Archive of August 19, 2009

Pregnant woman carrying 12 children deserved better medical treatment, Catholic ethicist says

Omaha, Neb., Aug 19, 2009 (CNA) - In a case that highlights the ethical complications of fertility treatments, a pregnant Tunisian woman is reportedly carrying twelve babies. One Catholic ethicist has commented on the moral aspects of the case, suggesting that doctors did not properly monitor their patient.

The pregnant woman, a teacher, is expecting six boys and six girls. After suffering a number of miscarriages, she conceived the babies following fertility treatments, Fox News reports.

The method of fertility treatment was not reported. Dr. Mark Hamilton of the British Fertility Society said the mother could have been receiving ovulation induction treatment, which stimulates egg production and lacks the “control” of in-vitro fertilization (IVF).

The mother has told doctors she was feeling “fine” and has said she looks forward to hugging her children.

"In the beginning, we thought that my wife would give birth to twins, but more fetuses were discovered," said the father, named as Marwan in local reports. "Our joy increased with the growing number."

Dr. Manny Alvarez, managing health editor of, said such a prolific pregnancy is possible but the likelihood of all 12 babies surviving to term is very slim.

"When you get to a pregnancy with that many multiples, often some of them spontaneously die," Alvarez said. "Anything more than five babies becomes a very high-risk pregnancy."

If the majority of babies are carried to term, she will need constant monitoring and will need to be hospitalized.

"The rates of premature labor for multiples are astronomical," he told Fox News.

Sister Renée Mirkes, OSF, Ph.D., Director of the Center For NaPro Ethics at the Pope Paul VI Institute in Omaha, Nebraska spoke with CNA in a Tuesday phone interview about the ethics of infertility treatment.

Catholic ethics holds that the human person should be conceived by “an act of love between husband and wife.”

The principle implicit in this, she explained, is that the new human child ought to be “the fruit of a loving act of sex between its parents.”

“The life and integrity of the newly-conceived human being is to be protected,” she continued. “Fertility treatments must respect life and bodily integrity of the newly conceived human being.

If the woman’s doctors used superovulatory drugs to stimulate the woman’s ovaries, she speculated that the dosage may have been “completely off.”

“It’s very important in the superovulation process to take a moral approach to the problem.”

A doctor must monitor the woman carefully to determine how the drugs are affecting her and her ovaries.

A key question, she said, is how many eggs a woman has developing.

Sr. Mirkes explained the procedure of Dr. Thomas W. Hilgers, an obstetrician/gynecologist and founder of the Pope Paul VI Institute, in the case of a woman undergoing ovarian hyperstimulation.

He tells the woman to avoid intercourse during the fertile phase if ultrasound shows three or more follicles that all look like they are “ripening” and preparing to expel an egg, Sr. Mirkes reported.

“It is not a good thing to conceive more than one baby at a time,” she said. “Even just twins put stress and strain on the mother’s body and the babies’ own development could be compromised.”

She said that whoever gave the Tunisian mother ovary hyperstimulation treatment “wasn’t very ethical because they didn’t follow her.”

Though reports were unclear on which method was used, but Sr. Mirkes doubted IVF was the source of the twelve babies in the pregnancy. It would be a “huge, huge breach of practice” of implanting only a few embryos.

She explained the reasons IVF was unethical, noting that the children were conceived not “within a loving act” but in a lab, a “sterile setting” where the person guiding the process of fertilization doesn’t even know the parties involved.

In such techniques, the husband has engaged in the immoral act of masturbation, while the woman has had her eggs removed, turning the parents into merely “suppliers of genetic material” until the IVF-conceived embryos are transferred back into the woman.

“Husbands are sometimes invited to attend, but it doesn’t do much for intimacy, certainly,” she told CNA, saying that this process is immoral since children have a right to be conceived in an act of love between prospective parents.

She also noted that in “high order” pregnancies, pregnancies in which there are more than one unborn child, “selective termination” is often used. In this process, a form of abortion, doctors find the fetus that looks “the least developed, the most compromised and probably least likely to make it in the end.”

