Archive of November 10, 2009

Dominican Order in Vietnam flourishes

Saigon, Vietnam, Nov 10, 2009 (CNA) - In a celebratory event in Saigon on Saturday, Fr. Joseph Ngo Si Dinh announced to thunderous applause that the “number of friars, nuns, sisters, and lay Dominicans in our family in Vietnam has increased substantially and already reached to the population of a diocese!”

Fr. Joseph Ngo Si Dinh, Vietnam Dominican Provincial, spoke to attendants at the 2009 Dominicans’ Traditional Family Day held at St. Dominic Church on Nov.7. He reported that the Order now has 150 friars, and that the number of nuns and sisters has steadily increased at the rate of 200 annually.

Fr. J.B. An Dang told CNA that one of the main contributors to this rapid growth is the involvement of the Lay Dominicans, known as Third Order Dominicans, of which there are up to 103,000 professed in Vietnam. Lay Dominicans are reported to be actively involved in their parish activities and their Dominican formation is said to be well-supported by local parish priests and diocesan bishops.

Cooperation between the branches of the Dominican family and the diocesan structure in Vietnam is viewed by many as a primary reason for the steady growth of the order, despite the  difficulties of living in a communist country.   

The history of the Dominicans in Vietnam can be traced back to the 17th century, explained Fr. An Dang, with the arrival of  missionary priests John of the Holy Cross and John de Arjona. Over the next several hundred years, the order continued to grow despite numerous violent persecutions against Christians.

In 1975, soon after the communist takeover of South Vietnam, all schools, social services centers, and formation houses of Vietnamese Dominicans were seized and all foreign Dominicans were expelled. The majority of native Dominicans survived by working on local farms and their religious lifestyle had to now accommodate harsher living conditions. Many lost their lives under the circumstances, while others returned to their families. 

Despite this struggle, the order has continued to exist and flourish. Support for the Dominican Order in Vietnam has also come from overseas Dominican communities, including a regional vicariate based in Canada.


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Deacon cured through intervention of Cardinal Newman preaches at Westminster Cathedral

London, England, Nov 10, 2009 (CNA) - Deacon Jack Sullivan, whose cure from crippling back pain advanced the beatification of Servant of God John Henry Cardinal Newman, preached from the pulpit of Westminster Cathedral on the Feast of St. John Lateran. He talked about his miraculous cure and praised Cardinal Newman’s spiritual insights and “extraordinary” foresight.

Deacon Sullivan, a permanent deacon from the Archdiocese of Boston, discussed the Basilica of St. John Lateran’s history and described it as “a magnificent sign of victory” for the countless Christian martyrs in the early centuries of the Church.

“The basilica now stands as a stately and enduring sign of hope and light that the Church world-wide might continue to endure and prosper.”

He discussed the Gospel reading for the day about Jesus expelling the money changers from the temple before turning to Cardinal Newman.

Describing the nineteenth-century theologian and convert from Anglicanism as one of those called by Christ to “inspire and revitalize” the Church, Deacon Sullivan said the cardinal’s thoughts reflect the “enduring truth” about mankind and his quest for the Creator.

“When gazing upon the din and clamor of this world, Cardinal Newman was gifted with a most extraordinary sense of foresight, a supernatural vision enabling him to see far beyond the rather limited and worldly sight of his contemporaries,” the deacon declared. “As a sign of Christ's presence in the world, he could see clearly that which was beyond the horizon. He could see clearly far above the clouds, to that shining cross in the sky, to that heavenly dimension. And he brilliantly preached and wrote about what he saw.”

He cited Cardinal Newman’s discussion of the virtue of faith as a “practical perception” of the unseen world that understands that “this world is not enough for our happiness.”

John Henry Newman encouraged Christians to “cross over the threshold of worldliness” through “inner conversion.”

“And so he surrendered his will to follow the ‘kindly light of truth’, most often at great cost to himself,” Deacon Sullivan explained.

