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Archive of June 28, 2008

Eleven-year-old rape victim taken to UK for an abortion

London, England, Jun 28, 2008 (CNA) - An 11-year-old Romanian rape victim has been flown to the United Kingdom for an abortion after she was refused one in her home country. The case has ignited a controversy that has put Orthodox Christian groups at odds with a Romanian Orthodox Church spokesman who said the case was exceptional and the decision to abort should be up to the girl’s family.

The girl was allegedly raped twice at the age of ten by a 19-year-old man while she stayed with his family at a village in the northeastern Romanian county of Neamt, the Telegraph says.

The girl’s pregnancy was not discovered until her child had reached 17 weeks, which is 3 weeks past the timeframe allowed under Romanian law for an abortion. The country allows abortions up until the 14th week of pregnancy and then only if the mother’s life is in danger or if the fetus suffers deformities.

The father of the girl said the alleged rapist had threatened her.

“He told my daughter that we would beat her if we found out what had happened, and that we would abandon her, so she kept quiet,” he said, according to the Telegraph.

The pregnancy was discovered, the father said, when she complained of stomach pains and was taken to the hospital.

Romania’s medical community, child rights groups, and its public have been divided by the issue.

Two medical panels have examined the girl, who is now 21 weeks pregnant. The first decided in favor of an abortion, while the second rejected an abortion and declared the pregnancy to be “natural.”

Vica Todosiciuc, head of the Cuza Voda maternity section in the north eastern city of Iasi, said the panel ignored concerns that the pregnancy resulted from rape because the rape had not been proven and because the penal code does not allow for any exceptions.

“This was a very difficult decision for the doctors to make,” Todosiciuc stated, the Telegraph says. "They searched for a medical reason which would allow them to authorize a termination, but none was found."

Constantin Stoica, a spokesman for the Romanian Orthodox Church, which is the largest church in the country, said the Orthodox Church regards abortion as a crime, but that this belief applies to normal circumstances and not to incest or rape. Mr. Stoica elaborated, saying that the girl was in “an exceptional situation which must be treated in an exceptional manner and the family is the only one to make this decision.”

Twenty different Orthodox groups in Romania oppose the abortion and had threatened to press charges against government officials had they approved one. The groups also promised to raise the child if the family lacks the resources to do so, according to the AP.

A wealthy person in Britain has paid for the cost of the abortion and the family’s airfare. In Britain, abortion is legal up to 24 weeks into a pregnancy.

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U.S. appeals court upholds S. Dakota informed consent law

Sioux Falls, S.D., Jun 28, 2008 (CNA) - The U.S. Eight Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on Friday against a temporary injunction filed to block the implementation of an informed consent law requiring abortion providers to inform women patients, in writing, that an abortion procedure “will terminate the life of a whole, separate, unique, living human being.”

The court’s opinion, “Planned Parenthood et al v. Rounds et al, Alpha Center et al, Intervenors,” considered South Dakota’s 2005 Informed Consent Law and ruled that the law may be enforced while its constitutionality is litigated in court.

Planned Parenthood Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota and its medical director Carole E. Ball, M.D. had sued to prevent the act from taking effect, arguing that the laws’ requirements are unconstitutionally vague, unduly burdensome for physicians and in violation of physicians’ free speech rights. In addition, Planned Parenthood argued certain requirements were excessive burdens upon patients’ right to an abortion and right to free speech.

The appeal court’s opinion in great part centered upon the question of whether the statement “abortion will terminate the life of a whole, separate, unique, living human being” is truthful, non-misleading, and relevant to a woman’s decision to undergo an abortion.

The majority ruled that Planned Parenthood had “submitted no evidence” proving the law falls short of legal standards of truth, honesty, and relevance. The decision also cited testimony from doctor and geneticist Marie Peeters-Ney, M.D., who argued that “becoming a member of our species is conferred immediately upon conception.”

