NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP) -- As a sign of the times, NBC Nightly News recently highlighted a growing demand for round-the-clock daycares, where children are tucked into bed at night by workers while their single parents work late shifts.
More than 40 percent of the American labor force works early in the morning, late at night or on weekends, NBC News said, and the depressed economy means parents can't always choose their hours or are forced to take second jobs to make ends meet.
So at ABC & Me Childcare in a suburb of Cleveland, Ohio, on some days the first child is dropped off at 1:30 a.m. and the last pick-up is usually around midnight, NBC News said. When the center opened in 2007, nontraditional hours were the first slots to be filled.
"Nine-to-five jobs are a dream," one single mother who works as a waitress at a Bob Evans restaurant told the network.
Children at ABC & Me eat dinner at daycare and then watch television while winding down on cots with blankets and pillows, waiting for a late-night ride home.
"They're cooks, they're caretakers, they're mothers, they're aunts, they're sisters, they're friends -- they're everything," said Tiffany Bickley, whose 6-year-old daughter is at daycare from the time she leaves kindergarten until around 9 at night. The center's staff, she said, is "exactly what I am, just in a different form."
NBC News said ABC & Me estimates that about 85 percent of their clients are single parents and a similar portion receive state assistance to pay for childcare.
Experienced babysitters want to be paid $10 or $15 per hour, Bickley said, but she only makes $10 an hour as a restaurant cook. She pays $29 per week for the care her daughter receives at ABC & Me.
HIV RATE AMONG BLACK WOMEN IN U.S. SIMILAR TO AFRICA -- The HIV rate among black women in some U.S. cities is similar to that of some African nations, according to a recent study.
An analysis of at-risk women in Baltimore, Atlanta, Raleigh-Durham, N.C., Washington, D.C., Newark and New York City indicated that HIV has not been eradicated, only forgotten, ABC News reported March 9.
Carlos Del Rio, professor of medicine at Emory University in Atlanta and principal investigator for the study, said the disease is alive and well in the United States, particularly in several "hot spots."
Researchers studied the cases of 2,099 women ages 18 to 44 who had never had a positive HIV test. Eighty-eight percent of the women were black and 12 percent were Latina. Upon enrollment in the study, 32 women were infected with HIV but did not know it, ABC News said.
Within one year of joining the study, 0.24 percent of the women tested positive for HIV, a rate five times higher than the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention previously estimated.
The environment in which the women live is precarious, Del Rio said, noting that women have told him they may be at high risk for HIV but they're also at high risk of being shot. Handing them condoms, he said, is not the solution. Structural interventions are needed.
VA. ENACTS ULTRASOUND LAW DESPITE OUTCRY -- Virginia has enacted a law that requires a woman seeking an abortion to undergo an ultrasound and to have the opportunity to view the image of her baby at least 24 hours before the procedure.
Gov. Bob McDonnell, a Republican, signed the bill into law March 7 after a firestorm of protests from abortion rights advocates. The criticisms prompted McDonnell to urge the Virginia legislature to amend the bill to require an abdominal ultrasound but make clear an ultrasound performed with a vaginal probe is not required. Both houses approved the amended version of the legislation.
Critics of the proposal attacked the original measure for requiring a vaginal ultrasound -- which it did not -- and decried the method as "rape." During the controversy, however, it was revealed that many abortion clinics use the vaginal ultrasound to determine gestational age before performing the procedure.
A 2003 study published in the journal Contraception showed 83 percent of Planned Parenthood clinics "always" did a vaginal ultrasound before performing an early surgical abortion, according to LifeSiteNews.com.
Virginia became the 24th state to enact an ultrasound law. Typically, the laws mandate that a woman seeking an abortion be given the opportunity to view the ultrasound image of her child.
"The commotion and misinformation over this protective law has been an outrageous disservice to the women of Virginia," said Mary Spaulding Balch, director of state legislation for the National Right to Life Committee. "Opposing this bill protects the abortion industry's financial interest at the cost of women's well-being."
Olivia Gans, president of the Virginia Society for Human Life, said, "The awful truth is that, in fact, the abortion procedure itself, which employs curette knifes, vacuum suction machines and deadly drug cocktails designed solely to end her child's life, and may also harm the mother, is far more invasive than any type of ultrasound technique to be used before an abortion."
MURDER CHARGES DROPPED AGAINST ABORTION PROVIDERS -- Murder charges against two abortion providers have been dropped by a Maryland prosecuting attorney.