Noting that Cardinal Newman’s works often came in response to personal attacks or attacks against the Church, the deacon said these challenges enabled Newman to achieve his “remarkable” spiritual insights.

A Miraculous Cure

Discussing how severe pain and suffering can be a source of spiritual growth if patiently endured, Deacon Sullivan explained his own affliction.

In 2001 a serious spinal condition caused him what he described as “intolerable pain with utterly no prospect of relief.” He was on the verge of complete paralysis and in jeopardy of losing his job and failing to complete his preparation to become a deacon.

“Had God called me this far only to slam the door in my face?” Deacon Sullivan asked, saying he was “completely helpless.”

“But it was this state of mind that lead me to prayer.  I called upon my very special intercessor and faithful friend: ‘Please Cardinal Newman, help me to walk, so that I can return to my classes and be ordained.

“Suddenly I felt a tremendous sensation of intense heat all over, and a strong tingling feeling throughout my body, both of which lasted for a long time! I also felt an overwhelming sense of joy and peace, as well as a strong sense of confidence and determination that finally I could walk!”

“Totally invigorated, I sprinted out of my room and then up and down all the corridors on my floor, with the nurse tagging behind shouting ‘slow down - slow down!’” he added.

The same day of his ordination, Sept. 14, 2002, was the day that the Fathers at Cardinal Newman’s Birmingham Oratory had voted to formally initiate the beatification process for their founder.

The deacon said this was a “wonderful sign” affirming Cardinal Newman’s intercession.

“In this Mass, as in every Mass, I thank God for this marvelous gift, with all my heart, and praise His Holy Name!” the deacon’s homily concluded.

The principle celebrant of the Mass was Archbishop of Westminster Vincent Nichols, President of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales.

Cardinal Newman will be beatified in 2010, the bishops' conference reports.

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Planned Parenthood says U.S. bishops have ‘hijacked’ health care reform with Stupak Amendment

Washington D.C., Nov 10, 2009 (CNA) - Planned Parenthood has condemned the addition of the Stupak/Pitts Amendment to the U.S. House’s proposed health care reform legislation, saying it would undermine private health plans that cover abortion. One pro-life leader said the criticism, which characterized pro-lifers as hijackers, was an ‘over the top’ attempt at self-promotion.

Cecile Richards, President of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, claimed in a Nov. 7 statement that the Stupak Amendment to Congress’ proposed health care bill has further reach than the Hyde Amendment, which bars federal funding for most abortions.

She also charged that the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and “anti-choice opponents” have been able to “hijack” health care reform in their “dedicated attempt” to ban all legal abortion. Richards characterized the USCCB as a hijacker twice in her 700-word statement.

“On behalf of the millions of women Planned Parenthood health centers serve, the Planned Parenthood Federation of America has no choice but to oppose HR 3962,” Richards said, charging that the bill would violate President Obama’s promise that no one would be forced to lose his or her present coverage under health reform.

Saying the Stupak Amendment would eliminate private health insurance coverage of abortion, she claimed the majority of these plans currently offer abortion coverage.

Other sources have questioned this claim. In July, the Congressional Quarterly quoted Robert Zirkelbach, a spokesman for America’s Health Insurance Plans, the insurance industry’s trade association.

“Most insurers offer plans that include this coverage but most employers choose not to offer it as part of their benefits package,” he said.

Kathleen Sebelius during her confirmation hearings to become Secretary for Health and Human Services in April told the Senate Finance Committee that private plans do not cover abortion except in “limited circumstances,” the New York Times reports.

Richards’ attack on the Stupak Amendment continued by saying its allowance for a separate, single-service rider to cover abortion is illogical because women do not plan to have unintended pregnancies or pregnancies that “require ending the pregnancy.”

She said it was “telling” that most House members who supported the Stupak Amendment do not support the overall legislation, alleging that they have used health care reform to advance their “extreme, ideological agenda.”

“Planned Parenthood applauds the members of Congress who stood up for women’s health and voted to oppose the Stupak/Pitts amendment. We will work with those members to rectify this travesty,” she commented.

