1. Antiabortion activists gather on the Mall for the March for Life today. 

By Julie Zauzmer, The Washington Post, January 19, 2018, 6:00 AM

Thousands of activists opposing abortion will gather on the Mall today for the annual March for Life.

The march — which typically draws busloads of Catholic school students, a large contingent of evangelical Christians and poster-toting protesters of many persuasions — falls each year around the anniversary of the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that recognized a legal right to abortion and intends to pressure Congress and the White House to limit legal access to the procedure.

The marchers will gather for a noon rally Friday east of the Washington Monument, where Trump’s appearance via satellite will be included  among a slate of speakers, including House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.). Then they will march east on Constitution Avenue to the U.S. Supreme Court. Organizers plan for the march, and the associated street closures, to last from 1:15 to 3:30 p.m. Parts of F and Seventh streets NW will also be closed in the morning into the early afternoon, as throngs of marchers arrive via the Gallery Place, Archives and Smithsonian Metro stations.


2. Pope shocks Chile by accusing sex abuse victims of slander.

By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press, January 19, 2018, 2:22 AM

Pope Francis accused victims of Chile’s most notorious pedophile of slander Thursday, an astonishing end to a visit meant to help heal the wounds of a sex abuse scandal that has cost the Catholic Church its credibility in the country.

Francis said that until he sees proof that Bishop Juan Barros was complicit in covering up the sex crimes of the Rev. Fernando Karadima, such accusations against Barros are “all calumny.”

The pope’s remarks drew shock from Chileans and immediate rebuke from victims and their advocates. They noted the accusers were deemed credible enough by the Vatican that it sentenced Karadima to a lifetime of “penance and prayer” for his crimes in 2011.


3. Pope Accuses Sex Abuse Victims in Chile of Slandering Bishop.

By Pascale Bonnefoy and Austin Ramzy, The New York Times, January 19, 2018

Pope Francis has accused abuse victims in Chile of slandering a bishop who they say protected a pedophile priest, upending his efforts to rehabilitate the Catholic Church’s reputation while visiting South America.

Francis told reporters Thursday there was not a shred of evidence against Bishop Juan Barros Madrid, who victims of the Rev. Fernando Karadima, Chile’s most notorious priest, have accused of being complicit in his crimes.

The pope’s comments set off a storm in Chile, raising questions about his commitment to repairing the damage from sexual abuse scandals and improving the decline in the church’s image and following in the traditionally devout country.


4. Conscience protections for healthcare workers: New HHS civil rights division charged with protecting health-care workers with moral objections.

By Ariana Eunjung Cha and Juliet Eilperin, The Washington Post, January 19, 2018, Pg. A1

A new civil rights division within the Department of Health and Human Services will protect health-care workers who refuse to provide services that run counter to their moral or religious convictions, the Trump administration announced Thursday.

This office will consider complaints from doctors, nurses and others who feel they have been pressured by employers to “perform, accommodate or assist with” procedures that violate their beliefs. If a complaint about coercion or retribution is found to be valid, an entity receiving federal dollars could have that funding revoked.

The administration’s move marks the resurgence of religious liberty advocates within the federal government and represents its latest effort to elevate “conscience protections” within the health care realm. Conservative groups welcomed the action while critics warned it could lead to discrimination on the basis of sex as well as gender identity and sexual orientation.


5. Abortion is no civil right. 

By Michael Gerson, The Washington Post, January 19, 2018, Pg. A23

Forty-five years after Roe v. Wade was decided, the right to abortion that the Supreme Court discerned remains controversial and disputed.

The expectation of legal abortion is deeply embedded in U.S. law and practice. Many states were lifting restrictions on the procedure even before Roe. Justice Harry Blackmun’s landmark decision seized upon an existing social trend.

But the Supreme Court created a legal regime more extreme than the consensus.

Why does this issue refuse to fade from our politics? One reason concerns Roe itself, which was (as Justice Byron White put it in his dissent) “an exercise in raw judicial power.”… Fiat replaced deliberation and democratic legitimacy. This was a recipe for resentment and reaction.

But judicial fiat can’t be a sufficient explanation…. And the explanation is rather simple: All the great civil rights movements have been movements of inclusion.

The abortion rights movement, in contrast, is a movement of autonomy. Its primary appeal is to individual choice, not social inclusion.

It is the antiabortion movement that appeals to inclusion. It argues for a more expansive definition of the human community. It opposes ending or exploiting one human life for the benefit of another. There are heart-rending stories that prevent the simplistic application of this approach. But most of the antiabortion men and women I know have the genuine and selfless motivation of trying to save innocent lives.

Both of these priorities — autonomy and inclusion — are strongly present in U.S. history. The abortion debate falls along this enduring divide, producing a social conflict that will only be managed, not settled.


