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Planned Parenthood eschews federal funding to continue abortion referrals

Washington D.C., Jul 19, 2019 / 12:31 am (CNA).- As a new regulation takes effect, barring Title X recipients from making abortion referrals, Planned Parenthood has reportedly decided to forego the federal funds in order to continue directing women to abortion.

“We are not going to comply with a regulation that would require health care providers to not give full information to their patients,” Jacqueline Ayers, the group's top lobbyist, said Tuesday as reported by ABC News.

The Trump administration announced July 15 that parts of the Protect Life Rule, which prohibits recipients of Title X family planning funds from referring or performing abortions, will go into effect immediately. Clinics that provide “nondirective counseling” about abortion may still receive funds.

Pro-life advocates have praised the regulations as a commonsense way to ensure enforcement of already-existing rules against taxpayer money being used for abortions.

“A strong majority of Americans have consistently voiced their opposition to taxpayer funding of abortion – it is even unpopular among Democrats and self-described pro-choice Americans,” said Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the pro-life organization Susan B. Anthony List last week.

“Without reducing Title X funding by a dime, the Protect Life Rule simply draws a bright line between abortion and family planning, stopping abortion businesses like Planned Parenthood from treating Title X as their private slush fund.”

The Protect Life Rule will strip about $60 million in federal funding from Planned Parenthood, whose clinics both refer for abortion services and are co-located with abortion facilities. Planned Parenthood presently receives about one-fifth of the total amount of Title X funds distributed and serves about 40 percent of all clients who benefit from Title X.

Title X does not pay for abortions, but recipients have in the past been able to refer patients for abortion.

The Department of Health and Human Services informed Title X fund recipients on July 15 that they will no longer be permitted to refer mothers for abortions, and must keep finances separate from facilities that provide abortions.

Planned Parenthood described the court’s decision as “devastating” and “crushing news,” though the organization remains eligible to receive $500 million in other federal funding.

As of March next year, abortion facilities will no longer be allowed to co-locate with clinics that receive Title X money.

HHS received $4.1 million in Title X funds in April to disburse to almost 70 service sites, many of which are Planned Parenthood affiliates, The Hill reports.

The rule is being challenged in federal court, but the administration says there is currently no legal obstacle to enforcing it, ABC News reports.

Title X is a federal program created in 1965 that subsidizes family-planning and preventative health services, including contraception, for low-income families. It has been frequently updated and subject to new regulations.

An independent family planning provider in Maine announced that it too would continue to refer for abortions and eschew federal funding.

Planned Parenthood’s president Dr. Leana Wen parted ways with the organization earlier this week, saying her employment had been ended due to “philosophical differences” with the board “over the direction and future of Planned Parenthood.”

Wen noted that when she was interviewed for the role of president, she asked the search committee whether they viewed the organization primarily as an advocacy organization “with medical services that are necessary to strengthen its impact” or as a health care organization “with advocacy as a necessary vehicle to protect rights and access.”

Wen said that she firmly believes Planned Parenthood to be fundamentally about health care, and has spent her eight months as president focusing on patient care and the promotion of reproductive rights as health care.

The board, however, wanted to move in a different direction, emphasizing abortion advocacy as their fundamental mission, she said.

Wen was appointed head of Planned Parenthood in September 2018, following the 12-year presidency of Cecile Richards. Political organizer Alexis McGill Johnson has been named as acting president.

 

Mexican bishop considers life sentence for 'El Chapo' to be just

Chilpancingo, Mexico, Jul 18, 2019 / 11:01 pm (CNA).- The bishop of one of Mexico's most violent areas has said that Wednesday's sentencing of drug lord Joaquín Guzmán Loera to life in prison plus 30 years is proper and prudent.

Guzmán, known as “El Chapo”, is a fomer head of the Sinaloa Cartel. He was sentenced July 17 by a judge in New York, after having been found guilty of 10 charges, including drug trafficking and money laundering.

“I believe there is justice by God and human justice,” Bishop Salvador Rangel Mendoza of Chilpancingo-Chilapa told ACI Prensa, CNA's Spanish language sister agency.

“I believe he was properly judged. I have more confidence in American laws than Mexican, and I believe that they judged it to be prudent to give him life in prison plus 30 years,” Bishop Rangel stated.

Guzmán's sentence “is the fruit of the criminal acts he committed, and in particular I believe this should help many other criminals to see that sooner or later they will have to face justice and the we all have to answer for the evil deeds we have done,” the bishop said.

“I believe it's a just sentence given to that man and especially so it's an example for everyone else.”

“Hopefully this will also rein in crime a bit here in Mexico,” he added.

Guzmán had been captured by Mexican authorities in 2014, but escaped from a maximum security prison in July 2015. He was re-captured in Junary 2016, and extradited to the US in 2017.