They then inject sodium chloride into the heart of the developing unborn child until the baby stops moving.

This is “directly destroying an innocent human being in the womb,” she stated.

“You can’t ever kill someone out of necessity. It doesn’t make any moral difference just because you feel it is necessary.

“If the baby dies normally, that’s one thing. But you don’t go and start killing them off to make the pregnancy more manageable.

“That shows an inherent flaw in this approach to pregnancy. We should not be encouraging high-order pregnancies. On every front, it’s immoral.

“Even Solomon in all his wisdom probably couldn’t figure out how to fix this.”

Returning to the case of the Tunisian woman carrying twelve children, Sr. Mirkes said:

“Right from the get-go, the mistake that was made is that no one told the woman not to have intercourse with her husband because the medicine had produced more eggs than you would ever want to be fertilized.”

“The moral part of it for the doctor was that no one in the medical profession took that initiative.”

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Proper formation is crucial to renewing the priesthood, Pope states

Castel Gandolfo, Italy, Aug 19, 2009 (CNA) -

At today's general audience, Pope Benedict XVI looked at the life of St. John Eudes and the importance of ongoing formation of the clergy. Pope Benedict urged the faithful to pray for priests and candidates to the priesthood, saying that their proper formation is crucial for the renewal of the priesthood.

Benedict XVI presented St. John Eudes, whose feast day is remembered in the liturgical calendar on August 19, in the historical context in which he lived, that of the seventeenth century, a century marked by spiritual personalities of the caliber of St Vincent de Paul and St. Louis Mary Grignon de Montfort.

The Pope mentioned that St. John Eudes and the Curé d'Ars, patron of the Year for Priests, were canonized on the same day, May 31, 1925, by Pius XI, "offering to the Church and the world two extraordinary examples of priestly holiness.”

St. John Eudes ministry took place within the context of the teachings of the Council of Trent in 1563, the Pope explained.

That council “set out rules for the establishment of diocesan seminaries and the formation of priests. The Vatican was well aware that the entire crisis of the Reformation was conditioned by insufficient formation of priests, who were not prepared for the priesthood in the right way, intellectually or spiritually, in the heart or in spirit,” Benedict recalled.

The application and implementation of standards, the Pontiff explained, was slow in both Germany and France and so, St. John Eudes, who was a parish priest, founded a congregation specifically dedicated to the formation of priests. “The path of holiness, which was his path and which he proposed his disciples, had a solid foundation in trust in the love that God revealed to humanity in the priestly heart of Christ, and the maternal heart of Mary,” the Pope added.

The Holy Father recommended a particular saying of St. John Eudes to the faithful to help them grow in holiness: "Give yourselves to Jesus, to enter into the immensity of his great Heart, which also contains the Heart of his Holy Mother and all the saints, and loose yourselves in this abyss of love, charity, mercy, humility, purity, patience, submission and holiness.”

Turning his attention to modern efforts to improve the formation of priests, Pope Benedict noted Pope John Paul II's Apostolic Exhortation “Pastores Dabo Vobis,” which was issued after the 1990 Synod.

John Paul II's Exhortation “incorporates and updates the rules of the Council of Trent and particularly emphasizes the necessary continuity between the initial and ongoing formation,” Pope Benedict explained. “The foundation laid in the spiritual life is that irreplaceable 'spiritual school' in which we ‘learn Christ ' and allow ourselves to be progressively conformed to Him, the one and only High Priest and Good Shepherd.”

During this Year for Priests, Benedict XVI concluded, let priests and seminarians, inspired by the day’s saint, spiritually “enter into the heart of Jesus,” becoming men of true love, mercy, humility and patience, renewed in holiness and pastoral zeal.

After his address, Pope Benedict sang the Our Father in Latin with the faithful gathered for the audience.

