TCA Podcast, – “Conversations with Consequences,” Episode 263 – Florida Abortion Ban & Walking With Mary This May
TCA’s Dr. Grazie Christie and Ashley McGuire separate the facts from fiction on Florida’s new six-week abortion law scheduled to take effect this week in the sunshine state. Listen in as they explain what the new ruling will mean for mothers and physicians while unpacking the Biden Administration’s dangerous misinformation campaign on women’s health.
With Cardinal Fernández’s announcement of an anticipated new document on Marian apparitions, we mark the Marian month of May with a discussion of the National Shrine of Our Lady of Champion – the first and only approved Marian apparition site in the United States.
The shrine’s rector, Father Joseph Aytona, joins us to discuss a special pilgrimage known as the Walk to Mary, in which pilgrims from 45 states are expected to visit the shrine in Champion, Wisconsin. A shorter 1.7 mile route called “Walk With the Children” will also take place, previewing a section of the Northern Marian Route that will be traveled in the National Eucharistic Pilgrimage on June 17.

Father Roger Landry also shares an inspiring homily with us for this Sunday’s Gospel.
1. The Smear Campaign Against ‘Christian Nationalists’, The label is ‘assigned’ to Americans who believe there is a link between faith and freedom., By Ralph Reed, The Wall Street Journal, May 6, 2024, Pg. A17, Opinion
House Speaker Mike Johnson stared down anti-Israel protesters at Columbia University last month and affirmed the nation’s support for Jewish students. His remarks were sharp and unequivocal, a welcome contrast with university officials’ hand-wringing and the Biden administration’s feeble response to the antisemitism sweeping across the states.
Yet rather than give him credit, Democrats and the press for months have fixated on Mr. Johnson’s background as a “Christian nationalist.”…Robert Jones, president of the Public Religion Research Institute, described Mr. Johnson as “the embodiment of white Christian nationalism in a tailored suit.”
A survey by the PRRI in February found that “three in ten Americans qualify as Christian nationalism adherents or sympathizers.” National Public Radio warned that what was once a “fringe viewpoint” has gained a “foothold in American politics.” It is difficult to imagine a more benign constituency than people who work hard, read the Bible, pray regularly and attend church weekly. Yet according to the liberal narrative, there are millions of them, faithful Christians, disposed toward authoritarianism and political violence.

One could dismiss this overreaction as crass politics by an unpopular party eager to eke out an election victory by demonizing churchgoing Americans.

It strikes me, however, that the slandering of evangelical Christians is more than a campaign strategy or proof of secularism’s triumph. Stripped of its academic jargon and pretense, it is a fashionable but insidious bigotry that seeks to marginalize and disqualify from our civic discourse tens of millions of Americans who take their faith seriously.
That is a new ethic and wholly antithetical to our nation’s history.

Nearly every social-reform movement in U.S. history has been animated by faith and fueled by a sense of right and wrong. 

Like their forebears, today’s conservative Christians make Americans grapple with vexing moral issues. We’re a better nation for their doing so. These faithful men and women don’t threaten our constitutional republic; they play a vital role in its survival and renewal.

Mr. Reed is founder and chairman of the Faith and Freedom Coalition.
2. Where’s Josh Shapiro’s Pragmatism When You Need It?, It was nowhere to be found in his treatment of the Little Sisters of the Poor., By Stephanie Armour and Mark Rienzi, The Wall Street Journal, May 6, 2024, Pg. A16, Letter to the Editor
Regarding Salena Zito’s op-ed “Josh Shapiro, a Competent Pragmatist in Divided Times” (April 30): When Gov. Shapiro was Pennsylvania’s attorney general, he sued the federal government to stop religious-freedom protections that allowed groups like our clients, the Little Sisters of the Poor, to continue following their faith despite a government contraception mandate. That was more ideological grandstanding than competent pragmatism.
The Little Sisters serve the elderly poor in two homes in Pennsylvania and 18 nationwide. They provide millions in free and subsidized care to those who need it most. But they would have faced fines totaling tens of millions of dollars every year if Mr. Shapiro’s lawsuit had succeeded.
The case went all the way to the Supreme Court, which ruled for the Little Sisters. Happy ending? Not yet. Because Gov. Shapiro kept his case going even after losing at the Supreme Court, the Little Sisters are still today having to defend themselves and their Catholic faith in federal court.
If Mr. Shapiro wants to do something good for Pennsylvanians, he should call on state Attorney General Michelle Henry to withdraw the lawsuit he started. Keeping the Little Sisters of the Poor in court isn’t competent pragmatism. It is stoking culture war at the expense of what is best for Pennsylvania and the country.
Mark Rienzi is the President and CEO of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty
3. The excommunication of Biden, Heresy cannot be veiled by the sign of the cross, By Tom Basile, The Washington Times, May 6, 2024, Opinion
For more than 2,000 years, the Roman Catholic Church has endured as the original and largest Christian denomination in the world and the oldest institution in human history. It has survived war, schism, scandal, and powerful movements to reject Christ’s teaching.
The Biden era has laid bare, however, a weakening core of the Catholic Church in these perilous times. Perhaps it’s tied to the church’s support for the administration’s policies regarding illegal immigration or a loathing of former President Donald Trump. Perhaps it’s just a church that fears the secular left too much to defend the faith as it has done for centuries.
Whatever the reason, the church is paralyzed by the heresy of the nation’s second Catholic president, who is committing crimes against canon law while it fails to act. What should have been a victory for the church has turned into a nightmare.
Faithful Catholics should know that according to church law, President Biden is excommunicated.
Canon 1364 says that heretics are excommunicated latae sententiae — that is, they are automatically excommunicated by their actions. Mr. Biden’s advocacy of left-wing positions denies the fundamental teachings of the church.
Mr. Biden’s rejection of church teaching is also a rejection of the sanctity and indivisibility of the human person. Catholics believe that faith is not separable from one’s actions. Catholicism is a comprehensive worldview that is also fully personal and attached to everything that one does in this life.
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has placed a special responsibility on public officials, saying that adherence to church teaching requires a “heroic commitment on the part of Catholics who are politicians and other leaders in society.”

