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Archive of September 10, 2009

Mother says doctors refused to treat infant because of U.K. health rules

London, England, Sep 10, 2009 (CNA) - Doctors in England ignored a mother’s pleas for help and left her extremely premature baby to die because he was born two days before a hospital guidelines’ recommended cutoff age for providing medical treatment.

In October 2008 Sarah Capewell, 23, gave birth to her son just 21 weeks and five days into her pregnancy, almost four months early.

She told the Daily Mail that doctors ignored her pleas to save Jayden, her newborn son. They said they were following national guidelines which say babies born before 22 weeks should not be given medical treatment.

Capewell said doctors refused even to see her son, who lived for almost two hours without any medical support. She reported that he was breathing unaided, had a strong heartbeat and was moving his arms and legs. However, medics refused to admit him to a special care unit.

They said they would have tried to save Jayden if he had been born two days later, at 22 weeks into pregnancy.

“When he was born, he put out his arms and legs and pushed himself over,” Capewell reported. A midwife said he was breathing and had a strong heartbeat and described him as a “little fighter.”

“I kept asking for the doctors but the midwife said, ‘They won't come and help, sweetie. Make the best of the time you have with him’,” Capewell told the Daily Mail.

She cuddled her son and took photos of him. He died in her arms less than two hours after his birth.

Capewell also reported that during her premature labor with Jayden she was told that she was not allowed injections to try to stop the labor or a steroid injection to help strengthen her baby’s lungs because she had not reached 22 weeks into pregnancy.

Doctors told Capewell, who has had five miscarriages, to treat the labor as a miscarriage, not a birth. They advised that she expect her baby to be born with serious deformities or stillborn.

After Jayden’s death she had to argue with hospital officials for her right to receive birth and death certificates to allow her son a proper funeral.

The medical guidelines for Health Service hospitals state that babies should not be given intensive care if they are born at less than 23 weeks.

The guidelines were drawn up by the Nuffield Council on Bioethics and are not compulsory. They advise doctors that medical intervention for very premature children is not in the best interests of the baby and is not “standard practice.”

A trust spokesman from James Paget Hospital in Norfolk said the hospital follows national guidance from the British Association of Perinatal Medicine regarding premature births.

Capewell has since discovered that a prematurely born child has survived after being born 21 weeks and six days into her mother’s pregnancy. Amillia Taylor was born in Florida in 2006 and was treated because doctors mistakenly believed she was a week older.

Amillia celebrated her second birthday last October. She is the youngest premature baby to survive.

“Thousands of women have experienced this,” Capewell said. “The doctors say the babies won't survive but how do they know if they are not giving them a chance?”

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Cluny Abbey to begin 1100th anniversary celebrations on Saturday

Cluny, France, Sep 10, 2009 (CNA) - The French city of Cluny is preparing to begin a year of celebrations for the 1100th anniversary of the famous Cluny Abbey.

The abbey, founded in the year 910, was instrumental in the spread of Christianity and the development of monasticism in Europe in the Middle Ages.

Bishop Benoît Rivière of Auton, Chalon and Mâcon will celebrate a Mass in Cluny on Saturday, the Italian bishops' news service SIR reports. The twelve gates of the city will be symbolically opened to mark the beginning of the Year of Celebrations.

Fr. Pierre Calimé, spokesman of the diocese, said celebrants want the anniversary to be “above all a spiritual event” and not only a celebration of a cultural and artistic heritage.

“The great work of Cluny is the life of thousands of monks entrusting themselves to the Rule of Saint Benedict,” he explained.

“Cluny 2010 must be an opportunity to rediscover what the heart of the abbey is: ‘Do you want the true life?’”

Fr. Calimé praised the virtues of Cluny’s founding abbot, St. Odo, and said the Benedictine Rule contains aspects and lessons still relevant to today’s laity. This relevance has inspired the idea of holding some workshops on the Benedictine Rule and of holding a talk on Cluny’s order.

Planned events include a High Mass for the dead on November 2 and the commemoration of St. Hugh, the sixth abbot of Cluny, on April 23, 2010.

