Listening In: 5 Stories That Lit Up the Internet This Week

Catholic hot takes on the top 5 trends of the week

President Trump addresses the crowds at the March for Life, Jan. 24, 2020.
President Trump addresses the crowds at the March for Life, Jan. 24, 2020. (photo: EWTN)

5. Unborn babies may feel pain before 24 weeks.

A new study out this week still tugging at the hearts of pro-lifers everywhere found that babies in the womb can feel pain much sooner than the 24-week mark. The study published by the Journal of Medical Ethics claimed clinical research now shows babies can feel pain in the womb as early as 12 weeks.

The authors of the study noted, “Reports often suggest that the cortex and intact thalamocortical tracts are necessary for pain experience. Given that the cortex only becomes functional and the tracts only develop after 24 weeks, many reports rule out fetal pain until the final trimester.”

The study’s abstract continued saying that recent evidence now calls into question whether or not the cortex is necessary in order for babies to feel pain. The authors say that the brain, due to advances in the field of neuroscience, may be what allows for fetal pain in the womb.

“Overall, the evidence, and a balanced reading of that evidence, points towards an immediate and unreflective pain experience mediated by the developing function of the nervous system from as early as 12 weeks,” the study concluded.

Many in the pro-life community have pointed to studies that show babies can feel pain earlier than 20 weeks. The Charlotte Lozier Institute, a research arm of the Susan B. Anthony List reports that at 8 weeks, the baby exhibits reflex movement during invasive procedures.

With many states advancing laws that protect babies in the womb, one can only hope this new study will bolster these bills. It remains to be seen whether or not this new evidence will impact the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, also known as Micah’s Law. The congressional bill currently marks pain being felt in the womb at the 20-week mark.


4. Church of England says sex is for married, heterosexual couples.

The internet literally blitzed out this week when a new report from The Guardian came out claiming the Church of England says “sex is for married, heterosexual couples.” Apparently in the Twitterverse, this is a novel idea as we advance into the era of 2020, despite the teaching being biblically-based, not to mention historical, given the advancement of the Royal Crown in Britain being predicated on marriage and procreation.

The fury erupted over new pastoral guidelines issues for the Church in England that claim:

“Sexual relationships outside heterosexual marriage are regarded as falling short of God’s purposes for human beings.” The guidelines also state, “The introduction of same sex marriage, through the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013, has not changed the church’s teaching on marriage or same sex relationships.”

The new guidelines were comforting given the way some churches have faltered in an effort to be more accepting, sinking morality down to the latest law or progressive movement. Recently bishops in France felt compelled to omit the gender of a mother and father on a child’s baptismal record and the bishops’ conference noted the “increasingly complex situation of families in France” when agreeing with the recommended change.

The news from England turned social media landscapes into wars between trads and progressives, despite marriage and family being breeding ground for love. Let’s remember the wise words of St. Teresa of Avila: “Let nothing perturb you, nothing frighten you. All things pass. God does not change...”


3. Bishop Nelson Perez named to succeed Archbishop Chaput in Philadelphia.

Big news came from Rome this week with Pope Francis appointing Bishop Nelson Perez as the new archbishop of Philadelphia, succeeding Archbishop Chaput. Regardless of Archbishop Chaput submitting his resignation to the Holy Father once he reached the age of 75, it did not stop the secular media from finding a way to carve out ulterior motives for the appointment. The NY Times went so far as to entitle their reporting as: Pope Names Latino to Replace Conservative as Philadelphia Archbishop. This led the way for some pretty witty thoughts from journalists like Sohrab Ahmari of The NY Post:

As Catholics, we all know the track record and beautiful legacy that Archbishop Chaput has. We also are aware of this perpetual spin the liberal media inflicts upon most stories, especially ones surrounding the Catholic church. Fortunately, our own Father Raymond de Souza pounced back with this necessary read and headline: Archbishop Charles Chaput: America’s Least Conservative Bishop


2. Patriots Player creating a pro-life film about the realities of abortion.  

NFL player Benjamin Watson, who plays for the New England Patriots, announced this week that he is producing a documentary on the realities of abortion. A strong pro-life voice who participated in the March for Life in 2017 made social media waves sparring with abortion activist Alyssa Milano, taking her to task for her constant embrace of abortion.

