1. Not About Roe v. Wade: The big issue in a Louisiana abortion case is legal standing.

By The Wall Street Journal, March 4, 2020, Pg. A16, Review & Outlook

The Supreme Court on Wednesday will hear its first abortion-related case during the Trump Presidency. Cue the consternation. No, the Court’s conservatives aren’t about to overturn Roe v. Wade. But they do have an opportunity to return to first judicial principles and correct the Court’s mistake of four years ago.

The Justices agreed to hear the challenge to Louisiana’s law and, importantly, they also chose to consider whether abortion providers have legal standing to sue on behalf of women seeking abortions. Third-party standing is a judicial innovation advanced by a 1976 plurality in Singleton in the Burger Court era. This has let providers challenge sundry abortion regulations without having to show injury to a specific woman. In an amicus brief, the state of Texas notes that providers have challenged laws requiring sterilized instruments, a working toilet and caps on ultrasound fees.

As the state of Louisiana argues, the law offers no impediments to women vindicating their abortion rights in court if they believe they have been injured by the law. Many law firms represent low-income women pro bono. Yet women aren’t the plaintiffs in this case.

Abortion providers are suing instead to avoid increased compliance burdens.

Liberals are warning about a Roe slippery slope if the Court overturns Singleton or Hellerstedt. But a six Justice majority in Kowalski (2004) rejected third-party standing for attorneys seeking to vindicate the legal rights of hypothetical future clients. The same principle should apply to abortion providers.

As Justice Thomas noted in his Hellerstedt dissent, “When the wrong party litigates a case, we end up resolving disputes that make for bad law.” Dismissing the challenge to the Louisiana law would send a clear message to lower courts and liberals who are trying to extend third-party standing to other controversies.


2. The ‘Archbishop’s Special Fund’: For years, Mr. Mccarrick funneled money to another sexual abuser. The Catholic Church refuses to explain.

By The Washington Post, March 4, 2020, Pg. A26, Editorial

JUST WHEN it seems there can be nothing more to learn about how former cardinal Theodore McCarrick misused his position and violated the public trust, another rock gets turned over. The latest disclosure: He funneled large sums from a charity account to a controversial religious community whose founder was found guilty by the Vatican of sexual misconduct. In keeping with the sorry way it has handled the decades-long clergy sexual-abuse scandal, the Catholic Church has decided to stonewall rather than be forthcoming.

It is likely that Mr. McCarrick raised the money under the auspices of his church position (the fund was titled “Archbishop’s Special Fund”), so it is disingenuous for the church to act as if it had nothing to do with these donations. And since the church has a religious exemption from having to file tax forms required of other nonprofits detailing their finances (called Form 990s and available to the public), people who gave money have no way of knowing what it was used for.

Time and time again, as scandals have besmirched the church’s reputation and mission, Catholic officials have said they have learned their lesson and will do better and be transparent with information. Time and time again, they fall short. The refusal to get to the bottom of — and explain — these questionable transactions is another sad sign of the church’s failure to come to grips with the harm it has caused and its disdain for parishioners whom it looks to for financial support.


3. ‘Sanctuary Cities’ for Unborn Reflect a Nation’s Rising Walls.

By Dionne Searcey, The New York Times, March 4, 2020, Pg. A1

Sanctuary cities for the unborn are the latest way some American communities are attempting to wall themselves off from rules they disagree with, laws imposed by higher authorities that do not match their values.

It’s a tactic embraced by both ends of America’s political spectrum: Some cities have become so-called sanctuaries from immigration crackdowns and, elsewhere, from stricter gun laws.

The new local actions on abortion are playing out as the U.S. Supreme Court is set to hear oral arguments Wednesday on a case that thrusts abortion, one of America’s most divisive issues, into the middle of the presidential campaign.


4. SCOTUS can pinpoint abortionists’ conflict of interest.

by Andrea Picciotti-Bayer, The Washington Examiner, March 4, 2020, 2:15 AM

Today, the Supreme Court will hear oral argument in a case involving a Louisiana law requiring that abortionists have hospital admitting privileges (June Medical Services v. Russo).

The state legislators who passed the requirement and the governor who signed their bill into law did so in light of a long string of abortion industry abuses that put the lives of Louisiana women at risk. Bayou State abortionists and abortion clinics — the very interests whose practices placed the state’s women in medical jeopardy, the very interests that Louisiana policymakers believed needed regulation to protect Louisiana women seeking an abortion – sued to block the law, claiming to defend the “rights” of their future clients and customers.

The case would be laughed out of court if, say, automakers claimed to represent the “rights” of their customers in objecting to car safety requirements. Or if the fox claimed to represent the interests of the hens in the chicken coop. Sadly, that’s not the case when it comes to regulating abortionists.