South Dakota’s informed consent law requires any physician who performing an abortion to obtain “voluntary and informed written consent” from a woman seeking an abortion, except in cases of medical emergency.

The information the woman must be provided includes the knowledge “that the abortion will terminate the life of a whole, separate, unique, living human being” and “that the pregnant woman has an existing relationship with that unborn human being and that the relationship enjoys protection under the United States Constitution and under the laws of South Dakota.” Further, she must be informed “that by having an abortion, her existing relationship and her existing constitutional rights with regards to that relationship will be terminated.”

The abortion provider must also describe all known medical risks of the abortion procedure and the statistically significant risk factors to which the woman will be subjected. According to the law, these risk factors include “depression and related psychological distress” and “increased risk of suicide ideation and suicide.”

Under the law, informed consent must be secured through a statement by telephone or in person by the physician who will perform the abortion, the referring position, or an agent of either. At least 24 hours before the abortion takes place, the patient must be informed that medical assistance for prenatal care, childbirth and neonatal care may be available. The woman considering an abortion must also be told that the father of the unborn child is legally responsible for financial support, even if the father has offered to pay for the abortion.

Finally, the law requires a woman to be informed of the name, address, and telephone number of a pregnancy help center in “reasonable proximity” to the abortion facility.

Speaking in a press release, Kimberly Martinez, a spokeswoman for the Intervenor Alpha Center, said in response to the decision: "We are delighted by the Court's decision. Alpha Center exists to tell South Dakota women the whole truth about their pregnancies. Thanks to today's decision by the court, women are now going to be given the truth by abortion providers, who have been fighting to avoid doing so for years."

Harold Cassidy, chief counsel for the Interveners, added: "Planned Parenthood, in a shocking, and perhaps perverse, logic, argued that abortion doctors were harmed by being required to tell women the truth, and this supposed harm outweighed the damage to pregnant mothers who lost their children because of these doctors' failure to make material disclosures."

Dr. Glenn A. Ridder, one of the intervening parties, observed: "The doctor who has a pregnant mother as a patient in reality has two separate patients, the mother and the child. It is a basic truth that the mother can not make an informed judgment about the welfare of the child or herself if the mother isn't told -- in unambiguous language -- the consent she is able to give to an abortion doctor authorizes the termination of the life of the doctor's second patient."

The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals has remanded the case to district court for further proceedings.

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Web site dedicated to the Pauline Year launched by CNA

Denver, Colo., Jun 28, 2008 (CNA) - At six o’clock in the evening on Saturday June 28, Pope Benedict XVI will inaugurate the year-long celebration of St. Paul, marking the two thousandth anniversary of the Apostle’s birth. To help our readers participate in the celebration of the Pauline Year, CNA has launched a web site with all the relevant information you will need.

The site includes information on the life and ministry of St. Paul, including a biography, the teachings of Pope Benedict XVI on the Apostle to the Gentilesand the 14 letters attributed to Paul.

Information on activities for the Pauline Year can also be found on the site. All relevant information about the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls, which is located in Rome, is also listed.

If you are looking for how to receive an indulgence during the Pauline Year or for prayers that can be said asking for St. Paul’s intercession, just visit our site.

Click here to visit CNA's web site on the Pauline Year or visit http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/paulineyear

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Opening Pauline Year, Pope calls faithful to listen to and follow St. Paul in today's world

Rome, Italy, Jun 28, 2008 (CNA) - During the homily at the first Vespers of the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, in which the Pauline Year was inaugurated, Pope Benedict XVI stressed that Saint Paul is still a “teacher, apostle and herald” to the world today, a saint whose experience of Christ’s love freed him to love God in return.

At 6 pm Roman time at the Roman Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls -- where the remains of the Apostle have been kept for centuries -- the Holy Father, in the company of the Greek Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew I and representatives of other Christian denominations, arrived in procession to the atrium. In front of the famous marble statue of St. Paul, they lit the candles that will remain burning during the entire Pauline year.