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Delegation of bishops visiting Cuba to ‘unfreeze’ U.S.-Cuba relations

Washington D.C., Aug 19, 2009 (CNA) - A delegation of three bishops from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) is currently on a trip to Cuba to show their concern for the Church and to follow up on hurricane recovery efforts in the country. They hope their visit will help “unfreeze” tensions in U.S.-Cuba relations held over from the Cold War era.

The bishops of the delegation are Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston, Bishop Thomas Wenski of Orlando, Fla., and Auxiliary Bishop Oscar Cantu of San Antonio. According to a USCCB press release, they are being accompanied by Fr. Andrew Small, OMI, director of the Subcommittee for the Church in Latin America at the USCCB.

“Our main focus will be to follow up on the extraordinary grant awarded to the Church in Cuba after last year's hurricanes, Fr. Small explained. “We will be visiting those impacted areas and seeing what kind of clean up has taken place since last year and how else we might help the Church in Cuba.”

The Church in Cuba received over $860,000 in grants from the USCCB following Hurricanes Gustav and Ike. The funds went to rebuild churches and parishes damaged by the storms.

The USCCB’s Subcommittee for the Church in Latin America oversees the Collection for the Church in Latin America. Last year, over $7 million was raised to support pastoral programs and faith formation in Latin America and the Caribbean.

For his part, Fr. Small was critical of U.S. policy on Cuba.

“Isolation doesn't help change. There has to be greater contact. And the Obama administration has been, unfortunately, encouraging but painfully slow.”

“We need some radical changes, particularly from the U.S. perspective,” he told Reuters. The U.S. bishops have advocated the lifting of the American embargo of Cuba and the cancelation of travel restrictions for quite some time.

Fr. Small said the delegation is also working to show its “care and concern” to the Cuban Church.

The visit follows an unpublicized June visit by Archbishop Timothy Broglio of the U.S. Military Archdiocese. He visited the U.S. naval base in Guantanamo and then met with church leaders in several Cuban cities, according to Reuters.

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Thomas More Kim Dae-Jung, first Catholic president of South Korea, dies at 85

Seoul, South Korea, Aug 19, 2009 (CNA) - Thomas More Kim Dae-Jung, the first Catholic president of South Korea, died on Tuesday afternoon at the age of 85. Religious leaders remembered the Nobel laureate for his promotion of human rights and his peacemaking work.

The former president was hospitalized in Seoul on July 13 with pneumonia. He died of heart failure.

Cardinal Nicholas Cheong Jin-suk, the Archbishop of Seoul, issued a condolence message after Kim’s death was announced. According to UCA News, the prelate praised the first Korean Nobel Prize recipient’s dedication to promoting human rights, democratizing South Korea, and working for peace on the Korean peninsula.

The cardinal said Kim forgave his political foes despite the persecutions and threats to his life he suffered.

He also praised Kim’s faith, citing the president’s own statement: “With the knowledge that Jesus was crucified for humanity, I could overcome all hardships and trials.”

Venerable Jikwan, chief executive of the Jogye Order, the largest Buddhist order in the country, remembered the president as a “pioneer of democratization.” In his condolence message he urged the nation to be unified by Kim’s death.

Kim was baptized in 1956 as a young politician. He often spoke about his faith publicly.

He was exiled twice in his life during South Korea’s military dictatorships. He survived two assassination attempts in the 1970s and escaped a death sentence by a military court in 1980.

Following requests for a pardon from the international community and Pope John Paul II, he was freed in 1982.

Kim served as South Korea’s 15th president, between February 1998 and February 2003. He won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2000 for his efforts to reconcile with North Korea.

He is survived by his second wife Lee Hee-ho, a Methodist, and his three sons.

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Health care end-of-life provision causing anxiety among elderly

Washington D.C., Aug 19, 2009 (CNA) - Members of the AARP are leaving by the thousands out of concern for the organization’s support for President Obama’s health care reform.  While several issues are to blame, many have expressed concern that Section 1233 of HR 3200 gives doctors an incentive to persuade ill patients that assisted suicide is their best option.