More than 200 members of Congress also state that “abortion providers’ interests are at odds with their patients’ interests,” and 20 states specifically objected to the abortionists’ standing to file suit: “[A]bortion-law cases have become vehicles by which abortion practitioners and facilities attack health-and-safety regulations designed to protect women — the same women whose rights the practitioners claim to invoke – from the practitioners themselves.”

The Supreme Court should pay heed. It’s time abortionists and abortion clinics no longer be allowed to pretend to speak in court on behalf of women when it comes to the health and safety of their clients or customers.

Andrea Picciotti-Bayer is Legal Advisor for The Catholic Association and co-host of the podcast Conversations with Consequences.


5. The Question About Admitting Privileges for Abortion Providers.

By Grazie Pozo Christie, Town Hall, March 4, 2020, 12:01 AM

The Supreme Court will soon hear arguments in a Louisiana case that will be avidly followed by both sides of the abortion divide. June Medical Services v. Russo will test whether a state can require abortion providers to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital. The clinic will argue that women are perfectly safe without this precaution. Louisiana, on the other hand, will argue that the requirement is a common-sense health and safety regulation to protect mothers’ lives.

Surgical abortion is an invasive procedure, and like any other surgery, requires sterile technique, close patient monitoring, and a high level of competency on the part of practitioners to keep dangerous, even life-threatening complications at bay. Dirty surgical instruments, expired and/or inadequate medications, untrained staff, scanty documentation – these and other failures of basic patient care are unacceptable in any surgical facility. Sadly, they were found over and over during state inspections of Louisiana‘s abortion clinics. Again and again, the clinics were cited for failure to properly sterilize and decontaminate instruments – instruments used to enter the mothers’ vaginas and uteruses – as well as the use of dirty needles and the re-use of single-use instruments.  

It appears that substandard care has been the norm for women getting abortions at the Louisiana clinics. Besides unsanitary conditions, missing or expired medications were a common occurrence. The lack of emergency IV fluids led to severe complications in one case. The state documented the clinics’ failure to properly monitor sedated patients in addition to many instances of inaccurate and faulty documentation and reporting. Most damningly, the clinics failed to inform the state of the abuse of children. In upholding the Louisiana law, the Fifth Circuit decried this “horrifying…protection of rapists.”

The clinics suing Louisiana claim that the state’s law will put the them out of business and harm the women they serve. The truth is that if these abortion facilities had a shred of compassion for the women they claim to be helping, they would only employ doctors who could easily meet Louisiana’s basic requirement. And, if they can’t run a safe and clean ambulatory surgical center, they should be out of business. 

Dr. Grazie Pozo Christie is a Policy Advisor for The Catholic Association.


6. Vatican Says Pope Only Has A Cold.

By Francis X. Rocca, The Wall Street Journal, March 4, 2020, Pg. A7

The Vatican on Tuesday sought to end speculation that Pope Francis might have contracted the coronavirus, following nearly a week of concern about the pope’s health amid the epidemic’s spread in Italy.

“The Holy Father’s cold diagnosed in recent days is running its course, without symptoms attributable to other pathologies,” said the Vatican spokesman, Matteo Bruni, in a statement Tuesday evening.


7. The OB-GYNs Who Play Politics With Women’s Lives: Abortion is more important than safety to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

By Christina Francis, The Wall Street Journal, March 4, 2020, Pg. A17, Opinion

As the Supreme Court gets ready to hear another abortion case, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists—the specialty’s main professional organization—has weighed in with a friend-of-the-court brief. ACOG is offering a medically unsound recommendation in the furtherance of its extreme position on abortion.

At issue in June Medical Services v. Russo is a Louisiana law requiring abortion providers to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of the site of the abortion. ACOG’s brief argues that the requirement isn’t “medically justified” and therefore constitutes an “undue burden” on a woman’s right to abortion.

ACOG routinely puts politics ahead of medicine by adopting the most extreme positions on abortion.

Dr. Francis is a board-certified obstetrician-gynecologist and the chairman of the board of the American Association of Prolife OB/GYNs.


8. Francis’s cold (not coronavirus) beckons thoughts on papal health scares.

By John L. Allen Jr., Crux, March 4, 2020, Opinion

What drove Vatican-watchers batty is not so much the idea that Francis’s medical team would have carried out a test for the coronavirus – which, since he’s sick and the disease has a large footprint in Italy, seems an entirely reasonable precaution. In fact, given the circumstances, the real story probably would have been why the pope hadn’t been tested for the disease.

