A state lawmaker is proposing to allow nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and nurse midwives to perform routine abortions in the first trimester of pregnancy as a way of expanding access to the procedure across California, reports latimes.com. Only doctors may perform aspiration abortions, the most common method of terminating early pregnancies, under existing state law. But many parts of California, particularly rural areas, do not have enough of those physicians, said state Sen. Christine Kehoe (D-San Diego), author of the proposal, which is cosponsored by the heads of both legislative houses. “We believe it will give many California women access to earlier, safer procedures in the first trimester of their pregnancy,” Kehoe said at a news conference in Sacramento on Tuesday. Abortion rights proponents celebrated Kehoe’s measure as one that bucks the national trend of restricting access to the procedure. The Alan Guttmacher Institute, which tracks reproductive health issues, found that legislators across the country proposed a record number of laws limiting abortion last year and that 135 became law. “I think this is another situation where California is a pioneer,” said Margaret Crosby, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California. But Camille Giglio, a lobbyist for the anti-abortion group California Right to Life, expressed disgust that the state would cast itself as a leader on abortion access. “This is the first step down the road to making it appear like it’s a simple, drive-by, 15-minute diversion,” she said.

Other news:

  • Under Alberta’s new Education Act, homeschoolers and faith-based schools will not be permitted to teach that homosexual acts are sinful as part of their academic program, says the spokesperson for Education Minister Thomas Lukaszuk. “Whatever the nature of schooling—homeschool, private school, Catholic school—we do not tolerate disrespect for differences,” Donna McColl, Lukaszuk’s assistant director of communications, told LifeSiteNews. “You can affirm the family’s ideology in your family life, you just can’t do it as part of your educational study and instruction,” she added. Reacting to the remarks, Paul Faris of the Home School Legal Defense Association said the Ministry of Education is “clearly signaling that they are in fact planning to violate the private conversations families have in their own homes.”  “A government that seeks that sort of control over our personal lives should be feared and opposed,” he added. The HSLDA and other homeschooling groups warned this week that the new Alberta Education Act, which was re-tabled by Alison Redford’s Progressive Conservative government on Feb. 14 to replace the existing School Act, threatens to mandate “diversity” education in all schools, including home schools. The Home School Legal Defence Association is calling on Alberta citizens to contact the Education Minister and their elected representatives. Pro-family observers warned that the ruling risked emboldening other provincial governments in their effort to impose “diversity” programs. The last two years have seen major battles in Quebec, Ontario, British Columbia, and now Alberta over the increasing normalization of homosexuality in the schools.
  • Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum continued to do well among self-described evangelicals in the Michigan and Arizona primaries Tuesday, even though GOP rival Mitt Romney won the popular vote in each state, reports Baptist Press. Santorum won evangelical/born-again voters by a margin of 51–33 percent over Romney in Michigan, with Ron Paul and Newt Gingrich each claiming 7 percent, according to exit polls used by The New York Times and The Washington Post. Romney, though, won the popular vote there, 41–38 percent, marking the first time this year that a clear favorite among evangelicals in exit or entrance polling lost at the ballot. In Arizona, Santorum and Romney finished in a virtual tie among evangelical/born-again voters, with Santorum winning 37 percent and Romney 35 percent, according to the NYT/Washington Post exit polls. Gingrich won 20 percent and Paul 6 percent among evangelicals in Arizona. Romney won the popular vote there, 47 percent to Santorum’s 27 percent. Evangelical/born-again voters made up 42 percent of GOP voters in each state.
