Coronavirus safety in (small) numbers

Christine Kirk’s son Nico will blow out birthday candles this week as he turns 6. The small celebration in suburban Los Angeles will include his parents and the families next door and across the street that make up their “quaran-team.”


During the coronavirus pandemic, microcommunities of friends, family, and neighbors have developed that distance themselves from outsiders but not each other. Calling themselves “quaran-teams,” “COVID bubbles,” or “quarantine pods,” some of them live together while others visit each other’s homes or gather outdoors. Success requires compatibility and communication to ensure people remain comfortable with the risks. Participants said the support reduced anxiety and depression. In some cases, it even saved lives.


From the start of the pandemic, New Zealand allowed single parents and individuals to form support bubbles to prevent mental distress and loneliness and to find childcare. It then permitted households’ bubbles to expand as transmission slowed.


In the United States, guidelines often emphasized limiting contact to one home even though more than 35 million Americans live alone. In some places, forming a bubble could have violated government rules. But individuals and families like the Kirks went ahead, quietly forming communities that enabled them to endure.


The Kirks’ three-household team includes six adults and five children between the ages of 4 and 7. It developed organically due to compatible risk mitigation, similar-aged children, and proximity.


“This little bubble that we created has just given us a sense of normal,” Christine Kirk said. For her, having fellow moms to talk with face-to-face when her anxiety flared was “priceless.” Her husband, Jason, also benefited from having men to talk to, especially after his job put him on furlough.


They’ve watched Nico become best friends with the other four children as they bicycled and scootered in the empty street day after day. “The three of us would be very different people, and not for the better, if we hadn’t had this support system,” Christine added.


The Bible makes clear the importance of human community from the second chapter of Genesis, when God says, “It is not good that the man should be alone” (Genesis 2:18). That statement proved especially true for Brian Postow of Somerville, Mass., who lives alone and became nearly suicidal at the outset of the pandemic. He reached out to three close friends who live together and asked to be included. Once or twice a week he joins them for dinner and board games.


“I know that for me it’s been a lifeline,” Postow said. “My mental state is way, way, way better when I actually go over there.”


Mental health experts are starting to embrace the bubble strategy because it can stave off the depression of social distancing. Although riskier than eliminating all social contact, experts acknowledged members can still stay safe in social bubbles if they take proper precautions with outsiders. If anyone in a group contracts coronavirus (or suspects it), everyone in the bubble would need to assume exposure and quarantine.


"The idea is to break transmission chains in the population so that nobody within the bubble gets infected, or, importantly, if somebody within the bubble is infected the disease does not travel into the wider population," Oxford sociologist Per Block told ABC News. His new study suggested small groups or bubbles could flatten the curve more effectively than other methods such as confining interactions to a neighborhood.


Johns Hopkins University public health professor Tara Kirk Sell adopted the bubble strategy, joining with two families with children. Since all three have similar levels of outside childcare contact, she called it “leaky” but sustainable.


“We need to figure out how to manage the next year or more in responsible ways that still allow us to maintain the important components of our lives,” Sell told ABC News.


After months of extended isolation, more countries are warming to the concept. Belgium allowed people to start socializing in exclusive, distanced groups of four in May. The United Kingdom started permitting bubbles in June but only for single adults or single parents of children under 18.











Associated Press/Photo by Jeff Roberson (file)

A child plays outside the entrance to a closed park in St. Louis.







Happily wrong


When the coronavirus pandemic hit and schools abruptly closed, child welfare experts expected a spike in abuse cases involving kids stuck at home with people who might harm them.


Several months later, “no one has experienced the surge of abuse they were expecting,” said Lori Frasier, head of the child protection program at Pennsylvania State University’s Hershey Medical Center and president of a national society of pediatricians focused on child abuse prevention and treatment.


Frasier consulted with 18 colleagues nationwide who reported seeing no jump in abuse cases. She suggested the communal nature of the lockdowns, with families staying home together, protected children while federal financial aid eased the burden for struggling families.


Some experts believe it is too early to tell how lockdowns have affected vulnerable children since most have had little in-person contact with mandatory reporters like teachers, doctors, coaches, and social workers.


But others say early warnings were too dire. “To sound the alarm bells because teachers aren’t seeing kids every day, that parents are waiting to harm their kids—it’s an unfair depiction of so many parents out there doing the best under very tough circumstances,” said Jerry Milner, head of the Children’s Bureau at the Department of Health and Human Services. —Mary Jackson












Texas Home School Coalition

Chris Clay and his daughter







Custody closure


The Texas Supreme Court unanimously awarded custody of a 5-year-old girl to her biological father rather than a man who was engaged to marry her now-deceased mother.


Chris Clay has been fighting for custody of his daughter for two years since her mother died in a car accident in 2018. The Denton County father’s predicament drew national attention as family and homeschool advocacy groups took up his cause to protect parental rights in custody disputes involving non-parents. The Texas Home School Coalition hired a public relations firm and started a social media campaign on behalf of Clay and his daughter called #LetHerStay.


The court ruled on June 26 that since Clay proved himself a fit parent, his daughter’s best interests were to remain in his sole custody. Justices said he has a fundamental right to make decisions concerning her care. The decision reversed a Denton County trial court judge’s order granting partial custody to the deceased mother’s fiancé.


The Texas Home School Coalition called the ruling “the most significant parental rights case in Texas history.” Holly Draper, an attorney representing Clay, called the ruling “a huge win for all parents in Texas.” —M.J.


