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Can Santa Rosa end family homelessness? New Catholic Charities project says yes

The ribbon cutting at Caritas Center in Santa Rosa, Calif., Sept. 12, 2022. / Christopher Chung/Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Santa Rosa

Denver Newsroom, Sep 14, 2022 / 17:40 pm (CNA).

Catholic Charities in Santa Rosa, California, has opened a new homeless services center opened to help families and others at risk of homelessness, with the specific goal of helping families.

“This is a Catholic Charities project, but it is built on proven partnership,” John Pavik, director of communications and public relations for Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Santa Rosa, told CNA Sept. 14. “We acknowledge no one single entity can or should try to solve homeless alone. It takes community support and fellow nonprofit and government cooperation.”

Caritas Center, which opened in Santa Rosa on Monday, is a 48,000-square-foot, three-story facility built at a cost of $53 million. It provides “wrap-around” services that aim to help people secure permanent housing and prevent at-risk people from becoming homeless, Catholic Charities said Sept. 9.

The center has a 192-bed family shelter, child care facilities, chapel space, and a health care clinic. There are also 38 recuperative beds for people recently discharged from the hospital.

A “drop-in” center allows nonresidents access to shower and laundry facilities, mailboxes, and bike and storage lockers. They may also meet with case workers.

Caritas Center is now the largest homeless services center in Sonoma County. As families move into the center next month, it will replace Catholic Charities’ aging shelter facilities in a former hospital building next door. This facility has a capacity of only 138 beds.

Sonoma County, north of the San Francisco Bay Area, has about 500,000 residents. Almost 3,000 of them are homeless, but only a few hundred are part of homeless families.

“Our community has already invested heavily in our homeless system of care,” Pavik told CNA. “Our number of families in this system is low enough now that we are striving to end family homelessness, a primary goal of Caritas Center.”

In February a Sonoma County count of people experiencing homelessness found 2,893 people living outdoors or in shelters, a figure considered to be an undercount. It is a 5% increase from February 2020. Those living outdoors or in vehicles are now estimated at 2,088, a 23% increase in two years, the Santa Rosa newspaper The Press Democrat reports.

The 2020 count reported 80 homeless families, making up 235 people. Of these, 97% were sheltered. Another 59 were unaccompanied children, most of whom were unsheltered, while another 245 were transitional-age young adults. These figures do not include the 508 who were chronically homeless.

For a community to achieve “functional zero” homelessness, Pavik said, it must ensure that the number of people experiencing homelessness does not exceed the community’s ability to house them.

Caritas Center services are part of this plan to help the homeless. Its onsite clinic will have physical and mental health care provided through Santa Rosa Community Health. The center’s Head Start program for preschool-aged children facing homelessness will be operated by the nonprofit Community Action Partnership Sonoma.

The Children's Center at Caritas Center in Santa Rosa. Justin Warmack/Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Santa Rosa
The Children's Center at Caritas Center in Santa Rosa. Justin Warmack/Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Santa Rosa

On-site health care limits unneeded and expensive emergency calls and keeps beneficiaries engaged on the site, Jennielynn Holmes, CEO of Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Santa Rosa, told The Press Democrat.

She predicted success in a design that incorporates many services on one site.

“Caritas will be the only facility of its kind to bring all these elements under one roof, provided by the experts in the community,” Holmes said Sept. 9. “By replicating this model, we can dramatically alleviate if not end homelessness, not only in the county, but across the state and beyond. Our organization and all of our partners are ready to share the blueprint and invite others to the table. So many cities around the country are working hard to end homelessness, and we want to link arms with others who share our mission.”

Pavik said that Catholic Charities is “motivated to serve by Gospel teaching” and “inspired by the love and teachings of Christ.”

“We serve and advocate for vulnerable people of all cultures and beliefs, prioritizing those experiencing poverty,” he said.

The facility staffers also have the necessary qualifications and training to follow best practices.

Caritas Center has the backing of $35 million in private donations, $6.9 million in funding through California New Market Tax Credits, and $11.5 million from Project Homekey, California state government grants for housing that serves the homeless.

