1. The Vindication of Dobbs After Two Years, Letting voters decide on abortion has energized the democratic process., By The Wall Street Journal, June 25, 2024, Pg. A16, Editorial
Democrats are loudly bemoaning the second anniversary of the Supreme Court’s ruling overturning Roe v. Wade this week, and that’s because they think abortion rights will help them politically. Yet that political frenzy is actually a vindication of the Court’s 6-3 Dobbs decision and Justice Samuel Alito’s opinion.
The Dobbs decision, which returned abortion policy to the states and the voters, was correct as a matter of constitutional law. It overturned what even liberal jurists in 1973 and since recognized was one of the High Court’s worst decisions.
Justice Alito wrote that he had no idea how the voters would sort out the issue, but two years later it’s clear that Dobbs is letting democracy work. Despite the left’s predictions, the fall of Roe hasn’t ushered in a “Handmaid’s Tale” dystopia. Some conservative states have restricted many or most abortions, while some liberal states have moved to become sanctuaries.

The other piece of the story is that the Dobbs ruling energized the democratic process, with results that have sometimes been surprising. Residents of Kansas, Ohio and Michigan voted in referendums to keep or add abortion protections in their constitutions. Those outcomes were driven in part by highly motivated Democrats, but the Ohio initiative won counties that President Trump carried in 2020 with 60% or more, so there were obviously swing voters.

Now politicians have to take their positions seriously, because they’re actually empowered to make policy. President Biden and Democrats in Congress want to pass a federal law to impose a national abortion policy that would go beyond Roe, but it could prove unpopular, and it can’t get past a Senate filibuster.
Republicans are adjusting, albeit slowly, and Donald Trump is probably right about the politics. “You don’t need a federal ban,” he told Time magazine recently. “I’m leaving everything up to the states. The states are going to be different. Some will say yes. Some will say no. Texas is different than Ohio.”
Two years after Dobbs, abortion policy is being settled by the electorate, and it isn’t always predictable, but that’s democracy.
2. In Abortion Cases, Legions of ‘Friends’ Seek to Persuade Supreme Court, A new study analyzed 50 years of friend-of-the-court briefs and found that abortion opponents were more relentless than their adversaries, with some reflected in the justices’ opinions., By Adam Liptak, The New York Times, June 24, 2024
When the Supreme Court decided Roe v. Wade in 1973, establishing a constitutional right to abortion, it noted that it had received 14 friend-of-the-court briefs and listed them in a snug footnote at the beginning of the decision.
By 1992, when the court reaffirmed Roe’s core holding in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, the number of such filings, which lawyers call amicus briefs, had swelled to more than 30, and the footnote reciting them had grown unwieldy, taking up more than a page.
In the decision that overturned Roe in 2022, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the court was flooded with more than 140 amicus briefs. The footnote had metastasized, spanning seven pages.
Those 50 years of amicus briefs tell a cumulative story, one explored in a new study published in The Missouri Law Review, “The Rhetoric of Abortion in Amicus Briefs.” Using corpus linguistics, a social-science tool that analyzes patterns of words in large databases, the study found that the briefs “serve as a barometer revealing how various constituencies talk about abortion, women, fetuses, physicians, rights and harms over time.”
The study, conducted by Jamie R. Abrams, a law professor at American University, and Amanda Potts, who teaches at Cardiff University, concluded that opponents of abortion had in some ways been more effective, remaining “resolutely intent on advancing fetal personhood.” The anti-abortion briefs were nimble, they wrote, and were “able to adapt and evolve in response to doctrinal shifts of the court.”
Overall, the authors wrote, abortion opponents had pressed “a more relentlessly human, emotional, personal attack to pursue its political agenda.”

3. Infant mortality rate rose 8% in wake of Texas abortion ban, study shows, A new study shows the infant death rate in Texas went up in the wake of the state’s abortion ban, By Devi Shastri, Associated Press, June 24, 2024, 6:00 PM
In the wake of Texas’ abortion ban, the state’s infant death rate increased and more died of birth defects, a study published Monday shows.
The analysis out of Johns Hopkins University is the latest research to find higher infant mortality rates in states with abortion restrictions.
The researchers looked at how many infants died before their first birthday after Texas adopted its abortion ban in September 2021. They compared infant deaths in Texas to those in 28 states — some also with restrictions. The researchers calculated that there were 216 more deaths in Texas than expected between March and December the next year.
In Texas, the 2022 mortality rate for infants went up 8% to 5.75 per 1,000 births, compared to a 2% increase in the rest of the U.S., according to the study in the journal JAMA Pediatrics.
Among causes of deaths, birth defects showed a 23% increase, compared to a decrease of about 3% in the rest of the U.S. The Texas law blocks abortions after the detection of cardiac activity, usually five or six weeks into pregnancy, well before tests are done to detect fetal abnormalities.

