Archive of December 19, 2009

Wife’s passing inspires Iowa man’s renewal of faith

Davenport, Iowa, Dec 19, 2009 (CNA) - Even a year after her passing, Nancy Graf’s work continues.  Only these days, it’s through her husband.  A formerly inactive Catholic, Bill Graf, 61, now plays the part once carried out by one of the most active members of St. Thomas More Parish in Coralville, Iowa. Filling Nancy’s spot in various ministries is part therapy, part way to honor the memory of a woman he calls “the definition of a servant leader.”

Her gift for service began to appear to Bill when he was a junior at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minn. Nancy Lijewski, then a junior at the College of St. Catherine in St. Paul and an acquaintance of Bill, was visiting his apartment with friends when she slipped from his sight. Looking for her, he found her at the kitchen sink, washing his dishes.

Soon after, the two started dating. They wed when Bill was a senior, on Jan. 31, 1970.

When they moved to Iowa City in 1975, Nancy began teaching religious education and volunteering for other ministries at St. Thomas More Parish. But Bill, then an information system analyst at University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics, spent Sunday mornings working or sleeping in.

“I thought it was my duty to work and support my family,” says the father of four. “… I kind of floated away from the church.”

Nancy’s example left an impression on him, though. A researcher at the National Resource Center for Family-Centered Practice at the University of Iowa School of Social Work, she filled her free time volunteering for St. Thomas More.  What activities would give him purpose during retirement, he wondered as he grew older.

What happened Dec. 7, 2008, ultimately motivated him to make changes. That day, Nancy was returning home from her sister’s house near La Crosse, Wis., where Nancy was finishing her master’s degree in servant leadership at Viterbo University. While driving along U.S. 52 near Decorah in snowy weather, her minivan spun into the left lane and was struck by an oncoming car. When first responders arrived, Bill says, they couldn’t find Nancy’s pulse.

“Right after the accident I felt that a part of me died,” he says. He was plagued by guilt, too, and thoughts of how he might have prevented the tragedy.

But after talking with a friend who’d also lost his wife, Bill realized he had two options: “You can lose hope or you can continue. You can turn to despair or you can turn to the church.”

In hopes of seeing Nancy again, in heaven, he chose the latter. So a few weeks after the accident, he asked his friend Lee Gullickson, a member of St. Thomas More, to tell him more about what Nancy had been involved in at the parish.

Bill wrote a list of her activities — including the Evangelization and Stewardship Commission, choir, Christian Experience Weekend, baptism preparation, knitting ministry, Church Life and Family Life Commission, and several other groups.

Then he got involved. He joined the Evangelization and Stewardship Commission. He served as a lector. He assisted the steering committee for the parish’s new church. He donated funds for a baptismal font. He gave a witness talk to a stewardship group.

“I told him once that Nancy must be channeling through him,” says Father Walter Helms, St. Thomas More’s pastor.  “… He has done so much for us.”

Bill’s relationship with God has changed, too. “I find myself talking to God more,” asking for strength, he says. “I find it much more personal.”

He recalls talking with Nancy a few years ago about their priorities; she listed God first. “To be honest, I was a little jealous,” he says. “She picked God over me.” But after he took part in the St. Ambrose Stewardship Institute earlier this year, he began to understand her choice.

Bill wishes he could talk about that new insight with Nancy. But he says that because they were “so close” for nearly 40 years, “over time I am realizing that Nancy lives within me, or at least part of her.”

Katie Graf, 25, and Joe Graf, 32, Bill’s two youngest children, say they’re proud of how their dad has responded to tragedy. Besides renewing his faith, he’s become more open, a better listener, Katie says — and their relationship has grown.

But it’s Bill’s growth in faith that answers a request Nancy had long prayed for, Katie notes. “That’s the one thing she really wanted for my dad,” she says. “She is really happy now.”

Printed with permission from The Catholic Messenger, newspaper for the Diocese of Davenport.

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Seventh auxiliary Bishop of Providence ordained before hometown family and friends

Providence, R.I., Dec 19, 2009 (CNA) - Bishop Robert C. Evans was ordained the seventh auxiliary bishop for the Diocese of Providence on Tuesday afternoon. Among those in attendance at the ordination Mass were his ailing mother Lolita and his friends in the priesthood from throughout the country, the Rhode Island Catholic reports.

Bishop of Providence Thomas J. Tobin delivered the homily, explaining that a bishop is anointed to be a prophet “imbued with the Word of God and commissioned to preach that word to the Church and the world.”

