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Activist group pushes to enshrine abortion rights in Arkansas constitution

null / roibu / Shutterstock.

CNA Staff, Nov 29, 2023 / 17:00 pm (CNA).

An activist group in Arkansas this week announced an effort to pass a state constitutional amendment protecting the right to abortion, with the southern state becoming the latest abortion battleground in the post-Roe v. Wade U.S. 

The group For AR People, which bills itself as working to “build a stronger state that works for everyone,” announced on Monday the formation of the group Arkansans for Limited Government in support of the Arkansas Reproductive Healthcare Amendment.

The amendment as currently written would forbid the state from restricting “access to abortion within 18 weeks of conception, or in cases of rape, incest, [and] in the event of a fatal fetal anomaly.” 

Abortion would also be permitted “to protect the pregnant female’s life or health,” the amendment says.

The amendment had been submitted to state Attorney General Tim Griffin for review earlier this month. On Tuesday the attorney general rejected the submission, saying in a decision that “ambiguities in the text of [the] proposed measure” could be misleading to voters.

The group will have to revise the proposal, Griffin said. Upon its acceptance by the attorney general’s office, activists will have to gather nearly 100,000 signatures by next July to ensure its placement on the 2024 ballot. 

In a statement shared with CNA, Arkansans for Limited Government said it “appreciate[d] the attorney general’s thorough review of and impartial response to the amendment’s language.” The group said it would “begin work immediately with the amendment drafter to craft a revised amendment.”

Pro-life groups, meanwhile, were speaking out against the measure this week. Arkansas Right to Life said in a statement shared with CNA on Tuesday that “the broadly written language [of the proposal] is so extreme that even pro-choice voters will see it goes too far.” 

“It clearly allows abortions up to the moment of birth and mandates that even the most basic limits on the profit-driven abortion industry are removed,” Executive Director Rose Mimms said. “The proposed constitutional amendment is not about limited government, it’s about forcing no-limit abortion on the people of Arkansas.”

David Cox, the assistant director of the Little Rock-based Family Council, told CNA via email that “if passed, the amendment’s language would effectively erase decades of good, pro-life laws.”

“For example, it would prevent Arkansas from requiring abortionists to have parental consent before performing an abortion on an underage girl,” he argued. “The amendment also could permit abortion in Arkansas through all nine months of pregnancy — including late-term abortion and partial-birth abortion.”

The amendment would allow the state General Assembly to “prohibit or restrict access to abortion only when it establishes a compelling government interest achieved by the least restrictive means.” 

The interest would be “compelling,” the language states, “only if it is for the purpose of protecting the health of an individual seeking access, does not infringe on the individual’s decision making, and is consistent with widely accepted clinical standards of practice and evidence-based medicine.”

Arkansas is one of several states in which abortion rights battles are playing out in the wake of Roe v. Wade’s repeal last year. 

Earlier in November, Ohio voters overwhelmingly approved a ballot referendum that added a new right to “reproductive freedom,” including abortion and contraception, to the state constitution.

Activists in numerous other states including Arizona, Florida, and Nebraska are likewise pushing to amend their respective constitutions to protect abortion rights.

New Catholic PR agency looks to help Catholics become ‘strengthened in the faith’

null / Credit: Courtesy of Sophia Communications

CNA Staff, Nov 29, 2023 / 09:00 am (CNA).

A newly launched New England-based public relations outfit is working to promote a variety of Catholic organizations and endeavors by “spreading the faith via the media” through faith-based outlets and other markets. 

Sophia Communications is an outgrowth of Sophia Institute Press, a publishing company based in Manchester, New Hampshire.

The press publishes “many of the most beloved Catholic authors” and distributes “over 1 million influential books per year,” according to its website. It was founded by John Barger, who had formerly taught philosophy at Magdalen College, a Catholic school in New Hampshire.

Sophia’s newly launched PR firm debuted on Nov. 7. The firm said in a press release that it will offer “a vital connection to the ever-evolving faith-based and conservative media markets through their relationships with high-level press, influencers, clergy, and faith leaders.”

