1. The Smart Way to Overturn Roe, The strongest limits on abortion are likely to be struck down and never reach the Supreme Court.

By Clarke D. Forsythe, The Wall Street Journal, July 22, 2019, Pg. A17

The Supreme Court completed its term in June with no major changes to its longstanding holding on abortion. Instead, changes to abortion law this year have taken place in states, and that’s how it should be.

The 2019 state legislative sessions have shown that federalism is as important as ever to our republic. Blue states moved to legalize abortion on demand throughout (and even after) pregnancy, while red states moved to adopt strong limits on abortion, all in the expectation that the Supreme Court may soon overturn Roe v. Wade. So much for the claim that Roe is “settled.”

But will any of the pro-life laws enacted this year create a decisive test case that will overturn Roe, as some legislative sponsors hope? State legislators need to keep three legal factors in mind:

• The states can’t force the court to hear a case. The justices have virtually absolute discretion as to which cases they hear, on what time frame, and whether they ever hear some issues.

• The court does not need an outright abortion prohibition to re-examine Roe v. Wade. The justices could re-examine Roe with any abortion law that arguably conflicts with Roe. That could include parental notice or consent, ultrasound, informed consent or health and safety regulations.

The abortion cases heading to the court will go on for years, and that means the 2020 elections will send positive or negative signals to the justices about public support for overturning Roe. Electoral losses by pro-life candidates in 2020 might well short-circuit the current test cases and send the wrong signal to the court.

Tremendous resources, a relentless effort, and a careful nurturing of all of these factors will be needed to overturn Roe v. Wade, which would decentralize the abortion issue and return it to the states. That would be good for the court and all of American politics.

Mr. Forsythe is senior counsel of Americans United for Life.


2. ‘I will stand side by side with you forever’, President Trump promises to support victims of religious persecution.

By Sheryl Henderson Blunt, The Washington Times, July 22, 2019, Pg. B1, Opinion

President Donald Trump promised survivors of religiouspersecution who visited the Oval Office yesterday that he will forever support them in their attempts to secure religiousfreedom.

“It’s really an honor to be with you and I will stand side by side with you forever,” the president told a multifaith delegation of survivors and victims of religious persecution from over 16 different countries. “You’ve been through a lot — more than most people could ever endure, and I want to congratulate you.”

Members of the delegation are in Washington, D.C., attending the administration’s second Ministerial to Advance ReligiousFreedom hosted by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Ambassador Sam Brownback, head of the State Department’s Office of International Religious Freedom.

President Trump also spoke with Rev. Hkalam Samson, president of the Kachin Baptist Convention (KBC).

“As Christians in Myanmar we are being oppressed and tortured by the Myanmar military government,” said Mr. Samson. “We don’t have … religious freedom.

Sheryl Henderson Blunt is a former senior writer for Christianity Today and a Robert Novak Journalism Fellowship Alumna.


3. Pope Francis petitions Assad to protect weak and defenseless in Syria.

By Hannah Brockhaus, Catholic News Agency, July 22, 2019, 4:52 AM

Pope Francis, with concern for the humanitarian crisis in bombarded Idlib, has called on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to safeguard the weak and defenseless civil population in his country.

“The Holy Father asks the president to do everything possible to stop this humanitarian catastrophe, to safeguard the defenseless population, especially the weakest, in compliance with International Humanitarian Law,” Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin told Vatican News July 22.

The pope’s appeal was made in a letter delivered to Assad July 22 by Cardinal Peter Turkson, prefect of the Dicastery for the Promotion of Integral Human Development, during a meeting with the president in Damascus.


4. Insurers Face Risk of Child Sex-Abuse Claims, New state laws expand statute of limitations for filing suits.

By Nicole Friedman, Wall Street Journal Online, July 21, 2019, 4:57 PM

State laws expanding the statute of limitations for child sexual-abuse claims pose a growing financial risk to insurance companies, said ratings firm A.M. Best.

Seventeen states and Washington, D.C., have laws going into effect this year that extend or eliminate the amount of time victims of child sexual abuse have to sue or seek criminal charges against their abusers, according to advocacy group Child USA. Some states, including New York, have created short-term windows during which victims can sue their abusers and the institutions they were affiliated with regardless of when the alleged abuse occurred.

Insurers that have written liability insurance policies for schools, religious institutions or municipal entities will likely need to increase the reserves they set aside to pay for claims, A.M. Best said in its new report, which will be released Monday. Those types of entities are at risk of increased claims alleging they were negligent in hiring or supervising alleged abusers.