In addition to his prison sentence, Guzmán was also ordered to pay $12.6 billion in forfeiture.

The Department of Justice said that the drug trafficker's trial brought out the methods used by the Sinaloa Cartel to transport tons of drugs to the United States as well as the violence the organization  “relied on to maintain its power throughout the region and beyond.”

Mexico faces much violent crime, often related to drug trafficking. According to the Citizen Council for Public Safety and Criminal Justice, 15 of the 50 most violent cities in the world during 2018 were in Mexico.

According to the Mexican daily El Universal, the first six months of 2019 have been the most violent on record in Mexico's history.

Bishop Rangel lamented that “the circumstances in Mexico are very tough. I believe what does the most harm is the corruption in the different levels of government, as well as in society itself, in business.”

“In the end, what's predominating is political and economic expediency, and I believe these criminal gangs will hardly go away as long as we don't get to the root of the problem: for example, the lack of opportunities in education and the economy,” he said.

For the Mexican prelate it is critical “to remake the social fabric, which has unraveled for us. And this, as we know, can only be achieved on the basis of principles and values.”

“We must shore up values within the family, the school, society, the Church. We must all aim at those values, because unfortunately we have generations lacking those values.”

After noting the violence with which organized crime tortures and murders it victims, Bishop Rangel stated that “we must teach them that we must love life, respect it, and care for it.”

Villanova historian says Chaput, Cordileone, and Strickland are ‘devout schismatics’

Denver, Colo., Jul 18, 2019 / 06:35 pm (CNA).- A Church historian at Philadelphia’s Villanova University has said three U.S. bishops are “devout schismatics” who try to diminish the authority of Pope Francis.

“They are devout in the sense that they publicly display their preference for a traditionalist Church and its devotions, such as the rosary. They are schismatics because they openly promote the undermining of the bishop of Rome among the Catholic faithful,” Massimo Faggioli wrote in a July 16 essay for La Croix magazine.

Faggioli made specific mention of three U.S. bishops among those he called “devout schismatics”: Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia, Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco, and Bishop Joseph Strickland of Tyler, Texas.

The historian said the “schismatic instincts” of those bishops were manifested in August 2018, when they “sided with Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, the former papal nuncio to Washington who called on Francis to resign.”

Viganò released on Aug. 25, 2018 a “testimony,” which, among other things, accused Pope Francis of ignoring warnings about former cardinal Theodore McCarrick’s sexual deviancy, and then raising McCarrick’s status within the Vatican.

After the testimony was released, Strickland issued a statement calling Viganò’s allegations “credible,” and Cordileone said he could confirm that some of Viganò’s statements were true.

Contrary to Faggioli’s claim, however, Chaput did not endorse Viganò’s allegations. A spokesman told reporters in August that Chaput “enjoyed working with Archbishop Viganò during his tenure as Apostolic Nuncio,” adding that Chaput found Viganò's time at the nunciature “to be marked by integrity to the Church.”

However, the spokesman said that Chaput could not comment “on Archbishop Viganò’s recent testimonial as it is beyond his personal experience.”

In July 19 comments to CNA, Faggioli said that he “did not state that the Archbishop called on Francis to resign or that he created a schism, only that he vouched for Viganò’s integrity. That seems like siding with Archbishop Viganò especially in the context of his continued silence about Viganò’s request for the resignation of the pope.”

Faggioli added that “Viganò put pressure on the pope to resign. One would expect a bishop - and especially an archbishop metropolitan who has twice received the pallium, a sign of special unity with Christ and of communion with the Successor of Peter - to defend the pope’s integrity and to say that no one has the right to ask the pope to resign.”

Shortly after Pope Francis was elected in 2013, Chaput told radio personality Hugh Hewitt that the election had made him “extraordinarily happy, because quite honestly, he is the man I was hoping would be Pope eight years ago.”

Two years later, Chaput hosted Pope Francis in Philadelphia for the 2015 World Meeting of Families. Reflecting in 2018 on that meeting, Chaput wrote that the pope’s “time with us was filled with powerful public moments and deeply grace filled intimate gatherings hallmarked by an overarching spirit of mercy, compassion, and charity.”

“[Pope Francis] has repeatedly challenged us to bear witness to Christ through concrete action—by serving the poor, by helping immigrants, by preserving families, and by protecting the sanctity of life. It’s the kind of challenge we can and should answer with a hearty yes each day,” Chaput added.

In his essay criticizing “devout schismatics,” Faggioli wrote that “dissent against this pope has become radicalized with schismatic instincts because this kind of political devotion is more about a partisan ideology than about the Church. Catholicism was exposed to ideological manipulation by those who do not really care for the Gospel, but who are more interested in a particular conservative political culture.”