The documentary, “Divided Hearts of America,” features interviews with roughly 30 people who either support or oppose abortion. Pro-life neurosurgeon now HUD secretary Dr. Ben Carson takes part as well as the niece of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Dr. Alveda King.

Speaking to the Hollywood Reporter, Watson says, “My goal is to unveil the truth about abortion, the laws, the history and where our country is headed.” On producing the film, Watson says, “I believe in the sanctity of life, be it in the womb or on your deathbed. That’s my conviction. But with the film, I’ll engage those who disagree and hear their reasoning. The number one thing I’m looking for is empathy on both sides.”

The Patriot tight end says he was inspired by some of the state laws on abortion that have passed recently including New York, Georgia, and Alabama. He thought it was time to delve into this divisive issue given the extremes that exist. The pro-life Christian is a father of seven. 


1. President Trump addresses the March for Life in-person.

In an historic first, President Trump became the first president to address the March for Life in Washington, D.C. Now, he’s addressed pro-life marchers—via satellite from the White House—but this year, he actually showed up and gave a compelling speech on the sanctity of life and the dignity of each human person. Of course, his appearance has been chalked up to pandering by some, especially with the 2020 election coming quickly round the bend, and the ongoing litany of opening statements on the Senate floor calling for his impeachment. However when you look at the president’s record and actions since taking office, there seems to be more going on in the president's mind—and perhaps heart—considering his stance on abortion.

Rewind back to Trump’s first week in office, Jan. 20, 2017. The March for Life was days away and another march, the Womens’ March, had just taken place with media coverage boasting inflated numbers teetering into a million. ABC’s David Muir confronts the president on this stone-throwing event with many women calling on him to resign—some even saying even more hateful things. Muir says, “You’re their president too…” Trump stops the journalist in his tracks and brings up another march, the March for Life, saying “You’re going to have an even much larger group of people, pro-life people here, and they say the press doesn’t cover them.” Muir deflects acting as if they’re just discussing crowd sizes and the president lays it out again: “...They do say, the press doesn’t cover them…”

Perhaps this is the initial careening of the president’s head to the calls from the pro-life community. A man once accepted by Hollywood and the liberal elite; hanging with the Clinton's and invited to big swanky parties in the Hamptons one day. And the next day, being exiled after running as a Republican. Perhaps the president started to look in a different direction once he began to be treated as much of the pro-life community has always felt—ignored. Couple this alongside meetings with Susan B. Anthony List’s Marjorie Dannenfelser discussing the true horrors of third-trimester abortions and the sick underbelly of the abortion business brought to light by David Daleiden.

Would it take much to change someone’s heart and mind these days? Look back just one year ago this month when the governor of New York illuminated the Freedom Tower in pink to herald the passing of some of the most egregious abortion laws—to then, the governor of Virginia—talking about deciding to keep a baby alive after being born “while a conversation took place” – all on a hot mic—and no one seemed to be shocked save for the pro-life community—those with a conscience and a heart.

If President Trump had just ‘shown up’ Friday, I would agree with some of the weak arguments out there about his eyes on 2020. However he’s been showing up since he was elected with the first move being the Mexico City policy. This was done Jan. 23, 2017, just three days into his new job as president. And he’s continued his streak: appointing not one but two pro-life Supreme Court justices, defunding Planned Parenthood, and promising to oppose repealing or weakening any existing pro-life laws or policies.

Take it for what you want, but the facts stand clear: President Trump has become one of the most pro-life presidents we have known to-date. His record speaks for itself.