Sioux Falls, S.D., Sep 24, 2008 (CNA) - Pro-life activists in South Dakota have launched a television ad featuring Dr. Bernard Nathanson, one of the founding members of NARAL, who calls on South Dakotans to vote to ban the use of “abortion as birth control.”
In a TV ad supporting Measure 11 in South Dakota, Dr. Nathanson explains that he and his colleagues who founded NARAL created it to “export our pro-abortion mentality across the land.” He also reveals that, “One of our strategies, in order to mislead the American people, was to deny what we knew to be true, that an abortion kills an existing human being.”
“This was the greatest mistake of my life… and the greatest mistake in our nation’s history,” states Nathanson, who performed 75,000 abortions and at one point ran the nation’s largest abortion clinic.
The new ad is part of an effort by VoteYesForLife.com to convince voters to pass a bill that would ban abortion in South Dakota, with exceptions being made for rape and incest, and to preserve the life and health of the mother.
The campaign was required to gather around 18,000 signatures to place Measure 11 on the November 4 ballot, and they succeeded in securing 58,000 signatures, according to VoteYesForLife.com.
“It’s clear that Measure 11 is what the people of South Dakota have been asking for. It is going to take a huge coordinated effort to mobilize a state-wide grass-roots effort, but we are already seeing it happen,” said Brandi Gruis from VoteYesForLife.com. “Measure 11 is the reasonable law South Dakota asked for.”
On August 12, the pro-abortion groups NARAL and Planned Parenthood Action Fund reacted to the effort by holding a press conference in Washington D.C.
“Let’s not kid ourselves," Nancy Keenan, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice America, told reporters. "The people behind this effort [want] to make South Dakota the first step in a long-term campaign to mount a legal challenge to Roe."
Melbourne, Australia, Sep 24, 2008 (CNA) - Archbishop Denis Hart of Melbourne, Australia is railing against a bill in the state of Victoria, which will require doctors who object to performing abortions to do so in “emergencies,” among other anti-conscience rules. The Catholic archbishop labeled the bill "a real threat to the continued existence of Catholic hospitals.”
“I write now with a deep sadness for mothers-to-be and children yet to be born, and with a profound sense of anguish at the draconian clauses in the Bill which attack long held religious beliefs and practice,” wrote Archbishop Hart.
“Make no mistake about it,” he continued, “the Bill goes beyond codifying current clinical practice, as its proponents claim, and will set an unfortunate precedent which other states may follow.”
Among the numerous objections to the Bill he dubbed, “an unprecedented attack on the freedom to hold and exercise fundamental religious beliefs,” the archbishop named the requirement for health professionals with conscientious objection to abortion to provide a referal to an abortionist and the demand that objecting doctors be made to perform an abortion in an “emergency.” These mandates make a “mockery of the Victorian Charter of Human Rights and the Equal Opportunity Act,” Archbishop Hart said.
The Archbishop of Melbourne also pointed out that the bill is “clearly intended to require Catholic hospitals to permit the referral of women for abortions.
“As one commentator has put it, it is an insidious irony that this coercion of conscience is being carried out in the name of choice. Parliamentarians are being afforded the opportunity to exercise their consciences to remove the right of health professionals to exercise theirs.”
Archbishop Hart adamantly stated that “Catholic hospitals will not perform abortions and will not provide referrals for the purpose of abortion.”
Noting that the Bill is an attack not just on the hospitals but also on their ability to serve the larger community, the prelate declared that it poses a “real threat to the continued existence of Catholic hospitals.
“Under these circumstances, it is difficult to foresee how Catholic hospitals could continue to operate maternity or emergency departments in this state in their current form,” he wrote.
The Age reported on Wednesday that the 15 Catholic hospitals in Victoria are “likely to tell their doctors and nurses to break the law rather than refer women to abortion providers.”
The heads of the Catholic hospitals unanimously determined on Wednesday that they will oppose the state's proposed abortion law, which will come up for debate in the Parliament's upper house next month.
"We cannot in good faith provide an abortion or a referral to an abortion provider,” Martin Laverty, chief executive of Catholic Health Australia, told The Age.
"We will not require our doctors to comply with the law. In the event that the bill is passed we will ensure that staff are able to examine their consciences," he said.
