September 16, 2023 // National

News Briefs: September 17, 2023

Data Shows Abortions Rise in States Where Procedure Is Legal

(OSV News) – Legal abortions most likely increased in the United States in the first six months of 2023 compared with 2020, according to a New York Times analysis of data from the Guttmacher Institute, which opposes abortion restrictions. The data from Guttmacher, based on what it calls a representative sample of legal abortion providers, is from the first half of 2023; it follows the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2022 decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization that overturned prior rulings by the high court making abortion access a constitutional right. Following the Dobbs ruling, 22 states have moved to ban or restrict abortion, although not all of those efforts are currently in effect amid court challenges. Due to a court ruling on Monday, August 21, abortion is effectively banned in Indiana. The analysis found that about 511,000 abortions were estimated to have occurred in states or territories where the procedure was legal within the first six months of 2023, an increase from about 465,000 abortions nationwide in a six-month period of 2020.

British Teen Wants to Fight for Her Life, but Court Denies Her Wish

LIVERPOOL, England (OSV News) – A Catholic bioethics institute has criticized a court for denying an “alert and conscious” teenager the legal right to fight a move to put her on end-of-life care against her will. The Anscombe Bioethics Center, an Oxford-based institute serving the Catholic Church in the United Kingdom and Ireland, said the ruling by the Court of Protection in the case of a woman, named only as “ST” for legal reasons, represented a “lethal form of paternalism.” The 19-year-old student has been in an intensive care unit in an English National Health Service hospital since last year after she suffered respiratory arrest while infected with COVID-19. She also suffers a progressive mitochondrial illness and is now entirely reliant on a ventilator to breathe, a tube to receive nutrition, and a hemodialysis machine. Doctors at the hospital want to move her from intensive care to palliative care, in which the woman will be sedated and denied hemodialysis, resulting in her death from kidney failure within days. The patient has instructed her lawyers to oppose the plan and to press for permission to go to either the United States or Canada to take part in clinical trials for experimental “nucleoside bypass therapy,” a treatment for her mitochondrial illness that might give her an improved chance of survival. She told a psychiatrist who examined her: “This is my wish. I want to die trying to live. We have to try everything.” But in a written judgment issued at the end of August, the judge in her case ruled that the woman is “unable to make a decision for herself in relation to her future medical treatment … because she does not believe the information she has been given by her doctors.”

Pope: Don’t Spread Gossip or Point Fingers When Wronged

VATICAN CITY (CNS) – Rather than engage in petty gossip that leads to scandal, Christians are called by Jesus to be direct yet loving in offering help to an errant friend, Pope Francis said. Fraternal correction is “one of the highest expressions of love, and also one of the most demanding,” the pope said before praying the Angelus with some 20,000 people in St. Peter’s Square on Sunday, September 10. Unfortunately, when someone makes a mistake, one of the first things that follows is gossip, he said, through which everyone but the person concerned comes to know the details of the incident. “This is not right, brothers and sisters,” Pope Francis said. “Gossip is a plague on the life of people and communities because it leads to division, it leads to suffering, it leads to scandal; it never helps anyone improve or grow.” Alternatively, the pope recalled the day’s reading from St. Matthew’s Gospel in which Jesus says to tell someone of their fault “between you and him alone.” He explained that “pointing the finger is not good,” and underscored the need to condemn the mistake while being “close to the person with prayer and affection, always ready to offer forgiveness, understanding, and to start over.”

Trust Is Needed for Lasting Peace, Says Holy See Diplomat at U.N.

NEW YORK (OSV News) – Without trust, “you can’t build a lasting peace,” said Archbishop Gabriele Caccia, the Holy See’s Permanent Observer to the United Nations. The archbishop shared his thoughts with The Good Newsroom, the New York archdiocese’s online news outlet, at an annual vespers prayer service on Tuesday, September 5, for the opening of the 78th U.N. General Assembly. The assembly commenced that day with a theme of “rebuilding trust and reigniting global solidarity.” The service, which drew some 350 participants, took place at Manhattan’s Holy Family Church, dubbed the “United Nations parish” for its work in serving the spiritual needs of the U.N. community. The Holy See’s mission has hosted the event since 1986 as part of its overall commitment to promote “peace, justice, human dignity, and humanitarian cooperation and assistance.” The archbishop said the Holy See’s mission at the U.N. flows from “the principle of the Incarnation,” since “where people are, the Church is there, because the God of love is for every people, and in this place especially.”

Vatican Offers Details on How Synod Will Work, Media Access

VATICAN CITY (CNS) – Any limitations and rules regarding media access and communications during the upcoming Synod of Bishops are rooted in the “essence” of a synod and meant to help participants in their process of discernment, said the head of the synod’s communication committee. “The way in which we are going to share information about the synod is very important for the discernment process and for the entire Church,” Paolo Ruffini, Prefect of the Vatican Dicastery for Communication, told reporters at a Vatican news conference on Friday, September 8. Some of the “few rules regarding communication” stem from “the essence of the synod,” he said, which Pope Francis has repeatedly underlined is not a “parliament” or convention but a journey of listening and walking together in accordance with the Holy Spirit. However, Ruffini said, some portions of the synod will be livestreamed and open to Vatican accredited reporters, including: Mass in St. Peter’s Square on Wednesday, October 4, to open the assembly of the Synod of Bishops; the first general congregation, which begins that afternoon with remarks by Cardinal Mario Grech, Secretary-General of the synod, Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich, Relator General of the synod, and Pope Francis; the moment of prayer beginning each general congregation; the opening sessions of each of the five segments or “modules” into which the synod will be divided.

California’s Rising Assisted Suicide Rate Alarms Catholics

SACRAMENTO, California (OSV News) – When California in 2021 relaxed its physician-assisted death rules – easing access to the lethal means for residents to take their own lives – several lawmakers behind the change cited a desire to aid the terminally ill, invoking a sort of legislative altruism. The result – profiled in the California Department of Public Health’s “End of Life Option Act 2022 Data Report,” released this past July – was a 63 percent increase in requests for life-ending drugs, and 853 eventual deaths. Between 2016-22, 5,168 people were prescribed lethal medication under the law, with ultimately 3,349 individuals, or 64.8 percent, ingesting the lethal drugs and dying. But it’s not simply the higher statistics that concern Catholic ethicists, advocates, and doctors. It’s the acceleration of trends contributing to a cultural – and potentially medical – shift away from the preservation of life. “Legalizing physician-assisted suicide is just the first step of putting into law the lie that there is such a thing as a life not worth living,” said Father Tad Pacholczyk, Senior Ethicist at the National Catholic Bioethics Center and a frequent contributor to Today’s Catholic. The California Catholic Conference, however, is concerned that the officially reported numbers may not give an accurate picture of legalized physician-assisted suicide’s impact and is working with a broad coalition to demand greater data transparency. “We want to make sure we know how the law is working and what opportunities there are for greater safeguards for vulnerable communities,” said Kathleen Domingo, the conference’s executive director.

Pope Francis greets Sylvester Stallone and his brother, Frank Stallone, during a private audience at the Vatican Sept. 8, 2023. (CNS photo/Vatican Media)

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