The Day 1 Families Fund, a project of Amazon founder and billionaire Jeff Bezos, gave an additional $5 million to support both family program operations and innovation at the Caritas Center. Other backers include Tipping Point Community, Providence Health System, and Kaiser Permanente.

The Caritas Center is part of a planned Caritas Village, which will incorporate affordable housing and other options for people at risk.

Caritas Homes, next door to the homelessness service center, is a planned apartment complex of 128 affordable homes being built in partnership with Burbank Housing, an affordable housing construction and management nonprofit. These apartments aim to serve unmarried workers, vulnerable seniors, veterans, and families whose incomes cannot keep up with rent. There are 64 apartments presently under construction.

Including Caritas Center, Caritas Village is expected to cost $120 million or more.

Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Santa Rosa helps about 20,000 people per year. Its work in five northern California counties helps beneficiaries find housing, achieve financial stability, and progress on immigration hurdles they might face.

Scotland should be ‘caring for people, not killing them,’ Catholic Church urges

HQuality/Shutterstock.

CNA Newsroom, Sep 14, 2022 / 15:58 pm (CNA).

The Catholic Church in Scotland has spoken out about the dangers of current proposals to legalize assisted suicide for terminally-ill people.

Spanish court confirms former priest’s 30-year sentence for sexual abuse

null / Credit: Pixabay (Public Domain)

ACI Prensa Staff, Sep 14, 2022 / 15:05 pm (CNA).

Spain’s Supreme Court has confirmed an appeal court’s sentence for a man convicted of sexually abusing minors and who was expelled from the clerical state in 2019.

Notre Dame head football coach Marcus Freeman joins the Catholic Church

Notre Dame head football coach Marcus Freeman / Notre Dame Athletics

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Sep 14, 2022 / 12:10 pm (CNA).

Marcus Freeman, the new head football coach at the University of Notre Dame, has reportedly converted to the Catholic faith, a process he began since his arrival in South Bend, Indiana.

“Welcome to our newest Catholic, Marcus Freeman,” read an announcement in the Sept. 11 bulletin published by St. Pius X Catholic Church in Granger, Indiana.

According to the announcement, Freeman was “received into the Catholic Church after preparing with Father Nate Wills, C.S.C., chaplain of the Notre Dame football team.” It was accompanied by a photo of the 36-year-old football coach and four priests, including Father John Jenkins, C.S.C., the university’s president.

“Marcus made a profession of faith, was confirmed, and received his First Holy Communion. Please pray for Marcus and his family as they celebrate and continue this journey in faith!” the announcement said. According to sources, Freeman entered the Church at the end of August, before the start of the football season.

Freeman’s wife, Joanna, is Catholic, as are their six children, Vinny, Siena, Gino, Nico, Capri, and Rocco.

In an interview with the National Catholic Register published Aug. 31, Freeman, who was a Christian before his entrance into the Catholic Church, said that he was grateful to be at Notre Dame because of the school’s emphasis on faith.

“That’s important for me. I want our guys to wonder about what it means to embrace Jesus Christ,” Freeman told the Register.

The successor to longtime coach Brian Kelly, Freeman began the football season by resurrecting a very Catholic tradition at Notre Dame: the team’s game-day Mass.

Once again, for home games, the team will go to Mass together at the Basilica, leave through the “God, Country, Notre Dame” door, and walk across campus to Notre Dame Stadium. One of Kelly’s reforms had been to reschedule the team Mass for the night before games.

Freeman had fond memories of attending a pre-game Mass he attended as a high school recruit from Huber Heights, Ohio. At a press conference marking the beginning of practice last spring, he said he was “caught by surprise” to learn that the team no longer followed the tradition.

“It’s what I remember from my recruiting trip — watching the players walk out of the Basilica on the way to the stadium. I was a little caught by surprise when we didn’t do it last year,” he said, adding that he was restoring the tradition. Freeman did not end up attending Notre Dame, electing to go to Ohio State instead.

Freeman discussed with the Register why he thought it was important for the team to attend Mass together before games.

“To me, what better time is there to go have Mass?” he said. “What better time to be able to really be on the edge of your seat to get every word that comes out of the priest’s mouth and to be as close to God as you can?”