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Eduardo Verastegui tells Catholic youth at English festival about call to holiness

Walsingham, England, Sep 10, 2009 (CNA) - Catholic actor Eduardo Verastegui was one of several speakers at an annual festival held at Walsingham, England during the country’s August bank holiday weekend. About 1,500 young people took part in the five day session of camping, music and Catholic renewal.

Verastegui told the youthful audience that they were called to holiness in their everyday lives, according to a press release from Youth 2000. He also spoke to the young pilgrims about chastity.

He explained that after his conversion he refused film scripts that did not promote Christian values.

“I was without work for four years,” he said.

He told the audience he had felt called to become a missionary in the Brazilian jungle, but a priest told him “Hollywood is your jungle.”

Verastegui founded Metanoia Films, a company dedicated to producing films that are upbeat and promote virtue. The actor starred in Metanoia’s 2007 film “Bella” about the story of a young girl who was considering an abortion.

The festival was entirely youth-led and featured testimonies and prayer and worship in the style of the World Youth Days. There were also opportunities for small group discussion, sports and socializing.

Some attendees came from as far away as Germany and Spain.

Michelle Moran, a member of the Pontifical Council of the Laity, was another of the festival’s inspirational speakers. She told the audience that the Holy Spirit has been “poured into our lives” so that we can “grow in holiness.”

“And then in the spirit of Pentecost we can reach out to others and become agents of the new evangelization,” she continued.

Fr. Steven Langridge, Vocations Director for the Archdiocese of Southwark, was one of the many priests who celebrated Mass and heard confessions. In a homily he encouraged the young people to be generous in the discernment of their vocations.

“The world needs heroes!” he said.

Fr. Stephen Wang, chaplain to Youth 2000, told young people: “The holiness you have found here is also found in your parishes – live your faith in your parishes and allow it to come alive in your daily lives.”

Noel Murphy, the 31-year-old National Director of Youth 2000, said the group was “delighted” at the festival’s success.

“The number of young people who have attended for the first time and whose lives have been touched is quite moving. We are encouraging them to return to their parishes and get involved, to evangelize their friends, and continue living the Christian life rooted in the sacraments and prayer.”

“We are especially delighted that Eduardo Verastegui was able to join us,” Murphy continued. “It is hard to live your faith as a young Catholic and Eduardo’s talk was a strong encouragement to young people to stand up for their Christian values. Young people of this country need role models like Eduardo.”

The group Youth 2000, which sponsored the event, aims to provide a “gateway” back into the Church for those in their late teens and twenties who no longer practice their faith. The festivals are donation-only and introduce attendees to the basics of Catholic faith and prayer.

The next Youth 2000 festival is scheduled to take place in Carmarthen from October 30 to November 1. Organizers are seeking funds to finance their events.

More information on Youth 2000 is at http://www.youth2000.org.

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Artists from around the world to meet with Pope Benedict

Vatican City, Sep 10, 2009 (CNA) - In an effort to continue its promotion of the arts, the Pontifical Council for Culture is organizing a meeting of artists from around the world with Pope Benedict XVI on November 21.

 

The meeting will take place in the Sistine Chapel on the 10th anniversary of John Paul II's famous "Letter to Artists" and the 45th anniversary of Paul VI's meeting with artists.

 

At a press conference this morning at the Holy See's Press Office, Archbishop Gianfranco Ravasi, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture, and Antonio Paolucci, director of the Vatican Museums, spoke about the purpose of the upcoming meeting.

 

"The aim of the meeting," Archbishop Ravasi explained, "is to renew friendship and dialogue between the Church and artists, and to encourage new opportunities for collaboration."

 

Paolucci added that although the number of artists invited to the meeting is limited by the size of the Sistine Chapel, they hail from all continents. "They are," he said, "men and women of different cultures and languages ... painters, sculptors, architects, writers and poets, musicians and singers, directors and actors from cinema and theatre, dancers."

 

On the evening of November 20, before their meeting with the Holy Father on November 21, the artists will visit the Vatican Museums' collection of modern and contemporary art, which was created at the request of Pope Paul VI.

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Benedict XVI urges people to discover 'religious dimension' of environment

Castel Gandolfo, Italy, Sep 10, 2009 (CNA) - Emphasizing the need to protect the environment, Pope Benedict XVI told a delegation of Spanish supporters this morning that the call for people to "discover its more profound spiritual and religious dimension" is also urgent.

