Ben Johnson

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ObamaCare’s first glitch-ridden day; Taxpayers could eventually fund 10 percent of annual abortions

Ben Johnson
Ben Johnson

WASHINGTON, D.C., October 1, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – If you watched the news today, you might believe it was the only part of the government that was functioning. While the media presented images of the federal government closing monuments that do not close, they stated that the new law allowing citizens to sign up for ObamaCare was open for business.

President Obama held a press conference on the eve of the partial government shutdown to tell the Republican-controlled House, “The Affordable Care Act is moving forward.”

“That funding is already in place. You can’t shut it down,” Obama taunted yesterday afternoon.

By 8 a.m. Eastern time, the website HealthCare.gov and associated toll-free phone numbers went live to enroll citizens in local health care exchanges.

The new health care law could finance as much as 10 percent of all abortions nationwide each year. The Charlotte Lozier Institute found that the total number of taxpayer-funded abortions could increase by 18,397 in one year. But the number could range from 71,000 to 111,500.

There are indications this was part of the law's design. Roll Call newspaper reported than an anonymous source within the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) told it “the multistate plans will help [the Obama administration] ‘ensure that in each exchange, there is at least one plan available that covers abortions beyond those allowed by the Hyde Amendment and at least one plan that does not cover abortions beyond those permitted by the Hyde Amendment.”

Aside from direct funding for abortion, Planned Parenthood will benefit from providing contraceptives and vouchers for health care performed by others.

Planned Parenthood affiliates in Iowa, Montana, and New Hampshire also received $655,000 in taxpayer funds to hire and train “navigators.” These Planned Parenthood employees would have access to a vast federal database of sensitive information, including the Social Security number, tax form, bank account, and medical records of every single U.S. citizen.

Navigators are supposed to use this information to help citizens sign up for the best insurance plan based on their circumstances. However, it opens the door to identity theft, fraud, and invasion of privacy.

The navigators' training manual, Health Insurance Marketplace Navigator Standard Operating Procedures Manual, instructs navigators, "Do not leave documents that contain PII [Personally Identifiable Information] or tax return information on printers and fax machines" and to “double-check that the recipient’s fax number is correct, and that someone is able to pick up the faxed information immediately.”

Many of the players involved also raise eyebrows. The British company that received a $1.25 billion federal contract from HHS to process applications in the 36 federally operated state exchanges, Serco, is under investigation by the UK's Serious Fraud Office for allegedly charging the government for services it had not rendered.

Planned Parenthood itself recently agreed to a $4.3 million Medicaid fraud settlement with the state of Texas and is under national investigation by the Government Accountability Office (GAO).

Nonetheless, Iowa had no navigators as of Friday – an indication the law is, in the words of Congressional critics, “not ready for primetime.”

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The law's stated purpose is to reduce the number of uninsured Americans. But despite the federal expansion, the Congressional Budget Office estimates that 33 million Americans will still be uninsured 10 years from now, when the price of the law will reach $1.8 trillion, or double the $900 billion originally promised. A Kaiser Family Foundation poll found that only 13 percent of uninsured Americans even knew enrollment began today.

A Gallup poll found one-quarter of uninsured people plan on paying the fine for violating the individual mandate instead.

Two-thirds of respondents say they will buy insurance, but only 48 percent say they will use the ACA's state exchanges to do so. More than one-third (36 percent) say they certainly will not.

Under the law's terms, anyone 27 years of age or older must sign up for health insurance by March 31, 2014, or pay a fine of $95 or one percent of income, whichever is higher. Penalties increase in the coming years. Penalties rise to $695 or 2.5 percent of income by 2016.

The Obama administration is appealing to its core constituencies to enroll, swelling the rolls of the newly insured.

The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and the National Council of La Raza are marketing ObamaCare to Hispanics.

Meanwhile, lesbian activist Maria De La O wrote in The Washington Post today, “ObamaCare is good for the LGBT community, whether like me, you currently enjoy employer-sponsored health care via a partner’s job, or whether like one in three of us, you currently don’t have health insurance at all.”

This morning's rollout proved less than triumphant, as Americans found the HealthCare.gov's servers swamped. Once they got in, the website proved bug-ridden and unhelpful. President Obama predicted “glitches and bumps,” joining HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius in likening the unveiling to Apple computer's occasionally fixing bugs in its software.

But “every glitch is a human being" who could become frustrated, said a former Bush-41 administration Medicare director.

Already, the law is less popular by the day, the opposite of what Congressional Democrats predicted when they passed the law in 2009. A growing number of companies are cutting back workers' hours to avoid ObamaCare costs.

And as premiums rise, a larger percentage of low-income Americans may be priced out of the market altogether.

