This week saw two major positive developments in the pro-life movement.
The first involves the ability of pastors and pro-life leaders to speak out about specific political candidates during elections. In 1954, there was language (called the Johnson Amendment) added to IRS regulations that prevented nonprofit organizations and churches from expressing opinions for or against political candidates during an election campaign. The penalty for violating this regulation was possible loss of nonprofit status. For six decades, this has been viewed as an infringement on religious liberty and free speech, but the regulations have not changed, and nonprofits—including American Life League—have been investigated by the IRS for possible violation of this regulation.
One of Trump's campaign promises was to get rid of the Johnson Amendment. When the new Congress took over in January a bill was introduced in the House to do just that. The bill is H.R. 172 and its sole purpose is to “restore the Free Speech and First Amendment rights of churches and exempt organizations by repealing the 1954 Johnson Amendment.” Although Congress has not yet taken any action on this bill, this week President Trump decided to sign an executive order. Section 2 of the EO says, in part:
All executive departments and agencies shall, to the greatest extent practicable and to the extent permitted by law, respect and protect the freedom of persons and organizations to engage in religious and political speech. In particular, the Secretary of the Treasury shall ensure, to the extent permitted by law, that the Department of the Treasury does not take any adverse action against any individual, house of worship, or other religious organization on the basis that such individual or organization speaks or has spoken about moral or political issues from a religious perspective . . . the term "adverse action" means the imposition of any tax or tax penalty; the delay or denial of tax-exempt status; the disallowance of tax deductions for contributions made to entities exempted from taxation under section 501(c)(3) of title 26, United States Code; or any other action that makes unavailable or denies any tax deduction, exemption, credit, or benefit.
In another significant action this week, the House passed H.R. 1628, which, in addition to repealing and replacing parts of Obamacare, takes all Medicaid funds away from Planned Parenthood for the next year. PP receives almost $400 million a year in Medicaid reimbursements. This bill passed at the urging of the president and now goes to the Senate. If the Senate also passes the bill, it will go to Trump, who has stated he will sign it. So, as of today, we are just one step away from taking from Planned Parenthood over 70 percent of its taxpayer funding. Praise God!
We will keep you posted as this bill moves through the Senate.