendments to the bill, which makes it a separate crime to harm an unborn child during an attack on a pregnant woman, were narrowly defeated. One, from Dianne Feinstein (D-Ca.), would have simply raised the penalty for an attack on pregnant women, but would have kept such an attack as a single crime with a single victim.

"Clearly, there is a concerted effort to codify in law the legal recognition that life begins at conception," she said. "If we allow that to happen today, or in any other law, we put the right to choose squarely at risk. … Anyone who is pro-choice cannot vote for this bill without the expectation that they are creating the first legal bridge to do in Roe v. Wade."

Not so, said Orrin Hatch (R-Ut.). "Senator Feinstein has suggested that this bill somehow may result in assigning legal status to the term 'embryo,'" he said. "But I cannot find the term 'embryo' anywhere in the bill. Nor, for that matter, can I find the term 'embryo' in the Feinstein amendment. In short, this bill does not affect abortion, embryos or, for that matter, stem-cell research."

Mike DeWine (R-Oh.), a chief sponsor of the bill, made the same case. "It does not affect abortion rights whatsoever," he said. "This bill recognizes that there are two victims," something that Americans "intuitively know."

The point is this: protecting the unborn means more than just opposing abortion. This bill truly has no direct application for the abortion issue, explicitly stating that it can't be used against the mother in any circumstance, against anyone involved in a consensual abortion, or against anyone involved in medical treatment of the pregnant woman or the unborn child.

But that doesn't mean it doesn't have indirect application. As Focus on the Family bioethics analyst Carrie Gordon Earll says, the bill "helps to rectify the schizophrenia in our culture regarding the value of preborn life. Either young human life has value in our culture and is worth protecting or it's not."

It doesn't quite rectify that schizophrenia—in some ways, it may intensify it—but it has tremendous value in at least three ways. First, it defines, albeit in a limited federal law with infrequent opportunity for application, unborn children as human. Second, it points out to the American public—prolife or not—their own belief that unborn children have at least some right to life. Third, it demonstrates the hysteria of the extreme sexual left. In arguing that the death of an unborn child—a child that the mother has chosen to carry to term—is irrelevant, opponents of the bill are clearly putting themselves on the fringe of the debate.

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Pledge of Allegiance:

  • Many kids don't see Pledge as religious | As 'under God' controversy goes to the Supreme Court, kids and parents ponder how big a deal it is to them (The Christian Science Monitor)

  • Jefferson, Madison, Newdow? | Michael Newdow's crusade to rid the Pledge of Allegiance of the words "under God" is a peculiarly American act of courage (Kenneth C. Davis, The New York Times)

  • 'Culture wars' shaping election | The Supreme Court case over whether to keep a reference to God in the Pledge of Allegiance is the latest skirmish in the "culture wars" that are helping shape the presidential election, much to the delight of Republicans (The Washington Times)

  • [Deity reference deleted] | A look into our future (Rich Lowry, National Review Online)

Church and state:


Former Archbishop of Canterbury criticizes Islam:

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  • Muslim culture has contributed little for centuries, says Carey | Lord Carey, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, launched a trenchant attack on Islamic culture last night, saying it was authoritarian, inflexible and under-achieving (The Telegraph, London)

  • Islamic world is violent, says Carey | The Islamic world is a violent, authoritarian and undemocratic place, according to Lord Carey, the former Archbishop of Canterbury (The Guardian, London)

  • Muslims reject Carey's 'anti-Islam' speech | In a speech at the Gregorian University in Rome last night, Lord Carey of Clifton said that Islam was inflexible and authoritarian, and Islamic countries were backward and underachieving (The Times, London)

  • Carey speech on Islam in full | Address given by Lord Carey of Clifton at the Gregorian University, Rome, on Thursday, March 25 in which he criticised Islamic culture and regimes (The Times, London)


  • Bishops offer new plan to gay dissenters | But conservative activists rejected a very similar proposal last November, and one cleric said that the new plan was "dead on arrival" (Associated Press)

  • Episcopal bishops reach pact on dissent | They offer under certain circumstances to allow visiting prelates to minister to the dissenting parishes (The Washington Post)

  • Episcopalians forge compromise | The Episcopal House of Bishops, meeting behind closed doors in Texas yesterday, came up with a compromise resolution on how conservative congregations in a liberal diocese can get ministry from an outside bishop (The Washington Times)

  • Oversight plan 'silly,' Episcopal priest says | One of the leaders of the conservative group that has challenged the Episcopal Church over the consecration of a homosexual bishop labeled a plan for oversight of conservative parishes as inadequate and unacceptable (The Washington Times)

  • Hunting for a healer | San Diego Episcopal diocese must carefully choose a new bishop at a divisive time for the denomination (The San Diego Union-Tribune)

Missions & ministry:

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Religion and politics:

  • Evangelical media gather around Israel | Meals 4 Israel was only one of several Jewish or Israeli related booths at the National Religious Broadcasters Convention (The Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles)

  • Candidates' leanings, not faith, sway voters | Political lines are drawn not between religious denominations but within them, along liberal and conservative lines (Religion News Service)

  • The faith-based presidency | You can question Bush's veracity, his grip on reality, and the rationality of his policies, but not his faith (Jack Beatty, The Atlantic Unbound)

  • Christians cannot approve of targeted murder | There are lots of people whose death could make the world a safer, better place to live in. Putatively, I am one of them. Perhaps you are. (Paul F.M. Zahl, The Birmingham News, Ala.)

Baptist aid workers slain in Iraq remembered:


  • Suit pits church, former member | Scientology seeks $10 million for breach of contract (San Francisco Chronicle)

  • IRS' 'chosen people' | Taxpayers deserve to know whether they're being treated fairly by the IRS. The secret agreement between the agency and Scientologists should be open to scrutiny (Editorial, St. Petersburg Times, Fla.)