The Holy Father made his comments as he addressed a group of sponsors of the Holy See's Pavilion at "Expo Zaragoza 2008," an international exposition focused on the theme, "Water and sustainable development." The event took place last year between June 14 and September 14 in the Spanish city of Zaragoza.

The international expo, sponsored by the Archdiocese of Zaragoza and the Pontifical Council of Justice and Peace, included a display by the Holy See that focused on the "significance and primordial importance water has for human life."

A guided tour of the expo was divided into three stages: The first presented water as a life-source; the second displayed art associated with water and its role in Salvation History; and the third was dedicated to the many people who have limited access to this vital element and need to solve this problem.

Pope Benedict noted that the Vatican's pavilion was one of the "most visited and appreciated," and that it contained "an important display of the priceless artistic, cultural and religious heritage of the Church."

"By participating in the exposition," the Holy Father explained, "the Holy See wished to demonstrate not only the urgent need constantly to defend the environment and the natural world, but also to discover its more profound spiritual and religious dimension."

Reflecting on man's responsibility for protecting Creation, Pope Benedict said, "The truth is that when God, through creation, gave man the keys to the earth, He wanted him to use this great gift responsibly and respectfully, making it fruitful. ... In this context it is important to reiterate the close relationship between protection of the environment and respect for the ethical requirements of human nature, because 'when human ecology is respected within society, environmental ecology also benefits.'"

Pope Benedict XVI concluded his remarks by entrusting the promoters of the Holy See pavilion to Our Lady of the Pillar "at whose feet flow the abundant waters of the River Ebro."

 

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Pro-life leaders continue to question Obama’s health care reform

Washington D.C., Sep 10, 2009 (CNA) - Following an address by President Barack Obama to a joint session of Congress on Wednesday night, both the president of the Family Research Council and the president of Concerned Women of America emphasized that despite Obama’s words that the reform won’t include tax-payer funding abortions, federal dollars will pay for the procedure.

During his speech, Obama said addressed abortion saying:  “And one more misunderstanding I want to clear up — under our plan, no federal dollars will be used to fund abortions, and federal conscience laws will remain in place.”

President of the Family Research Council, Tony Perkins took Obama to task for misleading Americans by “dismissing the concerns” of those with “moral objections to their tax dollars paying for abortions.”

"It's surprising the President continues to claim that 'no federal dollars' will fund abortion,” said Perkins adding that the opposite was proven weeks ago by FactCheck.org, and in articles by the AP, Time magazine and the Washington Post.

He continued, “The President also knows very well that pro-abortion House and Senate Committees rejected every single amendment to keep abortion funding out of the health care overhaul. Instead, the House Energy and Commerce Committee adopted the Capps Amendment, which allows abortion coverage in the public health plan, and subsidizes health plans that cover abortion."

Wendy Wright, the president of Concerned Women for American demanded that Obama clarify what the reform will and will not do.

“If it won't use taxpayer funds for abortion - put it in writing in the bill.  If it will protect doctors from violating their conscience by forcing them to commit abortions, put it in clear, no- nonsense language in the bill,” Wright said.

She continued, “If it allows people to keep the plan they have, then let it allow people to choose the plan they want.  If it requires every person to pay for government- approved insurance, be honest with Americans that they will be punished if they choose a different plan for themselves and their families.”

Wright also cited a poll released by the Associated Press-GfK showing that the public disapproval of Obama’s “handling of health care” is at a high of 52 %, and that 49% of Americans “disapprove of how he is handling his job as president.”

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Torture must never be used, even in the fight against terrorism, says Spanish bishop

Oñati, Spain, Sep 10, 2009 (CNA) - Bishop Juan Maria Uriarte of San Sebastian in Spain warned this week that torture must never be used even in the fight against "the abominable evil of terrorism."

Bishop Uriarte noted that the delicate political conflicts in the Basque region of Spain must be resolved through dialogue, which is "the unavoidable path towards peace."

During a homily at the Mass in honor of Our Lady of Arantzazu, the bishop said that at time when many are feeling despair about the future, "We must spread the hope" that "has its foundation in God who never lets go of us."