Mexico City, Mexico, Sep 24, 2008 (CNA) - Archbishop Jose Luis Chavez Botello of Antequera-Oaxaca and his Auxiliary Bishop Oscar Campos Conteras said in a recent statement that the crisis of violence and lack of security in the country is due to the loss of values in Mexican society.
In their statement, the bishops lamented the recent violence in Morelia and Tijuana, which claimed the lives a dozens of people. They described Mexico as currently experiencing a “grave deterioration of the values that are the foundation of living together in society, such as truth, honesty, responsibility and service. It is urgent that this foundation be remade and strengthened,” the bishops said.
Likewise, they underscored that “the war is lost if the struggle against corruption, violence and organized crime does not go hand in hand with practical, general educational programs in basic values and with a profound renewal of the institutions that are charged with educating, protecting and guiding society, such as politics, education and the economy.”
After recalling that the situation has resulted as well from indifference of people who hope that others will confront and resolve social ills, the bishops encouraged everyone to have a self-critical attitude in order to prevent the further spread of violence.
Vatican City, Sep 24, 2008 (CNA) - Continuing his reflections on St. Paul, Pope Benedict XVI dedicated today's audience to Paul's relationship with the Twelve Apostles. The Pope reminded the faithful that like Paul, “our faith is not born of a myth, nor of an idea, but of a meeting with the Risen One in the life of the Church."
Speaking to some 15,000 thousand faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square, Pope Benedict began his speech by noting the "great respect and openness" that marked Paul and the Apostles' interaction. Paul, who never had the opportunity to meet Jesus, consulted the first disciples of Jesus after his conversion on the road to Damascus. “For this reason ... he felt the need to consult the Master's first disciples, who had been chosen by Him to carry the Gospel to the ends of the earth."
Thus, in his Letter to the Galatians, Paul speaks of his meetings with Peter, James and John, whom he recognizes as "pillars of the Church, while in his Letter to the Corinthians he makes it clear that for him Christ's words at the Last Supper are "the center of the life of the Church," said the Pope.
"The words of the Last Supper," the Holy Father explained, "on the one hand demonstrate that the Eucharist illuminates the curse of the cross, making it a blessing, while on the other they explain the scope of Jesus' death and resurrection. ... The Church is built and recognizes herself as the 'Body of Christ', from and in the Eucharist."
Pope Benedict also reflected on how Paul uses the verb tense "is risen," and not "was risen." According to Benedict, this signals that Christ continues to live "in the Eucharist and the Church."
Paul’s role as an apostle was also considered by the Pope. He pointed out that Paul expressed "his indignity in being considered an apostle," but that "the grace of God in him was not in vain." Paul and the Apostles preach the same faith, the Holy Father emphasized, the same Gospel of Jesus Christ "died and risen, who gives himself in the Most Holy Eucharist."
Lastly, the importance that Paul assigned to the living Tradition of the Church, was examined by Benedict XVI.
The emphasis that Paul gave to the Church’s living Tradition and which he transmitted to his communities, “shows how wrong is the view that attributes the invention of Christianity to him. Before evangelizing in the name of Jesus Christ, his Lord, he met Him on the road to Damascus and frequented Him in the Church, observing His life in the Twelve and in those who had followed Him along the roads of Galilee,” the Pope said.
"The more we seek the footsteps of Jesus of Nazareth along the roads of Galilee," Benedict XVI concluded, "the more we understand that He assumed our humanity, sharing it in everything except in sin. Our faith is not born of a myth, nor of an idea, but of a meeting with the Risen One in the life of the Church."
Vatican City, Sep 24, 2008 (CNA) - Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, announced during Mass on the Feast of Padre Pio of Pietrelcina that Pope Benedict XVI will visit the saint’s tomb at San Giovanni Rotondo next year.
During the Mass celebrated by Cardinal Bertone at the saint’s altar in St. Peter’s Basilica, the Vatican Secretary of State explained that “what needs to be emphasized is not the quantity of mystical phenomenon that occurred in the life of this saint, but rather the love that consumed him. Padre Pio was in love with God,” he continued, “and he knew how to guide these rivers of grace over the thousands of men and women he met daily in the sacrament of Confession and in spiritual direction.”
