1. States push for Roe end, but gradual court tack is likely.

By Robert Barnes, The Washington Post, May 16, 2019, Pg. A7

The race may be on among conservative states to pass restrictive abortion laws aimed at giving the Supreme Court the opportunity to overturn its landmark Roe v. Wade decision, but the justices are much more likely to take a gradual approach to the issue. 

 The court in general — and Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. in particular — prefers a stepby-step process when shifting the court’s jurisprudence rather than disposing of an iconic, landmark ruling in one grand gesture.

Whether there is now a majority on the high court to overturn Roe is unknowable at this point.


2. Alabama abortion ban echoes on campaign trail, Democrats erupt, while Republicans in running remain relatively silent.

By Michael Scherer and Felicia Sonmez, The Washington Post, May 16, 2019, Pg. A1

An Alabama bill intended to test whether President Trump’s Supreme Court appointees will allow for the banning of abortion, even in cases of rape and incest, threatened Wednesday to reshape the dynamics of the 2020 election.

Democrats erupted with loud and sustained outrage in an effort to reclaim the upper hand on a politically sensitive issue that has recently found them on the defensive after liberal states proposed extending protections for abortions late in pregnancy. Republicans leaders, by contrast, spent much of the day avoiding questions about the Alabama law, wary of being dragged into a debate over whether to refuse rape and incest victims the option of abortion following forced pregnancies. 


3. Path to Nullify Roe v. Wade a Little Bit at a Time.

By Adam Liptak, The New York Times, May 16, 2019, Pg. A1

Abortion rights are at risk at the Supreme Court, but the short-term threat may not come from extreme measures like the one passed by Alabama lawmakers.

The court led by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. is more likely to chip away at the constitutional right to abortion established in 1973 in Roe v. Wade than to overturn it outright. It will have plenty of opportunities to do so.

As soon as Monday, the court could announce whether it will hear challenges to three provisions of Indiana abortion laws on issues like the disposal of fetal remains and an 18-hour waiting period after state-mandated ultrasound examinations. The court will in the coming months almost certainly agree to hear a challenge to a Louisiana law that could reduce the number of abortion clinics in the state to one.

Richard W. Garnett, a law professor at Notre Dame, said the constitutional confrontation over the right to abortion sought by the sponsors of the Alabama law was unlikely to come to pass.

“It appears that the proposal’s supporters intend to create an opportunity for the current court to revisit its decisions creating that right,” he said. “However, it is not clear that the current justices who have expressed doubts about the correctness of decisions like Roe and Casey will want to take up a case that squarely presents the question whether these decisions should be overruled. Instead, they might well prefer to first consider less sweeping abortion regulations and to uphold them even under the current doctrine.”


4. The Fetal Personhood Trap.

By Mary Ziegler, The New York Times, May 16, 2019, Pg. A23, Opinion
Ms. Ziegler is a law professor.

Both the Alabama and Georgia measures rely on the concept of “natural law”— unchanging moral principles that have supposedly existed since before the Constitution— to support the idea that a fetus is a person. But these kinds of arguments don’t have a record of judicial success.

Natural law-based arguments for fetal personhood were pursued by anti-abortion scholars and jurists for much of the 1960s and 1970s to little avail.

By the early 1980s, abortion foes generally gave up on this strategy. That’s because neither judges nor many other conservative lawyers, it seems, felt fully comfortable with recognizing rights not detailed in the text or history of the Constitution. After all, conservatives had long invoked the specter of judicial activism in criticizing their liberal colleagues, including those who issued the Roe decision.

When the justices defied predictions, establishment anti-abortion organizations believed that they knew where they had gone wrong. Groups like Americans United for Life and the National Right to Life Committee concluded that abortion would remain legal in the United States unless those against abortion could prove that the procedure hurt women.

One thing is clear: A conservative majority now sits on the Supreme Court, and many expect the justices to overturn Roe for a reason. But as abortion foes learned to their chagrin in 1992, how and when they ask the court to do so matters.

None of that changes the fact that Roe is likely to be reversed. But asking the court for too much too soon has backfired before, and it could well again.


5. How to Help Protect Abortion Rights.

The New York Times, May 16, 2019, pg. A22, Editorial

The bill’s sponsor in the Alabama House, Terri Collins, said that the legislation was designed to produce a legal case that could overturn Roe v. Wade.

It’s important to note that all of these laws, including Alabama’s, will be delayed in the courts for some time — until Roe v. Wade is overturned, assuming it ever is.

There will also be more and more political debate over abortion pills in this country, and it’s important to educate yourself about this discussion. Women who can’t make it to an abortion clinic are increasingly acquiring these drugs, often a safe option, on their own. That trend is sure to continue as abortion access gets rolled back across the country.


6. Border Agents And a Good Samaritan, A motorist may have saved a life when she stopped to help three desperate young adults, Then she was arrested.

By Nicholas Kristof, The New York Times, May 16, 2019, Pg. A23, Opinion

The path to Teresa L. Todd’s arrest began when three desperate Central American migrants waved frantically at her car on a Texas highway one night in February.

Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead.” (Luke 10:30)

Todd, a single mom who works as a lawyer for a city and county in West Texas, found three siblings: two brothers ages 20 and 22 and their sister, Esmeralda, 18. To escape violence, they fled their native El Salvador years ago and recently Guatemala, where friends were murdered and a gang leader wanted to make Esmeralda his “girlfriend.”

Esmeralda was suffering from starvation, dehydration and a potentially fatal syndrome called rhabdomyolysis that can lead to kidney failure. Seeing that Esmeralda was very sick, Todd invited the migrants into her car to warm up, and she began frantically texting friends (including one who is a lawyer for the Border Patrol) for advice about getting Esmeralda medical attention.

