Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.
In today's edition:
- Surrogate Mother Who Refused to Abort Child Flees State to Keep Couple From Taking Custody
- Marital Cheating Increases Dramatically in 15 Years
- Venezuelans Grieve for Chavez, Prepare for Election
- Just in Time for Passover, Israel Braces for Locust Invasion
Surrogate Mother Who Refused to Abort Child Flees State to Keep Couple From Taking Custody
The story of a woman who defied the demands of a couple to abort the baby she was carrying for them as a surrogate recently made headlines, the Christian News Network reports. Crystal Kelley, 29, was carrying a child for a Connecticut couple struggling with infertility, but approximately five months into the pregnancy, doctors discovered the child had severe abnormalities, including heart defects, a cyst on the brain and a cleft lip and palate. The baby would require several heart surgeries following birth, and would likely survive, but would only have a 25 percent chance at a normal life, doctors said. When the waiting couple found out, they demanded that Kelley have an abortion -- but Kelley refused. After the couple called Hartford Hospital to inquire about abortion services and were informed that only Kelley could request an abortion, they offered to pay Kelley $10,000 to have the baby aborted. The couple hired an attorney, but still Kelley refused. She hired her own attorney, who contended that she should not be forced to have an abortion. Shortly thereafter, the couple informed Kelley they had changed their minds and planned to take custody of the child, then surrender her as a ward of the state upon birth. Kelley's attorney presented her options, one of which was to move to a state where only the woman carrying the child is recognized as the mother under the law -- so Kelley decided to move to Michigan, a state that also provides the best pediatric heart care in the country, and give the baby up for adoption. The couple continued to fight for their rights to the child, but it was admitted in court documents that the woman had used an anonymous egg donor during the in vitro fertilization process, so when the baby girl was born, Kelley's name went on the birth certificate. The girl still deals with numerous health issues and faces a number of risky heart surgeries, but according to her adoptive parents, she is in good spirits. Kelley, who is thankful she fought for the baby's life, is adamant that she made the right decision. "When I look into her pretty blue-ish eyes, I can see that sparkle that makes me know that I did the right thing by standing up for her," she said.
Marital Cheating Increases Dramatically in 15 Years
Last year, researchers at the University of Washington Center for the Study of Health and Risk Behaviors who analyzed data on infidelity taken from the General Social Survey found that roughly 20 percent of men and 15 percent of women under age 35 admitted to cheating on their spouses in 2006 (the latest figures available), up from 15 and 12 percent, respectively, 15 years earlier, Fox News reports. According to David Popenoe, founder and co-director of the National Marriage Project at Rutgers University, part of the problem "is that we've become an 'anything-goes' society, in which the indiscretions of politicians, sports figures, and pop celebrities are practically daily news." Interestingly, research shows that infidelity rates are much higher among cohabiting couples -- which are at an all-time high -- than married couples who don't live together first. Additionally, the study found that men under age 35 were two and a quarter times more likely to have cheated if they had seen an X-rated movie.
Venezuelans Grieve for Chavez, Prepare for Election
Tens of thousands supporters of Hugo Chavez paraded his coffin through the streets of Caracas on Wednesday in a flood of emotion that allies hope will help his vice president win an election due in the coming weeks and keep his self-styled revolution alive, Reuters reports. Ending one of Latin America's most remarkable populist rules, Chavez died Tuesday at the age of 58 after a two-year battle with cancer. The future of Chavez' leftist policies, which won him the admiration of poor Venezuelans but infuriated opponents who denounced him as a dictator, now rests on the shoulders of Vice President Nicolas Maduro, the man he tapped to succeed him. Maduro will likely face Henrique Capriles, governor of Miranda state, in the next election in the OPEC nation with the world's largest oil reserves. The stakes are huge for the region, given the crucial economic aid and cheap fuel the Chavez government supplied to allies across Latin America and the Caribbean. Authorities said the vote would be called within 30 days, but did not specify the date.
Just in Time for Passover, Israel Braces for Locust Invasion
With Passover just three weeks away, the timing of a massive infestation of locusts in Egypt is striking many Israelis as downright biblical, the Religion News Service reports. Millions of the grasshopper-like insects swarmed Israel's southern neighbor, damaging crops. Some have since made their way to southern Israel. On the eve of Passover, which this year begins at sundown on March 25, Jews around the world will recall the Exodus story and the 10 plagues that God sent to Egypt because the pharaoh refused to free the Israelites from captivity. Locusts were the eighth plague; the pharaoh relented after the 10th plague and the Israelites left, but the Egyptian army pursued them until the soldiers drowned in the sea. The last sporadic swarm of locusts was eight years ago, said Keith Cressman, the senior locust forecasting officer at the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization's headquarters in Rome. Cressman said the insects started along the Sudan-Egypt border after breeding and got caught up in a weather system that carried them north and east.
Publication date: March 7, 2013