TCA Podcast – “Conversations with Consequences,” Episode 271 – How 22 Families Adopted 77 Foster Kids & Walking With Moms In Need
Marking the 2nd anniversary of the Dobbs decision, Kat Talalas of the USCCB joins to discuss the success of Walking with Moms in Need and why this ministry is so vital in a post-Roe world. We also talk with writer Rebekah Weigel about her new film, Sound of Hope: The Story of Possum Trot, reminding us we are all called to care for the orphan and widow. Father Roger Landry offers an inspiring homily as he continues the National Eucharistic Pilgrimage celebrating 25 years of his priestly vocation. Catch the show every Saturday at 5pmET.
1. Pope Francis to canonize ‘Martyrs of Damascus,’ three others on Oct. 20, By Hannah Brockhaus, Catholic News Agency, July 1, 2024, 8:50 AM
Pope Francis will celebrate a Mass of canonization for 14 people, including the 11 “Martyrs of Damascus,” on Sunday, Oct. 20, the Vatican announced Monday.
The pope declared the date of the canonization, which will take place during the 2024 assembly of the Synod on Synodality, after the College of Cardinals voted to approve the canonizations of 15 people in a consistory on the morning of July 1.
The date of the much-anticipated canonization of Blessed Carlo Acutis will be set at a later time, according to the July 1 press release.
The “Martyrs of Damascus” were murdered “out of hatred for the faith” in Damascus, Syria, some time during the night of July 9–10, 1860. The event took place during the persecution of Christians by Shia Druze, which spread from Lebanon to Syria and resulted in thousands of victims.
2. The Supreme Court Puts the Pro-Life Movement to the Test, By David French, The New York Times, June 30, 2024, Opinion
Rarely has a Supreme Court case had less legal meaning and greater moral weight than the decision Thursday morning in Moyle v. United States.
The case was of such little legal consequence that you might have already forgotten about it; you’ve lost it in the haze of a shocking presidential debate and a host of far more consequential Supreme Court decisions. But Moyle illuminates a deep conflict within the anti-abortion movement, and the way the pro-life movement resolves that conflict will affect American life and politics for decades to come.
The conflict with Idaho’s law is obvious. What if a pregnant woman suffers from an emergency medical condition that requires an abortion to stave off serious injury but the condition isn’t life-threatening? After all, people go to emergency rooms for serious but non-life-threatening conditions all the time. If a pregnant woman goes to an emergency room and she faces serious physical peril — but not an imminent mortal threat — should she be treated fundamentally differently because she is carrying a child?
My own answer is yes and no. Yes, of course a doctor should consider the safety of the unborn child when considering a course of treatment. Many pregnant women facing medical emergencies are desperate to protect their child. But the answer becomes no the instant that the choice becomes binary — where the best course of treatment to protect the mother from serious physical harm requires an abortion. In that awful circumstance, if a woman chooses to endure great harm to protect her child, then that is her choice. But the state must not require it.

As Justice Barrett wrote in her opinion concurring with the court’s decision to dismiss the case, the federal government’s witnesses claimed that Idaho’s law “might prohibit abortions as treatment for conditions including severe heart failure, pre-eclampsia, preterm premature rupture of the membranes (PPROM), sepsis, and placental abruption, because a physician could not know, ‘with certainty,’ that an abortion is necessary to save the mother’s life in those circumstances.”
That is extraordinary, but it is completely consistent with the philosophy of the so-called abortion abolitionist movement. Many abortion abolitionists refuse to acknowledge any exceptions permitting an abortion. In 2021, for example, the Southern Baptist Convention passed an abolitionist resolution that declared that Baptists “state unequivocally that abortion is murder, and we reject any position that allows for any exceptions to the legal protection of our preborn neighbors.”
This language goes far beyond even declaring that unborn children possess equal status with their mothers. It puts them in a superior position. Outside of the abortion context, we do not grant any person a right to inflict serious bodily harm (even unintentionally) on an innocent person. The abortion abolitionist ethos fundamentally contradicts the principle of “love them both” — both mother and child, that is — that has undergirded the best of the anti-abortion movement.

