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For America (Day 81)

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foramericaprayerjournal
All-loving God, Creator, Savior,
You are our safety and refuge.
Provider, Sustainer, All-forgiving Father,
We lay all our anxieties before You.

With a thankful heart, conscious
That all is a gift from You,
We come with sincere supplications
And prayers for our people.

Our undeserved blessings are always before us.
Each day, the sun and air, the stars and rain
Proclaim Your mercies anew,
And we are reminded of our dependent state.

Thank You.
Thank You for a minute of peace,
For silence to think and dream.
Thank You for laughter and consolation.

Thank You for friendships and
Family, and colleagues,
Leaders, and talented artists.
Thank You for music.

Thank You for the universe —
The wonder and mystery of it all.
Thank You for this place we call “Earth” —
And for the United States.

Thank You for freedom and liberty.
Thank You for the blessing of community.
Thank You for language and our limited understanding.
Thank You for the blessing of work.

We thank You for those who serve
Unselfishly to protect our freedoms
Around the world. Putting their lives on the line,
Allowing the Great Commission to spread.

We pray Your protection on them,
Your blessings upon their families.
Help us to be sensitive to their needs,
And quick to give sacrificially to their aid.

We pray for wisdom for our leaders:
For the president, vice-president,
Heads of departments, security and intelligent officials;
We pray for our judges.

We ask most earnestly for a Great Awakening.
Let Your Word rule every heart, house, town, and state.
Let Your songs spread through the air
In the land of the free, the home of the brave.

Amen.


Click here for more prayers from our For America Prayer Journal.

For America (Day 80)

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foramericaprayerjournal

Father and Lord,
All glory unto You, the Merciful One.
If it had not been for You, the Sovereign One,
We would have perished long ago.

How many have risen against us!
And each time, You’ve seen us through,
Not by the merits of our actions,
But to the glory of Your holy name.

We would have been swallowed up,
By enemies in war or catastrophe in peace.
Yet You alone have kept us whole,
And we praise You for Your bountiful grace.

We bring before You, Lord, today a special kind of request —
A prayer for unity in the middle of much distress.
We pray for our divided states, hearts, and minds.
Humility has escaped us, Lord; wisdom is scarce.

To whom shall we turn?
None can deliver. None but You.
We praise You and give You thanks,
For You have not given us over to ourselves just yet.

A remnant remains: praying, sharing, loving, fighting …
Pleading with You to intervene
In our hearts and in our land.
Our hope is in You.

Those who hope in You will not be put to shame,
This we know firsthand. Forgive us when we fail
To remember all You’ve done and
The glorious promises of Your Word.

Unite us in Your truth, Lord.
Unite us in life and love.
Lift the blinders from our eyes, and
Help us see clearly once again.

Your Word reminds us that,
As the mountains surround Jerusalem,
So You surround Your people.
We are Your people; in this, we are comforted.

To You we lift our eyes,
In thoughts of You, we are still and wait.
Let Your glory and Your righteous judgment
Be seen by all, on Earth as in Heaven,

Amen.

Click here for more prayers from our For America Prayer Journal.

No God, No Justice

By | LBB, Legal, News and Events | No Comments

The constant cry for justice in our times is tiresome and boring. Like my six-year-old’s toy train’s sounds, they were cute at first. After a few hours, they’re just insufferable. The “justice now” train is not going much farther than my son’s convoy tracking around him in circles as he plays on his knees. They, too, are not really trying to get anywhere. They’re just having fun — while annoying the rest of us.

It’s not that there are no injustices in our polity. Injustices are plain for all to see. The problem is that our response to injustices requires us to define justice in the first place. The childish, emotional reactions of today are so confused people cannot see the irony of their unjust responses to injustice.

Fighting evil with evil brings us no benefit. Who cares who wins that fight? We are left with evil either way. It is evident the Apostle Paul was right to encourage us to “overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:21, emphasis mine). That is easier said than done. Once again, the challenge of semantics, with its dispassionate demands, must be dealt with if we are to find some solutions.

