The Dispatch

Bishop Barron says Minnesota’s new abortion law is ‘the worst kind of barbarism’

February 2, 2023 Catholic News Agency 11
Bishop Robert Barron spoke out against Minnesota’s new abortion law after it passed Jan. 31, 2023. / Credit: Bishop Robert Barron/YouTube

Boston, Mass., Feb 2, 2023 / 12:45 pm (CNA).

Winona-Rochester Bishop Robert Barron called a newly passed Minnesota abortion bill that enshrines abortion rights into law “the worst kind of barbarism.”

“I want to share with you my anger, my frustration over this terrible law that was just signed by the governor in Minnesota — the most really extreme abortion law that’s on the books in the wake of the Roe v. Wade reversal,” Barron said in a Jan. 31 video on social media following Democratic Gov. Tim Walz’s signing of the bill on Tuesday.

The bill, titled the Protect Reproductive Options (PRO) Act, enshrines a constitutional right to “reproductive freedom,” ensuring the right to abortion in Minnesota up to birth for any reason, as well as the right to contraception and sterilization.

“Basically, it eliminates any kind of parental notifications so a 12-year-old child can get an abortion without even telling her parents about it,” Barron said. 

“But the worst thing,” he added, “is it basically permits abortion all the way through pregnancy up to the very end. And indeed, indeed if a child somehow survives a botched abortion, the law now prohibits an attempt to save that child’s life.”

Protection for abortion in the state had preexisted the new law because the state’s Supreme Court ruled in the 1995 decision Doe v. Gomez that a woman had a constitutional right to abortion. Several restrictions to abortion in the state have also been ruled unconstitutional in the courts in prior years, the AP reported. Sponsors of the bill supported it because they wanted abortion protections in law, despite the political leaning of future appointed justices, the AP reported.

Pro-life advocates fiercely opposed the bill, as it gained national attention and underwent several hours of debate in the state Senate. The pro-life advocacy organization Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America called the legislation “the most extreme bill in the country.” 

Barron said that “I don’t know why this is really debated anymore in our country, but this strikes me as just the worst kind of barbarism. And in the name of, I don’t know, subjectivity, and freedom, and choice and all this, we’re accepting this kind of brutality.”

Barron’s condemnation of the law echoes that of the Minnesota bishops who raised their voices against it before its passage. 

The states’ bishops wrote in a Jan. 26 statement: “To assert such unlimited autonomy is to usurp a prerogative that belongs to God alone. Authorizing a general license to make and take life at our whim will unleash a host of social and spiritual consequences with which we as a community will have to reckon.”

In his video, Barron added: “What strikes me is this: If a child is born and now a day old, or two days old and resting peacefully in his bassinet and someone broke into the house and with a knife killed the child and dismembered him, well, the whole country would rise up in righteous indignation.”

“But yet, that same thing can happen with complete impunity as the child is in his mother’s womb about to be born. Again, I just think this is so beyond the pale and that we’ve so lost our way on this issue,” he said.

He acknowledged that there was no possibility of blocking the now-enacted legislation, but said that “we can certainly keep raising our voices in protest.”

“We can keep praying for an end to this barbaric regime in our country,” he said.

[…]

No Picture
News Briefs

Biden claims the pope and ‘not all’ bishops are against taxpayer funded abortion

February 1, 2023 Catholic News Agency 3
President Joe Biden responds to a question from EWTN’s Owen Jensen about the Catholic bishops’ position on federal funding of abortion. / EWTN

Washington D.C., Feb 1, 2023 / 11:45 am (CNA).

Despite a clear letter from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) calling for “no taxpayer funding for abortion,” President Joe Biden this week claimed that Pope Francis and some bishops are not in agreement with this policy. 

EWTN White House Correspondent Owen Jensen had a brief exchange with Biden this week in which he began a question by informing the president that “Catholic bishops are demanding that federal tax dollars not fund abortions.” 

Biden responded, saying: “No, they are not all doing that, nor is the pope doing that.”

Despite the president’s claims, he did not cite any bishops who support taxpayer-funded abortions, nor did he expand on his invocation of Pope Francis, who has consistently condemned abortion and even equated it to “hiring a hitman.” 

The exchange occurred after the USCCB’s pro-life committee took a firm stance in support of the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion and Abortion Insurance Full Disclosure Act. The legislation would prohibit the use of federal funds for abortion and prohibit federal funds for health care plans that cover abortions. There would be exceptions for rape, incest, and when the mother’s life is in danger.

Although Congress consistently passes annual appropriation bills that include bans on federal agencies funding abortion, there is no law that establishes a permanent ban. This means the policy could change if the language is not included in a certain appropriations bill. This bill would apply the standard to every federal agency permanently. Under the language used in current appropriation bills, federal agencies are still allowed to enroll workers in health care plans that cover abortion, but the premium cannot be subsidized by the agencies. This bill would expand the restrictions by prohibiting the agencies from enrolling workers in plans that cover abortion. 

