1. President to Launch Health-Care Agenda, By Stephanie Armour and Sabrina Siddiqui, The Wall Street Journal, January 27, 2021, Pg. A4
President Biden on Thursday will begin shaping his health-care agenda by lifting certain restrictions on abortion funding and relaunching Affordable Care Act insurance sign-ups, moving swiftly to reassemble components of the health law weakened by the former Trump administration, according to a person familiar with the planning.
Mr. Biden will sign executive orders directing the reopening of enrollment on the ACA’s federal exchanges and rescinding a Trump administration policy that blocked federal funds to nongovernmental agencies that provide abortion counseling or referrals, the person said.
Mr. Biden will also initiate a review of a Trump administration decision that cut off federal funding for family-planning organizations such as Planned Parenthood Federation of America, the person said. The Trump administration cut off funding to organizations that refer patients for abortions, and Planned Parenthood left the program known as Title X. An action related to Medicaid, a federal-state program for low-income and disabled people, is also expected.
2. Pope marking Holocaust warns another extermination possible, By Associated Press, January 27, 2021, 7:17 AM
Pope Francis marked Holocaust Remembrance Day on Wednesday by warning that warped ideologies can pave the way to another mass extermination.
Francis spoke off the cuff at the end of his weekly general audience, held in his private library because of coronavirus restrictions, to commemorate the 76th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp in Poland, where Nazis killed more than 1 million Jews and others.
3. Republican-controlled states advance bills to limit abortion, By Iris Samuels, Associated Press, January 26, 2021, 4:45 PM
Four new proposed abortion restrictions passed the state House Tuesday in Montana, one of several states where GOP gains are lending more momentum to prohibitions on the procedure.
The bills come as President Joe Biden looks to change course nationally on the issue, though the Supreme Court has a conservative majority that’s given hope to anti-abortion activists.

The Montana bills are not as severe as measures proposed in other states, including a bill in Arkansas that would criminalize abortion except to save a pregnant woman’s life. In South Carolina, a newly expanded GOP majority in the state Senate is seeking a ban on abortions after a fetal heartbeat can be detected — usually around six weeks after conception — except for pregnancies caused by rape or incest.

In Kansas last week, Republican state House lawmakers voted in favor of a measure to overturn a 2019 Kansas Supreme Court decision that declared access to abortion a “fundamental” right under the state’s Bill of Rights, sending the bill to a debate in the state Senate.

The [Montana] bill would ban abortion starting 20 weeks after a pregnant woman’s last menstrual period, except in cases of severe medical risks to the woman. Three other states have passed similar bans on abortion after 20 weeks, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a research group that supports abortion rights. But the law is only in effect in Mississippi, after the measures in Arizona and North Carolina were permanently prohibited by court order.
4. Members of Congress come out in support of Hyde Amendment, By Catholic News Agency, January 26, 2021, 9:30 AM
Nearly 200 members of Congress have signed a letter supporting bans on taxpayer funding of abortions.
On Tuesday, 197 House Republicans sent a letter to House and Senate leaders of both parties, in support of the Hyde Amendment and other pro-life “riders” that are attached to federal budget bills and which prohibit funding of abortions.
“We write to express our unified opposition to Congressional Democrats’ efforts to repeal the Hyde Amendment and other current-law, pro-life appropriations provisions,” the letter stated, which was led by House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) and Rep. Jim Banks (R-Ind.), chair of the Republican Study Committee.
5. Pro-abortion, pro-LGBT groups applaud confirmation of new Secretary of State, By Catholic News Agency, January 26, 2021, 1:15 PM
Pro-abortion and pro-LGBT groups applauded the Senate’s confirmation of Secretary of State nominee Antony Blinken on Tuesday.
Blinken, nominated to be the next Secretary of State by President Joe Biden, was confirmed to the position by the U.S. Senate on Tuesday, by a vote of 67-22. He served as deputy secretary of state under President Obama, from 2015-2017.
In response to Blinken’s confirmation, the groups Planned Parenthood Global and the Human Rights Campaign stated their approval on Tuesday.
On Tuesday, Planned Parenthood Global stated its expectation that Blinken’s State Department would be “supporting SRHR [sexual and reproductive health and rights] across foreign policy.”
6. Pope adds more women scholars to biblical commission, By Catholic News Service, January 26, 2021
Renewing the membership of the Pontifical Biblical Commission, a body of scholars that engages in research for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Pope Francis added two more women experts.
With the addition of Benedicte Lemmelijn, an Old Testament scholar from Belgium, and Maria Armida Nicolaci, a New Testament scholar from Italy, five women are now part of the 20-member commission.
7. Members of Congress push for end to the federal death penalty, By Catholic News Agency, January 26, 2021, 3:55 PM
Dozens of members of Congress are urging the Attorney General-designate to stop use of the federal death penalty.
In a letter to Attorney General-designate Merrick Garland on Tuesday, 45 members of the House—led by Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) and Adriano Espillat (D-N.Y.)—asked Garland to work with Congress on legislation to end the federal death penalty, once he is confirmed.
In addition, they asked Garland to take specific steps to halt or end use of the death penalty nationwide, including by revoking the Trump administration’s 2019 resumption of federal executions.

TCA Media Monitoring provides a snapshot from national newspapers and major Catholic press outlets of coverage regarding significant Catholic Church news and current issues with which the Catholic Church is traditionally or prominently engaged. The opinions and views expressed in the articles do not necessarily reflect the views of The Catholic Association.
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