However, the spirit of this age is particularly dreadful at this most needed of tasks. Having abandoned all objective standards, we find ourselves incapable of defining anything. “Justice,” “evil,” “virtue,” “sin,” what is all this but whatever you opine? Even more basic, what is “man,” “woman,” or even “human”?

The results of our willful blindness have made us insecure — fearful. And fear is the foundation of defeat.

Can you see that? Can you see that the promise of “freedom” and “equality” of those who urge us to abandon objective standards is a lie? Having tasted the rotten fruit of secularism, do you hunger for beauty and wonder, peace and benevolence, stability and truth?

If you do, I suggest you move towards reality. The reality of the human heart is a good starting point. All other things are outside of us and somewhat foreign, but we know our own hearts.

The condition of the human heart is nowhere better dissected than in the Bible. You do not have to believe in God or the inspiration of the Scriptures to see that. “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” asks Jeremiah 17:9.

The picture of man’s heart in the Holy Scriptures comports with reality — what we see in ourselves and in those around us. Even the men of God — think David, Moses, or Paul — do despicable things. “[N]o one does good, not even one,” in the language of Romans 3, “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (verses 12 and 23).

In this sense, no one can rightly claim the moral high ground.

But if the Scriptures rightly diagnose the human heart, why not consider its other claims? Might they not properly reflect reality, too?

There is no more important claim in Scripture than its solution to the human condition. It is surprisingly verifiable. For the Bible focuses not on philosophical or spiritual proclamations, but on a person — Jesus of Nazareth. More specifically, a real, historical, empirical event in space and time. Namely, His death on the cross and subsequent resurrection from the dead.

This Jesus is a problem. You see, his life was remarkable — exemplary, really. Every standard we can think of when it comes to “good” and “just” comes from His example. The Golden Rule, doing unto others as you would have them do to you, is His (Luke 6:31). His was the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7). More profound still, He was the personification of those teachings. He lived them.

Jesus was real.

Facing this reality then, what is our response? If, as St. Augustine reminds us, justice demands “giving every man his due,” what is due Jesus?  Well, we must make up our minds about Him. Is He the Son of God? He said, “I and the Father are one,” in John 10:30. And, “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father” in John 14:9.

If this is true, justice demands we give Jesus what is due to God. There can be no justice without Him on the throne.

But this is the very thing the spirit of this age denies: Jesus. It’s Jesus that’s most offensive. Even the abstract idea of “God” is okay, as long as we keep the title open for Muslims, Buddhists, and any others. Jesus’ exclusionary claims, on the other hand, are offensive. Dare we say, “hateful.”

Our predicament is plain to see. We have rejected the very foundations of justice and are surprised when the entire structure comes crumbling down. This is what we are seeing unravel in our streets every day to the bewilderment of all but those holding tightly to that old, ancient script long forgotten by most: The Word of God.

Planned Parenthood Doesn’t Need Our Money

By | Legal, News and Events, Planned Parenthood, Sanctity of Life | No Comments

Planned Parenthood’s annual budget is a massive $1.5 billion. You provide, through your tax dollars, 41% of that.  Is this necessary? The numbers are clear, and the answer is a resounding, “No.”

To understand the financial situation of Planned Parenthood, it is helpful to examine its past two annual reports. These reports offer insight on why the federal government should shift funding away from Planned Parenthood without fear of depriving women of health care.

The two most popular and frequent arguments against shifting funding away from Planned Parenthood revolve around two specific services that Planned Parenthood provides for women: birth control and health examinations. Indeed, Planned Parenthood prides itself on promoting and supporting all aspects of women’s health. However, from 2014-2015 to 2015-2016, the numbers of services in this capacity went down significantly.

While the 2014-2015 report does not include the numbers for well-woman exams, the numbers of this service only account for 2% of all services provided by Planned Parenthood in 2015-2016. Additionally, the amount of birth control distributed through their centers went down by 140,000 from 2014-2015.

The services which liberals offer as evidence of the necessity of Planned Parenthood for women’s health care are decreasing every year, yet the numbers of abortions are growing. In the past year, the number of abortions increased by 5,000. This simple fact, found through a quick overview of Planned Parenthood’s annual report, proves the foundation for the true mission of the largest abortion provider in the nation.

