National Briefs

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Pediatricians group affirms support for teen abortion

(WNS)–Leading pro-life activists and medical professionals have spoken out against the American Academy of Pediatrics’ (AAP) reaffirmation of its position on adolescent abortion rights. The AAP, a coalition of 66,000 pediatricians, recently reiterated its long-standing position that while parents should be involved with their teens’ decisions, the right of adolescent girls (ages 15-19) to obtain abortion should trump parental rights to notification and consent. “A minor should not be compelled or required to involve her parents in her decision to obtain an abortion, although she should be encouraged to discuss the pregnancy with her parents and/or other responsible adults,” the AAP stated.


New Planned Parenthood videos get lawmakers’ attention

(WNS)–Lawmakers gathered in front of the U.S. Capitol on Feb. 2 to spotlight new undercover pro-life videos and to reiterate their commitments to defunding Planned Parenthood.  The videos, made by pro-life activist Lila Rose’s organization Live Action, show Planned Parenthood employees telling women seeking prenatal care to go somewhere else for their ultrasounds. “Oh, we won’t be able to tell you if it’s healthy or the gender,” an unnamed Planned Parenthood worker in Farmington, N.M., told an undercover activist. “We specialize in abortions. You know, that’s what our ultrasounds are for, to see how far along the, um, patient is.” Live Action said it reached out to 97 separate Planned Parenthood facilities across the country, and only found five willing to check on the health of the child. All the others required the women to schedule an abortion.


DeVos wins confirmation in historic vote

(WNS)–The Senate confirmed Betsy DeVos as education secretary by the narrowest of margins on Feb. 7, marking the first time in history a vice president had to break a tied vote on a Cabinet nomination. Democrats targeted DeVos early as a Cabinet nominee they wanted to scuttle. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., labeled DeVos “the least qualified nominee in a historically unqualified cabinet” and rallied his caucus to do everything it could to block her appointment. They held the floor through the wee hours of the morning delivering speech after speech to oppose the nomination. Their last-ditch effort followed a campaign launched by teacher unions and education groups to rally parents to jam senators’ phone lines and bombard them with email and social media messages.


New research debunks the ‘ball and chain’ myth

(WNS)–The “ball and chain” perception of marriage is a myth, according to a research brief by the Institute for Family Values released in February. Contrary to the common view among men that marriage is an “expensive encumbrance on their freedom and their sex lives,” new research finds married men have more money, better sex, and a longer life than their single peers. And the benefits do not apply to men just cohabiting.  Researchers Bradford Wilcox, a professor and the director of the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia, and Nicholas Wolfinger, a professor at the University of Utah, examined recent sociology studies focused on the cost and benefits of marriage for men. They found a clear takeaway: Marriage is good for men in “every conceivable measure.”


Trump reinstates pro-life ‘Mexico City Policy’

(WNS)–President Donald Trump followed in former President George W. Bush’s footsteps on Jan. 23 by reinstating a law blocking foreign aid to abortion providers. In Mexico City at a United Nations conference in 1984, the Reagan Administration introduced what became known as the “Mexico City Policy,” which required nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) receiving U.S. aid to sign agreements that they would not perform abortions. Just as former President Bill Clinton blocked the law when he took office in 1993, former President Barack Obama again overturned it in 2009. The repeal of funding to abortion-providing NGOs adheres lockstep to the pro-life platform on which Trump campaigned. Pro-abortion advocates have decried Monday’s order, but pro-lifers are cheering it.


Hawaii pro-life centers fight abortion referral mandate 

(WNS)–Hawaii state lawmakers hope to make their state the next to force pregnancy care centers to promote abortion. Twin bills in the state House and Senate would require the pro-life centers to post a pro-abortion statement in a “clear and conspicuous place” in their waiting areas or give it to women when they arrive. The statement reads: “Hawaii has public programs that provide immediate free or low-cost access to comprehensive family planning services including all FDA-approved methods of contraception, prenatal care, and abortion for eligible women. To determine whether you qualify, contact the appropriate Med-QUEST division eligibility office.”

If pregnancy care centers don’t cooperate with the state-sponsored message, they face a $500 fine the first time and $1,000 “for each subsequent offense.”


Iraqi lawmaker asks U.S. for more help fighting ISIS

(WNS)–While accepting a human rights award at the U.S. Capitol Feb. 8, the lone Yazidi member of Iraqi Parliament called on the United States and the world to do more to help her still-suffering people. “This is our tragedy that continues until now,” Vian Dakhil said. “It didn’t end.” Dakhil was in Washington to receive the Lantos Human Rights Prize for her work on behalf of Yazidis, a religious people group indigenous to northern Iraq. Her frantic plea for help more than two years ago on the Iraqi Parliament floor captured the world’s attention and led Islamic State (ISIS) to name her its “most wanted” woman.

Trump’s stance on LGBT order stuns religious liberty advocates

 (WNS)–The White House confirmed on Jan. 31 President Donald Trump will not overturn the Obama administration’s 2014 LGBT executive order for federal contractors that limits how religious groups that do not approve of homosexuality can work in government. “The president is proud to have been the first ever GOP nominee to mention the LGBTQ community in his nomination acceptance speech, pledging then to protect the community from violence and oppression,” according to a White House statement released early this morning. “The executive order signed in 2014, which protects employees from anti-LGBTQ workplace discrimination while working for federal contractors, will remain intact at the direction of President Donald J. Trump.”


Elderly patients at risk of forced starvation in Oregon

(WNS)–Oregon pro-lifers are fighting a bill in their state’s Senate that could allow the starvation or dehydration of patients with dementia or mental illness—without their prior written consent. S.B. 494, introduced by a judiciary committee, appears at first simply to update the state’s advance directive laws. But it allows a patient’s representative to remove undefined “life-sustaining procedures” if the patient has “a progressive illness,” has stopped talking, and cannot recognize family members. Patients would no longer need an advance directive, since an authorized guardian, spouse, a majority of their children, their parents, a friend, or if none is available, an attending physician can order the withdrawal of “life-sustaining procedures.”

Trump nominates Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court

(WNS)–President Donald Trump has nominated 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Neil Gorsuch, 49, to fill former Justice Antonin Scalia’s seat. In doing so, Trump fulfilled a campaign promise to pick a nominee in the mold of Scalia, who died almost exactly a year ago. Trump also picked a judge who was previously confirmed by a unanimous vote in the Senate. Gorsuch, according to an unscientific Mercer University School of Law study, was the second-most similar to Scalia of the 21 judges on Trump’s list for possible nominations. He also knew Scalia personally, and many compare his lively writing style to Scalia’s. “This may be the most transparent judicial selection process in history,” Trump said, referring to his list of 21 potential nominees. “I am a man of my word.”

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