House members, many of them elected during the historic blowout 2010 midterm elections, attempted to defund ObamaCare or postpone its implementation for one year during the government shutdown battle – something President Obama's spokesman Jay Carney likened to extortion

“The president seems to say that any effort to continue the health care debate is an effort to undo his reelection,” said former Virginia Governor John Gilmore, who is now president of the Free Congress Foundation. “Remember, the House of Representatives got elected, too.”

“Why is the House disqualified from participation?” he asked. “Does the president's view challenge our Constitutional system?” 

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Indiana Gov. Mike Pence signs the state's Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
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Indiana faces backlash as it becomes 20th state to protect religious liberty

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By Ben Johnson

INDIANAPOLIS, IN, March 27, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – On Thursday, Indiana became the 20th state to prevent the government from forcing people of faith to violate their religious beliefs in business or the public square.

Gov. Mike Pence signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (SB 101) into law, saying the freedom of religion is a preeminent American value.

“The Constitution of the United States and the Indiana Constitution both provide strong recognition of the freedom of religion, but today, many people of faith feel their religious liberty is under attack by government action,” Pence said.

Gov. Pence, a possible dark horse candidate for president in 2016, cited court cases brought by religious organizations and employers, including Catholic universities, against the HHS mandate. “One need look no further than the recent litigation concerning the Affordable Care Act. A private business and our own University of Notre Dame had to file lawsuits challenging provisions that required them to offer insurance coverage in violation of their religious views.”

The new law could also prevent Christian business owners from being compelled to bake a cake or take photographs of a same-sex "marriage" ceremony, if doing so violates their faith. In recent years, business owners have seen an increased level of prosecution for denying such services, despite their religious and moral beliefs.

The state's pro-life organization applauded Pence for his stance. "Indiana's pro-life community is grateful to Gov. Mike Pence for signing the Religious Freedom Restoration Act into law,” said Indiana Right to Life's president and CEO Mike Fichter. “This bill will give pro-lifers a necessary legal recourse if they are pressured to support abortion against their deeply-held religious beliefs.”

“RFRA is an important bill to protect the religious freedom of Hoosiers who believe the right to life comes from God, not government,” he said.

The state RFRA is based on the federal bill introduced by Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-NY, and signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1993. The Supreme Court cited the federal law when it ruled that Hobby Lobby had the right to refuse to fund abortion-inducing drugs, if doing so violated its owners' sincerely held religious beliefs.

In signing the measure – similar to the one Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer vetoed – Pence and the state of Indiana have faced a torrent of venom from opponents of the bill, who claim it grants a “right to discriminate” and raises the spectre of segregation.

"They've basically said, as long as your religion tells you to, it's OK to discriminate against people," said Sarah Warbelow, legal director of the Human Rights Campaign, a national homosexual pressure group.

The Disciples of Christ, a liberal Protestant denomination based in the state capital, has said it will move its 2017 annual convention if the RFRA became state law. The NCAA warned the bill's adoption “might affect future events” in the Hoosier state.

Pence denied such concerns, saying, "This bill is not about discrimination, and if I thought it legalized discrimination in any way I would've vetoed it."

The bill's supporters say that, under the Obama administration, it is Christians who are most likely to suffer discrimination.

"Originally RFRA laws were intended to protect small religious groups from undue burdens on practicing their faith in public life,” said Mark Tooley, president of the Institute on Religion and Democracy. “It was not imagined there would come a day when laws might seek to jail or financially destroy nuns, rabbis or Christian camp counselors who prefer to abstain from the next wave of sexual and gender experimentation. And there's always a next wave.”

The bill's supporters note that it does not end the government's right to coerce people of faith into violating their conscience in every situation. However, it requires that doing so has to serve a compelling government interest and the government must use the least restrictive means possible. “There will be times when a state or federal government can show it has a compelling reason for burdening religious expression – to ensure public safety, for instance,” said Sarah Torre, an expert at the Heritage Foundation. “But Religious Freedom Restoration Acts set a high bar for the government to meet in order to restrict religious freedom.”

Restricting the ability of government to interfere in people's private decisions, especially their religious decisions, is the very purpose of the Constitution, its supporters say.

"Religious freedom is the cornerstone of all liberty for all people,” Tooley said. “Deny or reduce it, and there are no ultimate limits on the state's power to coerce."

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Fight pornography. Beat pornography. And join the ranks of those who support their fellow men and women still fighting.
Jonathon van Maren Jonathon van Maren Follow Jonathon

Porn is transforming our men from protectors into predators. Fight back.

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By Jonathon van Maren

Since I’ve gotten involved in anti-pornography work, I’ve met countless men who struggle, fight, or have beaten pornography. Each person seems to deal with the guilt and shame that accompanies porn use in a different way—some deny that it’s “all that bad,” others pretend that they could “stop whenever they want,” many insist that “everyone is doing it,” and most, when pressed, admit to a deep sense of self-loathing.

