1. Supreme Court to weigh free speech for anti-abortion centers. 

By Kimberly Leonard, The Washington Examiner, March 19, 2018, 12:01 AM

The Supreme Court on Tuesday will hear whether California is violating free speech rights by forcing anti-abortion pregnancy centers to post information about the availability of state-funded abortions.

A decision is expected by the end of June and could trigger legal changes in other states, such as similar laws in Hawaii and Illinois.

Some of the pregnancy centers provide limited medical care, including pregnancy tests, ultrasounds, and testing for sexually transmitted infections. Their goal is to provide resources to women who choose parenting or adoption, and their supporters say the California law threatens their existence.

“It’s either do something against your conscience and hope you can continue to do good, or stand firm for what you believe in and not be able to serve,” Andrea Picciotti-Bayer, legal adviser to the Catholic Association Foundation, which filed an amicus brief siding with the plaintiffs. “That’s a really rotten choice to give anybody, especially when the stakes are so high for the people who want and need their help.”

Ashley McGuire, senior fellow at the Catholic Association Foundation, said it was condescending to women to suggest they cannot tell if a facility will provide abortion, noting that some are in churches.

“The centers are very clear about why they exist. This is why they don’t want to post abortion material,” she said. “They exist to provide women another option.”


2. Crisis pregnancy centers have the right to remain silent. 

By George F. Will, Opinion Writer, The Washington Post, March 18, 2018, Pg. A25

Governments routinely behave badly, but sometimes their mean-spiritedness comes to the Supreme Court’s attention. On Tuesday, it will hear oral arguments concerning the constitutionality of measures that California’s government has taken to compel pro-life entities to speak against their own mission.

Crisis pregnancy centers are nonprofit facilities usually owned and operated by people with religious objections to abortion. Some centers are licensed medical facilities providing pregnancy testing, ultrasound examinations, medical referrals, prenatal vitamins, etc. Other centers are unlicensed because they provide only nonmedical services (self-administered pregnancy testing kits, parenting preparation training, baby clothes, diapers, etc.).

California tailored the law to target only crisis centers: It exempts from the compelled speech requirements all women’s health services providers that dispense abortifacients. The crisis centers are incorporated as religious organizations, and their mission is dictated by the content of their beliefs. 

As the Supreme Court has held, freedom of speech means freedom to choose what to say — and what not to say. The pregnancy crisis centers have a right that California’s bullying government also has and that it would do well to exercise more often: the right to remain silent.


3. Cuomo’s ‘pro-woman’ agenda is all about gifts to abortion extremists. 

By Grazie Pozo Christie, Dr. Grazie Pozo Christie is a policy adviser for The Catholic Association, The New York Post, March 18, 2018

Gov. Cuomo isn’t shy about his proposed budget for 2019, crowing on his Web page that he is “Realizing the Promise of Progressive Government.”

The promise of this particular style of government seems to be to fulfill every liberal dream about abortion in one fell swoop, or at least the dreams that haven’t already come true in a state that has the highest rate of abortion in the United States.

Across the country, 19 percent of all pregnancies are terminated. In New York City, over one in three babies are aborted, resulting in an astonishing ratio of 505 abortions per 1,000 live births. Even more shocking is the ratio for African-Americans: 1,038 abortions per 1,000 live births — meaning more African-American babies are being aborted in the city than are being born. These statistics reflect New York’s liberal abortion laws, which provide public funding for abortion and do not require parental notice or consent for minor girls.

Cuomo isn’t satisfied. He has promised to advance women’s equality, which for him, judging by his budget proposal, is synonymous with even more abortion. His so called “women’s agenda” budget bill takes aim at the modest safety regulations enshrined in state law, including the requirement that the procedures be conducted by licensed physicians and the requirement that second-trimester abortions be performed in a hospital setting.

How it is in women’s best interest to lower the not-very-high safety bar for the elective surgical procedure is anyone’s guess.

It’s also not clear how women will benefit from the elimination of a penal law that makes it a homicide to intentionally cause the death of an unborn child over 24 weeks gestation. The law now adds a felony criminal charge against the perpetrator of a violent attack on a pregnant woman that results in the death of her child. This works to protect women from domestic violence, which has been shown to increase when a woman is pregnant and the father resents the coming child.