Freeman and spokespeople for Notre Dame and St. Pius X Church were not immediately available for comment Wednesday.

This is a developing story.

Lila Rose drops mic on ‘Dr. Phil’: ‘If it’s not a human life why do you have to kill it?’

Dr. Phil and Lila Rose / Screenshot of Live Action video

Denver, Colo., Sep 14, 2022 / 10:06 am (CNA).

Lila Rose, the founder and president of the national pro-life group Live Action, recently spoke in defense of the unborn in cases of rape and fetal anomalies to a national audience on Dr. Phil’s talk show.

In response to the talk-show host’s statement that the scientific community is divided on the question of whether life begins at conception, she countered with a powerful one-liner.

Rose asked: “In an abortion, if it’s not a human life why do you have to kill it?”

Two recent abortion cases were the focal points of the episode of Dr. Phil, which aired on Sept. 12. The show focused on a case involving a Louisiana woman who was unable to have an abortion after receiving a devastating diagnosis regarding the unborn child she was carrying, and that of a 10-year-old girl who was raped and traveled out of state to receive an abortion.

Dr. Phil was joined by Louisiana State Sen. Katrina Jackson; Rose; attorney Ben Crump; and Christian Nunes, the president of the National Organization for Women.

The pro-life case for babies who are going to die

Nancy Davis and Shedric Cole, a couple from Louisiana, were denied access to an abortion after receiving a fatal diagnosis regarding what would have been their fourth child. The baby was diagnosed with acrania, a rare but fatal condition in which the fetus does not form a skull. She was advised by doctors to terminate the pregnancy but, due to a law enacted after the overturn of Roe v. Wade in the state of Louisiana, would have to travel out of state to receive an abortion. 

Davis described the experience as “emotionally draining” and said that she was forced to “carry my baby, to bury my baby.”

In response to this case, Rose shared her heartfelt condolences saying, “My heart broke when I heard your story, because that’s the worst thing any mom wants to hear is that their baby is going to die.”

“My husband and I, we had a miscarriage about two years ago. They were some of the darkest days of my life and they were dark days because it was our child,” Rose added. “You know, we knew this was a baby. And I think that’s the fundamental point here is that we’re talking about a baby, we’re talking about a human life.”

“And the pro-life position is that all humans have human rights. And the first right is life. To not be killed … Nancy, you deserve better. You deserve better health care. There’s perinatal hospice, there’s palliative care so that your baby could die in the loving arms of their, of their parents instead of at the abortionist’s tools,” she said.

The pro-life case for babies conceived in rape

The focus then shifted to a 10-year-old girl who was raped and traveled from Ohio, where most abortions are illegal, to Indiana to have an abortion. Dr. Phil asked his audience members for their thoughts on the matter. 

One woman directed her comments to Rose, saying, “You just want to legislate evil. That’s really how it feels when I hear you speak, especially when you’re talking about a 10-year-old girl who was raped. To hear you say that, you know, they should just have that anyway is disgusting.” 

“I really think you’re a traitor to your own, and I will never be able to agree with you,” she added. “There is nothing you could possibly say to justify that level of lack of empathy.”

Rose responded: “Abortion is devastating to women’s mental health.”

The audience member interrupted, questioning, “Do you know what it’s really like to get raped and then have to have the child? What kind of trauma is that that you’re inducing on somebody?” 

“The trauma is from the rape. The child’s an innocent party there,” Rose said. 

“The child isn’t born yet. It’s not there,” the audience member interjected back. 

Rose responded: “Our fundamental human right, that we all share in this room, is life. It’s the first human right. Laws are meant to protect the weak. In a society, who’s the weakest? Who’s the weakest in the society? A child. They don’t have a voice. They can’t speak.”

“Whether you live 10 minutes or 10 years or a hundred years, you’re human life and you have the right to not be killed. And that’s what the pro-life fight is all about,” she continued. “That’s what we’re fighting for. A culture of life where we provide real health care. You know, abortion is the intentional destruction of an innocent human life. We can do better than that.”

The pro-life case for life from the moment of conception

The guests also debated the question of when human life begins after Dr. Phil commented that “there is no consensus among the scientific community.”