CBS reports that 50,000 – 60,000 have left the AARP since July 1, 2009 due to disagreements on Obama’s health care reform. Even though the AARP does not officially endorse the proposed health care changes, the association is generally seen to be in support of the reform- so much so that even President Obama mistakenly stated last week that the AARP is on board with the administration’s changes.

One section of the bill that has senior citizens as well as younger Americans concerned is section 1233 of HR 3200 which is titled, “Advance Care Planning Consultation.”

The text of the bill describes “advance care planning” as including a consultation between the patient and his or her doctor in which they would discuss and answer questions including future care, living wills, durable powers of attorney, information about a health care proxy and an explanation about end-of-life services that would be available. These services include, according to the text, “palliative care and hospice, and benefits for such services and supports that are available under this title.”

Pro-life organizations such as National Right to Life (NRLC) have spoken out specifically about this section of the bill. reports that the NRLC executive director David O. Steen expressed his concern that the bill could pressure ill patients into giving up treatment.

He noted that the bill makes him uneasy:  “it doesn't take a lot to push a vulnerable person — perhaps unwittingly — to give up their right to life-sustaining treatment," he explained.

Jennifer Popik, a medical ethics attorney with NRLC, also mentioned the fear that pushing patients to “prepare advance directives” could “become a means of persuading or pressuring them to agree to less treatment as a means of saving money."

She added that a 2008 JAMA study found that “patients who reported having end-of-life discussions received less aggressive medical care."

Attempting to win over those who oppose the bill, President Obama stated at the AARP town hall on July 28 that he believes the bill “is a good thing.”

The President explained that the section actually “makes it easier for people to fill out a living will” and noted that it puts the patient in control “so she can say whether or not she wants extraordinary measures to be taken to save her life.” 

Obama explained that right now, “most of us don’t give direction to our family members,” so when one becomes ill, “nobody is there to make the decisions” and then the doctor, who doesn’t know your preference, “is making the decisions.”

Obama said that contrary to many rumors, no one will be forcing anyone to fill out a living will, and “certainly nobody is going to be forcing you to make a set of decisions on end of life care based on some bureaucratic law in Washington.”

“It’s putting more power, more choice in the hands of the American people and,” he argued, “it strikes me as a reasonable thing to do.”

However, the President’s words have not assuaged everyone’s fears mainly because Section 1233 was written by two strong pro-euthanasia advocates: Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) and Compassion & Choices.

Oregon Congressman Earl Blumenauer wrote in the Huffington Post on July 28 that he knows “a little bit” about section 1233 “because it’s a bill that I wrote which was incorporated into the overall legislation.”

Blumenauer is also known for being a backer of his state’s “Death with Dignity” law.  Oregon was the first state to permit physician-assisted suicide.

Compassion & Choices, formerly known as the Hemlock Society, also had a hand in promoting section 1233.

On their website on Tuesday, Compassion & Choices noted that they have “worked tirelessly” to include “a provision requiring Medicare to cover patient consultation with their doctors about end-of-life choice.”

Popik, the ethics attorney with NRLC called it “extremely troubling that Compassion and Choices, the principal group that promotes physician assisted suicide throughout the country is not only aggressively promoting these provisions, but claims responsibility for the inclusion of the main provision.”

She added that “Section 1233 allows assisted suicide and euthanasia to be promoted as an option in the places where it is legal (i.e. Washington, Oregon, and Montana)."

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Woman who claimed to be pregnant with 12 exposed as hoaxer

Tunis, Tunisia, Aug 19, 2009 (CNA) - A Tunisian woman who attracted global attention when she claimed she was pregnant with twelve babies has been exposed as a fraud by her country’s health ministry.

The 34-year-old woman, only known as AF, told medics in her home town of Gafsa that she was due to give birth to six boys and six girls later this month, the Daily Telegraph reports.

The Tunisian health ministry investigated her case and found that she has “psychological problems and is unlikely even to be pregnant.”

“Our staff interviewed her at length, but even her pregnancy appears to be in her imagination,” a ministry spokesman told The Telegraph.

"She's claiming to be nine months pregnant with six boys and six girls, but there's absolute nothing about her appearance which indicates this.”

