Bishop of Scranton Joseph Martino has written again to Pennsylvania U.S. Sen. Bob Casey concerning his vote against the Mexico City Policy. Saying he has “deep concern” that the senator’s staff is misrepresenting the vote as pro-life, Bishop Martino asked for “utter clarity” on matters that pertain to taking innocent life.
The bishop's second letter was made public on the same day the Diocese of Scranton published an Official Notice on the Reception of Communion. The notice emphasizes the need for communicants to receive Holy Communion worthily and the need for ministers to ensure the Sacrament’s worthy reception.
Sen. Casey, a self-described pro-life Democrat, recently voted against an amendment to the Children’s Health Insurance Act which would have reinstated the Mexico City Policy reversed by President Barack Obama on Jan. 23.
The Mexico City Policy bars U.S. taxpayer funding of international groups that promote or perform abortions.
Following Casey's vote against the ammendment, Bishop Martino wrote his first letter to Sen. Casey on Jan. 30 expressing his “deep regret” over the senator's vote.
“In effect, the reversal of the Mexico City policy will mean that over 450 million dollars of American foreign aid will go to organizations that are militant in promoting abortion as a method of population control, particularly in countries that find abortion objectionable on moral grounds,” he wrote.
“Senator, is not this vote a contradiction of your repeated claim that you support the protection of unborn life?”
According to the Scranton Times Tribune, Sen. Casey has claimed that the 1973 Helms Amendment and the Hyde Amendment provide the same restrictions as the Mexico City Policy. The senator also has argued that giving the groups money reduces the number of abortions by promoting contraception and “family planning” to avoid unexpected pregnancies.
In his second letter, dated Feb. 26, Bishop Martino told Sen. Casey that his Jan. 30 letter was “in no way mistaken” regarding the effects of President Obama’s reversal of the Mexico City Policy.
“It is imperative that this fact be made known to the public,” he wrote.
“It is a matter of deep concern that your recent vote against the Mexico City Policy is continually misrepresented by your staff as a pro-life vote.”
“The Mexico City Policy is, first and foremost, about abortion, not about family planning,” the bishop argued, quoting the policy’s requirement that federally-funded organizations “neither perform nor actively promote abortion as a method of family planning in other nations.”
“Furthermore, the Mexico City Policy did not take funds away from family planning; its effect is quite the opposite,” the bishop said.
Bishop Martino quoted the Family Research Council’s Tom McClusky, who said that, because President Obama’s rescindment of the Mexico City Policy, millions of dollars will be taken away from family planning groups that do not promote abortions and will instead be directed to “organizations that are the most militant in promoting abortion as a population-control method—especially in countries that find abortion objectionable on moral grounds.”
“Contrary to the claims of your staff,” he wrote, the end of the Mexico City Policy ensures that money is taken away from family planning, that abortion is promoted as a method of family planning, and that countries that have moral and cultural objections to abortion are encouraged to abandon their anti-abortion policies.
“Finally, it is never permissible to use immoral means such as artificial contraception to achieve a good end, namely, the reduction of unplanned pregnancies,” Bishop Martino said, saying the use of contraception advances the attitude that having and raising children is “a burden to be avoided.”
“This attitude has contributed mightily to the acceptability of abortion as a means of contraception both at home and abroad.”
The bishop wrote that it is “imperative” to have “utter clarity” on Church teaching relevant to the taking of innocent life and to the special responsibilities that fall to Sen. Casey to oppose abortion and “other clear evils.”
Bishop Martino closed by quoting U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops President Cardinal Francis George’s letter to President Obama urging that the Mexico City Policy be upheld.
“Once the clear line between family planning and abortion is erased, the idea of using family planning to reduce abortions becomes meaningless, and abortion tends to replace contraception as the means for reducing family size,” Cardinal George wrote in a Jan. 23 letter. “A shift toward promoting abortion in developing nations would also increase distrust of the United States in these nations, whose values and culture often reject abortion, at a time when we need their trust and respect.”