When conflicts in society appears to be getting worse, he continued, there needs to be a strong and decisive rejection of violence, and public officials must appropriately respond, "with respect for the rights of the human person, which must not be deprived even for the most hardened criminals."

While it can be easy to set aside our moral beliefs for the sake of political expediency, the bishop said, "we must clearly state that for morality…the gravest of all crimes is that of murder."

In this sense, he warned, "not even to prevent the abominable evil of terrorism should the application of torture ever be allowed."

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Legalization of drugs would send wrong message, warns Argentinean archbishop

Buenos Aires, Argentina, Sep 10, 2009 (CNA) - Archbishop Luis Villalba of Tucuman in Argentina said this week that the legalization of drugs such as marijuana would not be helpful for addicts and would send the message that such drugs are safe.

 

“Legalizing drugs runs the risk of the sending the message that drugs are not harmful,” the archbishop explained.  “The message sent with this decision is, it’s okay to take drugs, drugs are legal!” he warned during a youth pilgrimage.

 

Archbishop Villalba said that while addicts should not be turned into criminals, they should be treated as sick people who need medical care.  He continued remarking that the legalization of drugs for personal use is to “abandon” the addicts and “neglect their right to health.”  

 

“Drugs are evil and facilitating their consumption is not good, it is evil and goes against the fundamental principle that man has been created for life and not for death,” he went on. “Drugs are synonymous with death and young people must not be led into them, they must be steered away,” the archbishop warned.

 

Drug addiction “is not resolved with a decision that only addresses partial aspects of the problem,” he said.  “It is a complex issue that must be resolved comprehensively.  In this sense the legal, economic, health care, social and educational aspects must be taken into account,” the archbishop concluded.

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Church prevents man from destroying himself, says Cardinal Bertone

Rome, Italy, Sep 10, 2009 (CNA) - The Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, remarked earlier this week that the Church "not only promotes the defense of the earth, water and air, which the Creator has given to all, but she is also especially committed to protecting man from destroying himself."

The cardinal made his comments during a Mass at an environmental protection congress. In his homily he quoted a passage from the encyclical, "Caritas in Veritate," in which Pope Benedict XVI points out how respect for human ecology in society leads to benefits for the environmental ecology as well.

"The Church considers the issues related to the environment and its protection as intimately linked to the issue of comprehensive human development," Cardinal Bertone stated.

For this reason he encouraged participants to contribute to "the construction of a world in which peace" is shared among all the inhabitants.

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Church will not be silent about anti-Catholic movements, says Costa Rican bishop

San José, Costa Rica, Sep 10, 2009 (CNA) - In response to attempts by lawmakers to eliminate a clause from the country’s constitution that states the official religion of Costa Rica is the Catholic faith, Bishop Jose Francisco Ulloa of Cartago said the Church "will not be silent" and will not abandon her mission to defend human life and the family.

In a recent homily at the cathedral, the bishop remarked, "Certain groups and ideologies exist that pretend to weaken and even eliminate the mission that Jesus Christ entrusted to his Church, as if the Church of Jesus were dependent upon human whims or on some part of a political constitution. The Church is divine and nobody can destroy her," he said.

Referring to the Costa Rican constitution, which declares that the country’s official religion is the Catholic faith, but that the state shall not interfere with the free exercise of any religion that does not contradict "universal morality or good morals," Bishop Ulloa said there are some who mistakenly believe that "the Catholic Church is going to be silent" about the proposed changes or that it will "compromise the principles that God has entrusted her to proclaim throughout history for the good of the human person and of humanity."

"The Church will always respect life from conception to natural death," he said. "The Church will continue to proclaim God’s truth about marriage between one man and one woman without fear. The Church will continue to defend the rights of the family at all costs," the bishop added.

He went on to note that some lawmakers believe that with these changes "they will kill God. They are totally wrong. God does not die. He is the God of life, He is eternal, unchangeable. All creation depends on Him and only in Him does human life find meaning."

"When the human being denies God, he becomes dehumanized and loses his dignity," the bishop continued. "When a state becomes atheist, it is capable of committing the worst injustices and the gravest aberrations. History is witness to this."

