1. Lawmakers make Hyde Amendment top priority: Pro-lifers to strengthen provisions with Trump, By Bradford Richardson, The Washington Times, January 18, 2017, Pg. A1.

A congressional committee is taking up on its first full day in session under the Trump administration a stricter version of the Hyde Amendment that would be written into law instead of being attached to appropriations bills.

The Hyde Amendment bars federal funds from being used to pay for abortions and has been approved as a rider in every Congress since 1976. Codifying the measure is a top priority for the pro-life movement because the Democratic Party last year officially voiced support for using taxpayer dollars to pay for abortions.

The House Rules Committee will discuss HR7, the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion and Abortion Insurance Full Disclosure Act of 2017, on Monday. It is identical to legislation introduced by Rep. Christopher H. Smith, New Jersey Republican, that passed the House in 2015.

“There’s a growing recognition that abortion is violent,” Mr. Smith told The Washington Times. “Whether it’s by poison pill or dismemberment and other chemicals, the fact is there’s a trend, virtually every poll you look at, that says people don’t want public funding for abortion.”

Like the Hyde Amendment, HR7 would bar federal dollars from being used to pay for abortions or health care plans that cover them. The legislation also would prohibit abortions from being performed in federal facilities or by physicians in the employ of the federal government.
It contains exceptions for pregnancies resulting from rape and incest, and those that threaten the life of the mother.

Although the Hyde Amendment has received bipartisan support over the years, the Democratic Party amended its platform last year to call for the provision’s repeal. Presidential nominee Hillary Clinton voiced her opposition to the amendment on the campaign trail.


2. Planned Parenthood could be first casualty of Obamacare repeal efforts, By Kelsey Snell, The Washington Post, January 18, 2017, 6:00 AM.

In starting to roll back the Affordable Care Act, the GOP is also planning to target the country’s largest women’s health-care provider. Planned Parenthood could lose millions in dollars of reimbursements from Medicaid and other funding as soon as this spring, if the repeal effort advances.

President-elect Donald J. Trump’s pick to head the Health and Human Services department, Georgia Rep. Tom Price (R), is likely to be an ally — his ACA replacement bill prevents federal funds from going to health-care plans that cover abortions. A courtesy hearing on his nomination is set to start Wednesday before the Senate Health, Education and Labor Committee.

Planned Parenthood has responded by organizing a massive public outreach campaign aimed at convincing Congress that voters support the nonprofit group. Women’s rights groups have descended on the Capitol, and Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards is in the midst of a TV blitz. Two weeks ago, abortion rights advocates attempted to deliver more than 70,000 petitions to House Speaker Paul D. Ryan’s (R-Wis.) office.

House Republicans plan to base their attempt to cut the group’s funding on a 2015 measure to block Planned Parenthood from receiving Medicaid reimbursements for a year.

Public opinion on abortions has been mixed in recent years, but a majority of voters have consistently backed funding for Planned Parenthood.

Last year, a poll conducted by Politico and Harvard University found that 58 percent of voters thought the organization should receive federal funding, including 48 percent of Trump voters.


3. Pray That Pope Francis Re-Affirms Church Teaching on Marriage, By Archbishop Tomash Peta, Archbishop Jan Pawel Lenga, and Bishop Athanasius Schneider, Crisis, January 18, 2017.

Several particular Churches have issued or recommended pastoral guidelines with this or a similar formulation: “If then this choice [of living in continence] is difficult to practice for the stability of the couple, Amoris Laetitia does not exclude the possibility of access to Penance and the Eucharist. That signifies something of an openness, as in the case where there is a moral certainty that the first marriage was null, but there are not the necessary proofs for demonstrating such in the judicial process. Therefore, there is no reason why the confessor, at a certain point, in his own conscience, after much prayer and reflection, should not assume the responsibility before God and the penitent asking that the sacraments be received in a discreet manner.”

The previously mentioned pastoral guidelines contradict the universal tradition of the Catholic Church, which by means of an uninterrupted Petrine Ministry of the Sovereign Pontiffs has always been faithfully kept, without any shadow of doubt or of ambiguity, either in its doctrine or its praxis, in that which concerns the indissolubility of marriage.


4. New report: Abortions in US drop to lowest level since 1974, By David Crary, Associated Press, January 17, 2017, 8:49 AM.

Even as the election outcome intensifies America’s abortion debate, a comprehensive new survey finds the annual number of abortions in the U.S has dropped to well under 1 million, the lowest level since 1974.

The report, which counted 926,200 abortions in 2014, was released Tuesday by the Guttmacher Institute, a research group which supports abortion rights. It is the only entity which strives to count all abortions in the U.S.; the latest federal survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lacks data from California, Maryland and New Hampshire.

The total from 2014 represented a drop of 12.5 percent from Guttmacher’s previous survey, which tallied 1.06 million abortions in 2011. The decrease was spread nationwide; in only six states did abortions increase over the three-year span.

According to the report, the abortion rate was 14.6 abortions per 1,000 women aged 15-44, the lowest rate since abortion was legalized nationally in 1973 by the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision.

Following that ruling, the number of abortions in the U.S. rose steadily — reaching a peak of 1.6 million in 1990 — before starting a decline.

Guttmacher’s state-by-state breakdown showed big declines in abortions in some liberal states, such as California, that protect abortion rights, and also in some conservative states, such as Texas, that have passed laws to restrict abortions.

Jones noted that the majority of women who get abortions have low incomes, and nearly two-thirds are already parents.

The highest abortion rates were in the District of Columbia, New York, New Jersey, Maryland and Florida. The lowest rates were in Wyoming, Mississippi and South Dakota, states that had only one abortion clinic operating in 2014.

According to the report, the number of abortion clinics nationwide declined by 6 percent — from 839 in 2011 to 788 in 2014.


5. Another bishop says chastity key to Communion debate, By John L. Allen Jr., Crux, January 17, 2017.

In a new pastoral letter on the implementation of Amoris Laetitia, another Catholic bishop has concluded that the pontiff’s document on the family does not change the Church’s existing rules for the divorced and civilly remarried, and that Catholics in that situation may receive Communion only if they commit themselves to “complete chastity.”

“A civilly remarried couple, if committed to complete continence, could have the Eucharist available to them, after proper discernment with their pastor and making recourse to the sacrament of reconciliation,” wrote Bishop Steven Lopes, head of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter, a structure created to welcome former Anglican communities into the Catholic Church.