Edward Rollins, state's attorney for Cecil County, withdrew the charges against Steven Brigham and Nicola Riley March 6. Rollins had indicted both for the murder of late-term unborn babies but said his office lacked clear proof the deaths occurred in Maryland.
Brigham -- who operates abortion clinics not only in Maryland but in New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania -- had been starting abortion procedures at a New Jersey clinic and completing them at a Maryland clinic, according to a 2010 New Jersey order, The Baltimore Sun reported.
An unnamed expert had first told Rollins' office that the death of the unborn children and their removal took place in the same location. The expert changed his mind under pressure from his "colleagues in the late-term abortion community," Rollins said, and decided the death and removal could have occurred in different locations, The Sun reported.
"We know what the doctors did. We just don't know where they did it," Rollins said, according to The Sun. "We've got an expert whose testimony is useless to us because he's said two different things now."
He could restore the charges, Rollins said, according to the newspaper.
Brigham had been charged with five counts of first-degree murder, five counts of second-degree murder and a count of conspiracy to commit murder, The Sun reported. Riley had been indicted on a count each of first-degree murder, second-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder.
It apparently was the first time Maryland's fetal homicide law had been used against an abortion doctor, according to the newspaper.
Police raided Brigham's clinic in Elkton, Md., in August 2010 while investigating a botched abortion and uncovered frozen aborted babies as much as 35 weeks' gestation.
MORE THAN 250 BABIES SAVED SO FAR IN 40 DAYS FOR LIFE -- At least 256 unborn children have been saved so far from abortion in the latest 40 Days for Life campaign, the organization reported March 11.
The campaign -- which focuses on peaceful, pro-life prayer vigils outside abortion clinics -- began Feb. 22 and will conclude April 1. The latest 40-day effort is the largest spring campaign in 40 Days for Life's history, with outreaches in 258 cities in the United States, plus sites in Canada, Australia, England, Ireland and Spain.
Among reports to 40 Days staff of women refusing to abort their children at clinics where volunteers were present:
-- A young woman in St. Louis went into a Planned Parenthood clinic without seeking any counseling or offers of help from volunteers. "[S]he was however showered in prayer the entire time she was in the abortion facility," said Brian, a 40 Days volunteer. She left the clinic and told a volunteer she didn't feel right while she was inside. She had changed her mind, deciding not to abort, she reported. "We must remember that it's not by human hands that these children are saved," Brian told 40 Days staff, "but instead by the work of the Holy Spirit."
-- An unborn child's father sought outside a Pensacola, Fla., clinic to convince the baby's mother not to have an abortion. When he entered the clinic, a security guard made him leave. The father waited in the parking lot, and the mother did not leave the clinic for hours. When she did, they drove away together, stopping to tell some volunteers they planned to keep their baby. "The radiance of their smiles in realizing they had not done what their consciences had undoubtedly told them was wrong was amazing," said Bob, a volunteer. "What an experience. Praise God."
The semiannual 40 Days campaigns consist of 40 days of prayer and fasting to end abortion as well as community outreach and the prayer vigils outside clinics. The effort, which began in Texas in 2004 and went national in 2007, has received reports of more than 5,000 unborn lives saved from abortion as a result of its campaigns.
UTAH LEGISLATURE PASSES 72-HOUR WAITING PERIOD -- The Utah legislature has approved a bill that would lengthen the waiting period for a woman seeking an abortion from 24 to 72 hours.
The state Senate voted 22-6 for the bill March 8, two days after the House of Representatives approved it in a 59-11 vote.
"An abortion cannot be undone.... Why would we not want to afford a woman facing a life-changing decision 72 hours to consider ramifications that could last a lifetime?" Rep. Steve Eliason, the bill's Republican sponsor, said before the House vote, The Salt Lake Tribune reported.
If enacted, the legislation would tie Utah with South Dakota for the longest waiting period in the country. A federal judge has blocked South Dakota's 72-hour wait from taking effect.
OKLA. SENATE APPROVES HEARTBEAT LEGISLATION -- The Oklahoma Senate passed in a 34-8 vote March 6 legislation that would require a physician to inform a woman that she has the right to hear her unborn child's heartbeat before an abortion.
The House of Representatives is expected to approve the Heartbeat Informed Consent Act as well.
Sen. Dan Newberry, a Republican from Tulsa and the bill's sponsor, said a heartbeat is the only way for an unborn baby to communicate his desire to live. "It can't say, 'Please don't kill me,' it can't say, 'I want to live.' It can't say anything," Newberry said, according to Thomson Reuters news service.
Compiled by Baptist Press assistant editor Erin Roach and Washington bureau chief Tom Strode. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress) and in your email (baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).