Feds prosecute adoption lawyer


A former Arizona county assessor pleaded guilty on June 24 to charges related to a fraudulent adoption scheme that involved paying pregnant women from the Marshall Islands up to $10,000 to travel to the United States illegally to give up their babies for adoption.


Paul D. Petersen of Mesa, Ariz., a private adoption lawyer in Utah and Arizona and a former elected official in Maricopa County, faces up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000 for a federal human smuggling conspiracy charge. The federal case against him centers on the illegal travel of four Marshallese women, but he has previously pleaded guilty to state charges related to 40 expectant mothers. Adoptive parents paid him as much as $30,000 for his role as a “legal facilitator,” while the birth mothers received up to $10,000, according to federal prosecutors.


While rare, Petersen’s actions are “deeply troubling and harmful,” said Ryan Hanlon, vice president of education, research, and constituent services at the National Council for Adoption.


“The Petersen case underscores the importance of adoption services being transparent, ethical, and compliant with state and federal laws,” Hanlon said. After Petersen’s arrest on the state charges, the council issued new guidelines for expectant and prospective parents to help them detect fraud. —M.J.


Dads, play with your kids


Fathers who spend time engaging in physical play with their children inadvertently help them control their behavior and emotions later in life, according to a new study. Research from Cambridge University and the Lego Foundation looked into how parents play with children up until age 3 and its effect on their lives.


They concluded that fathers tend to engage in more activities like wrestling, tickling, chasing, and piggyback rides, which help children’s ability to control their feelings.


“It’s a safe environment in which children can practice how to respond,” Paul Ramchandani, one of the study’s authors, told The Guardian. “If they react the wrong way … it’s not the end of the world, and next time they might remember to behave differently.” —M.J.






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Seattle officials clear protest zone

Police arrested more than 30 people in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood as they dismantled tents and roadblocks at 5 a.m. PDT on Wednesday. Mayor Jenny Durkan ordered the removal of demonstrators from the blocks known as the Capitol Hill Occupied Protest zone and nearby Cal Anderson Park for 48 hours. Protesters who called for dismantling the police department had camped in the area since June 8 following the death of George Floyd after an arrest attempt in Minneapolis.


“The CHOP has become lawless and brutal,” Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best said. “Four shootings—two fatal—robberies, assaults, violence, and countless property crimes have occurred in this several block area.”


Did the campers go quietly? No one has reported confrontations between the police and protesters. Officers said they were investigating people “with firearms/armor” driving around the area without “visible license plates.”


Dig deeper: Read Sophia Lee’s report on anti-racism protests in Los Angeles.


Editor’s note: WORLD has updated this report since its initial posting.


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A family history, Part 3

Author and rancher John R. Erickson’s 2005 book Prairie Gothic: The Story of a West Texas Family includes stories of his ancestors and those who played key roles in their lives. The author of the popular Hank the Cowdog series first introduced us to his mother’s family in May 2018, and in April, we learned more about the Shermans. Last month, Erickson gave us more details about his maternal grandfather, Buck Curry. In the excerpt below, the third of three parts, he recounts his maternal grandmother Mabel’s funeral.  —Mickey McLean


Grandmother’s Funeral


Kris and I drove down to Seminole the next day and joined some of the family at Grandmother’s house. Around six, we went to the funeral home and viewed the body. The gray metal casket had been placed in a small room, and I stayed for half an hour or more. I had not yet gotten a feeling of death about Grandmother. I looked into her face and marveled. After she had lived eighty-five years on the Llano Estacada, braving wind and blizzards and sand storms, her face showed hardly a wrinkle and was still as smooth and white as alabaster. This was no trick of the undertaker’s trade. Mrs. Curry had preserved her beauty through constant care … and some quality of the spirit that I don’t claim to understand. Only her hands showed the wear of years, and the undertaker had covered them with satin. I moved the fabric and looked at them. They reminded me of the gnarled shapes of cottonwood trees that have been sculpted by wind and storm. I touched her hands and face, and left the room, knowing that she was no longer with us. …


That night, the grandchildren spent the night at Grandmother’s house, while the aunts and uncles found quieter lodgings at the Raymond Motel. After brushing my teeth in the bathroom, I noticed a little note in Grandmother’s handwriting taped to the tank of the commode: “Please watch after you flush. Sometimes it hangs. The water will run until you shake the handle.” I had to laugh. Mrs. Curry had not quite given up her hold on the house she had occupied for sixty-two years. …


At nine-thirty the next morning, we loaded into cars and drove to the South Seminole Baptist Church, where Grandmother taught a Sunday school class for many years. … Black is the color we usually associate with funerals, but in Seminole the predominant color seemed to be yellow. The grass in the vacant lot across from Grandmother’s house had turned August yellow, the hearse and limousine were yellow, and so was the brick on the church, the austere yellow that seems to have some odd appeal to Baptists in West Texas. Inside the church, we saw more yellow in the pews and woodwork. It wasn’t a particularly pleasant color, but maybe appropriate for the drought-prone Llano Estacado. …



The church was only about one-quarter filled, less an indication of Grandmother’s prestige in the town than the fact that she had outlived most of her friends.


The inside of the church was plain and simple, almost stark, the walls white and adorned only with fluorescent light fixtures and plastic “stained glass” windows. The ceiling consisted of squares of fiberboard, some browned by water leaks. The baptistery at the front showed a large picture of a river flowing from a range of snow-capped mountains in the background. It didn’t much resemble the country Jesus walked or the Llano Estacado.


