Heavenly sight — Icicles glisten in the sun over the steeple of St. Gabriel the Archangel Church in Neenah, Wis., Feb. 13. The day before brought 8 to 15 inches of snow to the majority of the Diocese of Green Bay, resulting in church and school closings. (CNS photo/Brad Birkholz)

Kansas AG files appeal on telemedicine abortion law
A recent district court decision that appears to have blocked enforcement of a telemedicine abortion statute enacted by the Kansas legislature in 2015, is being appealed by Attorney General Derek Schmidt.
He made the announcement Feb. 1 at his official state website at ag.ks.gov.
In a Dec. 31 ruling dismissing a challenge to the state’s 2018 telemedicine abortion statute, Schmidt states in the news release, a Shawnee County judge concluded that an injunction entered in 2011 in a different lawsuit now also prohibits enforcement of the 2015 law. The complicated legal situation involves at least three different statutes enacted years apart and two separate lawsuits filed by different plaintiffs, he writes.
“In our view, the 2015 statute that passed the legislature with overwhelming bipartisan majorities has never had its proper day in court, yet the court has now concluded that statute is enjoined from operation,” Schmidt said.
“We are perplexed how the court reached this conclusion in a case challenging the 2018 law. That’s why we are using multiple avenues to ask the district court or the Court of Appeals, or both, to sort out and clarify the current state of the law.”

Dems block measure to protect babies who survive abortion
WASHINGTON (CNS) — The Senate in an evening vote Feb. 25 failed to pass a measure sponsored by Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Nebraska, to require that babies born alive after an abortion be given medical attention and “the same protection of law as any newborn.”
The Born-Alive Survivors Protection Act failed in a 53-44 vote. Sixty votes were needed for passage of the measure, which Sasse’s press office said was co-sponsored by half the Senate.
“I want to ask each and every one of my colleagues whether we’re OK with infanticide,” Sasse said ahead of the vote. “This language is blunt. I recognize that and it’s too blunt for many people in this body. But frankly, that is what we’re talking about here today. Infanticide is what the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act is actually about.”
Protecting babies who “are alive, born outside the womb after having survived a botched abortion ... is what this is about,” he said.
Kristan Hawkins, president for Students for Life of America, called Sasse’s bill “the bare minimum standard for valuing infant life, as everyone should be able to look at a baby born during an abortion and understand that a humane response is required.”
“Too many important votes are forgotten, but this one won’t be,” she said in a statement issued after the vote. “These kinds of tactics in which a win is a loss can disillusion voters, but allowing infants to die after being born alive will rally pro-life Americans when it counts.”
On Feb. 4, Sasse had called for unanimous consent on his Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act. “Everyone in the Senate ought to be able to say unequivocally that killing that little baby is wrong. This doesn’t take any political courage,” he said from the floor.
In response, Sen. Patty Murray, D-Washington, blocked unanimous consent by objecting to the bill.

Tensions grow along Venezuelan borders
SAO PAULO (CNS) -- Tensions were high along Venezuela’s borders after clashes protesting Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s decision not to allow humanitarian aid into the country for millions of vulnerable citizens.
The situation was complicated by politics: Opposition leader Juan Guaido, who has declared himself interim president and has the backing of 50 governments around the world, has been supporting the influx of aid, including aid staged at the Colombia-Venezuela border by the United States.
Presidents and vice presidents of 14 countries, including U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, were meeting in Bogota, Colombia, Feb. 25, to discuss the Venezuelan crisis.
At the border crossing in Pacaraima, Brazil, two trucks carrying humanitarian aid crossed into Venezuela Feb. 23, but were stopped by the Venezuelan military. On Feb. 24, the Brazilian government issued a statement saying the two trucks had returned to Pacaraima, unable to deliver the aid. The Brazilian government, however, pledged to try the crossing once again as soon as Venezuela’s “diplomatic situation” is resolved.
At least two indigenous Venezuelans were killed by Venezuelan security forces along the border with Brazil. But the situation was worse along the border with Colombia.
Two people were killed, and Colombia’s foreign minister said 285 people were injured and 37 hospitalized on the Colombian side of the border after clashes between Guaido supporters and Venezuelan military blocking aid Feb. 23.
For the past few years, church groups -- including Venezuela’s bishops -- have urged Maduro to let humanitarian aid into the country to relieve the suffering of Venezuelans facing food and medicine shortages, hyperinflation and crime. Maduro argues the aid would be used to meddle in the country’s affairs.

Marist Poll: Big majorities of Democrats, young reject late-term abortion
NEW HAVEN, Conn. (CNS) — Americans have shifted toward a pro-life stance in recent weeks during a period when some states are considering legislation that would legalize abortion up until birth, according to a new poll.
The Marist Poll at Marist College conducted in mid-February found that equal numbers of Americans — 47 percent — identified themselves as pro-life and as those who support abortion.
The findings reflect a dramatic shift from a similar poll in early January that found respondents supporting abortion by 55 percent to 38 percent.
“Current proposals that promote late-term abortion have reset the landscape and language on abortion in a pronounced, and very measurable, way,” Barbara Carvalho, poll director, said in media release from the Knights of Columbus, the poll sponsor.
The largest swing in responses came from self-identified Democrats and people younger than 45, poll officials said.
The poll reported that among Democrats, the gap between people who identify as pro-life and those who support abortion was cut in half from 55 percent to 27 percent. The number of Democrats who identify as pro-life stood at 34 percent, up from 20 percent in January.

