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About Medicine & Morality News & Comments
Updated October 5, 2010

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WFF's Online Journal on Bioethics and Health Care Issues

Topics on About Medicine & Morality include "end-of-life" issues, organ donation, and all matters of concern to families and to all who care for seriously ill people of every age who are especially at risk in our contemporary culture -- people who are precious in the sight of God, despite their fragility or disability -- people who are always entitled to our love, and our informed and intelligent care.

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Posted March 23, 2011

For Immediate Release

March 23, 2011

Pro-Life Leaders Call on Jesuit Seattle University to Sever Planned Parenthood Ties

Manassas, Va. – A group of 16 national pro-life leaders, led by The Cardinal Newman Society (CNS) and Students for Life of America (SFLA), sent a letter <>  to the President of Seattle University calling on him to put an end to the institution’s numerous connections to Planned Parenthood and other pro-abortion rights organizations. The Catholic Church’s unequivocal condemnation of abortion renders a Catholic university’s association with any pro-abortion rights organization grossly inappropriate.

“Seattle University, as a Catholic and Jesuit institution, has a God-given responsibility to live up to its religious identity,” said Patrick J. Reilly, CNS President.  “Such an identity certainly precludes involvement with those organizations facilitating the slaughter of the innocents.  May Seattle University today turn a corner and resolve to sever these scandalous connections."

Kristan Hawkins, Executive Director of Students for Life of America noted, “Promoting and glorifying Planned Parenthood and other abortion organizations on any campus is unacceptable, most especially on a Catholic campus.  Planned Parenthood is the nation's abortion Goliath and has repeatedly been found to protect rapists, racists, and sex traffickers of minors. Time and time again, Planned Parenthood has proved its business is abortion, plain and simple. Seattle University must remove Planned Parenthood from campus and sever all ties with the abortion industry.”

Instances of Seattle University’s cooperation with Planned Parenthood, as found on the University website, include: referring students to Planned Parenthood for “sexual health” services; allowing and promoting student internships with Planned Parenthood; hiring employees with past experience with Planned Parenthood and highlighting that experience on the University’s website; and honoring students for their past work with Planned Parenthood.

Among the groups that signed on were Priests for Life, Human Life International, Susan B. Anthony List, Concerned Women for America, Live Action, Human Life Alliance, Catholics United for the Faith, Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute, Culture of Life Foundation, Women for Faith & Family, and many others.

Other pro-abortion rights organizations with connections to Seattle University, also uncovered on the University’s website, include the Feminist Majority Foundation, Legal Momentum, and the National Organization for Women.  Read the summary of the University’s pro-abortion rights connections here <> .

You can read the letter sent to Seattle University President Fr. Stephen Sundborg, S.J., here <> .

To schedule an interview with The Cardinal Newman Society, contact Adam Wilson at [email protected] or 703-367-0333, ext. 102

To schedule an interview with Kristan Hawkins, Executive Director of Students for Life of America, email [email protected] or call 703-351-6280.

This news release is also available here (Broken Link)

Adam Wilson, Director of Communications
The Cardinal Newman Society <>
Address: 9415 West Street, Manassas, VA 20110
Phone: 703-367-0333, ext. 102 / Fax: 703-396-8668
Read our blog Campus Notes <>  / Follow us on Twitter <>  / Like us on Facebook <>

Posted October 5, 2010

Even in petri dish, life merits protection

by Archbishop Allen Vigneron 

I started out as an embryo. So did you and everyone else who shares this planet with us.  And there is great significance to this irrefutable fact beyond the shared experience.

Time magazine's cover story this week about the influence of life in the womb states the case: "We are the way we are because it's in our genes: the DNA we inherited at conception." Yes, upbringing and environment have a huge impact on our lives, but one thing never changes until our last natural breath: our DNA. Each human embryo is unique -- it does not have the same DNA of the mother or father. That cell not only becomes us, it is us.

This reality is critical context as the World Stem Cell Summit meets in Detroit. Progress in research on umbilical cord blood cells and adult stem cells is to be saluted and supported. Patients and advocates alike can look to the growing number of cures and treatments discovered through research that does not  destroy the living human embryo. Conversely, experiments on human embryonic stem cells deserve our scrutiny and scorn. If not us, who will speak for our fellow citizens-to-be?