  • Franklin Graham has come out addressing the problem of political correctness as having gone amok, reports charismanews.com. Said Graham, “One of the most sinister and menacing threats to our society today lurks under the lethal guise of two small initials—PC. I’m talking about political correctness—the maddening and prevailing public sentiment of offending no one (except Christians). It has infected our schools, government, universities, and the marketplace, leaving no room for moral absolutes or the authoritative truth of Scripture. Instead, political correctness demands tolerance of everything as it panders to the godless values of pluralism, marginalizing and even persecuting men and women of faith. Let me give you a few examples. After 30 years of placing cards with a line or two from the Psalms on meal trays, Alaska Airlines has announced they are discontinuing that practice. I am very familiar with that company, and they have blessed countless thousands of passengers with encouraging promises from God’s Word. What changed? Some people complained that they were offended, and a simple expression of uplifting faith was suddenly ended. Just a few weeks ago, a friend of mine, Lt. Gen. William ‘Jerry’ Boykin, had to withdraw from a planned address to West Point, where my son Edward attended. Gen. Boykin is an American hero and the former commander of the elite Delta Force. He played a leading role in various covert operations and served during conflicts in Vietnam, Somalia, Iraq and Afghanistan. He was severely wounded in action. However, when some politically correct people discovered Gen. Boykin was speaking, they began a media campaign to stop him, pointing to his criticism of radical Islam, whose militant adherents have killed thousands of innocent civilians on American soil. One commentator on a national news network called the effort to block Gen. Boykin ‘political correctness gone amok.’ I know exactly what he was facing. Some of the very same people worked together against me in 2010 to force the Army to withdraw my invitation to speak at the Pentagon on the National Day of Prayer because nine years earlier I had called the radical element of Islam what it is—evil and wicked. The official explanation of my disinvitation was dripping with political correctness: ‘His past statements are not consistent with the multi-faith emphasis and inclusiveness of this event.’ Do you see the insidious nature of all this? Inclusiveness now means excluding anyone who speaks out firmly for truth. It is happening everywhere in the country. Wishing to offend no one, our nation’s politicians, leaders, and decision-makers now stand for absolutely nothing. The very foundation of our Judeo-Christian morality is severely threatened. The real offense is the gospel itself. The Bible says that Jesus and His sin-conquering work on the cross are a ‘stone of stumbling and a rock of offense’ (1 Peter 2:8). Politically correct people hate the Name of Jesus. They despise the gospel. They don’t want to be reminded of their sin or their need for a Savior. They can’t handle the Truth. Yet it is that very Truth that can set people free.”
  • “Christians are to obey God and turn away from Barack Obama—Obama is lost in sin,” says pastor Steven Andrew, president of USA Christian Ministries and author of Making a Strong Christian Nation. USA Christian Ministries is raising money to build a network of 1,000 pastors to pastor the USA and to start a national TV ministry, reports ChristianNewsWire. Pastor Andrew noted, “Obama advocated to leave living babies to die who survive botched abortions, and covered Jesus’ name and cross at Georgetown. Obama has removed references to God when quoting the Declaration of Independence and Bible verses from the Pentagon reports. Instead of saying the USA’s national motto is ‘In God We Trust,’ Obama has lied that it is something without God. We now see Obama is anti-God. God says homosexual sin is an abomination in Leviticus 18:22, and that He removes nations for homosexual sin (2 Peter 2:6). However, Obama promotes sexual and homosexual sin and is trying to change God’s holy marriage to unholy homosexual ‘marriage.’ While it is good that Protestant and Catholic leaders have spoken up for religious freedom because Obama violates God’s unalienable right of conscience, pastors are supposed to warn Christians about all of Obama’s sins.”
  • Perhaps the strain that has taken deepest root within mainstream Republican circles is the terror that the achievements of the Obama administration may be irreversible, and that the time remaining to stop permanent nightfall is dwindling away, reports Patriot Update. “America is approaching a ‘tipping point’ beyond which the Nation will be unable to change course,” announces the dark, old-timey preamble to Paul Ryan’s “The Roadmap Plan,” a statement of fiscal principles that shaped the budget outline approved last spring by 98 percent of the House Republican caucus. Rick Santorum warns his audiences, “We are reaching a tipping point, folks, when those who pay are the minority and those who receive are the majority.” Even such a sober figure as Mitt Romney regularly says things like “We are only inches away from no longer being a free economy,” and that this election “could be our last chance.”
