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CULTURE DIGEST: Faith may help psychiatric treatment, Harvard affiliate reports

NASHVILLE (BP) — Belief in God may lead to better outcomes for patients getting short-term treatment for psychiatric illness, a new study suggests.

McLean Hospital, a psychiatric affiliate of Harvard Medical School, announced in an April 25 press release that the study, published in the current issue of Journal of Affective Disorders, examined individuals at McLean’s Behavioral Health Partial Hospital.

“Our work suggests that people with a moderate to high level of belief in a higher power do significantly better in short-term psychiatric treatment than those without, regardless of their religious affiliation,” David H. Rosmarin, a McLean Hospital clinician and instructor at Harvard Medical School’s Department of Psychiatry who conducted the examinations, said in the press release. “Belief was associated with not only improved psychological wellbeing, but decreases in depression and intention to self-harm.”

According to the press release, the study examined 159 patients, asking participants to gauge their belief in God and their expectations for treatment outcome and emotion regulation. Levels of wellbeing, self-harm and depression were assessed at the start and finish of the treatment program.

The study found that even the more than 30 percent of patients who expressed no religious affiliation still saw the same treatment benefits if they had a moderately or very high belief in a higher power. Conversely, patients with “no” or “slight” belief in God were twice as likely not to respond to treatment as patients with higher levels of belief.

“Given the prevalence of religious belief in the United States — over 90 percent of the population — these findings are important in that they highlight the clinical implications of spiritual life,” Rosmarin said in the press release. “I hope that this work will lead to larger studies and increased funding in order to help as many people as possible.”

GOVT. SEEKS 45-YEAR SENTENCE IN FAMILY RESEARCH COUNCIL ATTACK — The government is seeking a 45-year sentence for a man accused of plotting a massacre at the Family Research Council.

The Associated Press reported that prosecutors recommended the sentence for Floyd Corkins II, who attacked the Washington headquarters of the FRC, a conservative Christian lobbying organization well-known for its stance against gay marriage.

Corkins was carrying nearly 100 rounds of ammunition and 15 Chick-fil-A sandwiches, the AP reported, adding that he planned to kill as many people as possible and smear the sandwiches in their faces as a political statement. But Corkins only managed to wound a security guard, who subdued Corkins in the lobby.

Corkins carried a list of four socially conservative organizations, the AP reported, and he told authorities he planned to commit shootings at the other organizations if he were not stopped at the FRC.

According to the AP, the government wrote that if the security guard had not subdued him, Corkins “would have almost certainly succeeded in committing a massacre of epic portions.”

Corkins pleaded guilty to interstate transportation of a firearm, assault with intent to kill while armed and committing an act of terrorism while armed, the AP reported.

MORE STATES ENACT PRO-LIFE LAWS — Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback signed into law April 19 expansive legislation that includes a ban on sex-selection abortions and stating that life begins “at fertilization,” The Wichita Eagle reported. The measure also includes provisions expanding restrictions on state funding of abortion and writes into law and strengthens the informed consent guidelines used by the state’s Department of Health and Environment.

“All human life is sacred. It’s beautiful,” Brownback said before signing the Pro-life Protections Act, according to The Eagle. “With this, we continue to build this culture of life in our state.”

North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple signed into law April 16 a bill barring abortion after 20 weeks gestation, based on evidence an unborn child experiences pain at that point, according to the Associated Press. North Dakota becomes the ninth state to approve a pain-capable abortion ban. The other states to do so are Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, Nebraska and Oklahoma, according to the National Right to Life Committee.

Previously this year, Dalrymple had signed three pro-life measures into law: A ban on abortions as early as six weeks into gestation based on an unborn baby’s heartbeat; a prohibition of abortions on the basis of an unborn child’s genetic abnormality; and a requirement that abortion doctors must have admitting privileges at a local hospital.

Among other states enacting legislation in 2013 that restricts abortions or establishes stricter standards for abortion clinics are Alabama, Arkansas and South Dakota.

