1. Trump Administration to Threaten California Over Abortion-Coverage Requirement.

By Stephanie Armour, The Wall Street Journal, January 24, 2020, 8:52 AM

The Trump administration is planning on Friday to announce action against California over its requirement insurers cover abortions, according to two sources familiar with the planning.

The administration is expected to say that California’s requirement violates a federal law banning government entities that get federal money from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services from discriminating against health-care organizations because they don’t provide abortion or abortion coverage, the two people said. Health and Human Services’ Office for Civil Rights has said states could be stripped of federal funding if they violate amendments that protect abortion opponents.


2. A new hope for Supreme Court action with this year’s March for Life.

By Andrea Picciotti-Bayer, Washington Examiner, January 24, 2020, 12:06 AM, Opinion

Almost 50 years after Roe v. Wade, more than 100,000 people will walk through Washington today in support of life, chanting loudly enough to be heard within the chambers of the Supreme Court. And this year, for the first time in decades, the nation’s highest court appears ready to listen.

This year, the Supreme Court might, at long last, be able to get its abortion jurisprudence “back on the rails.” The court is set to review a Louisiana law that requires doctors to have admitting privileges at a hospital not farther than 30 miles from where they perform abortions. As the state explained in an initial brief to the court, state policymakers adopted the law “based on a lengthy history of abortion clinic safety violations reflecting the clinics’ indifference to doctor qualifications and the threat that indifference poses to women.”

The case, June Medical Services v. Gee, gives the Supreme Court an opportunity to walk back its 2016 Whole Women’s Health decision and uphold this state’s modest regulation of abortion. That it’s prepared to do this could be seen in a case that the court decided not to take up just last month. It let stand a lower appellate court’s decision upholding a Kentucky law that requires doctors to provide ultrasounds and show fetal images to women contemplating an abortion. The court deferred in that case to the state’s legitimate concern that women not be kept in the dark when making a decision of such consequence.

The Supreme Court now has an opportunity to reestablish a constitutional order, a jurisprudence that allows states to enact regulations that respect the safety and well-being of women and their unborn children.

That’s something to cheer on at a March for Life whose theme this year is “Life Empowers: Pro-life is Pro-Woman.” It’s a rallying cry for the country’s women and the men who love them, and a rallying cry as well for a Supreme Court to get back on the rails.

Andrea Picciotti-Bayer is legal adviser for The Catholic Association Foundation and co-host of the podcast Conversations with Consequences.


3. Right-Leaning Bishop Resigns.

By Francis X. Rocca, The Wall Street Journal, January 24, 2020, Pg. A3

Pope Francis accepted the resignation of Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia, bringing to a close the tenure of an outspoken U.S. prelate who embodied conservative resistance to the pope’s progressive agenda.

The archbishop turned 75, the age when bishops must submit their resignations to the pope, this past September.

His departure, which the Vatican announced Thursday, removes a prominent spokesman for conservative alarm among U.S. church leaders.

U.S. bishops remain overwhelmingly traditional and have emerged as the most prominent conservative bloc among the church hierarchies of Western countries. Archbishop Chaput was one of their acknowledged leaders.

His appointed successor, Archbishop Nelson Perez, is seen as in tune with the conservative ethos of most U.S. bishops. He isn’t expected to be as outspoken as Archbishop Chaput.

Archbishop Perez was until now bishop of Cleveland, where he acquired a reputation as an accessible pastor and efficient manager.


4. Global Financial Watchdog Restores Vatican’s Active Membership, Readmission to Egmont network boosts financial credibility of Holy See’s regulator, which had come under fire over security concerns.

By Francis X. Rocca, The Wall Street Journal, January 24, 2020, Pg. A16

The Vatican said it has regained active membership in an international financial-watchdog network that recently suspended it over what the network called security concerns.

Readmission to the Egmont Group, a Toronto-based network of more than 160 national financial-intelligence units around the world, is a boost to the Vatican’s financial credibility, which has suffered several blows in recent months.


