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Archive of November 5, 2009

Archbishop praises Constitutional Court for ruling on abortifacient pill

Arequipa, Peru, Nov 5, 2009 (CNA) - Archbishop Javier Del Rio Alba of Arequipa praised a ruling by Peru’s Constitutional Court on the controversial morning-after pill and explained that the “right to life” has “triumphed, because that is what the law and medicine demand.”

“The ruling of the Constitutional Court is absolutely correct, both from the legal and medical point of view,” the archbishop said.

Archbishop Del Rio underscored that the court’s ruling “deserves the praise of the Peruvian people, as it constitutes a masterpiece of jurisprudence and scientific knowledge by being founded upon 21st century medicine, the primacy of the Constitution, the country’s legal order and the respect for International Conventions ratified by Peru.”

The archbishop noted that “other courts in South America have ruled against the morning-after pill” in recent years and that last week “it was outlawed by the Honduran Congress.

Ironically, he pointed out, “the attempts by organizations to interfere in the health policies of our country by distorting the truth and promoting abortion actually contributed to the court’s ruling, as it was reported during the previous months that the number of abortions and teen pregnancies increased during the six years that the State allowed the pill to be used.”

He called on Peruvians not to be fooled into thinking that the ruling by the Constitutional Court was the result of “pressure from the Church,” or that “without the pill the number of unwanted pregnancies would increase.”

“The justices have acted on the basis of legal arguments and the testimonies presented by the various parties involved in this process,” the archbishop said. “And in the end, the right to life and the health of unborn children and of their own mothers has triumphed, because that is what the law and medicine demand,” he said.

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Pro-abortion group endorses female Catholic politicians for 2010 race

Washington D.C., Nov 5, 2009 (CNA) - EMILY's List, a pro-abortion political action committee, recently announced the list of the candidates it is supporting for the 2010 elections. Eight of 18 politicians are women who identify themselves as Catholic, a fact that caused one leading pro-life feminist to remark, “Clearly these candidates are out of sync with the teaching of their church.”

Since 2008, the number of candidates receiving financial backing from EMILY's List and who call themselves Catholic has jumped from four to eight.

Seven out of those eight candidates are currently in office and have already received campaign endorsements.  Incumbent Catholic politicians such as Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.),  Sen Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) and Sen Kristen Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) have had over $700,000 distributed to them throughout the years by EMILY's List and have all received public affirmations from pro-abortion groups such as Planned Parenthood and NARAL.

“This is a fundamental, but familiar problem,” said Marjorie Dannensfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List. “Women who are living in the heart of the church can speak especially profoundly about the sanctity of life, so it is truly a lost opportunity.” 

Dannensfelser, who is a convert to Catholicism, noted that “Pope John Paul II spoke extensively about the role of women in bringing about a culture of life,” and that “so many women in the church find inspiration from this, it's a shame Catholic women in politics don't extend that inspiration.”

According to the website for EMILY's List, the group has raised over 240 million dollars to support “pro-choice Democratic women” since its inception in 1985. The group states that it believes that “abortion rights” are fundamental to the societal progress of women.

But Dannensfelser took issue with the idea that advancing abortion helps women, saying, “Early feminists recognized that abortion is the ultimate exploitation of women. Susan B. Anthony referred to abortion as 'child murder' and condemned the men who treated women as property by forcing them to abort their unborn children.”

The SBA List president insisted, “being pro-abortion rights does not go hand in hand with being pro-woman.”

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Supporters of Illinois parental notification law claim ‘great victory’ as it takes effect

Chicago, Ill., Nov 5, 2009 (CNA) - In what one pro-life advocate called a “great victory” for families, a Wednesday vote by the Illinois Medical Disciplinary Board has cleared the way for the state to begin enforcement of a 1995 law requiring parental notification for underage girls who seek abortions.

Board members declined to extend a grace period put in place by the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation, the Chicago Tribune reports.

The law requires doctors to notify the parents or guardians of girls 17 or younger before the teens undergo abortions. The law does not require parental consent, but requires 48 hours notice before an abortion. Similar laws are in effect in 35 other states.