Bishop Ulloa went on to encourage Costa Ricans to choose wisely those who will occupy political office and to cast their votes for candidates that defend life, marriage and the family. "Let us protest loudly and without fear against these anti-human, anti-Christian and atheistic policies that some wish to impose upon us," he said.

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Priesthood is not a career, Vatican cardinal says

Fatima, Portugal, Sep 10, 2009 (CNA) - The Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy, Cardinal Claudio Hummes, cautioned that some priests have an "inadequate and superficial" encounter with Christ and have turned their ministries into "a sort of ecclesiastical profession.”

 

According to L’Osservatore Romano, which quoted the Portuguese news agency, Ecclesia, Cardinal Hummes made his comments this week at the Fourth Symposium of the Clergy of Portugal which had as its theme, "Rekindle the gift that is in you," At the symposium held in Fatima, the cardinal encouraged the more than 800 priests in attendance to be missionaries and to nurture their own spirituality each day. This requires "maintaining a regular contact with the Word of God, living an authentic life of prayer that includes the Liturgy of the Hours and devotion to Mary, celebrating the Eucharist daily as the center of ministerial life and regularly making use of the Sacrament of Confession.”

 

The prefect also said that every priest must "live in ecclesial communion with the Pope, the local bishop and the presbytery; be completely and tirelessly devoted to pastoral ministry and to missionary efforts to evangelize; be a man of charity, brotherhood, kindness, forgiveness and mercy towards all; show solidarity with the poor by acting as their advocate and friend and seeing them as God’s favorites."

 

In this context, the cardinal said that while the number of priestly vocations has dropped, “We must not be discouraged or be fearful of today’s society, nor must we simply condemn it.”

 

Christ’s will for priests is for them to be pastors and to guide the community, he added.  “This is an urgent task which the recent Popes have untiringly reiterated.” 

 

Because of the “new paganism” that has become prevalent, the cardinal said, it is not enough to just preach to the choir.  “We cannot limit ourselves to the care and evangelization of people who seek us out in the Church,” he stated.

 

 

 

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U.S. bishops' official: Obama planning his own health care proposal

Washington D.C., Sep 10, 2009 (CNA) -

On Wednesday evening, President Barack Obama stated in his speech on health care reform that "no federal dollars will be used to fund abortions." According to one U.S. Bishops' Conference official, the president's abortion statement refers not to H.R. 3200 but to a new proposal on health care reform that the White House plans to introduce.

The reaction from many pro-life organizations to last night's statement by President Obama was to say that the House bill—H.R. 3200—does in fact fund abortion and that the president was misleading the American public.

Cardinal Justin Rigali, writing for the U.S. Catholic bishops, weighed-in on the House legislation in mid-August, describing it as "seriously deficient" because it bypasses restrictions on the federal funding of abortion and allows federal officials to make unlimited abortion a mandated benefit.

CNA asked Richard Doerflinger, the Associate Director of the U.S. bishops' Secretariat of Pro-life Activities, if President Obama was saying last night that the bishops' assessment of the bill's funding is wrong.

"We have said the current bills such as HR 3200 will fund and mandate abortion coverage. Last night the President did not comment on that issue, but said the new bill he is preparing to introduce will not fund abortions," Doerflinger replied to CNA in an email.

"We have to wait and see what is actually in the bill before judging whether we agree. We are willing to work with him and Congress to help make sure this commitment is reflected in the actual bill," Doerflinger added.

Any new legislation on health care reform is unlikely to be introduced as an entirely new bill but would most likely be introduced in a "manager's amendment," a package of amendments agreed to by both sides before its introduction.

On the topic of conscience protections, Doerflinger argued that, "At the very least, existing federal laws on conscience rights should be maintained and reflected in any new health care reform legislation."

Finally, the USCCB official warned that pro-lifers should not let their guards down, saying, "there is every reason to be concerned about this issue -- not only funding abortions through taxes but being required by the government to fund them through health care premiums. The forthcoming legislation should be scrutinized very carefully.

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Responding to report, pro-life leader insists people are not pollution

Front Royal, Va., Sep 10, 2009 (CNA) - A pro-life leader has criticized a report’s claim that contraception is the cheapest way to combat climate change, saying it rests on the false idea that people equal pollution.