As my friend Russell Moore, editor in chief of Christianity Today, said in a podcast last week, the pro-life movement’s own conduct is helping create a “resilient pro-choice majority.” As the Idaho case progresses, the anti-abortion movement will have to make a choice: Will it love mothers as much as it loves children, or will it violate the fundamental moral principle that undergirds this American republic — that all people are created equal?
3. Biden Administration Opposes Surgery for Transgender Minors, The statement followed a report in The Times that a federal health official had urged the removal of age minimums from treatment guidelines for transgender minors., By Roni Caryn Rabin, Teddy Rosenbluth and Noah Weiland, The New York Times, June 29, 2024, Pg. A22
The Biden administration said this week that it opposed gender-affirming surgery for minors, the most explicit statement to date on the subject from a president who has been a staunch supporter of transgender rights.
The White House announcement was sent to The New York Times on Wednesday in response to an article reporting that staff in the office of Adm. Rachel Levine, an assistant secretary at the Department of Health and Human Services, had urged an influential international transgender health organization to remove age minimums for surgery from its treatment guidelines for minors.
The draft guidelines would have lowered the age minimums to 14 for hormonal treatments, 15 for mastectomies, 16 for breast augmentation or facial surgeries, and 17 for genital surgeries or hysterectomies. The final guidelines, released in 2022, removed the age-based recommendations altogether.
“Adm. Levine shared her view with her staff that publishing the proposed lower ages for gender transition surgeries was not supported by science or research, and could lead to an onslaught of attacks on the transgender community,” an H.H.S. spokesman said in a statement on Friday evening.

The administration, which has been supportive of gender-affirming care for transgender youth, expressed opposition only to surgeries for minors, not other treatments. The procedures are usually irreversible, critics have said.
4. Ten Commandments. Multiple variations. Why the Louisiana law raises preferential treatment concerns, Christians and Jews believe in the Ten Commandments — just not necessarily the version that will hang in every public school and state-funded college classroom in Louisiana, By Holly Meyer and Peter Smith, Associated Press, June 29, 2024, 8:39 AM
Christians and Jews believe in the Ten Commandments — just not necessarily the version that will hang in every public school and state-funded college classroom in Louisiana.
The required text prescribed in the new law and used on many monuments around the United States is a condensed version of the Scripture passage in Exodus containing the commandments. It has ties to “The Ten Commandments” movie from 1956, and it’s a variation of a version commonly associated with Protestants.
That’s one of the issues related to religious freedom and separation of church and state being raised over this mandate, which was swiftly followed by a lawsuit.
“H.B. 71 is not neutral with respect to religion,” according to the legal complaint filed June 24 by Louisiana clergy, public school parents and civil liberties groups. “It requires a specific, state-approved version of that scripture to be posted, taking sides on theological questions regarding the correct content and meaning of the Decalogue.”

The Ten Commandments come from Jewish and Christian Scripture, which says there are 10 of them but doesn’t number them specifically. Catholics, Jews and Protestants typically order them differently, and the phrasing can change depending on which Bible translation is used or what part of Scripture they are pulled from.
“If you want to respect the rule of law, you’ve got to start from the original lawgiver, which was Moses” who got the commandments from God, said Landry during the signing ceremony at a Catholic school. The governor also is Catholic.