“There is, Dr. Phil. Ninety-six percent of scientists say that life begins at fertilization,” Rose stated. 

A study conducted by a University of Chicago doctoral student showed that a majority of biologists believe life begins at conception. Of the 5,577 biologists who responded to a survey he sent out, 96% supported this fact.

“When do you say human life begins then?” Rose asked. 

Dr. Phil replied, “Well, it doesn’t matter what I think, I don’t care what I think. What I’m saying is the scientific community does not have a consensus about when life begins.”

“A single-cell embryo is a unique, new human life,” Rose stated.

“You can go to the body of scientific literature and you can find neuroscientists who say that it begins when there is a detectable brain wave,” he said.

At this point, Dr. Phil turned his attention from Rose to his live audience encouraging them to “fact check” him, find the different definitions available from scientists, and decide for themselves what to think.

Priest inspires thousands to sign up for novena to defeat ‘right to abortion’ in Michigan

Father Gordon Reigle, pastor of St. Thomas Aquinas parish in East Lansing, Michigan, has inspired thousands to pray a 54-day rosary novena aimed at defeating an attempt to insert a "right to abortion" in the state's constitution. The novena begins Sept. 15, 2022, and ends on Nov. 7, 2022, the day before Michigan's general election. / Diocese of Lansing/FAITH Magazine

Lansing, Mich., Sep 14, 2022 / 09:00 am (CNA).

One Michigan priest’s prayerful insight is inspiring thousands of people to sign up for a 54-day rosary novena aimed at defeating an attempt to insert a “right to abortion” into the state constitution.

The proposed constitutional amendment is titled Reproductive Freedom for All. The ballot initiative seeks to enshrine abortion up to — and including — the day of birth. It also seeks to eliminate dozens of Michigan laws that presently regulate abortion, including parental consent and notification laws and laws that prohibit partial-birth abortion.

The novena begins tomorrow, Sept. 15, the memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows. It ends the day before Michigan’s general election on Nov. 8. 

“One evening in July, I was praying in the rectory chapel at St. Thomas Aquinas in East Lansing with the proposed constitutional amendment weighing heavy on my mind and on my heart,” Father Gordon Reigle, the parish’s pastor, explained.  

“So, I asked God what can be done to overcome such powerful and well-financed lobby groups [such] as Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union? Within a matter of minutes, the idea of a 54-day rosary novena popped into my head.”

A novena is nine days of prayer, and a rosary novena means praying the rosary every day for nine days. Hence, a 54-day rosary novena is actually a series of six novenas: three novenas to petition God and three novenas to thank God. Its roots go back to the 19th century and the miraculous cure of a young Italian woman, Fortuna Agrelli, through the intercession of Our Lady of Pompeii. 

“To be honest, I’ve never prayed a 54-day rosary novena before,” Reigle admitted. “I knew that it exists and that it is very powerful but, I have to tell you, the insight in prayer came as a surprise.” 

Reigle, who is also pastor of St. John Church and Student Center in East Lansing — which serves Michigan State University students, faculty, and staff — took his prayerful insight to his immediate superior, Bishop Earl Boyea of the Diocese of Lansing. The bishop heartily approved of the idea of the novena. Other dioceses across Michigan have since expressed an interest in the prayer initiative.

Already thousands have signed up to receive a daily text reminder for each day of the novena. Reigle believes that victory in November’s election is only possible through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary as “the patroness of the Gospel of Life.”

“Mary’s sorrowful heart grieves over the sufferings of her children, especially when our most innocent and vulnerable are threatened,” Reigle said. “May Our Lady protect us and save our children!” 

To sign up for a daily text reminder of Reigle’s 54-day rosary novena, text FightLikeHeaven to 84576.

Watch the video of Reigle explaining the novena and his inspiration for it below.

Catholic college official in hot seat for comments about allowing ‘students for choice’ club on campus

null / Shutterstock

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Sep 14, 2022 / 08:00 am (CNA).

A Wisconsin pro-life organization has taken issue with Viterbo University, a Franciscan Catholic college, for comments a school official made suggesting a willingness to allow an abortion rights group on campus.