Reporting that AF has refused to undergo a medical examination, the spokesman said she has gone into hiding.

A doctor at No'man al Adab Hospital, Gafsa’s only hospital, confirmed that AF had never been in their care, the Daily Telegraph says.

The woman’s husband, a man in his 40s known only as Marwan, has hired a lawyer to deal with media inquiries and is also being reported as missing.

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Pro-life coalition blocks expansion of Planned Parenthood clinic in Knoxville

Knoxville, Tenn., Aug 19, 2009 (CNA) - A combined pro-life effort has halted the proposed relocation and expansion of a Planned Parenthood abortion clinic in Knoxville, Tennessee.

The Pro-Life Coalition of East Tennessee (ProCET) joined together Tennessee Right to Life, the Catholic Diocese of Knoxville, several local Baptist churches and area crisis pregnancy centers.

In a video calling for opposition to the expansion, Bishop of Knoxville Richard F. Stika joined Dr. Doug Sager, Senior Pastor of First Baptist Church Concord.

Speaking in the video, Bishop Stika noted a local veterans’ cemetery where about 4,000 have been laid to rest.
“As I drive past that cemetery each day and I see the large number of headstones arranged row upon row, I am reminded that a new cemetery of approximately the same size, but without the headstones and decency of a proper burial, is created each year as a result of abortions in our Knoxville Community.”

On Wednesday, the ProCET website reported that Planned Parenthood would not be moving to the new facility.

“We give thanks and praise to God for His deliverance!” ProCET said. “Thanks to all who have put in time and effort by making phone calls, writing letters and getting the message out by word of mouth. Our voice was heard and we made a difference. Praise be to God!”

ProCET asked its members to recognize that the successful effort was only a “battle in the ongoing war.”
“Planned Parenthood will continue doing business in our community - less than half a mile from Bearden High School,” the group said, noting that Planned Parenthood of Middle and East Tennessee is considering other options.

The Center for Bioethical Reform (CBR) said in a press release that it worked independently of the coalition to show the consequences of the Planned Parenthood location, with pro-life advocates displaying abortion pictures on sidewalks, on the sides of trucks, and on airplane tow-banners near Planned Parenthood and in front of businesses CBR Southeast believed to be “enabl[ing] their killing programs.”

Explaining its actions, the CBR said “They are the same kinds of disturbing photos that have historically been used by social reformers to dramatize injustice and educate the public.”

CBR Southeast Director Fletcher Armstrong wrote to the landowner of the property, saying:

“If you collaborate with baby-killers, large numbers of protesters will express their outrage on the public sidewalks and on streets near the proposed facility. People of good conscience will organize a constant presence that will not go away in a few days, weeks, nor even months. The influence of disturbing abortion photos will discourage patronage of business throughout the Bearden Business District.”

CBR Executive Director Gregg Cunningham said that pro-life activists have been considered “toxic” and viewed with suspicion even by pro-life pastors.

“We have tried in vain to make ourselves more palatable. It is time we started using our toxicity to our own advantage. We need to let them know that if they support abortion, they get us; and they don't want us,” he said.

In related news, the Diocese of Knoxville has opened its fourth Pregnancy Help Center, citing an “unmet need” for them.

The new center is located in LaFollette, whose mayor had invited the center to occupy space in a former school building. Another center is in Chattanooga and two are in Knoxville.

“One of the significant things we do consistently throughout our area is provide services to people who are struggling with an unplanned pregnancy and people who are new parents who didn’t know they were going to be parents,” said Father Ragan Schriver, executive director of Catholic Charities of East Tennessee. 

“We feel the most important thing we can do is try to be there for people who are struggling, and that’s what we’re trying to do with this new center.”

The center will provide assistance to pregnant women and new mothers. Assistance includes baby and maternity clothes, diapers, formula, referrals to other community services, and a “listening ear.”

