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Topeka, Kansas, Nov 19, 2019 / 12:17 am (CNA).- As Kansas considers expanding its Medicaid program, the state’s Catholic Conference said its support is contingent upon the establishment of pro-life safeguards.

Last week, the Special Committee on Medicaid Expansion - a joint House and Senate panel - held two days of hearings discussing an expansion of KanCare.

Chuck Weber, executive director of the Kansas Catholic Conference, said in his Nov. 12 testimony that the conference cannot support the legislation unless it explicitly excludes the expansion of abortion coverage, includes conscience protections for healthcare organizations and individuals, and a state constitutional amendment is enacted to clarify that abortion is not a natural right.

There are currently an estimated 400,000 people enrolled in Medicaid in Kansas. The Medicaid expansion bill would extend eligibility to an additional 130,000 low-income adults and children, the Topeka Capital-Journal reports.

April Holman, executive director of Alliance for a Healthy Kansas, a coalition supporting the expansion, said there is an insurance gap where people cannot afford private health insurance but make too much money to qualify for Medicaid.

Weber said the current healthcare system needs to be revised, noting that hospital emergency rooms are required to accept all patients, and therefore become the primary healthcare access point for many uninsured people, which raises costs for everyone.

Even for those with health insurance, he said,  rapidly rising deductibles may lead to “crushing debt.”

But while the system needs to be updated, Weber said the proposal for Medicaid expansion presents “scientific and ethical” concerns.

The Kansas Catholic Conference will not support a Medicaid expansion proposal unless it clearly excludes expanding abortion coverage and includes conscience protections for healthcare institutions and professionals, he said.

In addition, the conference believes Kansas must adopt a state constitutional amendment clarifying that abortion is not a “natural right.” The conference believes this is necessary due to the Hodes & Nauser v. Schmidt ruling earlier this year, in which the Kansas Supreme Court ruled that abortion is a “natural right.”

Weber said the ruling established a right to “virtually unlimited abortion” and used radical language that may provide a legal gateway into physician-assisted suicide and irreversible gender transition procedures.

“This ruling raises the specter of publicly funded surgical and chemical abortion,” he said. “The medical community, not an unfettered and unregulated abortion industry, best provides authentic healthcare for vulnerable women and babies.”

During the hearing, the special committee approved a motion by Rep. Will Carpenter (R-El Dorado) to enable health care providers to decline treatments for reasons of conscience, and stating that the proposed expansion of Medicaid would not broaden abortion access, according to the Topeka Capital-Journal.

 

Washington D.C., Nov 18, 2019 / 04:00 pm (CNA).- A bill to legalize the buying and selling of sex in Washington, DC, will not move forward after widespread opposition and concern that the bill lacked enough support of the city council to be passed. 

The Community Safety and Health Amendment Act of 2019 (B23-0318) would have made the capital the first city in the United States to fully legalize prostitution. 

Councilman David Grosso (I-At Large), who authored the bill, said that he knew it would be an “uphill battle” to become law in D.C., but that he has not given up the issue. The Washington Post reported that Grosso thinks the bill should instead be placed on the ballot in the district and voted on by city residents. 

On November 1, Council member Charles Allen (D-Ward 6), who leads the Committee on Judiciary and Public Safety, which hosted a hearing on the bill, told local media WAMU9 that the council would not vote on B23-0318 this year. 

“There were incredibly sharp divisions about what the path forward would look like,” said Allen. “It did not seem to be consensus at all, and I don’t hear the support from my colleagues.”

Despite the lack of further action on the bill, Allen said that he thought it had sparked a “very important conversation” that had given “a lot of voice to a community that is already very marginalized.” 

On October 17, D.C. Council held a 14-hour hearing that included passionate testimony from people on both sides of the issue. Testifying against passing the bill included the Archdiocese of Washington, former sex workers, and Mayor Muriel Bowser’s office. 

The American Civil Liberties Union and current sex workers in DC were among the many who testified in favor of the bill’s passage. 

Council Chairman Phil Mendelson (D) reported that the majority of the feedback his office had received about the bill was negative. He rejected claims that he had somehow rigged the DC Council to be against the legalization of prostitution. 

Mendelson said the controversy over B23-0318 was “unusually large” and that it is very rare for a hearing to stretch 14 hours with many people opposed to the bill.

“We will continue to look for ways to best serve the interest of victims,” said Mendelson. “Addressing the issue of prostitution again in this form seems unlikely.”

Peoria, Ill., Nov 18, 2019 / 02:42 pm (CNA).- The Diocese of Peoria announced Monday that Venerable Fulton Sheen will be beatified Dec. 21 at the city's Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Immaculate Conception.

Sheen had been ordained a priest of the diocese in that cathedral Sept. 20, 1919.

“It seems entirely fitting that the Beatification will take place at the end of this 100-year anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood,” the Peoria diocese stated Nov. 18.

Sheen was born in Illinois in 1895, and was 24 when he was ordained a priest.

He was appointed auxiliary bishop of New York in 1951, and he remained there until his appointment as Bishop of Rochester in 1966. He retired in 1969 and moved back to New York City until his death in 1979.

Sheen was a beloved television catechist during the 1950s and '60s in the United States. His television show “Life is Worth Living” reached an audience of millions.

The Congregation for the Causes of Saints promulgated a decree July 6 recognizing a miracle attributed to Sheen's intercession, which allowed for his beatification.

The miracle involves the unexplained recovery of James Fulton Engstrom, a boy born apparently stillborn in September 2010 to Bonnie and Travis Engstrom of the Peoria-area town of Goodfield. He showed no signs of life as medical professionals tried to revive him. The child’s mother and father prayed to Archbishop Sheen to heal their son.

The Peoria diocese opened the cause for Sheen’s canonization in 2002, after Archdiocese of New York said it would not explore the case. In 2012, Benedict XVI recognized the heroic virtues of the archbishop.

The beatification follows legal battles in civil courts over the location of Sheen's body.

His corpse was transferred to the Peoria cathedral June 27 after a protracted series of suits.

Sheen’s will had declared his wish to be buried in the Archdiocese of New York Calvary Cemetery. Soon after Sheen died, Cardinal Terence Cooke of New York asked Joan Sheen Cunningham, Sheen’s niece and closest living relative, if his remains could be placed in the crypt of St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City, and she consented.

In September 2014, Bishop Daniel Jenky of Peoria suspended Sheen’s cause on the grounds that the Holy See expected Sheen’s remains to be in the Peoria diocese.

Cunningham has since said that Sheen would have wanted to have been interred in Peoria if he knew that he would be considered for sainthood. In 2016, she filed a legal complaint seeking to have her uncle’s remains moved to the Peoria cathedral.