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In 1974, the Rev. Theodore Hesburgh, then president of the University of Notre Dame, warned Roman Catholics against ceding the abortion debate to "crude zealots who have neither good judgment, sophistication of procedure nor the modicum of civility needed for the rational discussion of disagreements in a pluralistic democracy."
This week, the "crude zealots" won. America's Catholic bishops are doing a victory lap over this decision. Four of the five justices who voted to overturn Roe v. Wade were conservative Catholics. (Chief Justice John Roberts, also a conservative Catholic, voted to uphold the Mississippi abortion ban at issue in the Dobbs case, but did not support overturning Roe outright.)
The bishops have been pushing for the overturn of Roe for decades, and many of them were glad to overlook Donald Trump's moral lapses because he declared himself anti-abortion. In his single term (at least so far), Trump, with the help of then-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, kept his promise and larded the court with three conservative justices eager to reverse 50 years of court precedent.
Now these same church leaders are calling on Americans to unite, and for dissension to end. "It is a time for healing wounds and repairing social divisions," the bishops wrote in a statement. "[I]t is a time for reasoned reflection and civil dialogue, and for coming together to build a society and economy that supports marriages and families, and where every woman has the support and resources she needs to bring her child into this world in love."
What planet do they live on, to suggest that such an outcome is remotely plausible? Strife will just devolve to the states. Indeed, a 2021 investigation by the National Catholic Reporter found that major anti-abortion groups were funding voter suppression efforts in key states, endorsing Donald Trump's Big Lie and pushing for future Republican victories. That doesn't sound like "coming together" to me.
Worse, abortion bans could be the first step toward a police state for pregnant women and anyone who may help them terminate a pregnancy. As the New Yorker's Jia Tolentino predicts, pregnant people could conceivably be surveilled to ensure they do nothing to endanger a "preborn" child — and could be charged with murder if a miscarriage or stillbirth is confused with an abortion.
But women who want to get pregnant may also be at risk. The Catholic church condemns in vitro fertilization (IVF) because of its doctrine that life begins at conception, wary that some fertilized eggs could be discarded or used in medical research. If a state decides to take the same position, where does that leave infertile women and couples?
In their statement hailing the Roe decision, the bishops congratulated anti-abortion activists on all the alleged good they have done to support pregnant women over the years. But they might also consider all the money that was squandered on this decades-long struggle, and the moral compromises they made along the way. Trump's narrow election victory in 2016 was almost certainly fueled by older, white Catholics in swing states like Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan who listen to what the church says.
The bishops also might meditate on the fact that the so-called help that pregnant women received was clearly insufficient. The U.S. has the highest rate of maternal mortality among wealthy nations and also ranks poorly on infant mortality, with rates far higher than other major Western nations like France and the U.K.
But the Catholic hierarchy's abortion obsession has had other pernicious side effects. During the pandemic, bishops' nitpicking over the extremely remote connection between abortion procedures and the development of life-saving COVID vaccines meant that the U.S. church did not wholeheartedly endorse Pope Francis' view of vaccination as a moral obligation.
How many hundreds of thousands of unvaccinated Americans died because of those strange abortion qualms? On the bishops' planet, only the innocent "preborn" have any real right to life. The rest of us must adjust to the dictates of what increasingly looks like a doctrinaire Supreme Court dominated by ultra-conservative Catholics.
Obama, making his statement on Twitter on Friday morning shortly after the ruling was handed down, said "Today, the Supreme Court not only reversed nearly 50 years of precedent, it relegated the most intensely personal decision someone can make to the whims of politicians and ideologues—attacking the essential freedoms of millions of Americans."
The following morning, Cornyn shared that statement from Obama to his own Twitter account adding "Now do Plessy vs Ferguson/Brown vs Board of Education."
\u201cNow do Plessy vs Ferguson/Brown vs Board of Education.\u201d— Senator John Cornyn (@Senator John Cornyn) 1656164086
Brown v. Board of Education, ruled on by the Supreme Court in 1954, did historical justice in wiping away the 1896 Plessy v. Ferguson ruling, making "separate but equal" rightfully unconstitutional.