The law requires no notice in a medical emergency or in cases of sexual abuse. A provision allows girls to bypass parental notification by going to a judge.

Board members were told that courts in a majority of Illinois counties were not prepared to handle the judicial provision. Some board members expressed disappointment in the courts’ lack of preparation.

Before the vote, the Archdiocese of Chicago’s Office of Respect Life had voiced concerns about what it called an “obvious conflict of interest” for Brent Adams, the Secretary of the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation. The office reported that Adams is listed as a member of the leadership team of Personal PAC, the largest abortion promoting political action committee in Illinois.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Illinois said it planned to ask a Cook County judge on Wednesday afternoon for a temporary restraining order to keep the state from enforcing the law.

Supporters of the law were pleased it will take effect.

"This is a great victory for Illinois families. Girls that face an unwanted pregnancy will be guaranteed access to the most important pregnancy crisis counselors: their parents," Tom Brejcha, President and Chief Counsel of the Chicago-based Thomas More Society, commented in a statement. "We've fought this legal battle so that Illinois would join with the majority of the people in the nation who value parental rights and the well-being of their children."

The Parental Notice of Abortion Act was passed in 1995. However, it was never enforced because the Illinois Supreme Court refused to issue rules detailing how judges should handle appeals of the parental notification requirement.

In July, a federal appeals court lifted the injunction on the law.

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EWTN broadcasts to go High-Def in December

Irondale, Ala., Nov 5, 2009 (CNA) - The Catholic broadcaster Eternal Word Television Network has announced that the channel will be available in High Definition (HD) format for all U.S. affiliates beginning on December 8.

“The Faith never looked so good!” an EWTN press release said.

“EWTN is the only Catholic television network available in this format,” EWTN President and CEO Michael P. Warsaw said. “We chose to launch HD in December so we could bring our viewers all the beautiful images of the Christmas season using the most advanced technology.

Warsaw said that the HD launch date of Dec. 8, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, was chosen to honor the Virgin Mary who has “conveyed so many blessings upon this Network.”

EWTN Global Catholic Network has been in operation for 28 years. It is available in over 150 million households in more than 140 countries and territories. With AM and FM radio networks, a worldwide short-wave radio station, an internet website and a publishing arm, it claims to be the largest religious media network in the world.

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Archbishop asks U.N. for lasting solution to ‘tragic reality’ of Palestinian refugees

New York City, N.Y., Nov 5, 2009 (CNA) - Commenting on a report about the refugee situation in Palestine, the apostolic nuncio to the U.N. lamented the “tragic reality” that the situation is “unresolved.” He called for a “lasting solution” to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that includes religious freedom and guarantees access to holy sites for the residents of Jerusalem.

Archbishop Celestino Migliore, head of the Holy See’s permanent observer mission to the United Nations, on Tuesday delivered a statement to the Special Political and Decolonization Committee on the matter of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA).

The annual UNRWA report, he said, speaks of the difficulties Palestinian refugees have endured for six decades.

“The Holy See understands precisely how the current situation has impacted the lives of millions with great adversity,” the archbishop declared, noting the relief work of the Pontifical Mission for Palestine.

Archbishop Migliore advised a “balanced approach” to peace negotiations that avoids imposing preconditions on either side.

“A lasting solution must include the status of the Holy City of Jerusalem,” he added.

The Holy See reiterated its support for internationally guaranteed provisions for freedom of religion for the inhabitants of Jerusalem. The archbishop also called for residents’ “permanent, free and unhindered access” to the holy sites of their religions.

“We repeat our call to the international community to facilitate significant negotiations between the conflicting parties,” his address concluded. “Only with a just and lasting peace – not imposed but secured through negotiation and reasonable compromise – will the legitimate aspirations of all the peoples of the Holy Land be fulfilled.”

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Benedict XVI addresses anxiety, death and 'hope of immortality'

Vatican City, Nov 5, 2009 (CNA) -

This morning, Pope Benedict celebrated a Mass for the souls of the cardinals and bishops who have died over the past year.  In his homily, the Holy Father described death as “an enigma charged with anxiety,” and noted the importance of faith, hope and mercy in times “of human sadness and distress.”