Although white evangelical Protestants and many white Catholics unite behind conservative politics today, the King James Bible has been used historically in strategically anti-Catholic ways, including amid the anti-Catholic sentiment in late 19th and early 20th centuries, said Robert Jones. He is president of the Public Religion Research Institute and author of “The Hidden Roots of White Supremacy.”
5. Vatican demands changes to new Church body in Germany, By Elise Ann Allen, Crux, June 29, 2024
As part of an ongoing tug of war with the German bishops over the country’s controversial reform path, the Vatican has asked that several changes be made to a new national ecclesial body which curial officials have said has no foundation in Church law.
In a June 28 statement after a day-long workday with representatives of the German Episcopal Conference (DBK), the Vatican said the discussion lasted the entire day and “was again characterized by a positive, open and constructive atmosphere.”
It followed a similar meeting held March 22, which was part of a broader dialogue that began in 2022 amid a national consultation of German Catholics known as the “Synodal Way,” and after officials in the DBK ignored Vatican warnings to cease and desist with certain projects.
During the March meeting, the Vatican drew a hard line in the sand, demanding the German bishops pledge to respect canon law and to give the Holy See a final say over any proposed reforms.
6. Supreme Court overturns ‘Chevron’ doctrine with big implications for religious liberty, By Daniel Payne, Catholic News Agency, June 28, 2024, 3:15 PM
The Supreme Court on Friday overturned a 40-year-old decision that gave unelected federal agencies considerable power to interpret federal law, with significant implications for religious freedom.
The high court in its Friday decision in the case Loper Bright Enterprises v. Raimondo overturned the 1984 ruling in Chevron v. National Resources Defense Council, which held that courts were generally required to defer to federal agencies in interpreting federal law, a rule known as “Chevron deference” or the Chevron doctrine.
The Loper case challenged federal rules applied to the fishing industry. In its Friday decision, the Supreme Court ordered that courts “may not defer to an agency interpretation of the law” merely because a law’s intent is unclear.

Philip Hamburger, a constitutional law professor at Columbia Law School, said the decision was “a notable day for freedom in the United States.” 
“In taking a dent out of the administrative state, today’s decision will help protect religious Americans,” Hamburger said.
“Administrative bureaucrats, especially administrative experts, are not representative of the United States and on average are intolerant of religion, especially relatively orthodox opinions.” 

“Administrative power, in other words, is slanted against traditional Catholics, Protestants, Jews, and others who adhere to their inherited faiths,” Hamburger said. “We therefore should celebrate decisions such as this one that limits administrative power to what is authorized by Congress.”
Hamburger added that he would be “opening a bottle of champagne” in celebration of the decision.
The Loper case drew support from Catholic plaintiffs: The Little Sisters of the Poor had filed an amicus brief in the case, drawing a line between the federal regulations against the fishermen and their own legal troubles under Chevron. 

The nuns noted that they have spent “a decade” fending off attempts to force them to comply with contraception mandates promulgated by the government. The sisters were first ordered to provide contraception to workers in 2011 as part of the Department of Health and Human Service’s interpretation of the federal Affordable Care Act.
The Chevron doctrine “permits regulators to disregard known substantial burdens on religious exercise,” the nuns argued in their filing.