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York sued 31 insurance companies last month in anticipation that the firms will deny coverage of claims stemming from expected lawsuits following the enactment of the state’s Child Victims Act.


5. A moral abdication, Muslim nations see a cultural genocide in China and say: No problem.

The Washington Post, July 21, 2019, Pg. A20, Editorial

At a session of the U.N. Human Rights Council this month, 22 mostly Western ambassadors joined in a letter expressing concern about China’s mass detentions in the Xinjiang region and calling for “meaningful access” for “independent international observers.” It was another tepid gesture in what has been a weak international effort to respond to Beijing’s campaign of cultural genocide against the Uighur ethnic group and other Muslim minorities.

What was remarkable was what came next. Four days later, countries recruited by Beijing delivered their own letter to the council, signed by 37 ambassadors, which endorsed what it whitewashed as a “counter-terrorism and de-radicalization” operation and claimed that “the fundamental human rights of people of all ethnic groups there are safeguarded.” The signatories included the usual global rogue’s gallery — Cuba, Russia, North Korea, Venezuela. But a dozen Muslim governments also joined in — thereby sanctioning one of the largest assaults on Islam in modern times.

That abuses of historic magnitude are taking place in Xinjiang is now beyond question. According to outside estimates, more than 1 million Uighurs and other Turkic Muslims are being held in concentration camps where they are being forced to learn Chinese and abandon their own languages and religious practices. The children of those detained have been sent to separate camps to be indoctrinated.


6. Why I Left Planned Parenthood, I believe abortion is about health care, not politics, Many of my colleagues disagreed.

By Leana S. Wen, The New York Times, July 21, 2019, Pg. SR3, Opinion
Dr. Wen is an emergency physician.

This week, I left my position as the president and chief executive of Planned Parenthood.

In my farewell message to colleagues, I cited philosophical differences over the best way to protect reproductive health. While the traditional approach has been through prioritizing advocating for abortion rights, I have long believed that the most effective way to advance reproductive health is to be clear that it is not a political issue but a health care one. I believed we could expand support for Planned Parenthood — and ultimately for abortion access — by finding common ground with the large majority of Americans who can unite behind the goal of improving the health and well-being of women and children.

But the team that I brought in, experts in public health and health policy, faced daily internal opposition from those who saw my goalsas mission creep. There was even more criticism as we worked to change the perception that Planned Parenthood was just a progressive political entity and show that it was first and foremost a mainstream health care organization.

Perhaps the greatest area of tension was over our work to be inclusive of those with nuanced views about abortion. I reached out to people who wrestle with abortion’s moral complexities, but who will speak out against government interference in personal medical decisions. I engaged those who identify as being pro-life, but who support safe, legal abortion access because they don’t want women to die from back-alley abortions. I even worked with people who oppose abortion but support Planned Parenthood because of the preventive services we provide — we share the desire to reduce the need for abortion through sex education and birth control.

But in the end, I was asked to leave for the same reason I was hired: I was changing the direction of Planned Parenthood.

Ultimately, my departure is not about me or the organization I continue to care deeply about. It goes beyond the movement for reproductive rights to the very ethos of our country. Can we put aside partisan differences to do what is best for the people we serve? Will the conversation continue to be dominated by a vocal minority from both ends of the spectrum, or can there be space for those of us in the middle to come together around shared values?

I hope so. We need to stop treating those whose views differ from our own with scorn and suspicion, and instead work together to safeguard our health, our rights and our future.


7. Governor Sued Over Cut to Court Funds.

By Ethan Millman, The Wall Street Journal, July 21, 2019, Pg. A3

Alaska’s American Civil Liberties Union chapter is suing Gov. Mike Dunleavy after he said he would cut funding for the state’s Supreme Court in retaliation to abortion-related rulings.

In a line-item veto, Mr. Dunleavy cut nearly $335,000 in funding for Alaska’s court system, which the Republican’s office said was the same amount the state pays annually to cover elective abortions under its Medicaid program.

In February, the Alaska Supreme Court upheld a 2001 decision that prevented restrictions on Medicaid funding for abortions.


8. Pope: Moon landing inspires progress on justice, environment.

The Associated Press, July 21, 2019, 6:27 AM

Pope Francis is hoping that the 50th anniversary of the first moon walk inspires efforts to help our “common home” on Earth.

