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Religion Today Daily Headlines - April 30, 2013

Religion Today Daily Headlines - April 30, 2013

Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.

In today's edition:

  • American Pastor Saeed Abedini Thrown Into Solitary Confinement in Iran
  • Pastor Saeed Abedini Excluded From State Department's Iran Prisoners List
  • Obama: State Pro-Life Laws Impeding 'Progress'
  • Pro-Lifers, Pro-Choicers Weigh In on Gosnell Trial


American Pastor Saeed Abedini Thrown Into Solitary Confinement in Iran

Family members in Iran have confirmed that American pastor Saeed Abedini, who has been imprisoned since last fall, has been placed in solitary confinement with new reports indicating that in addition to the severe, untreated internal bleeding he is experiencing from months of bleeding and torture, he is now facing issues with his kidneys, the ACLJ reports. The ACLJ confirmed that horrible conditions in Evin Prison led Pastor Saeed and a number of prisoners in Ward 350 to sign a letter expressing to prison officials their concern about the lack of medical care received and the threats and harsh treatment facing family members who came to visit. The prisoners expressed their dissatisfaction in a peaceful, silent protest in an outside courtyard at the prison, which apparently prompted prison officials to retaliate, selecting 10 of the prisoners and placing them in solitary confinement. Sources indicate Pastor Saeed is likely to be beaten again, in private, and at the same time, there is concern that his kidneys are no longer operating properly, the result of internal injuries he has received over many months. Pastor Saeed has been told not to expect medical treatment or care for many months, and has also been told he is no longer permitted to have visitors.

Pastor Saeed Abedini Excluded From State Department's Iran Prisoners List

The U.S. State Department's "virtual embassy" to Iran, which highlights that country's human rights abuses, has a site listing those jailed for dissent or religious beliefs -- but it doesn't include imprisoned American pastor Saeed Abedini, who has been tortured because of his Christian faith, the Christian Post reports. According to department spokesman Patrick Ventrell, the Virtual Embassy Tehran page "has a Faces of Iran site that highlights the cases of dozens of individuals imprisoned in Iran for their political or religious beliefs, their status as a journalist, human rights or women's defender, their role as a student activist, or for simply exercising their universal human right to speak freely. So we call on the government of Iran to protect this fundamental human right for all its citizens." The page carries dozens of names, but not that of Abedini, who was sentenced in January to eight years in prison for "threatening the national security." The State Department claims there's a reason why Abedini, whose dual citizenship is not recognized by Iran, has not been included on the list: According to a member of the State Department, officials are advocating on his behalf based on his status as an American citizen and do not want to dilute that argument by calling him an Iranian citizen. But Jordan Sekulow, executive director of the American Center for Law and Justice, which is representing Abedini's family in the U.S., said: "The omission of [Abedini's] name from this State Department website is disappointing and represents a missed opportunity for our government to stand up for the rights of a U.S. citizen, who happens to be an Iranian citizen. ... Doesn't a U.S. citizen -- who holds dual citizenship -- deserve to be included on this list?"

Obama: State Pro-Life Laws Impeding 'Progress'

President Obama addressed the nation's largest abortion provider Friday, criticizing pro-life laws on the state level and saving that those who wish to restrict or ban abortion are trying to turn back "progress," Baptist Press reports. Obama -- the first sitting president to address Planned Parenthood -- never mentioned the word "abortion" during his speech at the gala, preferring words such as "choice." He said: "After decades of progress there's still those who want to turn back the clock to policies more suited to the 1950s than the 21st century. And they're involved in an orchestrated and historic effort to roll back basic rights when it comes to women's health. Forty-two states have introduced laws that would ban or severely limit access to a woman's right to choose. ... In North Dakota, they just passed a law that outlaws your right to choose, starting as early as six weeks. ... When you read about these laws, you want to check the calendar. You want to make sure you're still living in 2013. Forty years after the Supreme Court affirmed a woman's constitutional right to privacy, including the right to choose, we shouldn't have to remind people that when it comes to a woman's health, no politician should get to decide what's best for you." Planned Parenthood performed a record 333,964 abortions during 2010-11, the most recent year for which statistics are available. Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood, had released a statement prior to Obama's speech saying he had "done more than any president in history for women's health and rights."

Pro-Lifers, Pro-Choicers Weigh In on Gosnell Trial

As the murder trial for abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell moved into closing arguments on Monday, both sides of the nation's abortion debate continued to weigh in, CBN News reports. Abortion rights advocates say the testimony points to the need for procedures to be more accessible, while pro-life supporters say the media has under-publicized the trial out of fear that it would weaken support for abortion rights. In a recent article, Washington Post politics writer Melinda Henneberger said journalists "didn't write more because the only abortion story most outlets ever cover in the news pages is every single threat or perceived threat to abortion rights. In fact, that is so fixed a view of what constitutes coverage that it's genuinely hard, I think, for many journalists to see a story outside that paradigm as news." Gosnell faces counts of murder for killing a female patient and four babies born alive in his clinic and several lesser charges.

Publication date: April 30, 2013