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Rachel Lynn Aldrich/WORLD

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Judge partially upholds Virginia infant protections

RICHMOND, Va.(BP) -- A federal judge on Monday (Sept. 30) upheld some Virginia laws protecting unborn babies while overturning others. U.S. District Judge Henry Hudson gave the green light to a law requiring women to receive an ultrasound at least 24 hours before an abortion, as well as one mandating that licensed physicians carry out the procedures.

Arkansas judge stalls abortion laws

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (BP) -- A federal judge in Arkansas blocked three new laws just before midnight Tuesday (July 23) that would protect unborn babies in the state. U.S. District Judge Kristine Baker's 14-day temporary restraining order stopped the laws from taking effect on Wednesday (July 24). The measures would have protected unborn babies after 18 weeks of pregnancy, required abortionists to be board-certified or board-eligible in obstetrics and gynecology, and protected babies who were diagnosed with Down syndrome in the womb.

9th Circuit rules abortion funding changes can proceed

ASHEVILLE, N.C. (BP) -- The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Thursday (July 11) upheld its June 20 decision allowing the Trump administration to enforce new rules blocking Title X family planning funds from going to abortion facilities. The 7-4 vote rejected an emergency stay request from Planned Parenthood, 20 U.S. states, the District of Columbia, and other pro-abortion groups.

Protecting veterans’ religious liberty

WASHINGTON (BP) -- The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs updated its policies last week to better protect the religious liberty of U.S. military veterans and their families. The revised rules, effective July 3, assure that religious displays and pastoral care remain accessible and protected from discrimination. "We want to make sure that all of our veterans and their families feel welcome at VA, no matter their religious beliefs," VA Secretary Robert Wilkie said in a statement. "These important changes will bring simplicity and clarity to our policies governing religious and spiritual symbols, helping ensure we are consistently complying with the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution at thousands of facilities across the department."

Could ruling on cross curb hostility toward religion?

WASHINGTON (BP) -- The U.S. Supreme Court's 7-2 decision June 20 in favor of a nearly century-old memorial cross in Bladensburg, Md., appeared to some as a signal that the justices want to leave more room for religion in the public square. The American Humanist Association sued the American Legion and local parks department to take down the 40-foot cross monument, which an American Legion post erected in 1925 to honor local men who died in World War I. A U.S. District Court judge in Maryland ruled the memorial could stay in 2015, but a three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals declared the cross a violation of the Establishment Clause found in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Mo. Planned Parenthood fights to stay open

ST. LOUIS, Mo. (BP) -- The last abortion facility in Missouri asked a state panel for an extension Tuesday (June 25) after a judge ruled its license would run out on Friday. The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services last week refused to renew the St. Louis Planned Parenthood affiliate's license. The department had allowed the license to lapse over patient safety issues.

High court orders review of Ore. gay wedding cake case

WASHINGTON (BP) -- The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday (June 17) threw out an Oregon court's discrimination ruling against a Christian couple who declined to bake a cake for a same-sex wedding because of their religious convictions, ordering state judges to review the case. Rachel Bowman-Cryer had sued Aaron and Melissa Klein, owners of the now-closed Sweet Cakes by Melissa bakery in Gresham, Ore., after she requested a cake for her marriage to another woman in 2013. The Kleins were forced to pay a $135,000 fine after an Oregon judge ruled against them.

Last Missouri Planned Parenthood to stay open

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (BP) -- A Missouri judge on Friday (May 31) ordered that the state's last remaining abortion center can continue operating just hours before the Planned Parenthood facility's license was set to expire. The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services had not renewed Planned Parenthood's license due to concerns about failed abortions, compromised patient safety, and legal violations at the facility.

Ga. governor signs heartbeat law

ATLANTA, Ga. (BP) -- Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, a Republican, signed legislation on Tuesday that protects unborn babies from abortion once they have a detectable heartbeat, usually around six weeks of gestation.

TX ban on chaplains in execution chamber debated

AUSTIN, Texas (BP) -- After the U.S. Supreme Court granted a stay of execution to a Buddhist prisoner in Texas, the state moved to restrict the religious exercise of all death row inmates. Chaplains can now watch executions from the viewing room, but they will no longer be allowed to accompany condemned prisoners to their deaths, the state announced last week. Previously, Texas law only allowed chaplains who had gone through extensive vetting to attend executions. Only Christian or Muslim chaplains were available at the time Patrick Henry Murphy was scheduled to be put to death in March. Murphy, 57, escaped from a Texas prison in 2000 with several other inmates and committed a burglary during which a police officer was shot and killed. While on death row for that offense, Murphy became a Buddhist and asked for his spiritual adviser to attend his execution.