Francis told the public in St. Peter’s Square on Sunday, the day after the anniversary of the July 20, 1969, lunar landing, that the feat achieved an “extraordinary dream.”

He expressed hope that the memory of “that great step for humanity” would spark the desire for progress on other fronts: “more dignity for the weak, more justice among people, more future for our common home.”


9. Administration pauses enforcement of abortion restriction.

By Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar, The Associated Press, July 21, 2019, 7:29 AM

The Trump administration is giving taxpayer-funded family planning clinics more time to comply with its new rule that says they no longer can refer women for abortions.

A notice sent Saturday night to representatives of the clinics by the Department of Health and Human Services said the government “does not intend to bring enforcement actions” against clinics that are making “good-faith efforts to comply.” A copy of the notice, which includes a new timetable for the clinics, was provided to The Associated Press.

The rule barring abortion referrals is part of a series of administration efforts to remake government policy on reproductive health to please conservatives who are a key part of President Donald Trump’s political base. Religious conservatives see the family planning program as providing an indirect subsidy to Planned Parenthood, and they have long sought to deny the organization any federal money.


10. Pope Francis may just hit it off with new EU leader.

By John L. Allen Jr., Editor, Crux, July 21, 2019

For sure, German politician Ursula von der Leyen isn’t exactly taking office as the first female leader of the European Union under the best of circumstances.

To tick off just a few less-than-auspicious realities, the UK is about to name a prime minister determined to exit the EU even without a formal agreement, the new European parliament contains a record share of Euro-skeptics, and her six-year tenure as Germany’s defense minister is under a cloud due to allegations of improperly awarding bids to outside contractors.

Yet however she got there, von der Leyen is now the closest thing Europe has to a commander-in-chief. A pope, meanwhile, is the closest thing Europe has to a chaplain, so one important question for anyone interested in the future of the Old Continent is whether these two figures can hit it off – and, as it turns out, there’s considerable reason to believe the answer is “yes.”


11. Abortion Continues to Not Make Sense.

By Kathryn Jean Lopez, National Review Online, July 21, 2019, 6:30 AM

This past week saw the news that Planned Parenthood’s first medical-doctor president, Leana Wen, was out of a job, less than nine months in, shortly after suffering a miscarriage. The split appears to be about Wen believing the talking points about women’s health a little too much, contrary to the abortion provider’s wider priorities, including in politics. The Wen departure gives all kinds of hope, too, about reasonable people working together to break down the stranglehold Planned Parenthood can have over life, politics, and culture in America.

Frederica Mathewes-Green has been talking about “real choices,” which was the title of a book of hers published in 1994, for a while now — and had a popular article on NRO in 2016 called “When Abortion Suddenly Stopped Making Sense” 

Mathewes-Green recently talked to me about where we are now.

Kathryn Jean Lopez: Were you surprised to see your piece from 2016 making the rounds again recently?

Frederica Mathewes-Green: Yes! A writer doesn’t expect people to remember or seek out an essay after its time. It was so moving and encouraging to begin receiving emails and Facebook messages about it once again, often from people who were profoundly moved.

Lopez: Is abortion making less and less sense?

Mathewes-Green: Absolutely. I can remember, in my lefty days, thinking of myself as someone on the side of the weak against the strong, on the side of the oppressed and voiceless (an identity that has some self-valorizing in it, obviously). How can people who embrace that ideal so emphatically not see the violence against the unborn? It’s a fundamental conflict with their own most deeply internalized values.


12. Trump administration delays ban on abortion referrals at family planning centers.

By Amy Goldstein, The Washington Post, July 20, 2019, Pg. A10

The Trump administration has backtracked on an announcement five days earlier that had required federal funded family planning centers to immediately stop referring women for abortions, giving the clinics two more months to comply.

In a rare Saturday night notice to Planned Parenthood affiliates, state governments and other organizations that receive federal family planning grants, Health and Human Services Department officials wrote that no group would be penalized yet for failing to obey with this and other rule changes.

The two-page notice issued Saturday night did not include detailed information about how the federally funded organization should interpret parts of the rules, such as a section that bans referrals for abortion but says that family planning centers may provide “nondirective counseling” that mentions abortion among options.

The notice says that the grant recipients must provide within a month assurance that they do “not include abortion as a method of family planning” — even with outside money, as has been allowed until now. They also must submit an “action plan” describing the ways they will comply with all aspects of the new rules, except for one to take effect next spring. Everyone needs to be in compliance by Sept. 18, the notice said.