The comments came to light after Pro-Life Wisconsin — a lobbying and educational organization — released a recording it obtained of the school’s executive director of mission and social justice saying she “would love to say yes to the club.” The official, Sister Laura Nettles, also discusses “curtailing” a student pro-life group.

“According to their website, what makes Viterbo Catholic is ‘a commitment to upholding the gospel understanding of the sacredness of all human life,’” Anna DeMeuse, Pro-Life Wisconsin’s communications director, wrote on the group’s website Aug. 25. Nettles’ comments, however, “raise suspicion over the validity of this commitment.”

She added: “It is long past time for these institutions to reclaim their Catholic identity and boldly profess the teachings of the Catholic faith, the Gospel of Life, without apology.”

Nettles and other administrators say her comments at an employee convocation were taken out of context, insisting that the roughly 2,500-student school in La Crosse remains strongly pro-life.

Rick Trietley, Viterbo University’s president, told CNA that Nettles’ remarks were “part of an informal discussion that doesn’t reflect the context of the presentation, which focused on why Catholic identity is so important at Viterbo University.”

“As a Catholic institution,” he said in a statement, “we embrace the words of His Holiness Pope Francis, who once eloquently said: ‘All life has inestimable value, even the weakest and most vulnerable, the sick, the old, the unborn, and the poor, are masterpieces of God’s creation, made in his own image, destined to live forever, and deserving of the utmost reverence and respect.’”

DeMeuse, of Pro-Life Wisconsin, declined to comment on the school’s responses.

What was said on the recording

Nettles — a member of the school’s founding order, the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration — spoke during the Aug. 22 convocation about a student’s request to establish a “Students for Choice” club on campus.

“I would love to say yes to the club, but I asked him if he would be willing to consider a different name like a ‘Health Club’ or ‘Reproductive Rights’ club,” Nettles says on the recording.

“What the student described he wanted to do in the club was to really advocate for women’s rights in health care to which I said, ‘amen’ to,” the religious sister continues. “So the question was whether he would be willing to think of a different title for it but do much of the same work.” 

Nettles says on the recording that the “pro-life, pro-choice issue is a hot-button issue in the Church,” adding that using the term “pro-choice” in the club’s name is “a bit of a challenge.”

On the recording, someone in the meeting can be heard asking Nettles if the student pro-life club, V-Hawks for Life, should have to change its name. She replies that the club does not have to change its name because the Catholic Church is pro-life.

“However … we are significantly curtailing their activities — what they can do, what they can’t do; they have to actually jump through a lot of hoops to be able to do what they do, in a way that doesn’t feel great either,” Nettles says on the recording.

“But we want to make sure that they have a right to share what they do as would a reproductive-rights group that might be supporting access to abortions as a right. But we want to make sure that it’s done in a tasteful way, in a way that invites dialogue and doesn’t just alienate and anger,” she said.

“And I think certainly ... the way that V-Hawks for Life ended last year — with a poorly timed display and how they went about it — that’s not going to happen again this year. Right, that was something that we needed to change.” 

The recording, which lasts less than four minutes, ends with Nettles saying that V-Hawks for Life can keep its name but the group has to follow a certain set of rules.

Why curtail a pro-life group?

CNA interviewed Nettles about the controversy via email. She said her remarks were taken out of context and she criticized Pro-Life Wisconsin for not reaching out to her for comment.

Nettles told CNA she explained to the student that he could start a club that would advocate for high-quality women’s health care but not abortion or contraception.

Sister Laura Nettles, a Franciscan Sister of Perpetual Adoration and administrative official at Viterbo University, was recorded in an employee meeting indicating that she would favor hosting a "students for choice" club on campus. She says her remarks were taken out of context. Screenshot YouTube video
Sister Laura Nettles, a Franciscan Sister of Perpetual Adoration and administrative official at Viterbo University, was recorded in an employee meeting indicating that she would favor hosting a "students for choice" club on campus. She says her remarks were taken out of context. Screenshot YouTube video

She added that she strongly supports the V-Hawks for Life club and considers herself proudly pro-life. She also said that her response in the recording about curtailing the V-Hawks for Life included curtailing activities from all student clubs that are not officially approved by the school.