A public announcement of excommunication of a head of state is rare, but it was done for Fidel Castro and Juan Peron, but minor leaders in comparison with Mr. Biden. Precedent and law make clear a case for formal, public excommunication for the good of the president and all faithful Catholics.
Mr. Biden has turned faith into a prop and rejected Christ’s truth for a moral relativism that he tries to veil with the sign of the cross.
Catholics are also charged with being courageous in the face of the world’s whims. Yet Mr. Biden has repeatedly shifted his positions to benefit his own earthly status at the expense of his soul.
Given the church’s retreat from its days as a moral compass willing to challenge secular political leaders, it is likely it will be left to God to judge him.
Mr. Biden’s thirst for power has led to his self-excommunication. He should be branded by all faithful Catholics as a heretic and a threat to the church rather than a devout member of the faith.
It is the least we can do if church leaders are afraid to act.
4. Religious and political ‘debanking’ must end, Closing accounts of clients that hold unfashionable views, By Eric Bledsoe, The Washington Times, May 6, 2024, Opinion
Helping orphans in Uganda would seem to have few opponents.
But Indigenous Advance Ministries, a Memphis, Tennessee-based Christian organization that works in the African nation, learned last year that Bank of America no longer wants to provide its financial services to the nonprofit. The bank targeted the group amid the rise of leftist “debanking,” in which financial institutions close the accounts of clients that hold unfashionable religious or political views.
Thankfully, on April 22, Tennessee fought back with a new law that protects people’s right to hold deeply held views while keeping their bank accounts. Every state should follow suit.

The stated reason: “upon review of your account(s), we have determined you’re operating a business type we have chosen not to service.”
Indigenous Advance Ministries pressed Bank of America for more clarity, which is when the bank’s story began to shift. A subsequent letter said that the group “no longer aligns with the bank’s risk tolerance.” After the ministry went public, Bank of America told the Daily Mail that the group engaged in debt collection, which violated its policies. Yet not only did Bank of America tell the media more than it told its customer, it also couldn’t point to a specific internal policy that guided its decision. According to Kansas Attorney General Kris Kobach, Indigenous Advance Ministries does not engage in debt collection.

Its denial notwithstanding, Bank of America and other financial institutions can, in most cases, dismiss customers based on their religious and political views with impunity — an ability they appear to be using with increasing frequency.
Family Council, which promotes “traditional family values” in the public square, had its credit card processor account closed by JPMorgan Chase in 2021, a decision the bank later justified on the grounds of risk. JPMorgan Chase also closed the checking account of the National Committee for Religious Freedom, chaired by former Sen. Sam Brownback, without explanation in 2022. The bank said it may reopen the account if the committee disclosed its large donors and planned political expenditures.
Such actions are occurring amid a nationwide activist campaign to push corporate America in a leftist direction under the guise of both diversity, equity and inclusion and environmental, social and governance standards. Yet debanking clients based on religious or political views is little different from refusing to work with someone based on their skin color or gender — something that federal law rightly bans. Protecting people from viewpoint discrimination is a matter of basic civil rights, too.