“This decision is likely the death knell for some new federal rules, especially the one that took a law about protecting pregnant women in the workplace and turned it into a federal mandate, forcing churches to support employee abortions,” Rassbach said, referencing the Biden administration’s recent Equal Employment Opportunity Commission-issued mandate that employers make accommodations for employees having abortions. 
“The law’s own sponsors said it had nothing to do with abortions,” Rassbach said, yet under Chevron “that didn’t stop federal bureaucrats from hijacking the law to impose an abortion mandate after the law was passed.”
John Bursch, the vice president of appellate advocacy at the Alliance Defending Freedom, told CNA in a phone interview on Friday that courts will now have much more latitude to decide what laws mean.
Bursch pointed to the Biden administration’s recent reinterpretation of Title IX sex discrimination regulations to include protections for “gender identity.”
“In pre-Loper, a court would have to look at those regulations and ask itself, ‘Are those a reasonable construction in the gaps and ambiguities of federal law?’ Now, courts will be required to analyze those statutes themselves,” Bursch said.
“And if it’s not obvious from the face of the statutory language that that’s what Congress intended, then they’ll be able to strike down those rules,” he said.
He noted that the new Title IX rules were already blocked earlier this month. But “it should be even easier for courts to strike down those rules now,” Bursch said.
“In statute after statute, it’s going to be to the advantage of churches and religious organizations that Chevron is gone, because courts will now have the final say on what the law means instead of unelected bureaucrats,” he said.
7. Archbishop Viganò defies Vatican summons, denounces Pope Francis, By Jonah McKeown, Catholic News Agency, June 28, 2024, 2:45 PM
Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò on Friday said he will not participate in a Vatican summons to face charges of schism, reiterating his claims that Pope Francis is not the legitimate pope of the Catholic Church. 
The archbishop had previously revealed he received an email from the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith informing him of the trial. The deadline for Viganò to appear before the Vatican expired today.
The former papal nuncio to the United States — who garnered headlines in 2018 for alleging that senior Church officials covered up abuses committed by former cardinal Theodore McCarrick — has repeatedly rejected the authority of Pope Francis since then and has called on him to resign. 
In a lengthy statement shared on social media June 28, Viganò accused Pope Francis of “heresy and schism” over his promotion of COVID-19 vaccines and his overseeing of the 2018 Vatican-China deal on the appointment of bishops.
8. U.S. bishops: Supreme Court ruling ‘criminalizes homelessness’, By Peter Pinedo, Catholic News Agency, June 28, 2024, 2:10 PM
The U.S. bishops strongly condemned the Supreme Court’s Friday ruling in a pivotal homelessness case, calling the court’s decision “a direct contradiction of our call to shelter those experiencing homelessness and care for those in need.”
In the 6-3 decision, issued in City of Grants Pass, Oregon v. Gloria Johnson, the court ruled that cities can arrest or fine homeless individuals for camping in public spaces.
Writing on behalf of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Archbishop Borys Gudziak, head of the bishops’ Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, said that “ticketing and arresting people for it [being homeless] is a counterproductive approach to the problem of homelessness” and that “criminalizing homeless is not the response to caring for those in need.”
10. Pope’s top adviser, women who say they were abused by ex-Jesuit artist ask for mosaics to be removed, The pope’s top adviser on fighting sex abuse is urging Vatican offices to stop displaying artwork by an ex-Jesuit artist, By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press, June 28, 2024, 9:38 AM
The scandal over a famous ex-Jesuit artist who is accused of psychologically, spiritually and sexually abusing adult women came to a head Friday after some of his alleged victims and the pope’s own anti-abuse adviser asked for his artworks not to be promoted or displayed.
The separate initiatives underscored how the case of the Rev. Marko Rupnik, whose mosaics grace some of the Catholic Church’s most-visited shrines and sanctuaries, continues to cause a headache for the Vatican and Pope Francis, who as a Jesuit himself has been drawn into the scandal.
Early Friday, five women who say they were abused by Rupnik sent letters to Catholic bishops around the world asking them to remove his mosaics from their churches, saying their continued display in places of worship was “inappropriate” and retraumatizing to victims.
11. The most religious, and religiously diverse, places in America, This week, we mine the U.S. Religious Census, a decennial count of America’s faithful, for insights into the geography of religious devotion. We also compare people’s claims on church attendance to their actual behavior., By Adrián Blanco, Lenny Bronner and Andrew Van Dam, The Washington Post, June 28, 2024, 6:00 AM
When you map the primary religion in every county in America, the Catholics stand out.
As America’s single-largest religious group, Catholics show up everywhere, from the Italian alleyways of New England to the thriving Filipino churches of Hawaii, from the Polish pockets of the Rust Belt to the Cuban corners of South Florida. Then there’s Acadian Louisiana and, of course, the massive swath of the American West that used to be Mexico — which, as you may know, is pretty Catholic.
Protestants actually outnumber Catholics in the United States. But they’re splintered into at least 300 groups — including the Progressive Primitive Baptists, the Northern New Salem Association of Old Regular Baptists and the Fire-Baptized Holiness Church of the Americas — displaying a knack for division that might be expected from a religious tradition that owes its existence to the propagation of religious schisms.

To wrap our heads around the survey’s phenomenal detail, we asked an algorithm for help. It split U.S. religions into five clusters, with big blobs of Baptists in the South, Lutherans in the Upper Midwest, Mormons around Utah and Idaho, and — of course — Catholics everywhere.

About 2 percent of Catholics went to Mass every week — a little higher than Muslims, Orthodox Christians and Jews, according to Pope’s research — but well below the 15 percent of Mormons who regularly worship in person or the 7 percent of Protestants and Jehovah’s Witnesses.