‘Physician-assisted suicide is not medical care,’ doctor tells lawmakers
ANNAPOLIS, Md. (CNS) — Saying that “medicine is a noble profession,” a Catholic physician told Maryland lawmakers that “physician-assisted suicide fundamentally alters the physician’s role in society.”
Dr. Marie-Alberte Boursiquot made the comments in testimony for a hearing on the End-of-Life Option Act under consideration again by the House Health and Government Operations and Judiciary committees. The measure has been repeatedly introduced in recent years and blocked in committee.
The measure would allow terminally ill adults who have six months or less left to live and who are mentally capable to receive doctor-prescribed medication to end their lives.
Boursiquot, a board-certified internist and fellow of the American College of Physicians, was one of several testifying against the measure Feb. 15. She shared her testimony with the Catholic Review, the media outlet of the Archdiocese of Baltimore.
She discussed the duties physicians have to their patients: acting in the patient’s best interest; avoiding or minimizing harm; respecting a patient’s autonomy; and promoting fairness and social justice.
Medical professionals have to safeguard the relationship between a physician and a patient and protect the most vulnerable in society, including children, the sick, the elderly, the disabled, the poor and others, said Boursiquot, who has been a practicing physician in Maryland for more than 20 years and was president of the Catholic Medical Association from 2016 to 2017.
“Medicalizing death does not address the needs of dying patients and their families,” she said. “Physician-assisted suicide is not medical care. Physicians are committed to preserving life, not in taking lives.”
Boursiquot, a parishioner at Baltimore’s Basilica of the Assumption, noted a few of the fundamental flaws of the End-of-Life Option Act, including the lack of consideration for depression; failed attempts at suicide; and determining whether a patient is being coerced.
“There are those in the medical community who have already decided or are contemplating taking a neutral stance on this issue,” Boursiquot said. “I ascribe to the thought of the Holocaust survivor and Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel, who once said, ‘Always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.’ I invite you to choose the side which respects the dignity of human beings in allowing them to die naturally.”
The Maryland Catholic Conference opposes the bill, which was introduced Jan. 30 and is sponsored by Democratic Del. Shane Pendergrass. The bill has nearly 50 co-sponsors.
“Our state has repeatedly rejected this group’s agenda and with good reason: assisted suicide threatens Maryland’s most vulnerable, putting those with disabilities, the elderly, our veterans and those battling opioid addiction at grave risk,” Jennifer Briemann, director of the Maryland Catholic Conference.

Pope Francis celebrates Mass on the final day of a meeting on the protection of minors in the church at the Vatican Feb. 24, 2019. (CNS photo/Vatican Media)

Pope: No more excuses; time for ‘all-out battle’ against crime of abuse
VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The time has come for an “all-out battle” against the abuse of minors, erasing this abominable crime from the face of the earth, Pope Francis said, closing a global four-day summit on child protection in the Catholic Church.
For quite some time, the world has been aware of the “serious scandal” the abuse of minors by clergy has brought to the church and public opinion, both because of the dramatic suffering it has caused victims and because of the “unjustifiable negligence” and “cover-up” by leaders in the church, he told people gathered in St. Peter’s Square.
Since the problem is present on every continent, the pope said he called leaders of the world’s bishops and religious superiors to Rome because “I wanted us to face it together in a co-responsible and collegial way,” he said after praying the Angelus Feb. 24.
“We listened to the voice of victims, we prayed and asked for forgiveness from God and the people hurt, we took stock of our responsibility, and our duty to bring justice through truth and to radically reject every form” of sexual abuse and the abuse of power and conscience, he said.
“We want every activity and every place in the church to be completely safe for minors,” he said, which means taking every possible measure so that such crimes never happen again.
It will also entail working with great dedication together with people of good will everywhere in order to fight this “very grave scourge of violence” that affects hundreds of millions of minors around the world.
The pope’s noonday summary of what he called a “very important” meeting came after he delivered his closing remarks at the end of Mass Feb. 24.
Surrounded by the ornate frescoed walls and ceiling of the Sala Regia, the pope told some 190 cardinals, bishops and religious superiors from around the world, “the time has come, then, to work together to eradicate this evil from the body of our humanity by adopting every necessary measure already in force on the international level and ecclesial levels.”
However, despite the importance of knowing the sociological and psychological explanations behind this criminal act of abuse, he said, the church must recognize this is a spiritual battle against the “brazen, aggressive, destructive” power of Satan.
“I see the hand of evil that does not spare even the innocence of the little ones. And this leads me to think of the example of Herod who, driven by fear of losing his power, ordered the slaughter of all the children of Bethlehem,” the pope said.
Just as the pagans once sacrificed children on their altars, such cruelty continues today with an “idolatrous sacrifice of children to the god of power, money, pride and arrogance,” he said.