1) The Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, celebrated its three-year anniversary, but a Kaiser poll shows that Americans are still divided on it. A study from the American Action Forum also estimated that the ACA has cost 111 million paperwork burden hours.
2) Cyprus re-opened its banks on Thursday, with sharp limits on how much money can be withdrawn and taken out of the country. This temporary stabilization comes at the end of a long week in which the head of the Bank of Cyprus resigned and Cyprus and the EU struck a last-minute bailout deal to save Cyprus from exiting the union.
3) North Korea ordered its artillery units to be ready to strike U.S. and South Korean military bases and severed its only line of communication with the South Korean military. The U.S. flew two B-2 bombers over South Korea on Thursday as part of a drill/not-so-subtle sign of deterrence.
4) President Obama signed the continuing resolution (CR) bill that will keep the government funded through the end of FY2013. It kept the sequester cuts in place.
5) North Dakota’s governor signed a bill banning abortion as soon as a heartbeat is detected, which can be as early as six weeks – the most restrictive abortion law passed so far.
6) A judge approved the merger of American Airlines (AA) and US Airways, a move that would make AA the world’s largest airline. The judge did not approve the $20 million severance package for the CEO of AA’s parent company, AMR Corp. The merger still needs approval from the DOJ antitrust regulators and US Airways shareholders before it is finalized.
7) Economic indicators showed positive signs for the U.S.’ continuing recovery: durable goods jumped 5.7 percent in February and home prices rose 8.1 percent in January. However, consumer confidence fell in March, possibly due to concerns over the sequester.
An embryonic heartbeat can sometimes be detected even earlier than six weeks into pregnancy (which is only 4 weeks after conception, and often is before a women will even know that she is pregnant). On the same day, Gov. Dalrymple also signed two other bills related to abortion. One would ban abortions based on genetic defects. Another would require all physicians who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital, which the director of the only abortion clinic in North Dakota has said will force the clinic to close because the requirements are impossible to satisfy.
Finally, the North Dakota House and Senate both passed a bill that would amend the state’s constitution to give fertilized eggs the same rights as U.S. citizens. It will most likely go to citizen referendum in November.