The church was only about one-quarter filled, less an indication of Grandmother’s prestige in the town than the fact that she had outlived most of her friends. The family filled three rows at the front, twenty­ seven of us in all. The minister, a short stocky man with dark eyes and a balding head, read from the Gospel of John, which he said was one of Grandmother’s favorite passages, and a duet rendered a creaky version of “How Great Thou Art.” Then the minister delivered a short sermon on heaven. Funeral services seldom do justice to the deceased, and this one proved no exception. I doubt that the preacher knew Mrs. Curry very well and his service gave no hint that we had gathered to say goodbye to a woman I had always regarded as truly extraordinary.


He might have mentioned that she was born in the first town to appear on the Llano Estacado, at a time when wild mustangs still galloped across an unfenced sea of prairie grass, and lived to see Braniff jets making their daily run from Midland to Dallas. He could have mentioned that she studied Shakespeare and Latin with nuns in a convent, matched wills against an overbearing father, and shepherded five daughters through the Great Depression.


He might have mentioned her lifelong struggle against the entropic forces of West Texas; her pride, beauty, and intelligence; that she and her husband had left behind the largest private library in Gaines County; that in spite of the corrosive effects of climate and disease and family strife, she remained loving, dignified and strong to the very end. He might have quoted this moving tribute to all Texas women, written by Celia Morris, the one-time wife of noted editor and author Willie Morris:


“[The] typical Texas woman brought up children and kept families together. She raised and cooked their food; made and maintained their clothes; worked to make their shelters life­ enhancing. She planted fruits and flowers and created much of what grace there has been in daily life. She moved from the farms and prairies and then to towns and to cities, weaving the fabric of community as she went.


“She taught in schools and tended the sick. She filled the churches, which have been the major institutional force in this state that has worked to make a gentler ethic prevail. She helped others live and helped them die.”


Or he might have set aside his sermon and turned to the two rows of grandchildren and said something simple. “You were very lucky to have known this woman. When you’re looking around for a model of what it is to be a woman, a lady, a mother, a human being, remember Mrs. B.B. Curry. There were many things he might have said, had he known her well but he didn’t. Preachers move in and out of a community, and they have to bury strangers with words they don’t feel. So Mrs. Curry was sent on her last journey in a drab little church, without poetry or grand music or even a sentence that might have told us who she was.


After the service, we loaded up in our cars and started the slow procession to the cemetery. At every intersection, a police car blocked traffic and a policeman stood at attention as we passed. On Main Street, cars pulled over to the side and let us pass. These are common gestures of respect in small towns, and I appreciated them. We drove south out of town until we reached the cemetery on the edge of Seminole Draw, the same dry streambed that cut through Buck Curry’s ranch some twenty miles northwest of town. As we approached the canopy over the gravesite, the pallbearers were coming up with the casket, struggling past tombstones and directed by a funeral home employee in blue overalls. As they approached the device on which the casket was to be placed, one of the pallbearers gasped, “You don’t reckon we’ll fall into the hole, do you?”



Mrs. Curry was sent on her last journey in a drab little church, without poetry or grand music or even a sentence that might have told us who she was.


Grandmother was laid to rest beside Buck Curry’s grave and just a short distance from the Sherman family plot. Joe and Lina Sherman rested there, beside the grave of their little girl, Mary. … When the casket had been set in place, the immediate family moved under the canopy and took the chairs in front of the grave. …


The graveside service was brief and the crowd broke up into small knots. Then we all drove back to Grandmother’s house, which was now packed with friends and family. At eleven, we lined up and filled our paper plates with the food that had been brought by the ladies of the church: fresh black-eyed peas, okra, green beans, squash, roast beef, meatloaf, fried chicken, Jell-O salads, and enough pies, cakes, and cobblers to founder an army. …


In the afternoon, some of my male cousins and I decided to drive out to the Curry ranch, hoping we might find something left of the old ranch house where Buck used to stay during the summer months. There, comfortable in his bastion of male squalor, he was able to escape the noise and strain of a house that contained six women. Until winter drove him back to town, he could read his books, build his spurs, and pet his dogs. Cousin Jim Harter led us to the spot, northwest of town, and we were disappointed to find that nothing remained of the house, or anything else that resembled a ranch. Sometime in the fifties, Grandmother had leased out the eight thousand acres to a farmer … who had bulldozed the mesquite and shinnery, plowed the sod, drilled irrigation wells, and planted it all to cotton, potatoes, and peaches.


For better or worse, the farmers had won Gaines County and the ranching community had vanished like a flash of lightning in the night sky. By 1973 almost every square inch of the county had come under the plow, and one of the few patches of native vegetation lay on the Sherman ranch east of town. That piece of ground would never feel the scrape of a plow as long as the Shermans were still alive.


We walked down to Seminole Draw and began to notice the oppressive heat. The temperature was 105 that afternoon, and every living thing wilted under the glare of the sun. It reminded me of what a hard and stingy country this was, and though the Shermans and Buck Curry had claimed to love it, I couldn’t help feeling some relief that I would probably never inherit any of Buck’s land. With five daughters as heirs, and nobody in the family inclined toward farming, the land would be sold. I had always felt nostalgic about the Curry land, but after seeing it in the middle of August, I left with fewer illusions than I’d had before I got there.


