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White House spokeswoman grilled on fungibility of Title X funding

Jen Psaki, White House Press Secretary. / EWTN News Nightly YouTube

CNA Staff, Apr 14, 2021 / 14:18 pm (CNA).

Earlier today, EWTN’s White House Correspondent Owen Jensen questioned White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki about the proposed reversal of the Trump administration’s Protect Life Rule.

 

 

EWTN News Nightly White House Correspondent, Owen Jensen:

So today, as you well know, the Biden administration and HHS started the reversal of the Trump administration’s ban on abortion referrals at Title 10, family planning clinics. For my first question, why does the Biden administration insist that prolife Americans pay for abortions and violate their conscience?

 

White House Press Secretary, Jen Psaki:

Well, first, that's not an accurate depiction of what happened. And I know we want to be accurate around here. None of the funds appropriated under this title shall be used in programs where abortion is a method of family planning. That is written into the Public Health Service Act and it specifically states that.

 

Owen Jensen:

Indirect subsidies, money that is fungible that can't be traced… We know that, come on.

 

Jen Psaki:

That is not how it works. That is the law. So I'm stating what the law is and how it is implemented legally by these organizations. And the reason I though... since you give me the opportunity. The reason why the president took these steps is because he believes that advancing equity for all, including people of color and others who have been historically underserved, marginalized and adversely affected by persistent poverty and inequality can be helped by these actions. And by focusing on advancing equity in the Title X program, we can create opportunities for the improvement of communities that have been historically underserved, which benefits everyone. That's how these fundings are used in communities.

 

Owen Jensen:

You talk about equity. If I may interrupt, how is equity, how is it fighting systemic racism when abortion, we well know, disproportionately affects minority children?

 

Jen Psaki:

Again, funding cannot be used from this for abortion, but access to health care. Access to

health care in communities that have been marginalized, underserved, adversely affected by persistent poverty is always going to be something the president fights for.

 

 

 

The proposal from the Biden administration is set to be published April 15. A thirty-day comment period for the public on the proposed changes will then open.

 

Pro-life advocates have criticized the principle of funding abortion groups such as Planned Parenthood, even with prohibitions on the money directly funding abortion. They argue that since money is fungible, the additional funding frees up other funds to go toward abortions.

 

Amazon pulls transgender-critical book before relisting it

nito/Shutterstock

Washington D.C., Apr 14, 2021 / 14:07 pm (CNA).

The online retail giant Amazon delisted a book critical of transgender ideology, before apparently relisting it for sale on Wednesday afternoon.

Maria Keffler, author of “Desist, Detrans, & Detox: Getting Your Child Out of the Gender Cult,” told CNA that her book is a “guidebook” for parents who don’t want to take an “affirmation-only” approach to matters of gender identity. 

“Right now, out in the culture, that’s all that’s being given to parents,” Keffler said. She is co-founder of the Arlington Parent Coalition & Partners for Ethical Care. 

The book was listed for sale on Amazon on April 7, Keffler said, but the listing was removed less than a week later. 

On Wednesday afternoon, however, the book appeared for sale on Amazon’s online Kindle store. 

A spokesperson for Amazon did not immediately respond to CNA’s request for comment. 

Amazon had told the publisher of Keffler’s book that it violated guidelines for submitting books with “content that is considered offensive.”

In an email obtained by CNA from Amazon’s Kindle Account Review to Partners for Ethical Care - the publisher and copyright holder for Keffler’s book - Amazon stated: “We have temporarily suspended your KDP account because you have repeatedly submitted books through your account that violate our Content Guidelines as they contain content that is considered offensive.”

According to Partners for Ethical Care, “Amazon did not contact the author or publisher before cancelling the book.”

The delisting of Keffler’s book came less than two months after after Amazon pulled the book “When Harry Became Sally: Responding to the Transgender Moment” by scholar Ryan T. Anderson. 

Anderson, who is currently president of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, said his book had been listed for sale on Amazon for three years after it was published in 2018. His book is a critical look at the transgender movement.

Following the removal of Anderson’s book - which is still not listed for sale on Amazon.com - four Republican senators sent a letter to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos questioning the removal of Anderson’s book. The four senators were Marco Rubio of Florida, Mike Lee of Utah, Mike Braun of Indiana, and Josh Hawley of Missouri.

In response, Brian Huseman, Amazon’s vice president of public policy, wrote that the company has “chosen not to sell books that frame LGBTQ+ identity as a mental illness.”

Keffler argued that proponents of an “affirmation-only approach” to gender identity demonstrate “cult-like” behavior.

She added that her book is well researched, and said, “I would like to know if anyone at Amazon actually read it, and I would like for them to point out what specifically in the book they consider problematic.” 

“I would like to know what is offensive in this book,” she said, adding, “I think it’s a problem Amazon has taken one side on this issue. This is something they need to give better and deeper thought than they have.” 

Both Keffler’s and Anderson’s books remain available for sale by other retailers, including Barnes and Noble. 

Complaint filed against student and doctor in Mexico for advising on how to abort at home

Abortion pills / Shutterstock

Puebla, Mexico, Apr 14, 2021 / 13:47 pm (CNA).