According to the SIR news agency, Cardinal Bertone also referred to the saint of the stigmata as “a good and faithful servant of the Gospel: he lived totally oriented towards the Kingdom of Heaven, as can be appreciated in his numerous writings.” He was also “a disciple of Christ who wanted nothing more than to love Him and seek Him,” and as a priest he “was consumed by the love for God and neighbor, as evidenced by his long days of listening to penitents and his nights of prayer.”
Cardinal Bertone also noted that Padre Pio was a “sincere son of the Church who even in difficult moments preferred not to defend himself, dying to himself and being buried in a docile silence of being pierced by fruitful obedience.”
Madrid, Spain, Sep 24, 2008 (CNA) - The Archbishop of Madrid and president of the Bishops’ Conference of Spain, Cardinal Antonio Maria Rouco Varela, said during his Sunday reflection that faced with the current economic and social crises in Spain, everyone needs to live according to the law of God which is the law of love.
During his reflection the cardinal explained that the response of each person to the current crisis needs to be born “of faith in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God” and of “the law of love, the true law of all laws!”
Likewise, he said, all men and women “need the law of God, written in the deepest part of their beings and revealed and empowered in all of its fullness by His Word: the Word made flesh in Jesus Christ. And the law of God is the law of love.”
“There is no other light or power for facing the immediate future with an alert and serene spirit and a heart enlightened by hope, which gives strength and enthusiasm, than that of renewing our yes to the law of the love of God, presented and explained with passionate newness by the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ,” he stated.
Cardinal Rouco went on to note that the response to the crisis in education is also found in “embracing Christ and his victorious Cross!” Such a response is urgently needed as the new school year begins, he said, in order to have the courage and decisiveness to overcome every difficulty.
“The lesson of love is definitively learned in the Risen Christ,” the cardinal said.
Los Angeles, Calif., Sep 24, 2008 (CNA) - The movie star Eduardo Verástegui has recorded a special video message to encourage Hispanic voters in the U.S. to put an end to abortion and to expose the radical abortion position of presidential candidate Barack Obama.
Verástegui, who is perhaps best known in the U.S. for his pro-life film "Bella," presents his challenge to Latino voters by calling attention to the fact that most abortion clinics are located in Hispanic neighborhoods and that the Spanish media is saturated with pro-abortion advertising.
“Abortion is not only a lucrative industry; it is also used by people who are racist as a means to eliminate our people, since they consider us to be a threat to democracy in this country,” Verástegui asserts.
After noting that more than 3,000 babies are aborted each day in the U.S. and that 650 of those babies are Hispanic, the actor states that abortion is legal “because there are not enough men and women who raise their voice against abortion.”
“We need to put an end to abortion and political candidates play a very important role in this matter,” he continued, pointing out that Obama supports abortions performed during the last trimester of pregnancy, inhuman partial birth abortion,” and that Obama “wants to finance abortions with the tax dollars you and I pay.”
As a lawmaker, Obama “voted on several occasions against a law to protect babies who survived an abortion and were born alive,” Verástegui states.
“Obama is committed to removing all the pro-life laws that in many states currently offer protection to unborn babies and their mothers. Mr. Obama does not agree that the parents of a 13 year-old girl who is pregnant should be notified before she has an abortion,” the actor underscored.
“Obama is more interested in maintaining the legality of abortion that in the well-being of the babies, children and families of this country. Let us unite and do something to defend life at every stage, from conception to natural death,” he says.
Verástegui's message about Obama is punctuated by clips from the video “The Hard Truth,” which shows graphic images from real abortions. The Mexican actor explains that just as teachers in schools show videos of the Holocaust to expose the truth about the atrocities committed by the Nazis, he too is including the video to show the horror of abortion.
Rome, Italy, Sep 24, 2008 (CNA) - In an interview with L’Osservatore Romano, the Archbishop of Bombay, Cardinal Oswald Gracias, explained that the best weapon the Church and the faithful have against the wave of anti-Christian violence in the country is prayer.
During the interview, the cardinal denounced that in India, “all people of good will, including Hindus and Muslims, taste the horror and are beaten by the diabolical actions of those who don’t hesitate to hunt down Christians to kill them, to destroy their homes and their churches, with no respect for human dignity and rights.”
