Jan 17

TCA Media Monitoring January 31, 2017

1. New York Gov. Cuomo Wants to Amend State Constitution to Protect Abortion Rights: Democrat says guaranteeing rights in state is important when they seem under threat at federal level.

By Leslie Brody, The Wall Street Journal, January 31, 2017, Pg. A2

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo called for an amendment to the state constitution Monday that would codify a woman’s right to have an abortion in New York.

The Democratic governor announced the plan at a rally supporting Planned Parenthood in Albany, saying that it was important to guarantee abortion rights in the state at a time when they seemed under threat at the federal level.

His proposal seeks to put an amendment on the ballot, which would take several years because two consecutive legislatures would have to approve it before putting the question to voters.

Mr. Cuomo’s legal counsel, Alphonso David, said the exact language had yet to be drafted, but the governor wants to codify current protections that guarantee a woman’s right to terminate a pregnancy prior to fetal viability, and throughout pregnancy when necessary to preserve the mother’s life or health.

Abortion opponents predicted Mr. Cuomo’s plan would fail. Dennis Poust, spokesman for the New York State Catholic Conference, objected to enshrining in the state constitution a health exception for late-term abortions, among other concerns.

“The health exception has been interpreted very broadly by the courts to include the emotional and psychological health of the mother,” he said. “It’s a license for abortion on demand.”


2. Catholic Church Differs With Donald Trump on Immigration, Refugees: Leaders denounce restrictions by a president with whom they are allied on other issues.

By Ian Lovett, The Wall Street Journal, January 31, 2017, Pg. A5

When President Donald Trump signed an executive order last week cutting funding for foreign organizations that perform abortion, Catholic leaders cheered, convinced the new administration would be an ally on that core issue.

But on another key issue for Catholics—immigration—church leaders and the new administration are in conflict.

Still, Archbishop Gomez, who was recently tapped for a leadership position in the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, which will guide the church’s relationship with the Trump administration, said he was hopeful that “this challenging situation is going to bring good.”

“It’s more in the public eye now,” he said. “The last administration deported millions of people and nobody said anything. Now there’s talk about building a border wall, and everyone’s talking about it. So immigration is becoming a hot issue, a priority.”

Ashley Feasley, director of policy for migration and refugee services for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, was optimistic that people who were brought to the country illegally as children wouldn’t be targeted for deportation.

The Obama administration offered legal protection to many unauthorized immigrants who arrived as children, and Mr. Trump has, thus far, taken no steps to reverse that action.


3. Tougher scrutiny in store for D.C.: House committee plans sweeping review of city’s laws, spending decisions.

By Aaron C. Davis and Peter Jamison, The Washington Post, January 31, 2017, Pg. B1

The House committee that oversees the District plans to exercise its authority over the nation’s capital more aggressively than at any time in decades, reviewing local laws and spending decisions to ensure they are “in line with Congressional mandates and federal law.”

The plan to conduct sweeping reviews of actions by D.C. lawmakers is part of a two-year agenda published by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. The committee is expected to adopt it Tuesday.

It comes as the committee’s chairman, Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), has vowed to stop the District from legalizing physician-assisted suicide.

Congress last exerted direct control over District operations in the late 1990s, when it created a federal control board to rescue the city from fiscal crisis.

A closer review of D.C. laws could quickly highlight District policies that have for decades quietly existed in conflict with federal laws.

Chaffetz’s committee could also target the assisted suicide law. The legislation, passed by the D.C. Council and signed into law by Bowser late last year, includes hundreds of thousands of dollars that D.C. plans to spend to teach health-care professionals how to approach assisted suicide.

“I don’t think there’s any federal law that allows doctors to engage in assisted suicide,” said Hans von Spakovsky, senior legal fellow at the Heritage Foundation, who was among several conservatives who heralded the committee’s plan Monday.

The committee’s draft plan states that it will “work to strengthen Congress’s oversight of the District and exercise of its plenary legislative authority granted by the Constitution.”


4. What do critics of refugee ban really think about America?

By Mark Tooley, The Hill, January 30, 2017, 11:17 AM

Numerous Christian groups have denounced the new moratorium on refugees from seven predominantly Muslim countries, including a coalition of mostly liberal Protestants, of Evangelicals, and the U.S. Catholic Conference of Bishops. 

But there is one important section of the refugee executive order on which they do not directly comment and which merits serious Christian reflection:

“In order to protect Americans, the United States must ensure that those admitted to this country do not bear hostile attitudes toward it and its founding principles. The United States cannot, and should not, admit those who do not support the Constitution, or those who would place violent ideologies over American law. In addition, the United States should not admit those who engage in acts of bigotry or hatred (including “honor” killings, other forms of violence against women, or the persecution of those who practice religions different from their own) or those who would oppress Americans of any race, gender, or sexual orientation.”

Here is stated what America generally has always expected of persons who come to America to stay: that they will uphold American democratic principles about legal equality and liberty for all. 

The language from the executive order reiterates these points, not naming radical Islam, but obviously having in mind theocratic Islam’s second class regard for women and religious minorities, plus its torments for homosexuals.

Religious critics of the executive order insist current screening of refugee applicants is sufficient. And many point out that few refugees historically have become violent. Yet these critics typically don’t address the imperative of upholding America’s democratic ethos.

America’s various religious traditions, starting with the early Protestants and later joined by Catholics and Jews, were creators and ardent stewards of America’s unique ethos of democracy and liberty. Persons of other faiths and no faith have faithfully melded into this ethos.

But this ethos must always be articulated and defended if it is to persevere for the common good of all.

Mark Tooley, author of Methodism and Politics in the Twentieth Century, is president of the Institute on Religion and Democracy and editor of Providence: A Journal of Christianity & American Foreign Policy.


5. D.C. defied a responsibility of governing. 

By Jason Chaffetz and Jim DeMint, The Washington Post, January 29, 2017, Pg. C4

The D.C. Council last year made a serious error when it passed the Death With Dignity Act, legalizing physician-assisted suicide in the District. Now it is Congress’s duty and constitutional obligation to ensure the act does not stand.

Those who argue that the D.C. Council, in its capacity as the local government, has spoken for the citizens of the District ignore a central and crucial fact: The awesome responsibility of acting as the state for the citizens of the District lies not in the hands of a local government, but with Congress. Article 1, Section 8, Clause 17 of the Constitution vests Congress with exclusive legislative jurisdiction.

During the review of the Death With Dignity Act, Congress can and should pass a joint resolution of disapproval. If it does and the resolution is signed by the president, the misguided Death With Dignity Act would be nullified.

From the earliest political philosophers to our country’s Founding Fathers to renowned literary giants, the sanctity and value of life has long been extolled.

The District’s bill is incompatible with this priority to prevent the needless death and grief caused by suicides.

We should not now or ever take steps to help facilitate, encourage or tacitly accept measures that prematurely end lives.

In the interest of protecting D.C. residents, it is imperative that Congress act.


The media monitoring clips provide a snapshot from national newspapers and major Catholic press outlets of coverage regarding significant Catholic Church news and current issues with which the Catholic Church is traditionally or prominently engaged - such as religious liberty and other fundamental Church concerns. The clips are not intended to be an exhausted source of in-depth coverage on any particular issue. The opinions and views expressed in the articles do not necessarily reflect the views of The Catholic Association.