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Sen. Ben Sasse seeks to fast-track bill to protect abortion survivors

January 31, 2019 CNA Daily News 2

Washington D.C., Jan 31, 2019 / 05:12 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- U.S. Senator Ben Sasse (R-NE) has announced that he will introduce the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act to the Senate on Monday, and is calling for a voice vote to pass the measure.

Sasse announced on Thursday that he is beginning the Rule 14 process, which would bring the bill directly to the Senate floor and bypass the normal committee consideration of a piece of legislation. He said that he hopes his bill will be passed by a unanimous voice vote.

“On Monday evening, I’m going to be asking unanimous consent–for senators to come to the floor,” he said. “I’m going to ask all 100 senators to come to the floor and be against infanticide. This shouldn’t be complicated.”

Sasse started his floor speech by referencing the “morally repugnant” comments made on Wednesday by Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D). In a discussion on a WTOP radio show, Northam addressed questions regarding a bill that would have allowed abortion throughout an entire pregnancy in the state, even when a woman had already gone into labor.

“The infant would be delivered. The infant would be kept comfortable. The infant would be resuscitated if that’s what the mother and the family desired. And then a discussion would ensue between the physicians and the mother,” he said.

The proposed bill was tabled later that day, amid an outpouring of criticism over the remarks by Northam and comments by the bill’s sponsor, Del. Kathy Tran (D-Fairfax).

“Let’s really be clear about what we’re talking about here. We’re talking about fourth-trimester abortion, or what anyone in the normal world calls ‘infanticide,’” said Sasse, in reference to Northam’s comments.

“This should be so far beyond any political consideration,” he said. “We’re talking about a tiny life that has done nothing wrong to warrant being left to die, cold and alone on a table.”

Sasse stressed that all of his colleagues should be able to say that killing a newborn baby is wrong, and that “this doesn’t take any political courage.”  

The Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Act would penalize doctors and medical professionals who do not provide medical care to infants who survive abortions. The bill is co-sponsored by more than three dozen Republican senators.

The House version of the bill was introduced by Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), and has 131 co-sponsors, including one Democrat, Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-IL).

Although Sasse emphasized that a voice vote should not be complicated, there is a significant chance the bill will run into opposition. When the House of Representatives voted on their version of the bill in January 2018, all but five Democrats voted against it.

Cases where infants have survived late-term abortions are rare, but do occur. Pro-life activist Gianna Jessen was born in an abortion clinic following a failed saline abortion attempt when her mother was 30 weeks pregnant.

In 2013, Philadelphia abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell was convicted of three counts of first-degree murder for killing babies who had survived abortion attempts at his clinic, as well as one count of involuntary manslaughter in the death of a patient who died of an overdose in 2009. He is now serving several life sentences.


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Pope calls United Arab Emirates ‘a land of coexistence’ ahead of visit

January 31, 2019 CNA Daily News 2

Vatican City, Jan 31, 2019 / 02:46 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis expressed gratitude for his upcoming trip to the United Arab Emirates, noting it is an opportunity to promote greater peace between Muslims and Catholics.  

“I am happy for this opportunity offered to me by the Lord to write, on your dear land, a new page in the history of the relations between the religions, confirming that we are brothers even though we are different,” the pope said in a Jan. 31 video message to the people of the UAE.

“With joy I prepare to meet and to greet ‘eyal Zayid fi dar Zayid/ the sons of Zayid in the home of Zayid,’ a land of prosperity and peace, a land of sun and harmony, a land of coexistence and encounter!”

Francis will visit Abu Dhabi, capital of the UAE, Feb. 3-5. There, Pope Francis will hold an interreligious meeting and a private meeting with the Muslim Council of Elders. He will make a private visit to the cathedral, and say Mass at a stadium.

The trip’s theme is “Make me an instrument of your peace,” a 20th century prayer which is often attributed to St. Francis of Assisi. The trip will focus on “how all people of goodwill can work for peace,” according to the Holy See press office.