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FRC Action ramps up effort to exclude abortion from health care reform

Washington D.C., Aug 19, 2009 (CNA) -

Just ahead of President Obama's evening teleconference to promote his health care reform initiative to some faith-based groups, Tony Perkins, the president of the group Family Research Council Action, held a conference call with reporters to discuss the need to prevent abortion from being funded by the government under the guise of health care reform.

Referring to the current legislation being considered by Congress, Perkins said, "We readily acknowledge that if you do a word search of the thousand-plus-page bill, you won't find the word ‘abortion.’ You also won't find the word ‘tonsilectomy,’ nor will you find the word ‘bypass.’

"But you will find 'essential health care services,' and when you follow the trail to how this administration defines that, they include reproductive health care, which this administration readily admits includes abortion," Perkins stated to reporters.

As part of its campaign to inform voters about the health care bill, Perkins announced the launch of a second TV ad that will air in five states. The ad criticizes provisions in the health care bill that FRC Action says "will lead to rationing, explicitly allow abortion coverage in the public health plan and subsidize health plans that cover abortion."

The first FRC Action TV ad, "After a Government Health Care Takeover," was released two weeks ago, and is currently running on cable news in five states including Arkansas, Nebraska, Louisiana,

Alaska, and Pennsylvania.

Perkins explained that those specific states were chosen because they are "conservative states" that have a "strong pro-life, pro-family population" that can sway their representatives.

When he was asked if he thought the current tenor of the debate over health care showed a lack of civility, Perkins replied that he believed it shows "a lack of respect from government leaders to people across this country who have strong convictions."

The FRC Action leader called on faith leaders and people of faith to: urge their elected officials to place conscience protections in the bill for pro-life health care providers, prevent abortions from being paid with taxpayer money and ensure that the government doesn't get into the business of rationing.

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Obama calls on religious progressives to 'knock on doors' for health care reform

Washington D.C., Aug 19, 2009 (CNA) - Addressing a coalition of religious progressives this afternoon in a teleconference call, President Barack Obama denied that his health care plan will include abortion and asked members of different religious denominations to "knock on doors, talk to neighbors, spread the facts and speak the truth," about his health care reform.

The conference held at 5 p.m. Eastern time, was sponsored by “40 Days for Health Reform,” a group of some 30 left-leaning religious organizations including the Catholic Social Justice Lobby ("Network”), Catholics United Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good and the George Soros-funded Faith in Public Life.

The Sisters of Mercy of the Americas were listed as sponsors of the “40 Minutes for Health Reform” audio webcast.

Florida Pastor John Hunter introduced the “40 Minutes” with a passionate call to “take action to make health care reform happen,” claiming that “this is not about ideology or partisan politics; this is about people’s lives.”

Several religious leaders where then introduced to tell horror stories involving parishioners, friends and relatives who died or are suffering from the lack of private health insurance or the shortcomings of Medicare or Medicaid.

After a “moment of silence,” Jim Wallis from Sojourners, one of the leading Christian progressives who has supported Obama's policies, said that "we are in danger of losing the moral core of the discussion" and promised a "steady moral drumbeat from the faith community" in the coming days. Their oft repeated message will be "a clear call for truth telling," Wallis said.

Wallis then introduced Melody Barnes, the White House Director of Domestic Policy, who responded to questions that were either asked live or sent in through the web.

Responding to a Catholic caller, Barnes insisted that "federal funds will not be used for abortion coverage" and promised "well crafted conscience protection clauses," citing President Obama's commitment made in this regard both during his conference at Notre Dame and in his meeting with the Catholic press that preceded his first meeting with Pope Benedict XVI.

After the brief Q & A, some "people of faith around the country” gave ideas on how to promote the government's health care reform by "pulling the attention away from fear."

Then 15-year-old Carla Carranza, who attends the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Denver, Colorado, introduced the President.

President Barack Obama began by calling health coverage for Americans "a core ethical and moral obligation."

This “debate over health care goes to the heart of who we are as a people." "I believe that nobody in America should be denied basic health care because he or she lacks health insurance," the president said.