Pope couldn’t fully disentangle America’s web of Christian sects. But of those he could identify, Catholics see the biggest holiday spikes, with attendance leaping more than 50 percent for the weeks of Easter and Christmas. Orthodox churches see a similar surge on Easter, while Protestants tend to have smaller spikes. Attendance by Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses doesn’t so much as flinch.

Why do the Catholic masses seem to spurn Catholic Masses? We hassled our friend Stephen Spiewak, last seen supplying stats on orchestras in the Midwest. He now works for the popular Catholic prayer app Hallow, putting him in a neat position to speak on Catholics’ worship habits as seen through cellphones.
Spiewak notes that Pope the Chicago researcher counts only those who attend weekly services on each religion’s primary day of worship (e.g. Friday for Muslims, or Friday evening and Saturday for Jews) plus holidays. Pope the Supreme Pontiff, on the other hand, regards Saturday vigil Mass as equivalent to Sunday Mass for meeting believers’ weekly attendance obligations (per Canon Law 1248).
Pope the researcher’s calculations show that if he counted Saturday visitors, typical Catholic attendance would rise by about 30 percent. If he included any day of the week, it would go up by about 60 percent, roughly in line with what we see for other religions.
12. Iowa’s highest court rules in favor of six-week abortion ban, The ban, passed last summer, was among many conservative states’ efforts to end abortion in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade, By Annie Gowen, The Washington Post, June 28, 2024, 9:56 AM
Iowa’s Supreme Court on Friday allowed a six-week ban on abortion to take effect, one of the latest rulings to restrict abortion access since the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2022 decision ending federal protections for the procedure.
The measure restricts the procedure after six weeks of pregnancy, the point when fetal cardiac activity can be detected. Planned Parenthood and others had sued to block the law and won a preliminary injunction from a lower court, keeping abortion temporarily legal in the state up until 22 weeks of pregnancy.
The judges ruled 4-3 that the law — passed by the Republican-led legislature in 2023 — is constitutional, reversing a temporary restraining order put in place by a district court last year, meaning the ongoing lawsuit at that level can proceed.
13. Supreme Court’s Abortion Rulings May Set the Stage for More Restrictions
The court’s strategy of avoidance and delay cannot last and may have been shaped by a desire to avoid controversy in an election year., By Adam Liptak, The New York Times, June 28, 2024, 5:06 AM
Superficially, abortion rights had a good run at the Supreme Court this term. Two weeks ago, the justices unanimously let an abortion pill remain widely available. On Thursday, the court dismissed a case about Idaho’s strict abortion ban, which had the effect of letting emergency rooms in the state perform the procedure when the patient’s health is at risk.
But the two rulings were so technical as to be ephemeral. They seemed designed for avoidance and delay, for kicking a volatile subject down the road — or at least past Election Day.
Some supporters of abortion rights called the rulings Pyrrhic victories, ones they feared would set the stage for more restrictions, whether from the courts or from a second Trump administration.
In Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the 2022 decision that overturned Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court signaled that it sought to get out of the abortion business. “The authority to regulate abortion must be returned to the people and their elected representatives,” Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. wrote for the majority.
The two recent rulings were generally consistent with that sentiment, though Justice Alito himself was eager to address Thursday’s case. “Apparently,” he wrote, “the court has simply lost the will to decide the easy but emotional and highly politicized question that the case presents. That is regrettable.”
The majority took a different view, but its strategy of evasion cannot last, said Mary Ziegler, a law professor at the University of California, Davis.
“What is clear, both in this term and in what is likely to come next, is that the abortion struggle is not being left to the states,” she said. “The executive branch and the Supreme Court are still very much going to have their say.”

Other challengers, notably three states that have already intervened in the case in the trial court — Idaho, Kansas and Missouri — will continue to fight. Their challenge could reach the Supreme Court fairly quickly.

If Mr. Trump wins, much of what was at issue in the two cases may be resolved by executive action. His administration could withdraw the guidance on emergency room care at issue in the Idaho and Texas cases, and it could interpret an old law, the Comstock Act, to try to ban the mailing of abortion pills.