Instead, the thing driving some people crazy is that the Vatican didn’t provide any comment on Giansoldati’s story, so that journalists have been left to traffic in second-hand reports and conjecture rather than officially confirmed information.

The most we got was a fairly oblique statement on Tuesday from the Vatican Press Office, which said: “The cold diagnosed in the Holy Father in the past few days is taking it course, without symptoms attributable to other pathologies.”

In all honesty, the reticence shouldn’t be terribly surprising. Over the years, the Vatican has always been extremely reluctant to divulge information concerning what it would consider the private life of a pope, especially when it concerns his health.

Two points from the current bout of papal sniffles, however, suggest themselves.

First, it’s a reminder that sooner or later, the 83-year-old Francis will go into decline. How that will play itself out, meaning how long an illness might unfold and whether he’d choose to resign if he feels he can’t govern effectively any longer, is impossible to say, but the brute fact is that no papacy goes on forever.

Second, the pope’s case of the cold this week also raises the question of what the Vatican will tell us when things are more serious.

Francis has endeavored to promote a culture of transparency in the Church, urging officials at all levels to tell the truth even when it’s inconvenient, on the conviction that it’s ultimately better to take a small hit up-front than a much bigger one down the road. It will be interesting to see if that philosophy also drives Vatican communications when the pope’s health truly is uncertain, or if the institution falls back on its historical patterns.

In the meantime, one hopes that Francis stages a quick recovery and is good to go as Catholicism nears the holiest period on its calendar – assuming, that is, coronavirus fears don’t scuttle Holy Week in Rome the same way they’re laying waste to public activities everywhere else.


9. The Supreme Court Is Hearing a New Case on Abortion. The Decision Could Impact Women for a Generation.

By Tessa Berenson, Time, March 3, 2020, Opinion

At issue are two legal questions: the validity of a Louisiana law that requires abortion doctors to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals, and, more broadly, whether abortion providers like Hope have the right to go to court over laws like this one that restrict their services. If the Louisiana law is allowed to stand, Hope might have to close its doors because only one doctor working there would be able to practice, impacting thousands of women who pass by Pittman’s door every year.

The second question could have even wider implications. Stemming largely from a 1976 Supreme Court decision, abortion providers have been allowed to sue on behalf of their patients.

How the court rules will have significant effects on laws and litigation underway in several states, including potentially halting numerous challenges to existing laws that restrict abortion access. The decision in this case and the fate of Hope Medical Group for Women is expected to be a bellwether for the future of women’s right to choose in a judiciary that Trump has filled with conservative judges.

“I don’t think it’s fair to think of the court in such political terms, like now that there’s two more [conservative justices], for sure, everything is going to be overturned,” says Andrea Picciotti-Bayer, lead attorney at The Catholic Association, which opposes abortion. But, she adds: “Sometimes mistakes happen. And the history of the Supreme Court is full of cases where reasoning and holding has been readjusted in light of a new understanding.”

Proponents of the law say it isn’t a pretext to close clinics, as critics claim, but is rather aimed at ensuring that the quality of abortion clinics is prioritized over the quantity. They say it brings abortion clinics in line with the standards at other similar medical centers and guarantees a high standard of care for women and a smoother way to get them to the hospital if something goes wrong. It “ensures some level of competency on behalf of the doctor,” says Maureen Ferguson, a senior fellow at The Catholic Association.


10. 4 Mexican bishops referred to superiors in sex abuse cases.

By MarÍa Verza, The Washington Post, March 3, 2020, 8:29 PM

The Vatican’s representative in Mexico said Tuesday that four Catholic bishops had been referred to their superiors for alleged connections to cases of sexual abuse as part of the church’s efforts to gather information about the possible cover up of abuse.


11. Spokane adopts law to quiet anti-abortion protests.

By Associated Press, March 3, 2020, 3:01 PM

The Spokane City Council has adopted a new law that seeks in part to dampen the loud protests outside of the Planned Parenthood Spokane Health Center.

The ordinance was proposed in part because a group called the Church at Planned Parenthood has regular gatherings of anti-abortion activists who sing and pray outside of the clinic’s walls. The Church at Planned Parenthood events can draw hundreds of people and, occasionally, counter-protesters.


12. Mississippi seeks abortion ban for race, sex, genetic error.

By Emily Wagster Pettus, Associated Press, March 3, 2020, 12:30 PM

Mississippi’s Republican-led Legislature is trying to restrict the reasons women may seek abortion, after federal courts blocked time limitations that the state tried to put on the procedure the past two years.

Abortion would be prohibited if a woman is seeking one because of the race, sex or genetic abnormality of the fetus, under a bill that passed a state House committee Tuesday. The only exception would be in case of a medical emergency.


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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