Feminists for Life President Serrin M. Foster praised the passage of the Stupak Amendment, saying in a statement:

"Thanks to Members of Congress who led the effort and the activism of thousands of FFL members, women will not have to face additional pressure to have abortion. We can refocus our efforts on meaningful, holistic solutions that everyone can support."

Speaking with CNA in a Monday phone interview, Foster called the Stupak Amendment a “huge victory for women.”

“We were very pleased to see the leadership in a bipartisan fashion, from pro-life Democrats and pro-woman Republicans, who banded together to say that women deserve better than abortion and that abortion isn’t health care for women and is not good for children, obviously.”

“Abortion undermines women’s reproductive health,” Foster charged, saying that women need maternity coverage but abortion undermines this effort.

Government-offered abortion puts additional pressure on women to have abortion, she said, because it discourages “social remedies” such as securing jobs and support from the baby’s father while also providing clothes, food, transport, and educational accommodations to pregnant women in need.

Government-offered abortion would also help discourage a birthmother from considering adoption over abortion, she suggested.

“It’s a real disservice to women when they don’t have resources to make life-affirming choices.”

Foster said that Planned Parenthood’s attack on the Stupak Amendment was “over the top” and contained “a lot of hyperbole.” She thought it was an effort to rally their supporters to activism and fundraising and also to press President Obama for assistance.

“Women who’ve had an abortion understand that it changes their lives. It’s not about freedom, but about a memory that won’t go away for rest of their life.”

She said that Richards’ accusation that the U.S. bishops and “anti-choice” groups hijacked the health care legislation was “ridiculous.”

“This is not about hijacking anything. The overwhelming majority of Americans and Congressional Members said no to abortion,” Foster told CNA.

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Novenas to Our Lady of Remedies seek safe return of kidnapped missionary

Manila, Philippines, Nov 10, 2009 (CNA) - The Columban community in Manila has begun novena Masses to Our Lady of Remedies to pray for the immediate release of kidnapped Irish priest Fr. Michael Sinnott.

Fr. Sinnott was taken at gunpoint by six men who stormed his home in Pagadian City on the island of Mindanao on Oct. 11 According to Reuters, witnesses said the priest was bundled into a van and later dragged to a boat.

A videotape of the 79-year-old missionary shows him reading a prepared statement asking for a $2 million ransom, but the congregation reports it does not have the money.

Columban regional superior Fr. Patrick O’Donoghue reported that Masses for the intention of his safe release began at Our Lady of Remedies Parish began in Malate district on Monday to prepare for the saint’s feast on Nov. 15.

According to a report from the Catholic Bishops Conference of Philippines News (CBCP), Fr. O’Donoghue explained that Our Lady of Remedies is a patroness of those kidnapped and later sold as slaves.

“We hope Our Lady of Remedies would be able to help in the release of Fr. Mick, kidnapped a month and a day ago today,” he commented, voicing his trust in the Crisis Management Committee which is handling the priest’s kidnapping case.

The Bishop of Pagadian, Emmanuel Cabajar, is the Catholic Church’s representative on that committee and is trying to secure information on the missionary’s whereabouts.

Fr. O’Donoghue explained that he is still worried because there is no way of knowing whether Fr. Sinnott has received all the medicines necessary for his regular dose.

He also reiterated his congregation’s stand against paying any ransom to anyone.

If the congregation had the money, he explained, “even Fr. Mick would have it spent on charitable projects such as helping the typhoon victims in Luzon or attending to the specially-abled children in Pagadian City whom he serves very well.”

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Thomas More Law Center lawyer files papers to run for Congress

Washington D.C., Nov 10, 2009 (CNA) - A Catholic lawyer from Michigan who says John Paul II is one of his role models has filed to run for the state’s 7th Congressional District.

Brian Rooney, a pro-life Republican attorney for the Thomas More Law Center, will face a primary challenge against another pro-lifer, Tim Walberg, who lost the seat to Democrat Mark Schauer in 2008.

