USCCB Migration Chairman Welcomes Obama Administration Announcement of Relief for Immigrant Families, USCCB President Cites Urgent Pastoral Need for a More Humane View of Immigrants

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Action keeps families together and protects children

Migrants are brothers and sisters to be welcomed, respected and loved
Congress and President must work together for permanent reforms
November 20, 2014
Bishop Eusebio Elizondo, M.Sp.S., auxiliary bishop of Seattle and chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) Committee on Migration, welcomed the news today that the Obama administration will defer deportations for many undocumented immigrants and their families.
“We have a long history of welcoming and aiding the poor, the outcast, the immigrant, and the disadvantaged. Each day, the Catholic Church in the United States, in her social service agencies, hospitals, schools, and parishes, witnesses the human consequences of the separation of families, when parents are deported from their children or spouses from each other. We’ve been on record asking the Administration to do everything within its legitimate authority to bring relief and justice to our immigrant brothers and sisters. As pastors, we welcome any efforts within these limits that protect individuals and protect and reunite families and vulnerable children,” said Bishop Elizondo.
Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz, archbishop of Louisville, Kentucky, and president of the USCCB said, “There is an urgent pastoral need for a more humane view of immigrants and a legal process that respects each person’s dignity, protects human rights, and upholds the rule of law. As our Holy Father, Pope Francis, said so eloquently: ‘Every human being is a child of God! He or she bears the image of Christ! We ourselves need to see, and then to enable others to see, that migrants and refugees do not only represent a problem to be solved, but are brothers and sisters to be welcomed, respected, and loved.’”
Bishop Elizondo added, “I strongly urge Congress and the President to work together to enact permanent reforms to the nation’s immigration system for the best interests of the nation and the migrants who seek refuge here. We will continue to work with both parties to enact legislation that welcomes and protects immigrants and promotes a just and fair immigration policy.”

Cardinal O’Malley, Archbishop Lori Urge Congress To Include Abortion Non-Discrimination Act in Funding Legislation

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Congress should incorporate the protections of the Abortion Non-Discrimination Act (ANDA) into must-pass funding legislation, said the chairmen of two committees of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) in a November 17 letter to Congress. Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley of Boston and Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore cited the California Department of Managed Health Care’s recent move to mandate elective abortions in all health plans under its jurisdiction, with no religious or moral exemption, as one urgent reason for Congress to improve federal laws protecting conscience rights on abortion.
“The crisis in California requires Congress to reaffirm a principle that has long enjoyed broad bipartisan support: Government should not force hospitals, doctors, nurses and other providers to stop offering or covering much-needed legitimate health care because they cannot in conscience participate in destroying a developing human life,” wrote Cardinal O’Malley and Archbishop Lori. They chair the USCCB Committee on Pro-Life Activities and Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty, respectively.
Cardinal O’Malley and Archbishop Lori noted that such rules proposed in California and other states violate the longstanding Weldon amendment, which forbids governmental bodies receiving federal funds from discriminating against those who object to taking part in abortion or abortion coverage. However, that law lacks an effective means of enforcement and has been subject to legal challenges. The bishops support ANDA as an assurance of greater legal protection. Its protections were included in the U.S. House of Representatives’ draft version of the Labor/HHS appropriations bill for Fiscal Year 2013, but that act was ultimately not passed by Congress.
“We strongly urge you to incorporate ANDA into must-pass funding legislation at your earliest possible opportunity,” the bishops concluded.

Archbishop Wenski, Bishop Cantu Urge Congress To Protect Programs That Help the Poor and Vulnerable

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The U.S. bishops stand ready to work with Congress “to protect poor and vulnerable people, promote human life and dignity, and advance the common good,” said the bishops who chair two committees of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in a November 17 letter to Congress. Archbishop Thomas G. Wenski of Miami and Bishop Oscar Cantú of Las Cruces, New Mexico, urged Congressional leaders to draw a “circle of protection” around programs serving the poor and vulnerable as they weigh spending and tax legislation.
“As pastors, we see every day the human consequences of budget choices. Our Catholic community defends the unborn, feeds the hungry, shelters the homeless, educates the young, and cares for the sick, both at home and abroad. These voices are too often missing from public policy debates, but they have the most compelling moral claim on our consciences and our common resources,” wrote Archbishop Wenski and Bishop Cantú.
Archbishop Wenski and Bishop Cantú chair the USCCB committees on Domestic Justice and Human Development and International Justice and Peace, respectively.
They highlighted nutrition for women, infants and children; affordable housing; community health centers; and mental health services and workforce development as programs that should not be cut. They also expressed support for extending the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) as well as the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Child Tax Credit.
Archbishop Wenski and Bishop Cantú also noted the importance of poverty-focused international assistance, humanitarian and disaster assistance, long-term development programs and international food and agriculture programs.

Statement on Measure 1 Results: We are not disheartened

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Statement on the Results on Measure 1:

We are, of course, disappointed with today’s results.  We are not, however, disappointed in how Catholics across the state joined with people of other faiths and no faith at all to fight for the culture of life in North Dakota.

Sadly, the opposition to Measure 1 relied solely on scare tactics and outright lies to confuse and frighten voters.  The No campaign, funded and directed by Planned Parenthood, refused throughout the campaign to debate supporters of the measure or provide explanations for its claims.  The people of North Dakota deserved better.

Measure 1 would have clarified that the state constitution does not contain an expansive right to abortion.  Unfortunately, the people of North Dakota were denied an honest and robust debate on that issue.  The cause of life and the need to address this fundamental question remain.

Although Measure 1 lost, we are not disheartened.  On the issue, we won.  The opponents basically conceded that this is a pro-life state by completely avoiding the importance of common sense pro-life laws. The loss of Measure 1 is not a setback.  In the last five years North Dakota has passed a record number of pro-life bills, only one of which has been struck down by the courts.

