1. Conservative attacks on birth control could threaten access, Far-right conservatives are sowing misinformation that inaccurately characterizes IUDs, emergency contraception, even birth-control pills as causing abortions, By Lauren Weber, The Washington Post, June 5, 2024, 5:00 AM
Republican lawmakers in Missouri blocked a bill to widen access to birth-control pills by falsely claiming they induce abortions. An antiabortion group in Louisiana killed legislation to enshrine a right to birth control by inaccurately equating emergency contraception with abortion drugs. An Idaho think tank focused on “biblical activism” is pushing state legislators to ban access to emergency contraception and intrauterine devices (IUDs) by mislabeling them as “abortifacients.”
Since the Supreme Court overturned the right to abortion two years ago, far-right conservatives have been trying to curtail birth-control access by sowing misinformation about how various methods work to prevent pregnancy, even as Republican leaders scramble to reassure voters they have no intention of restricting the right to contraception, which polls show the vast majority of Americans favor.
The divide illustrates growing Republican tensions over the political cost of the “personhood” movement to endow an embryo with human rights, which has also animated the debate around in vitro fertilization. Mainstream medical societies define pregnancy as starting once an embryo has implanted in the wall of the uterus. But some conservative legislators, sharing the views of antiabortion activists, say they believe life begins when eggs are fertilized — before pregnancy — and are conflating some forms of birth control with abortion.

Republicans in at least 17 states have blocked largely Democratic-led attempts to pass laws assuring the right to birth control since 2022, according to a Washington Post examination of legislation. Most recently, Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R) vetoed a bill meant to ensure access to contraceptives, saying that while he personally supports such access, he was loath to “trample on the religious freedoms of Virginians,” including medical providers.

2. Federal judge blocks some rules on abortion pills in North Carolina, A federal judge has permanently blocked some efforts in North Carolina to restrict how abortion pills can be dispensed, By Gary D. Robertson, Associated Press, June 4, 2024, 6:36 PM
A federal judge has permanently blocked some efforts in North Carolina to restrict how abortion pills can be dispensed, saying they are unlawfully in conflict with the authority of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. But she allowed other state laws to remain in effect, granting only a partial victory to a doctor who sued.
The injunction entered Monday by U.S. District Judge Catherine Eagles in Greensboro gives permanence to her April 30 ruling that some of North Carolina’s regulations on medication abortion have been preempted by decisions of federal drug regulators that determined they were not needed.
The order Monday means North Carolina cannot require that only doctors prescribe the pills; that the drugs be provided to the patient only in person; and that the patient schedule a follow-up appointment. It also prohibits state and local prosecutors, state health and medical officials and other defendants from enforcing such rules or penalizing people who don’t follow them with criminal, civil and professional penalties.


3. Washington parental rights law criticized as a ‘forced outing’ measure is allowed to take effect, A new Washington state parental rights law derided by critics as a “forced outing” measure will be allowed to take effect this week, By Gene Johnson, Associated Press, June 4, 2024, 8:16 PM
A new Washington state parental rights law derided by critics as a “forced outing” measure will be allowed to take effect this week after a court commissioner on Tuesday declined to issue an emergency order temporarily blocking it.
The civil liberties groups, school district, youth services organizations and others who are challenging the law did not show that it would create the kind of imminent harm necessary to warrant blocking it until a trial court judge can consider the matter, King County Superior Court Commissioner Mark Hillman said. A hearing before the judge is scheduled for June 21.
The law, known as Initiative 2081, underscores, and in some cases expands, the rights already granted to parents under state and federal law. It requires schools to notify parents in advance of medical services offered to their child, except in emergencies, and of medical treatment arranged by the school resulting in follow-up care beyond normal hours. It grants parents the right to review their child’s medical and counseling records and expands cases where parents can opt their child out of sex education.
Critics say the measure could harm students who go to school clinics seeking access to birth control, referrals for reproductive services, counseling related to their gender identity or sexual orientation, or treatment or support for sexual assault or domestic violence. In many of those cases, the students do not want their parents to know, they note.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Washington and other groups challenging the measure say it violates the state Constitution, which requires that new laws not revise or revoke old laws without explicitly saying so.


4. Biden’s new border restrictions will have ‘serious human consequences,’ Catholic leaders say, By John Lavenburg, Crux, June 5, 2024
While President Joe Biden touts new executive actions that limit illegal immigration as necessary to gain control of the southern border, Catholic leaders argue the president’s decision disregards U.S. asylum law, and will have serious human consequences.
Most notably, Biden’s executive actions will bar migrants who cross the southern border unlawfully from receiving asylum, at least until the numbers of people trying to enter are reduced to meet certain thresholds. Migrants who apply at ports of entry are exempt from the new rules.
Bishop Mark Seitz of El Paso, chair of the U.S. Bishops’ Conference Committee on Migration, said in a June 4 statement that the conference is “deeply disturbed” by Biden’s executive actions, and called on the president to “reverse course and recommit his administration to policies that respect the human life and dignity of migrants, both within and beyond our borders.”
Seitz argues that while a country has a right and responsibility to maintain its borders and regulate immigration, it cannot come at the expense of humanitarian needs of those who flee their countries.