The “Word of God” is “sometimes comforting, sometimes directing, and sometimes challenging” and should be preached “fearlessly and boldly” in season and out of season.

He encouraged Bishop Evans to take to heart the example of the Virgin Mary.

“This holy day marks a new beginning for you, but the future is hidden from your eyes, and the path you will walk is known to God alone. Therefore, like Mary, you must have faith and trust; you must be at peace in accepting God’s plan for you,” Bishop Tobin said.

Bishop Evans, 62, expressed his humility at having been chosen for the office. He quoted Pope Benedict XVI’s words upon being elected to the papacy, describing himself as a “simple, humble worker in the vineyard of the Lord. The fact that the Lord can work and act even with insufficient means consoles me and above all I entrust myself to your prayers.”

The new bishop also thanked Bishop Tobin for his support, the Rhode Island Catholic says. He joked that while there is an anchor in his new episcopal coat-of-arms, he hoped he would not be a weight around Bishop Tobin’s neck.

“First and last, I remain a priest of the Lord, not through any merit of my own, and surely not as a career choice. I believe that each and every priest can witness to the Lord’s own words that we have not so much chosen Him as He has chosen us.”

“Of course this does not discount the theory that the Lord does have a wicked sense of humor,” he added.

Bishop Evans grew up near Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Parish on Federal Hill in Providence, the Rhode Island Catholic says. He was an altar boy and often a shout across the street from the rectory to his family’s second floor apartment would alert him when he was needed for Mass.

Bishop emeritus of Worcester, Massachusetts Daniel P. Reilly first met Bishop Evans at the church in the late 1960s.

“He always had a very wonderful personality; he was always upbeat. He has that kind of spirit and that sense of ministry,” Bishop Reilly commented. “The Diocese of Providence is in good hands.”

Cardinal William H. Keeler, archbishop emeritus of Baltimore, was the highest-ranking prelate at the ordination. He knew Bishop Evans as a seminarian when he was studying at Rome’s North American Pontifical College.

The cardinal said the new bishop is “tremendously equipped” for his office.

“He has warmth, diligence, accessibility and genuine goodness. He’s a holy man.”

Bishop Evans only has a small family in Providence. Besides his mother, his uncle Aldo Baldiserri and his cousin Donna Baldisseri attended.

Aldo Baldiserri said the family was “unbelievably pleased.”

“He’s fair-minded, and he’s warm and approachable.”

“We’re very proud of him, and I think he’s very deserving of this, even though he’ll tell you he’s not,” said Donna Baldiserri, Aldo’s daughter. “Two bishops aren’t too many for the vibrant city of Providence.”

Lolita Evans, Bishop Evans’ 87-year-old mother, told the Rhode Island Catholic she was “walking on air” at the ordination.

The new bishop was ordained a priest in Rome in 1973 and earned an advanced degree in canon law. He has served in many administrative and pastoral roles as a priest. Between 2005 and 2007 he served as the secretary at the Apostolic Nunciature in Washington, D.C.

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Project Rachel to tackle extreme abortion rates in Eastern Europe

Rome, Italy, Dec 19, 2009 (CNA) - Project Rachel is working to expand its ministry into Romania and Ukraine, where women report having had between 13 and 30 abortions. Speaking with CNA in Rome, Vicki Thorn, Executive Director of Project Rachel, described how the priestly vocation is fundamental to discovering and offering new opportunities for post-abortion healing.

Vicki Thorn is a veteran in the field of post-abortion healing, having been involved in the ministry for 25 years. Recently she has been traveling to Europe to address the issue of abortion in eastern European nations, especially Romania and the Ukraine.

"Eastern Europe has had huge numbers of abortions, in part because of communism, (but it's due to) all kinds of things.  Doctors and priests see that this is a big issue because people are coming forward and they're talking.  The doctors are saying that there are women with 13 to 30 abortions," she told CNA.

"I don't even know what you do with that.  I've done this for 25 years, and I'm like, whew, I don't even know how we come at this question."

"In Russia the average woman according to their statistics has had nine abortions, but my own experience of talking to the physicians in Romania and Ukraine is that we're talking 13 to 30."

Thorn said that there was a doctor in Romania who told her of a woman that had solicited 70 abortions. "Do you think that's possible?" the doctor had asked Thorn. 

"Maybe what she's saying is the '70 times 7' in the Bible," she replied to him, "perhaps she was saying, 'I've had so many abortions, you wouldn't believe it.'"