The trip is widely seen as a part of the Pope’s emphasis on a culture of encounter and interreligious dialogue. Pope Francis visited Egypt in 2017 and plans to visit Morocco March 30-31.

In the video, the Pope said the UAE is a land aiming for “coexistence, human fraternity and encounter between diverse civilizations and cultures.”

He thanked Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, crown prince of Abu Dhabi, for his invitation. The pope also thanked Ahmed el-Tayeb, grand imam of al-Azhar, for his assistance in the meeting’s preparations.

“I thank… those who have collaborated in the preparation of the meeting, for theircourage and will to affirm that faith in God unites rather than divides, that it brings us closer even in difference, distancing us from banishing hostility and aversion.”

Pope Francis quoted the words of Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, founder of the UAE: “True wealth does not reside solely in material resources; the true wealth of the nation resides in the people who build the future of their nation … Men are the true wealth.”

The trip was announced in December. Then-papal spokesman Greg Burke said the visit is a testimony to the Pope’s desire for peace among religions.   

“This visit, like the one to Egypt, shows the fundamental importance the Holy Father gives to inter-religious dialogue. Pope Francis visiting the Arab world is a perfect example of the culture of encounter,” Burke said Dec. 6.

According to Al Arabiya, the crown prince said the country looks “forward to the pope’s historic visit aimed to maximize opportunities for dialogue and coexistence among nations.”

The official religion of the UAE is Islam, with a Sunni Muslim majority. About 12.6 percent of the total population is Christian, according to the Pew Research Center.

The UAE is unique in that many of its residents hail from other countries. An estimated 89 percent of the population of the UAE are not citizens of the country.


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Conscientious objection limits abortion access in Victoria, study finds

January 31, 2019 CNA Daily News 1

Melbourne, Australia, Jan 31, 2019 / 01:47 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Though Australia’s Victoria state requires doctors with conscientious objection to abortion to refer women to another provider, a study published Thursday found that some doctors are noncompliant, “with adverse effects on access to care for some women.”

Conscientious objection to abortion, the law and its implementation in Victoria, Australia: perspectives of abortion service providers”, by Louise Keogh, was published Jan. 31 in BMC Medical Ethics.

Victoria’s Abortion Law Reform Act 2008 allowed conscientious objection to direct participation in abortion, but mandated that conscientious objectors refer their patient to a non-objecting practitioner for treatment and advice.

The referral requirement, Section 8, is opposed by some, who argue that “it compromises practitioners’ religious or moral stance on abortion by compelling those with a CO to be complicit in allowing access to abortion through the act of referral,” and there have been calls for its repeal.

Keogh wrote that despite the 2008 law abortion access “remains restricted in practice, particularly in rural areas.”

Her study aimed “to explore health professionals’ understandings of the inclusion of Section 8 in the Abortion Law Reform Act, as well as their perceptions of how Section 8 has been implemented in the Victorian health system and its impact on care.”

The study was conducted through 19 interviews with individuals who are either directly involved in abortion provision, or provide abortion access counselling, or are involved in policy or advocacy related to abortion access.

“All nineteen participants were able to relate specific stories about doctors subverting, misusing or directly contravening the law,” Keogh stated.

The Guardian reported that Keogh worked with Family Planning Victoria, the Royal Women’s Hospital, and Women’s Health Victoria in conducting the interviews.

In addition to doctors, participants reported that conscientious objection has been invoked by telephone staff in government services, pharmacists, and Catholic hospitals.

Keogh maintained that the referral requirement “is designed to allow for the moral integrity of the doctor, but only so far as this can be maintained while not causing harm to patients.”

In 2013, Dr. Mark Hobart, a Catholic, was disciplined for refusing to refer a couple who sought the sex-based abortion of their unborn daughter.

“I refused to refer the patient because there was no medical reason to do it and it offended my moral conscience,” Hobart told Nine News Australia.