Pro-life leaders have filed a complaint with the Puebla State Attorney General's Office against a university student and a doctor for advising women how to procure abortion clandestinely at home, in violation of state law which prohibits abortion.

Speaking with ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish language news partner, Christer Espino, the first pro-life leader to report the activity, said that they have turned to the justice system "because we are talking about people who are committing a crime."

"The important thing is to set a precedent, that people see that we’re not going to let this group just get away with that," he said. 

In late March, Espino and other pro-life leaders charged on social media that Kiana "N", a medical student at the Benemérita Autonomous University of Puebla, was allegedly part of a network of people who "accompany" women by telling them how they can abort at home.

This network, they charged, was supposedly headed by Dr. María Aissata Si González, founder of the "Medicine for the Right to Decide" association and author of the Facebook page Med Prochoice.

On social media, Kiana “N” introduced herself as a “companion in Med Prochoice.”

Through Med Prochoice, Si González promotes her workshops on “accompaniment for safe abortion at home,” the pro-lifers claimed.

Through her platform, they said, Si González also encourages the decriminalization of abortion in Puebla state and posts messages such as: "women who abort at a young age are less likely to have financial problems and low educational levels at the age of 25.”

The penal code of Puebla designates abortion as a crime, and defines it as killing “the product of conception at any time during pregnancy."

In cases where the woman consents, whoever causes the abortion "will be subject to one to three years in prison," the code states.

Currently, the unicameral Puebla congress is holding an open session in which the public can give input so lawmakers can be informed on the positions of pro-life and abortion advocates with a view to the legislative debate on the decriminalization of abortion.

Espino stressed that by filing the complaint with the prosecutor's office "our aim is that besides the media knowing about it, that justice be done."

"Although it was and is very important to inform people through the media, social media, and wherever we can," he pointed out that the one who must issue the verdict "is a judge."

The pro-life leader pointed out that "women who abort are victims of the same system that tells them that abortion is okay."

“Here what we have to be very clear about is that these women are in a situation of not knowing what to do, a desperate situation, in which that fateful idea of aborting comes to mind a lot and then they turn to these groups that tell them yes, here we can help you with that, instead of making them see the negative side of abortion," he added.

Espino, a law student in Veracruz state, said he was very pleased because in this process with the accusations on social media "many people from the pro-life side have been supportive throughout various countries.”

"The feminists are very angry" that this illegal activity has been exposed, he continued.

"They have been very determined to try to weaken us, to discredit us" and added that "I know that what I am doing is for a great cause."

By filing the complaint, "we hope that it will come to the ultimate consequences."

The pro-life leader said the purpose of the case is "for justice to be done and we will resort to all the means that may be necessary."

Biden administration proposes restoring Title X funding for abortion clinics

Planned Parenthood clinic in Newton, NJ Credit: Glynnis Jones

CNA Staff, Apr 14, 2021 / 12:49 pm (CNA).

President Joe Biden is moving to reverse a Trump-era policy that barred federal Title X funding to entities that perform and refer for abortions, such as Planned Parenthood. 


A proposal from the administration, set to be published April 15, would restore regulations first set in the year 2000 under Bill Clinton.


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. 


Title X does not pay for abortions, but under the Clinton administration’s 2000 rule, grant recipients had to provide abortion counseling and abortion referrals to clients upon request.


In May of 2018, the Trump administration first proposed requiring a strict physical and financial line of separation between Title X programs and any program or facility that performs abortion, or supports or refers for abortion. 


The change of regulations did not impact the amount of funding allocated for Title X family planning programs, but rather changed who was eligible to receive such funds. 


The March 2019 implementation of the Protect Life Rule, as the previous administration’s policy was known, mandated Title X fund recipients to be both physically and financially separate from facilities that perform abortions. It also made abortion counseling optional and forbade Title X recipients from referring for abortions. 


After the new rules were announced, Planned Parenthood said it was exiting the Title X program in order to continue performing abortions.


Planned Parenthood had been receiving about one-fifth of the total amount of Title X funds distributed, and withdrawing from the program meant a $60 million cut in federal funding for the organization each year. Planned Parenthood still receives roughly $500 million annually in Medicaid reimbursement.


The HHS, in its rule-change proposal, cited statistics from the Planned Parenthood-affiliated Guttmacher Institute that claimed that the 2019 rule led to nearly 182,000 “unintended” pregnancies. 


A thirty-day comment period for the public on the proposed changes will open on April 15. 


In March 2021, on the same day that nominee Xavier Becerra was confirmed as the next HHS Secretary, the agency said it would implement the rule-change.


Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List, said April 14 that the 2019 rule “respected both the plain statutory language of Title X and the strong majority of Americans who oppose using taxpayer dollars to pay for abortion on demand.”


“Abortion is not ‘family planning’ and Biden-Harris Democrats pursue this extreme, unpopular agenda at their political peril,” Dannenfelser concluded. 


In March of this year, the Biden administration asked the Supreme Court to throw out a challenge to the 2019 rules, signaling it intends to roll back the restrictions.