“I don’t think I am wrong in saying that this campaign of hate against Christians is due to the total inaction of the local government,” he added, stressing that “it is not necessary to give in to the temptation to just accept it or much less to vengeance. In end it won’t be fundamentalism that prevails.”
Explaining the reasons that led to the closing of Catholics schools in India for one day, the cardinal underscored that the shutdown of the “more than 25,000 Indian schools was a symbolic gesture of great impact and protest, that was aimed at stirring the conscience of our country.”
“It was a clear sign to shed light on the importance of the Christian presence, which is always on the front lines of social work, education and assistance embracing the entire population without distinction,” the cardinal continued. “Prayer, even for those who hate us, has become our main weapon,” he added.
Cardinal Gracias went on to refer to the necessity of inter-religious dialogue for “eliminating all possible causes of tension and disagreement between religious and ethnic groups in India. Dialogue is vital, fundamental. The Church in India has never ceased to promote it.”
The cardinal said the Church participates in this dialogue “on behalf of the poor, the infirm, with no consideration for whether they are Hindus, Muslims or Christians, reaffirming the right to life for all; it is horrible that newborns are killed because they are female,” he said. “In the end it’s about proclaiming Jesus with one’s own life and contributing to a new world system built on reciprocal love and faith,” he stated.
Later in referring to the upcoming Synod of Bishops on the Word of God, which will begin on October 5 and which he will be unable to attend for health reasons, Cardinal Gracias said he hoped the gathering would lead India to a “deeper understanding of the Scriptures in order to remove errors and prejudices.”
“I hope the Synod also delves deeper into the relationship between the Word of God and the sacred texts of other religions: a perspective that will contribute to clarifying the principles of inter-religious dialogue that are important for giving hope to India and to the entire world,” he added.
India is in need of hope, Cardinal Gracias said. “I have always said so and I was moved when the Pope repeated it to me personally when I was made a cardinal in November of last year. I understood that I am called to play a new role for India and all of Asia. A role of hope founded upon the Word of God.”
Denver, Colo., Sep 24, 2008 (CNA) - A study of abortion trends in the U.S. claims that the abortion rate is now at its lowest level since 1974, though minority groups did see as large of a drop in abortions. One critic of the study suggests it ignores both the “purposeful” placement of abortion clinics in African-American areas and the manner in which abortion is promoted to black women.
The Allan Guttmacher Institute’s study “Trends in the Characteristics of Women Obtaining Abortions, 1974 to 2004” reports that the abortion rate has declined from its 1980 peak of 29 abortions per 1,000 women aged 15 to 44 to 20 per 1,000 in 2004, a decline of about 33 percent.
According to a statement on the Allan Guttmacher Institute’s website, the study reports marked differences between ethnic groups. Between 1994 and 2004 the abortion rate for non-Hispanic white women declined 30 percent from 15 to 11 abortions per 1,000 women aged 15 to 44, while among Hispanics the abortion rate fell by 20 percent from 35 to 28 abortions per 1,000 women in the same age group.
The abortion rate among black women was also found to be disproportionate to the general population. Though their abortion rate declined between 1994 and 2004, it declined by only 15 percent from 59 to 50 abortions per 1,000 women.
Women in their twenties obtained about 58 percent of all 2004 abortions.
The proportion of abortions obtained by teens has declined from 33% in 1974 to 25% in 1989 to 17% in 2004. The abortion rate among teens has also fallen from 42 per 1,000 women aged 15-19 in 1989 to 20 per 1,000 in 2004.
The Guttmacher Institute, which was formerly associated with Planned Parenthood, attributed the decline to increased use of contraceptives and use of more effective contraceptive methods.
According to the report, 89 percent of abortions take place in the first trimester. About 28 percent of abortions in 2004 take place at seven weeks into a pregnancy or earlier, compared to 16 percent in 1994.
The Guttmacher Institute attributes the increase of early abortions to the “increased availability and use of home pregnancy detection kits, greater availability of early surgical procedures and increasing use of medication abortion.”
In 2004, 60 percent of women having abortions already had children, up from 50 percent in 1989 and 46 percent in 1974. According to the Guttmacher Institute, such women cite responsibility for their born children and their families as one of their primary reasons for obtaining an abortion.