Planned Parenthood, even with the decrease in specific health services, is continually growing both its excess revenue and its net assets. In the past two fiscal years, Planned Parenthood’s net assets have increased by almost $140 million with an excess revenue of $138 million.

How is this possible when Planned Parenthood’s services for women are decreasing steadily? The sad but simple answer is “abortion.” Planned Parenthood conducted 328,348 abortions in 2015-2016, and the profit from those abortions ranges anywhere from $136 million to $364 million.

Why are we funding this organization with our tax dollars?  Add to this the fact that Planned Parenthood is currently under investigation for selling aborted baby parts, and the fact is there is no reason we should be funding them.

It’s time for Congress to reevaluate federal funding for abortion. Planned Parenthood doesn’t need taxpayers’ dollars.  Abortion is not health care, but it is a lucrative business, as we have seen. It is why their services for women are slowly being overwhelmed by STD testing and abortions. Planned Parenthood’s ever-growing wealth indicates that it is more than able to raise a profit on its own.

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Kyle Permann is the 2017 Antonin Scalia Legal Fellow for Concerned Women for America

Repealing ObamaCare and the Future of Women’s Health Care

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Health Centers Compared to Planned Parenthoods (Charlotte Lozier Institute)

A repeal of ObamaCare and the subsequent defunding of Planned Parenthood does not mean the end of easy access to women’s health centers. However, the media is still trying to villainize the Republicans’ attempt to fix the collapsing ObamaCare experiment.

The most recent effort was a CNN article discussing the story of a woman, Ariana Gonzalez, who lives in the Imperial Valley of California. Due to long wait periods at her local doctor’s office and complications following the birth of her youngest child, Gonzalez began to frequent a local Planned Parenthood where she received the needed care as well as birth control.

Before the Planned Parenthood opened in her town, however, Gonzalez often crossed the border into Mexico to receive affordable treatment. She fears that, if the current Senate health care bill becomes law, she will once again have to return to Mexico for affordable medical treatment and birth control because her Planned Parenthood will shut down due to lack of funding.

She criticizes the GOP, most of whom are men, for deciding what is best for women. However, this single quote in the article reveals the true intent behind Gonzalez’ story. While she may indeed struggle to find care, this criticism is a talking point straight from Planned Parenthood’s playbook.

While the media continually promotes the falsehood that conservatives do not care about women, a quick examination of the facts reveals the very opposite. Data from the Charlotte Lozier Institute reveals that there are currently twenty-three federally qualified health centers (FQHCs) for every Planned Parenthood.

FQHCs are facilities that “are required to provide comprehensive services to an underserved area or population, offer a sliding fee scale, have an ongoing quality assurance program, and have a governing board of directors, the majority of whom are patients of the health center.” These FQHCs are alternatives to Planned Parenthoods, and the new Republican health care plan will redirect funding to FQHCS. The funding is meant to improve the quality and expand the service at these centers.

Gonzalez herself has an FQHC in her town, which could provide her with the care that she requires. Yet, in response to this option, she recounts the long wait time when she went to the clinic to receive care for her son.

Wait time is a normal aspect of any doctor’s office, yet returning to Mexico for treatment is not the answer. While Gonzalez waited for four hours to see a doctor in her town, she had to go to Mexico and back, and then, according to her own account, waited three hours to get back to the United States after receiving care across the border. Her assessment is an attempt to help Planned Parenthood, but in reality, the facts don’t support it. Also, with more funding for FQHCs, each clinic will be better equipped to help their patients.

Additionally, since Planned Parenthood does not offer pediatric care, Gonzalez must find care for her family elsewhere. Remember also that Gonzalez’ Planned Parenthood will not necessarily close, even if it ceases to receive federal funding.

Planned Parenthood doesn’t even need to lose the government funding.  It’s just so insistent on holding on to abortion that it is choosing to do so. President Trump promised that he would not cut funding to Planned Parenthood if they ceased to perform abortions. Cecile Richards, the president of Planned Parenthood, responded with indignation: “Planned Parenthood has always stood strong against these attacks on our patients and their ability to access the full range of reproductive health care.” So, it is Planned Parenthood who is choosing their own agenda over the real needs of millions of women.