Rep. Schauer has been described by NARAL Pro-Choice America as “fully pro-choice” and he voted against the Stupak-Pitts Amendment to the health care bill.

Rooney told Deal Hudson of that that vote shows Schauer is “completely out of touch with his constituents,” whom Rooney described as “mostly middle to right.”

Rooney is the grandson of Pittsburgh Steelers founder Art Rooney. His uncle, Dan Rooney, is a former Steelers chairman who is now the U.S. Ambassador to Ireland. His brother, Tom, is a U.S. Congressman from Florida.

A Marine Corps veteran, he served as a military criminal prosecutor and served in Iraq as part of the Third Marine Aircraft Wing.

Rooney has said his role models are Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher, and Pope John Paul II. He believes the government needs to stop “reckless and radical” spending, properly finish the war in Iraq, and fully commit to the war in Afghanistan.

“No one can deny Rooney's credentials as a conservative pro-life candidate, especially with his service at the Thomas More Law Center. But with Michigan at 15 percent unemployment, the worst in the nation, voters in the Ann Arbor/Battle Creek area may be more interested in what he brings to the table with regard to the current economic crisis,” Hudson commented at

Rooney continues to work for the Thomas More Law Center. His honorary finance chairman is Tom Monaghan, the philanthropist and controversial founder of both Ave Maria University and Domino’s Pizza.

He had initially shelved his political plans when his son was born with a congenital heart defect. His son underwent surgery on his heart and brain twice.

He said his experience lead him to believe the U.S. has the “best health care in the world,” which he credits for his son’s full recovery.

Rooney is reportedly strongly opposed to Congress’ current health care reform proposal, which he believes will lead to rationed care for children and the elderly.

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Peru’s Constitutional Court says Ministry of Health cannot sell morning-after pill

Lima, Peru, Nov 10, 2009 (CNA) - Peru’s Constitutional Court has unanimously ruled that the government cannot sell the morning-after pill.  The decision came in response to a request by Minister of Health, Oscar Ugarte, who asked for clarification of the previous ruling that the pill could not be distributed free of charge.

Speaking on Peruvian radio, Justice Ernesto Alvarez said, “The State cannot participate in the sale or the free distribution of this pill” because it cannot be “proven that this medicine does not have an abortifacient nature.”

Alvarez explained that the court reached the conclusion that the pill’s abortifacient potential exists regardless of whether or not it is sold or given away.  “The court has not found any basis that could decisively establish that it does not have an abortifacient nature.”  For this reason, he added, the State cannot participate either in the sale or in the distribution of the morning-after pill and must exclude it as a valid tool for family planning.”

Regarding the question of what to do with the previously manufactured pills, Alvarez answered that, “The legal advisors of the Ministry of Health have a variety of possibilities within the framework of the law.”

Last weekend, Cardinal Juan Luis Cipriani of Lima lamented that the Ministry of Health was discussing whether or not to sell the pill in order to skirt the high court’s ruling prohibiting the distribution of the drug for free, instead of looking for ways to improve the health of the poor.

“It is sad that our health officials are discussing whether to distribute the morning-after pill to the poor for 10 cents or 20, instead of helping them to stay healthy. Provide health care for our poor people! The Constitutional Court has had the courage to confront this loss of values, we must take the path of promoting values, the first of which is life,” the cardinal said.

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Pope to Italian bishops: ‘We must bring the truth of God back into the world’

Vatican City, Nov 10, 2009 (CNA) - Pope Benedict XVI has sent a message to the general assembly of the Italian Episcopal Conference reiterating the role of the bishops as educators and representatives of Christ on earth.

The Pope also told the bishops, who are meeting in Assisi this week, what he had said in Aosta, Italy over the summer: "If our fundamental relationship with God is not living, if it is not lived, then none of our other relationships can take their correct form. If God is absent, we lack the compass ... to show us the path, the direction we must follow.