Eric Bledsoe is a senior fellow at the Foundation for Government Accountability.
5. In A Pro-Life Minute, By The Catholic Association, May 6, 2024, Video Series
Each of us plays a key role in standing for the sanctity of life and defense of the vulnerable. Now TCA’s own Dr. Grazie Pozo Christie partners in a new video series to provide tools for anyone to do this confidently and effectively.

Follow the new video series, In a Pro-Life Minute, to find concise and easy-to-share answers covering different angles of the abortion issue. These sixty second snippets are based on current findings and verifiable truths that enable you to factually dispel pro-abortion propaganda whenever you encounter it.
Be armed with the facts. You don’t have to be a political scholar or medical professional to defend the unborn. Go and transform your world. Follow In a Pro-Life Minute and always be ready to give an answer for the hope that lives within you (I Peter 3:15). It only takes sixty seconds.
6. Demographic Trends, Financial Challenges Force Catholic College Closures, Magdalen College of the Liberal Arts has become one of 21 Catholic colleges across the country to shut its doors, merge with another institution, or announce plans to do so since 2016., By Stephen Beale, National Catholic Register, May 6, 2024
On May 11, more than a dozen graduates of the Magdalen College of the Liberal Arts will receive their diplomas, following in the tradition of others who have turned their tassels to the left, strolled out onto campus, and tossed their mortarboards into the crisp mountain air.
They will be the last class of Magdalen graduates.
Nearly 50 years after the school, heeding the call of Vatican II for laity to play a larger leadership role in the life of the Church, enrolled its first freshmen, Magdalen has become one of 21 Catholic colleges across the country to shut its doors, merge with another institution, or announce plans to do so since 2016, according to data from Higher Ed Dive analyzed by the Cardinal Newman Society.
Across the country, many smaller private colleges are succumbing to declines in student enrollment and the accompanying financial challenges that demographic shift has brought.
“Private colleges have been declining since 2010, and the COVID epidemic accelerated closings for colleges that were already in trouble. Now, America’s colleges face a ‘demographic cliff,’ caused by a sharp drop in the U.S. birth rate since 2008, which means fewer students attending fewer colleges,” said Patrick Reilly, president of the Cardinal Newman Society.
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the share of high-school graduates continuing on to college declined from 70% to 63% between 2016 and 2020. While COVID-19 might have caused enrollments to drop precipitously before slightly rebounding, the larger demographic reality looms: Fertility rates have crashed since the Great Recession, from a relative peak of 69.3 births per 1,000 U.S. women in 2007 to 56 in 2020, that translates to 4.3 million annual births versus 3.6 million in 2020, a difference of more than half a million, according to data from the Pew Charitable Trusts and the Centers for Disease Control.
7. San Francisco Archbishop to Host Holy Hour for Hong Kong’s Jimmy Lai, On May 8, the heroic sacrifice of the imprisoned Chinese Catholic media magnate will be highlighted at a Holy Hour at the Archdiocese of San Francisco’s seminary., By Emily Chaffins, National Catholic Register, May 6, 2024
Hong Kong entrepreneur, democracy activist and Catholic convert Jimmy Lai is currently imprisoned in solitary confinement for speaking out against the communist government.
“As an entrepreneur who arrived in Hong Kong penniless, Jimmy Lai was always an inherently interesting man,” The Wall Street Journal’s William McGurn told the Register. “But he became an inspiration by accepting a prison cell instead of fleeing to one of his homes abroad because he believed that was his obligation. It’s what we mean by picking up our cross. It is now clear this is Jimmy’s moment, his destiny.”
So, on May 8 at 5 p.m., McGurn will join Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone and the seminarians at St. Patrick’s Seminary in Menlo Park, California, for a special Holy Hour honoring the sacrifice of heroic Christians like Jimmy Lai. The prayer service will feature a newly commissioned Hymn for the Martyrs of Chinese Communism, followed by a lecture on “The Prison Witness of Jimmy Lai,” delivered by McGurn, who is Lai’s godfather. The schola for the Holy Hour will be led by Jennifer Donelson-Nowicka, director of the Catholic Institute of Sacred Music.
“The situation of Catholics is grim in China, and I’m afraid the Vatican’s secret deal a few years back has made it worse. But the people are tremendously faithful under very trying circumstances,” observed McGurn. “In San Francisco, you have a large Chinese community. I would like them to know the heroism of a fellow Chinese languishing in solitary confinement in Hong Kong and to pray for a better day.”
8. How Pope Francis opened the Vatican to transgender sex workers, The outreach, reflecting the most radical stage of his papacy, has prompted backlash while also altering the lives of the nearly 100 people he has met., By Anthony Faiola and Stefano Pitrelli, The Washington Post, May 5, 2024, 5:00 AM
Sea gulls soared over St. Peter’s Square as Laura Esquivel, clad in tight leather pants, aimed herself toward the high walls of the Holy See. “It’s not too much? My makeup?” she asked, self-consciously touching a rouged cheek. “I don’t care what people think. But this is the pope.”
She hurried into the Vatican’s cavernous Paul VI Audience Hall and was ushered to the front row. Before her, a 23-foot-tall bronze sculpture of Jesus gazed down. Behind her, the faithful flashed curious looks.
It was the third papal meeting for Laura, 57, a saucy Paraguayan sex worker who, in her realest moments, described herself as “una travesti,” outdated Spanish slang for “a transgender woman.” She lived by a code: Tough girls don’t cry. But the first time Pope Francis had blessed her, she couldn’t suppress her tears. On their second meeting, they chatted over lunch. He came to know her well enough to ask about her health.