"So, this is a psychological issue.  We're looking at countries with huge depression factors in women, alcoholism, fertility questions follow this, and it's the priests who see this in the beginning.

"When the bishops called for a post abortion healing ministry in the States, right after abortion was legalized, in their first pastoral plan, it was because they were confessors and they knew the problem.  Nobody else knew it, it took me seven years to find experts, but the bishops knew because they were priests who had heard confessions."

Thorn also recounted that she first discovered the gravity of the situation in Romania when she was giving a conference on post-abortion healing through Project Rachel last year in Rome.  There was a Greek Orthodox bishop in the assembly who stood up and exclaimed, "We need this!"

According to Thorn, the Greek Orthodox bishop said that at the time his Church's  method of bringing about healing was to give a penance of seven years without the Eucharist.

"We have to tell people in other countries that there is a means of doing this," said Thorn.

Project Rachel is described on its website as "a network of professional counselors and priests, all trained to provide one-on-one spiritual and psychological care for those who are suffering because of an abortion."

Thorn explained to CNA that the outreach goes beyond what you'd imagine.  "Just last night one of the priests here, when he heard what I did, said, 'Oh, that's some of the most moving ministry I've ever done.'” 

"So, this awareness of the woman who believes she's committed the unforgivable sin; that when you reject the creation, you've rejected the creator, then to be forgiven and to be set free... that's what priests are called to do. 

"This is a ministry not only for women and for men ... but also for priests.  It affirms who they are, it is the essence of their call to be priests.”

When asked if the ministry has a place only within the Catholic Church, Thorn responded, "When I was in Romania, I was with the Orthodox, with the Greek Catholics and the Roman Catholics. 

"Any place there's a sacramental model, Project Rachel fits,"she said.

The next step in the process of branching out to other Eastern European nations, Thorn told CNA, would be a Project Rachel seminar including leaders from these nations, "probably in Poland, and probably in the next year." 

The idea is to bring leaders to the seminar from a number of Eastern bloc countries and send them home well informed.  "Then we'll take it from there," said Thorn.

Part of the education would be taken care of through the manual on post-abortion healing (of which Thorn was the primary author), recently revised by the U.S. Bishops' Conference, to share knowledge with bishops' conferences abroad and lead them to offer the ministry in their areas.  "If that happens, they can translate it top-down to the priests, and then if we get religious women involved we have the means to provide care wherever."

"If we could get communities of religious to take this as a charism... that will then allow Eastern Europe and Latin America to move very quickly."

Thorn told CNA that she's also seeing, "a lot of interest in mental health professionals,” but that “really the Church is the ideal place to do this.  We have the means.”

"When I started doing Project Rachel, it was clear to me.  We have clergy, we have mental health professionals, we have all these people within the Church that can provide care in this network and it's a holistic response.

"We have the opportunity and the means to do this any place in the world," she added.

Vicki Thorn has just released a book on the introduction of a ministry for post-abortion syndrome within the Church, called, “Project Rachel: The Face of Compassion.” The book is currently available in Italian from the Vatican Press, and she hopes to have an English version out soon.

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Abortion clinic escort strikes Planned Parenthood investigator Lila Rose

San Jose, Calif., Dec 19, 2009 (CNA) - Legal charges are pending against a male Planned Parenthood escort who struck pro-life activist Lila Rose on the hands on Thursday outside an abortion clinic. She warned that the surprising attack should not help create a “double standard” that hinders clinic protesters’ free speech rights.

Rose, the president of Live Action Films who has led undercover investigations into the abortion provider, was not injured in the attack.

She was on a public sidewalk outside a Planned Parenthood affiliate in San Jose, California with a group of about 20 students and three adults to pray and provide information to women who might be open to alternatives to abortion, a statement from Live Action says.

Shortly before noon on Thursday, she interacted with a uniformed male Planned Parenthood escort.

According to Rose, she spoke to the escort from the public sidewalk and asked him if he was familiar with the abortion procedure.

The escort then approached her rapidly from the Planned Parenthood parking lot and said, “You idiot. You've caused so much trouble. You piece of crap."

Rose asked if she could show him a picture of what abortion “really does to a baby.” The escort then struck Rose on the hand, knocking literature and a Bible to the ground.

According to Live Action Films, the police report said Rose stepped further back on the sidewalk and the escort stepped toward her.

He was visibly shaking and said “It’s a woman’s choice!”

To this, Rose responded “What about the baby’s choice?”

The escort said “It’s not a baby!” and turned and walked away.