Sarah Lemieux, the executive director of the communications initiative, told CNA in an interview that the broader Sophia organization has had “so much success generating local, national, and international publicity for our own brands and products.”

With the communications firm, the group is “opening our doors to represent others,” she said.

Lemieux said the firm is hoping to support “mainly good Catholic organizations and causes on the one hand” as well as “those looking to enrich the Catholic world through their positive products and programs.” 

“Really, what we’re about is spreading the faith via the media,” she said. “When people buy books, games, music, puzzles, and calendars that we represent, they really just become strengthened in their faith.”

The group in its press release said its bookings “have ranged from local faith-based radio programs to national media networks like Salem Media and EWTN” as well as a variety of conservative print outlets and other media.

Lemieux told CNA the newly launched firm is still gathering clients. “We have a few in the queue,” she said.

“We have a lot of crossover products,” she said. “We get our clients on mainstream, secular, and Protestant media. We’re basically an evangelization tool using mass communications, and we love it.”

Among its clients include the Catholic companion book Benedictus, the bookstore Fraternity Publications, and several other brands.

The entire endeavor, Lemieux told CNA, is “explicitly Catholic.”

“We currently have about 63 employees in our institution,” she said. “Hopefully we’ll be able to expand our team. We will be growing.”

(Editor’s note: In August 2015, Sophia Institute Press began partnering with EWTN to form EWTN Publishing Inc., which produces various publications with a focus on the works of EWTN’s founder, Mother Angelica. EWTN is the parent company of CNA.)

Presentan obra de teatro sobre la Navidad con experiencia de “casi 360 grados”

La Asociación Cultural Esperanta estrenará una obra de teatro basada en el libro "Barioná, el hijo del trueno" del filósofo Jean-Paul Sartre. Los espectadores vivirán una experiencia inmersiva de casi 360°.

Arzobispo ofrece decálogo para los votantes de la nueva Constitución de Chile

En vistas a la jornada en la que los chilenos votarán por el proyecto de su nueva Constitución Nacional, el Arzobispo electo de Santiago, Mons. Fernando Chomali, compartió un decálogo para los electores.

Inician celebraciones y novena por la Inmaculada Concepción en Guatemala

Con motivo de la Solemnidad de la Inmaculada Concepción, que se celebrará el viernes 8 de diciembre, los fieles en Guatemala han iniciado con entusiasmo los festejos correspondientes y la novena dedicada a esta importante advocación de la Virgen María.

Universidad católica femenina ahora acepta a hombres que se identifican como mujeres

Saint Mary’s College en Notre Dame, Indiana (Estados Unidos), históricamente una universidad católica privada para mujeres, ahora aceptará a hombres que se identifiquen con el sexo opuesto.

Franciscanos celebran 800 años de la aprobación de la Regla de San Francisco

“El Centenario de San Francisco es algo que naturalmente nos une. Celebrarlo juntos será un signo de colaboración, de unidad y creemos que si uno de los resultados de estos Centenarios es aumentar la capacidad de colaboración entre los distintos componentes de la Familia Franciscana"

Anuncian reestreno en Latinoamérica de la película "Mártires de un Dios prohibido"

La productora Bosco Films anunció que este jueves 30 de noviembre se reestrena en Latinoamérica la película Mártires de un Dios prohibido, que narra la historia de los 51 mártires claretianos asesinados en 1936 durante la Guerra Civil Española.

Camino Sinodal causa tensiones entre obispos de Alemania y Polonia

Un encuentro personal entre los presidentes de las Conferencias Episcopales de Alemania y Polonia ha puesto de relieve que el Camino Sinodal alemán está causando tensiones en la Iglesia a ambos lados de la frontera.

Reconocen a Cáritas de Venezuela como una “organización de excelencia”

Janeth Márquez, directora ejecutiva de Cáritas, agradeció la asesoría que el CTS-UCAB brindó al “brazo social de la Iglesia Católica venezolana” y resaltó que para Cáritas “lo prioritario es la gente” y la dignidad humana, y que por ello decidieron mejorar sus procesos organizacionales