“To be clear, Viterbo University will not allow a pro-choice club to form on our campus, as it would be a direct contradiction to Catholic teachings,” Nettles stressed.

Kirsten Gabriel, dean of students and vice president of student life at Viterbo, told CNA that when Nettles spoke about “curtailing” the pro-life club she was referring to a new policy for all clubs that prohibits the presence of individuals not affiliated with the university at “tabling” events.

A tabling event is a display table hosted by a student club, around which the members hand out literature and engage with students.  

V-Hawks for Life held such an event in May that included a display with information on pregnancy and parenting resources, information on the possible overturning of Roe v. Wade, and an explanation of certain abortion procedures. A representative of Students for Life of America, a pro-life advocacy group, was present at the event.

Danielle Smits, president of V-Hawks for Life at Viterbo University. Courtesy of Danielle Smits
Danielle Smits, president of V-Hawks for Life at Viterbo University. Courtesy of Danielle Smits

Danielle Smits, president of V-Hawks for Life, told CNA she feels the rule singles out the pro-life club because of its dealings with Students for Life of America. Smits said she was hurt to hear Nettles speak on the recording about possibly allowing a club that advocates for abortion rights on campus. 

Smits said that Nettles told her that the leaked recording was an edited version of what she said.

“I don’t know who to believe, but if there is a movement to create this so-called ‘Health Club’ that promotes abortion on our Catholic campus, you can believe I will not be quiet,” said Smits, a 20-year-old junior.

Pro-life groups respond as Dutch queen advocates for abortion in Texas

Queen Maxima of Netherlands speaks during a visit to the Q2 Stadium in Austin, Texas, on September 8, 2022. - The royal visit to Texas is meant to highlight the strong economic partnership between the United States and Netherlands. The visit was hosted by Austin FC Co-Owner and recently announced Honorary Consulate to the Netherlands, Marius A. Haas, as well as Austin FC President Andy Loughnane. / Suzanne Cordiero/AFP via Getty Images

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Sep 13, 2022 / 17:00 pm (CNA).

Texas pro-life leaders are challenging Queen Máxima of the Netherlands after she advocated for abortion while meeting with Gov. Greg Abbott in that state.

Unlike the queen’s country, the state of Texas limits abortion in most cases.

“The moral reality is that the Netherlands should in fact follow Texas’ lead when it comes to protecting innocent human life,” Texas Right to Life President Dr. John Seago told CNA. “Not only do they have one of the most extreme pro-abortion laws, but they also have been one of the most aggressive countries pushing for the euthanasia of vulnerable patients.”

His comments come after the queen, together with the Dutch Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Corporation Liesje Schreinemacher, met with the Texas Republican governor. The queen spoke about abortion, telling press afterward that “we are completely behind that,” according to Dutch outlet NL Times, via news agency ANP, and broadcaster NOS.

Máxima added that her message to Texas women is the same as her message to other women: that they should be able to access abortion, NL Times reported on Sept. 10.

Schreinemacher also called for abortion in Texas.

“There’s one point of concern that I wanted to raise, and that is on the right to safe abortion for women. Obviously, the Netherlands has a strong standpoint in that,” Schreinemacher told Abbott, according to KXAN, a local news outlet in Austin, Texas. 

She spoke, KXAN reported, after Máxima talked about how Texas-Netherlands relations benefit both economies. She suggested they work together on abortion, too.

“I was wondering if we could, maybe partner up as counterparts to see what we can do in that [abortion] stance for Texas,” Schreinemacher said.

The Netherlands allows abortion up to 24 weeks of pregnancy for any reason. After 24 weeks, abortion is permitted for “serious medical reasons.”

Effective Aug. 25, Texas limits abortion in most cases, with exceptions to prevent the death or “substantial impairment of a major bodily function” of the woman.

In response, Abbott advocated for protecting both mother and child.

“One thing we put high importance on here is the safety and health of the mother,” the governor told the Dutch officials, KXAN reported. “But the other thing we put importance on is the safety and health of the baby.”

The pro-life response

Following the queen’s visit, pro-life groups in Texas applauded Abbott as a pro-life governor.

