Tony Perkins / Aug. 4, 2014

As Religious Freedom Awakens, U.S. Must Not Snooze

Just last week, the State Department released its 2013 *International Religious Freedom Report*. The report highlights numerous religious freedom violations taking place world-wide throughout 2013, and documents many of these violations in a serious and detailed manner which will be helpful to a variety of interested groups and policy makers. This attention to international religious freedom issues is welcome as news of religious oppression increases worldwide. In recent weeks, all available evidence indicates a genocide is underway in Iraq as the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) kills and drives off Christians and exterminates Christian culture. Yet at the same time, we are reminded of our own country’s role as a safe haven for the persecuted as Meriam Ibrahim made her way Thursday night to freedom in the United States.

Just last week, the State Department released its 2013 International Religious Freedom Report. The report highlights numerous religious freedom violations taking place world-wide throughout 2013, and documents many of these violations in a serious and detailed manner which will be helpful to a variety of interested groups and policy makers. This attention to international religious freedom issues is welcome as news of religious oppression increases worldwide. In recent weeks, all available evidence indicates a genocide is underway in Iraq as the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) kills and drives off Christians and exterminates Christian culture. Yet at the same time, we are reminded of our own country’s role as a safe haven for the persecuted as Meriam Ibrahim made her way Thursday night to freedom in the United States.

Yet much still needs to be done. While the State Department brings attention to many serious violations in its report, it fails to name any new nations as “countries of particular concern” despite evidence of serious religious freedom violations by their governments. And while President Obama has finally nominated a new Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom, he has opposed legislation to establish a Special Envoy to Promote Religious Freedom of Religious Minorities in the Near East and South Central Asia. More disturbingly, the president’s silence on the Christian genocide in Iraq is pitiful in light of the United States’ international obligations and historical role as a moral voice on these matters. The American public must demand that President Obama call what is taking place in Iraq what it is – genocide.

Virginia Gov. Puts Emergency Care for Women on Hold

How much political cover can $1.7 million buy Planned Parenthood? That’s how much America’s leading abortion provider gave to Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s election campaign, and judging by how recklessly he’s working to roll back common-sense regulations on abortion providers, the answer seems to be: quite a lot.

Before McAuliffe was elected, the Virginia General Assembly passed abortion regulations in the wake of revelations the now infamous Philadelphia abortionist Kermit Gosnell’s “house of horrors.” (Gosnell would ultimately be convicted on three counts of manslaughter and is now serving time.) A lot of state legislatures responded by plugging holes in their statutes recently: In the past four years, 226 pro-life state bills passed – the four best years for pro-life state measures since Roe v. Wade – and that doesn’t even begin to count the number of states where pro-abortion governors and health officials quietly revised their regulations. (Maryland’s Health Department, for example, made it illegal to transport women, mid-abortion, across state lines in order to dodge tighter abortion laws in other states.)

Gov. McAuliffe quickly appointed new members to the Virginia state Board of Health and charged them with re-examining the new regulations – regulations that require abortion providers to meet basic health and safety requirements for ambulatory surgical centers in Virginia. One example is requiring hallways wide enough to move a patient to an ambulance in case of complications. This isn’t a theoretical concern: A woman bled to death in Gosnell’s Philadelphia clinic when EMT’s had to clear cramped and cluttered hallways before wheeling her out.

Ironically, one of the abortion providers McAuliffe is protecting was charged in Maryland with transporting women across state lines during their abortions to dodge state abortion laws. Dr. Steven Brigham now operates two abortion facilities in Virginia, even though he’s had his license to perform abortions revoked, suspended, or allowed to lapse in multiple states. Brigham has been kicked out of Maryland, Delaware, New York, and Pennsylvania, but although his medical license was revoked in Virginia he has been allowed to continue operating abortion facilities in the state.

Gov. McAuliffe claims his pro-abortion policies make him an advocate for women. How many Virginia women will have to die before he shakes off Planned Parenthood’s hush money and stops defending abortionists like Steven Brigham?

This is a publication of the Family Research Council. Mr. Perkins is president of FRC.

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