1. Medication abortion may be the next focal point in the fight over abortion access. Here’s what to know., By Christine Fernando, USA Today, December 12, 2022, 7:00 AM Medication abortion is expected to be the next major sticking point in the ongoing nationwide fight over abortion access, with advocates on both sides of the issue pointing to the pills as central to the debate in 2023. Even before the U.S. Supreme Court earlier this year struck down the constitutional right to abortion solidified by Roe v. Wade, medication abortion accounted for more than half of all abortions in the United States, according to analysis by the Guttmacher Institute, a research and policy organization that supports abortion rights.  The conservative legal advocacy organization Alliance Defending Freedom filed a lawsuit Nov. 18 in federal court in Amarillo, Texas, in an attempt to reverse the FDA’s approval of mifepristone, a medication that can be used with another drug called misoprostol to end a pregnancy that is less than 70 days developed. It’s unclear when the case will be heard.  The anti-abortion group Students for Life of America filed a citizen petition asking the FDA to require providers who prescribe abortion pills to be responsible to disposing of the fetal tissue by bagging it and treating it as medical waste.  A group of Democratic senators sent a letter to the FDA in November urging the agency to take steps to expand access to medication abortion, for example, by lifting “any remaining medically unnecessary restrictions” on mifepristone and misoprostol. https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2022/12/12/medication-abortion-access-mifepristone-lawsuit/10828265002/__________________________________________________________ 2. Both Sides Brace For New Combat In Abortion War, By Kate Zernike, The New York Times, December 11, 2022, Pg. A1 The Supreme Court’s reversal of the 50-year-old decision in Roe v. Wade transformed the debate and politics around abortion in the United States, shifting battles to state courts and legislatures — and galvanizing a fresh wave of voters in the midterm elections who turned out more forcefully than ever to make abortion rights a winning issue. While the terms of the abortion conflict had been set for decades, the results of the elections so closely following the court’s decision now have both sides re-evaluating their strengths, weaknesses and strategies. Heading into the new legislative sessions next year, supporters and opponents of abortion rights are girding for fresh combat, with new ground rules, new opponents and new battlefronts. Anti-abortion groups are pulling back from ballot initiatives as a way to restrict abortion, having failed with those measures in Kansas, Kentucky and Montana. Instead, they’re pushing to reinforce abortion restrictions where they’ve had success or hold the majority: in sympathetic court jurisdictions and Republican-controlled legislatures. Abortion rights advocates are coming out of the midterms with momentum. But for all their victories, they face the steeper challenge. With abortion now illegal or inaccessible in roughly half of the country, they have to keep their supporters energized for a long fight.  https://www.nytimes.com/2022/12/10/us/abortion-roe-wade.html__________________________________________________________ 3. Pope Francis concerned about deadly clashes in South Sudan, By Hannah Brockhaus, Catholic News Agency, December 11, 2022, 8:35 AM Pope Francis said Sunday he is concerned about recent deadly clashes in the northern part of South Sudan. “I follow with sorrow and concern the news from South Sudan about the violent clashes of the past few days,” he said Dec. 11 at the end his Sunday Angelus message.Pope Francis is scheduled to travel to South Sudan’s capital city, Juba, in just under eight weeks. “Let us pray to the Lord for peace and national reconciliation, so that the attacks may cease and that civilians may always be respected,” Francis said Sunday, after violence broke out in South Sudan’s Upper Nile state, in the north-eastern part of the country, last week.  https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/253048/pope-francis-concerned-about-deadly-clashes-in-south-sudan__________________________________________________________ 4. Church officials clear Chicago priest Pfleger of abuse claim, By Associated Press, December 11, 2022, 11:09 AM A prominent Roman Catholic priest known for his activism has been reinstated as leader of his Chicago parish after being cleared by church officials of allegations that he sexually abused a minor decades ago. The Chicago Archdiocese released a letter Saturday saying that a review board found “no reason to suspect” that the Rev. Michael Pfleger was guilty of the allegations. Pfleger had stepped away from his duties as pastor of St. Sabina Church in October during the review. Cardinal Blase Cupich said in the letter that he recognizes the “great toll” Pfleger’s absence had on the parish and said “I am committed to do everything possible to see that his good name is restored.” https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/church-officials-clear-chicago-priest-pfleger-of-abuse-claim/2022/12/11/33ef7e96-796e-11ed-bb97-f47d47466b9a_story.html__________________________________________________________ 5. Devotion to Virgin Mary draws millions to Mexico City shrine, By MarÍa Teresa HernÁndez, Associated Press, December 10, 2022, 5:12 PM It is one of the world’s most visited and beloved religious venues – the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe, with a circular, tent-shaped roof visible from miles away and a sacred history that each year draws millions of pilgrims from near and far to its hilltop site in Mexico City. Early December is the busiest time, as pilgrims converge ahead of Dec. 12, the feast day honoring Our Lady of Guadalupe. To Catholic believers, the date is the anniversary of one of several apparitions of the Virgin Mary witnessed by an Indigenous Mexican man named Juan Diego in 1531. The COVID-19 pandemic curtailed the number of pilgrims in 2020. Last year, even with some restrictions still in place, attendance for the December celebrations rose to at least 3.5 million, according to local officials. Bigger numbers are expected this