The outreach reflected an unconventional pope in the most radical stage of his papacy. From his early days in 2013, when he famously declared, “Who am I to judge,” Francis has urged the Catholic Church to embrace all comers, including those living in conflict with its teachings. Now, his unprecedented opening to the LGBTQ+ community has reached its zenith — and ballooned into the most explosive issue of his tenure, fueling a bitter clash with senior conservative clerics, who have denounced him in remarkably harsh terms.

In recent months, Francis has given explicit approval for transgender godparents and blessings of same-sex couples. He penned a defense of secular civil unions — once described by his predecessor as “contrary to the common good.” His pronouncements have sometimes seemed contradictory or in tension — authorizing baptisms for transgender people one day, while warning of the moral risks of “sex-change intervention” on another. He has said “being homosexual is not a crime” but hasn’t altered church teaching that homosexual acts are “intrinsically disordered.”
Nevertheless, as the 87-year-old pontiff moves to cement his legacy, he has been emphatic about his overarching vision: the open door.
Nothing made that point more vividly than his decision over the past two years to welcome nearly 100 transgender women, many of them sex workers, into the sacred spaces of the Vatican.

“Pope Francis never criticized me or told me to change my life,” Laura said.

In an interview with The Washington Post, one of the pope’s leading critics, Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Müller, accused Francis of playing to the “digital culture” of our times, of knowing that the images of trans women at a high-profile papal event would cause a stir.
“It’s absolutely clear that Jesus excluded nobody, but it was also the call of his to conversion against our sins,” Mueller said. The trans women, he noted, “had spoken out publicly, [saying] that this encounter with the pope was a justification of their own behavior. And this cannot be.”

Acceptance, not proselytizing, had lured her back to faith. The pope, Don Andrea, Sister Geneviève and the Catholic church had become comforting figures and her unlikely allies.
None of this affected her thinking on gender. For Laura and the other trans women of Torvaianica, that was a long settled question. But sex work was something she wavered on. At times she talked about returning to it if her cancer treatments were a success. “I like life. I like prostitution. I like men,” she said in February. “I don’t have to explain myself to anyone.”
9. Florida Activists Gird for November Vote to Undo Six-Week Abortion Law, Voters have preserved abortion rights in other states, but passing such a measure in Florida could be more difficult, By Stephanie Armour and James V. Grimaldi, The Wall Street Journal, May 5, 2024, 5:00 AM
Abortion-rights groups with a deep war chest are facing off against organizers determined to protect a near ban on the procedure in Florida that went into effect this month.
The pitched battle is over a November ballot initiative that would override the state’s new ban on abortion after six weeks and enshrine abortion rights in the Florida constitution. Democrats view the ballot measure as a catalyst that will galvanize party voters, possibly putting the red state in play for President Biden. 
But it is also a steeper hurdle for abortion-rights supporters than in past battles because Florida requires a supermajority to pass ballot initiatives. That has transformed the organizing effort into an expensive and multimillion-dollar referendum that could deliver organizers their first loss and potentially shape the outcome of other races on the ballot, including contests for the White House and Congress.  

