Archive of January 19, 2013

Pregnancy centers play key role in fight for life

Omaha, Neb., Jan 19, 2013 (CNA) - Essential Pregnancy Services (EPS) in Omaha opened its doors 40 years ago as a direct response to legalized abortion, said Nancy Foral, the center's executive director.

And it was not alone.

Thousands of pregnancy centers opened all over the country after the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion across the United States.

First established in the 1960s to help provide resources for struggling, pregnant women as some states began allowing abortions, pregnancy centers developed quickly in all 50 states after Roe v. Wade. The number of small, faith-based maternity homes also grew.

Foral said that as she reflects on the tragic impact of the Supreme Court's decision 40 years ago, she also thinks about the good that has come from EPS and other pregnancy centers, including educational opportunities for women seeking medical, parenting and other information.

"We not only want every child conceived to be born, but we want that child to be healthy and raised in a responsible way," she said.

Ann Marie Bowen, director of Nebraskans United for Life, said her organization, which formed in 1973 to battle abortion on the political front, broadened its services in 1999 to help women through its NuLife Pregnancy Resource Center, which provides free tests for pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases, peer counseling, parenting classes and baby items.

Other centers such as Birthright, an international pro-life organization with offices in Columbus and Norfolk, also give practical assistance, including free pregnancy tests and baby items.

Greg Schleppenbach, state director of the Bishops' Pastoral Plan for Pro-life Activities, said pregnancy centers play a key role in reaching the ultimate goal - making abortion not only illegal, but not even contemplated as an option.

"I think they really represent the heart of the pro-life movement because they are a key part of our effort to make abortion unthinkable," he said. "The only way that's going to happen is with the practical support these centers provide."

Many pregnancy centers also have expanded services, Foral said.

EPS has branched out from free pregnancy tests and information to free health clinics, ultrasounds, adoption counseling, parenting classes, high school diploma services, nutrition programs, emergency food assistance and parenting supplies, she said.

"We see people come in here and they're scared and they don't think they can do this," Foral said. "But we're kind to them, supportive and provide answers and options. They don't feel like they're doing it alone."

Posted with permission from Catholic Voice, official publication of the Archdiocese of Omaha, Neb.

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Lila Rose highlights role of faith in fighting abortion

Washington D.C., Jan 19, 2013 (CNA) - Prayer, trust and a willingness to be used by God are among the most important tools in working to defend the dignity of every human life, said Lila Rose, founder of the pro-life organization Live Action.

“When we say 'yes' to His will, it will take us on an adventure that we could have never imagined,” Rose said in the Jan. 17 talk at the Catholic Information Center in Washington, D.C.

A 24-year-old Catholic convert, Rose was raised in a large, pro-life family. She discovered the truth about abortion at age 9, when she found a book about the procedure in her parents' house.

The experience stuck with her, and as she learned more about the scourge of abortion through the words of Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta, she “couldn't think of a greater injustice” facing the world.

Feeling called by Christ to care for the “least of these,” especially, “our unborn brothers and sisters,” Rose turned to God, asking Him to “use me somehow to save some lives.”

“We’re not meant to be passive people of faith,” Rose said, explaining that “we’re meant to use our gifts for God.”

A combination of prayer and surrender to the will of God led Rose to start what would become Live Action – a group dedicated to exposing the abuses and lies of the abortion industry – at age 15 with a group of friends in her parents’ living room.

When Rose went to UCLA for her undergraduate degree, she took Live Action with her. Finding few resources for pregnant women on campus, she conducted her first undercover operation, pretending to be pregnant to see whether the university health clinic would be supportive of her having a baby.

The clinic workers pushed strongly for abortion, while telling her that she may not receive any support if she chose to keep her baby. Rose wrote about this experience in “The Advocate,” a publication that she founded, which now has a national collegiate circulation of more than 200,000 readers.  

Rose then went undercover at her local Planned Parenthood, posing as a young teenager who was the victim of statutory rape. She secretly filmed the visit, in which clinic employees agreed to help cover up the rape.

The video spread rapidly, receiving 25,000 views on YouTube in less than a week. When Planned Parenthood threatened her with a lawsuit, Rose again found herself driven to her knees, relying on the power of prayer.

