A House committee has launched a nationwide investigation in response to the trial of Kermit Gosnell, the abortion practitioner charged with multiple counts of murder for gruesome abortions and infanticides, lifenews.com reports. The move follows letters from another committee to public health officials in all 50 states asking them what they are doing to prevent “House of Horrors” abortion clinics like the one Kermit Gosnell ran in Pennsylvania. Because the Gosnell Grand Jury report identified a “regulatory collapse” that allowed Gosnell to go undetected for decades, the House Judiciary Committee sent a letter to all 50 state attorneys general asking questions about efforts to protect the civil rights of newborns and their mothers. The grand jury report specifies that inspections of abortion clinics were discontinued by the administration of a pro-choice governor who “was motivated by a desire not to be ‘putting up a barrier to women.’” Responding to that, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) and Constitution and Civil Justice Subcommittee Chairman Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) have sent a letter to all 50 state attorneys general seeking to find out if state and local governments are being stymied in their efforts to protect the civil rights of newborns and their mothers and if the federal government might be able to partner with states to prevent newborn homicides. The letter asks the state attorneys general to respond to several questions and to provide copies of any official written procedures or guidance that relate to the gathering of information on, or the prosecution of, newborn homicides by June 1. This letter follows the shocking allegations against Kermit Gosnell, who is charged with the serial murder of infants, the murder of a female patient, and other felonies committed in the operation of his abortion clinic in Philadelphia. The grand jury report found that in Pennsylvania, numerous state and city regulatory agencies failed to adequately prevent violations of the law under a situation the report calls “regulatory collapse.”
- The House Republican leadership has scheduled a floor vote next week on a measure that would repeal the 2010 healthcare reform law referred to as Obamacare, newsmax.com reports. The Republican-controlled House has voted more than 30 times to repeal all or parts of the law since it was passed. But many GOP members, especially freshmen, were pushing the leadership to get a vote on the record in 2013, reports Politico. According to Politico, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia on Wednesday tweeted, “It just keeps getting worse. I am scheduling a vote for next week on the full repeal of Obamacare.” Some conservatives have been pushing the GOP leadership to take a more aggressive stand against Obamacare before Jan. 1 of next year, when the law is scheduled to be fully implemented. They hope to capitalize, Politico noted, on what even some Democrats predict could be a rocky rollout for Obamacare in advance of the 2014 midterm elections. Meanwhile, bighealthreport.com cited a passage from an Associated Press article about wildly disparate prices charged by hospitals for the same treatments and procedures, which “sums up in a nutshell the entire problem with health care in America: There are vast disparities nationally. The average charges for joint replacement range from about $5,300 at an Ada, Okla., hospital to $223,000 in Monterey Park, Calif. It’s not just national or even regional geography. Hospitals within the same city also vary wildly. In Jackson, Miss., average inpatient charges for services that may be provided to treat heart failure range from $9,000 to $51,000, the Department of Health and Human Services said. Hospitals usually receive less money than they charge, however. Their charges are akin to a car dealership’s ‘list price.’ Most patients won’t be hit with these bills, because they are paid by their private insurance, Medicare or Medicaid at lower rates. Insurance companies routinely negotiate discounted payments with hospitals. Is there any other place in the market place where an item might cost as much as 40 times more in one place than another?”
- Amending a long-awaited immigration reform bill in the U.S. Senate to include same-sex partners would force it to oppose the legislation and would deal a death blow to passage, the Southern Baptist Convention’s ethics entity has warned. Baptist Press reports that The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission issued warnings both before and after Sen. Patrick Leahy, D.-Vt., filed amendments Tuesday supported by homosexual rights organizations. One of Leahy’s amendments would recognize for immigration purposes same-sex marriages that are legal in a state or foreign country. His other amendment would enable same-sex partners of American citizens to gain legal residency in the same way a husband or wife of a citizen does.
- Saeed Abedini, an American pastor imprisoned in Iran, turned 33 Wednesday, cbn.com reports. Iranian authorities arrested Pastor Saeed days ago for refusing to deny his faith. He spent his birthday in solitary confinement, where he’s been held since late April. Pastor Saeed has been incarcerated for six months in the country’s infamous Evin Prison, reputedly one of worst anywhere in the world. Iranian authorities sentenced him to eight years as an alleged threat to “national security.” Prison officials turned away family members who tried to visit him the day before his birthday. Meanwhile, there are growing concerns about his health. He is said to be hemorrhaging internally from the unrelenting beatings he’s been subject to by prison officials. On May 19, churches across the United States and around the world are being urged to join in a day of prayer for Pastor Saeed. Baptist Press reports more than 52,000 letters have been written to American pastor Saeed Abedini, commending him for his strong demonstration of faith as he languishes in an Iranian prison.
