1. Voters in Ohio reject GOP-backed proposal that would have made it tougher to protect abortion rights, By Julie Carr Smyth and Samantha Hendrickson, Associated Press, August 9, 2023, 7:02 AMOhio voters on Tuesday resoundingly rejected a Republican-backed measure that would have made it more difficult to change the state’s constitution, setting up a fall campaign that will become the nation’s latest referendum on abortion rights since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned nationwide protections last year. The defeat of Issue 1 keeps in place a simple majority threshold for passing future constitutional amendments, rather than the 60% supermajority that was proposed. Its supporters said the higher bar would protect the state’s foundational document from outside interest groups.  https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2023/08/08/ohio-abortion-rights-constitutional-amendment-special-election/cf28a18c-35a0-11ee-ac4e-e707870e43db_story.html__________________________________________________________ 2. Republicans ask U.S. ambassadors to support Finnish Christians, By Mark A. Kellner, The Washington Times, August 9, 2023, Pg. A2 A group of House Republicans is calling for the U.S. to support two prominent evangelical Christians in Finland who face a retrial on hate speech charges this month. Led by Rep. Chip Roy of Texas, the Republican lawmakers sent a letter Tuesday to U.S. Ambassador to Finland Douglas Hickey and U.S. Ambassador Rashad Hussein, at-large envoy for international religious freedom, asking them to advocate for Päivi Räsänen, a member of the Finnish parliament, and Bishop Juhana Pohjola of the Evangelical Lutheran Mission Diocese of Finland. A Helsinki court acquitted Mrs. Räsänen and Bishop Pohjola of “agitation against a minority group” in March 2022, after Mrs. Räsänen had posted a Bible verse about homosexual behavior on social media. Bishop Pohjola was charged for publishing 20 years ago a booklet Mrs. Räsänen had written on the traditional Christian view of marriage.  The House Republicans denounced the latest developments in their letter to the U.S. diplomats. “It is abundantly clear — the process is the punishment,” the group wrote. “The selective targeting of these high-profile individuals is designed to systematically chill others’ speech under the threat of legal harassment and social stigmatism.” “No American, no Finn, and no human should face legal harassment for simply living out their religious beliefs. This case will have worldwide ramifications,” the letter reads. The letter was signed by Mr. Roy and Reps. Debbie Lesko of Arizona; Doug Lamborn of Colorado; Anna Paulina Luna of Florida; Mary Miller of Illinois; Jim Banks of Indiana; Mike Johnson of Louisiana; Michael Guest of Mississippi; Andy Ogles of Tennessee; Alex X. Mooney of West Virginia; Jeff Duncan and Ralph Norman, both of South Carolina; and Michael Cloud, Randy Weber and Keith Self, all of Texas.  https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2023/aug/8/house-republicans-back-finnish-christians-facing-r/__________________________________________________________ 3. College professors sue Idaho over a law that they say criminalizes classroom discussions on abortion, By Rebecca Boone, Associated Press, August 8, 2023, 9:13 PM Six university professors and two teachers’ unions are suing Idaho over a law that they say violates their First Amendment rights by criminalizing teaching and classroom discussion about pro-abortion viewpoints. The 2021 No Public Funds for Abortion Act prohibits state contracts or transactions with abortion providers and also bans public employees from promoting abortion, counseling in favor of abortion or referring someone to abortion services. Public employees who violate the law can be charged with misuse of public funds, a felony, and be fired, fined and ordered to pay back the funds they are accused of misusing. The law is “simultaneously sweeping and unclear” and places a “strait jacket upon the intellectual leaders” of Idaho’s public universities, the educators, represented by the American Civil Liberties Union of Idaho, wrote in the lawsuit.  