What We're Reading This Morning -- April 20
Good morning everyone and happy Friday! The attacks on women’s health continue in the states as New Hampshire and Ohio contemplate bills that could effectively defund Planned Parenthood. And it’s not just the U.S. Catholic Bishops who are objecting to the decision to protect affordable birth control, no matter who your employer is. The Vatican is weighing in on the “conscience clause.” Here’s what we’re reading this morning….
The Vatican joins the U.S. Catholic Bishops in objecting to the birth control benefit. “On Birth Control, Vatican Official Calls For Stronger Protection Of Conscientious Objection” — “VATICAN CITY (RNS) A senior Vatican official on Tuesday (April 17) called for stronger protection for conscientious objection for both the Catholic Church and individual Catholics when they are faced with laws that conflict with their ‘moral norms.’ Speaking at Italy's Catholic University in Milan, Cardinal Giovanni Lajolo, former governor of the Vatican City State, waded into the fight between the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Obama administration over mandatory insurance coverage for contraception, saying the mandate raises ‘serious problems of conscience’ for Catholic institutions and citizens. Excerpts of his speech were published in L'Osservatore Romano, the Vatican's semi-official newspaper. Echoing the bitter dispute between the U.S. bishops and the White House in recent months, Lajolo stressed that it is ‘essential’ that ‘the freedom of the church and of its institutions to live and act in conformity with its own religious conviction is always guaranteed.’ The remarks, which carry the unofficial stamp of Vatican authority by appearing in the church-owned newspaper, represent one of the Vatican's first forays into the high-stakes political fight between the U.S. bishops and the White House.”
Ohio Republicans move to cut funds to Planned Parenthood threatening the health care of thousands of women and men throughout the state. “Protect Women’s Health” — “Now, though, GOP lawmakers want to push Planned Parenthood to the bottom of the priority list among groups that receive federal family-planning dollars administered by state government. The move amounts to a bone thrown to Columbus' anti-abortion lobby, even though Planned Parenthood has been prohibited from using federal taxpayer dollars for abortion services since the 1970s. Last year, Planned Parenthood's 32 Ohio clinics got $1.7 million in federal aid. This year, they might get nothing; their requests would not even be considered until after public health departments, federally approved community health clinics, and private community health clinics are funded. Ohio Right to Life President Michael Gonidakis says the funding change is necessary so that ‘Ohio's abortion industry will no longer feed at the taxpayer trough.’ But that's grossly misleading. Just three Planned Parenthood clinics in the state -- and none in northwest Ohio -- perform abortions. Abortion procedures account for no more than 4 percent of the services provided by the clinics.”
The New Hampshire Senate will decide the fate of five anti-women’s health bills, including one that would restrict funding Planned Parenthood. “Senate panel endorses forcing Planned Parenthood out of performing abortions” — “CONCORD – A state Senate panel has endorsed Republican plans forcing Planned Parenthood of Northern New England out of the “direct or indirect” abortion business and outlawing so-called partial birth abortions. But the anti-abortion plans of House Republican leaders took some hits Thursday with committee recommendations to kill both a 24-hour waiting period for women seeking abortions and a ban on abortions after 20 weeks. The only bill that all five members of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee agreed upon was to instruct a legislative study committee to gather better statistics on how many abortions are done in New Hampshire. The full Senate will decide the fate of all five of these bills as early as next Wednesday…. The ban on public spending for ‘direct or indirect’ costs regarding abortion, HB 228, has been the most controversial in 2012, with critics dubbing it part of the social conservative movement to put Planned Parenthood under. Health and Human Services Commissioner Nick Toumpas has warned the bill could put at risk federal grants that are in excess of $1 billion a year from the federal Medicaid program.”