Abortion advocates claim that legalizing abortion leads to fewer maternal deaths but, according to research from Chile, the opposite is true. Chile made its abortion laws stricter in the 1980s, but between 1960 and 2000 the maternal death rate underwent the largest reduction of any Latin country-from 275 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births to 18.7 deaths.
Chile's maternal death rate is now lower than any other country in South America, according to a recent World Economic Forum report. Chile does not allow abortions if the woman's life is in danger and has rejected UN recommendations that it liberalize its abortion laws. Elard Koch, the University of Chile epidemiologist who researched maternal mortality, told the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute that he attributed the drop to education, "a breakthrough in the public health system and primary care."
A nut by any other name
ACORN's New York branch is reforming under a different name after the national organization's standing has withered under allegations of corruption. "ACORN has dissolved as a national structure of state organizations," a senior ACORN official told Politico. It will now go by New York Communities for Change and is cutting all ties to the national organization, but little will change in the personnel or substance of the group's work. The largest ACORN state branch in California earlier decided to leave the national organization and assume a different name, and chapters in Pennsylvania, Minnesota, Washington, and Massachusetts have shuttered or rebranded themselves as well. ACORN came under scrutiny after videos surfaced last year showing its employees advising conservative activists posing as a pimp and and a prostitute on how to open brothels and get tax breaks by employing minors.
Fourteen months into his administration, President Obama has not appointed a replacement as Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom, a position held by John Hanford for seven years under the Bush administration. On Feb. 13 the president did, however, announce the appointment of Rashad Hussain, deputy associate White House counsel, as U.S. special envoy to the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC). The Saudi-based OIC calls itself the "collective voice of the Muslim world," and the practice of appointing a U.S. rep actually began under Bush. But as Hudson Institute senior fellow Paul Marshall points out, "Appointing an American envoy to the OIC gives that organization a legitimacy it does not deserve."
As a result of the Washington, D.C., council's vote to recognize same-sex marriages, the city's largest private provider of social services, Catholic Charities, has ended its foster care and adoption services for the city. The group had promised that it would allow its city contract to expire if the measure passed-given that it could obligate the organization to process adoptions for gay couples-though few on the D.C. council believed that the organization would follow through on its threat.
At day 13, U.S. and Afghan troops claimed victory in one of the largest offensives of the war in volatile Helmand province. Officials unfurled the country's flag over new government offices Feb. 25 to reclaim the town of Marjah from the Taliban as governor Ghulab Mangal told Afghans, "Nobody can tell me that during the last two years the Taliban did a single thing for you. . . . Can you tell me they built a school? A clinic? Helped the poor? Built roads? Fixed the canals?" Thirteen NATO troops and three Afghan soldiers have been killed in the operation, and 80 wounded.
Nearly seven years after the Sudanese government in Khartoum began a campaign of genocide against its own citizens in the western region of Darfur, officials in Khartoum agreed to a peace deal with Darfur's most powerful rebel faction. The peace accord with the Justice Equality Movement (JEM) called for an immediate ceasefire. Officials said the agreement would also create government positions for JEM rebels, and that Khartoum would commute the death sentences of some 100 JEM fighters accused of carrying out a deadly attack against the capital in 2008. The deal comes ahead of nationwide elections scheduled for April. Those contests represent the nation's first multi-party elections in 24 years. Citizens in South Sudan-still recovering from 20 years of civil war waged by Khartoum-see those elections as critical to asserting their position in the country. But JEM officials said they would press Khartoum to delay the elections-a move that may give Khartoum time to consolidate new alliances and cause dangerous friction with the South.
Assassination teams, beware: Dubai has a lot of surveillance cameras. When a team of agents purportedly suffocated top Hamas operative Mahmoud al-Mahbouh in a Dubai hotel on Jan. 20, their every move, aside from the murder itself, was captured on camera. The Dubai police published footage from airports and hotels showing the agents, but that only widened the focus on the incident: Dubai named 26 suspects who apparently used false identities culled from around the world. Dubai accused Israel's intelligence agency of masterminding the assassination but later said Hamas itself may have tipped off the Israelis.
First the Tebow Bills, now a Tebow Rule. The NCAA Football Rules Committee agreed last month to bar players from displaying words, numbers, logos, and other symbols in the anti-glare "eye black" used under player' eyes. Though not mentioned in the decision, college football star and outspoken Christian Tim Tebow has been credited by numerous media and bloggers as having had an influence on the move for citing Bible verses in his eye black. The rule isn't official until approved by the NCAA's Playing Rules Oversight Panel, but already it is the standard followed by the NFL.
Few, if any, politicos would have predicted it: a U.S. senator from Massachusetts addressing the nation's biggest annual gathering of conservatives. But that is just what Republican Sen. Scott Brown did at this year's Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Washington. What a difference a year makes: The 2010 version of this annual pep rally for ultra-conservatives saw more than 10,000 attendees still in a partying mood after recent Republican victories. Last year, coming just weeks after President Barack Obama's inauguration, the event had a somber, soul-searching tone. "They said this CPAC convention would be our wake," said Colin Hanna, president of the nonprofit public policy group Let Freedom Ring. "It's not. It's our rebirth." Brown was not the only surprise speaker. Former Vice President Dick Cheney took the stage to chants of "Run, Dick, Run"-just days before he sustained a mild heart attack, his fifth, on Feb. 22.
The three-day event's biggest target was no surprise: Speaker after speaker took on the president over last month's State of the Union address, healthcare, and even his use of teleprompters. But in the end attendees had trouble rallying around a bonafide GOP candidate of their own, selecting Ron Paul as their straw-poll favorite.
Every UN meeting "has become a battleground" over the right to life, warned Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., and this month's Commission on the Status of Women meeting in New York-marking the 15th anniversary of the declaration signed at the Beijing Women's conference-will be no exception. Smith, speaking to UN delegates ahead of the meeting at an event organized in New York by Focus on the Family, called the campaign to defend the right to life "the greatest human rights struggle in the world . . . especially for unborn children and others at risk." He called abortion "violence against children, a pernicious form of child abuse" and said UN agencies and non-governmental agencies have "falsely marketed [it] as choice, women's empowerment, a human right or health care."
Mississippians are the most frequent churchgoers in the nation, and Vermonters the least churchgoing. That's the conclusion of a survey by Gallup, which found that nine of the top 10 states in church attendance are in the South. Utah, with 56 percent attendance, was the only non-Southern state to make the top 10. Only 23 percent of Vermont residents attend church frequently, and all states at the bottom of the church attendance list are in either New England or the West.
Conservative leaders are warning that revoking the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy could harm America's military in the midst of two wars. Elaine Donnelly, the president of the Center for Military Readiness, said repealing the law that prevents openly gay men and lesbians from serving in the military would drain manpower as the services devote resources toward "enormously complicated" regulations. "There is no good time to use our military for social engineering," she said. "Our men and women in uniform should not have to pay the bill for political promises the president has made to the left." Focus on the Family, the American Conservative Union, and others are part of a new coalition that will lobby lawmakers against repealing the 1993 law, as recommended by President Obama. His senior military officers, including Defense Secretary Robert Gates, then told a Senate committee that the military would undertake a yearlong study on the repercussions of a repeal. The coalition cited providing partner benefits, housing, and joint deployments for gay couples, along with standards for sexual conduct in war zones, as repercussions the review must tackle. "People say the times have changed, and they have," said Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council. "We're now fighting two wars. This is possibly the worst time to consider experimenting with the military."