“We must bring the truth of God back into the world, make Him known, make Him present.”

The Holy Father then called upon the bishops to “become living adoration, a gift that changes the world and restores it to God.”

Pope Benedict also touched on problems of division in Southern Italy as well as the new Italian edition of funeral rites, both of which are topics present on the Conference’s agenda.

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Vatican Observatory examines theological implications of finding alien life

Vatican City, Nov 10, 2009 (CNA) - The Vatican Observatory and the Pontifical Academy of Sciences have just concluded a week-long gathering of scientists to examine the origin of life and the possibility of extraterrestrial life. “These questions offer many philosophical and theological implications,” said Fr. Jose Funes, director of the Vatican Observatory.

After bringing their Nov. 6-10 talks to a close, four of the scientists held a press conference at the Holy See's press office on Tuesday.

Participating in the press conference were Fr. Jose Funes S.J., director of the Vatican Observatory; Jonathan Lunine, professor at the department of physics in Rome's Tor Vergata University; Chris Impey, professor at the department of astronomy in the University of Arizona and the Steward Observatory, Tucson, U.S.A., and Athena Coustenis, professor at the "Observatoire de Paris-Meudon", LESIA/CNRS, France.

Fr. Funes began his remarks by answering the question, "Why is the Vatican involved in astrobiology?"

Noting that the Vatican also discussed astrobiology in 2005, Fr. Funes stated that despite the field's newness, “the questions of life's origins and of whether life exists elsewhere in the universe are very interesting and deserve serious consideration.

“These questions offer many philosophical and theological implications," the priest-scientist explained.

Professor Lunine went into further detail about the emerging field of astrobiology, defining it as “the study of life's relationship to the rest of the cosmos: its major themes include the origin of life and its precursor materials, the evolution of life on earth, and its future prospects on and off the earth.”

The Italian physics professor also explained the fruit of the study week.

“The study week provided a special opportunity for scientists from different basic disciplines to spend an intensive week understanding how the work in their particular specialty might have an impact on, or be impacted by, that in other areas. Nowhere is this more evident than in the work being done on how life formed on the earth and evolved with the changing environment," Professor Lunine said.

American professor Chris Impey reflected on the implications of an encounter with an intelligent life form, saying, "if biology is not unique to the earth, or if life elsewhere differs bio-chemically from our version, or if we ever make contact with an intelligent species in the vastness of space, the implications for our self-image will be profound.”

“It is appropriate that a meeting on this frontier topic be hosted by the Pontifical Academy of Sciences. The motivations and methodologies might differ, but both science and religion posit life as a special outcome of a vast and mostly inhospitable universe. There is a rich middle ground for dialogue between the practitioners of astrobiology and those who seek to understand the meaning of our existence in a biological universe,” Impey added.

The press conference came to a close with remarks from Prof. Athena Coustenis on the subject of the exploration of outer planets and their systems, with a particular concentration on the two Saturn moons Titan and Enceladus.

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Archbishop laments murder of priest in Brazil

Rome, Italy, Nov 10, 2009 (CNA) - Archbishop Antonio Muniz of Maceio, Brazil has condemned the murder of Father Hidalberto Henrique Guimaraes, 48, who was found dead Saturday night at his home in Northeastern Brazil.

Archbishop Muniz explained that the priest was supposed to celebrate Mass on Sunday in the city of Braquinha but never arrived.  One of his assistants went to look for him and found him dead in his home. “We are bewildered, not only the clergy but everyone,” the archbishop said.

Vatican Radio reported that the priest will be buried at the Cemetery of St. Joseph in Maceio.

Father Henriques was ordained a priest in December of 1992 and studied journalism.

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Cardinal George urges Senate to follow example of House on abortion

Washington D.C., Nov 10, 2009 (CNA) - Cardinal Francis George is praising the U.S. House of Representative's decision on Nov. 7 to prevent federally funded abortions and is urging the Senate to follow its example.

