1. Making permanent a lifesaving law The Hyde Amendment has saved more than 2 million Americans, By Chris Smith, The Washington Times, January 25, 2017, Pg. B4.

Forty years ago, Congress enacted the Hyde Amendment — a law that continues to this day to proscribe federal Medicaid funds from being used to subsidize abortion in most circumstances.

More than 20 peer-reviewed studies show that more than 2 million people are alive today because of Hyde.

A new Marist Poll released Jan. 23 found that a supermajority of Americans in the United States — 61 percent — oppose taxpayer funding for abortion — and only 35 percent support it.

Which is precisely what we seek to accomplish with enactment of HR 7. It would:

[1.] Make the Hyde Amendment and other current abortion funding prohibitions permanent and government-wide. (Soon after enactment of Hyde in 1976, other abortion funding “riders” were enacted into law. In 1983, for example, I authored the ban on funding abortion in the Federal Employees Health Benefits program. Most must be legislatively renewed each year. Again, HR 7 makes the funding restrictions permanent.)

[2.] Ensure the Affordable Care Act, until repeal, conforms with the Hyde Amendment.

Someday, future generations of Americans will look back and wonder how and why such a seemingly smart and enlightened society could have permitted more than 60 million children to be exterminated by abortion, often with government enabling and subsidy.

History will note, however, that millions struggled to protect the battered unborn child and were willing to endure any sacrifice, or any smear, for the least of these.

The Hyde Amendment has saved at least 2 million lives — all of whom are precious and irreplaceable. It’s time to make it permanent law.


2. The Latest: Pope to name delegate to run Knights of Malta, By Associated Press, January 25, 2017, 7:31 AM.

The Vatican says Pope Francis will name a pontifical delegate to run the embattled Knights of Malta, effectively taking over the sovereign lay Catholic order after its leader resigned in a bitter dispute with the pontiff over condoms.

The move marks an extraordinary intervention of one sovereign state — the Holy See — into the governance of another — the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, an ancient aristocratic order that runs a vast charity operation around the globe.

A statement from the Vatican said Francis accepted the resignation of the order’s grand master, Matthew Festing, which he had offered Tuesday.

The statement said the order’s governance would shift temporarily to the No. 2 “until the pontifical delegate is named.”


3. House passes bill banning taxpayer funding for abortion, By Bradford Richardson, The Washington Times, January 24, 2017.

The Republican-controlled House on Tuesday passed legislation prohibiting taxpayer dollars from financing abortions or health care plans covering them.

The No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion and Abortion Insurance Full Disclosure Act of 2017, sponsored by Rep. Chris Smith, New Jersey Republican, essentially codifies the Hyde Amendment, a rider that prohibits federal funds from being used to pay for abortions that has been approved by Congress every year since 1976.

Speaker Paul Ryan, Wisconsin Republican, said the bill “protects the conscience of American taxpayers by ensuring that not a single dollar of their hard-earned money goes to fund abortions,”

He said the legislation is a reminder that “defending all of our people — especially the defenseless — must be our top priority if we want to be a good and moral nation.”

“We are a pro-life Congress,” the speaker added.

Codifying the Hyde Amendment became a top priority for the pro-life movement last year after Democrats came out against the provision in their platform for the first time in party history.

An identical version of the bill was passed by the House in 2011.

Ashley McGuire, senior fellow with The Catholic Association, said there is broad public support for ending taxpayer funding of abortion.

“In passing the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act, the House of Representatives reflects the will of their electors to permanently end the subsidization of the abortion industry,” Ms. McGuire said in a statement. “Poll after poll continues to find that hardworking Americans don’t want to be complicit with an industry that preys on vulnerable women and children. This is an important and symbolic step of a new Congress dedicated more than ever to protecting life.”


4. House Republicans pass bill that would block D.C. funding for abortion, By Jenna Portnoy and Aaron C. Davis, The Washington Post, January 24, 2017, 8:12 PM.

House Republicans on Tuesday passed a bill, by a vote of 238 to 183, that would prevent the District from using local tax dollars to subsidize abortion services for low-income women.

The bill came up for a vote Tuesday in time for abortion opponents’ annual march on the mall.

One of the speakers will be Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.), the House sponsor of the bill, who noted that congressional authority puts the city’s laws in play like nowhere else. Otherwise, he said, he would go after the states, too.