Back at the house in Seminole, we found the five Curry girls sitting at the dining table, discussing in somber tones the task they had all been dreading, dividing up Grandmother’s possessions and clearing out the house. They had dreaded it because of its awful finality. This house, where we had gathered so many times for weddings and funerals and family reunions, had held us together for as long as any of us could remember. It had been a place that never changed. Since 1911 it had held the unmistakable stamp of Mable Curry’s will, and it seemed almost unthinkable that, within a few weeks’ time, it would be stripped bare, put on the market for sale, and occupied by strangers.



This house, where we had gathered so many times for weddings and funerals and family reunions, had held us together for as long as any of us could remember.


But it had to be done, and done quickly, so the sisters devised a lottery system for dividing up the silver, china, and furniture, and sent the grandchildren into the library to divide up the books. This would be a formidable task, disposing of a library that covered three entire walls. The Harter brothers and I had to make a quick trip to Hobbs, New Mexico, to gather a supply of sturdy liquor boxes from trash receptacles. (Seminole was in a dry county and offered an inferior grade of cardboard boxes, those intended for lettuce, grapefruit, and canned soup.)


That night, the grandchildren gathered in the library and made the division, keeping all the various collections intact: Civil War, Founding Fathers, New Mexico History, Texana, and so forth. My cousins were generous enough to give me the entire Texana collection, recognizing that I had aspirations of one day becoming a Texas author and would put the collection to good use. This I have done, dear cousins. At some point in this exercise, Mike Harter commented on the irony of thirteen grandchildren, all with high school diplomas and some with college degrees, doing hard labor to disperse a library accumulated by a man with four grades of formal schooling.


West Texas was settled by people who found their own way to books and fashioned their own education out of the materials at hand. In the towns they erected on the prairie, they left behind twelve-grade schools made of brick and mortar. I would like to believe that those of us who attended those schools are better and smarter than the ones who built them, but I doubt that we are.


The next morning, we all said our goodbyes and went our separate ways. Before leaving, I went back into the house and took one last look around. It seemed terribly empty and barren now. There was Grandmother’s wheelchair in the hall and her empty chair at the dining table, and a great void that had once been filled with her presence. She wasn’t there anymore. The place had become just another house.


From Prairie Gothic: The Story of a West Texas Family by John R. Erickson. Copyright © 2005 by John R. Erickson. Published by University of North Texas Press. All rights reserved. Used with permission.


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Tech companies silence pro-child voices

Online transgender gurus get millions of views online with peppy videos instructing curious teens on cross-sex hormones and sex-change surgeries. But YouTube recently blocked a video featuring ex-transgender writer and speaker Walt Heyer cautioning against talking children into those experimental and irreversible procedures. The streaming video site marked the three-hour video as “hate speech.”


The recording originated from the Heritage Foundation’s Summit on Protecting Children from Sexualization, a half-day event held in October 2019. YouTube said it removed the video specifically because Heyer likened gender dysphoria to “a child development disorder” while warning against cross-dressing and cautioning adults not to push children toward transgenderism.


Internet platforms and users increasingly reject any attempts to question transgender ideology as hate speech, idiocy, or falsehood. Rather than engaging in an open debate about the downsides of transgenderism, they try to bully critics into silence.


Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling felt the pressure recently after she defended biological womanhood on Twitter, where users called her transphobic and hateful and used derogatory and misogynistic slurs to describe her. A British school said it would drop her name from one of its buildings. Daniel Radcliffe, the actor who played Harry Potter in the movie adaptations, called Rowling’s views uninformed and unscientific.


YouTube, which is owned by Google, previously blocked another Heritage Foundation video featuring Dr. Michelle Cretella, executive director of the American College of Pediatricians. During a June 2017 event, Cretella criticized the practice of cutting off healthy body parts in the name of transgenderism.


YouTube said Heyer’s and Cretella’s comments violated its “hate speech policy” and rejected the Heritage Foundation’s appeals. The conservative think tank has since censored the sentences that raised YouTube’s objections. It successfully reloaded the videos onto the site.


Rob Bluey, vice president of communications for Heritage, said the removals of his organization’s videos represent “part of an alarming trend of YouTube removing or blocking content it doesn’t like.”


Amazon has jumped on the bandwagon, too. The online retail giant on June 17 suspended an ad campaign for the book Irreversible Damage: The Transgender Craze Seducing Our Daughters by Abigail Shrier, a writer for The Wall Street Journal. The book, set to release on Tuesday, features a vintage drawing of a young girl with a hole in her abdomen on its cover.


Amazon’s advertising support service denied Regnery Publishing’s ad for the book because “it contains elements that may not be appropriate for all audiences, which may include ad copy/book content that infers or claims to diagnose, treat, or question sexual orientation,” according to emails obtained by WORLD.


Shrier said her book has nothing to do with sexual orientation. Rather, it argues transgenderism among teen girls has become a social contagion, one that is prompting them to disfigure their bodies with hormones and surgeries.


Meanwhile, Amazon has allowed ad campaigns for a plethora of books promoting social and medical transgenderism for adolescents and how-to manuals for parents on affirming their children’s gender dysphoria and using their preferred name and pronouns.


Publishing companies like Regnery routinely buy ad space to bolster books’ visibility.


“This is the first time we’ve been told a certain perspective … is not allowed,” said Alyssa Cordova, Regnery’s vice president for marketing and publicity. “It’s clear there isn’t any kind of room for questioning the transgender narrative.”











