SIGN UP TODAY FOR THE SCHOOL CHOICE SUMMIT

Don’t forget to sign up for the Iowa School Choice Summit on Wednesday, Sept. 16. Sponsored by our partners at the Iowa Alliance for Choice in Education, the event will be held at the State Historical Building (600 E. Locust in Des Moines) from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

There will be sessions for parents, School Tuition Organization leaders and school personnel. The summit will conclude with a keynote address by Virginia Walden Ford, a parent who led efforts to bring school choice to our nation’s capitol. Gov. Branstad and Lt. Gov. Reynolds will visit the summit as well. I know it’s difficult to get away for a day in the fall but I think you will appreciate the information.

In advance of the summit, Iowa ACE has put up a new video featuring parents’ stories about choice in education. Take a look.

MEASURE TO DEFUND PLANNED PARENTHOOD FAILS

A measure to redirect health care funding away from Planned Parenthood has failed to receive the 60 votes required to overcome a filibuster in the U.S. Senate. The bill, S. 1881, did receive a majority of votes, 53-46. Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa was the main sponsor of S. 1881.

Planned Parenthood receives over $500 million in taxpayer funding annually. The bill would have kept the same funding levels for programs but channel the money to other health care organizations that do not promote abortion.

“The most recent revelations about Planned Parenthood’s willingness to traffic in fetal tissue from abortions, and to alter abortion methods not for any reason related to women’s health but to obtain more ‘intact’ organs, is the latest demonstration of a callousness toward women and their unborn children that is shocking to many Americans,” said Cardinal Sean O’Malley, Archbishop of Boston and chair of the U.S. bishops’ pro-life committee. “The Catholic Church comes to this issue from a perspective rooted in experience. Catholic charitable agencies and pregnancy help centers have helped countless pregnant women find life-affirming alternatives to abortion.”

The bishops’ pro-life grassroots arm, the National Committee for a Human Life Amendment, has an easy way to thank Sen. Ernst and Sen. Charles Grassley for their yes votes on the issue. Click here to go to a sample email.

FEDERAL ACTION ALERTS

The U.S. bishops are asking us to take action on two issues this month. First, the United States and its P5+1 partners have reached a historic agreement with Iran that aims to curb Iran’s development of nuclear weapons while allowing the use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. We are being asked to encourage Congress to endorse negotiations with Iran. Click here for background information and to send a message.

Second, now’s a good time to tell your members of Congress you’re interested in criminal justice reform.

Congress has the opportunity to pass substantive legislation to reform our nation’s broken criminal justice system. The United States imprisons more people than any other nation. Incarceration costs have quadrupled in the past two decades with our nation spending an average of $29,000 annually per prisoner to house each one. According to the USCCB, it is simply too costly financially and in terms of lives negatively affected to continue to incarcerate people at this level.

There is bi-partisan support and agreement among a diverse body of advocates spanning the philosophical spectrum for reform. In September, as part of his trip to the United States, Pope Francis will visit a prison outside Philadelphia reflecting his consistent support for prisoners and for justice and mercy. What could be a better message from our government than to show Pope Francis our own commitment to these principles as reflected in our criminal justice system?

As the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Sen. Grassley is a key person on this issue. Learn more about the issue and send an email today.