Police were called and interviewed Rose and several witnesses. She suffered no injuries in the attack, but charges of assault and battery are pending.

In a Friday e-mail Rose told CNA that she was “very surprised” at what happened. She said the escort appeared to recognize her, which has not happened before at a clinic.

“Unborn children face much, much worse...they are violently denied their very lives, and they are totally defenseless,” she added.

Rose emphasized that pro-lifers have the right to free speech on public sidewalks.

“If this right is infringed upon by threatening physical contact, the law must intervene and the guilty party must accept the consequences.”

Saying that pro-life sidewalk counselors are subjected to “the most rigorous scrutiny,” she warned that a double standard could be created if threatening physical contact against sidewalk counselors is allowed.

Rose also reported “good news”: a woman who thought she was pregnant and was considering abortion turned around. One of the parents and their daughter at the clinic then drove the woman and her friend to a crisis pregnancy center.

She told CNA that her organization has not heard anything from Planned Parenthood.

Live Action in a statement said it maintains a “strong commitment to non-violent public discourse.”

“We expect Planned Parenthood will respond to their escort's attack by publicly disavowing the use of violence,” the statement said.

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D.C. mayor signs same-sex ‘marriage’ legislation

Washington D.C., Dec 19, 2009 (CNA) - Mayor Adrian Fenty of Washington, D.C., has signed a measure recognizing same-sex “marriage” in the District. The law has been criticized for redefining marriage and also for its lack of strong religious freedom protections for those who do not approve of such unions.

Fenty signed the measure at the Unitarian Universalist All Souls Church in the northwest part of the District.

In his remarks at the signing, provided to CNA in an e-mail from the mayor’s office, Fenty said:

“Marriage inequality is a civil rights, political, social, moral, and religious issue in this country and many nations. And as I sign this act into law, the District from this day forward will set the tone for other jurisdictions to follow in creating an open and inclusive city.”

Rev. Rob Hardies, senior minister at All Souls Church, said in a statement on the church's website that he was “so heartened” by the role his congregation has played in what he called an “important human rights struggle.”

He said congregants took a “leading role” in founding a coalition of about 200 District clergy to support the bill. They contributed money and lobbied for the bill.

“And not only have we secured passage of the bill, we have changed the national debate on marriage equality,” Rev. Hardies claimed. “We’ve shown that this issue can unite communities rather than divide them.”

The D.C. Council had passed the bill by an 11-2 margin, over the objections of many African American clergy, the Catholic Archdiocese of Washington and others.

"Politicians on the city council are acting as if they have the right through legislation to deprive citizens of D.C. of their core civil right to vote, but we will not let them get away with it, commented Brian Brown, executive director of the National Organization for Marriage, according to CNN.

Though the bill itself is titled the Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Equality Amendment Act of 2009, the Archdiocese of Washington has said its protections for religious freedom are not strong enough. Its effects could force Catholic Charities and other religious organizations to cut back their services if they do not accommodate same-sex “marriages.”

The measure now goes to Congress for a 30-day review period. Congress has the right to review and overturn laws created by the D.C. council. The Democrat majority is not expected to block the bill.

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John Paul II declared Venerable, moves one step closer to sainthood

Vatican City, Dec 19, 2009 (CNA) - Pope Benedict XVI has signed a decree recognizing the late Pope John Paul II's life of “heroic virtue.” With his signature, Benedict XVI throws the door wide open to the beatification of the much-loved Polish Pontiff and gives him the title "Venerable."

On Saturday morning, the Congregation for the Causes of Saints led by Archbishop Angelo Amato met with Pope Benedict XVI to celebrate their 40th anniversary as a dicastery of the Holy See and to present decrees for papal approval.  Pope John Paul II's name was among the Congregation's nominations for those possessing “heroic virtue.”

The next step towards canonization of John Paul II is a second decree to be signed by the Pope that attributes a miracle to him.  It is thought that this miracle will be one that has already taken place but has not yet been officially recognized. The miracle involves a French nun who was cured of Parkinson´s disease through John Paul II's intercession.

Following the approval of his first miracle, Venerable Karol Woytilya would be eligible for beatification, and pending a second miracle, he could be declared a saint.

The Vatican has processed his case in record time.  Since the Pontiff´s death, less than five years have passed.  Five years is the normal amount of time that must go by before the Holy See can begin the investigation process. In this case, Pope Benedict made an exception just a little over a month after John Paul II's death in March of 2005.