6. Protect Pregnancy Resource Centers: The Supreme Court is set to decide whether you can force pro-lifers to promote abortion.

By Ashley McGuire, Ashley McGuire is a senior fellow with The Catholic Association and the author of “Sex Scandal: The Drive to Abolish Male and Female.” US News & World Report, January 19, 2018, 6:00 AM, Opinion

But despite a growing number of Americans who view abortion as immoral and the rise of the most anti-abortion generation in recorded history, the abortion lobby is now using its clout and war chest to threaten pregnancy resource centers. Their lawyers are going around the country and lobbying for bills that require centers devoted to saving unborn life to advertise and sometimes even refer for abortion.

In just a few weeks, the Supreme Court will consider the issue, as many other states like California and Illinois now have laws that threaten pregnancy resource centers. The case, National Institute of Family and Life Advocates v. Becerra, is about as plain a free speech case as they come.

That the abortion lobby is willing to push this all the way to the Supreme Court belies something sinister. Why harass the only other place a woman can go for an alternative to abortion if the abortion lobby’s mantra is choice? When Planned Parenthood is secure in its half-a-billion-dollar-a-year foothold, what is so threatening about the mom-and-pop pregnancy resource centers scattered throughout America? And what really is so problematic about men and women devoting their lives to lovingly helping women in crisis bring their babies into the world?

The problem is that love really does save lives, and the abortion lobby is in the highly profitable business of ending them.


7. Giving the smallest patients equal protection under the law.

By Chris Smith, Chris Smith, a Republican U.S. representative from New Jersey, is chairman of the congressional pro-life caucus, The Washington Times, January 19, 2018, Pg. B1

For several decades, babies have survived late term abortions. A Philadelphia Inquirer article 37 years ago (August 1981) called baby survival “The Dreaded Complication.”

The National Abortion Federation standard textbook for the abortion industry states, “Providers should consider the possibility of a live born fetus, particularly if fetal death is not induced prior to the procedure and the gestational age is 18 to 20 weeks or more Besides the emotional and ethical difficulties for patients, their partners and staff, a delivery with signs of life may have legal implications.”

The problem with existing law is enforcement — the lack of legal implications.

The Born Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act (H.R. 4712), sponsored by Rep. Marsha Blackburn, Tennessee Republican:

• Requires appropriate health care to be given to any child who survives an attempted abortion

The law prescribes that “any health care practitioner present at the time the child is born shall:

• Exercise the same degree of professional skill, care and diligence to preserve the life and health of the child as a reasonably diligent and conscientious health care practitioner would render to any other child born alive at the same gestational age.

• Following the exercise of skill, care and diligence ensure that the child born alive is immediately transported to a hospital.”


• It establishes strong criminal penalties for practitioners who violate this requirement.

• It establishes a civil right of action for the mother of the child, to enforce the law.

• It requires that the mother of the child born alive may not be prosecuted under this law.


8. GOP demands probe of ‘abortion bonds’.

By Stephen Dinan, The Washington Times, January 19, 2018, Pg. A4

Two Republicans in Congress are asking the government’s chief watchdog Thursday to investigate how many abortion clinics have tapped taxpayer money in the form of tax-exempt bonds to fund their operations.

Rep. Robert Pittenger of North Carolina and Sen. James Lankford of Oklahoma said they’ve come across at least four instances of abortion providers benefitting from municipal bonds — including construction of Planned Parenthood’s national headquarters in New York City.

But they said there are likely more instances they haven’t found, and they penned a letter asking the Government Accountability Office to do a complete study of what they call “abortion bonds.”

Federal taxpayer money is generally not allowed to be spent on elective abortions, but the two Republicans said the tax-exempt bonds appear to be a loophole.

State and local bonds are generally used to finance schools, roads and other infrastructure. Interest payments are tax-exempt and deemed secure, which make them attractive for investors — meaning lower interest rates.

9. New York’s Bid to Control Religious Schools: Local public districts would have the power to shut down private institutions.

By Avi Schick, Mr. Schick is a partner at Dentons, an international law firm. He previously served in New York state government as a deputy attorney general and as president of the Empire State Development Corp, The Wall Street Journal, January 19, 2018, Pg. A15, Opinion

Even ardent opponents of school choice accept that parents have the right to send their children to private schools. That may soon change in New York state, where education officials are preparing new guidelines to impose strict regulations on the instruction that religious and other private schools provide, while empowering local school districts to shutter those schools if they fail to meet state standards. The plan is not only ill-advised, it may end up costing the state billions in annual school aid to nonpublic schools.

Parents have had a legally recognized constitutional right to guide their children’s education for nearly a century.

The trade-off has always been that parents, not the state, must foot the bill for private education.

The new guidelines will upend the status quo by imposing additional instructional requirements and giving local school districts the power to shut down parochial and private schools deemed not to be “substantially equivalent.” Local officials will even gain the authority to initiate Family Court proceedings against parents whose children are enrolled in schools that don’t measure up.

