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VA backpedals on gender reassignment surgery

(WNS)–Citing a lack of funding, the Department of Veterans Affairs has backpedaled on a proposed rule change that would have covered sex-change surgeries for transgender veterans. But the agency pledged in a statement to “continue to explore regulatory change in the medical benefits package when appropriate funding is available.” Transgender advocates vowed not to abandon efforts to get the expensive surgeries covered. “Even though they are changing their minds right now, there’s going to be a way and we’re going to find that way. … We’re not going to be set back,” Leila Ireland, a transgender soldier who served in the Army as a man and was medically retired last year, told The proposed regulation changes are due out Dec. 5 and would have included gender reassignment surgery, but the VA did not have a plan for funding the procedures, a requirement President Barack Obama signed as an executive order in 2011.


Dylann Roof found guilty on all counts


(WNS)–After just two hours of deliberation, a jury on Dec. 15 found Dylann Roof guilty in the June 2015 shooting that killed nine African-Americans at a Charleston, S.C., church. Roof was convicted on all 33 federal charges, including using a firearm to commit murder, violating civil rights, obstructing the free exercise of religion, and other hate crime–related offenses. Eighteen of the charges carry the death penalty. The jurors will return in January for the penalty phase, when they will decide whether to sentence Roof to death or life in prison.


Christian print shop owner back in court


(WNS)–Kentucky print shop owner Blaine Adamson went back to court Dec. 13 to defend his right of conscience and free speech. The Kentucky Court of Appeals must now decide whether the business owner can be compelled to print messages that violate his Christian convictions.

Adamson, owner of Hands on Originals in Lexington, Ky., won his case in the lower courts last year when a circuit court judge threw out a complaint accusing Adamson of refusing service to a gay customer. But victory was fleeting. The Lexington-Fayette Urban County Human Rights Commission and Gay and Lesbian Service Organization (GLSO) appealed the decision, continuing to demand Adamson produce T-shirts with messages contrary to his deeply held convictions regarding God’s design for sex.


CDC reports abortion rate at all-time low

(WNS)–The number of women and girls seeking abortions in the United States dropped by one-fifth between 2004 and 2013, a new report shows. The abortion rate is the lowest it’s been since 1969 when the government started tracking the procedure. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released its 2013 abortion surveillance in late November. It shows a 20 percent drop in total abortions since 2004, another tick in the decades-long downward trend. Pro-life leaders see the new data as more proof the pro-life movement has changed public opinion about abortion.

Oklahoma mandates pro-life signs in public facilities


(WNS)–Within a year, restrooms in Oklahoma’s motels, medical facilities, and restaurants may contain signs encouraging pregnant women to carry their babies to term. On Dec. 13, by an 8-1 vote, the Oklahoma State Department of Health approved regulations requiring all department-licensed facilities to place specially worded signs in their public restrooms. The new rules would even apply to Oklahoma’s abortion centers. The regulations, set to take effect Jan. 1, 2018, are part of requirements outlined in Oklahoma’s Humanity of the Unborn Child Act. Both the House and Senate passed the law by overwhelming margins, and Gov. Mary Fallin signed it into law June 6.


New report details abortion center safety violations


(WNS)–Abortion centers in the United States often are far from safe and sanitary, according to a recent report by the pro-life group Americans United for Life. The 140-page report cites 1,400 health and safety violations given to 227 abortion centers in 32 states between 2008 and 2016. It also tells 11 stories of maternal injury or death due to abortion. Examples of health and safety violations gleaned from public records include rusty, blood-encrusted surgical instruments; failure to teach employees how to properly wash their hands; allowing administrative assistants or other unqualified persons to help with abortion procedures or take blood pressure in the recovery room; and failure to keep medical equipment like defibrillators and sterilizers calibrated.


Senate calls for prosecution of Planned Parenthood


(WNS)–Senate Judiciary Republicans asked the FBI and Department of Justice on Dec. 13 to investigate possible criminal activity from Planned Parenthood affiliates and several fetal tissue transfer companies. “I don’t take lightly making a criminal referral,” said Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa., Senate Judiciary Committee chairman. “But, the seeming disregard for the law by these entities has been fueled by decades of utter failure by the Justice Department to enforce it. And, unless there is a renewed commitment by everyone involved against commercializing the trade in aborted fetal body parts for profit, then the problem is likely to continue.” Grassley and Republican committee staff members prepared a 547-page report from a review of more than 20,000 pages of documents from organizations and companies involved in the fetal tissue procurement industry. In a letter to FBI Director James Comey and Attorney General Loretta Lynch, Grassley asked, based on the findings, for a criminal investigation against the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, four of its larger affiliates, and three middlemen procurement businesses.

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