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Archive of June 27, 2009

California school district votes to let students leave campus for services like abortion

Sacramento, Calif., Jun 27, 2009 (CNA) - The Modesto City School Board on Monday voted to allow junior high and high school students to leave campus during the school day for “confidential medical services,” such as abortions, without the consent or knowledge of their parents.

The school board adopted the new policy in a preliminary vote of 4-3, the California Catholic Daily says. The board members will take another vote on the issue on July 13.

Karen England, executive director of the pro-family lobbying group Capitol Resource Institute, attended the meeting and reported that four people testified in favor of “excluding parents.” Three were from Planned Parenthood while one was described as an “activist.”

“Every single additional testimony asked the board to include parents,” England said in a statement following the meeting. “Modesto parents and pastors left the meeting fired up. They are ready to tell their communities what is going on -- so that more families can get involved, because people are still unaware.”

England encouraged opponents of the decision to contact school board members before the July 13 vote and to attend its next meeting.

School district attorney Roman Munoz said the new policy updates district regulations to conform to a provision of the state Education Code which took effect in 1986.

The relevant section of the Education Code says the governing board of each school district in each academic year should notify pupils in grades 7 to 12 and their parents and guardians that school authorities may “excuse any pupil from the school for the purpose of obtaining confidential medical services without the consent of the pupil's parent or guardian.”

England said the law “provides permission” for implementing confidential medical release but “certainly does not impose a mandate.”

“There are over 900 public school districts in California and many do not offer their students confidential medical release. Modesto's current policy is parent-friendly,” she added. “Unfortunately, Modesto has sided with Planned Parenthood for now, against parents.”

Planned Parenthood Mar Monte Vice President Deborah Oritz told the Sacramento Bee that the law on confidential medical services covers more than sexual or reproduction issues.

The Sacramento Bee said that medical services can include pregnancy testing, contraception, abortion, sexually transmitted disease testing and treatment, counseling and treatment for rape, drug abuse, mental health and other services.

The issue of schools permitting students to seek confidential medical services is being considered by several other California school districts.

On March 12 the Vista Board of Education in northern San Diego County unanimously adopted a policy requiring students to have parental consent before leaving campus during the school day for medical services, the California Catholic Daily reports.

The Fairfield-Suisun Board of Education, which presently requires parental or guardian consent for a student to leave campus for any reason, is scheduled to consider the matter on July 25.

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Amnesty International attacks Poland abortion policy

New York City, N.Y., Jun 27, 2009 (CNA) - Amnesty International has continued its promotion of abortion with a report on the state of human rights which criticizes Poland for denying Polish women “access to abortion.” The organization’s actions  could reflect its partnership with a pro-abortion group to redefine abortion as a “human right.”
 
The Amnesty International (AI) 2009 report’s entry on Poland cites May 2008 criticism of its abortion policy by the Human Rights Council, the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute (C-FAM) reports.

Amnesty also criticized the Polish government for failing to implement the European Court of Human Rights’ 2007 ruling in the case Tysiac v. Poland, which declared a duty to “establish effective mechanisms for ensuring women have access to abortion where it is legal.”

The Tysiac v. Poland case resulted in a 25,000 Euro fine against the Polish government in favor of a severely myopic woman who claimed she would go blind if she could not get an abortion.

According to C-FAM, critics of the ruling say the woman’s claims were unsupported by the facts and the court ignored the opinions of eight experts, several of whom were medical specialists, who concluded there was no connection between her pregnancy and her condition.

Judge Javier Borrego Borrego of Spain wrote in his dissent in Tysiac v. Poland that the majority relied on the “isolated and muddled” opinion of a single general practitioner.

“By trumpeting decisions like Tysiąc and statements emanating from United Nations agencies to advance a global abortion agenda, Amnesty International has adopted a strategy originally spearheaded by pro-abortion public interest law firm Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR),” C-FAM charged on Thursday.