But New York can’t have it both ways. If providing reimbursement for secular educational instruction at nonpublic schools amounts to an entanglement of church and state, then so does a regime in which the state mandates, inspects and approves those schools’ curricula. And if a private school teaches a state-approved curriculum using state-loaned textbooks, administers state-mandated tests, and passes state-required “substantial equivalence” inspection, shouldn’t the state pay for what the school teaches?

Albany bureaucrats are expected to issue the new guidelines in February. Before they do, they might want to consult their colleagues in the state Budget Division, who may soon have to write some very large checks.


10. Pope Francis just performed a historic wedding aboard the papal plane.

By Lindsey Bever, The Washington Post, January 18, 2018, 9:43 AM

Pope Francis just performed a wedding aboard the papal plane, a historic and unplanned moment near the end of his trip to Chile.

The midair ceremony Thursday for the two LATAM Airlines flight attendants came on the way from Santiago to the northern city of Iquique, according to the Italian news service ANSA.


11. Why Trump is targeting health workers’ religious objections.

By Sarah Pulliam Bailey, The Washington Post, January 18, 2018, 7:35 PM

The Trump administration announced Thursday a new division responsible for handling complaints from health-care workers who do not want to perform a medical procedure like an abortion or assisted death because it violates their religious or moral beliefs, a move that seemed to renew past culture war battles over “conscience protections.”

The new office, called the Conscience and Religious Freedom Division, is seen by many as a win for conservative religious groups that complained President Barack Obama’s administration did not prioritize religious freedom concerns. Critics, however, worry that the language is broad and could lead to discrimination.

Health and Human Services did not introduce any rules, but the new office will focus on reviewing complaints from medical professionals under existing laws.

The new enforcement initiative represents the administration’s latest effort to elevate religious liberty claims when such personal beliefs come into conflict with priorities like access to medical care.


12. For rival camps in abortion debate, a weekend to mobilize.

By David Crary, Associated Press, January 18, 2018, 5:25 PM

Activists on both sides of the abortion debate will be rallying and marching over the next few days in their annual show of force, while looking ahead to the coming year with a mix of combativeness and trepidation.

The events kick off Friday with the March for Life in Washington, the biggest yearly event for opponents of abortion. Organizers say Donald Trump will become the first sitting president to address the gathering, speaking live from the White House Rose Garden.

Abortion rights supporters plan a counter-protest Friday at the Supreme Court, followed by other weekend events marking Monday’s 45th anniversary of the high court’s Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion nationwide.


13. Does the Pro-Life Movement Have Science on Its Side?: Advocates are tracking new developments in neonatal research and technology—and transforming one of America’s most contentious debates. 

By Emma Green, The Atlantic, January 18, 2018

The first time Ashley McGuire had a baby, she and her husband had to wait 20 weeks to learn its sex. By her third, they found out at 10 weeks with a blood test. Technology has defined her pregnancies, she told me, from the apps that track weekly development to the ultrasounds that show the growing child. “My generation has grown up under an entirely different world of science and technology than the Roe generation,” she said. “We’re in a culture that is science-obsessed.”

Activists like McGuire believe it makes perfect sense to be pro-science and pro-life. While she opposes abortion on moral grounds, she believes studies of fetal development, improved medical techniques, and other advances anchor the movement’s arguments in scientific fact. “The pro-life message has been, for the last 40-something years, that the fetus … is a life, and it is a human life worthy of all the rights the rest of us have,” she said. “That’s been more of an abstract concept until the last decade or so.” But, she added, “when you’re seeing a baby sucking its thumb at 18 weeks, smiling, clapping,” it becomes “harder to square the idea that that 20-week-old, that unborn baby or fetus, is discardable.”

Scientific progress is remaking the debate around abortion.

These advances fundamentally shift the moral intuition around abortion. New technology makes it easier to apprehend the humanity of a growing child and imagine a fetus as a creature with moral status. Over the last several decades, pro-life leaders have increasingly recognized this and rallied the power of scientific evidence to promote their cause.

In many ways, this represents a dramatic reversal; pro-choice activists have long claimed science for their own side.

In their own way, both movements have made the same play: Pro-life and pro-choice activists have come to see scientific evidence as the ultimate tool in the battle over abortion rights. But in recent years, pro-life activists have been more successful in using that tool to shift the terms of the policy debate.

Ultimately, this is the pro-life movement’s reason for framing its cause in scientific terms: The best argument for protecting life in the womb is found in the common sense of fetal heartbeats and swelling stomachs. “The pro-life movement has always been a movement aimed at cultivating the moral imagination so people can understand why we should care about human beings in the womb,” said Snead, the Notre Dame professor. “Science has been used, for a long time, as a bridge to that moral imagination.”