Still, whatever may be said about the direction of the Supreme Court’s abortion jurisprudence, Professor Cohen said, it is important not to lose sight of who won and who lost in the two recent decisions.
“The antiabortion movement took big swings with these cases and missed in both,” Professor Cohen said. “They couldn’t stop abortion pills, nor could they stop federal law from trumping a state abortion ban. That may change in the future, but right now, they’re 0 for 2 post-Dobbs.”
14. Despite Supreme Court ruling, the future of emergency abortions is still unclear for US women, The U.S. Supreme Court did not settle the debate over whether federal law requires hospitals to stabilize pregnant patients with emergency abortions on Wednesday, despite saying Idaho hospitals can provide abortions in medical emergencies even with the state’s restrictions, By Amanda Seitz, The Washington Post, June 27, 2024, 6:48 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court did not settle the debate over whether federal law requires hospitals to stabilize pregnant patients with emergency abortions on Wednesday, despite saying Idaho hospitals can provide abortions in medical emergencies even with the state’s restrictions.
The court delivered a 6-3 procedural ruling that left key questions still lingering about whether states can ban doctors from providing emergency abortions that save a woman from serious infection or organ loss.
Health and legal experts say Thursday’s order that divided the Supreme Court’s conservatives does nothing to protect pregnant women in other states with strict abortion bans, where state bans might conflict with a federal law that the Biden administration argues requires emergency abortions.
15. Oklahoma state superintendent orders schools to teach the Bible in grades 5 through 12, Oklahoma’s top education official is ordering public schools to incorporate the Bible into lessons for grades 5 through 12, By Sean Murphy, Associated Press, June 27, 2024, 5:35 PM
Oklahoma’s top education official ordered public schools Thursday to incorporate the Bible into lessons for grades 5 through 12, the latest effort by conservatives to incorporate religion into classrooms.
The directive drew immediate condemnation from civil rights groups and supporters of the separation of church and state, with some calling it an abuse of power and a violation of the U.S. Constitution.
The order sent to districts across the state by Republican State Superintendent Ryan Walters says adherence to the mandate is compulsory and “immediate and strict compliance is expected.”
“The Bible is an indispensable historical and cultural touchstone,” Walters said in a statement. “Without basic knowledge of it, Oklahoma students are unable to properly contextualize the foundation of our nation which is why Oklahoma educational standards provide for its instruction.”
16. Conservative justices dodge and weave in botched Idaho abortion case, The Supreme Court’s decision is at best a temporary reprieve., By Ruth Marcus, The Washington Post, June 27, 2024, 5:04 PM
In the terrible days of back-alley abortions, we used to talk about botched abortions. Moyle v. United States is a botched abortion case — botched from the start by the Supreme Court itself, and the conservative justices are not done yet.
Do not be confused by the bottom line, which is likely temporary. Yes, for the moment, pregnant women in Idaho facing severe health consequences but not death unless they obtain an abortion don’t have to be airlifted out of the state to receive appropriate medical care.
But for months, pregnant women in that dire and unwanted circumstance had to do exactly that — because of the court’s lurch to intervene in the case and the conservative justices’ move to let Idaho’s draconian law remain in effect while they, as it turned out, failed to decide the case.
And in the interim, because the justices failed to decide, pregnant women in the six other states that have similarly cruel abortion laws, with no exceptions except for the life of the mother, face similar ordeals, with the threat of such consequences as coma, stroke, limb amputation, hysterectomy and organ failure. So this is not a win for pregnant women in agonizing situations — it’s likely just a temporary reprieve, and only for some of them.
Conveniently for Republicans worried about the salience of the abortion issue in November, the court’s punt pushes the final disposition of the case — a disposition that, based on Thursday’s opinions, seems apt to go in Idaho’s favor — until after the election.
Conveniently for some of the justices, the unpleasant issue could simply disappear without their having to decide it if Donald Trump wins in November and the new administration abandons the Biden administration’s interpretation of the emergency care law.