Chaput, among those identified as a “devout schismatic,” has frequently emphasized his unwillingness to align with a political party, and criticized partisanship within the Church.

In 2016 he criticized Catholics, especially politicians, who accept “the transfer of our real loyalties and convictions from the old Church of our baptism to the new ‘Church’ of our ambitions and appetites,’ in order to achieve political or personal goals. he group of those who do so “cuts across...both major political parties,” Chaput said.

The Church's canon law defines schism, the charge Faggioli makes against the three bishops, as “the refusal of submission to the Supreme Pontiff or of communion with the members of the Church subject to him.”

 

Ed. note: This story was updated July 19 to include comments e-mailed to CNA by Faggioli.

 

UK is 'hijacking' N Ireland on abortion, bishops say

Armagh, Northern Ireland, Jul 18, 2019 / 06:01 pm (CNA).- The bishops of Northern Ireland noted their alarm Wednesday at the British parliament's passage of a bill that will legalize abortion and same-sex marriage in the region, highlighting the value of human life and the importance of devolution.

The House of Lords approved the Northern Ireland (Executive Formation) Bill July 17. It had passed the House of Commons the week prior.

“With the thousands of others who have voiced their concern in recent days, we wish to express our alarm at the unprecedented way in which the Westminster Parliament has used the Northern Ireland (Executive Formation) Bill to rush through legislation which will have a devastating impact on the right to life of unborn children,” read a July 17 statement from the four bishops whose dioceses include territory in Northern Ireland.

“The equal right to life, and love, of a mother and her unborn child is so fundamental to the common good of every society that citizens deserve the fullest participation in the democratic debate about the legislation which governs it. This also applies to decisions regarding the nature of marriage.”

They noted that “what is happening in Westminster during these days recklessly undermines this fundamental right of citizens and the principle of devolution at the heart of the Good Friday Agreement. It should be a matter of grave alarm for every citizen in Northern Ireland and all who cherish the right to life as the most fundamental of all human rights.”

The bishops urged prime minister Theresa May and her government “to move to overturn this hijacking of the Northern Ireland (Executive Formation) Bill for purposes for which it was never intended and to uphold the right of citizens in Northern Ireland, under the Good Friday Agreement, to decide these matters for themselves.”

They also asked that citizen in Northern Ireland “give expression to their commitment to the care of every mother and unborn child by asking their political representatives to ensure the equal right to life is upheld in our devolved legislation.”

The Northern Ireland (Executive Formation) Bill and its amendments legalizing abortion and same-sex marriage will take effect only if the Northern Ireland Assembly, which has been suspended the past two years due to a dispute between the two major governing parties, is not functional by Oct. 21.

The bill is meant to keep the region running in the absence of a functioning devolved government.

The House of Lords approved the amendment liberalizing abortion provision in Northern Ireland by a 182-37 vote.

May's government has said there will be an eight to twelve week consultation period to discuss how abortion provision is to be implemented.

The upper house also passed an amendment delaying the introduction of same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland until January 13, 2020, allowing “the government and the Northern Ireland civil service more time to make necessary changes to legislation as well as the essential operational changes.”

Lord Tebbit said the bill had been introduced poorly and was “fatally flawed,” calling for devolution to be repealed and for Westminster to “take over in an honest manner.”

The bill returned to the Commons July 18, where an amendment was added meant to keep a new prime minister, due to be announced July 22, from suspending parliament to push through a no-deal Brexit.

Liz Parsons, advocacy director for Life Charity, told The Catholic Universe that “This Bill with its abortion amendments is a vicious slap in the face of the people of Northern Ireland and their elected representatives at Westminster. It represents a mad opportunistic rush by allies of the abortion lobby to exploit the current absence of the Northern Ireland Assembly to bully the people of Northern Ireland into accepting abortion.”

“We urge all parties in Northern Ireland to do the decent thing and resist this undermining of devolution by Westminster and return to the table before 21st October in order to stop these dangerous abortion amendments,” Parsons added.

Liam Gibson, a SPUC representatives in Northern Ireland, said, “it is outrageous that MPs and peers from England, Scotland and Wales cared so little for the rule of law that an overwhelming majority were prepared to disregard the right of the people of Northern Ireland to maintain legislation which has saved the lives of over 100,000 children since 1967.”

He stated: “By ramming abortion on demand down our throats Parliament has torn-up the devolution settlement and is treating Northern Ireland as a colony.”

Michael Robinson, another SPUC representative, commented that “Upon leaving office next week, Theresa May will only be remembered as the Prime Minister who undermined devolution in Northern Ireland and ushered in one of the most ruthless abortion regimes in the world. Anyone who values human life must urge the new Prime Minister to refuse to implement this inhuman and unconstitutional law.”

