Pro-life groups watched as pro-life Democrats in Congress became the decisive votes in passage of a healthcare overhaul bill many predicted would lead to an expansion of taxpayer-funded abortions. In the 11th hour the lawmakers, led by Rep. Bart Stupak of Michigan, succumbed to party pressure and traded in tough pro-life protections in the bill for a benign, symbolic, and reversible executive order regarding abortion. With their capitulation, the overhaul cleared its final hurdle, passing the House, 219-212, in a Sunday night session March 21.
For all their healthcare pretzeling, pro-life Democrats became the first political casualties of Obamacare as pro-life groups went on the offensive: Stupak, stripped of his "Defender of Life" award from Susan B. Anthony List, soon announced his retirement. Rep. Alan Mollohan, D-W.Va., lost his primary. Susan B. Anthony List alone spent $3.4 million to defeat so-called pro-life Democrats. Family Research Council targeted 20 pro-life Democrats who voted for Obamacare and took down 19 in mid-term elections. Americans United for Life spent $600,000 on a "Life Counts" campaign that defeated 11 of the 12 Democrats it targeted. The end result: Next year's 112th Congress will have a pro-life tilt. Of the 87 new Republicans in the House, 80 are pro-life. Of 16 new senators, 12 are pro-life. Meanwhile more than half of the approximately 40 pro-life House Democrats are gone.
Women wailed and mourners sang hymns as a dump truck carried dozens of corpses to a mass grave. On March 7 Muslim gangs raided three predominantly Christian villages near the central city of Jos during pre-dawn hours, killing more than 300 victims-mostly women, children, and the elderly. The attacks punctuated an ongoing pattern of violence between Muslims and Christians in a country nearly evenly split between the two groups.
Goodluck Jonathan-a Christian installed as president after the May death of President Umaru Yar'Adua (a Muslim)-said the conflicts are ethnic, not religious. But many Nigerian Christians said they're both. Jonathan Kangdim, a professor of religious studies at the University of Jos and an associate pastor at a local church, fears Muslim extremists have a broader agenda to expunge Christianity from the region. "They are out to destroy," said Kangdim. "And some of them are seeing it like an advancement of jihad."
The peak of Moscow's morning rush hour turned violent on March 29 when two suicide bombers detonated shrapnel-laden explosives in the city's packed subway system. Thirty-nine victims died, and dozens suffered injuries. Islamist rebels from the nearby Caucasus claimed responsibility. Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin vowed to hunt the criminals: "Terrorists will be destroyed."
As authorities in Russia and other former Soviet states continued an ongoing clampdown on Muslim extremists, Christians said they encountered bureaucratic hassles: Local authorities denied visas to foreign workers and stalled registrations for hundreds of churches.
Iraqis went to the polls March 7-the third nationwide elections since the 2003 U.S. invasion. Violence in Baghdad killed at least 30 but did not hamper turnout: Sixty-two percent of eligible Iraqis voted. Yet the parliamentary slate led by incumbent prime minister Nouri al-Maliki trailed one led by a former interim leader, Ayad Allawi, 89 seats to 91, giving neither enough votes to form a government. Jockeying to form a coalition persisted for months-and was not resolved until November, when an agreement to form a unity government was reached. It includes prominent posts for Allawi's party and won support of the Kurds.