In this issue of the Texas Catholic Voice:
- Updates on efforts to stop abortion ...
- Congratulations to our teachers of the year! ...
- Pope Francis' intention for February for terminally ill ...
- And more!
A Message from Jennifer Allmon, Executive Director
Happy New Year, TCV readers! We hope you had a joyful and peaceful Christmas. It’s hard to believe that Ash Wednesday is only two weeks away.
On Jan. 27, TCCB was part of the host committee for Texas Alliance for Life’s Rally for Life. Although we are blessed that abortion at all stages of life is now illegal in Texas, the fight is not over.
There are dogged efforts at the national and state level to expand abortion access. On the national front, the Department of Health and Human Services issued guidance last May on a federal law passed in 1986, the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA), ensuring emergency medical care for the poor and uninsured. The guidance states that, despite changes in some states’ laws criminalizing abortion, medical providers are still obligated to perform abortions if necessary “to stabilize the patient’s emergency medical condition.” The State of Texas sued HHS; on Jan. 3, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a permanent injunction of the enforcement of this gross misinterpretation of EMTALA.
The bishops issued a statement celebrating the decision stating, “Catholic hospitals, including in Texas, have been providing compassionate care for women and babies (born and unborn) for centuries without elective abortions, and in full compliance with EMTALA since its inception. The new law in Texas has not impacted their ability to provide consistent care for these families in accordance with the Ethical and Religious Directives approved by the US Conference of Catholic Bishops.”
Also at the federal level, the Supreme Court on Monday scheduled Food and Drug Administration v. Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine for arguments in March. This case originated in Texas and addresses the FDA loosening regulations for chemical abortion, including increasing the time in which a woman may take the drug mifepristone from seven weeks to ten weeks of pregnancy and removing the requirement for an in person visit with a certified prescriber. The TCCB will be submitting an amicus brief along with the USCCB and the Catholic Health Care Leadership Alliance.
Texas passed the Chemical Abortion Act in 2021 which codified the original FDA regulations from 2000 into state law. That law has since been superseded by the Human Life Protection Act, a total ban on abortion in Texas that went into effect after the reversal of Roe v. Wade. We continue to advocate for authentic healthcare for women and their unborn children everywhere.
Finally, there is the tragic case of Kate Cox and her unborn daughter. Cox, a pregnant mother of two from Dallas filed a lawsuit asking the courts to allow her to abort her child diagnosed with Trisomy 18. A Travis County district judge ordered that neither she, her husband, nor her doctor should be criminally or civilly liable for terminating her 20-week pregnancy. The Texas Supreme Court blocked the order because Ms. Cox was not suffering from any life-threatening condition. She reportedly left the state to obtain her abortion.
We know the compassionate response to a mother facing a difficult fetal diagnosis is to offer perinatal palliative care, typically associated with specialized children’s hospitals which are staffed with professionals trained to support the family of an unborn child with a serious illness. Programs vary, but services usually include advance care planning, sibling support, care coordination, and anticipatory grief work. The perinatal palliative care team remains involved with the family from time of referral, through pregnancy, and into the delivery and postpartum period. This type of care respects the dignity of the life of the baby and provides compassionate care for the family.
It is a fundamental work of Christian mercy to accompany those mourning the loss of a loved one. Continuing the development and increasing the availability of palliative care services and hospice programs for perinatal and pediatric patients is an essential and compassionate task in the post-Roe era. As some doctors are confused about the law, we also agree with the Texas Supreme Court that guidance by the Texas Medical Board would be prudent.
Continued pressures regarding the southern border
The Texas bishops have shared their position on immigration many times through letters, statements, and other personal communication with legislators, and state and federal officials. We have consistently expressed we must recognize the dignity of migrants and treat them as our brothers and sisters, while at the same time recognizing the right and responsibility of this country to secure our borders, as an unsecure border also poses threats to human dignity.
Every legislative session, the TCCB testifies in immigration hearings and works closely with legislators to minimize the harm done to migrants and to Texas citizens by our broken federal immigration system. We grieve the seemingly intractable situation at the border and in Congress, and will continue to work and pray for a solution that affirms the dignity of everyone.
2024 Teachers of the Year
Every year we are thrilled to announce the TCCB teachers of the year during Catholic Schools Week. TCCB accredits 239 Catholic schools in Texas and we are so blessed to have teachers forming our children like the 2024 winners, Gracie Cantu and Alanna Heyl.
Pope Francis' prayer intention for February
In February, Pope Francis requests prayers for and a commitment to the terminally ill and their families. The Holy Father shares this prayer intention during the month in which, on February 11, the liturgical memorial of Our Lady of Lourdes, the World Day of the Sick takes place, which was established in 1992 by John Paul II.