year.  https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/devotion-to-virgin-mary-draws-millions-to-mexico-city-shrine/2022/12/10/c1e3788c-7893-11ed-a199-927b334b939f_story.html__________________________________________________________ 6. In Florida, parents are determined to keep politics out of the classroom, By Grazie Pozo Christie, The Washington Examiner, December 9, 2022, 6:00 AM, Opinion November’s midterm elections made one thing clear: Florida is at the center of a plate-shifting political earthquake, and one of the biggest factors driving it is parents’ rejection of left-wing political ideologies in our children’s education. As a mother who has raised and educated five children in this state for the past 25 years and counting, I understand Florida parents’ frustration with the education system. Thankfully, Gov. Ron DeSantis has signed several pieces of legislation, including the Parental Rights in Education Act, meant to keep politics out of the classroom. But even with new laws establishing clear standards to eliminate age-inappropriate sex education and critical race theory, parents realized that changes had to be made at the local level too. That’s why flipping local school boards was such a critical issue this past cycle. It was either that or teachers unions would maintain control of what Florida’s children learn through union-backed board members who work to skirt guidelines popular with parents and the wider community.  As a member of the Florida Board of Education, I have heard from many frustrated parents both in person during public meetings and through direct communications. They often express a sense of powerlessness before the vast educational apparatus of the state. Their children walk into the schools, ostensibly to be prepared to meet the educational challenges of a complex world — a world in which technical skills and specialized knowledge are keys to professional success — only to be confronted by a steady stream of ideology and politics that is left-wing, sexualized, and almost always deeply disturbing to parents who rightly believe they should be the primary formator in these delicate areas. I have also noticed that, here in Florida, it is immigrant parents who are often the most shocked and dismayed by this situation. They don’t understand why an American education for their children should come with the hefty price tag of losing them to a far-left political ideology with which they disagree. I don’t blame them. Parents are the primary educators of their children. We are not co-parents with the state. In Florida, parents are determined to keep fighting for our rights, and we’re lucky to have government officials willing to fight alongside us. But this battle is far from over, and it is imperative that parents remain vigilant. Grazie Pozo Christie is a senior fellow with the Catholic Association. https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/restoring-america/community-family/florida-parents-are-determined-keep-politics-out-of-classroom__________________________________________________________ 7. And then there were ‘nones’: Americans identifying as nonreligious plateaus in yearly Gallup survey, By Mark A. Kellner, The Washington Times, December 9, 2022 There’s been a rise in the number of Americans identifying as claiming no religious affiliation — often referred to as “nones” — but the surge may have hit a speed bump. Over the past 10 years, Gallup has included the option of identifying as having “no religion” in its annual surveys of faith affiliation. But while roughly 1 in 5 Americans identify with the “nones,” that percentage has been constant for some time. “The percentage of the population who are religious ‘nones’ has remained roughly the same now for six years,” Frank Newport, a senior pollster at Gallup, said in a blog post on Friday. https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2022/dec/9/and-then-there-were-nones-americans-identifying-no/__________________________________________________________ 8. Catholic healthcare providers can’t be forced to do gender surgeries: U.S. court, By Daniel Wiessner, Reuters, December 9, 2022, 5:02 PM The Biden administration cannot force a group of Catholic healthcare providers and professionals to perform gender transition surgeries under an Obama-era regulation barring sex discrimination in healthcare, a U.S. appeals court ruled on Friday. A unanimous three-judge panel of the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with a North Dakota federal judge who said the U.S. Health and Human Services (HHS) rule infringes on the religious freedoms of the plaintiffs, including a group of nuns who run health clinics for the poor and an association of Catholic healthcare professionals. The New Orleans-based 5th Circuit came to the same conclusion in August in a case brought by Christian medical groups.  https://www.reuters.com/legal/litigation/catholic-healthcare-providers-cant-be-forced-do-gender-surgeries-us-court-2022-12-09/__________________________________________________________ 9. Americans overwhelmingly support right to practice religion, new survey says, By Peter Pinedo, Catholic News Agency, December 9, 2022, 2:40 PM Support for Americans’ right to practice the religion of their choice rose dramatically this year, a new study by the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty found. Becket’s “2022 Religious Freedom Index,” released Dec. 7, showed a substantial increase in support for “religious pluralism” — the ability to choose and practice one’s religion without fear of persecution.  “Support for the right to choose and practice the religion of your choice has never been higher,” Becket’s index reports. https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/253036/americans-overwhelmingly-support-right-to-practice-religion-new-survey-says__________________________________________________________

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.
Subscribe to the TCA podcast!
“Conversations with Consequences” is a new audio program from The Catholic Association. We’ll bring you thoughtful dialogue with the leading thinkers of our time on the most consequential issues of our day. Subscribe today or listen online and enjoy our entertaining and informative weekly episodes.