Weekly Review

TV and Movie Ratings Under Fire, Defunding Planned Parenthood, States Battle for Life

Rating the Ratings. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) may change its TV rating system. It announced this week it is seeking public comments on the 22-year-old ratings system, known as TV parental guidelines. Last month, Congress ordered the FCC to review the ratings system and report on its effectiveness within 90 days as part of a recently passed funding bill. The current ratings system is a result of the 1996 Telecommunications Act. The system has been controversial since the beginning, however, in part because television networks determine their own shows’ ratings. Also, the names of the members of the 24-member TV Parental Guidelines Oversight Monitoring Board are kept secret.

Speaking of Ratings. In one of the ironies of modern life, a 16-year-old girl can get an abortion without parental consent, but she can’t watch the pro-life movie “Unplanned.” The Motion Picture Association of America gave the movie an R rating. In fairness, the movie does have a graphic scene depicting an abortion that is definitely not suitable for younger viewers. The movie tells the story of Abby Johnson, who directed a Planned Parenthood facility before becoming a pro-life activist. The writers and directors of the movie have expressed outrage at the R rating. “We consider the MPAA’s current standards to be deeply flawed, insofar as they allow scenes of remarkably graphic sex, violence, degradation, murder and mayhem to have a PG-13 rating, whereas our film, highlighting the grave dangers of abortion in a straightforward manner, is considered dangerous for the American people to view,” wrote Cary Solomon and Chuck Konzelman, in a letter to the MPAA, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The movie is due in theaters March 29.

States Fight Back. Last week we told you of new rules by the Trump administration designed to strip about $60-million in Title X funding from Planned Parenthood. This week, the states are fighting back. California, Connecticut, Oregon, and Washington said they will sue the Trump administration to keep the federal funds flowing. Existing rules say abortion providers can receive Title X money but cannot spend it on abortion-related activities. The new rules, if allowed to go into effect, would prohibit Title X funds from going to abortion providers, even if the money is not directly used for abortion. Pro-lifers say even if the government dollars aren’t used for abortion, they allow the abortion provider to use other funds more freely for abortions. Barring a court injunction, the new rules go into effect 60 days after their publication, and Title X recipients have 120 days to separate abortion operations from their Title X operations.

Battleground States. In other states, the fight for life has been a mixed bag. In Missouri, lawmakers are considering a bill that states “God is the author of life” and “all persons have a natural right to life.” The bill, if it becomes law, would protect life “from conception to natural death” and would shield the unborn should the U.S. Supreme Court ever overturn its Roe v. Wade decision that led to the legalization of abortion nationwide in 1973. The Arkansas House of Representatives passed a similar bill. However, the General Assembly of Illinois is considering a bill similar to the new law in New York that makes abortion legal to the point of birth. In other states: Kentucky, Montana, Utah, and Wyoming are all considering laws that would protect the unborn.

Milestones. The Boston Massacre, in which British troops shot five Americans, took place on this date in 1770. The event was galvanized colonial sentiment against the British and was a contributor to the American war for independence…. Christoph Pezel, a German theologian and a significant figure of the Reformation, was born on this date in 1539.

 

Warren Cole Smith is the Vice-President of Mission Advancement for the Colson Center for Christian Worldview.

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