"I know that there's been a lot of misinformation in this debate and there are some folks out there who are, frankly, bearing false witness," Obama quipped, seeming to invoke the language of the Commandment.

The president reassured his listeners that government “would not meddle” with those who are satisfied with their health insurance or doctor.

He also addressed issues of concern to elderly people, calling the notion that his proposed changes to the health care system would lead to so-called death panels "just an extraordinary lie." The president added that, the idea that they would require federal funding for abortions or provide insurance for illegal aliens was not true and told callers the plan would not amount to a government takeover of health care or to cutting Medicare benefits for the elderly.

"These are fabrications that have been put out there in order to discourage people from meeting what I consider to be a core ethical and moral obligation and that is that we look out for one another," he said. "That I am my brother's keeper, I am my sister's keeper and in the wealthiest nation on Earth right now, we are neglecting to live up to that call."

Obama said the opposition to his bill was no surprise. "Throughout history, whenever we have sought to change this country for the better, there have always been those who wanted to preserve the status quo.” "These always boil down to a contest between hope and fear."

"I need you to knock on doors, talk to neighbors, spread the facts and speak the truth," he told religious leaders.

“I hope you will all help us move this process forward in the months to come, bye bye," concluded the President, taking no questions.

“40 Days for Health Reform” said the goal of the conference was to “focus on health care reform as a moral imperative, and how health reform will improve the lives of everyone.”

The President's decision to address the health care debate “directly and specifically with the faith community,” “demonstrates how important the faith community is to seizing this historic moment of opportunity to improve the lives of so many people in our country,” the organizers also said.

According to independent poll tracking conducted by the Rasmussen Report, 35% of American voters say passage of the health care bill currently working its way through Congress would be better than not passing any health care reform legislation this year, while 54% say no health care reform passed by Congress this year would be the better option.

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Pro-life reaction to Obama conference call: Bill still funds abortion

Washington D.C., Aug 19, 2009 (CNA) - Reacting to President Barack Obama’s remarks on his health care reform conference call with faith leaders today, pro-life organizations called on the president to “walk the talk” and remove the provisions in the health care bill that make it possible to fund abortions with federal dollars.

During a Wednesday teleconference sponsored by the left-leaning religious organizations Catholics United, Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good and Faith in Public Life, both White House Director of Domestic Policy Melody Barnes and President Obama denied that the health care bill would allow for federally funded abortions.

But according to Susan B. Anthony List President Marjorie Dannenfelser, “public support for abortion is on decline, and the President knows that openly advancing an abortion mandate in health care reform is unpopular with the American people.”

“Therefore, it comes as no surprise that Obama's statements conflict with the proposed legislation. Americans demand an explicit exclusion of abortion coverage, not more obfuscation and confusion from the President and his allies,” she added.

Douglas Johnson, legislative director for the National Right to Life Committee (NRLC), said that

the president was "emboldened by the recently demonstrated superficiality of some organs of the news media." Johnson further charged that Obama "brazenly misrepresented the abortion-related component of the health care legislation that his congressional allies and staff have crafted."

The NRLC explained that "as amended by the House Energy and Commerce Committee on July 30 (the Capps- Waxman Amendment), the bill backed by the White House (H.R. 3200) explicitly authorizes the government plan to cover all elective abortions."

"Obama apparently seeks to hide behind a technical distinction between tax funds and government- collected premiums. But these are merely two types of public funds, collected and spent by government agencies,” Johnson explained.

"The Obama-backed legislation makes it explicitly clear that no citizen would be allowed to enroll in the government plan unless he or she is willing to give the federal agency an extra amount calculated to cover the cost of all elective abortions -- this would not be optional. The abortionists would bill the federal government and would be paid by the federal government.

These are public funds, and this is government funding of abortion," Johnson said.

Johnson also pointed to an interview with Katie Couric of CBS News, broadcast July 21, in which Obama observed that "we also have a tradition of, in this town, historically, of not financing abortions as part of government funded health care."

"It is true that there is such a tradition -- which Obama has always opposed, and which the Obama-backed bill would shatter," Johnson insisted.

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