1. Abortion rights support steady despite growing partisan divide, survey finds.

By Ariana Eunjung Cha and Scott Clement, The Washington Post, August 14, 2019, Pg. A3

At a time when antiabortion measures are sweeping the United States, one of the largest-ever surveys on abortion attitudes finds support for legal abortion has held steady. No more than a quarter of residents in any state supports a total ban on the procedure despite the increasing political divide on the issue.

The Public Religion Research Institute survey released Tuesday involves an extraordinarily large sample of 40,292 interviews measuring abortion attitudes throughout 2018, allowing it to produce nuanced results for individual states and for very small demographic groups.

It found that Americans remain generally supportive of abortion rights, with a majority — 54 percent — saying the procedure should be legal in all or most cases and 40 percent saying it should be illegal. These numbers are nearly the same as a similar survey in 2014 when 55 percent of Americans said abortion should be legal. 

Democrats and Republicans surveyed were more likely than independents to say they would vote only for a candidate who shares their views. Among Democrats, 25 percent who believe abortion should be legal said they would vote only for a candidate who shares those views. Among Republicans, 34 percent who think abortion should be illegal would vote only for a candidate who shares their view.


2. As Amazon synod approaches, new focus given to indigenous rights.

By Elise Harris, Crux, August 14, 2019

As the upcoming Synod of Bishops on the Amazon draws near, preparations in the region are taking place against a complex backdrop, with indigenous communities launching more protests against political policies they say interfere with their rights.

In a recent interview with Italian paper La Stampa, Pope Francis said one of the biggest challenges to the Amazon region is the “threat to the life of the populations and territory which derives from the economic and political interests of the dominant sectors of society.”

A political solution to this threat, he said, would be to “eliminate one’s own connivance and corruption,” and assume concrete responsibility for the people who live in the area.

Although the Amazon basin touches several South American countries, about 60 percent of the Amazon region is in Brazil, where indigenous people suffer tremendous injustices.


3. Heroism and Priesthood, Dachau and Amazonia.

By George Weigel, First Things, August 14, 2019

Dachau was, for years, the “world’s largest rectory” or “the world’s largest monastery,” for it was there that the Thousand Year Reich consigned more than 2,500 Catholic priests: almost 1,800 Poles, over 400 Germans, more than 150 Frenchmen, as well as Czechs, Slovaks, Dutchmen, Belgians, Italians, Luxemburgers, Yugoslavs, and clergymen from ten other countries. That these men managed to maintain forms of sacramental life—celebrating clandestine Masses, distributing holy communion surreptitiously, and hearing confessions—while nursing and otherwise comforting prisoners being worked and starved to death is a story that should be told time and again in every seminary in the world.

As should the story of Blessed Karl Leisner.

Shortly before Christmas 1944, the priestly ordination of Karl Leisner was secretly conducted by Bishop Piguet, with a Jewish violinist in the camp providing music outside the hut-“chapel” to divert the attention of the camp guards. Father Leisner was too ill to celebrate a first Mass immediately after his ordination but managed to do so on the feast of St. Stephen the Protomartyr, December 26.

Might that grainy picture of Father Karl Leisner, properly vested for Mass in a hellish death-factory on the outskirts of Munich, be displayed during October’s Special Synod for Amazonia, which will consider (among other things) the nature of the priesthood in the Catholic Church? Might the example of Blessed Karl Leisner inspire white, European-descended Latin American priests, historically reluctant to work with the indigenous peoples of the Amazon Basin, to transcend their racial and ethnic prejudices in order to evangelize, catechize, and bring the sacraments to native peoples? 

The heroes of Dachau’s priest-barracks found a way to keep sacramental life alive, in full fidelity to the Church’s tradition. Is that impossible in Amazonia? Or elsewhere?


4. Gillibrand to visit St. Louis to decry state abortion limits.

The Associated Press, August 13, 2019

Democratic presidential candidate Kirsten Gillibrand is planning to hold a reproductive rights town hall in St. Louis, home of Missouri’s last remaining abortion clinic.

A new state law bans most abortions at the eighth week of pregnancy. But the restrictions have yet to take effect and have been challenged in federal court.


5. Poll: Partisan divide on abortion grows.

By Jessie Hellmann, The Hill Online, August 13, 2019, 12:09 PM

Democrats and Republicans are growing further apart on the issue of abortion, a new poll shows.

Democrats have become more supportive of abortion, with 70 percent saying in 2018 it should be legal in all or most cases, compared to the 67 percent who said the same in 2014. 

Meanwhile, Republicans have become less supportive of abortion, with 34 percent of saying in 2018 it should be legal in all or most cases, compared to 39 percent in 2014.

The poll, part of the 2018 American Values Atlas released Tuesday by the Public Religion Research Institute, also shows the percentage of Democrats who think abortion should be available with no restrictions is growing. 

In 2018, 35 percent of Democrats said abortion should be legal in all cases, compared to the 29 percent who said the same in 2014.

Overall, the support for the legality of abortion has remained stable from 2014 to 2018. 


6. UK Parliament Forces Abortion on Northern Ireland, Westminster votes to liberalize laws despite local opposition.

By K.V. Turley, National Catholic Register, August 13, 2019

When members of Parliament voted 332-99 to approve the Northern Ireland (Executive Formation) Act July 9, the United Kingdom stripped the region of its most pro-life bulwark.

Until now, Northern Ireland laws on abortion were among the most pro-life in the world, as abortion was only allowed when the life of the mother was in danger.

The Parliament voted this bill through even though abortion is a “devolved issue” and, therefore, a matter for Northern Ireland’s local assembly to decide upon. Labour MP Stella Creasy had tabled a last-minute amendment seeking abortion liberalization in Northern Ireland (NI) despite the original bill being unrelated to abortion.


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