FaithWorld

POLL: the right verdict in slain Kansas abortion doctor case?

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Scott Roeder in undated booking photograph released to Reuters on 12 June 2009/Wichita Police

A man accused of gunning down one of America’s few late-term abortion providers was found guilty of first-degree murder on Friday after he said he had to act to stop the doctor from performing more abortions. Give us your opinion in the online poll below.

The judge initially allowed Roeder’s defense team to argue for a voluntary manslaughter conviction by proving he had “an unreasonable but honest belief that circumstances existed that justified deadly force.”

But after Roeder openly admitted on the stand to shooting Dr. George Tiller to death with premeditation, the judge told the jury it could not consider that option. poll by twiigs.com Follow FaithWorld on Twitter at RTRFaithWorld

Abortion rights issue lobbed into Super Bowl

U.S. women’s groups are urging television broadcaster CBS not to air an ad during next month’s Super Bowl football championship final because they say it has a strident anti-abortion rights message.

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The plans to air the ad, sponsored by the conservative Christian advocacy group Focus on the Family and featuring college football star Tim Tebow, could see the polarizing issue of abortion rights dropped squarely in the midst of the National Football League’s premier event.

It would be the first time that Focus on the Family, a politically influential evangelical group founded by James Dobson, has bought air time during the Super Bowl — the ultimate prize of the advertising world with 30-second spots going for up to $3.2 million. The Women’s Media Center and over 30 other liberal and women’s advocacy groups sent a letter to CBS, the TV network to air the Super Bowl on February 7, saying: “… we urge you to immediately cancel this ad and refuse any other advertisement promoting Focus on the Family’s agenda.

New Catholic archbishop of Brussels raises hackles in Belgium

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Archbishop Léonard and Cardinal Danneels at news conference in Brussels 18 Jan 2010/Thierry Roge

The long-awaited announcement of the successor to the retiring Catholic archbishop of Brussels, Cardinal Godfried Danneels, has sparked an unusual outcry in Belgium. The new archbishop, André-Mutien Léonard, is sometimes called  “the Belgian Ratzinger” for his conservative views. Danneels ranks as one of the last liberal prelates in a Church hierarchy that has turned increasingly traditional under Pope John Paul and Pope Benedict.

Léonard has been a controversial figure in Belgium for his critical stands on homosexuality, same-sex marriage and condom use. He has been an outspoken opponent of abortion and euthanasia, both of which are legal in Belgium, and criticised the Catholic universities of Leuven and Louvain for their research into assisted reproduction and embryonic stem cells.

Could Irish abortion case lead to a “European Roe v. Wade”?

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European Court of Human Rights,30 Jan 2009/Vincent Kessler

Ireland has defended its strict law against abortion at the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in Strasbourg in a case that could overturn that ban if the judges agree with three women who said it endangered their health and violated their rights.  The women, two Irish and one Lithuanian living in Ireland, had travelled to Britain to have abortions because traditionally Catholic Ireland allows the procedure only when the mother’s life is in danger. Read our full story on Wednesday’s hearing here.

The three women, named only as A, B and C, argued they had to terminate their pregnancies due to medical and social problems, and that being forced to travel abroad for abortions meant submitting to inhumane treatment that violated their right to privacy. They also said the law constituted gender-based discrimination.

This has been described as “Europe’s Roe v. Wade case” (here and here) because a Court ruling would be an authoritative interpretation of the European Convention on Human Rights to which 47 European states are parties and with which they must comply.  “Domestic courts have to apply the Convention,” the ECHR’s FAQ says. “Otherwise, the European Court of Human Rights would find against the State in the event of complaints by individuals about failure to protect their rights.”

Spanish RC Church to deny communion to pro-abortion pols

abortion-spainThe Spanish Catholic Church will deny communion to members of parliament who have voted in favour of a bill to make abortion more readily available, the spokesman of Spain’s Bishops’ Conference said on Friday.