ADF AGAIN CHARGES PLANNED PARENTHOOD WITH MISUSE OF FUNDS — The Alliance Defending Freedom, in its latest report to Congress, is charging that Planned Parenthood Federation of America continues to waste and abuse government funds and possibly commit fraud.

ADF made its report public April 10, updating results of an investigation it presented to Congress in 2011. The latest report says Planned Parenthood “is far less concerned with providing competent healthcare to women than it is with padding its bottom line” with government money.

“American tax dollars should be used responsibly and for the common good, and taxpayers deserve to know if their hard-earned tax money is being funneled to groups that are abusing it,” said Catherine Glenn Foster, litigation counsel for ADF, in a written statement.

Its report on audits and reviews of Planned Parenthood affiliates, as well as state family planning programs and a family planning organization, showed more than $108 million in “waste, abuse and potential fraud,” ADF reported. It called for Congress to investigate.

Affiliates of Planned Parenthood, the country’s No. 1 abortion provider, performed 333,964 of the lethal procedures during 2010-11, the most recent year for which statistics are available. That total surpassed the previous yearly record for Planned Parenthood clinics of 332,278 in 2009.

Planned Parenthood also established a record for funds received from federal, state and local governments. It received $542.4 million in government grants and reimbursements during the latest fiscal year. Those public funds were nearly half of Planned Parenthood’s $1.2 billion in total revenue for the year.

JOHNS HOPKINS PRO-LIFE CLUB GAINS OFFICIAL RECOGNITION — A Johns Hopkins University student committee has approved a pro-life organization as an official club on campus

The Baltimore school’s Student Government Association Judiciary Committee voted unanimously April 9 to overturn SGA’s rejection of Voice for Life as a student club. In March, the SGA voted down VFL’s request, and the SGA Senate later endorsed that action.

In explaining its decision, the SGA said one of the reasons for the rejection of the application was VFL’s plan to do sidewalk counseling outside an abortion clinic. The Thomas More Law Center wrote to school officials and the Judiciary Committee to explain why recognition of the pro-life organization is a legal requirement.

“Today is a victory not only for pro-life students here at Johns Hopkins, but for pro-life students around the country,” VFL President Andrew Guernsey said in a written release. “We hope that our story of rising above discriminatory opposition can inspire pro-life students around the country to courageously take a stand for life and speak truth to power at their own college campuses.”

FIRST WOMB TRANSPLANT RECIPIENT REPORTEDLY BECOMES PREGNANT — A Turkish woman who benefited from the first successful womb transplant also apparently has become the first transplant recipient to become pregnant.

Early test results for Derya Sert, 22, were “consistent with the expected signs of pregnancy,” doctors reported in Antalya, Turkey, according to an April 12 report in the Daily Mail.

Sert, who was born without a womb, received a womb from a dead donor in 2011. Physicians waited 18 months before transferring an embryo into her womb, the British newspaper reported. Doctors took eggs from her ovaries, which are healthy, and fertilized them with the sperm of her husband, Mustafa. Specialists transferred at least one embryo to her womb in early April.

The risk for a miscarriage and other problems early in pregnancy is high, according to the Daily Mail. If Sert’s baby continues to develop, doctors would deliver him by Caesarean section eight months into pregnancy and then remove her womb.

Other women have received womb transplants since Sert did so successfully, but she is the first to become pregnant.

DEARBORN CLINIC IS 6TH IN MICHIGAN TO CLOSE IN 7 MONTHS — A Dearborn, Mich., abortion clinic has become the sixth to close in the state in the last seven months.

The American Family Planning clinic stopped doing business April 12, according to a report from Citizens for a Pro-life Society (CPLS). The clinic, which had been in operation more than 20 years, closed upon the reported retirement of abortion doctor Noon-Nahm Ann, 73, according to CPLS.

Not only was the Dearborn center the sixth to close since September, it also was the ninth in the state to shut down or be prevented from opening in the last 18 months. In addition, Ann became the third Michigan abortion doctor to retire this year, CPLS reported.
Compiled by John Evans, a writer in Houston, and Tom Strode, Washington bureau chief for Baptist Press. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress ) and in your email ( baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).

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