“We have to trust our God to attempt to do what we think He wants us to do,” she emphasized.  

Soon, pro-bono lawyers came to her defense, and Rose was able to launch Live Action as a national organization. She went on to conduct further undercover investigative journalism, discovering that while Planned Parenthood brands itself as a “pro-woman” organization, it cooperates with sex-selective abortions, racism, human trafficking and other forms of sexual abuse.

Through her experiences, Rose has come to understand the gravity of abortion in the United States.

“We are in the middle of a great holocaust, great genocide,” she said, “and it’s branded as 'choice,' 'freedom,' 'empowerment.'”

Rose stressed that the fight to end abortion is “a spiritual battle as much as it is a physical battle.”  

In fighting the culture of death, she said, “what we need to do is re-catechize ourselves” and turn to prayer and the sacraments.

Faith is critical to Rose, who entered the Catholic Church three-and-a-half years ago. She reflected on her love for the Virgin Mary, the ultimate pro-life model who accepted God’s will for her child with complete love and acceptance.

Action is also an essential part of the fight, she said, explaining that this “can mean a lot of things,” including not only the pro-life work of Live Action and other groups, but also “living out a love of neighbor,” and living a life of integrity, particularly “sexual integrity.”

Above all, Rose emphasized, “the most important thing we can do is pray.”

“We all know that we are very, very weak,” she explained, “but with God, who is all powerful and all strong, anything is possible.”

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Outcry over rape cases could mean change for India's women

Denver, Colo., Jan 19, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - Public admonishment of the brutal cases of gang rape in India could be the sign of changing views towards women in the world’s largest democracy, some experts say.

The torture and eventual death of the 23-year-old university student who was gang raped in a moving charter bus on Dec. 16 in New Delhi has sparked public indignation and raised questions over the root of violence against women in India.

Less than one month later, reports detailed a similar ordeal of a 29-year-old mother of two who was taken by the driver of a private bus to a remote location where she was raped by seven different men.

As other accounts of women and girls throughout India being gang raped emerge, demonstrators have taken to the streets to decry the violence against women and show support for the victims.

Although the public outcry over these crimes “is encouraging...given the history of how such cases have been treated in India,” author Mara Hvistendahl told CNA Jan. 17 that “unfortunately women are still valued less than men in many parts of the world.”

Hvistendahl, who is a former journalist for “Science” magazine and author of the book “Unnatural Selection: Choosing Boys Over Girls and the Consequences of a World Full of Men” said that part of the solution to brutal violence against women is “getting rid of sex-selection.”

While her book details the implications of the practice in countries throughout the world, she said that that sex-selective abortion in India simply “perpetuates violence against women.”

“As men have trouble finding wives, they turn to trafficking and bride-buying to obtain women from still poorer regions,” Hvistendahl said. “It's a vicious cycle.”

She pointed to reports from Indian non-government organizations which show that regions with “severe sex ratio imbalances” have “an increase in the incidence of violence against women.”

“What is more certain is that the sex ratio imbalance directly leads to the trafficking of women for sex and marriage, which is also a form of violence against women,” she said.

A large part of the problem has to do with the way women are viewed in some parts of Indian culture as a burden due to the need for a dowry in order to be married.

Jeevaline Kumar, director of Operation Mobilisation’s Anti-Human Trafficking Project in Bangalore, said that this perception is still a prominent fixture of Indian culture.

“When girls are born, nobody is excited because they are looked upon as a liability,” she told CNA in a recent interview.

Laura Sheahen, a freelance writer for a humanitarian aid group, explained to CNA Jan. 18 that although the dowry tradition is “ingrained” in both urban and rural India, many people are striving to rid the culture of it.

Sheahen said she sees “a lot of hope” in the “great women and men in India who are fighting the dowry system” and “who are fighting to educate girls.”

For its part, Sheahen said, the Indian government has set forth incentives to help alleviate the burden of the dowry tradition such as providing funds to families for the purpose of educating their daughters.

The protests in response to the crimes are a “positive sign,” she said, noting that “a few generations ago, people just would have remained silent.”

However, “until people realize that having an educated, healthy, happy daughter is of value in itself” – regardless of a girl’s marriage will bring to a family – “women are not going to be treated well in a lot of areas of India.”

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