The antiabortion side has raised about $76,000, primarily from the Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops, state financial disclosures show. Support for the measure is greater likely because funds were needed to gather signatures to get it on the ballot, while the opponents are just beginning to ramp up for the campaign.
In addition, opponents will benefit from evangelical organization Faith & Freedom Coalition, a group that opposes abortion and plans a national campaign for Trump. The group plans to knock on the doors of one million evangelical voters’ homes in Florida, and more than 6,000 churches in Florida will distribute their voter guides.
10. Biden’s abortion push reeks of desperation, The presidential election season has exaggerated our differences over the issue., By Kathleen Parker, The Washington Post, May 5, 2024, 7:15 AM
It must be challenging for a Catholic president to make abortion the centerpiece of his reelection campaign. I wonder whether Joe Biden has nightmares as he recruits abortion-denied women to serve as surrogates to make his case.
Once a proud pro-life Democrat, Biden has become a modern-day gladiator for abortion, even if he can’t bring himself to say the word. During his State of the Union address in March, the president all but danced an Irish jig around the term, speaking instead of protecting reproductive freedom. His discomfort was telling.
Later, during a campaign visit to Florida, Biden crossed himself as he was being introduced by a woman who was denouncing Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) for his decision to stop abortions at six weeks instead of the previous 15 weeks. It was a moment. Reactions ricocheted around social media, with some fellow Catholics seeing his gesture as sacrilegious. What I saw was a Catholic pleading for forgiveness for delivering a message he secretly finds abhorrent.
This is, of course, between him and his maker, but my guess is Biden realizes he has made a bargain with the wrong guy and must atone however he can — except, of course, by being true to his convictions and, at 82, sacrificing his (fourth) bid for the presidency in the service of his faith. Biden can’t make his Catholicism part of his campaign, frequently telling people he always keeps a rosary in his pocket and then expect not to be critiqued when he betrays that faith.

Among Biden’s recruits is the now-famous Amanda Zurawski, the lead plaintiff in a lawsuit against Texas seeking clarity on the state’s three overlapping abortion laws. The confusion has been cleared up in nonpartisan state legislation, but not in time to help Zurawski and 19 other women who have joined the suit.

But Zurawski and her co-plaintiffs are not yet finished in court. They’re asking the Texas Supreme Court to create a new “good-faith judgment” exception for medical emergencies, instead of the current standards of “reasonable medical judgment,” or what most doctors would do in a given circumstance.
Shifting to “good-faith judgment,” as Carter Snead, the Charles E. Rice professor of law at Notre Dame, explained to me, would set a purely subjective standard based on what the abortion provider believes. In other words, it could allow unlimited elective abortion.
In the nearly two years since Dobbs, states have responded with widely varying approaches. Texas, Florida and others have enacted restrictive laws. Elsewhere, it’s the Wild West. Six states and D.C. impose no term restrictions on abortion at all. Montana rejected protections for babies who survive abortion.
The claim by some activists that women would not be treated for ectopic pregnancies is just not true.
I have enormous empathy for the Texas women. At the same time, I’m unable to pretend that a fetus, which is Latin for “little one,” isn’t a human being whose life, like everyone’s, is a work in progress. It is unthinkable that anyone’s first home should become a place of unspeakable violence. Our collective inability to recognize and respect both perspectives might be our greatest obstacle to truly helping women and babies. As Snead said, they should be viewed as existing in crisis together rather than as antagonists and the baby a trespasser.
11. Many Florida women can’t get abortions past 6 weeks. Where else can they go?, Since Florida enacted a six-week abortion ban, clinics in several other Southern and mid-Atlantic states have sprung into action, By Makiya Seminera and Geoff Mulvihill, Associated Press, May 5, 2024, 2:07 AM
When Florida enacted its six-week abortion ban last week, clinics in several other Southern and mid-Atlantic states sprang into action, knowing women would look to them for services no longer available where they live.
Health care providers in North Carolina, three states to the north, are rushing to expand availability and decrease wait times.

Their reaction is part of a growing trend in the United States: Since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, spurring more than 20 states to adopt laws banning or severely limiting abortions, states with looser restrictions have taken steps to welcome women who want or need to end their pregnancies.

Since the court overturned Roe in June 2022, some Democratic-controlled states have made it easier for out-of-state women to obtain abortions. Several have adopted laws protecting in-state health care workers from being investigated for providing abortion to women from states with bans. Such measures have included allowing providers to prescribe abortion pills, the most common abortion method, via telehealth.
Officials in CaliforniaNew Mexico, Oregon and other states have used taxpayer money to increase abortion access.
Florida recorded more than 84,000 abortions in 2023, a slight increase from 2022. As of April 1, the state reported approximately 14,700 abortions this year, potentially leaving a substantial number of women to consider going out of state.

For women who are more than six weeks pregnant, South Florida is now the farthest from a legal provider of any highly populated area in the U.S. Subsequently, the average cost per abortion is expected to jump from $600 or $700 to as much as $1,800 or more, said Daniela Martins, a board member and caseworker team leader at the Women’s Emergency Network, a nonprofit organization that helps people in the region pay for abortion and other reproductive health care.
12. MAGA Is Demoting the Anti-Abortion Forces It Once Coddled, By Michelle Goldberg, The New York Times, May 5, 2024, Pg. SR5, Opinion
Kari Lake’s appearance at Arizona State University last week was billed as a town hall, but it wasn’t really, because only representatives of young conservative groups were permitted to ask her anything.

