In Brief

Agnostic Heads Chile

Michelle Bachelet, who is openly nontheist, was sworn in as Chile’s first female president in mid-March. Bachelet, a former torture victim, is a doctor and single mother. Half the members of her new cabinet are women.

She did not swear on a bible.

Brazil Plans Condom Drive

Brazil will construct a state-run condom factory and plans to distribute a billion free condoms next year to fight HIV/AIDS, despite Vatican opposition.

Court Backs Antis

The U.S. Supreme Court on Feb. 28, in an 8-0 decision, dealt a blow to abortion clinics in their two-decade fight against menacing protesters who threaten doctors, assault patients, damage property and interfere with clinic operations.

The ruling overturns an appeals court decision applying federal extortion and racketeering laws to antiabortion demonstrators. The 1994 Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act still stands.

Utah Cans Anti-Darwin Bill

In a blow to intelligent design,” Utah’s House of Representatives voted down a bill in late February challenging the theory of evolution in high school science classes.

Florida Vouchers, Again

Although the Florida Supreme Court just struck down vouchers as unconstitutional, a bill was introduced in March to amend the state constitution to permit vouchers.

Dover Board Pays $1M

The Dover (Penn.) Area School Board agreed in late February to pay $1 million in legal fees to plaintiffs successfully suing to end an “intelligent design” policy. A federal judge backed plaintiffs in a historic December decision.

53% US Creationists

A Gallup poll (always suspect) released on March 8 claims 53% of Americans agree with the statement “God created man exactly how the bible describes it.” Another 31% agree humans evolved but “God guided.” Only 12% back evolution and assert “God had no part.” Creationist views are tied to increasing age, decreased education, and Republican affiliation.

Wal-Mart Kind of Stocks Pills

Officials of Wal-Mart, with a corner on the U.S. pharmacy market, announced they will now stock emergency contraception pills in all pharmacies by March 20, following a Massachusetts lawsuit. Wal-Mart policy still permits any pharmacy employee to refuse to fill prescriptions.

Gays Not Cleared?

The Bush administration, which says security clearances cannot be denied “solely on the basis of the sexual orientation of the individual,” removed language saying it “may not be used as a basis for or a disqualifying factor in determining a person’s eligibility for a security clearance.”

Rape Victim Rights Hurt

Two Catholic leaders in Connecticut recently restricted the rights of rape victims treated at the state’s four Catholic hospitals. Hartford Archbishop Henry J. Mansell and Bridgeport Bishop William E. Lori adopted the so-called Peoria Protocol barring doctors from prescribing emergency contraception for rape victims if tests show they have recently ovulated.

Freedom From Religion Foundation