“A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side.”

A sheriff’s deputy pulled up behind Todd’s car, lights flashing, and a Border Patrol officer arrived shortly afterward. The officers detained Todd for three hours, confiscating her possessions and keeping her in a holding cell.

By stopping to help a stranger, Todd may have saved a life — but this also got her arrested.

“But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine.”


7. California confession debate pivots on how to keep children safe.

By John L. Allen Jr., Editor, Crux, May 16, 2019

The memory comes to mind in light of a bill currently being debated in the California Senate, SB 360, which would effectively shred the seal of the confessional by eliminating an exemption to the state’s mandatory reporting law for “penitential communication.” California is not the only venue in which such a proposal is in the air – both Chile and Argentina, for instance, are other examples.

The bill’s sponsor, Democratic Senator Jerry Hill of San Mateo, claims it’s necessary because “the clergy-penitent privilege has been abused on a large scale, resulting in the unreported and systemic abuse of thousands of children across multiple denominations and faiths.”

To state the obvious, Hill’s assault on the Church is a natural byproduct of its well-chronicled failures on the clerical sexual abuse crisis, including the fallout from the Pennsylvania Grand Jury report last year as well as the scandal surrounding ex-cardinal and ex-priest Theodore McCarrick.


8. Bishop Barron’s New Book Shows How to Defeat the ‘Devil’s Masterpiece’.

By Joan Frawley Desmond, National Catholic Register, May 16, 2019

Bishop Robert Barron pulls no punches in Letter to a Suffering Church: A Bishop Speaks on the Sexual Abuse Crisis, making a direct and powerful appeal to every Catholic tempted to flee the Church after a hellish year of unremitting scandal.

“The devil, with the cooperation of lots of people inside the leadership of the Catholic Church, has produced a masterpiece, and many, many Catholics are angry and naturally tempted to give up on the operation,” writes Auxiliary Bishop Barron of Los Angeles in this timely book published by Word on Fire, currently on preorder, with proceeds going to organizations that support abuse victims. It is intended to be used by parishes.

But even as the author acknowledges the anguish of children targeted by predators, the corruption of the priesthood, and the resulting shame felt by every Catholic, he presents a strong case for staying put to confront and overcome the rot and evil on display.

“Fight by raising your voice in protest; fight by writing a letter of complaint; fight by insisting that protocols be followed; fight by reporting offenders; fight by pursuing the guilty until they are punished; fight by refusing to be mollified by pathetic excuses,” he writes. The strong language is consistent with Bishop Barron’s prior demand, during the U.S. bishops’ 2018 fall assembly in Baltimore, for a full investigation into the alleged cover-up that allowed Theodore McCarrick to be appointed archbishop of Washington, despite his record of sexual misconduct.


9. Police execute search warrant at Catholic Diocese of Dallas.

By David Warren, The Associated Press, May 15, 8:47 PM

Investigators who were “thwarted” during earlier investigations of child sexual abuse by priests on Wednesday searched the offices of the Catholic Diocese of Dallas to obtain evidence of sexual misconduct, according to a police commander and police records.

Investigators searched the diocesan headquarters, a storage unit it uses and the offices of a church, police Maj. Max Geron told reporters.

The events began last August with the investigation of Edmundo Paredes , a former priest who is believed to have fled Texas following claims that he abused three teenagers. That investigation resulted in allegations of abuse by others, Geron said.


10. California Mounts New Assault on the Sacramental Seal of Confession.

By Father Roger J. Landry, National Catholic Register, May 15, 2019
Fr. Roger J. Landry is a priest of the Diocese of Fall River, Massachusetts and the National Chaplain of Catholic Voices USA.

All 50 states and the District of Columbia have statues protecting and upholding the sacramental seal of confession or, more generally, the inviolable confidentiality of some forms of clergy-faithful communication.

There have been attempts to challenge it, such as in 1996 when Oregon prison officials surreptitiously recorded inmate Conan Wayne Hale’s confession to Father Timothy Mockaitis and sought to use it in court, or when in 2008 Rebecca Mayeux sued Father Jeffrey Bayhi and the Diocese of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, for Bayhi’s allegedly not reporting to authorities what Mayeux says she had said to him in confession in 2008.

Ultimately both attempts failed.

Now there are new efforts to undermine the absolute secrecy of priest-penitent communications under the mistaken idea that it will help in the fight against the abuse of children or teens.

We saw this last year in Australia where the territories of Tasmania, South Australia, and the Australian Capital passed legislation to force priests to break the seal of confession when someone confesses to them the sexual abuse of a minor.


11. Mom demands apology from state Rep. Brian Sims, who doxed her daughters outside Planned Parenthood.

Catholic News Agency, May 15, 2019, 2:29 PM

A Pennsylvania mother of teenage daughters is demanding an apology from state representative Brian Sims, who shouted down and tried to dox the teens while they were quietly praying outside of a Planned Parenthood in late April.

Sims has been under fire recently after he livestreamed a video posted to Twitter May 2 in which he appears to harass and confront a woman who was praying the rosary quietly by herself outside of a Pennsylvania Planned Parenthood.

Ashley Garecht, the mother demanding an apology from Sims, said he treated her daughters similarly, shouting them down, calling them racists, and offering to donate $100 to Planned Parenthood if someone could reveal the girls’ identities and personal information online, a practice known as doxing, which is illegal in most jurisdictions.

“The three girls deserve your genuine, explicit apology. I believe you know that your actions toward them were inherently wrong. You accosted them and said that they should be ashamed of threatening and attacking young girls trying to enter the clinic,” Garecht said in an open letter to Sims, published in Philadelphia newspaper The Inquirer.


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