Rees wanted clarity about where Lake stood. “We’ve seen both your opposition and your support for this law in the past,” she said. “Can you please define your values and tell us how you will remedy the doubts that pro-lifers have in you right now?”

But the core of her argument was electability. “There’s so much on the line this election,” she said. “We’re either going to save our country, or the Democrats — I call them Communists — are going to drive us right to the ground.” Given the existential stakes, Lake insisted, Republicans can’t let themselves get “caught up” with wedge issues like this one.
It was a curious argument coming from Lake, who later offered a soliloquy against compromising the conservative movement’s principles. But it was a sign of how difficult it has been for the Republican Party to balance its base’s demand for abortion bans with the public revulsion when those policies are enacted.
Eight years ago, many Christian conservatives put aside their qualms about Trump in the hope that he would lay the groundwork for outlawing abortion. It was a bargain that paid off, at least in the medium term. But today, in purplish parts of the country like Arizona, that political equation is being turned on its head, as some on the right argue that they must put aside qualms about abortion so Republicans can win elections.

Still, in swing states, Republican Party leaders are trying to distance themselves from the anti-abortion movement, treating it much the way skittish Democrats once treated the movement for abortion rights. Back in the 1990s, Democrats relied on pro-choice votes, but haunted by old taunts about representing “acid, amnesty and abortion,” they held activists at a remove, and their leaders often expressed either disapproval or ambivalence about terminating pregnancies. Bill Clinton vetoed anti-abortion legislation and put pro-choice judges on the Supreme Court, but he also said the procedure should be “safe, legal and rare.” As late as 2005, Hillary Clinton called abortion a “sad, even tragic choice.”
Now, however, the Democratic Party is united in championing abortion rights, with the vice president recently making history by visiting an abortion clinic, and it’s Republicans who are flailing as they contend with a pro-choice backlash. It remains to be seen whether anti-abortion forces can acclimate to their new status as the embarrassing stepchildren of a coalition that once coddled them.
At the Arizona Capitol last week, when abortion opponents packed the House chamber to protest its vote to scrap the state ban, few blamed Trump or Lake, and some didn’t even realize the ex-president had opposed the law. After Lake’s event, however, Rees said she was disappointed in Republicans.
13. After Roe, the network of people who help others get abortions see themselves as ‘the underground’, A makeshift national network of abortion doulas, navigators at clinics and individual volunteers are helping people who live in restrictive states and need or want an abortion, By Laura Ungar, The Washington Post, May 4, 2024, 8:49 AM
Waiting in a long post office line with the latest shipment of “abortion aftercare kits,” Kimra Luna got a text. A woman who’d taken abortion pills three weeks earlier was worried about bleeding — and disclosing the cause to a doctor.
“Bleeding doesn’t mean you need to go in,” Luna responded on the encrypted messaging app Signal. “Some people bleed on and off for a month.”
It was a typically busy afternoon for Luna, a doula and reproductive care activist in a state with some of the strictest abortion laws in the nation. Those laws make the work a constant battle, the 38-year-old said, but they draw strength from others in a makeshift national network of helpers — clinic navigators, abortion fund leaders and individual volunteers who have become a supporting cast for people in restrictive states who are seeking abortions.

Abortion rights advocates worry Idaho is a harbinger of where more states may be headed. Here, abortion is banned with very limited exceptions at all stages of pregnancy, and a law signed by the governor but temporarily blocked forbids adults from helping minors leave the state for abortions without parental consent. Recently, the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments about Idaho’s enforcement of its abortion ban in hospital emergencies.

Luna helps run Idaho Abortion Rights, launched in 2022 with extra bail money that was raised after they got arrested at a protest. A longtime activist, they strongly believe abortion pills should be accessible and once brought some to the state Capitol steps to prove residents could still get them online. Recently, they got a face tattoo of a mailbox with abortion pills falling out of it.
Luna is a full-spectrum doula, aiding in births as well as abortions. Most abortion work is remote, providing support, advice, answers to questions and referrals to resources like abortion funds.