In short, the pro-life movement in North Dakota has never been stronger or more unified. We have truly been blessed by this experience.

Missouri Shows Us

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Catholic Conference Applauds State Supreme Court Decision, Calls for Passage of Measure 1 to Settle Questions

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The North Dakota Catholic Conference, acting on behalf of the state’s Catholic bishops, responded favorably to today’s ruling by the North Dakota Supreme Court and called on voters to decide the unresolved question of whether the state constitution contains a right to abortion.

Christopher Dodson, executive director of the conference stated: “This is a good day for the protection of women’s health and for affirming the right of elected officials to establish regulations to protect the health and safety of women seeking abortions.” He noted, however, that the split decision by the court demonstrates “more than ever why North Dakotans must pass Measure 1 on November 4.”  He added: “The people of North Dakota have a right to decide this question before the abortion lobby comes back into the state to try again to strike down laws that even the U.S. Supreme Court has said we can pass.”

The North Dakota Catholic Conference submitted a friend of the court brief defending the law.

Dodson’s full statement follows.

Today the North Dakota Supreme Court reversed a ruling by Judge Wickham Corwin striking down the state’s regulation of abortion-inducing drugs.  We applaud the ruling. This is a good day for the protection of women’s health and for affirming the right of elected officials to establish regulations to protect the health and safety of women seeking abortions.

Although Judge Corwin’s decision was reversed and the law passed in 2011 can now go into effect, the North Dakota Supreme Court did not resolve whether the North Dakota Constitution provides a right to abortion.  The court was evenly split on that question.

The split opinion demonstrates more than ever why North Dakotans must pass Measure 1 on November 4. The people of North Dakota have a right to decide this question before the abortion lobby comes back into the state to try again to strike down laws that even the U.S. Supreme Court has said we can pass.

Experts on Measure 1

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Expert=knowledgeOpponents of Measure 1 have built their campaign on scare tactics unsupported by facts and law.  Experts have soundly refuted those claims.  Take some time to look at their conclusions.

Attorneys and Law Professors: Statement on Whether Measure One Would Ban Currently Legal Practices or Implicitly Repeal Existing Laws

Law Enforcement on Will Measure 1 Impact Women Who Suffer A Miscarriage or Pregnancy Emergencies?


Experts on End-of-Life Care: Statement on Misleading Representations About Measure 1 and End-of-Life Care Decisions

Examining Whether Measure 1 Will Impact In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) Procedures and Pregnancy Complications in North Dakota

Attorneys Release Legal Analysis of Measure 1

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“[A]ssertions by opponents of Measure 1 that it alone would ban currently legal acts, mandate government action, or repeal existing statutes are without merit. The claims are based on a flawed understanding of state constitutional law, violate basic rules of interpretation, would lead to absurd results, and fail to meet the North Dakota Supreme Court’s well-established criteria for considering a constitutional provision to be self-executing.”


It has been a busy few days.  First, physicians and other health care providers are speaking out in numbers in favor of Measure 1. Then the Minot Daily News endorses Measure 1.  And then former U.S. Attorney General refutes the “parade of horrors” coming out from the opposition to Measure 1.

In the midst of all that news you might have missed the fact that twenty-four attorneys and law professors released a statement on Measure 1 that explains in detail why Measure 1 is not self-executing and why the opponent’s claims are without merit.


It’s Time for a Second Opinion on Measure 1: Over 100 Physicians and Health Care Professionals Supporting Measure 1

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And the list is growing!



GFH Letter: Christopher Dodson: Measure 1 opponent offers confused arguments

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Christopher Dodson: Measure 1 opponent offers confused arguments

BISMARCK — Steven Morrison claims that if Measure 1 is not self-executing, so as to not impact in-vitro fertilization and end-of-life care, it cannot also prevent activist judges from creating a right to abortion in the state constitution (“Measure 1 supporters offer confused arguments,” Viewpoint, Page A4, Oct. 22). It looks like he is the one getting confused.

The North Dakota Constitution states: “All individuals are by nature equally free and independent and have certain inalienable rights, among which are those of enjoying and defending life and liberty …” The clause is a classic example of a provision that is not self-executing. It states general objectives and principles for the constitution and not an enforceable rule. That did not, however, prevent a judge from interpreting the sentence to grant a right to abortion.

Morrison later submitted a brief urging the state Supreme Court to affirm the judge’s opinion. Apparently, a non self-executing provision cannot be used to interpret the constitution — except when it suits Morrison’s agenda.

Morrison’s assertions that the Arkansas and Missouri laws are different from Measure 1 are embarrassingly wrong. To begin with, he focuses on the wrong section of the Arkansas Constitution. The relevant section states: “The policy of Arkansas is to protect the life of every unborn child from conception until birth …” The section is substantially similar to Measure 1. Secondly, he makes the rookie mistake of thinking that because the title of the amendment states “abortion” it must only be about abortion. Morrison must have forgotten that titles are not law.

He claims the Missouri law is different because it does not provide a cause of action for failure to provide prenatal care. True, but nor does Measure 1.

Getting the courts to find an almost unlimited right to abortion is the real agenda of many opponents of Measure 1, which is why the opposition is being funded almost entirely by the out-of-state abortion lobby. The claims about IVF and end-of-life care don’t hold up against legal scrutiny, and they are banking that the average voter will not realize that fact.

The truth is that Measure 1, like the Arkansas and Missouri provisions, cannot impact IVF, pregnancy care or end-of-life decisions. It can, however, like in Arkansas and Missouri, prevent our state’s laws from being re-interpreted to create an expansive right to abortion.

Dodson is executive director and general counsel of the North Dakota Catholic Conference.