The Mass, which is a traditional November occurrence, was concelebrated by members of the College of Cardinals.

Among the many men remembered during the celebration were the following cardinals: Pio Laghi, Stephanos II Ghattas, Stephen Kim Sou-hwan, Paul Joseph Pham Dinh Tung, Umberto Betti, and Jean Margeot, and the American Jesuit Avery Dulles.

The Pope spoke of death as “an enigma charged with anxiety,” acknowledging that separation from loved ones is painful. However, he continued, “the faith sustains us in these moments full of human sadness and distress.” It is from the faith that our “hope of immortality” springs.

In today’s second reading, the Pontiff continued, St. Peter encourages us to “maintain the prospect of hope, a ‘living hope,’ alive in our hearts… because God in his great mercy has regenerated us ‘through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead’.”

This mercy and hope, Pope Benedict added, "is the reason we must be 'full of joy', even if we are afflicted by suffering. If, indeed, we persevere in goodness, then our faith, purified by many trials, will one day shine forth in all its splendor.”

The Holy Father concluded that, with the end goal of our faith being the salvation of souls, we are to “exult 'with an indescribable and glorious joy,’” having such reason for hope despite the temporal separation of death.

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Vatican hosting seminar on sports and spiritual life

Vatican City, Nov 5, 2009 (CNA) - The Vatican is set to host a unique seminar on how sports are related to building virtue and the spiritual life. Participants will hear from the former U.S. Olympic rower Susan Saint Sing and Edio Constantini, the president of the John Paul II Sports Foundation, among other speakers.

The gathering is being organized by the “Church and Sport” section of the Pontifical Council for the Laity and will take place November 6-7 at the Villa Aurelia Conference Center in Rome.

The theme for the two-day seminar is: "Sport, education and faith: a new season for Catholic sport associations." The aim of the event is to explore the relationship between sporting activity, the formation of the human person, and faith, within the field of Catholic sport associations.

Those in attendance will include representatives of sport and youth ministry from episcopal conferences, presidents of Catholic associations at the national and international level, and personalities from the worlds of professional and amateur sport.

Kicking off the first day of events will be a Friday morning session on the Church's mission within the world of youth sports. After the reading of a Message from Benedict XVI and some opening remarks from Cardinal Stanislaw Rylko, president of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, attention will turn to the role of sport associations in the Catholic world, in the light of Church teaching. The morning set of talks will be drawn to a close with an address by Mike McNamee, professor at Swansea University in Wales, who will  consider if there is a correlation between sports and human virtue.

Friday afternoon will feature a panel discussion in which professional athletes will discus what it means to be a champion, "that is to say, to offer an idea of success that is not limited to mere fame or victory but is rather defined by virtuous behavior that is lived both on and off the field," a press release on the event says.

Susan Saint Sing, former U.S. Olympic rower, will close out the day with an analysis of the relationship between sport and spiritual life.

On Saturday, Edio Constantini, president of the year-old John Paul II Sports Foundation, will deliver a talk on new approaches and educational strategies in sports environments, which will be followed by a   panel discussion on the opportunities offered by Catholic sport associations for bearing witness to Christ.

The conference will conclude with an address by Bishop Josef Clemens, secretary of the Pontifical Council for the Laity.

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Spanish cloistered nuns see surge in vocations

Madrid, Spain, Nov 5, 2009 (CNA) - A 43 year-old prioresses has revolutionized an old Poor Clares convent in Spain, turning it onto a magnet for dozens of young professional women.

Sister Veronica joined the Poor Clares Convent of the Ascension founded in 1604 in Lerma (Spain) at at time when it was going through a vocations crisis.  It was January 22, 1984, and Marijose Berzosa - Sr. Veronica's name prior to entering the convent - decided, at age 18, to leave behind a career in medicine, friends, nightlife and baketball.

"Nobody understood me. There were bets that it would not last, but they did not feel the force of the hurricane that drew me in," says Sr. Veronica. "I was a classic teenager looking for a way out ... and I made a decision in just 15 days."

