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This pro-life Democrat is worried about the next Catholic president

January 19, 2021 CNA Daily News 0

Denver Newsroom, Jan 19, 2021 / 03:00 pm (CNA).- A former U.S. representative who was known as one of the last standing pro-life Democrats in Congress said he is worried about the example a Catholic president who is also pro-abortion will have on young Catholics. 

“I’m afraid that there’s a lot of talk about Joe Biden being our second Catholic president,” said Dan Lipinski, a former U.S. representative for the third district of Illinois, on the southwest side of Chicago.

“It’s going to be very clear early on if he does move on the executive orders, with respect to abortion, that’s going to be very problematic, especially as a Catholic.”

President-elect Joe Biden is expected to repeal several pro-life policies put in place by the Trump administration, including the Protect Life Rule and the expanded Mexico City Policy. Biden has also pledged to repeal the Hyde Amendment and codify Roe v. Wade into law.

Among other things, these changes would allow for taxpayer funding to groups that perform abortions, both domestically and overseas. 

Lipinski said that his own Catholic faith influenced him during the 16 years he served in the U.S. House of Representatives, including by shaping his pro-life beliefs. Lipinksi was known as one of the last standing pro-life Democrats in Congress, voting against the party line on numerous legislative issues involving abortion.

“I knew that I was never going to change my position on abortion and in protecting lives. I knew that from the beginning,” Lipinski said in an interview with CNA, citing his Catholic faith in influencing his pro-life convictions.

“Honestly I just never believed that it was worthwhile to protect a seat in Congress, to protect my position in Congress, no matter how much I loved the job and was honored to represent the people of the third district. It just wasn’t worth it to me to give up what I knew was right.”

Lipinski said he believes Catholics should allow their faith to influence all aspects of their lives.

“We all fall short, but we’re all called to always, in everything we do, put our Catholic faith first and have that really inspire and guide what we do,” he said. “Certainly that extends to life as an elected official.”

While some Catholics argue that they are personally pro-life, but do not want to impose their values on other people, Lipinksi rejected this line of thinking.

“If you truly believe that the baby in the womb is a human person, alive…you can’t compromise that away. You can’t say, ‘well, not everyone believes that, so I’m not going to support that.’ You have to do everything you can to protect that life,” he said.

At the end of his time in Congress, Lipinksi was one of the sole Democrats opposing the party’s abortion stance. But it wasn’t always that way.

He remembers having several pro-life, Democratic colleagues during his first years in the House.

“I was still in the minority, but I always like to point out to people that back in 2009, the first time the Affordable Care Act – or Obamacare – passed the House, there was the Stupak–Pitts Amendment.”

The Stupack-Pitts Amendment prevented taxpayer dollars from being spent on elective abortion or insurance that covered elective abortion, and Lipinski said 64 Democrats voted for it.

“I think there may be a handful, a small handful, of Democrats who would support that in the House today,” he said. “With my loss last year and Collin Peterson in Minnesota, there really are no Democrats left that are 100% pro-life.”

“I’m very concerned about the direction the party has gone when it comes to the abortion issue, when it comes to family issues, protection of religious liberty,” he said. “The party really needs to … at the very least recognize people who are pro-life and respect their position, and at the very least not support taxpayer funding of abortion.”

Lipinski lost his seat last March in a primary race against Marie Newman, after pro-abortion groups contributed to a coalition giving more than $1.4 million in funding to Newman. 

The congressman said the night he knew he lost the primary was difficult for him. But he actually remembers the next day best.

“The next day I had people contacting me and thanking me for standing up for my principles, staying true to my Catholic faith, and I knew that God was calling me to something bigger,” he said. 

Lipinski said he is working on a book about being Catholic in the public square today, “and encouraging Catholics to stay true to their Catholic faith in a world right now that’s very tough and a very bipolar, tribal society where Catholics don’t fit in neatly to either two tribes.” 

The book is an extension of a commencement address he delivered at Ave Maria University in 2019.