5. Pope Francis names first Latino archbishop of Philadelphia.

By Miriam Berger and Michelle Boorstein, The Washington Post, January 24, 2020, Pg. A6

Pope Francis on Thursday named Cleveland Bishop Nelson Perez, a Cuban American moderate, as the new head of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, replacing one of the country’s most visible and outspoken conservatives with the region’s first Latino archbishop.

Charles Chaput, who had served in Philadelphia since 2011 and previously led dioceses in Denver and Rapid City, S.D., had hit the church’s standard retirement age of 75. He is known as an unusually outspoken bishop, willing to harshly criticize Catholics he believed were violating precepts of the religion and refuse Communion to Catholic politicians who support abortion or euthanasia.

Perez, 58, chairs the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Cultural Diversity in the Church and is the first Latino to head an archdiocese that’s not heavily Hispanic (there are Latino archbishops in San Antonio and one in Los Angeles). He was born in Miami, grew up in New Jersey and became a priest in Philadelphia.


6. US Vice President Pence meets Pope Francis at the Vatican.

By Associated Press, January 24, 2020, 7:02 AM

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence met Friday with Pope Francis during a visit to Rome that includes meetings with the Italian president and premier.


7. Human rights for unborn girls and boys: Ultrasound imaging ensures that the unborn aren’t invisible, trivialized, dehumanized and killed.

By Chris Smith, The Washington Times, January 24, 2020, Pg. B1, Opinion

Federal legislation cosponsored by 190 more than embers of Congress to rescue children born alive during later-term abortions has been denied even a vote in the House of Representatives. Some states have acted to embed anti-child extremism into state law that makes it legal to slaughter a newborn child.

Federal legislation cosponsored by more than 170 members of Congress to protect unborn children from the pain and agony of dismemberment at 20 weeks gestation remains bottled up in the Judiciary Committee.

Those marching Friday — and tens of millions of other Americans — who want the carnage and pain to stop should nevertheless be encouraged.

There has been progress.

In just three years, several executive orders and actions have been promulgated by the Trump administration to protect life — including Title X reform and the Protecting Life in Global Health Assistance (PLGHA) — and the courts appear to be seriously trending in the right direction. 

In his Proclamation on National Sanctity of Human Life Day, President Trump acknowledged the declines in the most recent abortion rate and in abortion numbers.

What does that mean? According to the National Right to Life Committee, “in the 1980s about one in three pregnancies ended in abortion, current data puts that at just under one in five pregnancies. This is still too many, but a marked and dramatic improvement.”

Under President Obama, abortion was aggressively promoted at home and in our foreign aid programs. Even bipartisan conscience protection laws were shamelessly non-enforced.

Now, the Trump administration is robustly enforcing America’s conscience laws including the Weldon Amendment to ensure that no heath care professional and no organization or entity is forced or coerced into paying for or participating in the killing of an unborn child.

The March for Life — and the selfless pro-lifers who daily struggle for justice — will be remembered as an amazing outpouring of love and compassion for the “least of these” — a group of children who by reason of their age, sex, condition of dependency and disability cannot defend themselves.

Chris Smith is a Republican congressman from New Jersey.


8. In US elections, will Pope Francis heed own advice on ‘snakes’ and ‘dragons’?

By Charles Collins, Crux, January 24, 2020, Opinion

Meeting with a group of U.S. bishops this week, Pope Francis warned against seeming to participate in partisan politics and instead have the Church limit itself to promoting Christian values as people prepare to vote.

“You sometimes seem to be caught, you know, are you going to vote in one sense for a snake or you going to vote for a dragon?” Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston quoted the pope as saying.

The cardinal told Catholic News Service the pope’s advice to the bishops was “teach your people discernment by you stepping back from the sheer politics of it … If you try to step back and say, ‘but here are the major moral issues that we face,’ that’s what is most important.”

This is, of course, easier said than done, even for the pope.

If Church leaders, especially those at the Vatican, seem like they are endorsing a candidate, there will be howls of protest from the other side.

