Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.
In today's edition:
- Obama Administration Caves, Agrees to Let Girls of Any Age Access Morning-After Pill
- Air Force Removes Painting With Biblical Reference
- New York Governor Acts to Protect Late-Term Abortion Access
- Forced Marriage Immigrates to the U.S.
Obama Administration Caves, Agrees to Let Girls of Any Age Access Morning-After Pill
The Obama administration announced Monday it would end age restrictions on emergency contraception, allowing girls and women of all ages to purchase the morning-after pill without a prescription, Fox News reports. The Department of Justice notified U.S. District Judge Edward Korman it will submit a plan for compliance with his recent ruling that allowed unrestricted sales of Plan B One-Step. If he approves it, the department will drop its appeal of his April ruling. According to the department's letter to the judge, the Food and Drug Administration has told the maker of the pills to submit a new drug application with proposed labeling that would permit it to be sold "without a prescription and without age or point-of-sale prescriptions." The FDA said that once it receives the application it "intends to approve it promptly." Last week, an appeals court dealt the government a setback by saying it would immediately permit unrestricted sales of the two-pill version of the emergency contraception until the appeal was decided. That order was met with scorn from conservatives, who argue the drug's availability takes away the rights of parents of girls who could get it without their permission. Planned Parenthood and other advocates for abortion rights said Monday the federal government's decision to comply with the judge's ruling could be a move forward for "reproductive justice" if the FDA acts quickly and puts emergency contraception over the counter without restriction.
Air Force Removes Painting With Biblical Reference
The U.S. Air Force has removed an "inspirational" painting because it contained a Bible reference, WORLD reports. The painting, which featured a medieval crusader behind an Air Force pilot, was in the dining hall of Mountain Home Air Force Base in Idaho. In bold letters was the word "INTEGRITY," and in smaller letters was a biblical reference, Matthew 5:9, which reads, "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God." The Military Religious Freedom Foundation said the painting was "repugnant" and an "overt display of Christian nationalism."
New York Governor Acts to Protect Late-Term Abortion Access
Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo introduced his long-promised Women's Equality Act in early June, a portion of which loosens New York's abortion laws and establishes abortion as a right. At a press conference announcing the bill, Cuomo faced a barrage of questions about the abortion section, the most controversial proposal in a bill that contains popular equal pay and anti-trafficking measures. The abortion rate in New York is one of the highest in the country, and in New York City, 41 percent of pregnancies end in abortion. New York currently offers legal protections to babies older than 24 weeks. Abortion, with an exception for the life of the mother, is a crime after 24 weeks under current state law. The bill released June 4 would legalize abortion at any point in a pregnancy for the sake of the life or health of the mother; health, in Supreme Court precedent on abortion, has been widely defined to include emotional health. Senate Republican leader Dean Skelos, who controls the Senate with a coalition of a few breakaway Democrats, has said previously that he would not allow the abortion measure to come to the floor. Cuomo said Tuesday he wants all 10 measures in the act passed, including the abortion measure, and he is counting on Republicans who support abortion to come to his side. The governor has a few weeks to defeat Republican objections: the legislative session comes to a close at the end of June.
Forced Marriage Immigrates to the U.S.
WORLD reports that the Tahirih Justice Foundation identified 3,000 cases of forced marriage in the U.S., mostly immigrants from Muslim countries, but also victims from Hindu, Buddhist and Catholic backgrounds. Tahirih found that non-profits and government agencies lack a clear definition of forced marriage, which the organization distinguishes from arranged marriage, where individuals can object to their partner. A forced marriage occurs without willing consent, and most victims are women under 18. Parents continue the practice to follow custom, settle debts and create family alliances. If the girl actively refuses the marriage, abuse soon follows. Many child brides never return to school after marriage, often have children early, and their husbands control where they can go and who they can visit. U.S. courts have granted asylum to women fleeing forced marriages, and Internet searches reveal groups that offer help, along with two U.S. government-sponsored websites with material on forced marriage. Few private organizations have been involved. The United Kingdom has a state bureau devoted to the issue and multiple advocacy organizations; a United Kingdom advocacy group, Against Forced Marriages, specifically addresses the connection between Islam and forced marriage, using verses from the Quran and Hadith (a book of Islamic practice).
Publication date: June 12, 2013