Perhaps the most impassioned writing in the case came from Jackson, who read her dissent from the bench. Jackson argued that the court has an obligation to decide the case, not duck it. Even with an order back in place that prevents Idaho from enforcing its law in certain circumstances, she argued, doctors facing the risk of criminal prosecution will be understandably leery of performing abortions.
Yes, but uncertainty for the time being may be preferable to a loss right away. That is the unfortunate situation in which this court has put pregnant women and the doctors tasked with caring for them.
17. Amendment 4 forgets the health and safety of Florida women and girls in one of the most vulnerable moments of their lives, By Dr. Grazie Pozo Christie, Florida’s Voice, June 27, 2024, 3:13 PM
Florida’s voters will have several big decisions to make come November.
One, of course, will be deciding between the two very different visions of America’s future in the presidential race. Another will be voting yes or no on Florida Amendment 4
This state constitutional amendment would effectively legalize abortion through birth.

The amendment achieves this extreme position through its broad language, which leaves the terms “viability,” “patient’s health” and “healthcare provider” undefined and wide open to interpretation. Abortion activists are nothing if not strategic, and the words that they choose have specific and intended legal consequences.
They have led to courts striking down protections for the unborn in state after state. In the event that Amendment 4 passes in Florida, the state will be in the unenviable company of China, where no unborn child of any age is protected from elective termination. 
But unborn children would not be the only victims of Amendment 4’s deliberately undefined language. The resulting unregulated abortion regime would pose grave risks for pregnant women and girls across the state. 
Again, this particular devil is in the details of the words “penalize, delay, or restrict.” Consider that any common-sense maternal safety regulation around the abortion procedure would necessarily cause some type of delay or penalize providers that were unwilling or unable to comply with the regulation. 
This is not mere speculation. The U.S. Supreme Court’s Whole Women’s Health vs Heller decision clearly illustrates the problem. Texas had required abortion centers to have facilities comparable to ambulatory surgical centers, and for their physicians to have admitting privileges.
In this 2016 case, however, the high court, relying on Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, deemed these state regulations unconstitutional because they placed an “undue burden” on abortion access.
Amendment 4 would pose similar problems for the regulation of abortion facilities in Florida. Ensuring that an abortion facility in which complicated late term surgical abortions are performed be regulated as extensively as a colonoscopy center would be outlawed.
It would also be impossible to require that their abortionists have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital.
Yet such common-sense facility regulations are crucial for the protection of patients.  
Wide and clear hallways that can accommodate a stretcher in an emergency, ramps leading up to clearly marked exits, ample room-size for operating suites and recovery areas—all of these enhance maternal safety. In addition, hospital privileges work to weed out unscrupulous practitioners who tend to drift toward abortion work because of its low prestige in the medical profession.
One study showed that nearly half of all abortionists had at least one public complaint, disciplinary action, criminal charge, or malpractice suit. Hospital privileges also facilitate the quick transfer of a dangerously deteriorating patient to a hospital emergency room with continuity of care. 
A recent episode in Florida shows just how dangerous abortion facilities, especially those performing late term abortions, can be.
In 2022, Florida’s Agency for Healthcare Administration shut down the American Family Planning clinic in Pensacola. A doctor who performed late-term surgical terminations at the small clinic severely injured three women in his care, lacerating their cervices, rupturing their uteri and, in one case, damaging a patient’s colon, leading to a partial resection.
The patients survived, but barely. In 2009, an 18-year-old woman at a Miami clinic gave birth to a living baby during a badly botched late-term abortion.
The doctor wasn’t even on the premises when the 22-week-old baby girl was born. What’s more, instead of transporting the baby to the hospital, the clinic owner put the baby in a plastic bag and tossed her into the trash. Her decomposing remains were recovered after an anonymous tip sparked a search. 
These are but two local examples. The reality is that the abortion industry is just that: an industry.
One in which vulnerable pregnant women and girls put their health and lives into the hands of practitioners and “providers” that ought to be properly regulated and held to account by the health authorities of each state.
Amendment 4 would make this oversight virtually impossible. Forget requiring hospital privileges that weed out dangerous physicians.
Forget requiring that only qualified physicians perform abortions. Forget requiring that doorways be wide enough to admit a wheeled stretcher carrying a hemorrhaging woman on her way to the ambulance. 
