1. Judge: Feds must inform all immigrant children in custody of right to abortion: Notices to be given ‘to all unaccompanied minors’ regardless of whether they are pregnant — or even girls. 

By Stephen Dinan, The Washington Times, April 16, 2018, Pg. A6

A federal judge has ordered the government to inform all illegal immigrant children in federal custody that they have an unfettered right to an abortion in the U.S.

Notices, in English and Spanish, must be passed out “to all unaccompanied minors” regardless of whether they are pregnant — or even girls. The order kicks in “immediately,” U.S. District Judge Tanya S. Chutkan, who has been overseeing a long-running dispute over illegal immigrants’ abortion rights, wrote in her Friday ruling.

Notices are also to be posted at the dorms where the Unaccompanied Alien Children are staying, and any girl who discovers she’s pregnant must again be informed of her rights to an abortion here in the U.S. That notice must be given in her “primary spoken language,” which could go well beyond English or Spanish.

Two weeks ago Judge Chutkan certified a class action ordering Health and Human Services, the government agency that takes custody of the UAC, to facilitate abortion access for any illegal immigrant who wants to terminate her pregnancy.

The new notices and alerts carry out that decision.

Government lawyers argue that while in U.S. custody, the government has a duty to the health of both the girl and her fetus. Federal law also prohibits spending money to facilitate an abortion.

The government says girls who want an abortion can either accept speedy deportation or else work to get a sponsor in the U.S. Once with the sponsor, the girl is free to choose an abortion or any other legal course.

But Judge Chutkan ruled those weren’t choices, saying it can often take weeks to find a sponsor. She also said she wouldn’t stomach sending pregnant teens back to countries where abortion was illegal.


2. Profane president, penitent pope. 

By E.J. Dionne Jr., The Washington Post, April 16, 2018, Pg. A15

So it might be Providential that Pope Francis chose to make news last week in two ways. First, he did something that comes very hard to most public figures, and particularly to the current occupant of the White House: He apologized fervently for “grave errors.”

He also issued a remarkable document on holiness that seemed made for the moment — and, by the way, noted that we can “waste precious time” by being caught up in “superficial information” and “instant communication.”

Francis continued to preach his gospel of economic justice by warning that it is a “harmful ideological error” to cast “the social engagement of others” as “worldly, secular, materialist, communist or populist.” On the contrary, he saw holiness as demanding an engagement with “the destitute, the abandoned and the underprivileged.”

He reiterated that the Church would continue to defend “the innocent unborn” but stressed the importance of seeing the “lives of the poor, those already born,” as “equally sacred.”

Francis added pointedly that while “a politician looking for votes” might see “the situation of migrants” as “a secondary issue compared to the ‘grave’ bioethical questions,” a true Christian would not.

It was hard to miss the message to U.S. bishops that letting antiabortion politicians off the hook on immigration and refugees would be a denial of their obligation “to stand in the shoes of those brothers and sisters of ours who risk their lives to offer a future to their children.”


3. Legal Abortion in Argentina? A Long Shot Is Suddenly Within Reach. 

By Daniel Politi, The New York Times, April 15, 2018, Pg. A15

Not long ago, abortion rights activists in Argentina had little reason to believe they could make the polarizing issue a legislative priority.

But lawmakers in Pope Francis’ homeland began considering legislation this past week that would allow women to have an abortion in the first 14 weeks of pregnancy.

If backers of the measure succeed, Argentina would become the most populous country in Latin America to allow women to terminate pregnancies — a milestone in a region where strict abortion laws are the norm.

The arrival of an abortion bill in the Chamber of Deputies, the lower house of Argentina’s Congress, is widely seen as a direct outgrowth of a broader women’s rights movement in the country that started in 2015 with a campaign against femicides called “Ni Una Menos,” “Not One Less.”

Hundreds of thousands of women have taken to the streets in recent years to raise awareness about domestic violence and press for stronger laws to protect women.

Several countries in Latin America allow abortions under limited circumstances, like pregnancy that results from rape or when the mother’s life is threatened. Argentina would become the fourth nation in the region to allow abortion without such restrictions, if the procedure were to be legalized, joining Cuba, Uruguay, Guyana and some parts of Mexico.

Church leaders have been vocal in their opposition to the bill, and they have recently argued that improving sex education in schools is a better strategy for addressing unwanted pregnancies.


4. Pope Francis weighs in on Syria airstrikes, Alfie Evans case. 

By John L. Allen Jr., Crux, April 15, 2018

As parents in both France and England struggle with courts and hospitals over the fate of their critically ill children, Pope Francis on Sunday called for prayers for these “very painful and complex” situations.

The pontiff also addressed the conflict in Syria after Saturday’s U.S., UK and French airstrikes that came in response to a chemical weapons attack, expressing frustration that the international community hasn’t yet worked out a “common action” for peace.

Earlier, the pontiff cited the situations of both Alfie Evans in the UK and Vincent Lambert in France, but he didn’t take any direct position on the legal battles in either case.

“I entrust to your prayer people such as Vincent Lambert in France, little Alfie Evans in England, and others in different countries who live, sometimes for a long period, in a state of grave illness, medically assisted for their basic needs,” Francis said.

“These are delicate situations, very painful and complex. Let us pray that every sick person will always be respected in their dignity and cared for in a way adapted to their condition, with the joint efforts of families, doctors and other health care workers, and with great respect for life,” he said.

As reported on Saturday by Crux, the parents of Alfie Evans, the 23-month-old boy in England with a rare brain disorder who is facing having his life support removed, will on Monday ask England’s Court of Appeal to allow them to take their son to the Vatican-owned Bambino Gesù children’s hospital in Rome for treatment.

Meanwhile in France, a hospital has ordered the removal of food and water from 42 year old Vincent Lambert, who has been severely disabled for 10 years. The Sebastopol Hospital in Reims ruled on Monday that ordinary means of life support be removed on April 19.

Lambert suffered severe head injuries in an automobile accident in 2008 that left him a quadriplegic, but other doctors and his parents insist he is not sick, nor in a coma, breathes unassisted, and his internal organs function normally.

His devout Catholic parents have contested the decision vigorously. In a letter sent to French President Emmanuel Macron this week, Lambert’s mother, Viviane, wrote, “My son has been sentenced to death. His name is Vincent Lambert, he has a little girl, is alive, and has committed no crime.”

On Syria, Francis urged political leaders to get their act together.