May said in the past that abortion should be a devolved issue for Northern Ireland.

Abortion and same-sex marriage are both legal in both the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland. Elective abortion is legal in the rest of the United Kingdom up to 24 weeks, while currently it is legally permitted in Northern Ireland only if the mother's life is at risk or if there is risk of permanent, serious damage to her mental or physical health.

Bills to legalize abortion in cases of fatal fetal abnormality, rape, or incest failed in the Northern Ireland Assembly in 2016.

Northern Irish women have been able to procure free National Health Service abortions in England, Scotland, and Wales since November 2017.

The abortion amendment was introduced by Stella Creasy, a Labour MP who represents a London constituency. Earlier this year Creasy intended to propose an amendment to a draft Domestic Abuse Bill that would give the British parliament jurisdiction over abortion laws throughout the United Kingdom. However, the bill's scope was restricted to England and Wales by the Conservative government.

Creasy also introduced an amendment to the Northern Ireland (Executive Formation and Exercise of Functions) Act 2018 to repeal Northern Irish law on abortion and gay marriage, which was defeated.

New study suggests link between autism and gender dysphoria

London, England, Jul 18, 2019 / 05:30 pm (CNA).- A new study suggests a link between autism, autistic traits, and identifying as transgender or non-binary, raising new questions about the growing use of so-called “gender transition” procedures as a treatment for gender dysphoria.

The study, which was released July 14 and will appear in the September issue of the academic journal European Psychiatry, was led by Dr. Steven Stagg of Anglia Ruskin University in the United Kingdom. The study examined 177 people who identify as transgender, non-binary, or as the gender of their biological sex. 

A person who identifies as “non-binary,” which is also referred to as “genderqueer,” identifies as neither male nor female or on the male/female binary. A person who identifies as transgender identifies as the opposite sex than their biological sex. A transgender person may opt to undergo cross-sex hormonal or surgical treatments in order to better resemble the gender with which they identify.

Of the 177 people studied, four percent of those identifying their gender with their biological sex were diagnosed with autism. For the transgender or non-binary group, that figure rose to 14%. An additional 28% of the transgender or non-binary group exhibited traits that would result in an autism diagnosis, which the authors of the study say could mean that autism is potentially being underdiagnosed, particularly among girls.

Among the autistic traits identified by Stagg were a difficulty in empathizing, as well as “an overreliance on systematic, rule-based reasoning.”

"One of the striking findings was the number of individuals born female who met the cut off for autism spectrum disorder. This is particularly important given that individuals born female are twice as likely to be referred to gender identity clinics,” said Stagg. 

In England, girls make up 74% patients at the country’s only gender clinic for minors, Tavistock. In 2019, more than half the patients referred to Tavistock were under the age of 14. Data has shown that 2.8 girls are referred to Tavistock for every boy.

"People with autism are also more likely to seek unequivocal answers to the complex issues surrounding gender identity,” said Stagg. Given that the study also suggested that autism is underdiagnosed in girls, this could be contributed to the percentage of girls seeking gender reassignment.

The number of minor girls who have been referred to Tavistock has jumped from 32 in 2008-2009 to 1,740 in 2018-2019. In July, the UK government announced an inquiry into why so many young girls were seeking to change their gender. 

“The statistics we have been made aware of show that more and more young people, particularly girls, are using health services to explore changing their gender,” said Penny Mordaunt, Minister for Women & Equalities. 

“It is vitally important that we prioritize finding out why this is the case, making sure we gain an understanding of the driving factors behind this whilst doing everything we can to support these individuals and their families,” she said. 

Stagg suggested that gender clinics screen for autism before performing any sort of treatment, and then adapt their approach as necessary. 

While the Stagg study was small, it is not the first time that a link between autism and identifying as transgendered has been identified. A 2018 report from Slate noted that researchers began in the 1990s to study the co-occurence between gender dysphoria and autism spectrum disorder.

Slate reported a "growing consensus" in the medical community that there is a disproprortionate correlation between the two.

Ryan Anderson, a senior research fellow at the Heritage Foundation and the author of “When Harry Became Sally: Responding to the Transgender Moment” told CNA that this study is further proof of how little understanding there is about the best means of treating cases of gender dysphoria.

"This is another in an ever-growing list of studies which reveal just how little we know about the underlying causes of gender dysphoria,” said Anderson. 

“It should prompt people to exercise great caution before making any life-altering medical interventions on the bodies of young people," he added.

In June, the Vatican's Congregation for Catholic Education released a document warning against the “radical separation between gender and sex, with the former having priority over the later,” and the damage it was doing to society and individuals. 

“In all such [gender] theories, from the most moderate to the most radical, there is agreement that one’s gender ends up being viewed as more important than being of male or female sex,” the document stated.