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Dispatches Human Race

Trump wins in court on abortion funding

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco, Calif. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)


The Trump administration has the right to withhold federal family planning funding from facilities that provide or refer for abortions, a U.S. appeals court ruled on Feb. 24. In a 7-4 decision, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said the U.S. Supreme Court approved nearly identical regulations in 1991. Title X pays for family planning services for low-income patients. Previously, abortion providers like Planned Parenthood could receive Title X funds but not spend them on abortions. Critics said the money could serve as backdoor abortion funding by supporting the administrative costs of facilities. Under President Trump, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services ruled that Title X recipients could not share a building with an abortion center or refer patients for abortion. Planned Parenthood pulled out of the program, losing about $60 million a year in taxpayer money.


Katherine Johnson, an African American mathematician who worked on early space missions, died on Feb. 24 at age 101. She worked as one of the “computers” who calculated rocket trajectories and Earth orbits by hand for NASA. Until 1958, she worked with other black women in a racially segregated computing unit in Hampton, Va. Their work inspired the Oscar-nominated 2016 film Hidden Figures. In 1961, Johnson worked on the mission that carried an American astronaut (Alan Shepard) into space for the first time. She also helped calculate the trajectory for Apollo 11’s flight to the moon in 1969.


An internal investigation by the L’Arche organization has concluded the group’s founder, Jean Vanier, long heralded for his work among the disabled, had sexually abused at least six adult women and covered up a pattern of “deviant sexual practices” by his mentor, Dominican Catholic scholar Thomas Philippe. The report issued on Feb. 22 by L’Arche International is “gut-wrenching” for Catholics who revered Vanier and for others who worked with or followed the 154 L’Arche communities. Vanier, a Canadian Catholic philosopher and theologian who died last year, received the 2015 Templeton Prize.


The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. BSA faces civil lawsuits filed on the behalf of former Scouts claiming sexual abuse. Last year, the Abused in Scouting group announced it had found nearly 2,000 people who said they were abused while in the Boy Scouts. Chapter 11 bankruptcy will put all lawsuits on hold for a settlement negotiation, allow BSA to continue operating as a group, and make it possible for BSA to pay reparations to victims over time.