Among other documents signed by Benedict XVI on Saturday morning were decrees authenticating the heroic virtue of Pope Pius XII, Pontiff during World War II; the martyrdom of Jerzy Popiełuszko, a Polish priest killed in 1984, and a second miracle attributed to Bless Mary McKillop, who will now become Australia's first saint.

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Mary MacKillop to become first Australian saint

Vatican City, Dec 19, 2009 (CNA) - Blessed Mary MacKillop will soon enter the Canon of Catholic Saints.  Saturday morning at the Vatican a second miracle was officially attributed to her, authorized in a decree signed by Pope Benedict XVI.

Mary Helen MacKillop will become Saint Mary of the Cross, Australia's first saint, reported the Sydney Morning Herald this week, which quoted a Vatican source from within the Congregation for the Causes of Saints as saying that her canonization will probably take place next Autumn at St. Peter's Basilica in Rome.

The decree signed by Benedict XVI today attributes a miracle to the intercession of the nun who lived from 1842 to 1909.  Both the first miracle that led to her beatification in 1995 and this, the second, were cases in which individuals were cured of cancer.

In her life, MacKillop founded and directed the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph of the Sacred Heart, who devoted themselves to offering education all over Australia.

According to the Sydney Morning Herald, tens of thousand of Australians are expected to attend her eventual canonization ceremony at the Vatican.

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Holy See declares unique copyright on Papal figure

Vatican City, Dec 19, 2009 (CNA) - The Vatican made a declaration on the protection of the figure of the Pope on Saturday morning.  The statement seeks to establish and safeguard the name, image and any symbols of the Pope as being expressly for official use of the Holy See unless otherwise authorized.

The statement cited a "great increase of affection and esteem for the person of the Holy Father" in recent years as contributing to a desire to use the Pontiff's name for all manner of educational and cultural institutions, civic groups and foundations.

Due to this demand, the Vatican has felt it necessary to declare that "it alone has the right to ensure the respect due to the Successors of Peter, and therefore, to protect the figure and personal identity of the Pope from the unauthorized use of his name and/or the papal coat of arms for ends and activities which have little or nothing to do with the Catholic Church."

The declaration alludes to attempts to use ecclesiastical or pontifical symbols and logos to "attribute credibility and authority to initiatives" as another reason to establish their “copyright” on the Holy Father's name, picture and coat of arms.

"Consequently, the use of anything referring directly to the person or office of the Supreme Pontiff... and/or the use of the title 'Pontifical,' must receive previous and express authorization from the Holy See," concluded the message released to the press.

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Pope tells children, Jesus 'never forgets you'

Vatican City, Dec 19, 2009 (CNA) - Pope Benedict XVI met with the youngest members of the Italian Catholic Action group on Saturday morning for their traditional pre-Christmas audience.  He spoke to the group about accessing Jesus' "wavelength" and sharing his message with those who need him most.

Referring to the group's theme this year, "We're on the air," and their focus on the biblical image of Zaccheus, the Pontiff told the children that they were like little Zaccheus, who climbed the tree to catch a glimpse of Jesus.  And, just like with Zaccheus, the Lord notices the little ones, he sees and hears them, he wants establish a friendship with them, Pope Benedict said. 

"He synchronizes himself with your wavelength," said Benedict XVI.

The Holy Father concluded by inviting each of them to imitate Zaccheus, receiving the Lord into their homes and never ceasing to find joy in him, in the good times and the bad.

"Only the presence of Jesus in your lives gives full joy, because he is capable of always making everything new and beautiful.  He never forgets you."

The Holy Father told the children: "If you tell Him every day that 'you're on the air,' expect that He'll surely call on you to send you a message of friendship and affection," a message that you can share with others in your life, "especially with those who come from faraway countries and are often abandoned, without parents and without friends."

The children—ranging from 4 to 14 years-old—were accompanied by the National President of Italian Catholic Action, Dr. Franco Miano, and the General Assistant, Monsignor Domenico Sigalini. 

According to the Italian Catholic Action website, it is a "lay association committed to living the experience of the faith, the announcement of the Gospel and the call to sainthood, each 'to his or her own measure' and in community."  The organization celebrated its 140th anniversary in 2008.

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Holy Father declares World War II Pope is Venerable

Vatican City, Dec 19, 2009 (CNA) - In a recent round of authorizations by Benedict XVI on Saturday, Pope Pius XII was proclaimed as having displayed exemplary and “heroic virtue” in his life. The Holy Father's decision to move ahead with the declaration rebuffs claims that Pius XII did nothing to help the Jews during World War II.  He now needs two miracles to be officially attributed to him to become a saint.