“Gov. Greg Abbott has a long history of supporting policies built on respect for the dignity of all human beings including Texas mothers, their children, and vulnerable patients,” Seago said.

Texas Alliance for Life Communications Director Amy O’Donnell also expressed gratitude for Abbott and stressed that the Netherlands should learn from Texas’ example.

“It is unfortunate that Queen Máxima and Minister Schreinemacher are under the misconception that Gov. Abbott needs schooling on the abortion issue and the ability of women to advance in society,” O’Donnell told CNA. “We have complete confidence that governor and First Lady Abbott can educate the Dutch royals on how Texas successfully protects unborn babies from abortion while providing vast resources for women with unplanned pregnancies.”

Among other things, the Texas Pregnancy Care Network, funded entirely with general revenues from the state of Texas, offers help to mothers and babies by supporting pregnancy centers, maternity homes, and more, CNA previously reported.

O’Donnell added: “Texas proves that women have the ability to achieve economic and social equality without abortion.”

Jonathan Saenz, president of Texas Values, said that his group agrees with the governor that Texas is a state that supports both women and babies.

“We are the ninth-largest economy in the world, so we can understand that the Netherlands would travel to Texas to learn more about the culture that is the basis for our economic prosperity,” he told CNA.

Queen Máxima was raised Catholic and previously attended the Pontifical Catholic University of Argentina. She has also met with Pope Francis. The Catholic Church teaches that human life is sacred from the moment of conception and considers abortion — the destruction of a human person — a grave evil. 

Democrat senators urge stronger LGBT mandates in Biden’s sex discrimination rule

Madisan DeBos, a Division I track and cross country student-athlete at Southern Utah University, speaks at the "Our Bodies, Our Sports" rally in Washington, D.C., on June 23, 2022. / Katie Yoder/CNA

Washington D.C., Sep 13, 2022 / 16:00 pm (CNA).

A group of Democrat senators urged the Biden administration to add even stronger LGBTQ and abortion mandates to its proposed Title IX rule in a public comment issued Monday.

Led by Sen. Patty Murray and signed by 18 other senators, the comment issued in the form of a Sept. 12 letter celebrates the administration’s reinterpretation of Title IX’s federal ban on sex discrimination to include “sexual orientation or gender identity” and urges it to “build on this progress.” 

“We applaud the Department for taking important steps forward,” the senators wrote, adding that the Education Department should “further strengthen protections for LGBTQIA+ students and pregnant and parenting students.”

Title IX, adopted in 1972, protects Americans from discrimination based on sex in education programs or activities that receive federal funding.

The senators requested that the administration “clarify the scope of prohibited discrimination” regarding LGBTQ students under Title IX.

The letter recommends the rule should ensure that “students must be housed consistent with their gender identity and specify that intentional misgendering is a form of harassment.”

The senators also urged the Education Department to move forward with a rule ensuring that sports teams must allow transgender students to play on teams “consistent with their gender identity.”

“Protecting transgender students’ rights to participate in athletic activities consistent with their gender identity in no way disadvantages their fellow students, and does not take away or undermine the protections Title IX provides for women and girls,” the letter claims. 

The letter also celebrated the department’s inclusion of abortion as a protected category but called for further enforcement. 

“Given the changing landscape of abortion rights and efforts to harass, discriminate against, and intimidate students who exercise their reproductive rights, we request the Department provide further instructions on how schools should protect students’ privacy and records documenting students’ pregnancy status,” the letter added. 

Biden’s Title IX rule has been the subject of outcry since its proposal in June from concerned parents and religious groups who will be impacted by it.

Religious freedom and free speech advocates warn that the proposed rule change could be used to enforce mandates on hiring, bathrooms, using preferred pronouns, and dress codes. 

Monday ended the public comment period, during which citizens had the chance to submit feedback on the rule before it went into the finalization process. 

A record total of comments from concerned parents were submitted, numbering in the hundreds of thousands. 

“Allowing male[s’] entry into girls’ locker rooms, showers, and sports under the nebulous concept of ‘gender identity’ is discrimination against girls,” one commenter wrote, “a violation of [a] girl’s privacy, safety, and equal opportunity.”

“If this hits my kids’ school,” another parent commented, “we will file a lawsuit.”