Like many women, Gonzalez uses Planned Parenthood as a place to quickly and easily acquire her regular birth control. Even with a new health care plan, the HHS birth control mandate will still be in place. In Gonzalez’ town of El Centro, her local health center would be able to fulfill her need for birth control.

Every cent that is spent helping Planned Parenthood concentrate on abortion today will still go towards women’s health. These clinics provide care for a much larger range of people and the whole woman, while Planned Parenthood’s main focus, as we have seen time and again, is abortion.

It’s time to redirect federal funding in a way that benefits the most people. As a result, women like Ariana Gonzalez will receive better care and will not have to help Planned Parenthood continue its abortion promotion, just to get birth control.

___

Kyle Permann is the 2017 Antonin Scalia Legal Fellow for Concerned Women for America

Time to Stop Punishing the Free Exercise of Religion

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Trinity Lutheran v. Comer

Today at the U.S. Supreme Court, as was the case during oral arguments, no one showed up to support the state of Missouri in the Trinity Lutheran v. Comer religious liberty case.  Concerned Women for America (CWA) was at the courthouse steps early, anticipating a big victory for religious freedom.  And we were not disappointed.

The Court held that the state’s policy of denying religious groups an otherwise available public benefit, solely based on their religious affiliation, violates the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment.  The Court said, “[D]enying a generally available benefit solely on account of religious identity imposes a penalty on the free exercise of religion.”

This is a big win for religious liberty and for all Americans, regardless of their religious views.

The facts of the case were simple.  Missouri denied Trinity Lutheran a grant to install playground surfaces made from recycled tires to promote children’s safety, solely because the school was affiliated with a church.  The school had submitted an application to compete for the grant based completely on merit and was found to be in the top 5 out of 44.  Yet, Missouri denied the application stating Article I, Section 7 of the Missouri Constitution.

The Court saw straight through the state’s policy and noted the choice they were putting before Trinity Lutheran: “It may participate in an otherwise available benefit program or remain a religious institution.”

The Court noted that Trinity Lutheran did not seek an entitlement to a subsidy but merely the opportunity to compete on the same level playing field as everyone else.  It noted: “The express discrimination against religious exercise here is not the denial of a grant, but rather the refusal to allow the Church — solely because it is a church — to compete with secular organizations for a grant.”

Chief Justice John Roberts — joined by Justices Anthony Kennedy, Samuel Alito, Elena Kagan, Clarence Thomas and Neil Gorsuch — wrote the majority opinion which said, “It has remained a fundamental principle of this Court’s free exercise jurisprudence that laws imposing ‘special disabilities on the basis of . . . religious status’ trigger the strictest scrutiny.”

On this, the state failed miserably. The Court noted it “offer[ed] nothing more than Missouri’s preference for skating as far as possible from religious establishment concerns.”  And it concluded that, “In the face of the clear infringement on free exercise before the Court, that interest cannot qualify as compelling.”

The Court said its decision was plainly compelled by precedent which said that, “To condition the availability of benefits . . . upon [a recipient’s] willingness to . . . surrender his religiously impelled [status] effectively penalizes the free exercise of his constitutional liberties.”

It also emphasized that, “the Free Exercise Clause protects against ‘indirect coercion or penalties on the free exercise of religion, not just outright prohibitions.’”

Justices Thomas and Gorsuch wrote separate, concurring opinions expressing an even broader application of the First Amendment that should encourage defenders of religious freedom going forward.  Those who, like CWA, supported Justice Gorsuch’s strong religious liberty record, should be proud of his clear thinking.  He wrote separately because he, “worr[ies] that some might mistakenly read [a limiting footnote in the majority opinion] to suggest that only ‘playground resurfacing’ cases, or only those with some association with children’s safety or health, or perhaps some other social good we find sufficiently worthy, are governed by the Court’s opinion.”

 

But as noted above, this was not a “conservative opinion” that would give the enemies of religious freedom any reason to object.  The opinion was joined by Justice Elena Kagan and Stephen Breyer, both from the liberal wing of the Court.