Associated Press/Photo by Rich Pedroncelli (file)

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra







California rejects Idaho’s fair sports law


The day before the anniversary of President Richard Nixon signing Title IX into law in 1972, California blocked its college teams and state workers from traveling to Idaho over a dispute about gender. California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, a Democrat, accused Idaho of discrimination for passing two laws, one to prevent gender changes to birth certificates and another to protect female athletes from having to compete against males.


A 2016 law allows California to disallow government-funded trips to states it deems discriminatory against LGBT people. Echoing complaints from LGBT activists, the American Civil Liberties Union, and the NCAA, Becerra called both Idaho laws “plain and simple discrimination” against transgender individuals.


Proponents of Idaho’s Fairness in Women’s Sports Act argue it protects the spirit of Title IX, the U.S. law that prohibits discrimination based on sex in any federally funded education program.


“Girls deserve fair play and equal opportunities in sports today just as much as they did in 1972 when Title IX was implemented,” said Blaine Conzatti of the Family Policy Alliance of Idaho.


Former and current athletes also defended sex-based protections for women’s sports.


“Without them, women like me would never be able to afford our college educations as men would have swept up the scholarships we received,” Kaeley Triller Haver, a former Northwest University basketball player, wrote for The Federalist. “And that’s exactly what’s starting to happen.” —Julia A. Seymour












Associated Press/Photo by Andres Kudacki (file)

Young people in Stockholm in April







“Illegal” parenting


Some Swedish parents who are worried their children could contract the coronavirus at school are breaking the law to keep their families safe. Swedish schools have remained open throughout the pandemic, with children ages 6 through 15 required to attend. Only school principals have the authority to grant absences, so concerned parents have illegally kept their children home for extended periods.


Because her husband had pneumonia twice in the past year, Eva Panarese’s son was terrified “he will bring the virus back and kill his father,” she told Newsweek.


Panarese and other parents throughout Sweden said school administrators have threatened them over children’s absences. Ia Almström of Kungälv, who kept her three children home since April, told Business Insider the local government warned she could be reported to social services and face a court order or fine.


Families have not succeeded in obtaining exemptions for households with serious health conditions because Sweden’s public health agency hasn’t officially recognized any children as “at risk.” —J.A.S.












Associated Press/Photo by Alastair Grant (file)

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson







Will the U.K. make U-turn on gender identity?


The United Kingdom may scrap plans to allow individuals to change the gender on their legal birth certificates without a medical diagnosis, according to leaked information reported by The Times of London. Lawmakers may also announce policy changes to protect single-sex spaces for women like public restrooms and shelters.


Former Prime Minister Theresa May developed changes to the Gender Recognition Act that would have allowed self-identification of gender. But Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s administration delayed implementation.


Outraged LGBT groups claimed a “rollback” of transgender rights was underway. Feminist activist Joan Smith, who supports transgender rights and protections for women, disagreed. “No one has proposed to take away rights and protection from trans men and women—the situation is exactly the same as last week,” Smith told BBC Radio’s Woman’s Hour.


The government has not confirmed or denied the reports. A source inside the prime minister’s residence only indicated officials were still finalizing proposals. —J.A.S.







Finding fault


The Nebraska Supreme Court agreed to hear constitutional arguments against no-fault divorce laws later this year. Michael Dycus, a Catholic, contests his wife’s 2018 divorce filing that led to eviction from his home. His attorney, Robert Sullivan, argued the divorce violated Dycus’ constitutional rights of due process and equal protection. The hearing is scheduled for Sept. 3. If Nebraska rules in his favor, it could lead to other challenges. All 50 states allow no-fault divorce, but Nebraska is one of 17 “true” no-fault states where filing with fault is not possible. —J.A.S.





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City, state officials put spotlight on policing cases

A police chief in Arizona resigned, a New York City officer faces charges, and a 2019 case out of Colorado received new scrutiny. Local police departments and governments this week responded to accusations of police brutality with renewed transparency.


What happened in those communities? Police Chief Chris Magnus in Tucson, Ariz., offered to resign after the death of Carlos Ingram-Lopez became public. The mayor did not accept his resignation. On April 21, the 27-year-old died after police officers handcuffed and held him face down. Magnus said three officers involved resigned for violating department policy and acknowledged they didn’t disclose the death promptly. The New York City Police Department said Officer David Afanador, 39, was arrested on Thursday on charges of strangulation and attempted strangulation after using what appeared to be a chokehold last weekend. And Colorado Gov. Jared Polis said on Wednesday that his office was looking into 2019 the death of Elijah McClain in Aurora, Colo. The 23-year-old African American man died after a struggle with police, during which officers used a chokehold on him.


Dig deeper: Read Harvest Prude’s report in The Stew about the debate in Congress over police reform.


Editor’s note: WORLD has corrected this report to note that Tucson Police Chief Chris Magnus offered to resign.


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Statues removed by decree and by force

The Charleston, S.C., City Council voted Tuesday to remove a statue of former Vice President John C. Calhoun, a defender of slavery, but it proved easier said than done. After laboring for more than 16 hours and employing a diamond cutter, contractors finally dislodged the statue Wednesday afternoon and lowered it from its 100-foot pedestal.