Sr. Veronica joined the convent which had not seen a new vocation in nearly 23 years.

Sr. Pureza de Maria Lubian, 70, now abbess of the convent in Burgos, was her formation director and remembers her Sr. Veronica as "a lovely girl.”

“Very noble and very good,” recalls Sr. Puerza de Maria.  Sr. Vernoica “was 18 and had a future. She left everything. She followed the call of God.  She had a rich personality. She was always a leader. And, spiritually, she had a great vocation.” 

Sr. Puerza de Maria also notes that though Sr. Veronica faced many “struggles and difficulties,” she perservered and submitted to God's plan for her life.

The Spanish daily El Pais, one of the newspapers most sympathetic to the  current Socialist government’s campaign against the Catholic Church in Spain, could not resist publishing an extensive report on Sr. Veronica.  According to the newspaper, she “has become the biggest phenomenon in the Church since Teresa of Calcutta,” as “she has made the old convent of Lerma into an attractive recruiting banner for female vocations, with 135 professional women with a median age of 35 and 100 more on a waiting list.”  The paper adds that Sr. Vernoica has also “opened a house in the town of La Aguilera, 24 miles from Lerma, at a huge monastery donated by her Franciscan brothers."

"It is an unexpected boom in vocations when the Jesuits have just 20 novices in all of Spain, the Franciscans, five, and the Vincentians, two. And it’s happening at a time when nuns are being imported from India, Kenya or Paraguay to prevent the closure of convents inhabited by elderly nuns, and when most of our priests are above the age of 60," the report indicated.

On weekends the convent welcomes hundreds of pilgrims:  families, young members of ecclesial movements and church groups arrive in buses to attend the prayers, theatrical plays and talks on fully living  the Christian life.

According to El Pais, the majority of the young sisters who have been attracted to the cloister "have been in relationships and had careers.”  The women are strong in their knowledge of theology, and are “urban and educated.”

In addition, “None are immigrants. There are five sisters from the same family, eleven pairs of blood sisters and a few twins. Most are from the middle class. And they have college degrees. This community offers a complete roster of lawyers, economists, physicists and chemists, roadway engineers, industrial workers, agricultural workers and aeronautics engineers, architects, doctors, pharmacists, biologists and physical therapists, librarians, philologists, teachers and photographers.”

One of the sisters in the community interviewed by El Pais defines the cloister as "an house open to those who knock on our door. We want to share our faith, to make known what is happening to us. And if they see Jesus in us, go ahead. Spain is so pagan that we need to share our faith, not live it alone. It is time to act."

The growth of the cloister since the arrival of Sister Veronica has been explosive: in 1994, when she was appointed mistress of novices at the age of 28, nearly 30 sisters entered. In 2002 there were 72, in 2004, there were 92.  In 2005, the number rose to 105.  Late last September there were 134. 

Originally in a 16th century convent built to accommodate 32, the sisters are being leased the monastery of La Aguliera by the Franciscan Friars of Lerma.  It is located adjacent to the sanctuary and the tomb of St. Peter Regalado.

The monastery is quickly being renovated to provide a modern, functional and well-lit space, with energy obtained through solar panels.

The new monastery has 100 cells, each with bed, table and kneeler, while a parlor with a capacity of 400, a hospice, bathrooms for visitors, and a new chapel are currently being constructed.

Recently, Father Raniero Cantalamessa, Preacher of the Papal Household, preached to 140 Poor Clares in Lerma. The visit by the Italian Capuchin was broadcast by the RAI network (Italian Radio and Television) in prime time in Italy.

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Vatican issues first Braille stamp in honor of bicentenary of Louis Braille

Vatican City, Nov 5, 2009 (CNA) - The Vatican post office has issued it's first ever Braille stamp to celebrate the 200th Anniversary of the birth of Louis Braille, who created the universal reading and writing system for the blind.

The stamps feature a portrait of Louis Braille, the inventor's name, the Vatican City State and the price written in the raised dots of the Braille system. Valued at $0.96 each, 300,000 stamps have been issued and will go on sale at the Vatican's post offices near St. Peter's Basilica, according to the Canadian Press.