“The representatives honored President Obama's commitment to the Congress and the nation that health care reform would not become a vehicle for expanding abortion funding or mandates,” the Archbishop of Chicago noted in a Monday evening statement.

As the debate on health care reform shifts to the Senate chambers, Cardinal George, who is the president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), said that it is important for the Senate  to follow the House's example on preventing federal funding of abortion and protecting the rights of the  most vulnerable.

“We remain deeply concerned about other aspects of health care reform as the debate now moves to the Senate, especially as it affects the poor and vulnerable, and those at the beginning and end of life,” he said.

Among other issues of concern to the bishops are: making health care more affordable for low-income or uninsured people and the treatment of both legal and illegal immigrants in an overhauled health care system. In a letter for Respect Life Sunday which was published on October 2, Cardinal Justin Rigali explained that the bishops are concerned that illegal immigrants could be prevented from purchasing health insurance, and that poor legal immigrants would have to wait five years to be eligible for care.

Cardinal George said yesterday that “we remain deeply concerned that immigrants be treated fairly and not lose the health care coverage that they now have.  We will continue to raise our voices in public and in prayer; we ask our people to join us in making the moral case for genuine health care reform that protects the life, dignity, consciences and health of all.”

The USCCB, he added, will remain “vigilant” and “involved” throughout the entire process to “ensure that these essential provisions are maintained and included in the final legislation.”

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Archbishop says Chavez’s war threats an attempt to cover up crisis in Venezuela

Bogotá, Colombia, Nov 10, 2009 (CNA) - Archbishop Baltazar Porras Cardoso of Merida, Colombia, who is also the  vice president of the Bishops’ Conference of Venezuela, said this week the war threats President Hugo Chavez made against Colombia and the United States on Monday are only an attempt to cover up the grave crisis that has gripped Venezuela.

According to Caracol Radio, the archbishop explained that Chavez lacks the wisdom to overcome differences and that his threats come even as “our country is plagued by deteriorating roadways, unjustified rationing of electricity, and worst of all, the problems of insecurity and violent deaths.”

He also announced that the presidents of the Bishops’ Conferences of Colombia, Venezuela and Ecuador would meet at the end of November to discuss the diplomatic crisis.

The archbishop’s criticisms have dove-tailed with those of various Venezuelan analysts who assert that Chavez is keeping the country in conflict and threatens war continuously as a “smoke-screen” to cover up the crisis.

In Colombia, Bishop Carlos Gomez Meza of Arauca on the border with Venezuela said the Chavez government has put up billboards in the region threatening war. “There has been a billboard here announcing war for some time,” he stated.  “It says, 'don’t you dare step foot on Venezuelan territory,' and the people here are used to this, they are very prudent,” the bishop said.

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President Obama torn between promises to abortion foes and supporters on health care

Washington D.C., Nov 10, 2009 (CNA) - President Obama’s statement that more work is needed on the place of abortion in the health care bill has caused concern that he intends to undermine the Stupak-Pitts Amendment, which bars federal funding of abortion from the bill.

Speaking to ABC News on Monday, President Obama said that the legislation is “a health care bill, not an abortion bill.”

"And we're not looking to change what is the principle that has been in place for a very long time, which is federal dollars are not used to subsidize abortions,” he continued. “And I want to make sure that the provision that emerges meets that test -- that we are not in some way sneaking in funding for abortions, but, on the other hand, that we're not restricting women's insurance choices, because one of the pledges I made in that same speech was to say that if you're happy and satisfied with the insurance that you have, that it's not going to change.”

Saying there are “strong feelings” on both sides, the president said there needs to be “some more work” before lawmakers can be assured they are “not changing the status quo.”

President Obama’s comments on insurance echo the concerns of Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards, who on Saturday told her supporters that the Stupak Amendment could eliminate private health insurance coverage of abortion.

PolitiFact, the St. Petersburg Times’ fact-checking site, explored the claim of U.S. Rep. Nita Lowey, a New York Democrat who likewise leveled the claim that the Stupak Amendment puts new restrictions on abortion coverage in the private market.