https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2023/08/08/abortion-academic-free-speech-idaho-lawsuit/feac30b6-3651-11ee-ac4e-e707870e43db_story.html__________________________________________________________ 4. Most women who abort say they would rather not; Congress can help them, By Maureen Ferguson, The Hill, August 8, 2023, 7:20 AM, Opinion In the post-Roe era, the messy democratic process has begun to sort out abortion policy and politics across the country. But another important task also lies ahead. Support for women experiencing unplanned pregnancies has always been at the heart of the pro-life movement. Those seeking to build a culture of life are right to prioritize support for women and keep it at the center of legislative policy debates and political strategy. Legislation that focuses on supporting mothers, connecting them to the vast network of pregnancy resource centers and other aid, will empower vulnerable women to choose life for their babies and avoid the tragedy of abortion. Rep. Ashley Hinson (R-Iowa) recently introduced just such a bill, and it deserves bipartisan support. The Iowa congresswoman’s Providing for Life Act is a comprehensive pro-family legislative package that values life at all stages, including after birth. It provides the support that mothers and children need through a public-private partnership that builds, block by block, a culture of life. Hinson’s bill, sponsored by Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) in the Senate, would save countless babies and mothers from the heart-wrenching choice of abortion. We know this bill will save babies because it reflects the latest research on why women have abortions. Most women experiencing a crisis during pregnancy do not want an abortion, but obtain one out of desperation. A May 2023 peer-reviewed study surveyed 1,000 women who had abortions and found that a staggering 60 percent said they would have carried their child to term if they had greater emotional or financial support, or both. Sadly, two-thirds said their decision to abort violated their own values and preferences. Their “choice” was, it turns out, not really what they would have wanted. In fact, a full 24 percent described their abortion as “unwanted” or “coerced.” Hinson’s bill is aimed at reaching that 60 percent of women who wanted to choose life but felt trapped, unsupported or coerced. A key part of Rep. Hinson’s bill is the establishment of a website called Life.gov, which is a federal clearinghouse to make known all assistance available to women. It includes resources for pregnant college-aged women, so they can continue their education. The bill provides enhanced parental leave for working women and tax credits to ease financial burdens. For low-income mothers, there is increased eligibility for the women, infants and children program post-partum, and programs providing volunteer mentoring and peer support services. The bill also facilitates the difficult but beautiful choice of adoption. The data suggest that if they only knew that financial, educational and emotional resources were available, more women would feel supported in their motherhood and choose to carry to term. A young woman who finds herself pregnant — a high-school girl, a college student, a 20- or 30-something professional — wouldn’t feel forced to make a “choice” that violates her beliefs or preferences. She’d have a real choice, and be able to make the choice she wants to make. This suite of policies would offer women authentic empowerment — a far cry from the “women need abortion” message that so tragically underestimates women’s abilities and resilience. Great policy, it turns out, is also great politics. Consider the post-Dobbs polling on public support for pregnancy resource centers. Seventy-four percent of Americans said they want public funding for such centers after learning what services the centers offer. Almost 80 percent of Republican, 72 percent of independents and 73 percent of Democrats support funding these centers. Earlier this year, a Marist poll found even higher support for pregnancy resource centers  91 percent support or strongly support. Backing for pregnancy resource centers among self-identified “pro-choice” respondents came in at 88 percent. Both sides of the polarized abortion debate say they want to help women. The polling indicates that Rep. Hinson’s bill represents a bipartisan consensus on how to do just that.There are similar bills in state legislatures across the county, and others like it in Congress. It seems like a good place to start in the post-Roe era: Help the majority of women who are seeking abortions they don’t want. Let’s prioritize this type of “pro-life safety net” legislation. It’s the best policy and political strategy for the present moment, and it will change hearts and minds, enabling further progress down the road on legislation that protects both women and children. Maureen Ferguson is a senior fellow for The Catholic Association and co-host of the nationally syndicated radio show Conversations with Consequences.   https://thehill.com/opinion/healthcare/4139620-most-women-who-abort-say-they-would-rather-not-congress-can-help-them/__________________________________________________________

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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