1. It’s Joe Manchin’s Moment, By William McGurn, The Wall Street Journal, March 2, 2021, Pg. A15, Opinion
Will Sen. Joe Manchin nix President Biden’s choice to head the Department of Health and Human Services?
In a Senate split 50-50 along party lines, the Democrat from West Virginia already doomed Neera Tanden’s nomination as director of the Office of Management and Budget when he came out against her. Mr. Manchin’s opposition to a $15-an-hour minimum wage likewise helped force it off the Covid-19 relief bill. The question now is whether he really means to serve as a check on the Biden administration, or whether bringing down Ms. Tanden was a token act designed to buy him a pass for supporting more-extreme picks such as Xavier Becerra, the California culture warrior tapped for health secretary.

The pity is that the focus on Mr. Becerra’s left-wing priorities and lack of healthcare experience deflects attention from the strongest reason for not confirming him. This is his troubling record on the religious-liberty protections in the Constitution, which every cabinet member is sworn to support and defend. Surely it is possible to find a health secretary who checks all the left-wing boxes but doesn’t have a record of steamrolling the Constitution when a religious minority gets in his way.

Here’s a question for Mr. Manchin: If Ms. Tanden was unfit because she’s said mean things about senators on Twitter, what about a nominee who’s shown an aggressive disdain for a fundamental First Amendment protection?
2. Becerra as HHS Chief Would Undo Conscience Protections, By Grazie Pozo Christie, Real Clear Politics, March 2, 2021, Opinion
Religious health care providers have a robust and lengthy history of providing quality care to people from all walks of life. Here at home, they have been on the front lines of the COVID pandemic, serving vulnerable populations such as the homeless and prisoners suffering from HIV, and they care for victims of sex trafficking, opioid addiction, and gang violence. Abroad, they serve in war zones and refugee clinics, with some even contracting Ebola while treating patients during the Liberia outbreak. But President Biden’s pick of California Attorney General Xavier Becerra to lead his administration’s Health & Human Services Department is a polarizing choice for a president who promised unity. 
Becerra has a long history of hostility towards doctors and nurses whose deeply held religious beliefs compel them to abstain from things like referring patients for abortion or filling scripts for abortion-inducing drugs.   
Becerra has also led the attack on crucial federal regulations protecting medical professionals from choosing between their career and their conscience. These regulations do nothing more than ensure that longstanding, bipartisan conscience protections in federal law are actually enforced by HHS. 

In a big, diverse country like ours, there is more than enough room to ensure that everyone will receive the care they need without forcing doctors to perform procedures that are inconsistent with their faith and best medical judgment.
America’s medical heroes deserve our respect for their brave service; they should not be punished for their religious beliefs. Nor should Americans’ access to health care suffer simply because of a person’s deeply held religious beliefs. But that’s Becerra’s track record. We don’t need an anti-conscience culture warrior to lead our nation’s health efforts.
Dr. Grazie Pozo Christie is a policy adviser for The Catholic Association.
3. New Orleans Archdiocese warns Catholics to avoid ‘morally compromised’ Johnson & Johnson vaccine, By Jaclyn Peiser, The Washington Post, March 2, 2021, 5:24 AM
“The archdiocese must instruct Catholics that the latest vaccine from Janssen/Johnson & Johnson is morally compromised as it uses the abortion-derived cell line in development and production of the vaccine as well as the testing,” the Archdiocese of New Orleans said in a statement on Friday.
The decision could put the archdiocese in conflict with the Vatican and Pope Francis, who have been aggressively pro-vaccine. Last December, the Vatican approved the use of vaccines “that have used cell lines from aborted fetuses in their research and production process,” adding that it’s “morally acceptable,” although the pope has yet to specifically address the Johnson & Johnson shot.
4. Senate confirms nominee who supported transgender athletes’ participation in women’s sports, By Catholic News Agency, March 1, 2021, 4:20 PM
The Senate on Monday voted to confirm President Biden’s nominee for education secretary, who had supported males identifying as transgender females to participate in girls’ athletics.
Miguel Cardona, Connecticut’s education commissioner, was confirmed on Monday by a vote of 64 to 33. At his Feb. 4 confirmation hearing, he said that male athletes identifying as transgender females should be allowed to play girls’ sports.
Questioned by Sen. Rand Paul (R-Kent.) about the matter at his confirmation hearing, Cardona repeatedly stated that it “is the legal responsibility of schools to provide opportunities for students to participate in activities, and this includes students who are transgender.”
5. COVID-19 bill OK’d without Hyde language to prevent funding of abortion, By Julie Asher, Catholic News Service, March 1, 2021
Over a dozen nonprofit organizations, including Catholic Charities USA, praised the American Rescue Plan passed by the U.S. House early Feb. 27 for including “several provisions of importance to the charitable nonprofit sector.”

However, on the House floor ahead of the vote — which came at 2 in the morning (EST) — Rep. Chris Smith, N.J., criticized Pelosi and the House Rules Committee for refusing to allow a vote on an amendment to add language to the bill “to ensure that taxpayers aren’t forced to subsidize abortion,” as provided by the long-standing Hyde Amendment.
The Hyde Amendment, reenacted every year for 45 years, outlaws federal tax dollars from directly funding abortion except in cases of rape, incest or when the life of the woman would be endangered.

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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