Infant deaths are relatively rare, Bell said, so the team was a bit surprised by the findings. Because of the small numbers, the researchers could not parse out the rates for different populations, for example, to see if rates were rising more for certain races or socioeconomic groups.

4. Tennessee is sued over law that criminalizes helping minors get abortions without parental approval, A Tennessee state Democratic lawmaker and reproductive rights activist have filed a lawsuit challenging a new statute designed to ban adults from helping minors get an abortion without parental permission, By Kimberlee Kruesi, Associated Press, June 24, 2024, 6:26 PM
As Tennessee prepares to become the second U.S. state to enact a ban against adults helping minors get an abortion without parental permission, a state Democratic lawmaker and reproductive rights activist on Monday filed a legal challenge alleging the statute is unconstitutional.
The complaint filed in federal court came on the second anniversary of the Supreme Court’s decision overturning Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that had guaranteed a constitutional right to abortion. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Democratic Rep. Aftyn Behn and Nashville attorney Rachel Welty.

The Tennessee law mimics the so-called “ abortion trafficking ” law enacted in Idaho last year, but a federal judge has since temporarily blocked that state’s statute after reproductive rights groups sued to challenge it.

5. Supreme Court rejects challenge to Connecticut law that eliminated religious vaccination exemption, The Supreme Court has rejected a challenge to a 2021 Connecticut law that eliminated the state’s longstanding religious exemption from childhood immunization requirements for schools, colleges and day care facilities, By Associated Press, June 24, 2024, 2:18 PM
The Supreme Court on Monday rejected a challenge to a 2021 Connecticut law that eliminated the state’s longstanding religious exemption from childhood immunization requirements for schools, colleges and day care facilities.
The justices did not comment in leaving in place a federal appeals court ruling that upheld the contentious law. A lower court judge had earlier dismissed the lawsuit challenging the law, which drew protests at the state Capitol.
Connecticut law requires students to receive certain immunizations before enrolling in school, allowing some medical exemptions. Prior to 2021, students also could seek religious exemptions. Lawmakers ended the religious exemption over concerns that an uptick in exemption requests was coupled with a decline in vaccination rates in some schools.

6. Make the Ten Commandments Holy Again, The religious case against Louisiana’s law mandating their display in classrooms., By Avi Shafran, The Wall Street Journal, June 24, 2024, 5:46 PM, Opinion
Visiting the courtroom of the U.S. Supreme Court some years ago, I was surprised when I looked up and saw Moses. His image, by artist Adolph A. Weinman, who sculpted the friezes adorning the courtroom’s walls, is among those of various lawgivers, including Hammurabi, Solon, Confucius, Mohammed, Charlemagne, Louis IX and Napoleon.
The memory of my visit to the high court’s chamber was conjured by the new Louisiana law requiring that the Ten Commandments be displayed on posters with “large, easily readable font,” in every public classroom in the state. “If you want to respect the rule of law,” Gov. Jeff Landry said, “you’ve got to start from the original lawgiver—which was Moses.” Similar bills have been proposed in Texas, Oklahoma and Utah.

But Louisiana will defend its law, perhaps successfully, with the argument that endorsing the Ten Commandments is an embrace of a cultural idea, not a religious one. The justices need only turn around and look at the wall behind them to realize that the frieze showing Moses, et al., wasn’t intended to telegraph the court’s embrace of religion, even of monotheism, but rather to honor the general concept of law.
That’s what disturbs me. If the only way to “honor” the Ten Commandments—which I wish everyone would do—is to “desanctify” them, to turn them from divine directives to cultural ideals, count me out. To me and, I imagine, to many other religious Jews and Christians, the gravity we afford the Ten Commandments is due precisely to our religious beliefs.
I would be happy for a public school teacher to present that text to students, in an appropriate context, as an example of Jewish and Christian religious ideals. But to have the commandments presented as a mere cultural artifact, as something with only symbolic, not holy, meaning—not so much.
If I wore a baseball cap instead of a black hat, I might emblazon it with an important message: “Make the Bible Holy Again.”
7. Lawsuit challenges new Louisiana law requiring classrooms to display the Ten Commandments, By Sara Cline And Kevin Mcgill, Associated Press, June 24, 2024, 4:58 PM
Civil liberties groups filed a lawsuit Monday to block Louisiana’s new law that requires the Ten Commandments to be displayed in every public school classroom, a measure they contend is unconstitutional.
Plaintiffs in the suit include parents of Louisiana public school children with various religious backgrounds, who are represented by attorneys with the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation, Americans United for Separation of Church and State, the Freedom From Religion Foundation and the New York City law firm Simpson, Thatcher & Bartlett.