13. The forces against religious freedom are ascendant, The Trump administration mounts a defense.

By Hugh Hewitt, Washington Post Online, July 20, 2019

You are forgiven if you missed the most important story of the week given the political pyrotechnics culminating in President Trump’s welcome disavowal of the nativist chant “Send her back.” Trump will wisely smother such outbursts at rallies, but expect provocateurs to try to get it started again and again. It’s a deeply offensive and un-American echo of the “Know-Nothings” of the 19th century, whose fury was directed at Roman Catholics.

There is a tie, though, between the Know-Nothings of long ago and another significant story of the week: the State Department’s second annual Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom, which brought more than 1,000 delegates from 100 countries together in Washington. The statements of the gathering — on the anti-religious freedom policies of China, Iran and Myanmar, for example — do not deal with long-ago systemic discrimination against Roman Catholic immigrants to the United States, but with its very real, very present-day cousin: violent repression of this most basic of human rights across wide swaths of the world, which is the ability to find and know God.

It has taken 2,000 years for Christianity to achieve the consensus position that no conversion by the sword is a conversion worth having. A broad and growing consensus on this point is crucial for the safety of all in the new millennium. All major world religions have their extreme fringe, but the understanding is ascendant rising that only genuine tolerance of competing religious belief systems — wide-open but noncoercive invitations to preach and proselytize any faith claim — is the building block of political stability.

This is an argument worth having with every government on the planet. It is a persuadable proposition. Good for Trump, Pompeo and Brownback to have the courage to promote Madison and Jefferson in an age of cynicism about faith and its centrality to a happy life and a stable world.


14. U.S. Should Reject ‘Prejudice’ on China Religious Rights: State Media.

Reuters, July 20, 2019

The United States should reject “prejudice” and respect facts instead of vilifying China’s record on religious rights, the Communist Party newspaper People’s Daily said on Saturday after fresh criticism of China’s treatment of ethnic Muslims.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo branded China’s treatment of its Uighur minority in the far northwestern region of Xinjiang the “stain of the century” on Thursday. He also accused Beijing of pressuring countries not to attend a U.S.-hosted conference on religious freedom.


15. Lord Alton: Abortion law imposed on N Ireland by UK Parliament.

By Matt Hadro, Catholic News Agency, July 20, 2019, 12:00 AM

The British Parliament is imposing its will on the citizens of Northern Ireland by passing legislation decriminalizing abortion there, one Catholic lawmaker says.

“We know that the last vote to be held in the United Kingdom in any of the jurisdictions was in Northern Ireland, where they said they didn’t want these laws,” David Alton, Baron Alton of Liverpool, an independent member of the House of Lords and a Catholic, told CNA on Thursday.

“But they have been imposed by the metropolitan classes at Westminster, over and above the beliefs of the people of Northern Ireland.”

The Northern Ireland Assembly in 2016 successfully opposed legal abortion, but because the assembly is currently not functional due to a dispute between its two major political parties, the British Parliament has passed an Executive Formation bill meant to serve as a temporary legislative replacement. It will take effect if the Assembly is not functional by October 21. The legislation includes amendments legalizing abortion and same-sex marriage.


16. Vatican bans W.Va. bishop accused of sexual and financial misconduct from public ministry.

By Michael Brice-Saddler, Washington Post Online, July 19, 2019, 4:32 PM

The Vatican on Friday announced sanctions against retired West Virginia bishop Michael Bransfield, but stopped short of defrocking him, after investigating accusations of sexual harassment and financial misconduct.

The sanctions, ordered by Pope Francis and detailed in a letter posted to the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston’s website, prohibit Bransfield from public ministry and from residing in his former West Virginia diocese. Bransfield also has “the obligation to make personal amends for some of the harm he caused,” the nature of which will be decided by the new bishop.


17. Former West Virginia bishop disciplined by pope.

The Associated Press, July 19, 2019, 6:47 PM

Pope Francis has issued disciplinary action against a former West Virginia bishop, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston said Friday.

The diocese posted the pope’s decision on its website, saying former bishop Michael Bransfield can’t live within the diocese, can’t participate in any public celebration of the liturgy and must make amends “for some of the harm he caused.”

A church investigation found sexual misconduct accusations against Bransfield to be credible. It also found that Bransfield misused church funds, spending them on dining, liquor, gifts, personal travel and luxury items.


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