  • A suicide car bomber detonated his explosives during a worship service of a large evangelical church in Nigeria’s restive city of Jos early Sunday, Feb. 26, killing himself and a father and child, government and church officials said, reported in Worthy Christian News. Plateau State spokesman Pam Ayuba said others were injured in the Sunday blast, which was believed to have been carried out by the radical Islamic group Boko Haram. Church workers and witnesses said a car forced its way through the gate during an early morning service. “We were in the church during the time of worship and a suicide bomber forced himself into through the gate, into the church and the bomb exploded,” John Haruna, the reverend of the Church of Christ in Nigeria, told French news agency AFP. Another church member who is also an activist with the Christian human rights organization Stefanos Foundation gave a similar account.
  • The Obama administration’s proposed defense budget calls for military families and retirees to pay sharply more for their healthcare, while leaving unionized civilian defense workers’ benefits untouched, according to The Washington Free Beacon. The proposal is causing a major rift within the Pentagon, according to U.S. officials. Several congressional aides suggested the move is designed to increase the enrollment in Obamacare’s state-run insurance exchanges. The disparity in treatment between civilian and uniformed personnel is causing a backlash within the military that could undermine recruitment and retention.
  • In Xilinhot, China, officials from the Religious Affairs Bureau, the Public Security’s Domestic Security Protection Squad, the United Front Work Department, as well as local police raided a house church, confiscating its property and arresting the pastor and several of his congregation, reports Worthy Christian News. Pastor Wang Dawei and two others were taken to the Xilinhot police station and interrogated for hours before they were finally released. The officials warned that if those attending the the Canaan Church didn’t join a Three-Self church, their house church would be banned and they, too, would be arrested; the officials then confiscated all the Bibles and hymn books, installing new locks on the doors before they left the building. The officials later threatened the landlord of the meeting site and told him that Pastor Dawei was a wanted criminal and that his lease with the church should be terminated. But the landlord replied, “Even if I don’t rent this place out to the church, they will go find another place to rent and worship there. And if their pastor is a wanted criminal, how come you released him the same day you took him in?” “Because I’ve been doing evangelistic work in Inner Mongolia for many years, so I have had many experiences of persecution by local authorities, including direct physical harm to me,” said Pastor Dawei. “After we planted more than a few churches, they [the government] have been constantly pressuring me to lead these congregations to join the official Three-Self church. Our church follows the Reformed Christian tradition and our allegiance to the faith does not allow us to ally ourselves with anti-Christ forces and fake churches. Our believers are very clear about this, that forcing us to join the official church is the same as forcing us to abandon our faith.” Pastor Dawei said that he and his congregation are prepared to suffer persecution for the sake of faith; he asked that churches everywhere pray for them.
  • Missionary Bert Elliot, 87, the older brother of martyred missionary to the Aucas, Jim Elliot, went to be with the Lord Feb. 17, reports Christianity Today in its “Preaching Today.” Unlike his brother, Jim, Bert was thought to be much less known. Yet he and his wife, Colleen, went to Peru in 1949 and established some 150 churches during more than 60 years of service. In January 2006, author Randy Alcorn had the opportunity to join Jim Elliot’s family for a dinner that marked the 50th anniversary of the martyrdom of Jim and four other missionaries in Ecuador. Randy wrote, “There we met Jim’s older brother, Bert, and his wife Colleen. In 1949, years before Jim went to Ecuador, they became missionaries to Peru. When we discussed their ministry, Bert smiled and said, ‘I can’t wait to get back from furlough.’ Now in their eighties, they are in their sixtieth year as missionaries, joyfully reaching people for Christ. Until that weekend I didn’t know anything about them. Bert and Colleen may enter eternity under the radar of the church at large, but not under God’s. . . . Bert said something to me that day that I’ll never forget: ‘Jim and I both served Christ, but differently. Jim was a great meteor, streaking through the sky.’ Bert didn’t go on to describe himself, but I will. Unlike his brother Jim, Bert is a faint star that rises night after night, faithfully crossing the same path in the sky to God’s glory. I believe Jim Elliot’s reward is considerable, but it wouldn’t surprise me to discover that Bert and Colleen’s will be greater still.”