The Baltimore mayor and city council, as well as a number of states and pro-abortion groups, challenged the rule in court. While the Fourth Circuit court in September ruled 8-6 against the rule, the Ninth Circuit court upheld the rule in February 2020, in a separate challenge.


In February of this year, the Supreme Court had agreed to hear the case which is currently scheduled to be argued during fall 2021. 


The federal Hyde Amendment currently prohibits federal funding for almost all abortions, though Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris have expressed support for a repeal of the amendment.


Catholic Labor Network report finds wage theft in construction industry

A report released April 14 by the Catholic Labor Network reveals that wage theft is rampant in the construction industry in the District of Columbia.

Pope: Prayer is essential to church reform

Without prayer, everything crumbles and any initiatives for church reform will just be proposals by some group and not the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Pope Francis said.

Former Crookston bishop apologizes for failures in governance

Bishop Michael Hoeppner. CNA file photo.

Crookston, Minn., Apr 14, 2021 / 10:57 am (CNA).

Bishop Michael Hoeppner, who has resigned as Bishop of Crookston after being accused of mishandling cases of priests accused of sexual misconduct, apologized Tuesday for his failures at governing the diocese.

“The Church describes the ministry of a diocesan bishop as teaching, sanctifying and governing. It has been a joy and a blessing for me to have served as your bishop for the past 13+ years. I apologize to you, as I have apologized to our Holy Father, for my failures in governing as bishop,” Bishop Hoeppner wrote in an April 13 letter to the faithful of the Diocese of Crookston.

The resignation of Bishop Hoeppner had been accepted earlier that day.

Bishop Hoeppner, 71, was the first U.S. bishop to be investigated under Vos estis lux mundi, Pope Francis’ 2019 norms on investigating bishops accused of mishandling or obstructing allegations of clerical sexual abuse.

The bishop is reported to have pressured an alleged victim to drop his allegation of abuse against a priest, failed to follow mandatory reporting laws, and neglected to follow protocols designed to monitor priests accused of misconduct.

In his letter, Bishop Hoeppner wrote that Pope Francis had asked for his resignation, which “comes as a result of the investigation into reports that I, '…at times, failed to observe applicable norms when presented with allegations of sexual abuse involving clergy of the Diocese of Crookston.'”

He added his appreciation of “the many good things and blessings that God has showered upon us these past years … In our world of today where so many are confused about so many things, it is important that the truth of the Gospel and the Church’s Tradition be clearly presented for all to hear. I have enjoyed celebrating the Sacraments in the many wonderful parishes throughout our diocese.”

The bishop thanked “all the wonderful people with whom I have had the privilege to work these years,” particularly “the members of the diocesan curia and diocesan staff. It has been a delight to come to work each day and engage with such wonderful, dedicated people in the work of the Church.”

He announced his plan for the immediate future is to move with his sister to a warmer climate, and added, “I look forward to returning to Crookston for personal visits and will await the appointment of a new bishop here to determine other activity.”

“You who are the local Church of Crookston, will always be the premiere diocese for me. You have heard me say, and it is true, 'I am a blessed bishop.' And, it is as true today as the day I said it at my ordaination [sic] as your bishop, 'you have a bishop who loves you.' Be assured, I will continue to keep you all in my prayers each day. May God continue to be with you and bless you always.”

Bishop Richard Pates, Bishop Emeritus of Des Moines, has been appointed apostolic administrator of Crookston.

A report on the Vos estis investigation of Bishop Hoeppner was sent to Rome in late October 2019, and in February 2020, the Crookston diocese announced that the Vatican had ordered an additional investigation into the bishop.

Both investigations were conducted by Archbishop Bernard Hebda of Saint Paul and Minneapolis.

Bishop Hoeppner was not permitted to oversee sexual abuse cases in his diocese during the second investigation.

In depositions released in November 2019 as part of a legal settlement, Bishop Hoeppner is seen to admit to several of the charges against him. In those depositions, Bishop Hoeppner also defended a diocesan decision to allow a priest to remain in ministry, without notifying parents or parishioners, after the priest admitted that while he was teenager he had sexually abused a younger child.

The announcement in early 2020 about a second investigation into Bishop Hoeppner followed several months in which local Catholics called for Bishop Hoeppner’s resignation, and accused him of mistreating a popular priest removed from ministry under vague terms.

Priests in the diocese told CNA at the time that they expected Bishop Hoeppner to be removed from office, and that given the bishop’s record, the credibility of the Vos estis procedures could be called into question were he eventually permitted to remain in office.

Vos estis lux mundi allows the Vatican “to provide for a supplementary investigation” after initial steps are taken, if Vatican officials deem it necessary.

There are currently several Vos estis investigations going on in dioceses in the U.S.

In 2021, announcements were made about Vos estis investigations into Bishop John Brungardt of Dodge City and Bishop Howard Hubbard, Bishop Emeritus of Albany.

Accountability, transparency, due process still needed, abuse experts say

Fr. John P. Beal, professor of canon law at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., said in his talk that past abuse scandals in the U.S. showed "how lack of transparency in church governance allowed these lapses in accountability to go unrecognized and unaddressed for decades."  

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