“As a former college professor, I especially want to reach out to young Catholics. I think these days, especially,” Lipinski said. “They need to have good examples, and they’re really thirsting for a better understanding of what it means to be Catholic, and encouragement to be Catholic.”

“We are a very divided country right now. Catholics don’t fit neatly into either party. I think that Catholics have really an opportunity to be a witness for every aspect of Catholic social teaching,” he said. “Obviously, the right to life is the most important, but the dignity of every individual, and what the government can do to uphold that dignity in a lot of different ways.”

This interview originally aired on Catholic News Agency’s podcast, CNA Newsroom. It has been adapted for print. 


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Presidential Inaugural Committee facilitates donations to Planned Parenthood

January 19, 2021 CNA Daily News 0

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Jan 19, 2021 / 01:55 pm (CNA).- The Presidential Inaugural Committee is facilitating donations to Planned Parenthood, encouraging supporters to sponsor American flags on the National Mall in the name of unity.

 

Through the committee’s “America United” program around the Jan. 20 Presidential Inauguration, supporters of President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris are encouraged to become a “symbolic sponsor” of the “Field of Flags” on the National Mall; they can do so by donating to a number of groups including Planned Parenthood.

 

“At a time when Americans cannot gather together in person for the inauguration, the PIC will install an extensive public art display on the National Mall that will include approximately 191,500 U.S. flags of varying sizes, including flags representing every state and territory, and 56 pillars of light,” the committee stated in a Jan. 11 announcement. 

 

The hundreds of thousands of flags “will represent the American people who are unable to travel to Washington, DC,” the committee stated, encouraging supporters “to become a symbolic sponsor of the Field of Flags in exchange for a donation to PIC’s partners in service.”

 

 

Here’s your first glimpse of what the #NationalMall will look like for Wednesday’s Inauguration of @joebiden: a sea of 200k US flags and state/territory flags. “All of it to show the American people that we’re thinking about them in this time” – @moojv77. More on @cbsthismorning pic.twitter.com/rwHgW2tRGa

— Nancy Cordes (@nancycordes) January 18, 2021

 

 

On the donation page for the Field of Flags, among the 95 groups listed as “partners” of the committee is the Planned Parenthood Federation of America.

 

Among the other 95 “partner groups” of the committee are a number of pro-LGBT groups including the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), and the National Center for Lesbian Rights.

 

At the bottom of the donation site of ActBlue Charities, a 501(c)3 charitable organization of the Democratic fundraising site ActBlue, users are informed that they will receive emails from Planned Parenthood.

 

“You’ll receive emails from Planned Parenthood organizations. You may unsubscribe at any time,” the site reads.

 

The committee had announced the “America United” program as an effort that “reflects the Biden-Harris commitment to healing the nation and bringing Americans together.”

 

Planned Parenthood supported the Biden-Harris ticket, and expressed jubilation over the selection of Harris as the Democratic vice presidential nominee in August.

 

In August, Planned Parenthood Action spent five figures on an online video ad hailing Harris as “OUR Reproductive Health Champion.” The group Planned Parenthood Votes also released a fact-sheet “Nine Reasons to Love Kamala Harris.”

 

As a 501(c)4 organization, the Presidential Inaugural Committee is considered a non-profit under tax law; such organizations can engage in certain political  advocacy, such as endorsing political candidates, that 501(c)3 charitable organizations cannot engage in.

 

The “America United” program of the inauguration committee cited the need for unity amid “unprecedented crisis and deep divisions,” including more than 370,000 deaths from the COVID-19 pandemic, economic hardships, and “political divisions.”

 


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Biden taps supporter of contraceptive mandate to HHS position

January 19, 2021 CNA Daily News 12

Washington D.C., Jan 19, 2021 / 10:25 am (CNA).- President-elect Joe Biden will nominate a supporter of the contraceptive mandate to a top position at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), he announced on Tuesday.

