EDITOR'S NOTE: Culture Digest will not be published during Thanksgiving week but will resume on Friday, Nov. 30.
WASHINGTON (BP) -- The "Abortion Gang," a blog by "unapologetic activists for reproductive justice," is beating the drum for repeal of the Hyde Amendment.
In a Nov. 7 post, a writer for the Abortion Gang urged President Obama to act to put an end to Hyde, which has prohibited Medicaid coverage of most abortions since 1976. Obama "must take a stand this January and strike restrictions on Medicaid coverage of abortion when he presents his budget to Congress," according to the post.
The Hyde Amendment not only bars Medicaid funds for abortions but acts as a model for restrictions on abortion funding in other federal programs.
For the Abortion Gang and other abortion rights advocates, reproductive rights do not fully exist unless the government pays for the abortions of those who cannot afford them.
TV STAR SHARES TRIUMPH OF FAITH -- "Dancing with the Stars" champion and "All My Children" star J.R. Martinez said faith helped him survive the land mine explosion in Iraq that sidelined him for three years.
In "Full of Heart: My Story of Survival, Strength and Spirit," his recently published memoir, Martinez shares his life struggle, from his childhood, NFL hopes, the land mine explosion just a month into his service in Iraq, and his incredible revival as an actor and dance champion.
"I took to talking to God, praying my way through more treatments, more surgeries," Martinez wrote in a brief account in Guideposts magazine before the release of the memoir. "I know I survived for a reason, Lord. Lead me to the other side of this pain, and show me that reason."
Many became Martinez's fans in 2008 when he landed the role of wounded veteran Brot Monroe on All My Children, but little of his predicament was glamorous.
After joining the Army in 2002, his life changed while driving a Humvee with three other soldiers at the head of an envoy.
"I felt our left front tire hit something. A land mine. Boom! The other three guys were thrown clear of the explosion," Martinez wrote. He was left inside, burning alive.
"No one could reach me. God, help me. The pain was indescribable," Martinez wrote. "I watched the skin melt and fall off my hands. Flames seared my face, my arms, my back, consuming me. I'm going to die."
After his sergeant and team members freed him from the fire, Martinez spent nearly three years at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas. With 40 percent of his body burned, he endured numerous skin grafts and surgeries.
His mother never left his side, he said, her prayers overcoming his desire to die.
"Be with my son. Comfort him, Lord," Martinez said his mother prayed. "We know you feel his pain. Keep him strong. Give him courage."
Martinez has become a motivational speaker, using his story to help others overcome obstacles.
"It teaches people we can all overcome," Martinez said of his book. "Change is scary, and I think my story allows you to understand -- you can make it work. We all have the power to make it work. We can find the way to do great things."
COURT REJECTS HUSBANDS IN FORCED ABORTIONS -- The husbands of Chinese women who undergo forced abortions because of China's "one-child" policy are not automatically eligible for asylum in the United States, another federal appeals court has ruled, according to World News Service.
The First Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston agreed with four other circuit courts Oct. 3 when it decided a 1996 federal law does not cover husbands because "the focus is on persons targeted for a procedure, not upon the results of the procedure," World News Service reported.
The law, sponsored by Rep. Chris Smith, R.-N.J., permitted protection for "a person who has been forced to abort a pregnancy or to undergo involuntary sterilization, or who has been persecuted for failure or refusal to undergo such a procedure or for other resistance to a coercive population control program."
Smith intended for the law to cover husbands of victims of China's coercive population control policy, and early immigration court rulings agreed a husband could qualify as a refugee. In 2008, however, then-U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey decided the law did not include husbands unless they had other well-founded fears of persecution, according to WNS.
Xian Tong Dong, the husband in the First Circuit case, applied for asylum in the United States in 2006 and attempted to bring his wife and child to this country as well. Chinese authorities had forcibly aborted the couple's second child.
Xian did not qualify because he did not show any "special circumstance -- that is, something more than his relationship to the recipient of a forced abortion," the First Circuit said.
Husbands also are victims in forced abortions, said Kat Lewis, director of communications at All Girls Allowed, which combats China's "one-child" policy.
"Forced abortion, an ugly effect of China's brutal one-child policy, has many victims," she said, WNS reported. "The mother suffers a violent, involuntary procedure and loses a child. The child suffers death. And the father suffers deeply at the loss of a child and violation of his wife's human dignity." Continued...