1. Alone in a bathroom, Fear and uncertainty of a post-Roe medication abortion, By Caroline Kitchener, The Washington Post, April 11, 2024, 6:00 AM
Overwhelming evidence shows that abortion pills are safe and effective, and that many patients who take them go through the process without much difficulty, experiencing little more than the sharp cramping and bleeding of an unusually heavy period. That is true even when the pills, approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration with a prescription for use through 10 weeks of pregnancy, are taken somewhat independently — administered by a doctor over text, email, or a call and mailed to the patient at home.
But the experience can feel very different in states where abortion is illegal. As more women in states with abortion bans choose to end their pregnancies on their own, without directly interacting with a medical professional, they are thrust into a largely ad hoc, unregulated system of online and grass-roots abortion pill distributors — an experience that, while deemed generally safe by medical experts, can be confusing, scary and, at times, deeply traumatic.

Adding to the difficulty is a polarized political debate with dueling narratives about what it’s actually like to take abortion pills. Antiabortion activists say the pills are highly dangerous, or even deadly, for pregnant women — false assertions based largely on studies that have now been retracted by the journal that published them. Meanwhile, many abortion rights advocates describe the experience as straightforward and easy to handle on your own, a characterization that some women say glosses over what can be a more complicated reality of ending a pregnancy alone in your bathroom.

A legal challenge to the abortion drug mifepristone brought by conservative advocates — which drew skeptical questions from the Supreme Court during oral arguments last month — seeks to further restrict the post-Roe landscape by requiring in-person medical visits for all legally administered medication abortions. Such a change could prevent U.S.-based medical providers from mailing pills into antiabortion states under “shield laws,” recently enacted in a handful of blue states, that protect doctors from prosecution under red state bans.

Of the approximately 5.9 million patients in the United States who took mifepristone — the first drug in a two-step medication abortion regimen — between its 2000 approval and December 2022, just 32 died, according to the FDA. Those cases, the agency says, “cannot with certainty be causally attributed to mifepristone.” Major adverse events — in which a blood transfusion, major surgery or overnight hospital stay is required — occur in fewer than 0.5 percent of cases, a figure that remains the same whether a patient has met with a doctor in person.
A significantly larger share of patients who take abortion pills seek emergency care, ranging from 1.3 to 8 percent in leading studies.

Experts and advocates say it is relatively rare for women to self-manage their abortions well beyond the FDA’s 10-week limit, particularly since passage of the shield laws, allowing U.S.-based doctors to mail pills directly into antiabortion states instead of relying on international pharmacies. That change has reduced the shipment time from several weeks to between three and five days.
At the time Briana ordered her medication, over a year ago, Aid Access generally did not send pills to anyone who said they were further than 11 weeks into their pregnancy, Gomperts said. It now allows people to place orders through 12 weeks of pregnancy, because pills reach patients more quickly.

Beyond 12 or 13 weeks, women will see a much more developed fetus, with identifiable features.
“We hear the trauma when we talk to people,” Prine said. “It’s an image you can’t get out of your head.”

2. Poland has a strict abortion law — and many abortions. Lawmakers are now tackling the legislation, By Vanessa Gera, Associated Press, April 11, 2024, 7:55 AM
Poland’s parliament is finally holding a long-awaited debate on liberalizing the country’s strict abortion law. The traditionally Catholic nation has one of the most restrictive laws in Europe — but the reality is that many women terminate pregnancies at home with pills mailed from abroad.
Lawmakers in the lower house of parliament will consider four different proposals on Thursday. Currently abortion is regulated by a 1993 law, which was heavily influenced by the Catholic church, and further restricted following a 2020 constitutional court ruling preventing abortion in case of fetal abnormalities.
Prime Minister Donald Tusk, who came to power in December after eight years of a conservative government, has vowed to legalize abortion until the 12th week of pregnancy. He has said the decision is a woman’s to make, not that of “a priest, a prosecutor or a party official.”

Either way, an uncertain path awaits those who would like to liberalize the law. Surveys show public support for a more liberal law, but those fighting for the status quo have also mobilized, with an anti-abortion group planning a march through downtown Warsaw as the debate is underway.
Crucially, conservative politicians hold key political positions with the power to block change.
One is President Andrzej Duda, who holds veto power over legislation and who already last month vetoed a law that would have allowed over-the-counter access to the morning-after pill for girls and women ages 15 and above.

3. DC cardinal says LGBTQ Catholics are welcome, but Church has its rules, By Elise Ann Allen, Crux, April 11, 2024
Cardinal Wilton Gregory of Washington has praised a new Vatican document on human dignity as a “welcome summation” of Church teaching, including on issues such as gender theory and transgenderism.
Speaking to Crux, Gregory said the document, published Monday and titled Dignitas Infinita, does a good job as summarizing the Church’s moral and doctrinal teaching, and that when it comes to the LGBTQ+ community, Pope Francis has “made it clear that he has great love and affection and respect for people who have a different sexual orientation.”
For those who say the pope should approve of all LGBTQ+ behavior, Gregory said “he can’t if he’s going to be true to the Church’s history and its teaching. He can’t ignore the history of our faith, but he can call us to be respectful of others, but also to invite others to see and to appreciate and to accept the Church’s moral teaching.”
“The most loving parent, at least in my own experience, but watching it in other situations, listens with the heart of the parent to a child, but it doesn’t believe that the child gets everything they ask for,” he said.

