1. Abortion fight may draw Trump’s filibuster wrath.

By Burgess Everett, Politico, October 5, 2017, 5:13 AM

Senate Republicans want to follow the House and vote to ban abortions after 20 weeks. But doing so would likely reopen an internecine fight over the filibuster with the lower chamber — and the president.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) on Thursday will reintroduce his bill to ban abortions nationwide after 20 weeks of pregnancy, which failed on the Senate floor two years ago, 54-42. It’s sure to fail again if Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell brings it up.

But holding another unsuccessful vote after House passage Tuesday is not so simple with Donald Trump as president: He’s said he’d sign the bill if it gets to his desk. And he hates that Senate Republicans won’t abandon the filibuster’s 60-vote threshold, which is the only thing stopping the federal ban from becoming law.

Graham has tried to prevail on Trump that killing the filibuster is a poor long-term strategy for conservatives, particularly on abortion.

Despite the political pickle, Graham said he’s “very confident” McConnell will eventually hold a vote in the Senate again. Even in failure, GOP leaders believe it could be used as a wedge issue to attack vulnerable Democratic incumbents in red states. 

The last go-round, just three Democrats supported the bill: Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, Joe Donnelly of Indiana and Joe Manchin of West Virginia. All three are up for reelection in states won by Trump, as are seven of their colleagues.

Polling obtained by Politico and commissioned by abortion rights opponent group Susan B. Anthony List after the election shows that in the midterm battleground states of Missouri, North Dakota, Montana, Ohio and Wisconsin, majorities of voters are less likely to support senators who vote against the 20-week ban. And the 20-week ban has majority support in those states and Florida, according to the survey.


2. US bishops’ anti-racism chairman announces committee membership.

By Catholic News Agency, October 4, 2017, 2:52 PM

In an interview with CNA on Monday, Bishop George Murry of Youngstown, who chairs the US bishops’ newly-formed anti-racism committee, revealed the names of the seven other bishops who are committee members.

The bishop members of the committee, Murry told CNA Oct. 2, are Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, Cardinal Joseph Tobin of Newark, Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia, Archbishop Jose Gomez of Los Angeles, Archbishop Wilton Gregory of Atlanta, Archbishop Allen Vigneron of Detroit, and Bishop Martin Holley of Memphis.

Bishop consultants to the committee include Cardinal Blase Cupich of Chicago; Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, Archbishop Emeritus of Washington, D.C.; Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore; Bishop Frank Dewane of Venice; and Bishop Joe Vasquez of Austin.

Lay consultants to the committee will be announced later this week.

The committee will explore ways the Church can address the root causes of contemporary manifestations of racism, the conference said. The bishops will also hold public conversations about racism and race-related problems.


3. Justices’ New Term: Christian Cake-Shop Case Is Key Religious-Freedom Test, Along with hearing that case, the U.S. Supreme Court will tackle workers’ rights and political gerrymandering in a busy upcoming session.

By Joan Frawley Desmond, National Catholic Register, October 4, 2017

The justices will tackle cases that address an array of issues, from penalties imposed on wedding vendors whose beliefs hold that marriage is between one man and one woman and employment agreements that bar class-action lawsuits to unions that require mandatory fees from nonmembers and political gerrymandering designed to secure one party’s dominance.

Catholics worried about fresh challenges to religious freedom will be watching one high-profile case, Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, which pits a Christian wedding cake baker in Colorado against a public-accommodation law that bars the denial of service for customers based on sexual orientation.

The baker argues that the Colorado’s Civil Rights Commission violated his religious freedom and free-speech rights by forcing him to create a wedding cake for a same-sex couple. Analysts say the court’s decision in this case could set legal precedent for a slew of legal challenges to similar anti-discrimination statutes that have put Christian wedding vendors on the defensive.

“You would be hard put to pick a better case,” Carrie Severino, chief counsel and policy director of the Judicial Crisis Network, told the Register, as she noted the baker’s legal argument and personal story.

The baker, Jack Phillips, told the same-sex couple “that they could buy any cake off the shelf, but he wouldn’t design one because of his religious principles,” said Severino.


4. Vatican needs boots on the ground to promote child safety, expert says.

By John L. Allen Jr. and Ines San Martin, Crux, October 5, 2017

Very few people in the Catholic Church, at any level or in any place, have a deeper experience of the clerical sexual abuse scandals and the broader effort to promote child safety than American Monsignor Stephen Rossetti, a former president of the St. Luke’s Institute in Silver Spring, Maryland, and a key adviser to virtually every anti-abuse initiative in the Catholic Church.

Thus when Rossetti speaks, people tend to listen. He’s part of the scientific committee organizing an Oct. 3-6 summit at Rome’s Gregorian University on “Child Dignity in the Digital World,” and he’s got a clear message about what would constitute a serious commitment from the Vatican coming out of this high-profile event: Boots on the ground.


5. Nets Ignore House Passing 20-Week Abortion Ban, But Cover Fashion.

By Katie Yoder, NewsBusters, October 4, 2017, 4:14 PM

Polls show American support for abortion restrictions, but that isn’t enough for the networks cover the latest attempts by Congress to pass legislation.

On Tuesday evening, the House of Representatives passed the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, a bill banning abortion after 20 weeks, in a 237-189 vote. Pro-life leaders heralded the passage as a “win for basic human decency.” But Americans wouldn’t know about it by watching the three broadcast networks.

Following the Tuesday vote, nationally recognized pro-life leaders applauded the passage of the pain-capable bill.

The Catholic Association Legal Advisor Andrea Picciotti-Bayer:

“The House has voted to put an end to late term abortions in recognition that an unborn child at that stage is capable of feeling pain. The abortion industry has fought this common sense, bipartisan bill in no small part because of one simple fact: Profits are large for organs harvested from babies aborted at 20 weeks and beyond. Greed cannot justify cruelty. Pain-for-profit should never be allowed.”

The Catholic Association Policy Advisor Dr. Grazie Pozo Christie:

“If made law, the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, passed today by the House of Representatives, will bring federal law into line with public opinion, which is strongly against late-term abortion … The law would also move the focus of whether the life of a fetus is worthy of legal protection away from viability, which is only a constantly changing prediction, and toward the humane desire to avoid causing pain to a defenseless creature.”

The Catholic Association Senior Fellow Ashley McGuire:

“The House’s vote today to pass the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act reflects Americans’ overwhelming unity in their opposition to late-term abortion. Gallup has repeatedly called opposition to late-term abortion ‘common ground’ between pro-lifers and pro-choicers.”

The Catholic Association Senior Policy Advisor Maureen Ferguson:

“A vote in favor of late-term abortion is tough to defend back home, yet many Members walked that plank in today’s vote. The humanity of the unborn child at this stage of pregnancy is obvious to anyone who has ever seen a standard 20-week ultrasound image.”