Sexual ethics:

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Sports on Sunday:

  • Pope says Sundays for God, not sports | "When Sunday loses its fundamental meaning and becomes subordinate to a secular concept of 'weekend' dominated by such things as entertainment and sport, people stay locked within a horizon so narrow that they can no longer see the heavens," the pontiff said in a speech to Australian bishops (Reuters)

  • Good Friday is a racing cert | South Africa, being the contradictory society that it is, has long accepted the uncomfortable alliance between sport, gambling and religion (Editorial, Daily News, South Africa)

Art and media:

  • In the art world, a conquest by Christianity | An exhibition opening on Monday at Ward & Company, Works of Art, 962 Park Avenue, at 82nd Street, explores the transition from pagan to Christian art in mosaics, metalwork, gems, architectural fragments, gold coins and church silver (The New York Times)

  • Decay and glory: Back to Byzantium | The Met's vast and humblingly beautiful show is full of amazing exotica, a horde of icons, textiles, mosaics, manuscripts and drawings (The New York Times)

  • Off the shelf | CBS is among the channels to bring back tales of Jesus (Newsday)

  • Mixed blessings | Most markets jazzed by Jesus jumpstart (Variety)

  • Hardcore spiritualists on the straight edge | After five years of beating out Christian rock, Neshamah is bringing their unconventional stage act to Cape Town (Cape Argus, South Africa)

  • Debunking 'Da Vinci': Books reprise history | A year after Dan Brown's release, we're about to hear from the other side: The Da Vinci Code debunkers (Rocky Mountain News)

The Passion:

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  • Swiss bishops reject call to end celibacy | In a letter, the Swiss bishops' conference rejected the appeal, which has won growing support around the country in recent months, but said it could lobby within the Church for "viri probati," or trustworthy married men, to be ordained (Reuters, last item)

  • Canada court declines to tap Vatican assets | The global Roman Catholic church is off the hook for now on potentially billions of dollars in Canadian abuse claims after Canada's high court ruled on Thursday that it was just too complicated of an issue to grapple with at this time (Reuters)

  • Church sets voter drive to fight gay marriage | The Massachusetts Catholic Conference is beginning its first statewide voter registration drive, in hope of ousting lawmakers who favor gay marriage or otherwise fail to follow the church's moral teaching in the State House (The Boston Globe)

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  • Sheen steps closer to sainthood | Vatican stamps first-phase approval for late archbishop from Illinois (The Times, Munster, Ind.)

  • Pope to continue trips abroad | "The pope's health has improved recently, everyone can see that. He is even expressing himself better," Bishop Renato Boccardo said on Thursday (Reuters)

  • Religion Today: Ban the bishop? | Two years after the resignation of a Roman Catholic bishop in a sexual misconduct scandal, one of his former dioceses is still struggling with whether to remember him or take his photo out of church-owned buildings (Associated Press)


  • Ireland still coming to terms with legacy of schools' abuse | Elderly victims grew up in church-run facilities (The Washington Post)

  • Former youth pastor faces molestation trial | Johnnie Sherman Achord's work history included stints as a youth pastor at Emmanuel Baptist Church and Riverview Evangelical Free Church in Bonsall and as a Bible teacher and volleyball coach at Tri-City Christian School in Oceanside (North County Times, San Diego)

  • Retreat for clergy-abuse victims to open | After months of planning and lobbying church officials, volunteers plan to open a national retreat center for molestation victims in April that is the first to carry the endorsement of key U.S. Roman Catholic bishops and religious orders (Associated Press)

  • Retraction - Re-bishop in sex scandal | Further investigations into our front-page story captioned "Bishop in sex scandal", which appeared in the Wednesday March 3 issue, reveal that the allegation against the renown bishop is completely untrue (Ghanaian Chronicle, Accra, Ghana)

Gay marriage:

  • Change the marriage laws, don't break them | Providence's mayor tells a URI conference that he prefers to push for legislation legalizing same-sex marriage (The Providence Journal, R.I.)

  • Thousands rally in opposition to gay marriage ban proposal | Opponents of a proposal that would amend the Minnesota's Constitution to ban same-sex marriages held their own Capitol rally on Thursday, a day before a crucial Senate committee vote on one of the most contentious social issues of the year (Minneapolis Star-Tribune)

  • Is gay marriage a civil-rights issue? | There's no parallel between the African-American struggle to win civil rights and the campaign for gay marriage, said a group of Twin Cities black religious leaders that supports a state constitutional amendment defining marriage as between a man and a woman (Minneapolis Star-Tribune)

  • Licensing for gay marriages planned | But Romney aide says word is `premature' (The Boston Globe)

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  • Scrap marriage amendment | The sacred text of the U.S. Constitution is no place for either social policy or biological treatises (Editorial, The Denver Post)

More articles:

  • Study: Abortion, breast cancer not linked | A miscarriage or abortion does not increase a woman's risk of breast cancer, according to a study published Friday that analyzed data from more than 50 previous studies (Associated Press)

  • US: Over 1500 anti-Semitic attacks in 2003 | The number of anti-Semitic incidents in the US remained virtually unchanged in 2003, even as New York saw a 17% spike and college campuses experienced a marked decrease in anti-Jewish attacks, the Anti-Defamation League reported Wednesday in its annual audit (The Jerusalem Post)

  • Religion news in brief | Patriarch Bartholomew I wants U.N. to condemn anti-Semitism, Pope puts new candidates on road to sainthood, U.S. Muslims form anti-alcohol alliance with prohibitionists, Alabama Methodist bishop found change in Cuba, Belarusian Protestants appeal for change in law banning worship in homes, and 70-year-old widower and grandfather ordained to priesthood (Associated Press)

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