New York law calls an unborn child killed by violent means in the third trimester a “person.” The governor’s budget bill amends as follows: “ ‘Person’ when referring to the victim of a homicide, means a human being who has been born and is alive.”

In second-trimester abortions, which are often performed after a fetus has reached the stage of viability, a fetus sometimes slips out intact through the birth canal before the abortionist has time to stop their heart with an injection. That baby then takes a breath, ready to fight for his or her life.

State law now gives full legal protection to these children, as setting them aside to die is considered infanticide. If Cuomo’s bill passes, a physician trained in fetal resuscitation will no longer be required to assist the untrained abortionist in these complex late-term procedures. The governor’s bill explicitly repeals this compassionate measure as part of his “Ever Upward Promise to Women.” How puzzling.

In short, the “women’s agenda” bill appears to be less about women’s needs than about pandering to a hard-left base that is committed to expanding late-term abortion all the way through the ninth month of pregnancy — a radical position rejected by most Americans.

Cuomo is siding with a vocal, but very small, segment of the liberal base.

A “women’s agenda” should be about women’s real needs, not political positioning. If women in New York are resorting to abortion at sky-high rates, maybe what they need is relief from the pressures that drive them to the procedure. Perhaps a “women’s agenda” bill ought to address the high cost of living that makes bringing a child into the world so difficult, the breakdown of the family due to crime and other urban pathologies and the lack of pregnancy-support centers for women who would love to keep their children.

Instead, Cuomo wants to make the world a little less safe for women driven to abortion, and a lot less safe for babies, both born and unborn.


4. What U.S. Catholics see as Pope Francis’s most notable action. 

By Catholic News Agency, March 18, 2018

What has been Pope Francis’s most notable action so far in his papacy?

A group of some 300 U.S. Catholics was recently asked this question in a recent study conducted by the Pew Research Center, drawing a multitude of responses.

Participants were asked to explain in their own words the most noteworthy thing Francis has accomplished during his past five years as pope, despite their personal opinions of him.

Nine percent said that Francis has set a solid example of humility and overall Christian behavior. Another 9 percent believes he has made the Church more accepting and welcoming.

Eight percent noted the pontiff’s particular focus on the poor, while 7 percent said he is noteworthy for his attention towards the LGBT community. Six percent applauded the extent of his global travel, through which he has made himself available to people all around the world. Another 5 percent believes he has united the Catholic community through dialogue.

Other categories receiving 1-4 percent each said that the Holy Father’s most significant action has been environmental care, peacemaking, addressing sex abuse, welcoming the divorced and remarried, spreading the faith, reforming the Vatican, or addressing immigration.

Similarly, 4 percent said the pope’s most notable action was a negative or neutral action, 3 percent said the answer is unclear, and 4 percent said that he has not yet done anything noteworthy.

The largest group of respondents, 29 percent, declined to answer or did not come up with a response.


5. Vatican bows to pressure, releases retired pope’s letter.

By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press, March 17, 2018

Stung by accusations of spreading “fake news,” the Vatican on Saturdayreleased the complete letter by Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI about Pope Francis after coming under blistering criticism for selectively citing it in a press release and digitally manipulating a photograph of it.

The previously hidden part of the letter provides the full explanation why Benedict refused to write a commentary on a new Vatican-published compilation of books about Francis’ theological and philosophical background that was released to mark his fifth anniversary as pope.

In addition to saying he didn’t have time, Benedict noted that one of the authors involved in the project had launched “virulent,” ‘’anti-papist” attacks against his teaching and that of St. John Paul II. He said he was “surprised” the Vatican had chosen the theologian to be included in the 11-volume “The Theology of Pope Francis.”

The Vatican’s Secretariat for Communications said Saturday it was releasing the full text of the letter due to the controversy over the “presumed manipulation” of information when the volume was launched Monday with great fanfare on the eve of Francis’ anniversary.

It said its decision to withhold part of the letter at the time was based on its desire for reserve, “not because of any desire to censor.”


6. Pope visits Italy’s south to honor popular saint, Padre Pio, By Associated Press, March 17, 2018

Pope Francis on Saturday traveled to southern Italy to honor a hugely popular Italian saint, Padre Pio, praying silently before a glass display case holding the mystic monk’s body in a shrine town that draws millions of pilgrims each year.