It is likely the Vatican will try to avoid the same incidents that led to accusations of bias in 2016: So far, no U.S. politicians have been invited to Vatican conferences scheduled for 2020; the pope will be expecting gotcha questions during papal trips this year, although to date, there haven’t actually been any scheduled.

However, snakes and dragons have ways of getting you to talk about them; Vatican officials – including the pope – need to be on their guard.


9. Vatican women’s magazine blames drop in nuns on abuses.

By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press, January 23, 2020, 4:15

The Vatican women’s magazine is blaming the drastic drop in the number of nuns worldwide in part on their wretched working conditions and the sexual abuse and abuses of power they suffer at the hands of priests and their own superiors.

“Women Church World” dedicated its February issue to the burnout, trauma and exploitation experienced by religious sisters and how the church is realizing it must change its ways if it wants to attract new vocations.

The magazine published Thursday revealed that Pope Francis had authorized the creation of a special home in Rome for nuns who were kicked out of their orders and all but left on the street, some forced into prostitution to survive.


10. Lee to pitch sweeping abortion bans in Tennessee.

By Kimberlee Kruesi and Jonathan Mattise, Associated Press, January 23, 2020, 12:15 PM

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee says he wants to enact some of the strictest abortion laws in the nation, which would include banning women from undergoing the procedure once a fetal heartbeat is detected.

The Republican governor made the announcement Thursday surrounded by dozens of mostly male GOP state lawmakers — many of whom are up for reelection later this year.

“We’re taking a monumental step forward in celebrating, cherishing and defending life,” Lee said. “I’m proud to be joined by members of the General Assembly who have helped lead the way in this important effort.”

Additionally, Lee said he also intends to ban abortion for women seeking to end their pregnancies because of the gender, race or disability of the fetus. Finally, Lee said he wants to require women seeking an abortion to be shown an ultrasound of the fetus before they can receive the procedure.


11. Oklahoma governor orders ban on state travel to California.

By Associated Press, January 23, 2020, 12:04 PM

Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt on Thursday banned state-funded travel to California in response to a similar ban California placed on travel to the Sooner State.

The first-term Republican issued an executive order that prohibits all non-essential travel by state employees to California, with exceptions for business recruiting trips, college sports games and trips by schools to participate in programs.

Stitt said in a statement that he was taking the action in response to similar travel bans imposed by California. Oklahoma was added to California’s travel ban in 2018 after passing a law that allows adoption agencies to deny placement services to same-sex parents. The City of San Francisco last year extended that ban to states with restrictive abortion laws, including Oklahoma.

“Enough is enough,” Stitt said. “If California’s elected officials don’t want public employees traveling to Oklahoma, I am eager to return the gesture on behalf of Oklahoma’s pro-life stance.”


12. Advocates want to make Virginia an abortion ‘safe haven’

By Sarah Rankin, Associated Press, January 23, 2020, 11:55 AM

With a newly empowered Democratic majority at the Virginia General Assembly, abortion-rights advocates say the state has a chance to roll back decades of restrictions and become a “safe haven” for women in neighboring conservative states.

Pro-choice groups laid out their legislative priorities this week, emphasizing a measure to undo Republican-backed laws including a 24-hour waiting period before an abortion, as well a requirement that women seeking an abortion undergo an ultrasound and counseling. A Senate committee passed that bill on Thursday morning, a day after a House committee advanced that chamber’s version.

The bills, which are part of Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam’s legislative agenda, would also roll back the requirement that an abortion be provided by a physician, allowing nurse practitioners and physician assistants to perform them, and undo strict building code requirements on facilities where abortions are performed.


13. Trump to join fired-up March for Life crowds as anti-abortion laws face court challenges.

By Nicquel Terry Ellis, USA Today, January 23, 2020, 9:00 AM

Republican lawmakers and anti-abortion activists are hoping the cases ultimately rise to the Supreme Court, with its new conservative majority and the power to overturn Roe v. Wade. The Supreme Court is likely to rule this spring on a Louisiana law that requires abortion providers to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals. A similar law in Texas was struck down by the high court in 2016.