 

On Tuesday, Biden announced that he would nominate Dr. Rachel Levine, a biological man identifying as a transgender woman who has served as Pennsylvania’s health secretary since 2017, to be HHS Assistant Secretary for Health. Before serving as Pennsylvania’s health secretary, Levine served as the state’s physician general.

 

Levine has been outspoken on social issues, supporting gender-transition surgery and the contraceptive mandate while opposing a proposed 20-week abortion ban.

 

Levine’s nomination to HHS, along with that of Health Secretary nominee Xavier Becerra, signals that social issues could be priorities at the agency for the next several years. These might include pro-LGBTQ policies, funding of abortion providers, and religious freedom conflicts with Catholic organizations.

 

Regarding the Obama-era HHS contraceptive mandate, Levine in 2017 called it “immoral and unethical” to allow for religious exemptions to the mandate. Hundreds of non-profits and businesses—including the Little Sisters of the Poor—had objected to the mandate and the Obama administration’s opt-out process for objecting non-profits.

 

After the Trump administration announced in 2017 that religious employers and other organizations morally opposed to the contraceptive mandate could receive exemptions from it, Levine issued a sharp statement in opposition.

 

“It is immoral and unethical to give any employer the ability to take away access to health care from an entire gender,” Levine said as Pennsylvania’s acting health secretary, in 2017. “We cannot allow women’s health to be reduced to one issue or be jeopardized in any way.”

 

Levine also wrote an op-ed against the Trump administration’s reversal of Obama-era rules on transgender accommodation.

 

In Feb., 2017, the Trump administration said it would stop defending the Obama administration’s transgender bathroom policy in court; the policy had directed schools to allow students to use gender-specific bathrooms according to their gender identity, and not their biological sex.

 

In an op-ed for the Patriot-News, Levine wrote that “[t]he decision by the Trump administration to roll back the most basic protections for transgender and gender expansive youth is heartbreaking.”

 

“To Pennsylvania’s transgender and gender expansive youth and their families who are worried or concerned, I want you to know that Governor Wolf’s administration has your back,” Pennsylvania’s then-physician general wrote.

 

In 2016, Levine spoke out against a 20-week abortion ban that criminalized abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy except in cases where the mother’s life was in danger. The bill also banned the “dilation and evacuation” abortion procedure.

 

Levine said at the time that the bill “punishes women whose pregnancies have complications.”

 

“Women and their families, when faced with a devastating diagnosis of a significant fetal anomaly, have the right to make the decision which is appropriate for them, in consultation with their doctors,” Levine said.

 

Levine’s family moved their mother out of a personal care home early in the COVID-19 pandemic, because of the high spread of the virus; the decision invited some media scrutiny.

 

Levine was also questioned for the state’s policy of requiring nursing homes to accept recovering COVID patients from hospitals, although the state health secretary responded that asymptomatic staff at the homes—not patients discharged from hospitals—were the primary spreaders of the virus there.

 

If Levine is confirmed to HHS, along with Becerra, they together could craft policy to influence a number of issues including abortion, gender-transition surgery, and the contraceptive mandate.  

 

While California’s attorney general, Becerra fought aggressively in favor of an abortion coverage mandate that religious employers were not exempt from, and continued the prosecution of pro-life activist David Daleiden.

 

If confirmed as Health Secretary, Becerra—a Catholic—could reignite a number of Obama-era policies that the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and other Catholic groups were opposed to.

 

These might include resurrecting court battles with the Little Sisters of the Poor and other Catholic groups that opposed the Obama administration’s procedure by which to “opt out” of the contraceptive mandate. The groups said that the policy still required them to provide coverage for contraceptives through their employee health plans, which they morally objected to.

 

Other HHS policies could include re-imposing the full transgender mandate—a requirement that doctors perform gender-transition surgery upon the referral of a mental health professional—and various requirements of religious groups that receive HHS grants, such as adoption agencies having to match children with same-sex couples.


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