On Wednesday the London School of Economics think tank Optimum Population Trust (OPT) released a report titled “Fewer Emitters, Lower Emissions, Less Cost.”

According to the Daily Telegraph, the report claimed that if basic “family planning needs” were met, the number of “unintended” pregnancies that would be prevented, would result in 34 billion fewer metric tons of carbon dioxide being emitted, nearly six times the annual carbon emissions of the United States.

“It’s always been obviously that total emissions depend on the number of emitters as well as their individual emissions – the carbon tonnage can’t shoot down as we want, while the population keeps shooting up,” said Roger Martin, OPT chairman.

Stephen W. Mosher, President of the Population Research Institute, criticized the report in an email to CNA.

“The idea that people equal pollution dates back to the very beginning of the population control movement in the Sixties,” he said.

“It wasn't true then, and it isn't true now. Free people equal prosperity, which in turn provides the resources that you need to conserve and protect the natural environment. So these anti-people fanatics have it exactly backwards.”

He said that human-generated global warming is “still an open question.” He also speculated that the OPT’s recommendations could result in forcible contraception to prevent what he called a “make-believe problem."

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Poll says majority of Americans opposed to abortion funding in health care bill

Washington D.C., Sep 10, 2009 (CNA) - A nationwide poll reports that most Americans do not want government funding for abortion in health care reform legislation.

About 55 percent of respondents to a Susan B. Anthony List poll said they thought it would be wrong for the government to fund abortions. Another 52 percent said they do not want the government to help fund health care plans that fund abortions. About 58 percent disagreed that a government-run health plan has an obligation to provide abortion services.

A reported 25 percent of Democrats said they would be less likely to support a reform plan that funds abortion, while only twelve percent of Democrats said they would be more likely to support it. Overall, 43 percent of respondents said they would be less likely to support such coverage, including the 36 percent of respondents who said their support would be much less likely in such a case.

Women were less likely than men to support abortion funding in government health care.

The poll of 800 registered voters was conducted by Public Opinion Strategies from August 30 to September 1 and claims a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percent.

Commenting on the poll results, Susan B. Anthony List President Marjorie Dannenfelser said the inclusion of government funds for abortion in health care reform is “unappealing” to Americans nationwide.

“This may be surprising to elites, but it is not to the rest of America,” she continued. “Americans realize pro-abortion feminists have dramatically overrepresented a minority position, misstating the centrality and 'need' for abortion on-demand.

“If the Congressional leadership and the President fall on the sword of abortion coverage, pleasing their allies and weaving it into the fabric of our daily lives, they do so at the peril of the entire bill and their own political futures. Today's polling data offers the latest compelling reason for Congress to reject the President's health care proposal without authentic language to exclude abortion funding.”

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Rep. Smith doubts Obama’s claim of no federal funding for abortion

Washington D.C., Sep 10, 2009 (CNA) - In comments following President Obama’s address to Congress regarding health care reform, Representative Chris Smith (R-NJ) expressed reservation about the president’s statement that under the new health care reform, “no federal dollars will be used to fund abortion.”

Smith said the president’s statement is not true by referring to Factcheck.org which notes that the current health care reform would “allow abortions to be covered by a federal plan and by federally subsidized private plans.”

“Killing human babies by abortion is not health care,” Smith stressed, remarking that “Publicly funding and facilitating abortion can in no way be construed as health care reform.”

Smith then charged President Obama of “seeking to ‘pull one over’ on the American public” by denying that the health reform won’t fund abortions.  “Yet even the nonpartisan FactCheck.org has called him on this fallacious and deceptive claim,” he said.

The congressman then called for the president’s accountability.  “If he intends to support the pro-life amendments that have thus far been deleted by pro-abortion members of his party, we welcome that,” said Smith.  “But the truth is that he seeks to cover up his intention to use the government-run public plan to send checks from the U.S. treasury to abortionists around the country.  And, use government subsidies to pay for health care plans that cover abortion.”

Following the president’s meeting Wednesday night, several pro-life leaders have questioned his assertion that “no federal dollars will be used to fund abortion.” 

However, one U.S. Bishops’ Conference official told CNA on Thursday afternoon that President Obama is currently preparing a new proposal on health care reform and last night’s comments about abortion referred to this legislation.

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