With abortion in the spotlight, Nash said it’s likely states will pass more restrictions this year. Democratic lawmakers in some states, however, have pushed back by passing laws that support abortion rights. According to her group, 36 measures were enacted last year to protect abortion.

But Maureen Ferguson, a senior fellow for The Catholic Association who participates in March for Life each year, said the anti-abortion laws and the popularity of the annual event reflect a “growing pro-life sentiment” across the nation.

Ferguson hopes women recognize they are resourceful and don’t need to resort to abortion.

“That kind of violence ought to never be the solution to a problem of poverty or any other difficult circumstance,” she said. “Taking the life of an innocent child is never a good solution.”


14. I was an abortionist. The abortion industry isn’t willing to prioritize patient safety: I was pro-choice for decades. I performed abortions and had an abortion myself. Can’t we all at least agree on importance of safety in the industry?

By Kathi Aultman, USA Today, January 22, 2020, 4:00 AM, Opinion

I’ve killed more people than Ted Bundy.

Coming to terms with the fact that I was a professional mass murderer was devastating, but it compelled me to speak the truth.

I now give expert testimony on the realities of abortion, like the testimonies the Supreme Court will soon consider in the case of June Medical Services LLC v. Gee.

For years, many abortion clinics have gotten away with shoddy practices that no surgery center would be likely to get away with. This is surely because abortion workers, legislators and law enforcement fear that they will be accused of restricting access to abortion if they hold abortion clinics accountable.

When it comes to abortionists being required to have local hospital admitting privileges, the issue the court will consider in Gee, the fact is that many physicians on staff at ambulatory surgical centers are required to have hospital privileges to ensure that patient care is not compromised in the event of a complication.

One of the reasons we are told these safety standards aren’t needed is because abortion is so safe, but we don’t know the true percent of women who experience complications.

Only 28 states require abortion providers to report post-abortion complications, and states are not required to submit abortion data to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Abortion clinics don’t want this information to come out, and providers have taken states to court to try to avoid reporting.

I was pro-choice for decades. I performed abortions and had an abortion. I understand in a deep and personal way where the fault lines of disagreement over abortion in America lie. But can’t we at least all agree on the importance of safety in the abortion industry?

Dr. Kathi Aultman is an associate scholar with the Charlotte Lozier Institute and a member of the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists.


15. China’s Second Cultural Revolution.

By Thomas F. Farr, First Things, January 16, 2020, Opinion

China’s Cultural Revolution (1966–76) occupies a place high in the annals of human savagery. Mao Zedong’s purges sought to purify Chinese communism and ended in catastrophic failure, leaving as many as 20 million Chinese dead and the nation’s stability in doubt.

But Mao’s depredations could not kill religion. …. To this end, Chinese scholars have studied religions for decades, and party leaders have experimented with mechanisms of control.

In 2016 China’s current president, Xi Jinping, showcased the fruits of these efforts. In a speech that year he called for the “sinocization of religion,” the coercive transformation of China’s religions into an arm of the Communist Party. The results, played out in a series of official regulations since then, are a toxic blend of Mao’s ruthlessness and sophisticated 21st-century surveillance techniques—in effect, an updated religious Cultural Revolution.


U.S. Congressional hearings and reports, as well as statements by Sam Brownback, ambassador for religious freedom, have called out Xi’s “war on faith,” but to little avail. President Trump could add this issue to his trade negotiations, but there is little sign he will do so.

The most baffling, and most feckless, response has come from the Holy See. In 2018 Vatican diplomats negotiated an agreement intended to unify the underground and official churches. The accord has been a disaster. China’s Catholics are demoralized and confused by this decision that abets the most virulent anti-Catholic policy in the world. In a letter sent earlier this month to the College of Cardinals, Hong Kong Cardinal Joseph Zen nailed the issue: “[C]an we passively witness the murder of the Church in China by those who should protect and defend her . . . ?”

The answer is that we cannot.

Thomas Farr is President of the Religious Freedom Institute. He was the first Director of the State Department office of international religious freedom.


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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