Pope Pius XII, born Eugenio Pacelli, is most remembered for being the Pontiff during World War II.  While some say he did little to protest the deportation of Jews and the Holocaust, written records and witnesses tell another story.  They testify to his actions in defense of the Jews.  Accounts of his intervention to save 4,000 Jews from a ghetto in Rome and place them in convents and Catholic schools refute claims of his passiveness. 

In May of 2009, Cardinal Camillo Ruini, former president of the Italian Bishops' Conference, a seminarian during the War, said that he couldn't remember anyone saying anything but good things about the Pope during that time.  No one, he said, would have described the Pope's reaction as "silent," as would be said of him later.

In an article published in L'Osservatore Romano on May 28, 2008, Cardinal Ruini wrote, “it was obvious, in the atmosphere and ecclesial praxis of the time,” that if many “priests and religious communities, and the Vatican itself, had taken in and saved many persecuted Jews  ... it could not have been done without the encouragement and consent of the Pope.” 

Ruini called the claims of inaction nothing more than a "black legend."

Today's declaration on Pius XII was not the only news-making announcement.

Pope Benedict XVI also declared Pope John Paul II and eight others as having lived lives of “heroic virtue.” With the signature of the Pope and the support of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, they have all taken another step towards sainthood.

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Sen. Nelson accepts Reid abortion provisions, upsets pro-life community

Washington D.C., Dec 19, 2009 (CNA) - This afternoon Senator Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) announced that he will now vote for cloture on the Senate health care bill and for the bill itself. The move is causing the pro-life community to say that he caved in to pressure from within his party.

Announcing his decision in a press conference on Saturday afternoon, Sen. Nelson remarked, “Change is never easy … but change is what is needed in America today.  And that is why I intend to vote for cloture… and vote for health care reform.”

The Nebraska senator also remarked on the issue of abortion, which has been a major point of contention during his negotiations.

“As you know,” the senator said at his press conference, “I have strongly held views on the subject and I have fought hard to prevent tax dollars from being used to subsidize abortions.  I believe we have accomplished that goal.  I have also fought hard to protect the right of states to regulate the kind of insurance that is offered, and to provide health insurance options in every state that do not provide coverage for abortion.

“I know these limits on abortion are hard for some people to accept, and I respect those who disagree, but I would not have voted for this bill without them.” Senator Nelson stated.

But the new manager's amendment introduced by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on Saturday morning was found to be seriously wanting by the pro-life community.

The National Right to Life Committee's legislative director Douglas Johnson described the Reid Amendment as “light years removed from the Stupak-Pitts Amendment that was approved by the House of Representatives on November 8 by a bipartisan vote of 240-194.

“The new abortion language solves none of the fundamental abortion-related problems with the Senate bill, and it actually creates some new abortion-related problems,” Johnson asserted.

Among the problems cited by Johnson are that the amendment allows the federal government to “subsidize private insurance plans that cover abortion on demand, to oversee multi-state plans that cover elective abortions, and to empower federal officials to mandate that private health plans cover abortions even if they do not accept subsidized enrollees.”

Pro-life organizations were particularly upset that Sen. Nelson appeared to have faltered in his vigilance against “accounting schemes” aimed at funding abortion with taxpayer money.

Concerned Women for America president Wendy Wright said, "Senator Ben Nelson appears to have overlooked some realities. The option for states to opt out of abortion coverage is illusory. The federal government will be subsidizing elective abortions, a federal agency will be managing abortion coverage, and individuals (even those in Nebraska) will be paying for abortions through an accounting scheme.”

Wright also pointed out that under current federal law and programs, “federal funds may not be used for any part of a plan that covers elective abortions. The human right not to be forced to be an accomplice to an evil act, in this case the deliberate murder of innocent babies, is a basic decency that the government should not force individuals or entities to violate.”
Susan B. Anthony List President Marjorie Dannenfelser faulted the Reid Amendment for changing the status quo, in which no citizen is forced to pay for abortions.

“If this bill passes,” Dannenfelser warned, “for the first time, federally funded and managed health care plans will cover elective abortions. Pro-life Americans in Nebraska and other states that choose to 'opt-out' of abortion coverage will still be forced to foot the bill for abortions in California and New York.

"This is not 'compromise' or 'middle ground' - it is a betrayal of conscience for millions of Americans. And it is a betrayal of Senator Nelson's own principles. Abortion is never good for women or their unborn children,” said the SBA List president.

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