3 - Fetal heartbeat bill in North Dakota declared unconstitutional
For the second time in about a month, a Federal judge has ruled unconstitutional a state's bill banning abortion when a heartbeat is detected in an unborn child. This time, a George W. Bush appointee has struck down North Dakota's fetal heartbeat bill. ChristianNews.net reports that Federal District Judge Daniel Hovland issued a permanent injunction against the legislation, officially declaring the law to be “invalid and unconstitutional.” He wrote, “The United States Supreme Court has spoken and has unequivocally said no state may deprive a woman of the choice to terminate her pregnancy at a point prior to viability...The controversy over a woman’s right to choose to have an abortion will never end. The issue is undoubtedly one of the most divisive of social issues. The United States Supreme Court will eventually weigh in on this emotionally-fraught issue but, until that occurs, this Court is obligated to uphold existing Supreme Court precedent.”
In issuing a temporary injunction against the new law last July, Hovland had pointed to the 1973 decision of Roe v. Wade, writing that, "The state has extended an invitation to an expensive court battle over a law restricting abortions that is a blatant violation of the constitutional guarantees afforded to all women."
This comes on the heels of a decision by another Federal judge, Susan Webber Wright, an appointee of George H.W. Bush, who had struck down an Arkansas law that banned abortions after 12 weeks if a heartbeat is detected.
According to a ChristianNews.net story, Wright wrote in her opinion that the standard for abortion restrictions according to Roe v. Wade is whether the child is viable, rather than whether the baby has a heartbeat.
She wrote, “The Court notes that the [state] conveys that viability ‘begins’ with a heartbeat; it does not declare that viability is fully achieved with the adept of a heartbeat...Such a declaration would undoubtedly contravene the Supreme Court’s determination that viability in a particular case is a matter for medical judgment, and it is attained when, in the judgment of the attending physician on the particular facts of the case at hand, that there is a reasonable likelihood of sustained survival outside the womb.”
2 - Colorado lawmakers do not bring up legislation that would have kept pro-life laws from being passed
The Legislature in Colorado was considering a piece of legislation that would essentially be a pre-emptive strike against future pro-life bills, but it was turned back and did not come to the floor.
CitizenLink reports that, “It would have left it open for absolutely no regulation, ” according to Carrie Gordon Earll, senior director of issue analysis at Focus on the Family. She added, “We’re talking late-term abortions, informed consent and regulation of the abortion industry. This would have shut down any policy debate and prevented the passage of any pro-life legislation in the state.”
Legislative leaders claimed they had enough votes to pass the bill, but a flood of emails and calls from constituents and a prayer rally by approximately 1,000 people on the Capitol steps proved to be effective, according to the report. Leadership dropped the bill without a vote.
Jessica Haverkate of the Colorado Family Institute said, “The faith community united together in a public debate about one of the most important issues to all of us — the protection of unborn life...Let us all remember… what we were able to accomplish by stepping out in faith and engaging in our communities.”
As Carrie Gordon Earll points out, there was a lot at stake with SB 175 – and not just for Colorado. She is quoted as saying, “This is the sort of thing that we need to be diligent about as a pro-life movement...because a bill like this can get legs in other states once it passes. We want the nation moving toward a pro-life position, not the other direction.”
1 - Easter, Holy Week commemorate Christ's death and resurrection
Across the world, Christians were involved in special Easter presentations this week. And, this is undoubtedly the top story each year during the week of Easter, for without the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus, we would have no Savior and our faith would have no meaning.
So we have the opportunity to take a few moments during this special season to reflect on the meaning of Christ's sacrifice for us and to rejoice in the risen Lord. I found a ChristianExaminer.com story taken from Baptist Press about a Barna survey from 2010, in which 67 percent of the respondents mentioned some type of theistic religious element in Easter, including the fact that it's a Christian holiday or it's a special time for church attendance.
Only 42 percent of those surveyed said the meaning of Easter was the resurrection of Jesus or that it signifies Christ's death and return to life, Barna said. Two percent said they would describe Easter as the most important holiday of their faith.
David Kinnaman, Barna's president is quoted as saying that, "Perhaps most concerning, from the standpoint of church leaders, is that those who celebrate Easter because of the resurrection of Christ are not particularly likely to invite non-churched friends to worship, suggesting that their personal beliefs about Jesus have not yet translated into a sense of urgency for having spiritual conversations with their acquaintances." He noted a substantial gap between people's openness to inviting an unchurched person to worship on Easter and the likelihood of them actually doing so.
During this season, we commonly find that churches are utilizing creative means of presenting the gospel message. And, social media is an effective tool through which we can share the good news. One example I discovered was the use of the #EasterMeans hashtag, documented in a piece on the ChristianToday.com website. This is used in the Church of England's Twitter campaign, which kicked off on Thursday, inviting people to share their thoughts on what Easter means to them.
Among those joining in was theologian Vicky Beeching (@vickybeeching), who said: "I'm excited about the #EasterMeans campaign - it encourages Christians to give the world a window into their personal faith; why Easter matters to them and how the events of Jesus' death and resurrection have impacted their life."
#EasterMeans is a follow-up to the #Christmasmeans Twitter campaign, which reached more than four million people between Christmas Eve and Christmas morning.
Bishops weighed in about what Easter means to them in a series of podcasts. The Bishop of Ramsbury, Edward Condry, who gave up his car for Lent, estimates he has saved 2,000 car miles over the last six weeks just by cycling, walking and using public transportation. He found his Lent challenge to be a conversation starter, saying, "I really have enjoyed it. When I turn up for a service on Sunday I've had lots of good conversations and people want to go deeper and find out what motivated me."
The Bishop of Oxford, the Right Reverend John Pritchard, said that Easter means "nothing is impossible". He shared, "You can't keep a good God down."
The practice of reflection and worship that we commonly find during the Easter season can be a springboard for growing deeper in our relationship with Christ throughout the year as we recognize that Jesus is alive and He is alive in us!