 

Only Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg showed themselves to be so radical in their jurisprudence that they would have upheld Missouri’s hostility toward religious people.  It bears mentioning that they stand all alone in their assessment, as even the state of Missouri had reversed course, even before the case was over, and allowed the school to compete.

 

Victory for CSU Students for Life Group

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CSU campus by Spilly816 (own work)
[CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons.

Students for Life won a decided victory this past week when it reached a settlement with Colorado State University (CSU) in its fight for equal standing with other school organizations. In January Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court on behalf of the Students for Life chapter at CSU after the university denied funding to the group because of the pro-life views of a potential speaker.

CSU originally denied the request for funding because the content of the speech “did not appear entirely unbiased as it addresses the topic of abortion.” School officials further stated that if the group hosted the speaker, “Folks from varying sides of the issue won’t necessarily feel affirmed in attending the event.” Evoking their First and Fourteenth Amendment rights, the student organization sought to overcome the discrimination it faced from CSU and to receive the requested funding.

The settlement encouraged CSU to reevaluate and revise its unconstitutional policies concerning funding for student organizations in two ways. First, the new policies abolished CSU’s Diversity Grant program, the program through which CSU denied funds to the Students for Life chapter. Second, CSU clarified and neutralized the criteria for evaluating funding requests. This new criteria forbids discrimination based on the religious affiliation of a student group. ADF Senior Counsel Tyson Langhofer commented, “University officials shouldn’t use mandatory student fees to favor some views while shutting out others.” Additionally, the settlement recouped the cost of the speaker as well as the student fees of the Students for Life members, a total amount of $600.

Casey Mattox, director of the ADF Center for Academic Freedom, explained the significance of this case: “Today’s college students will be tomorrow’s legislators, judges, commissioners, and voters. That’s why it’s so important that public universities model the First Amendment values they are supposed to be teaching to students.”

As Concerned Women for America (CWA) continues to expand its Young Women for America (YWA) college chapters, we are committed to fighting for the rights of conservative women to freely express their views.  It is a travesty that colleges and universities have been overrun by left-wing ideologies for so long that conservative students are often marginalized.  We are committed to changing that, and we are thankful for the work of other organizations like Students for Life and the Alliance Defending Freedom.

Kelsey Gold, CWA’s Young Women for America Coordinator, who applauded the resolution in this case and said, “YWA has experienced the targeting of left-wing academics first hand, so we know this is a widespread problem that young conservative women continue to encounter regularly.  But we are not deterred.  We are determined to make our mark for freedom, liberty, and intellectual diversity on every campus in the U.S.  Truth is a powerful antidote that refuses to be suppressed.”

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Kyle Permann is the 2017 Antonin Scalia Legal Fellow for Concerned Women for America.

Bernie’s Oppressive America

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Sen. Bernie Sanders’ socialism enjoyed surprising popularity in the last presidential election.  This is disturbing to any student of history, given the overwhelming evidence of oppression that follows the implementation of that treacherous philosophy anywhere in the world.

That explains, in part, his popularity with young people, who are unfortunately and increasingly unaware of the perils of socialism and communism throughout history.

But I hope these young people got a chance to see what Sen. Sanders’ insidious philosophy leads to, as he shamefully attacked Russell T. Vought, who is nominated to be the next deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget, for his Christian faith.

Sen. Sanders said, “You wrote, ‘Muslims do not simply have a deficient theology. They do not know God because they rejected Jesus Christ His Son and they stand condemned.’ Do you believe that statement is Islamophobic?”

As Mr. Vought sought to humbly and patiently explain that yes, he was indeed a Christian, Sen. Sanders continued to interrupt him and press him for his “intolerance.”

At one point Sen. Sanders rudely interrupted to say with much vigor:

I understand you are a Christian, but this country is made up of people who are not just … like I understand that Christianity is the majority religion, but there are other people of different religions in this country and around the world. In your judgment, do you think that people who are not Christians are going to be condemned?

