1. Iowa Republicans advance 6-week abortion ban in special session, By Shawna Mizelle and Jack Forrest, CNN, July 12, 2023 Iowa’s Republican-controlled legislature advanced a bill that would ban most abortions in the state as early as six weeks into pregnancy. The state’s Senate passed a bill late Tuesday in a 32 to 17 vote and is now headed to Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds’ desk for signing, after she ordered a special legislative session with the sole purpose of restricting the procedure in the state.  The bill includes exceptions for miscarriages, when the life of the pregnant woman is threatened and fetal abnormalities that would result in the infant’s death. It also includes exceptions for pregnancies resulting from rapes reported within 45 days and incest reported within 140 days.  https://www.cnn.com/2023/07/12/politics/iowa-six-week-abortion-ban/index.html__________________________________________________________ 2. Firing of gay Catholic school teacher could test latest Supreme Court ruling, By Rachel Weiner, The Washington Post, July 11, 2023, 12:38 PM When Lonnie Billard announced on Facebook in October 2014 that he was engaged to his partner of 14 years, he knew not everyone in his social circles would celebrate the news. Same-sex marriage had only been legal in his home state of North Carolina for two weeks. “If you don’t agree with this,” he wrote, “keep it to yourself.”  That’s when Billard learned he was no longer being employed by the Catholic school because he was marrying a man. Billard sued the school for sex discrimination and won in 2021. That decision is being challenged by a nonprofit firm involved in multiple high-profile fights on behalf of religious conservatives, which says last month’s U.S. Supreme Court decision in favor of a web designer who did not want to work for gay couples bolsters its case. The fight in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit in Richmond is an early test of how that major Supreme Court decision pitting free speech against anti-discrimination laws will play out beyond the hypothetical situation in that case, which involved a plaintiff who had never actually made wedding websites or been asked to do so by a gay person.  https://www.washingtonpost.com/dc-md-va/2023/07/11/supreme-discrimination-303-catholic-school/__________________________________________________________ 3. Court sides with Amish families in case that pits septic tank rules against religious beliefs, By Steve Karnowski, Associated Press, July 11, 2023, 10:52 AM Members of a deeply conservative Amish community in Minnesota don’t need to install septic systems to dispose of their “gray water,” the state Court of Appeals ruled Monday in a long-running religious freedom case that went all the way up to the U.S. Supreme Court. A three-judge panel ruled that the government “failed to demonstrate a compelling state interest” to justify overriding the religious freedom of the Amish families that challenged state regulations governing the disposal of gray water, which is water that’s been used for dishwashing, laundry, and bathing, but not toilet waste. The Swartzentruber Amish in southeastern Minnesota are among the most traditional Amish groups in the country, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch noted in a 2021 ruling. It sent the case back to Minnesota courts for reconsideration in light of a high court decision a month earlier in a different religious freedom case. That ruling went in favor of a Philadelphia-based Catholic foster care agency that said its religious views prevented it from working with same-sex couples.  https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/2023/07/11/minnesota-court-amish-environment-septic-tanks/7fdd7a2e-1fea-11ee-8994-4b2d0b694a34_story.html__________________________________________________________ 4. New Virginia law offers churches additional protections against being shut down, By Daniel Payne, Catholic News Agency, July 11, 2023, 8:35 AM A law to shield churches from discriminatory state regulation is officially in effect in Virginia, offering state residents what the bill’s sponsor called a “spectacular win” for religious freedom in the state.  The law, which amended the state code’s disaster regulations, stipulates that “no rule, regulation, or order issued by the governor or other governmental entity pursuant to this chapter shall impose restrictions on the operation of a place of worship that are more restrictive than the restrictions imposed on any other business, organization, or activity.” The new provision stems from concerns during the COVID-19 crisis that churches were being subject to overly strict pandemic mitigation policies relative to other institutions and businesses.  Then-Gov. Ralph Northam, like most governors throughout the U.S. during the pandemic, had issued sweeping regulations governing worship rules and church capacity limits throughout the state. Critics said the Democratic governor’s rules for churches were too burdensome while rules covering institutions such as liquor stores were significantly more permissive.  https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/254769/new-virginia-law-offers-churches-additional-protections-against-being-shut-down__________________________________________________________ 5. U.S. Bishops Praise New Immigrant Family Reunification Program, Besides praising the administration’s new program, Bishop Seitz also pointed out the need for additional immigration reform., By Peter Pinedo, Catholic News Agency, July 11, 2023 El Paso Bishop Mark Seitz, head of the U.S. bishops’ migration committee, on Monday praised the Biden administration’s new immigrant Family Reunification Parole program and called for more immigration reform. “We welcome this effort to provide a realistic opportunity for attaining family unity and reunification,” Bishop Seitz said in a statement released July 10.  According to Bishop Seitz, unity and reunification are “foundational” to both “the U.S. immigration system and central tenets of Catholic social teaching.”  The new program, announced by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on July 7, allows migrants from Colombia, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras who have family members already legally residing in the U.S. to “be considered for parole on a case-by-case basis for a period of up to three years while they wait to apply to become a lawful permanent resident.” Under this program, individuals from these countries who are caught crossing the border can potentially be released, granted “parole,” to legally reside in the country for up to three years, provided that a family member who is either a citizen or legal permanent resident successfully filed a petition on their behalf.  https://www.ncregister.com/cna/u-s-bishops-praise-new-immigrant-family-reunification-program__________________________________________________________

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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