Iowa Catholic Conference Newsletter, July 2, 2018

Iowa Supreme Court strikes down abortion reflection period

By a vote of 4-2, the Iowa Supreme Court has struck down a provision providing for a three-day reflection period before an abortion can take place. We strongly disagree with the Court’s judgment that this regulation of abortion impinges upon fundamental state Constitutional rights.

Several of the state’s bishops have commented on the ruling and we have shared those statements on our Facebook page.

The state’s prohibition on abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy is still in force. As Pope Francis has said, “Let us respect and love human life, especially vulnerable life in a mother’s womb.”

In the news: ‘Family separation’ and immigration

A delegation of bishops led by Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, President of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), will be visiting the Diocese of Brownsville, Texas starting today. The bishops will then hold a press conference to offer reflections on engagements with the Catholic community, U.S. government officials and Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley organizations on the issue of family separation.

Alert readers are aware that the Catholic bishops regularly teach on issues related to human dignity but do not want to enter into the partisan fray. At the same time, the fact that an issue is controversial does not relieve us of our responsibility to inform ourselves of the facts, understand Church teaching, and take action according to our conscience.

The question of what to do with families with children who try to enter the country without authorization has been around for a long time. Often, they have legitimate claims of asylum because they are fleeing violence. What’s different today is that the Administration has begun to refer all people who attempt to enter the country, in places other than an official port of entry, for criminal prosecution. Previously discretion could be exercised.

There are alternative and less expensive forms of detention, other than incarceration, that have been used successfully to help ensure that people show up for their court date.

For those of you that want to dig deeper, go to the U.S. bishops’ “Justice for Immigrants” website page on family separation.

Two bills intended to address the immigration issue failed to pass in the U.S. House recently. They would have provided some protections for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients, as well as limited legal immigration and provided money for a border wall.

In a letter before the votes to Congress, Most Reverend Joe S. Vásquez, of Austin, Texas, Chairman of the USCCB Committee on Migration, wrote, "While we truly want a legislative solution for Dreamers, we cannot, in good faith, endorse large structural changes to the immigration system that detrimentally impact families and the vulnerable, such as those that are contained in this legislation. We welcome the opportunity to dialogue with lawmakers and to discuss possible opportunities for further compromise, particularly with respect to effects on families and the vulnerable."

Bishop Vásquez added, "My brother bishops and I appreciate the effort by Representatives to find a legislative solution for Dreamers by bringing immigration measures before the House of Representatives. We believe that any such legislation must be bipartisan, provide Dreamers with a path to citizenship, be pro-family, protect the vulnerable and be respectful of human dignity with regard to border security and enforcement.”

Here in Iowa, a new “anti-sanctuary cities” law is going into effect. The ICC has a webpage of resources.

Bishops comment on U.S. Supreme Court decisions

The end of June also brought several decisions of interest from the U.S. Supreme Court, including:

The Court upheld the Administration’s travel ban from certain countries, saying it is “well within executive authority.” Bishop Vásquez and Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, chair of the USCCB Committee for Religious Liberty, issued the following joint statement:

“The travel ban targets Muslims for exclusion, which goes against our country's core principle of neutrality when it comes to people of faith. We are disappointed in the Court's ruling because it failed to take into account the clear and unlawful targeting of a specific religious group by the government.  The Catholic Church takes a strong stand against religious discrimination, and we will continue to advocate for the rights of people of all faiths, as well as serve migrants and refugees through our various ministries."

The Court blocked, on First Amendment grounds, a California law requiring crisis pregnancy centers to inform women about abortion options. Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York, chair of the USCCB Committee on Pro-Life Activities, said “the decision is an important development in protecting pro-life pregnancy centers from future efforts to compel speech in violation of their deeply held beliefs.”

Finally, the Court struck down an Illinois law that required non-union workers to pay fees that go to collective bargaining, overturning a 1977 law that required employees to pay “fair share” fees. Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Chairman of the USCCB Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, expressed disappointment the decision, saying “today’s Supreme Court ruling renders the long-held view of so many bishops constitutionally out-of-bounds, and threatens to ‘limit the freedom or negotiating capacity of labor unions.’” Caritas in Veritate, no. 25.

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