Born in France in 1809, Louis Braille was blinded in an accident at the age of four. Despite this challenge, he insisted on attending school at the age of ten and was accepted to the Institute of the Blind in Paris. He was instructed in the Huay method for teaching the blind, which did not allow for any writing.

Braille became an instructor at the school at the young age of 18 and within two years had developed a simpler and more intuitive learning method. He eventually expanded his method to include musical notation.

Shortly after his death at the age of 43, France adopted his system and at the World Congress of Education for the Blind in 1878, the Braille method was declared universal.

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Mexican parents demand removal of controversial health booklet

Mexico City, Mexico, Nov 5, 2009 (CNA) - The State Association of Parents in Guanajuato announced it will ask local representatives to recall health booklets distributed by the federal government to 10-19 year olds, which promote both contraception and the morning after pill.  The association claims that the booklet violates the right of parents to determine the kind of education their children will receive on sexual matters.

The representative of the association, Hilarino Diaz Serna, said he decided to request the recall after Guanajuato’s health secretary, Jorge Aguirre, said that the booklet's distribution was a policy of the federal Secretariat of Health.

The association will also file a complaint with Mexico’s Human Rights Office because the sexual content of the booklets is a violation of the rights of children.

Diaz Serna lamented that the booklets promote sexual promiscuity and noted that the sexual education of minors is the responsibility of parents.

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Argentinian governor: I will not accept abortion or homosexual 'marriage'

Buenos Aires, Argentina, Nov 5, 2009 (CNA) - In response to debate taking place in Argentina’s National Parliament, the Governor of Chaco, Jorge Capitanich, said this week he would not support any bill that would legalize abortion or homosexual "marriage."

Governor Capitanich said that as a practicing Catholic he could not support such measures, and he promised voters he would not back any efforts to get them passed.

His comments came after thousands of residents participated in a massive protest in support of the right to life and the family.  Argentinians also  sent the government a written petition expressing their rejection of same-sex 'marriage' and the adoption of children by homosexual couples, as well as the legalization of abortion.

Protestors said their objections were based on the Chaco Provincial Constitution and on their own convictions.

Governor Capitanich thanked the protestors for their efforts to protect “humanist and Christian values.”  “We respect all people, but we defend the essential values of the family,” he said.

Archbishop Fabriciano Sigampa of Resitencia also added, “We are not against anybody. We are defending the life that comes from the union between man and woman.”

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Vatican plans meeting between Pope and artists

Vatican City, Nov 5, 2009 (CNA) - A Vatican press conference was held today to discuss Pope Benedict XVI's upcoming meeting with artists on Nov. 21. The meeting is intended to promote collaboration between the Church and artists.

Archbishop Gianfranco Ravasi, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture and of the Pontifical Commission for the Cultural Patrimony of the Church, spoke on how the meeting will be celebrated on the tenth anniversary of John Paul II's “Letter to Artists” and the forty-fifth anniversary of Paul VI's meeting with artists.

“The event,” he explained, "is not like a general audience of the Holy Father, open to any artist or exclusively to Christian-inspired artists.” “Rather,” he continued, “it aims to be representative of the desire for dialogue between the Church and the world of the arts, a dialogue which must necessarily develop over various stages and using various means.”

According to the archbishop, 255 artists have accepted the invitation and are coming from places all over the world.  They will be divided into categories such as painting and sculpture; architecture; literature and poetry; music and song; cinema, theatre, dance and photography.

Before the Pope addresses the artists, the Sistine Chapel Choir will sing for the gathering. The meeting with Benedict XVI will be followed by a reception in the Vatican Museum where the artists will receive a medal in the Pope's name.

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Arrest made in slaying of religious sister at New Mexico convent

Gallup, N.M., Nov 5, 2009 (CNA) - The FBI has made an arrest in the slaying of a religious sister who was found dead in St. Berard’s Convent in Navajo, New Mexico.

Sr. Marguerite Bartz, 64, worked on a New Mexico Indian reservation. Her body was found on Sunday Nov. 1 by a colleague after she failed to attend Mass that morning in nearby Sawmill.