In the letter sent by USCCB Committee on Pro-Life Activities’ Chair Bishop Michael Burbidge, the bishop said “abortion is an uncompassionate response to a difficult pregnancy” that “pits a mother in crisis against her preborn child.”

“Protecting taxpayers from being forced to pay for abortion in violation of their conscience is a principle that has enjoyed historically broad support among Americans, regardless of their otherwise passionately divided views on the topic,” Bishop Burbidge said. “It has also been life-saving. …Congress can better serve the common good by prioritizing policies that comprehensively assist women, children, and families in need in ways that will not only encourage childbirth but make it easier to welcome and raise a new child.”

In response to Biden’s claims, Bishop Joseph Strickland of the Diocese of Tyler in Texas accused the president of twisting Pope Francis’s words. 

“Mr. Biden can’t be allowed to twist the words of Pope Francis in this way,” the bishop tweeted. “I implore the Vatican press office to emphatically clarify that Pope Francis rightly calls abortion murder. It is time to denounce Biden’s fake Catholicism.”

The Catechism of the Catholic Church states that the Church has affirmed that abortion is evil since the first century and continues to do so. 

“Human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception,” the catechism states. “From the first moment of his existence, a human being must be recognized as having the rights of a person — among which is the inviolable right of every innocent being to life.”

[…]

No Picture
News Briefs

Mark Houck trial: Jury deadlocked, will resume deliberations Jan. 30

January 27, 2023 Catholic News Agency 2
Mark Houck gives a speech at the Men’s March in Boston on Oct. 15, 2022. / Credit: Screenshot of Facebook Livestream “My Mother Mary”

Philadelphia, Pa., Jan 27, 2023 / 17:48 pm (CNA).

The jury deciding the fate of pro-life activist Mark Houck could not come to a decision Friday on whether the Catholic father of seven broke a federal law in a shoving incident outside a Philadelphia abortion clinic in 2021.

U.S. District Judge Gerald Pappert entered the courtroom around 5 p.m., almost two and a half hours after he sent the jury out for deliberation, and said that he received a note from the foreman that said, “Your honor at this point we are deadlocked. How long should we continue to deliberate?”

Pappert called the jury in and asked the foreman if he thought, with more time, the jury could come to a decision. 

The foreman said no, but Pappert sent the jury home with instructions to return to court and resume their deliberations Monday morning.

Houck, 48, is charged with two counts of violating the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act, better known as the FACE Act.

The allegations in the case relate to two incidents that occurred at a Philadelphia abortion clinic on Oct. 13, 2021. The federal indictment alleges that Houck twice shoved an abortion clinic escort, Bruce Love, once when Love was attempting to escort clients and again during a verbal altercation with Love in front of the clinic.

The FACE Act prohibits “violent, threatening, damaging, and obstructive conduct intended to injure, intimidate, or interfere with the right to seek, obtain, or provide reproductive health services.” 

The charges are being fought by Houck, who pleaded not guilty to the federal charges several months ago, in U.S. District Court of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

The trial began on Tuesday. However, opening statements and witnesses were not called until Wednesday and Thursday. Since then, both sides have had the opportunity to make their case with witnesses, evidence, and closing arguments.

On Friday in court, the jury got to hear from Mark Houck — sometimes referred to as Mark Sr. — and his son, Mark Houck Jr.

On the stand, the elder Houck said he told Love to “Stay away from my son” and “Don’t come near us,” as Love approached them on the sidewalk after the first incident already occurred that day, and Love was again approaching them.

The facts of the first incident are disputed by both sides. Both sides agree that Houck was sidewalk counseling two women crossing the street who left Planned Parenthood. Both sides agree that Love followed them. 

But that’s where the accounts diverge. The prosecution says that Houck elbowed Love because he was a clinic escort. Houck says that Love startled him, and even made contact with him, causing him to say “What are you doing?” and hip-check him out of reflex.

Following the first incident, Houck said Love left the clinic, placed himself next to Houck’s son, and was jeering at Houck Sr.: “You’re hurting women. You don’t care about women.”

Houck then said that the same things were said about him to his son. 

Houck’s son, who took the witness stand first and was 12 at the time of the incident, made the same claims about Love’s words.

The younger Houck said Love came and stood next to him about an arm’s length away on the wall of the clinic near the corner where they were praying and sidewalk counseling.

“I moved away… because I was scared,” he said.

The younger Houck testified that Love said to him “Your dad’s a bad person. Your dad’s harassing women.”

The boy said it was “unusual” that Love went “that far from the clinic” to escort the women, referring to the site of the first incident, when his father was counseling two women crossing the street.

Houck’s attorney, Brian McMonagle, asked the younger Houck if he prepared his testimony with his father’s lawyers. When the boy said he had, McMonagle asked him what the lawyers told him to tell the jury. 

“The truth,” he said.

[…]