In places where abortion is legal, navigators at clinics provide some of the same sorts of logistical help. Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains has three navigators for its 21 clinics, one of them virtual, in Colorado, New Mexico and Nevada. They handle about 1,000 calls a month — some from out-of-state patients who drive up to 17 hours for care, said Adrienne Mansanares, the organization’s president and CEO.
Abortion opponents try to steer people away from ending their pregnancies and toward centers they say also provide support like pregnancy-related information, parenting classes and baby supplies.
For someone “not sure how she is going to move forward and trying to figure out what resources are available for her if she wants to carry the pregnancy to term, there is support” at about 3,000 locations nationwide, said Tobias, of the Right to Life Committee. “That is definitely the better way to go.”
14. Denmark to liberalize its abortion law to allow the procedure until 18th week of pregnancy, Denmark’s government says it is relaxing its restrictions on abortion for the first time in 50 years to make it legal for women to terminate pregnancies up to the 18th week from the previous 12th week, By Jan M. Olsen, Associated Press, May 3, 2024, 5:02 AM
Denmark’s government said Friday it is relaxing its restrictions on abortion for the first time in 50 years to make it legal for women to terminate pregnancies up to the 18th week from the previous 12th week.
Officials said the law will also be changed to allow girls between 15 and 17 years old to have an abortion without parental consent.
Marie Bjerre, the gender equality minister, said Denmark is strengthening women’s rights while they are being rolled back in other parts of the world.
15. The Catholic Declaration of Independence, Noting the limits of papal authority, they crafted our tradition of religious liberty., By Michael D. Breidenbach, The Wall Street Journal, May 3, 2024, Pg. A13, Opinion
Near the sanctuary of most American Catholic churches hang the U.S. and Holy See flags, presenting an alliance between faith and country. Catholics have long insisted on that compatibility. Nineteenth-century bishops even argued that the founders “built wiser than they knew.”
Yet that sentiment obscures a complicated history. Many American colonies banned the Catholic Mass. Priests were forced underground and sometimes faced exile or capital punishment. That President Biden openly attends services would have been inconceivable to colonial-era Catholics, most of whom didn’t have the right to vote or hold office until after the Revolution. How did they go from lawbreakers to lawmakers? By declaring independence from the pope.
Protestants argued that Catholicism was incompatible with civil allegiance. They feared that a foreign, infallible spiritual ruler could undermine the state by deposing civil leaders, absolving oaths and annulling civil laws. Early American Catholics responded with an argument older than the Protestant Reformation—denying the pontiff’s infallibility, rejecting his authority to intervene in civil affairs, and supporting ideas Rome considered subversive, including church-state separation and liberty of conscience.

Some Catholic “integralists” today would like to meddle in politics by establishing the church and its teachings as the basis of public law. Many believe their Catholic forebears were badly mistaken—that denying church-state unity and papal authority for their dear-bought liberty was too costly.
Yet early American Catholics show a reasonable way forward. In their experience, established churches disenfranchised those who refused to conform and made hypocrites of those seeking the political benefits of establishment. They instead created a religiously tolerant colony and codified two of the most important laws on religious liberty in American history. They believed ecclesial officials, including the pope, could offer guidance to civil authorities but couldn’t coerce them in political matters.
There are inherent tensions between church and state. They can be neither totally separated nor collapsed into one. Calvert and his Catholic allies built wiser than they knew—because they built as best they could.
Mr. Breidenbach, an associate professor of history at Ave Maria University, is author of “Our Dear-Bought Liberty.”
16. Is the UK about to get more Catholic schools?, By Luke Coppen, The Pillar, May 3, 2024, 2:00 PM
The U.K. government said this week that it intends to drop an education policy that the Catholic Church has lobbied against for more than a decade.
U.K. Education Secretary Gillian Keegan announced the move May 1, a day after visiting the Cardinal Vaughan Memorial School, a prominent Catholic high school in London.
The proposed change could have a significant impact on Catholic education in England. 

The U.K. government said Wednesday that it planned to drop a policy known as the “50% cap” or “50% rule.”
The rule was introduced in 2010, when the then Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government unveiled its “free schools” initiative. 
The coalition government said that businesses, charities, parents, or teachers could establish free schools for children of all abilities that would be funded by the state but independent of local authorities. Officials argued that this would expand parental choice and help raise educational standards.
But there was a catch: if “faith groups” wanted to establish free schools, they would be subject to a “50% cap.”
So if the Catholic Church established a free school and received more applications than there were free spaces, the school would only be permitted to allocate 50% of all available places to Catholic pupils. 