5. Indian Supreme Court: Anti-conversion law may be ‘unconstitutional’, By Anto Akkara, Catholic News Agency, June 4, 2024, 2:52 PM
Catholics in India expressed optimism following the Supreme Court’s recent comments that a draconian anti-conversion law may be found to violate the Indian Constitution.
During a May 16 hearing concerning the anti-conversion law in northern Uttar Pradesh state, the Supreme Court noted that “some parts [of the law] may seem to be violative of the fundamental right to religion guaranteed under Article 25 of the Constitution.”
“This Supreme Court observation gives us great hope,” Archbishop Peter Machado of Bangalore in southern Karnataka state told CNA.
“The court observation highlights the primacy of the fundamental right of freedom of conscience,” he said. “We do not support or indulge in fraudulent conversions. But the law should not be used to persecute us and deny our fundamental right.”
Twelve of India’s 28 states have criminalized religious conversions, including religious conversions that are voluntary and not forcibly coerced. The laws have led to the arrest of clergy and instigated acts of violence against Christians. 

6. Aroused Consciences Changing History, Who are the visionaries of today?, By George Weigel, National Catholic Register, June 5, 2024, Opinion
Forty-five years ago, The New York Times cast its gimlet eye over the first three days of Pope John Paul II’s return to his Polish homeland. Reading the signs of those times through the conventional wisdom of the day, the Grey Lady then offered a typically ex cathedra judgment, in a June 5, 1979, editorial:
As much as the visit of Pope John Paul II must reinvigorate and reinspire the Roman Catholic Church in Poland, it does not threaten the political order of the nation or of Eastern Europe.
To begin with, the Polish Church did not need reinvigorating or reinspiring in June 1979 — it was the strongest local Church behind the Iron Curtain, the repository of Poland’s authentic national identity, and a constant thorn in the side of the communist authorities. (Stalin had famously said that trying to make Poland communist was like fitting a saddle on a cow. Little did he know.)
As for the “political order of the nation,” well, Polish Communist Party boss Edward Gierek surreptitiously watched John Paul’s homecoming Mass on June 2 from a hotel room high above what was then Warsaw’s “Victory Square.” When he heard the Pope call on the Holy Spirit to “renew the face of the Earth — of this land!” as hundreds of thousands of Poles chanted “We want God! We want God!”, he surely felt the winds of change blowing, even if the anemometers in New York failed to register what amounted to a Force 10 storm on the Beaufort Scale.
And as to the “political order … of Eastern Europe,” America’s premier historian of the Cold War, Yale’s John Lewis Gaddis, would write in 2005 that “when John Paul II kissed the ground at the Warsaw Airport on June 2, 1979, he began the process by which communism in Poland — and ultimately everywhere else in Europe — would come to an end.” I had made precisely that argument 13 years before in my book The Final Revolution. There, I suggested that, while many causal factors shaped what we know as the Revolution of 1989, the indispensable factor determining when the revolution happened, and how it happened, was John Paul II.

In professor Gaddis’s words, John Paul II was one of those “visionaries” who, as “saboteurs of the status quo,” were able to “widen the range of historical possibility.”
Are there such visionaries among us today?
7. Unplugged Childhood: Haidt’s Battle Cry Against Early Smartphone Use, ‘We are overprotecting our children in the real world while underprotecting them online…’, By Ashley McGuire, National Catholic Register, June 5, 2024, Opinion
Every day at 3:16 p.m., I get a phone call from my son’s school. On the other end is awkward and heavy breathing and an, “um …” followed by a question about minutiae from my 9-year-old along the lines of, “Can I get a McFlurry today?” Occasionally, the calls even come in the middle of the day with little worries like, “I have a weird dot on my finger,” or “Can you die from getting a splinter?”
My son’s school has it figured out. They are cellphone free, and so — to get ahead of a culture where the average child receives their first phone at age 11 — they just plopped a landline in the lobby, and kids are welcome to use it at any time of day when they are not in class. Keeping in touch with my son during the school day, something with zero precedent in human history until a few years ago, anyways, is somehow still possible without giving him a smartphone.
I mention this because, as I was making my way through Jonathan Haidt’s new book, The Anxious Generation: How the Great Rewiring of Childhood Is Causing an Epidemic of Mental Illness, I was surprised to learn that some of the biggest pushback was coming not from underage phone junkies, but from their parents, who want to be able to stay in touch throughout the day. But at what cost?
An entire generation whose brains are quite literally being rewired as a result of a phone-based, rather than play-based childhood, is Haidt’s answer.

His book is such essential reading for parents that it should be almost given as a baby gift. I am only half joking, as the pressure of screens begins pressing at the earliest of ages. Recent research found that the average age a child is first given an iPad is 2. Children today are conditioned to be on smart devices from toddlerhood, and Haidt paints a disturbing picture as to how it is reshaping childhood for the worse and causing a mental-health epidemic among children and teens.

But Haidt doesn’t just rip back the curtain and run. He offers practical benchmarks and encourages parents and society to act collectively to protect children. He proposes delaying smartphone use until high school, social media until 16 at a minimum, and calls for legislation that actually enforces age verification for children for social media and other harmful websites, as well as phone-free schools where phones stay in locked pouches during the day, among many other attainable steps to liberating children from the “digital crack” in their hands.
For countless parents, they no doubt feel powerless as to where to begin, especially if their child already has a phone. But there is a simple first step for them all, and that’s simply reading Haidt’s urgently important book.

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.
Subscribe to the TCA podcast!

“Conversations with Consequences” is a new audio program from The Catholic Association. We’ll bring you thoughtful dialogue with the leading thinkers of our time on the most consequential issues of our day. Subscribe today or listen online and enjoy our entertaining and informative weekly episodes.