- The Pentagon’s recent vow to punish Christian evangelism among military members, along with an activist’s assertion that such behavior is treasonous, has prompted a legal team to offer to defend any member of the armed services persecuted for expressions of faith, WorldNetDaily reports. The Liberty Institute has announced the launch of its Armed Forces Religious Liberty hotline along with a petition to support Christian members of the Army, Navy, Marines, and Air Force. “The Pentagon released an appalling official statement that I didn’t believe at first, but unfortunately it’s true,” said Kelly Shackelford, president and CEO of the organization. “They are about to implement a new policy under which any members of the military ‘caught’ talking about their Christian faith will be subject to court martial or imprisonment!” Shackelford said his group is establishing the emergency hotline “to protect our armed forces members, who can call and get free legal representation when they are persecuted for their Christian faith.” The team’s constitutional attorneys, some of whom served in the military, say they will provide a legal defense for men and women service members who contact them. The online petition explains that the Obama administration “has declared that it will prosecute members of the U.S. Armed Forces if they dare to express their religious convictions.” It says the Pentagon policy was formulated “with the assistance of Mikey Weinstein, an anti-Christian activist who believes any service member who shares his faith is committing ‘treason,’ or an act of ‘spiritual rape.’” The petition urges Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, to “use all your power and influence to rescind this unconstitutional policy.” Liberty Institute just a few years ago successfully stopped Obama’s Department of Veterans Affairs from banning God at funerals in veterans’ cemeteries. In 2012, after 13 years of litigation, the attorneys, on behalf of the American Legion, restored the Mojave Desert Veterans Memorial Cross that honors the sacrifice of World War I veterans. The institute now is engaged in a fight to prevent the ACLU from tearing down the historic Mt. Soledad Veterans Memorial Cross that overlooks San Diego.
- A judge has ruled that cheerleaders from a southeast Texas high school may continue to display Bible verses on their banners at football games, cbn.com reports. Last fall an atheist group filed a complaint with the school superintendent of Kountze, Texas, saying Scripture should not be allowed on sports banners. But the cheerleaders argued that was a violation of their free speech and filed a lawsuit.
- In the wake of a humiliating defeat for gun-control advocates in the Senate last month, President Obama and a coalition of allied anti–Second Amendment people vowed not to give up the fight, and bighealthreport.com reports the administration is already seeking to bypass Congress and use “executive actions” to impose a controversial assault on gun rights and healthcare privacy through Kathleen Sebelius’ Department of Health and Human Services. If approved, the new “regulation” would—by executive decree—shred remaining federal privacy-protection laws keeping patient data confidential. The HHS’s proposed rule would also, among other radical changes, encourage psychiatrists to report their clients to the FBI’s background check system by waiving the legal prohibition on sharing private healthcare information contained in the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. While the administration claims the scheme is aimed at keeping weapons out of the hands of “potentially dangerous” people, critics of the plan, and especially gun rights activists, see it as part of an ongoing effort to disarm increasingly wide swaths of the public. In a press release about the scheme, the Department of Health and Human Services said it was just part of Obama’s “common sense plan to reduce gun violence.” For opponents, however, the scheme is “crazy”—yet another backdoor assault on the rights of Americans as well as an attack on the Constitution and congressional authority. According to HHS, privacy protections in HIPPA “may” be preventing states from reporting certain mental health data to the FBI’s controversial National Instant Criminal Background Check System. As such, the proposed new “rule,” part of Obama’s 23 unconstitutional “executive actions” attacking gun rights, would target over a dozen states that the Obama administration believes should be sending more names of “prohibited persons” to the federal government. “In order to protect our children and communities, we must ensure that information on potentially dangerous individuals who are prohibited from possessing firearms is available to the background check system,” HHS Secretary Sebelius said in a statement. “At the same time, it is important to note that the vast majority of Americans with mental health conditions are not violent and that those with mental illness are in fact more likely to be victims than perpetrators.” Perhaps attempting to preempt some concerns that have already been trumpeted by critics, Sebelius also noted that the administration was aware of at least one of the potential negative consequences of the move. “We do not want to discourage individuals who need help from seeking mental health services, and our actions will be carefully tailored to ensure patient confidentiality as well as public health and safety,” she claimed.
- The Heritage Foundation, headed by former Sen. Jim DeMint, recently concluded an analysis of the Immigration Reform bill, and the results “are economically devastating,” reports Dave Jolly in godfatherpolitics.com. “The legalization of 11 million illegal aliens will suck the very life out of many of our benefit and welfare programs. They looked at four categories of benefits: (1) Social Security, Medicare, unemployment insurance and worker’s compensation, all of which are direct benefits they would receive. (2) Welfare benefits where they found over 80 different programs that would cost nearly $900 billion dollars a year. (3) Next they looked at the cost of public education which they calculated to run $12,300 per student per year. This cost is generally free or subsidized for lower income families. (4) They looked at the costs of population based services. These services include things like police and fire departments, highways and roads, parks and recreation, and other local and state provided services. Believe it or not, the average cost per household in America for all of these different government benefits and services added up to $31,584 in 2010 for just the four categories listed above. The study goes on to break down costs in many areas and then it also calculates the approximate taxes that the 11 million illegals will pay over their lifetimes once they become legal. The bottom line is that the 11 million illegals to legals will receive $9.4 trillion in government benefits and services. They will pay an estimated $3.1 trillion in taxes. That leaves a net cost of $6.3 trillion.” “Are we willing to add $6.3 million to the national debt just to give legal amnesty to 11 million people who violated federal law by entering the United States illegally? If you answered yes, then please explain where the government is going to get the $6.3 trillion to cover this debt,” the report said.
- Israel warned the United States in recent days that Russia plans to sell advanced ground-to-air missile systems to Syria despite Western pressure on Moscow to hold off on such a move, The Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday. The newspaper said U.S. officials had confirmed they were analyzing the Israeli reports but would not comment on whether they believed the sale of S-300 missile batteries was near. No comment was immediately available from officials at the Pentagon or U.S. State Department. The government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has been seeking to purchase the advanced S-300 missile batteries, which can intercept both manned aircraft and guided missiles, from Moscow for many years. Western nations have repeatedly urged Russia to block the sale, which they argue could complicate any international intervention in Syria’s escalating civil war.