“This is a warning to Catholics, that they can’t vote in favour of this and that they won’t be able to receive communion unless they ask forgiveness,” Rev. Juan Antonio Martinez Camino told a news conference in Madrid. “They are in an objective state of sin.”

The government-sponsored bill, which passed the first of a series of votes in parliament on Thursday, will allow abortion until the 14th week of pregnancy and, in cases of extreme foetal deformity, at any time in the pregnancy. The bill will also allow girls to obtain abortions from the age of 16 without parental consent, a clause that has generated dissent even within the governing Socialist Party.

Abortion, a Kennedy and a Catholic communion conundrum

pkennedyA new row has flared in the Catholic ranks of the U.S. abortion wars, this one involving a member of America’s most famous Catholic political family and a bishop.  Congressman Patrick Kennedy, the son of the late Senator Edward Kennedy, has claimed that Rhode Island Bishop Thomas Tobin has slapped a communion ban on him for his support for abortion rights. (PHOTO: Patrick Kennedy speaks at funeral of his father, Senator Edward Kennedy, 29 Aug 2009/Brian Snyder)

The bishop instructed me not to take communion and said that he has instructed the diocesan priests not to give me communion,” the Rhode Island Democrat was quoted as saying this week in the Providence Journal.

On the pages of the same paper the bishop fired back, asserting that it was a “request,” not an instruction.  “If he took it as an instruction, so be it, but it was really a request,”  the bishop was quoted as saying.

from Tales from the Trail:

Has abortion role been overblown in U.S. healthcare debate?

A new poll by the Pew Research Center and the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life suggests that concern about federal funding for abortion is very low on the list of factors driving opposition to President Barack Obama's effort to overhaul America's healthcare system.

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The results of the poll, released on Thursday, show that just 3 percent of healthcare opponents cited abortion funding as their main reason for opposing congressional healthcare proposals.

The biggest reasons, cited by 27 percent of respondents to an open-ended question about their opposition, were that the overhaul would be too expensive and lead to higher deficits and taxes. Another 27 percent said they did not want government involvement in healthcare.

from Tales from the Trail:

Abortion issue hard to avoid in healthcare debate

Like it or not, the healthcare debate has turned into a fracas over abortion rights.

pelosifingerU.S. House Democratic leaders had hoped to avoid just that in their push to expand healthcare coverage and reform the health insurance market.

But getting the votes to pass the historic legislation on Saturday boiled down to settling a dispute between pro-choice and pro-life forces over abortion.

Global report shows abortion rates falling

abortionA new study into global abortion rates was released on Tuesday by the U.S.-based Guttmacher Institute, a think-tank which studies sexual and reproductive health.

Here are some of the main findings:

* ABORTION TRENDS:

– The rate of safe abortions dropped between 1995 and 2003 to 15 from 20 per 1,000 women aged 15-44, but unsafe abortions declined only slightly — to 14 from 15 per 1,000 women aged 15-44. The overall rate fell to 29 from 35 per 1,000 women.

– Globally around 70,000 women die each year from the effects of unsafe abortions, a figure that has barely changed in the last 10 years. An estimated 8 million women annually experience complications and need medical treatment, but only 5 million actually get that care.

U.S. religious/secular abortion divide is stark

Among the areas covered in the just released Pew survey of American public opinion about abortion, one that grabbed my attention asked about factors that influence people’s opinion about the issue.

For those who support abortion rights, only 11 percent cited religious beliefs as the primary influence on their views on the topic; among those who say abortion should be illegal, 53 percent cited faith as their guiding reason. Overall 32 percent of those surveyed cited religious beliefs as the main factor behind their views on abortion.

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None of this, mind you, is surprising. Opposition to abortion rights in the United States has been driven primarily by religious conservatives — evangelical and Catholic mostly — and so the figure fits the usual narrative. Few people cite faith as a reason to support abortion rights and so the 11 percent figure in that regard is also what you would expect.