What other statues are coming down? Where officials have not taken action to remove Confederate monuments and statues of historical figures who had slaves, protesters and rioters have taken matters into their own hands. Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers on Wednesday activated the National Guard to protect state properties after 200-300 protesters vandalized government buildings and attacked a state senator in Madison on Tuesday night. Protesters pulled down, decapitated, and dumped into a lake a statue of Civil War Col. Hans Christian Heg—an anti-slavery activist and Union soldier—as well as other statues around the city. In Washington, unarmed members of the District of Columbia National Guard will protect monuments from a similar fate. Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy authorized the move on Tuesday at the request of the U.S. Park Police, a defense official said.


Dig deeper: Read Lynn Vincent’s analysis of the logic behind riots.


Editor’s note: WORLD has updated this report since its original posting.


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Rayshard Brooks’ family holds funeral

The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s daughter spoke at her father’s former church in Atlanta on Tuesday for the funeral of Rayshard Brooks. Bernice King, along with Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and former Georgia Democratic state Rep. Stacey Abrams, joined Brooks’ family at Ebenezer Baptist Church. Prosecutors have charged former Atlanta Police Officer Garrett Rolfe with felony murder in Brooks’ June 12 shooting death following a confrontation outside a Wendy’s.


What happened at the funeral? Many of the family members wore shirts with Brooks’ picture on them. The Rev. Raphael Warnock listed the names of African Americans who have died because of police officers, saying: “Rayshard Brooks is the latest high-profile casualty in the struggle for justice and a battle for the soul of America. This is about him, but it is so much bigger than him.”


Dig deeper: Read Janie B. Cheaney’s analysis of the importance of local reform.


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The eugenic ideology

Gulzia Mogdin was visiting China from Kazakhstan in December 2017 when authorities detained her for having WhatsApp on her phone. When a test found she was two months pregnant with her third child, officials forcibly aborted the baby and planned to put Mogdin in a detention camp. It was months before she made it back across the border.


Mogdin and her baby are just two of the victims of the Chinese government’s campaign of using forced abortions and sterilizations to control the populations of ethnic minority groups such as Uighurs and Kazakhs. Women who have lived in Chinese detention camps have said officials forced pregnant women to have abortions. Leaked data from one camp showed that the most common reason for detainment was having too many children. The Chinese Communist Party’s strategy undercuts the rhetoric coming out of many Western nations touting abortion as a boon to women in poor countries.


Some experts say China’s population control of Uighurs and other minorities is demographic genocide.


“It’s not immediate, shocking, mass-killing-on-the-spot-type genocide, but it’s slow, painful, creeping genocide,” said Joanne Smith Finley of Newcastle University in England. According to researcher Adrian Zenz, the crackdown on minorities in China was in direct response to their steep population growth. Muslims largely make up the country’s fastest-growing ethnic group in the past two decades, and the government sees their poverty and religion as a threat.


“There’s been a sense that the Uighurs have been hard to control,” Zenz said.


He added that the Chinese government usually made the reasons behind the imprisonment, sterilizations, or forced abortions pretty clear to women. One detainee said her former cellmate, a Uighur woman, had to recite her crimes to the camp guards, which included giving birth to too many children.


“The Chinese Communist Party is not subtle about this,” Steven Mosher of the Population Research Institute said. “It’s not as if they’re trying to convince these women to undergo sterilization voluntarily. They’re simply telling them what the rule is.”


The use of abortion to curb population growth in other areas of the world is more clandestine. In Africa, it is packaged as part of “family planning” programs, according to Mosher. Pro-abortion websites promote drug-induced abortions to women in poverty-stricken nations as a quick and easy solution to unintended pregnancies. One site even instructs women in countries that restrict the procedure on how to lie in case they need to seek emergency care after taking the abortion pill.


In recent years, the U.S.-based research organization Gynuity Health Projects has sponsored a clinical trial of the abortion pill in the West African nation of Burkina Faso. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration only approves use of the drug up to 10 weeks of gestation, but Gynuity is funding tests on pregnancies from 13 to 22 weeks. In February, a group of lawmakers asked the FDA to block the research, saying the tests endanger women in Burkino Faso, where many areas lack medical workers and the necessary supplies if the participants have complications. Gynuity plans to begin other clinical trials of the potentially dangerous drug in Colombia.


“It’s not so crazy if you think about why abortion is being pushed in the developing world,” said Dr. Donna Harrison, the executive director of the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists. “It’s being pushed because it’s eugenic. … It has nothing to do with medical care and everything to do with eugenic population reduction.”


President Donald Trump signed the Mexico City policy in 2017 to prevent U.S. dollars from funding international abortion programs. But Mosher said the U.S. government still supports these programs indirectly since the policy does not apply to U.S.-based organizations. Planned Parenthood, for example, receives money from Medicaid and gave more than $30 million in 2017 to its international branch, Planned Parenthood Global, according to tax forms from that year. Mosher said similar indirect support applies to groups like the Population Council: “There’s a great deal of money being spent to promote these programs, so most of what you hear from the major media … are positive takes on what I call population control programs.”











YouTube/The Center for Medical Progress

Perrin Larton in The Center for Medical Progress video







Left to die


Abortionists regularly deny babies care following a failed abortion even though the children are legally a person under U.S. law, according to a new video from pro-life activist David Daleiden’s group, The Center for Medical Progress. The video, released on Tuesday, shows Planned Parenthood and Advanced Bioscience Resources (ABR) employees discussing the times abortion facilities allowed infants to die.


In the video, ABR procurement manager Perrin Larton testified that “once every couple months,” a baby can “fall out” of the mother during the abortion fully intact. When lawyers for the Center for Medical Progress asked Larton if the babies ever had a heartbeat, she said, “It would depend.” Larton added that she sometimes saw beating hearts in dismembered babies.