Susan Yoshihara, a C-FAM official, reported that at the 2007 Women Deliver Conference in London, Amnesty International’s “reproductive rights” coordinator Stephanie Schlitt committed the group to partnering with CRR to make abortion recognized as a “human right” through litigation.

Yoshihara described Schlitt’s strategy as relying in part upon arguing that such a right could be found in existing human rights treaties. Even though such treaties are silent on abortion, she said, skillful advocacy could help sway United Nations officials and global jurists to recognize such a right.

Amnesty International, which was founded by a Catholic convert, took no position on abortion until in July of 2007 it began officially advocating for it as a “human right” in certain cases. The switch caused Catholics around the world, including some bishops, to cancel their membership in Amnesty.

C-FAM says that some critics see a growing trend of “human rights” groups seeking to impose abortion obligations on countries.

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Cardinal O'Malley pulls out of joint health care venture over abortion

Boston, Mass., Jun 27, 2009 (CNA) - After weeks of ethics discussions, the Archdiocese of Boston announced on Friday that the Church-sponsored Caritas Christi Healthcare has withdrawn from its partnership with CeltiCare Health Plan. The archdiocese said it was not possible to find agreement between the archdiocese-affiliated medical organization and the Missouri-based health insurer, which provides abortion and contraception.

The joint venture was scheduled to start providing care on July 1st, but in a statement issued on Friday by Richard Lynch, chief executive of CeltiCare Health Plan of Massachusetts, said:  "effective today, Caritas has withdrawn their ownership position in CeltiCare Health Plan of Massachusetts. Celtic Group Inc. (a wholly-owned subsidiary of Centene Corporation) now owns 100% of the company. Caritas Christi will continue to participate as a key part of the CeltiCare provider network. The arrangement in no way affects the operations of CeltiCare Health, and we look forward to delivering quality health care services to our members starting on July 1st."

Cardinal Sean P. O'Malley said in a statement, "I am pleased that Caritas Christi was able to achieve this outcome. Throughout this process, our singular goal has been to provide for the needs of the poor and underserved in a manner that is fully and completely in accord with Catholic moral teaching. By withdrawing from the joint venture and serving the poor as a provider in the Connector, upholding Catholic moral teaching at all times, they are able to carry forward the critical mission of Catholic health care."

The protection of human life and dignity demands that Catholic institutions never contribute to procedures which are inconsistent with Catholic moral teaching, such as abortion and sterilization. These procedures and others are prohibited by the Ethical and Religious Directives of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

The decision to withdraw from the joint venture follows an extensive analysis by the National Catholic Bioethics Center (NCBC) which was undertaken at the request of the Cardinal.

Cardinal O'Malley explained that the goal of the review was to ensure that Caritas Christi could "serve the poor through a plan for participation in the Connector that is in complete accordance with Catholic moral teaching."

The Commonwealth Connector Authority required the partnership to provide "confidential family planning services."  

The cardinal extended his "sincere gratitude to Dr. John Haas and the staff at the National Catholic Bioethics Center for their diligent and comprehensive review of the proposal. I am pleased that they were able to provide a recommendation whereby Caritas can go forward in fulfilling its mission of Catholic healthcare."

American Life League president Judie Brown praised the decision, saying:

"We profoundly thank Cardinal O'Malley for his courage, leadership and pastoral concern for the health and well-being of those youngest members of his archdiocese. He has set a beautiful example of dedication and charity for those poorest of the poor -- the preborn."

"What happened in Boston will ring out far beyond the potential scandal that could have involved Caritas Christi and thereby the Archdiocese. Cardinal O'Malley's reaffirmation of the Faith, when it would have been all too easy to compromise, is a sign of the vitality of United States Catholics' commitment to human life and personhood," Brown added.

"American Life League and our supporters are humbled to stand alongside Cardinal O'Malley as a sign of contradiction to the culture of death."

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