1. Court Lets Kentucky Abortion Law Stand.

By Jess Bravin, The Wall Street Journal, December 10, 2019, Pg. A6

The Supreme Court on Monday let stand a Kentucky law requiring doctors to perform and describe an ultrasound examination— even over a patient’s objection— before performing an abortion.

The one-line order, refusing to review a lower court decision, created no nationwide precedent, but suggests that states may be gaining greater leeway in regulating women’s rights to end their pregnancies. As typical in denied appeals, it was unsigned and included no explanation.


2. China Hits Back as Critics Condemn Xinjiang Camps.

By Chris Buckley and Austin Ramzy, The New York Times, December 10, 2019, Pg. A12

On Twitter and YouTube, with slick videos and strident editorials, the Chinese government has gone on the offensive to reject mounting evidence that it is detaining Muslims in droves, depicting its critics as players in a Western conspiracy.

China’s aggressive media campaign comes after exposés published by The New York Times and the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists about the government’s drive to detain a million or more members of largely Muslim minority groups in indoctrination camps. The reports, which used leaked official documents to reveal the coercive workings of the camps in the northwestern region of Xinjiang, sharpened international criticism of China’s ruling Communist Party.

The pushback from China has escalated in recent days after the United States House of Representatives last week overwhelmingly supported a bill that could impose sanctions on Chinese officials overseeing the internment drive.


3. Experts say formal Vatican-China ties are a distant hope.

By Elise Harris, Crux, December 10, 2019

Over the weekend Bishop Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo, chancellor of the Vatican’s Pontifical Academy of Sciences, raised eyebrows when he said the next step for the Vatican and China would be to establish formal diplomatic relations, and spoke of a possible future papal trip.

The bishop’s remarks were reported this weekend by the Global Times, a Chinese state-run newspaper, while he was visiting the world’s most populous country.

Sorondo’s words were warmly received by the Chinese government, which said it looked forward to “reciprocal exchanges” with the Vatican.

However, several experts on Asian affairs have said that while formal ties with China is something the Vatican, especially under Pope Francis, deeply hopes for, it likely won’t happen anytime soon.

“What Sorondo said is more of a hope than a reality,” Father Bernardo Cervellera, head of Asia News and an expert on Chinese affairs, told Crux, saying that in his view, it was a comment made “out of courtesy,” but “there doesn’t seem like there are many signs” anything could happen soon.

For official relations to be established, Cervellera said there are a slew of issues that would need to be resolved, including outlining the function of the Chinese Patriotic Association – which oversees the formal, government-backed Chinese Catholic Church – and the role of the so-called “underground” church, which pledged faithfulness to Rome rather than the PA.


4. Man indicted on federal charges in ’15 shooting at Planned Parenthood site, Attack at clinic in Colorado Springs left 3 dead.

By Mark Berman, The Washington Post, December 10, 2019, Pg. A23

The Justice Department on Monday said that the man accused of killing three people when he opened fire at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado in 2015 has been indicted on federal charges, including some that could carry the death penalty.

Robert Lewis Dear Jr. faces 68 counts in the new indictment, mostly alleged violations of the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act, which the Justice Department says protects people seeking and providing care at reproductive health facilities. The indictment also includes three counts of using a firearm during a crime of violence that results in a death where the killing is a murder.


5. Court won’t take challenge to Ky. law requiring ultrasound before abortion.

The Catholic News Service, December 9, 2019, 1:12 PM

The U.S. Supreme Court Dec. 9 declined to take up a challenge to a Kentucky ultrasound law that requires a physician or qualified technician to perform an ultrasound on a woman seeking an abortion and show the screen images to her.

The Catholic Association’s legal adviser, Andrea Picciotti-Bayer, and Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List, likewise hailed the high court’s decision.

It “affirms common sense, transparency and the democratic process,” said Picciotti-Bayer. “Rather than keep women in the dark, Kentucky requires all medical professionals — including abortionists — to disclose vital information related to a woman’s pregnancy and her developing child. Women deserve to know all the facts before making such a consequential decision.”


6. EWTN News/RealClear Poll: Where US Catholics Stand, The new poll released today finds a deep divide between Catholics who are active in the practice of the faith and those who are not.

By Matthew Bunson, National Catholic Register, December 9, 2019

As Catholics in the United States head into an election year, and into a new decade, many questions are being asked about the state of the faithful — and a new poll released Dec. 9 provides powerful insights into this critical matter.

To find out the answers, EWTN News and RealClear Opinion Research have partnered to conduct four opinion polls measuring the attitudes of Catholic voters, from one year out until the election, on a number of vital issues. The initial poll, released today, demonstrates that the 22% of voters who self-identify as Catholic is far from a monolith.

The survey found that there is an enormous gulf in the area of belief and worship. In total, 58% of Catholic voters polled say that they accept all (17%) or most (41%) of the Church’s teachings, 25% admit that they do not accept some of the Church’s key teachings; 14% say that they are Catholic, but it only has a minor influence on their life; and 3% say they consider themselves former Catholics.

According to the findings, only 39% of all Catholics go to Mass at least weekly; 49% believe in the Real Presence; and a mere 13% go to Confession at least once a year. Figures among the “most active” Catholics (defined as those who say they accept all or most Church teachings) are substantially higher; 66% of them believe in the Real Presence of the Eucharist, 56% attend Mass at least once a week; 52% go to confession at least once a year; and 49% pray the Rosary at least once a month.

Catholics have been a crucial voting bloc in every election over the last 50 years, and 2016 was no exception. President Trump split the Catholic vote with Hillary Clinton, and it will be very difficult for him to win re-election without a similar level of support in 2020. But is there a Catholic vote?

This question is answered in different ways, but most political analysts and historians agree that in general self-identified Catholics have voted with the general electorate in almost all of the modern elections and that within the self-identified Catholic bloc there are major divisions by age, race and ethnicity and above all by levels of belief and practice.


7. Porn isn’t free speech — on the web or anywhere.

By Sohrab Ahmari, The New York Post, December 9, 2019, 7:48 PM

Of all the stats that keep parents up at night, the one that haunts me most often is this: My toddler son is likely to encounter Internet porn before puberty.

So I cheered when I read a Friday letter from four members of Congress urging Attorney General Bill Barr to revive America’s obscenity laws to “stop the explosion of obscene pornography.” Amen.

Then came the dismaying reaction — not just from the usual suspects on the left, but from many on the right, where access to porn has bizarrely emerged as a touchstone of “conservative” orthodoxy.

Given the billions of videos and images, there is simply no way to rule out that the average porn consumer doesn’t watch images of women who are trafficked, coerced or otherwise exploited.

Working with numerous victims, Karen Countryman-Roswurm of Wichita State University’s Center for Combating Human Trafficking was shocked to learn how many of them had been involved in porn shoots, used by traffickers to “desensitize them to the sexual acts they would experience” and as “advertising” for abuse.

Then there are the harms to consumers, especially boys and young men. Porn creates “a powerful biochemical ‘rush’ in the user,” writes psychologist John Mark Haney for the American Counseling Association. “Teens who experience this biochemical thrill will, not surprisingly, want to experience it again.”

Sohrab Ahmari is The Post’s op-ed editor.


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