Jon Dunn, the CEO of Planned Parenthood in Orange & San Bernardino Counties in Southern California, also testified about a baby who was born alive during an abortion 20 years ago. When asked what his staff did for the infant, he responded, “I know they kept it warm and comfortable for the very brief period that it was alive. I don’t think there was even time to call 911.”


In February, Congress failed to pass a Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act that would have required doctors to provide medical assistance to abortion survivors or face possible prison time. —L.H.












Associated Press/Photo by Rogelio V. Solis (file)

Pro-life activists outside an abortion business in Jackson, Miss., in late March







Rejected at the Supreme Court


The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday turned down two cases challenging buffer zone laws that keep pro-life activists from offering help to women seeking abortions.


Pro-life groups and individuals in one case challenged a Chicago ordinance that prohibits people outside of abortion centers from coming within 8 feet of another person to hand out materials or offer counseling. The 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lower court’s ruling, rejecting the argument that the laws violated free speech rights protected by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.


In the second case, pro-life advocates sued over a Harrisburg, Pa., ordinance banning people from congregating or picketing within 20 feet of an abortion business. The 3rd Circuit affirmed a lower court’s decision to uphold the law.


In 2000, the Supreme Court ruled that a Colorado law limiting sidewalk counseling and protesting did not infringe on free speech rights. Other Supreme Court First Amendment rulings have since shaken but not fully overturned that precedent.


“The 7th Circuit was asking the Supreme Court to weigh in,” said Katie Glenn of Americans United for Life, “which they declined to do.”


Pro-Life Action League Executive Director Eric Scheidler called the news “a blow to freedom of speech,” saying that the Chicago ordinance “has routinely been used to harass law-abiding pro-life activists, as have similar measures [have] throughout the country.” —L.H.







Overcoming the odds


A mother in the U.K. who rebuffed doctors’ advice to abort her child gave birth to a healthy baby girl in May. After a scan at 12 weeks, doctors said Kimberly James’ unborn child was developing abnormal growths and would likely die during birth due to a dangerous build-up of fluid. James said doctors advised her to abort “at least three or four times,” but she refused. In the U.K., abortion is legal up until 24 weeks of gestation if a woman’s physical or mental health is at risk and until birth in cases of fetal abnormalities.


But by 20 weeks of gestation, both conditions had resolved on their own, and Penelope was born healthy.


“We are so in love with her and so thankful that we continued with the pregnancy despite the extremely poor prognosis at the start,” James said. —L.H.






Waiting period requirement blocked


A state judge on Tuesday blocked Iowa’s new 24-hour waiting period law from taking effect. Iowa District Judge Mitchell E. Turner said Planned Parenthood of the Heartland could sue on behalf of women seeking abortions. Pro-life advocates intended the law to provide women an opportunity to consider their options before aborting their child. The law would have gone into effect the next day. —L.H.





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Pro-life challenge hits dead end

The U.S. Supreme Court won’t hear arguments against buffer zones around abortion businesses. The plaintiffs in the two cases said rules regulating speech outside of abortion facilities violate the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The city of Chicago requires pro-life advocates to get verbal consent to approach someone within 50 feet of a facility like Planned Parenthood to hand out information, counsel, or protest. An ordinance in Harrisburg, Pa., prohibits congregating or demonstrating within 20 feet of an abortion business.


Where does that leave pro-lifers? The buffer zone rules in those two cities will remain in place. The court’s refusal on Thursday to hear the cases follows Monday’s split decision in favor of abortionists without hospital admitting privileges continuing to operate in Louisiana. The justices also instructed lower courts to revisit Indiana’s pro-life laws—currently on hold—that require an ultrasound ahead of an abortion and parental consent for minors to have the procedure.


Dig deeper: Read Marvin Olasky’s analysis of the Supreme Court’s decision in the Louisiana case.


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The appalling price of unborn babies’ body parts

The dominoes continue to fall from the Center for Medical Progress’ 2015 investigation into the trafficking of aborted fetal tissue. Last week, the organization Judicial Watch announced it had obtained records revealing details about the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s contract with Advanced Bioscience Resources (ABR), a firm accused of selling unborn baby body parts it bought from Planned Parenthood. The documents show the hefty prices the government paid for supposedly donated tissue.


The Trump administration ended the FDA contract with ABR in September 2018. Four days later, Judicial Watch requested records related to the agreement. When the Department of Health and Human Services failed to respond promptly to the Freedom of Information Act request, Judicial Watch sued, and the FDA eventually released 165 pages of records to the organization.


The FDA had eight contracts totaling $96,370 with ABR from 2012 to 2018 to obtain “fresh and never frozen” human fetal tissue for research purposes, the records show. U.S. law prohibits the sale of human fetal tissue but allows for “reasonable payments” to cover things like transportation, preservation, and storage. When a contracting specialist from the FDA requested pricing for the tissue samples, an ABR representative said, “As we are not selling items, we do not have prices. We assess fees for our services.”


Katie Glenn, government affairs counsel at Americans United for Life, noted a 2016 Senate investigation showed ABR’s so-called fees hardly qualify as “reasonable payments.” According to the report, ABR charged as much as $6,000 for tissue samples that cost only about $60 per baby, a few hours of work at $15 an hour, and the cost of a FedEx shipment. The FDA cited this failure to meet the protections against trafficking in unborn baby parts as a reason for ending the contract with ABR in 2018.