That, ladies and gentlemen, is the face of intolerance and oppression.  In Sen. Sanders’ warped, darkened mind, to believe in any religion is bigoted.  To have an internal peace and assurance of what happens after death is offensive to others.  Just stop and consider how pernicious that is.  What difference does it make for me if someone believes in his mind that I am going to Hell?

None.  Unless it is true, and then I should probably reconsider what I’m doing.  But someone else’s thinking has no bearing on me.

Not in Sen. Sanders’ deviate mind.  His sort of childish maliciousness was described by the famous English writer and philosopher G.K Chesterton when he said, “The homeless intellectualism of an unhappy age often uses the term [bigoted] for anybody who is sure that he is right and other people are wrong.”

This is true enough of Sen. Sanders and contemptible to be sure.  But Sen. Sanders takes his personal insecurities one step further, seeking to implement them in public policy.  Therefore, he condemns this nominee for his Christian faith, saying, “I would simply say, Mr. Chairman, that this nominee is really not someone who is what this country is supposed to be about. I really don’t.”

All because of his faith in Jesus Christ.

In Sen. Sanders’ America, no serious Christian could have a job in government, because they believe in John 3:16, that “God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.”

Sen. Sanders should be ashamed of himself, and all his supporters should open their eyes to the truth about him.  Not to mention he should be ostracized by his colleagues.

He is no pioneer.  Many communist dictators shared his crooked ways while they killed millions and oppressed their countrymen — which is why when our Founding Fathers conceived of our Constitution, they enshrined a clear guard against such imposition by radicals like Bernie Sanders.

Article VI of the U.S. Constitution concludes by saying:

The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the members of the several state legislatures, and all executive and judicial officers, both of the United States and of the several states, shall be bound by oath or affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States. (Emphasis mine.)

Sen. Sanders seemed concerned with the number of Muslims in our country.  He said, “I don’t know how many Muslims there are in America. I really don’t know, probably a couple of million.”

What difference does it make?  Perhaps Sen. Sanders thinks in those terms, in terms of voters.  But Mr. Vought tried to explain the Christian view that all men, regardless of their religion, are to be respected, having been created in the image of God.

Vought started to explain before Sanders interrupted again, “As a Christian, I believe that all individuals are made in the image of God and are worthy of dignity and respect, regardless of their religious beliefs. I believe that, as a Christian, that’s how I should treat all individuals …”

Sen. Sanders’ willful blindness ignores that the freedom and tolerance we enjoy in America were born out of Biblical soil.  Because we believe in a Creator, to Whom we are accountable, we are encouraged to engage one another in conversation, persuading one another with respect and dignity as to the dictates of our faith.

Following Sen. Sanders’ bigoted ways, engagement loses its appeal (as the government demands, under the threat of law, that all beliefs are equal), and we grow divided and fearful of one another.

Bernie Sanders’ America is a dark, oppressive place that would be the death of America as a beacon of freedom, and I hope Americans, regardless of political persuasion, will unite in condemning such a hideous political philosophy.

CWA Statement on President Trump’s Newest Judicial Nominees

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Today, the White House announced a new list of federal judicial nominations. Below is a statement from Concerned Women for America:

“President Trump continues to fulfill his promise to the American people by appointing supremely qualified, constitutionalist judges for judicial nominations. We are thrilled to see that Justice Gorsuch was just the beginning. The president’s faithfulness on this issue renews American’s faith that our judicial system will remain true to the Constitution– reviewing law rather than legislating from the bench.”

Under President Trump, the U.S. Returns to Honoring Life Globally

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One of the things President Donald Trump should be most proud of from his short time in the White House is his decision to move the U.S. away from the hideous business of promoting abortion-on-demand around the world.

On Jan. 23, 2017, just three days after his swearing-in ceremony, President Trump reinstated what has been known as the “Mexico City Policy” (because of its roots at a population conference in Mexico City). The policy, initiated by President Ronald Reagan in 1984, to the delight of most Americans, prohibits U.S. taxpayer dollars from going to organizations that perform or actively promote abortion as a method of family planning abroad.

Big Abortion, of course, despises the policy…

Read the rest of this op-ed as featured exclusively on AmericanThinker.com.