“The analysis found positive trends, but highlights several issues of concern,” said Guttmacher Institute president and CEO Sharon Camp. “Many Americans will welcome the news that there are fewer abortions, particularly among teens, and that a larger proportion of abortions are now happening very early in pregnancy. But at the same time, abortions are becoming more concentrated among women of color and low-income women.”
Camp called for better access to subsidized contraceptive services, claiming that would prevent “unintended pregnancies.”
CNA discussed the study in a Wednesday phone interview with Dr. Alveda King, niece of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and a pastoral associate for Priests for Life.
King said people “may miss the implications” from the raw data.
“You’ve got raw data that shows the abortion rate has declined among women, but there’s a disparate rate among African-American women,” she noted.
“The question should be ‘why?’
“The answer is that the abortion clinics are present at a much higher rate in African-American communities.
“Abortion is pitched to black women as therapeutic and so black women are still having more abortions, and that information is not readily apparent in a study like Guttmacher’s.”
Dr. King referenced a recent study presented by Students for Life of America at the Family Research Council value voters meeting in September, saying it considers why abortion targets minorities.
She also noted that Students For Life president Lila Rose has done undercover reporting exposing Planned Parenthood fundraisers’ acceptance of racially-motivated donations and some Planned Parenthood employees’ willingness to cover up alleged incidents of statutory rape which result in pregnancy.
CNA asked Dr. King how the abortion rate could be reduced.
“We have to inform women and inform families about the harmful effects of abortion, we must promote abstinence, and certainly those actions will reduce the abortion rate,” she said.
When CNA asked Dr. King if there was anything to be done to reduce the abortion rate among the African-American community specifically, she explained it “doesn’t matter what color they [the aborted babies] are, but 14 -15 million of them are black, and that’s on purpose.”
South Bend, Ind., Sep 24, 2008 (CNA) - The 40 Days for Life Campaign launched its 179-city fall program on Wednesday in South Bend, Indiana. The community-based campaign will last until November 2, focusing upon prayer and fasting, educational outreach, and round-the-clock peaceful vigils outside abortion clinics or Planned Parenthood centers.
Local versions of the campaign are taking place in 47 U.S. states, the District of Columbia, American Samoa, and two Canadian provinces, a campaign press release reports.
“During an election season in which abortion has emerged as a critical – and potentially decisive – issue, people across the nation need to be made aware of the reality of what abortion does to women, men, children, communities and our nation,” said David Bereit, national campaign director of 40 Days for Life.
Bereit said the campaign could have a “profound effect” on the country.
“With abortion in the forefront of the national debate during this heated political season, people of faith and conscience are coming out to 40 Days for Life kick-off events and getting involved in local campaigns in record numbers,” he commented. “I am seeing a greater sense of urgency to end abortion in America right now than I have seen in the last decade.”
Bereit told CNA on Wednesday that the campaign was scheduled to begin with a 7 p.m. event at Little Flower Catholic Church in South Bend, Indiana, which was the first city to have a group registered for the campaign.
Bereit was scheduled to address attendees, joined by local campaign organizers and Dr. Charles Rice, a University of Notre Dame law professor.
He said key to the event was “upon its conclusion, we will be commencing the round-the-clock vigil outside South Bend’s abortion clinic, 960 hours straight.”
He said “aggressive community outreach” would also be a feature of the local campaign.
Bereit, writing in a press release, underlined that the 40 Days for Life campaign does not endorse candidates and does not campaign against anyone seeking elected office.
“I am convinced that the change in the abortion status quo will begin as a spiritual change,” he continued. “That spiritual change will then be reflected in the political realm, as elected officials will recognize the will of the people and respond accordingly to protect the life of every human – born and pre-born.”
Bereit claimed that the fall 2007 and spring 2008 campaigns had generated “lifesaving results,” noting that targeted cities reported a significant drop in abortions, while some targeted abortion clinics either closed altogether or scaled back their operations during the campaign.
“New volunteers got active in local pro-life efforts,” Bereit remarked. “Churches of different denominations worked together to work for an end to abortion in their cities. Many post-abortive women begin programs to heal from the pain caused by previous abortion experiences. With such a strong track record of results, we are excited to see what God has in store for this fall.”
The 40 Days for Life web site is located at www.40daysforlife.com.