“Calling something a ‘fee’ alone does not suffice,” Glenn said. “It strains credulity to think that high a number is a ‘fee’ that would not rise to the level of valuable consideration, which is lawyer-speak for payment.”


The Department of Justice has been investigating Planned Parenthood for its involvement in the fetal tissue trade since 2017. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, sent a letter last summer requesting an update on the probe.


“There has been no response for an entire year to that inquiry,” said David Daleiden, project leader at the Center for Medical Progress. “The evidence keeps on piling up … so it’s very confusing that the Department of Justice would be allowing this activity to continue for so long.”


He noted the department was much quicker to crack down on Native American tribe members for selling eagle body parts.


This spring, HHS announced the formation of a Human Fetal Tissue Research Ethics Advisory Board. After receiving 105 nominations, the department is vetting possible board members. The board plans to meet in July and will determine whether research groups that use tissue from aborted babies qualify to receive federal funding.


“They are for the first time actually submitting these projects to a serious, thoughtful, sober ethical review,” said Daleiden. “If most of these proposed fetal tissue projects at outside institutions are examined with those ethical values in mind, I don’t think that any of them can ultimately qualify for funding. … You can’t have any … ethical safeguards when a project is dependent on someone having an abortion.”











Associated Press/Photo by Patrick Semansky

Pro-life demonstrators embrace outside of the Supreme Court on Monday.







Pro-lifers lament Supreme Court loss


Chief Justice John Roberts voted with the liberal wing of the nation’s highest court to rule against Louisiana’s health protections for women and unborn babies. The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday ruled in a 5-4 decision that the state put too much of a burden on women who wanted an abortion by requiring abortionists to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital. Justices Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Clarence Thomas dissented.


June Medical Services, an abortion business in Shreveport, La., said the requirement would force two of the state’s three abortion providers to close. In the majority opinion, Justice Stephen Breyer cited Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, in which the Supreme Court ruled the Constitution prohibits health regulations that impose an “undue burden” on abortion access. Roberts based his vote on the Whole Woman’s Health precedent following a legal principle called stare decisis—even though he dissented to that decision four years ago.


“The Court’s current formulation of the stare decisis standard does not comport with our judicial duty under Article III, which requires us to faithfully interpret the Constitution,” Thomas wrote in his dissent. “Stare decisis is not an inexorable command ... and this Court has recently overruled a number of poorly reasoned precedents that have proved themselves to be unworkable.” —Lynde Langdon












Facebook/A Moment With Kailor

Jemarius Jachin Harbor Jr.







A preemie victory


A baby born on Dec. 20, 2019, at 21 weeks of gestation went home from a Georgia hospital on June 21. Jemarius Jachin Harbor Jr. was born four days earlier than the previous record-holder, making him the “youngest surviving preemie ever,” according to Live Action. At the time of Jemarius’ birth, the hospital’s director of medical services told WAGA-TV in Atlanta the baby had little chance of survival.


More than half of U.S. states allow abortion past 21 weeks of gestation. Twenty states protect babies at “viability,” or the point in the pregnancy at which a baby can survive outside of the womb. The Guttmacher Institute says this generally occurs between 24 and 28 weeks. Four states protect babies after 24 weeks of gestation only, and seven still allow for abortion up until birth.


Some mothers of infants born before legal viability have told stories of doctors refusing to help their infants even though medical technology has saved the lives of babies like Jemarius. Jessica Spradlin’s premature son died at 22 weeks when doctors refused to treat him. She now shares stories of surviving preemies on a Facebook page, where she posted this update on June 21: “Congratulations to Jemarius for breaking out of the NICU after a six-month stay of proving every doctor wrong and making strides of progress for all micropreemies!” —L.H.












Associated Press/Photo by Charlie Neibergall (file)

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds







The waiting time battle


Planned Parenthood sued the state of Iowa on Tuesday after the state legislature passed a bill earlier this month that would require women to wait 24 hours before getting an abortion. Gov. Kim Reynolds, a Republican, signed the bill into law on Monday afternoon. The legislation takes effect on Wednesday.


Planned Parenthood argues “forced waiting periods” waste time and shame women. But pro-life advocates say the required pause will give women extra time to consider their options.


“We hoped that the 24-hour waiting period would give a woman a chance to let her baby live,” said Rep. Sandy Salmon, a Republican and co-sponsor of the legislation. —L.H.







Babies lose protection in Guernsey


The Bailiwick of Guernsey, a collection of self-governing islands in the English Channel, is removing safeguards for unborn babies. Under rules from 1997, women had to receive permission from two doctors to obtain an abortion and unborn babies were protected after 12 weeks of gestation. Now, women only need one doctor’s approval and can abort their babies up to 24 weeks. The changes will also remove any gestational limits for abortions of babies with fetal abnormalities.


Politicians in Guernsey praised the changes as “modern” and “compassionate” despite the fact they put more unborn lives at risk. The government has approved the amending of the 1997 laws but it must still pass a final draft. —L.H.






Licensed to abort


Missouri’s last abortion facility received its license from the state health department following a year of legal battles over health code violations. The state refused to renew Planned Parenthood’s license for its St. Louis center in 2019 after an inspection uncovered a few failed abortions. The Missouri Administrative Hearing Commission ruled in May that the facility could continue performing abortions. After a final inspection, the state health department issued the license on Thursday. Pro-life Gov. Mike Parson, a Republican, announced he would not appeal the commission’s ruling. —L.H.





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