4. Helpful Transgender Lessons From Europe, The Cass Review shows wisdom and humility on treatment of young people, in contrast to the ideological conformity in U.S. medical associations., By The Wall Street Journal, April 10, 2024, 5:31 PM, Editorial
American progressives love to say the United States should be more like Europe, and for once we agree. European countries are making important progress in one of the most divisive culture-war issues of the day—sex and gender—in ways that are a model for America.
The latest example is the Cass Review published in the United Kingdom this week. The National Health Service commissioned prominent pediatrician Hilary Cass in 2020 to study the NHS’s treatment of young people experiencing discomfort with their biological sex. The final result is a rebuke to the gender-industrial complex.
Gender medicine is “an area of remarkably weak evidence,” the report says. Treatment guidelines developed by the World Professional Association of Transgender Healthcare have become highly influential but “lack developmental rigor,” according to a study Dr. Cass commissioned from the University of York. The Cass Review finds no evidence that puberty-blocking hormones offer young people “time to think” about their gender identity and finds these interventions may distort a young person’s developing gender identity.

Some in the U.S. are contrasting Europe’s approach to conservative states that have imposed bans on unproven gender treatments. It’s more accurate to say the medical profession in Europe is demonstrating humility about what it knows about youth and gender, so politicians and voters can have greater faith that doctors won’t abuse the leeway new rules offer for research. Can one say the same about America’s highest-profile medical associations, which are dominated by political conformity?
Europe’s emerging détente in the gender wars is based on compassion for distressed children and families and genuine scientific rigor concerning how best to help them. Maybe one day the U.S. will achieve a similar armistice.
5. Right to abortion unlikely to be enshrined in Maine Constitution after vote falls short, By David Sharp, Associated Press, April 10, 2024, 3:59 PM
An effort to enshrine the right to abortion in the Maine Constitution appears to have failed after a vote to send the proposal to voters for ratification fell short in the House.
Hours after a court ruling set the stage for a near-total ban on abortions in Arizona, the Maine House voted 75-65 Tuesday night in favor of the amendment — but it fell short of the necessary two-thirds majority.
For a constitutional amendment to pass in Maine, both chambers of the legislature have to approve it by a two-thirds majority, then voters have the final say at the ballot box. The Maine Senate delayed a final vote Wednesday by setting the measure aside, pending a review of what it would cost. But without House approval, it is effectively dead.
Maine already has one of the nation’s least restrictive abortion laws. The amendment was an effort to head off any future legislative debate on the issue.

6. Tennessee Senate OKs a bill that would make it illegal for adults to help minors seeking abortions, By Kimberlee Kruesi, Associated Press, April 10, 2024, 12:41 PM
Republican lawmakers in Tennessee on Wednesday advanced legislation making it illegal for adults to help minors get an abortion without parental consent, sparking objections from Democrats who counter that doing so could result in young victims needing approval from their parents who may have raped them in order to terminate the pregnancies.
The GOP-controlled Senate signed off on the proposal 26-3. The bill is still advancing toward the floor in the House.
7. Republicans need to stiffen their spines on abortion, By Ramesh Ponnuru, The Washington Post, April 10, 2024, 1:48 PM
The pro-life movement has often drawn parallels between itself and the abolitionists, identifying Abraham Lincoln’s statesmanship as a model of political prudence combined with moral clarity. But that movement is now allied — and, for the moment, even led — by a modern heir to Lincoln’s great opponent, Stephen Douglas.
Douglas professed agnosticism about slavery. He argued that policy on it should be set state by state (and territory by territory) and that what mattered is that it reflected the will of the people. This is now Donald Trump’s view of abortion. He expresses no hope that states will protect unborn children, specifying only what exceptions he wants any law to have. That indifference to the pro-life cause is probably his most honest statement of his views in years.
His taking federal legislation off the table is not a terrible defeat for pro-lifers, since even modest restrictions on abortion would have little shot of making it through Congress in the near future, even if Trump supported them. The bigger problem for pro-lifers is Republicans’ defensiveness on the issue. Trump’s new stance is just a symptom.

What should pro-lifers do, then, amid adverse trends in public opinion and Republican cowardice? The top political priority this year must be to avoid a big election win for Democrats. If they get one, they could enact a sweeping national pro-choice policy, and too many Republicans would then be eager to pronounce the debate closed.
Pro-lifers must also try to stiffen Republican spines. You would never guess from the tenor of the political debate that in the first elections after Roe v. Wade fell, zero pro-life governors or senators lost their offices (in fact, the only incumbent who was defeated was Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak, a Democrat), and Republicans took the House. That’s not to say that opposition to abortion, especially when married to flawed strategies, has no political costs for Republicans. But it does put those costs in perspective.

At the state level, pro-lifers should be pushing for the maximum protection for unborn children that can be sustained over time. In some states, that might mean amending old abortion laws that go too far beyond a public consensus. Pro-lifers should also expand public and private efforts to provide support for women facing pregnancies in difficult circumstances and push state governments to offer stronger guidance that physicians can treat medical emergencies that arise in pregnancy without waiting for imminent harm.
Lincoln lost to Douglas, but only for a time.
TCA Media Monitoring provides 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. The opinions and views expressed in the articles do not necessarily reflect the views of The Catholic Association.
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