8. U.S. bishops applaud Supreme Court ruling on domestic violence gun law, By Daniel Payne, Catholic News Agency, June 24, 2024, 12:38 PM
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has praised a U.S. Supreme Court ruling on gun regulation, saying it will help protect victims of domestic violence by forbidding suspected abusers from owning guns.
The court last week ruled in United States v. Rahimi that “when an individual has been found by a court to pose a credible threat to the physical safety of another, that individual may be temporarily disarmed” without violating the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which allows for broad firearm ownership.
In a statement on Saturday, Archbishop Borys Gudziak — the chairman of the bishops’ Committee for Domestic Justice and Human Development — said “the common good demands that society protect vulnerable women and children from domestic violence.”
“[R]easonable restrictions on gun possession to ensure their safety do not violate the Constitution,” Gudziak, the metropolitan archbishop of Philadelphia of the Ukrainian Catholic Church, said in the statement. 

9. Texas investigates Children’s Hospital over alleged secret sex changes on minors, By Peter Pinedo, Catholic News Agency, June 24, 2024, 4:00 PM
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has launched an investigation into allegations that illegal sex-change procedures are being performed on minors at Texas Children’s Hospital. 
The probe follows news reports based on documents a whistleblower shared with City Journal. The outlet reported that Texas Children’s doctor Eithan Haim shared information showing that the hospital system had “secretly continued to perform transgender medical interventions … on minor children” despite it being illegal in Texas. 
Haim has since been indicted for allegedly breaking federal law by violating the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) while obtaining and disclosing the private health information of Texas Children’s pediatric patients. If found guilty, Haim faces up to 10 years in prison and a maximum $250,000 fine.
A representative for Paxton’s office confirmed with CNA on Friday that Texas Children’s is currently being investigated. The hospital system, which is the largest children’s system in the U.S., is being investigated for potential Medicaid fraud in its sex-change program, according to National Review.

10. Vatican comms chief defends use of accused sexual abuser’s artwork, By Crux, June 22, 2024
The head of the Vatican’s communications department is defending his office’s use of an accused sexual abuser’s art on its website.
The Prefect of the Dicastery for Communication of the Holy See, Italian layman Paolo Ruffini, offered his defense on Friday, June 21st, in response to questions from journalists attending his keynote address at the annual Catholic Media Conference in Atlanta, Georgia.

The artist in question is  ex-Jesuit Father Marko Rupnik, who has been accused of abusing scores of victims—most of them women religious—over several decades, much of which he spent in Rome at the Centro Aletti art institute he founded in the early 1990s.
“We’re not talking about abuse of minors,” Ruffini told a room of roughly 150 journalists and other media professionals. “We are talking [about] a story that we don’t know,” Ruffini said. “Who am I to judge the Rupnik stories?”

After acknowledging the criminal process currently underway against Rupnik, Ruffini said, “We think—the dicastery—and I personally think that it,” i.e. removing the images from official Vatican media, “is not a good way to anticipate.”
“You know,” Ruffini is heard saying in an audio recording of Ruffini’s speech and Q&A obtained by Crux, “as Christians, we are asked not to judge.”

“I don’t think we have to throw stones,” Ruffini said in Atlanta on Friday, “thinking that this is the way of healing someone.”
“Do you think that if I put away a photo of an artwork from my—from our—website, I will be more close to the victims? Do you think so?” Ruffini repeatedly asked a journalist who had put a follow-up question to him regarding his message to victims.
“I think you’re wrong,” Ruffini said, “I think you’re wrong,” Ruffini repeated.
“I really think you’re wrong, Ruffini said again.
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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