Given the popularity of Catholic education in England, even among non-Catholics, it was almost certain that a new Catholic free school would be oversubscribed. That would mean that, under the 50% rule, the school would have to turn away Catholic students because they were Catholic — an unacceptable proposition for the Church.
17. Inside the ground game to win Florida abortion referendum votes, By Lori Rozsa, The Washington Post, May 2, 2024, 6:00 AM

Florida’s six-week abortion ban went into effect Wednesday, making the state one of the most restrictive for reproductive rights in the nation. Simultaneously, another front in the battle over abortion has begun: the fight to convince voters for or against a referendum enshrining access to the procedure in the state’s constitution.
Sixty percent of voters will need to approve the referendum for it to pass, a threshold that cannot be met by Democratic votes alone. The state has increasingly veered right in recent years, and today, 65 percent of voters identify as either Republican or having no party affiliation.
Conservatives are painting the referendum — which would allow abortion up until a fetus is considered “viable,” a stage typically reached by 24 weeks of pregnancy — as radical. Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) calls it “extremist.” A political action committee is putting out a similar message.

Supporters of Amendment 4, meanwhile, are trying to navigate the hyperpartisan political waters in the state by keeping the issue nonpolitical.

But in a state where Biden’s favorability is consistently behind former president Donald Trump’s, keeping the party at arm’s length is at the center of the Yes on 4 campaign.

Florida GOP leaders, meanwhile, are trying to “make sure that every Florida voter knows the truth about Amendment 4 — that it is deceptive and extreme,” said Johnson, of the anti-referendum PAC.
Anthony Pedicini, a GOP strategist in Florida, said most voters are in the middle on abortion rights, and if they’re convinced the amendment is extreme, they’ll reject it.
“The majority of voters think there’s some middle-ground solution here, and I don’t think the amendment finds a middle line,” Pedicini said. “Also, getting 60 percent of Floridians to agree on anything is a huge feat.”
18. What Father Flanagan Meant by ‘No Bad Boys’, He understood that Christian teaching requires us to treat all people with dignity but also to take responsibility for our sins., By Prof. Edward A. Morse, The Wall Street Journal, May 2, 2024, Pg. A14, Letter to the Editor
Joseph Epstein’s op-ed “Brandon Johnson is No Father Flanagan” (April 18) offers a valid critique of government’s failed responsibility to protect and secure its citizens and their property. However, he misapprehends the meaning and implications of Father Flanagan’s statement, “There is no such thing as a bad boy.”
Father Flanagan was rebuking those in his era, including the eugenics movement, who believed that children born from the “wrong” races or ethnicities or otherwise from the “wrong” kinds of parents weren’t worth saving. He understood that Christian teaching requires us to treat all people with dignity endowed by God. But that teaching also recognizes the realities of sinfulness, and that dignity requires taking responsibility for the harms flowing from our sinful acts. He recognized the legitimacy of police and the importance of enforcing criminal laws, but he resisted harsh and unjust treatment of children caught up in crime. He offered those children an opportunity to live in an environment where love, responsibility and faith could help them discover their own dignity and the dignity of others.
As Mr. Epstein recognizes, Father Flanagan successfully turned troubled boys into good citizens. But his programs are rooted in a Judeo-Christian foundation that relies on love—of God and of neighbor—to motivate change. Love isn’t the strong suit of government programs. Government’s toolkit is limited; it can provide for material needs, but fear and coercion are its principal tools to motivate behavior.
A combination of fear and love is required to encourage behavior that befits a flourishing society. The more love and dignity is cultivated, the less fear is needed. Those who seek answers in government programs need to consider the truth presented by the life and work of Father Flanagan.
Prof. Edward A. Morse is President of the Father Flanagan League Society of Devotion.
19. Arizona’s Democratic governor signs a bill to repeal 1864 ban on most abortions, Democratic Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs has signed a bill to repeal a ban on most abortions, By Anita Snow and Morgan Lee, Associated Press, May 2, 2024, 10:47 PM
Democratic Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs has relegated a Civil War-era ban on most abortions to the past by signing a bill Thursday to repeal it.
Hobbs says the move is just the beginning of a fight to protect reproductive health care in Arizona. The repeal of the 1864 law that the state Supreme Court recently reinstated won’t take effect until 90 days after the legislative session ends, which typically happens in June or July.
Abortion rights advocates say they’re hopeful a court will step in to prevent what could be a confusing landscape of access for girls and women across Arizona as laws are introduced and then reversed.
The effort to repeal the long-dormant law, which bans all abortions except those done to save a patient’s life, won final legislative approval Wednesday in a 16-14 vote of the Senate, as two GOP lawmakers joined with Democrats.
20. Ethan Hawke on Flannery O’Connor’s Christian Imagination, By Ethan Hawke, Christianity Today, May 1, 2024, Video
Novelist and short story writer Flannery O’Connor once said her life was too boring for a biographer—all she did was write and feed chickens. And yet, nearly 100 years after she was born, O’Connor’s life and faith are explored in Wildcat, a new film from actor, writer, and director Ethan Hawke of Training Day, First Reformed, and Dead Poets Society fame.

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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