The FBI told the Associated Press they had arrested one person early Thursday in Navajo.

A Honda CRV last seen in Sister Marguerite’s possession was reported as missing. According to a press release from the Diocese of Gallup, the FBI located the vehicle and said it would be brought to Albuquerque where it will be processed for evidence after a search warrant is secured.

The diocese said that reports of the manner or nature of Sr. Marguerite’s death should be seen as “speculation.” It reported that it has been instructed by the FBI to rely only on information released through the Bureau’s agents.

CNA contacted the FBI for further information on the arrest but did not receive a response by publication time.

The Diocese of Gallup on Tuesday announced that a Rosary for Sr. Marguerite will be held at the St. Michael Indian School student chapel on Friday, while the funeral Mass will be held at Sacred Heart Cathedral in Gallup at 10 a.m. Her burial will take place at the St. Michael Indian School Sisters’ Cemetery.

In a previous statement, the Diocese of Gallup said Sr. Marguerite was “known to be a woman always passionate for justice and peace – and the life she lived would tell us that she would respond to this incident with a spirit of forgiveness towards whoever is responsible for these acts.”

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Bishop of Beaumont praying for victims of Ft. Hood shooting

Killean, Texas, Nov 5, 2009 (CNA) - Chaos broke out at Ft. Hood, Texas today when Maj. Malik Nadal Hasan, and possibly other soldiers, opened fire, killing 12 people and injuring 31. Bishop Curtis Guillory of Beaumont is offering his prayers for the “comfort and healing of those who were shot.”

According to Lt. Gen. Bob Cone, all of the casualties took place at a personnel and medical processing center, which was scheduled to hold a graduation ceremony today at 2:00 p.m.

President Obama responded to the tragedy, calling it a “horrific outburst if violence.”

The Catholic Bishop of Beaumont, Texas, Curtis Guillory, commented on the tragedy today, saying, “We hope and pray that our soldiers do not die on the battlefields. Then something like this happens on one of our bases by a fellow soldier.”

“What happened today is a tragedy. Our prayers are with those who are affected and their families, and I pray for comfort and healing of those who were shot,” he said.

Fort Hood is the U.S. military’s largest installation and the only Army post in the United States that houses two divisions.

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House Republican leader: 'health plan will require monthly abortion premium'

Washington D.C., Nov 5, 2009 (CNA) - House Republican Leader John Boehner said today the House health care bill, which was backed today by the AARP and the American Medical Association, includes a monthly abortion premium that all subscribers in the government-run plan would have to pay.

In a blog post on Thursday, Boehner says that “Speaker Pelosi’s 2,032-page government takeover of health care” is using “federal funds to pay for elective abortions.”

The House Republican Leader explains that on line 17, p. 110, section 222 under the title “Abortions for which Public Funding is Allowed,” the Health and Human Services Secretary “is given the authority to determine when abortion is allowed under the government-run plan.” 

“The Speaker’s plan also requires that at least one insurance plan offered in the Exchange covers abortions,” he adds.

According to Boehner, “what is even more alarming is that a monthly abortion premium will be charged of all enrollees in the government-run plan.  It’s right there on line 16, page 96, section 213, under ‘Insurance Rating Rules.’  The premium will be paid into a U.S. Treasury account - and these federal funds will be used to pay for the abortion services.”

Section 213, in fact, describes the process by which the Health Benefits Commissioner is to assess the monthly premiums that will be used to pay for elective abortions under the government-run plan.  The Commissioner must charge at a minimum $1 per enrollee per month.

“A majority of Americans believe that health care plans should not be mandated to provide elective abortion coverage, and a majority of Americans do not believe government health care plans should include abortion coverage,” Boehner writes.

“Speaker Pelosi’s 2,032-page health care monstrosity is an affront to the American people and drastically moves away from current policy.  The American people deserve more from their government than being forced to pay for abortion.”

“Health reform should be an opportunity to protect human life - not end it,” Boehner says.

Read House Republican Leader’s post: http://republicanleader.house.gov/blog/?p=666

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