“We do have a constitutional jurisdiction,” he said. “The children here are just as important as children everywhere. If we could reach states, I would be doing it. This bill would have had it in there.”

The bill could make permanent the Hyde amendment, which some members noted is already effectively the law because it is attached to annual appropriations bills.

In addition to blocking federal Medicaid dollars from funding for abortion, the bill says plans associated with the Affordable Care Act — or the program Republicans come up with to replace it — cannot cover abortion.


5. Anti-Abortion Group Releases Video Targeting Planned Parenthood, By Jonah Engel Bromwich, The New York Times, January 24, 2017.

An anti-abortion group released a video this week purporting to show that Planned Parenthood does not offer comprehensive prenatal services, an accusation that the women’s health organization said deliberately misrepresented its mission.

The group, Live Action, said that of 97 Planned Parenthood centers it had contacted, only five said they provided prenatal care, one of the many medical services offered by the organization, which has approximately 650 health centers operated by 57 affiliates across the country.

In an interview on Tuesday, Mary Alice Carter, a spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood, pointed out the group’s history of being targeted with selectively edited videos, and said that the new video, which was released on Monday, tried to hold the organization to a standard it had not set for itself.

“It is safe to say that not every single one of our health centers provides prenatal care, and we’ve never said otherwise,” Ms. Carter said.

According to an annual report published in 2015, the most recent period for which information was available, eight Planned Parenthood affiliates of the 59 that existed at the time reported that they had provided 17,419 individual prenatal services.

Ms. Carter said that “100 percent” of the organization’s health centers would provide what would be considered an initial prenatal visit, which would include a referral for further prenatal services that would be available elsewhere.

The latest video was released days before a planned anti-abortion march was to take place in Washington.

Live Action, whose website asks visitors to sign a petition asking that taxpayer funds for Planned Parenthood be cut off, has targeted the organization for nearly a decade. Live Action’s founder and president, Lila Rose, who has said she started campaigning against abortion when she was 15 years old, has worked hand in hand with James O’Keefe, whose undercover videos helped to bring down Acorn, once the nation’s largest grass-roots community organizing group, after a sting operation.

Information on the Live Action video — when it was shot and by whom, for instance — was not immediately clear. A representative for Live Action could not be reached by phone on Tuesday.


6. Parsing Pope Francis’s puzzling take on religion in China, By John L. Allen Jr., Crux, January 24, 2017.

Although most reaction to Pope Francis’s latest blockbuster interview has focused on his comments on political populism and Donald Trump, religious freedom advocates may find his words about China distressing, especially the suggestion that one can “practice religion” there.

Yet for all those who care about the cause of religious freedom around the world, there’s another portion of the interview that’s likely to raise eyebrows and, perhaps, generate some consternation – what Francis had to say about China.

What he said was …“In China the churches are full … one can practice religion in China.”

Nevertheless, the fact that Pope Francis appeared to suggest that the climate for religious freedom in China is basically positive likely will irritate, even outrage, people who know the reality, and who have been working on behalf of the country’s religious minorities.

To begin with, the first part of the pope’s statement, that churches are full, is empirically accurate. Christianity has been growing like gangbusters in China, to the extent that at some point in the not-too-distant future observers expect it to be home to the single largest Christian population anywhere in the world.

On what Francis said about the ability to practice one’s religion, however, the situation is considerably more complicated than the pope’s simple statement suggested, and it is a bit puzzling that he didn’t at least acknowledge the challenges.

In its most recent annual report, the United States Commission for International Religious Freedom recommended that China be designated a “country of particular concern,” meaning one of the world’s worst violators when it comes to respecting the right to religious liberty.

Here’s what the 2016 report found, covering the preceding year.

“China’s severe religious freedom violations continued in 2015,” it said. “During the past year, as in recent years, the central and/or provincial governments continued to forcibly remove crosses and bulldoze churches; implement a discriminatory and at times violent crackdown on Uighur Muslims and Tibetan Buddhists and their rights; and harass, imprison, or otherwise detain Falun Gong practitioners, human rights defenders, and others.”

Of course, Francis may be engaged in that time-honored Vatican strategy of playing the long game, playing down provocative rhetoric in order to advance the relationship with Beijing, ideally affording Rome greater leverage to achieve positive change. Further, the pope may be concerned that Christians on the ground in China would be the ones to pay the price should he indulge in finger-pointing and denunciations.