One worry surfaces often in conversation: What do my past or current struggles with pornography say about me as a man? Can I ever move past this and have a meaningful and fulfilling relationship?

I want to address this question just briefly, since I’ve encountered it so many times.

First, however, I’ve written before how I at times dislike the language of “struggling” with pornography or pornography “addiction,” not because they aren’t accurate but because too often they are used as an excuse rather than an explanation. It is true, many do in fact “struggle” with what can legitimately be considered an addiction, but when this language is used to describe an interminable battle with no end (and I’ve met dozens of men for whom this is the case), then I prefer we use terminology like “fighting my porn habit.” A semantic debate, certainly, but one I think is important. We need to stop struggling with porn and start fighting it.

Secondly, pornography does do devastating things to one’s sense of masculinity. We know this. Pornography enslaves men by the millions, perverting their role as protector and defender of the more vulnerable and turning them into sexual cannibals, consuming those they see on-screen to satisfy their sexual appetites.

What often starts as mere curiosity or an accidental encounter can turn into something that invades the mind and twists even the most basic attractions. I’ve met porn users who can’t believe the types of things they want to watch. They haven’t simply been using porn. Porn has actively reshaped them into something they don’t recognize and don’t like. 

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Porn is this generation’s great assault on masculinity and the role of men in society. It is essential that we win this battle for the sake of society’s survival. Contrary to what the gender-bending and family-morphing progressive elites claim, good husbands and good fathers and good church leaders are necessary for a healthy society. But pornography is destroying marriages, creating distant and disconnected fathers, and, metaphoricaclly castrating men, hindering their ability and desire to make a positive difference in the society around us.

So, with this sobering set of facts in mind let’s return to the question: what do pornography struggles, past and present, say about a man?

The proper way to respond is with everything that is good about masculinity. We have to fight pornography as men have fought countless evils throughout the ages. We need to fight pornography to protect women, and wives, and children, and our society at large. This is how pornography threatens society, by castrating men, and turning them from protectors into predators. Rooting out the evil in our own lives allows us to better fulfill the role we are called to perform in the lives of others. Battling our own demons enables us to battle the wider cultural demons. Every day without porn is another bit of virtue built. Virtue is not something you’re born with. Virtues are habits that you build. And one day without porn is the first step towards the virtue of being porn-free.

Many men ask me if men who have had past porn addictions are cut out for being in a relationship or working in the pro-life movement or in other areas where we are called to protect and defend the weak and vulnerable. And the answer to that is an unequivocal yes. Our society needs men who know what it means to fight battles and win. Our society needs men who can say that they fought porn and they beat porn, because their families and their friends were too important to risk. Our society needs men who rose to the challenge that the evils of their generation threw at them, and became better men as the result. And our society needs men who can help their friends and their sons and those around them fight the plague of pornography and free themselves from it, too—and who can understand better and offer encouragement more relevant than someone who has fought and been freed themselves?

So the answer to men is yes. Fight pornography. Beat pornography. And join the ranks of those who support their fellow men and women still fighting. Lend them support and encouragement. We cannot change the fact that porn has left an enormous path of destruction in its wake. But we can change the fact that too many people aren’t fighting it. We can change our own involvement. And we can rise to the challenge and face this threat to masculinity with all that is good about masculinity.

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Red Alert!

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By John-Henry Westen

I don’t like having to do this, but we have always found it best to be totally upfront with our readers: our Spring fundraising campaign is now worrying us! 

You see, with just 6 days remaining, we have only raised 30% of our goal, with $125,000 still left to raise. That is a long ways to go yet.

We have no choice but to reach our minimum goal of $175,000 if we are going to be able to continue serving the 5+ million readers who rely on us every month for investigative and groundbreaking news reports on life, faith and family issues.

Every year, LifeSite readership continues to grow by leaps and bounds. This year, we are again experiencing record-breaking interest, with over 6 million people visiting our website last month alone!

This unprecedented growth in turn creates its own demand for increased staff and resources, as we struggle to serve these millions of new readers.

And especially keep this in mind. As many more people read LifeSite, our mission of bringing about cultural change gets boosted. Our ultimate goal has always been to educate and activate the public to take well-informed, needed actions.

Another upside to our huge growth in readers is that it should be that much easier to reach our goal. To put it simply: if each person who read this one email donated whatever they could (even just $10) we would easily surpass our goal! 

Today, I hope you will join the many heroes who keep this ship afloat, and enable us to proclaim the truth through our reporting to tens of millions of people every year!

Your donations to LifeSite cause major things to happen! We see that every day and it is very exciting. Please join with us in making a cultural impact with a donation of ANY AMOUNT right now. 

You can also donate by phone or mail. We would love to hear from you!

Thank you so much for your support. 

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