The procession continued to the presbytery of the Basilica, where Pope Benedict descended to the Apostle's tomb under the altar.

“Who was this Saint Paul?” asked the Pope. He described him using the saint's own words: “Teacher of the people, apostle and herald of Jesus Christ, this is how he portrays himself in a retrospective look on the course of his life. But his gaze looks not only to the past. His phrase “teacher of the people” is open to the future, to all the peoples and all generations.

“Paul is not simply a figure of the past, who we remember with veneration. He is also a teacher, apostle and herald of Jesus Christ for us as well.”

The Pope then explained that “we are therefore gathered not to reflect on a past history,” because “Paul wants to talk to us today. That is why I have desired to convoke this Pauline Year: to listen to him and to learn from him today, as our teacher, 'the faith and the truth' in which are rooted the reasons for the unity of the disciples of Christ.”

After expressing his joy for the “ecumenical nature” of the opening ceremony of the Pauline year, the Pope returned to Paul: “We ask ourselves: ‘Who is Paul? What is he telling me?’” He then quoted the letter of the Apostle to the Galatians: “I live in the faith of the Son of God, who has loved me and given himself for me” (Gal 2:20).

“Everything that Paul does starts from this core. His faith is the experience of being loved by Jesus Christ in a completely personal manner. His faith is the recognition of the fact that Christ has confronted death not for someone unknown, but for love of him, Paul, and that, since He is Risen, He loves him still,” Pope Benedict explained.

The Holy Father also explained that in his life, Paul “never looked for a superficial harmony.”

“The truth was for him too great to be sacrificed for an external success. The truth he had experienced in the encounter with the Risen Christ very much deserved the struggle, the persecution, the suffering.”

“But what most deeply motivated him,” Pope Benedict continued, “was the fact of being loved by Jesus Christ and the desire to transmit to others this love. Paul was someone capable of loving, and all his laboring and suffering is explained only from this core.”

The Holy Father then explained what he said was one of Saint Paul's key words: Freedom.

“The experience of being loved to the core by Christ opened his eyes to the truth and to the way of human existence. It was an experience that totally embraced him.  Paul was free as a man loved by God, a man who, by virtue of God, was capable of loving with Him. This love is now 'the law' of his life and therefore the freedom of his life.”
 
“Freedom and responsibility are here united in an inseparable way. Because there is responsibility in love, he is free; because he is someone who loves, he lives completely in the responsibility of this love and does not take freedom as a pretext for arbitrariness or selfishness.”
 
Pope Benedict then explained that, in the conversion experience of St. Paul, when God tells Paul that he is persecuting God Himself by persecuting Christians, “Jesus identifies Himself with the Church as one single object. It is this revelation of the Risen Christ that transformed Paul's life, and in which is contained all of the teachings about the Church as the body of Christ... The Church is not an organization that wants to promote a certain cause. In her, it is not about a cause. It is about the person of Jesus Christ, who, even though He is Risen, has remained 'flesh'”

This, Pope Benedict said, “becomes today an urgent request:  it brings us back together from all divisions. It is still a reality today: here is one bread, therefore we, though many, are one single body.”

Finally, the Holy Father explained that “the call to become the teacher of the people is at the same time also intrinsically a call to suffering in the communion of Christ, who has redeemed us through His Passion.  In a world where falsehood is so powerful, the truth is redeemed through suffering. Whoever wants to avoid and keep away suffering keeps away life itself and its greatness; he cannot be a servant of the truth and therefore a servant of the faith. There is no love without suffering, without the suffering of self-renunciation, transformation and purification of the self by the real truth. Wherever there is nothing worthy of suffering for, life itself loses its value.”

The Pauline Year marks the two-thousandth anniversary of the Apostle’s birth. CNA has launched a special web site dedicated to the celebration.

Visit the CNA web site on the Pauline Year

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