“It’s very wrong, I don’t know any doctor in Victoria that would be willing to refer a woman that wanted to have an abortion just because of gender at 19 weeks.”

He said the investigation shows that the state’s abortion law “stops doctors from using their conscience whether it is appropriate or not.”

The Medical Board of Victoria began an investigation after board members complained that the incident called into question his professional conduct.

Neither the woman nor her husband filed a complaint against him, the Daily Mail reports.

Victorian law also bars any protest within 150 meters (nearly 500 feet) of a clinic or hospital where abortions are procured.



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New movie tells story of abortion clinic worker turned pro-life advocate

January 31, 2019 CNA Daily News 0

Bryan, Texas, Jan 31, 2019 / 10:40 am (CNA).- A movie chronicling the conversion of a former Planned Parenthood clinic director who became a pro-life advocate will be released in theaters nationwide on March 29.

A trailer for the film Unplanned, which tells the story of Abby Johnson, was released on Thursday.

Based off Johnson’s book of the same name, Unplanned recounts her experiences in the abortion industry. After being first approached at an on-campus activities fair, Johnson began volunteering at Planned Parenthood as a clinic escort. After graduation, she took a job with the company and eventually became the director of the Bryan, Texas clinic. In 2008, she was named as the clinic’s employee of the year.

During her time working at the nation’s largest abortion provider, Johnson herself had two abortions.

Due to a personnel shortage, she was called in to assist in an ultrasound-guided abortion for the first time in September 2009. She was initially disconcerted to note how much the unborn child, after 13 weeks, looked like the image she had seen of her own living daughter while pregnant.

The next few minutes changed Johnson’s life irrevocably, as she watched the baby –whom she had believed to be incapable of feeling anything– squirming and twisting to avoid the tube into which it would be vacuumed.

“For the briefest moment,” she wrote in her memoir, “the baby looked as if it were being wrung like a dishcloth, twirled and squeezed. And then it crumpled and began disappearing into the cannula before my eyes.”

“The last thing I saw was the tiny, perfectly formed backbone sucked into the tube, and then it was gone.”

Shocked by what she had seen, Johnson still continued her work running the clinic and promoting its work, at first. Just a few weeks later, however, she was in the nearby office of the Coalition For Life, telling its director Shawn Carney –with whom she knew from his years of opposition to Planned Parenthood–  that she could no longer continue helping women have abortions.

In a 2011 interview with CNA, Johnson said she joined the pro-life movement to help women understand the truth about abortion, not to become a public figure. She  said that it was Planned Parenthood, not the Coalition For Life, that turned her departure into a public battle.

“Planned Parenthood released this to the media” in late 2009, she said. “Planned Parenthood made this a news story. This is something that they did.”

“This is not what I planned for my life. But God set this up for me– and it would be the wrong thing, to turn away from something that He has planned for my life.”

Johnson went on to found the organization “And Then There Were None,” which seeks to assist abortion workers with leaving the industry and finding a new career. Although not shown in the film, Johnson and her husband subsequently converted to Catholicism and are currently  expecting their eighth child.

And Then There Were None has helped nearly 500 former clinic workers leave the abortion industry.

Unplanned stars Ashley Bratcher as Johnson. During filming, Bratcher discovered that her own mother had planned on having an abortion when she was pregnant with her, but walked out of the appointment instead.  

Unplanned was written and directed by Chuck Konzelman and Cary Solomon, the writers of God’s Not Dead and God’s Not Dead 2. The movie was partially funded by Michael Lindell, a born-again Christian and the founder of the company MyPillow.

The film will be distributed by Pure Flix.


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New York bishop to lead Diocese of Columbus

January 31, 2019 CNA Daily News 0

Vatican City, Jan 31, 2019 / 07:21 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis accepted the retirement of Bishop Frederick Campbell of Columbus, Ohio, Thursday, appointing Bishop Robert J. Brennan, auxiliary of Rockville Centre, to lead the diocese.

“I am… […]