Senate Republicans propose national ban on abortions after 15 weeks

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., speaks during news conference to announce a new bill on abortion restrictions on Capitol Hill Sept. 13, 2022, in Washington, D.C. Graham's proposal would enact a national ban on abortions after the 15-week mark. Also pictured, at left, is President of Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America Marjorie Dannenfelser. / Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Sep 13, 2022 / 14:00 pm (CNA).

South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham introduced legislation Tuesday that would ban abortions nationwide after 15 weeks, except in cases of rape, incest, or when the life of the mother is in danger.

The Protecting Pain-Capable Unborn Children from Late-Term Abortions Act is an updated version of Graham’s previous 20-week federal ban.

Speaking at a press conference alongside members of several national pro-life groups Sept. 13, Graham said the legislation was designed to “get America in a position at the federal level that’s fairly consistent with the rest of the world.”

Forty-seven out of 50 European countries have bans on abortions before 15 weeks. France, for example, bans abortions beginning at 12 weeks.

“This act provides the bare minimum protections for vulnerable unborn children,” Jeanne Mancini, president of March for Life, said at the conference. Mancini added that the United States ranks with North Korea and China in allowing “gruesome, late-term elective abortion[s].”

15-week ban aligns with science of fetal pain

The bill’s rationale rests on the overwhelming scientific and medical consensus that unborn children feel pain by 15 weeks’ gestation. 

“Pain receptors … begin forming at 7 weeks gestational age,” the bill’s text reads. 

The bill cites the fact that anesthesia is used in medical procedures performed on unborn children in the womb to prevent suffering from pain. 

The bill would impose criminal penalties on abortionists who commit abortions on unborn children 15 weeks or older.

It also forbids the prosecution of women who obtain these abortions and allows them to pursue civil action against abortionists in violation of the bill.

Republican Rep. Chris Smith of New Jersey, leader of the House Pro-Life Caucus and a Catholic, introduced an identical House version of the bill this afternoon, for which he was joined by more than 80 members of Congress.

“Every day, a whole segment of human beings is being subjected to painful — and deadly — procedures. This unconscionable human-rights abuse must stop,” Smith said in a statement.

Bill would allow most abortions to continue

Graham’s bill is supported by a variety of pro-life groups, including Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America, National Right to Life Committee, Americans United for Life, March for Life, and Urban Cure.

It is being messaged as a counter to Senate Democrats’ Women’s Health and Protection Act — reintroduced after Roe v. Wade was overturned this year — which would legalize abortion on-demand through all nine months of pregnancy.

“Democrats’ pro-abortion extremism flies in the face of American public opinion, which strongly supports compassionate limits on abortion like those proposed today by Sen. Graham and Rep. Smith,” Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of SBA Pro-Life America, said in a statement

The Washington Post reported Tuesday that Graham’s bill may not garner equal support from all pro-life organizations.

A 15-week ban has been “long denounced by many in the antiabortion movement because it would allow the vast majority of abortions to continue,” the Post wrote.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 92% of abortions occur before 15 weeks’ gestation and around 6% of abortions occur at or after 15 weeks.

“We have our work cut out for us,” Mancini said at the press conference. “At the March for Life, we work for a day when abortion is unthinkable.”

White House, Democrats condemn bill

Graham’s bill faced immediate backlash from pro-abortion activists and prominent Democrats, who are denouncing the move as a reversal from states’ rights.

“‘Let the states decide’ was always a lie,” Sen. Patty Murray, D-Washington, tweeted. “They want to ban abortion in every state, in every community.”

At the press conference, Graham said that “it is left up to the elected officials in America to define the issue.”

“States have the ability to do it at the state level, and we have the ability in Washington to speak on this issue if we choose. I have chosen to speak,” he said.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre issued a statement condemning the bill on Tuesday.

“Today, Senator Graham introduced a national ban on abortion which would strip away women’s rights in all 50 states,” Jean-Pierre said. “This bill is wildly out of step with what Americans believe.”

The ban is unlikely to advance, with a Democrat-controlled Congress and the White House held by President Joe Biden, who is on record as one of the most pro-abortion presidents in history.