1. Foes of Obama-Era Rule Work to Undo Birth Control Mandate.

By Robert Pear, The New York Times, July 11, 2017, Pg. A1

From the obscure perch of a backbench senator’s office, Katy Talento used to warn against what she saw as the health hazards of birth control pills — cancer, infertility and miscarriage. From his post at a Christian legal advocacy group, Matthew Bowman spent years attacking the requirement that most health insurance plans cover contraception under the Affordable Care Act.

Now on the inside — one at the White House, the other at the Department of Health and Human Services — Ms. Talento and Mr. Bowman have a clear path to prosecute their strong belief that birth control coverage should not be a mandate from Washington. Both are using arguments they honed over years of battle to ensure that a new rule, expected to be issued this month, to roll back the requirement can withstand legal challenge.

For some of the Trump administration officials tasked with reversing President Barack Obama’s legacy, the path forward has been somewhat rocky. Turning an ideological viewpoint into legislative or administrative policy able to pass legal muster can be difficult for Washington newcomers.

But the architects of the Trump contraceptive reversal, Ms. Talento, a White House domestic policy aide, and Mr. Bowman, a top lawyer at the Department of Health and Human Services, have the experience and know-how that others in the administration lack.


2. Pope Francis adds new pathway to sainthood.

By Associated Press, July 11, 2017, 7:34 AM PM

Pope Francis has added a fourth pathway to possible sainthood.

Until now, gaining consideration for sainthood in the Catholic Church required martyrdom, living a life of heroic values or — less frequently invoked — having a clear saintly reputation.

The Vatican announced Tuesday that the pope has issued a new law outlining a new route: people who lived a good Catholic life and who freely accepted a certain and premature death for the good of others.


3. Texas leads effort to end Planned Parenthood aid with federal OK.

By Bradford Richardson, The Washington Times, July 11, 2017, Pg. A1

With the effort to defund Planned Parenthood stalled at the federal level, Texas is spearheading a plan that could “open the floodgates” for states to strip taxpayer dollars from the abortion giant one by one.

Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican, sent a first-of-its-kind waiver to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services on June 28 asking the agency to approve federal funding for a state-administered family planning program that excludes abortion providers and their affiliates from participation.

If the Trump administration approves the request, Texas Right to Life legislative director John Seago said, it could set off a chain reaction of copycat programs in red states across the nation.


4. UK court sets new hearing in case of terminally ill baby.

By Caroline Spiezio, Associated Press, July 10, 2017, 8:30 PM

A British court on Monday gave the parents of 11-month-old Charlie Gard a chance to present fresh evidence that their terminally ill son should receive experimental treatment.

The decision came after an emotionally charged hearing in the wrenching case, during which Gard’s mother wept in frustration and his father yelled at a lawyer.

Judge Nicholas Francis gave the couple until Wednesday afternoon to present the evidence and set a new hearing for Thursday in a case that has drawn international attention.

But the judge insisted there had to be “new and powerful” evidence to reverse earlier rulings that barred Charlie from traveling abroad for treatment and authorized London’s Great Ormond Street Hospital to take him off life support.

The application came after both Pope Francis and President Donald Trump fueled international attention to the case, with hospitals in Rome and the U.S. offering to provide Charlie the experimental therapy.

The case pits the rights of parents to decide what’s best for their children against the authorities with responsibility for ensuring that people who can’t speak for themselves receive the most appropriate care.


5. Middle East Christians still face genocide — where is US relief?

By Dr. Grazie Pozo Christie, July 10, 2017, 5:20 PM

When the matter at stake is an ongoing genocide, response should be swift and decisive.  After all, the days and weeks are measured by the worst kinds of human suffering.

Indigenous Christians and other religious minorities are the targets of an ongoing genocide in Iraq and Syria, with violence spreading in surrounding regions.  Earlier this year the House of Representatives passed, unanimously, a resolution to provide relief to survivors of genocide committed by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) against Christians, Yazidis, and Muslim minorities, and it is hoped that a quick passage through the Senate will put it promptly on President Trump’s desk for signature.  It would also be wonderful if the remainder (roughly half) of the $5.6 billion earmarked for relief of refugees in the Middle East were allocated and disbursed.

The designation of the persecution of Christians, Yazidis, and other religious minorities by the European Union and the United States in 2016 as an ongoing genocide was meant as serious business. Genocide was officially defined in legal terms by the Genocide Convention … It means killing and seriously harming members of a group and “deliberately inflicting … conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction.”  

The designation is meant to be a spur to action to the world community of nations to intervene in the case of an ongoing situation, and to bring perpetrators to justice when the incident is over.

What is happening in the Middle East has, indeed, all the hallmarks of genocide, and echoes odious events in history.

The trouble is that although the United States has been generous in its support of the victims of Islamist violence in the Middle East, it has done so through the United Nations.  The money (over half of the $5.6 billion earmarked for humanitarian aid for Syrians has been sent to the U.N. since 2012) reportedly bypasses the victims of the genocide.  

H.R. 390, the bipartisan “Iraq and Syria Genocide Emergency Relief and Accountability Act,” requires the United States to abide by its own genocide designation and intervene in this humanitarian catastrophe.  Once passed by the Senate and signed by President Trump, the law will direct the administration to fund entities that are already effectively providing aid on-the-ground to these beleaguered people, and to address the needs and triggers that force them flee.  It also directs the administration to help bring those responsible to justice by collecting and preserving evidence that links ISIS to specific atrocities.

Every man, woman, or child who has fled from their home or been seriously harmed or killed in the Middle East is a tragedy, no matter their religion or ethnicity.  But the systematic campaign to eradicate Christianity from its ancestral home, and the violent persecution of other religious minorities reaches new heights of cruelty.  Intervening effectively to stop the genocide will put the United States on the right side of history, where our country should always be.