According to PolitiFact, her claim is “misleading” because the amendment does not affect the entire private health insurance market but only the health insurance “exchanges” for those who do not already have coverage through their employer or a government program.

This exchange would serve “at most a small fraction of Americans.”

The charge that abortion coverage would be restricted for those who pay premiums with their own money, in PolitiFact’s view, was an even more significant “misrepresentation.”

“The amendment says that individuals buying insurance on the exchange may still purchase coverage that includes abortions as long as no federal money is used,” PolitiFact reports. “The people who would truly pay all of the premium with their own money -- and who would not use federal subsidies at all -- are not barred in any way from obtaining abortion coverage, even if they obtain their insurance from the federally administered health exchange.”

Some criticisms of the Stupak Amendment suggest its restrictions are “more severe and widespread than they actually are.”

PolitiFact did report that a stronger case can be made that the Stupak Amendment creates enough financial obstacles against offering abortion coverage that insurers may offer a single plan that excludes abortion coverage.

Douglas Johnson, legislative director for the National Right to Life Committee (NRLC), said that the Stupak Amendment is the only thing preventing the health care bill from being “an abortion bill.”

“The phoniness of Obama's claim that he has been trying to preserve the 'status quo' on abortion policy should be evident to any observer by now,” Johnson argued. “In reality, the White House and top Democratic congressional leaders have been working hard to create a national federal government health plan that would fund abortion on demand, just as Obama promised Planned Parenthood."

The president has a record of statements supporting federal funding for abortion.

In a July 17, 2007 speech to the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, he said that reproductive care is “essential care.” He proposed a public health care plan that all those who do not have health insurance can access.

“It'll be a plan that will provide all essential services, including reproductive services," he said, using a common generic term which often includes abortion.

The Planned Parenthood Action Fund is rallying its supporters. A Nov. 8 e-mail alert from the group said that President Obama campaigned on “a promise to put reproductive health care at the center of his reform plan.”

The organization urged its supporters to send the president e-mails to tell him “Now it’s time for you to make good on that commitment.”

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Judge prevents Planned Parenthood from keeping Abby Johnson quiet

College Station, Texas, Nov 10, 2009 (CNA) - After Abby Johnson resigned from her job as director of the Bryan/College Station Planned Parenthood and became pro-life, her former employer tried to keep her from speaking about the reason she left. On Tuesday afternoon, a Texas judge foiled those plans by refusing to issue a restraining order against Johnson.

Last Friday, Planned Parenthood filed a temporary restraining order against Johnson, who had worked at the clinic in Bryan/College Station for eight years. According to, Planned Parenthood lawyers were concerned that Johnson would share confidential information about the clinic's security procedures, business plans, medical records as well as the identity of the abortionist employed there.

Johnson was surprised by the measure, noting that not only did she leave “on good terms,” but that “Planned Parenthood even called me and offered me my job back with more money but this was not about money or me being angry, it was about my change of heart on abortion."

During today's hearing, Judge Langley listened to nearly two hours of testimony from each side before stating that Planned Parenthood did not offer convincing reasons "to warrant the extreme remedy of injunctive relief."

Johnson said in an interview after the hearing that she was pleased with the ruling because it allowed her to speak more openly about her time at Planned Parenthood and the circumstances surrounding her departure.

Following the decision, David Bereit, national director of 40 Days for Life released a statement saying, “I am gratified that Planned Parenthood has failed in its misguided effort to silence its former clinic director in Bryan/College Station, Texas, who experienced a spiritual conversion after witnessing an abortion and is now pro-life.”

Johnson resigned from Planned Parenthod on Oct. 6 after watching an ultrasound of an abortion. "I just thought I can't do this anymore, and it was just like a flash that hit me and I thought that's it," stated Johnson.

The former director has been working with the Coalition for Life, a pro-life organization that often prays outside the Bryan/College Station clinic.

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