Forget, pretty much, the health and safety of Florida women and girls in one of the most vulnerable moments of their lives. 
Grazie Pozo Christie, M.D., is a Senior Fellow for The Catholic Association and host of the nationally syndicated radio show Conversations with Consequences.
18. Court fines Belgian cardinal, archbishop for denying woman admission to diaconate, By Jonah McKeown, Catholic News Agency, June 27, 2024, 5:15 PM
A Belgian civil court has fined two Catholic prelates after they denied a woman entry into a diaconate formation program.
According to the Belgian newspaper De Morgen, the woman, Veer Dusauchoit, asked the Archdiocese of Mechelen-Brussels to register for training as a deacon in June 2023 and again in October 2023. 
Dusauchoit made her first request to Cardinal Jozef De Kesel and her second to Archbishop Luc Terlinden after De Kesel’s 2023 resignation at age 76. Both times, her request to join the four-year diaconal training program was denied. 
The two prelates will have to pay 1,500 euro (about $1,605) each, the court ordered.
19. A Deeper Look at the Rising Threats to Religious Freedom in America, Serious deliberation is just what we need to diagnose the dire religious freedom threats facing us., By David K. Trimble, National Catholic Register, June 26, 2024, Opinion
Anti-faith, anti-reality forces are driving many religious people and institutions out of American public life. 
At a deeper level, a pernicious conception of radical individual autonomy that approaches “self-apotheosis” is displacing foundational American principles of God-given human dignity and ordered liberty. 
As a result, America’s free exercise tradition is now under tremendous strain.
Until a few years ago, most Americans supported religious freedom. The 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act, for example, passed with overwhelming, bipartisan support. Americans would sometimes disagree over how to apply religious freedom, but they generally respected it. 
Unfortunately, those days are gone. Dissenters from the elite consensus — which redefines human sexuality, the nature of male and female, marriage, procreation, and the value of human beings at the beginning and end of life — increasingly find themselves subject to government coercion and cultural intimidation. 
What has brought us to this moment? To begin answering this question, I will draw from the work of two exceptional scholars, Carl Trueman and Abigail Favale. 
Trueman, an evangelical Christian and professor at Grove City College, recently wrote that Americans, influenced by our country’s elites, “no longer think of ourselves as subject to a world with a fixed nature [that reflects] an objective authority or meaning.” In this telling, “we can bend nature [including human nature], to our will … to make whatever meaning or reality we choose.” Trueman explores these themes further in his broadly accessible and exceptional book, Strange New World.
If we have the autonomy to decide the meaning and purpose of reality, and our lives within it, language can be deployed to that end by treating it as malleable, as well as powerful.
Our society’s elites tend to see language as a means to form our world after their own predilections. By contrast, Catholics, evangelicals, and many other religious people view language as directed to the noble task of communicating what is true. The divergence between the two can be summed up in the question: Does language help us to create reality or to comprehend it?
In her 2022 book, The Genesis of Gender, Abigail Favale, a Catholic convert and professor at the University of Notre Dame, reflects on the significance of language in two respects. First, the account of creation given in Genesis shows God using language to create the cosmos out of nothing. Second, she observes that “man uses language to name what God creates.” She summarizes her point by saying, “Divine speech makes reality; human speech identifies reality.” Favale continues, “Reality then exists prior to our naming it, and our language is true and meaningful when it corresponds to what exists.” (See pages 42-43.) 

There is a chasm between, for example, a Christian baker today who serves everyone but refuses to create custom cakes for same-sex “weddings” and a restaurant chain that categorically denied service to all Black people more than a half century ago. Nevertheless, progressive activists often contend that these cases are virtually identical. The assumption is that any refusal to affirm an exercise of autonomy in the area of sex or “gender” is an offense akin to racism. Such an assumption is false, dangerous, and an affront to religious freedom.
Bringing the problem full circle, the anti-faith, anti-reality forces I have been outlining also undercut America’s capacity for reasoned debate. From Congress, to university campuses, to the news media, our society’s leading precincts of deliberation often prove unfit for the job. And yet, serious deliberation is just what we need to diagnose the dire religious freedom threats facing us in the Equality Act and elsewhere, and to identify the solutions necessary to preserve America’s first freedom for generations to come.
David K. Trimble is the president of the Religious Freedom Institute.

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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