Following Cornyn's initial tweet, which received tremendous heated backlash, he fired off another one saying "Thank goodness some SCOTUS precedents are overruled."
\u201cThank goodness some SCOTUS precedents are overruled.\u201d— Senator John Cornyn (@Senator John Cornyn) 1656181518
"Let's help out less intelligent fellow Americans out," one commenter said in response to Cornyn's initial tweet. "Plessy stood as law of the land longer than Roe. That was [John Cornyn's] point. Now if liberals are arguing Brown v. Board of Ed was wrongly ruled because of long standing precedent, then they should openly say so."
That comment was retweeted by Cornyn. The following replies were not.
One commenter tweeted a photo of Cornyn with the word "racist" in red over his chest.
Another commenter shared an archival photo of a Black man drinking from a water fountain labeled "colored" and asked "You miss this sort of thing?"
\u201c@JohnCornyn You miss this sort of thing?\u201d— Senator John Cornyn (@Senator John Cornyn) 1656164086
And yet another out of the thousands of similar commenters shared an illustration of a Klan hood next to a MAGA hat featuring the text "Evil doesn't die, it reinvents itself."
Dallas police said Friday that Frederick Frazier was placed on administrative leave after the department was notified that a Collin County grand jury indicted him. Impersonating a public servant is a third-degree felony.
Frazier turned himself in to the Richardson jail Friday and posted bond, said Teddy Yoshida, a spokesperson for the Richardson Police Department.
It is unclear what the specific allegations against Frazier are, and a spokesperson for the Collin County district attorney’s office was not immediately available for comment.
Responding to the indictment, Frazier’s campaign blamed his Republican primary runoff opponent, Paul Chabot, who had suggested Frazier posed as a city code compliance officer to get Chabot’s campaign signs taken down at a Walmart. In a statement, Frazier’s campaign said Chabot, who has run for office multiple times before, is “trying to overturn the results of that election by bringing up trumped complaints to law enforcement and testifying before a grand jury.”
“Frederick Frazier is looking forward to having the opportunity to defend himself in court, where we are confident jurors will see through Chabot’s lies in the same way that voters have five times before,” the statement said.
John Thomas, Chabot’s consultant, issued a statement on Frazier’s indictment:
“An independent grand jury was empaneled and determined that Mr. Frazier committed multiple felonies. In fact, it was the Rangers and the McKinney PD who uncovered the felonies. Frazier’s lying and deceit knows no limits. He committed crimes and refuses to fess up. He is a disgrace to himself and to those who dawn a badge in law enforcement. Paul Chabot demands Frazier have one shred of decency and immediately drop out of the race as it’s crucial that both a Republican and candidate with integrity represent the people of the 61st district.”
Frazier easily won the Republican primary runoff last month for House District 61, an open seat in Collin County that leans Republican. A well-known advocate for law enforcement in Austin, Frazier had the backing of Trump, Gov. Greg Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and state House Speaker Dade Phelan. The Democratic nominee in the race is Sheena King.
During the runoff, Chabot spoke out about the alleged theft of dozens of his campaign signs. In one incident, Chabot said a Walmart store manager told him someone claiming to work for city code compliance came in and told the store to take down Chabot’s signs because they were illegally placed. Chabot said he reported that to the police.
The Texas Rangers ultimately looked into his claims. Chabot later obtained a report from the Rangers through a public records request that said the agency investigated Frazier in February for “alleged criminal violations … of Impersonating a Public Servant and potentially related Theft.”
At the time, Frazier’s campaign consultant, Craig Murphy, said his candidate denied any wrongdoing and called Chabot’s claims “frivolous.”
Texas Scorecard and Steven Monacelli, a freelance journalist who extensively covered the campaign sign controversy for Rolling Stone, were among the first to report Friday that Frazier had been indicted.
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This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at https://www.texastribune.org/2022/06/24/texas-house-candidate-indicted/.
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