We are blessed to live in a country with some of the most extraordinary founding documents in history. If, indeed, we believe we were "created equal," doesn't that belief extend to the indefensible living embryo in a petri dish? "Unalienable rights" means they can't be taken away by the state.

Doesn't that apply to science as well? And what of "life" in "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness"? First, it must begin.

Embryonic stem cell researchers will attest that it is imperative to preserve an embryo because it is a living cell. It is after the living embryo is preserved with its human DNA signature that it is dissected, cloned, destroyed or discarded.

True democracy is built on life, not death.

Ours is not the first country or culture to selectively pursue a moral calculus that justifies taking a life to enable scientific experiments. We know from sad experience that dangers follow when we put human hands on the switch of life and death.

Embryos are the genesis of human life, and it is morally unacceptable to intentionally destroy them, even if the scientist is trying to cure a debilitating disease or parents are responding to a difficult challenge in their family life. The country we live in defends human rights at home and abroad. That defense must extend to the laboratory.

In Michigan's Compiled Laws, the fetal protection act is precise on punishing individuals who harm or kill a fetus -- or embryo! -- during an intentional assault.

How can there be such a disconnect with what happens in an assault case and what occurs in a laboratory when a human life is destroyed? The person who harmed an embryo in an assault is charged with a felony. The person who destroys an embryo in a petri dish is held harmless and likely considered some sort of medical pioneer.  Yet the results were the same: two fewer people in the world who had no power to stop what was happening to them and had no voice in their demise.

The question is called.

Allen Vigneron is the archbishop of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Detroit

Source: (Broken link)

Links to Abp. Vigneron’s column and a radio interview on embryonic research on the Archdiocese of Detroit’s web site:


Posted September 28, 2010

USCCB News Release

September 28, 2010


USCCB Pro-Life Committee Chairman Issues Statement for Respect Life Month Cardinal DiNardo calls for awareness, prayer, healing and action in defense of life Worldwide ‘Vigil for All Nascent Human Life’ set for November 27

WASHINGTON (September 28, 2010)—In a statement to mark Respect Life Month, October 2010, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston addressed direct threats to human life and called Catholics to “constantly witness to the inestimable worth and dignity of each human life through a loving concern for the good of others.” He also encouraged participation in the worldwide “Vigil for All Nascent Human Life” called for by Pope Benedict XVI at the start of Advent.

Cardinal DiNardo chairs the Committee on Pro-Life Activities of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).

In his statement, Cardinal DiNardo noted populations particularly at risk: millions of unborn children in the womb, embryonic human beings destroyed “in the name of science,” and seriously ill patients “under threat from a renewed campaign for legalizing physician-assisted suicide.”

“The loss of even one child, and the pain experienced by the child’s mother and father in the aftermath of abortion, should impel us to redouble our efforts to end legal abortion,” Cardinal DiNardo said. He stressed the need “to ensure that every pregnant woman has whatever help she needs to turn away from this heartbreaking choice.” He highlighted Project Rachel, the Church’s healing ministry to women and men hurting after abortion, and called the ministry “a reflection of God’s love and mercy and His constant offer of forgiveness and healing.”

Cardinal DiNardo also noted the “urgent task” of “ensuring that health care reform … is not misused to promote abortion or to trample on the rights of conscience.”

“If we allow the dignity of every human life to guide the decisions we make as voters and public policy advocates, we can surely succeed in creating a more just and humane society,” Cardinal DiNardo said.

Cardinal DiNardo cited Pope Benedict’s “unprecedented request” for Catholics throughout the world to observe a “Vigil for All Nascent Human Life” on Saturday, November 27.

“I heartily encourage all Catholics, whether at home or traveling over the Thanksgiving holidays, to take part in this special prayer, whose purpose according to the Holy See,” he said, “is to ‘thank the Lord for his total self-giving to the world and for his Incarnation which gave every human life its real worth and dignity,’ and to ‘invoke the Lord’s protection over every human being called into existence’.”

Begun in 1972, the Respect Life Program stresses the value and dignity of human life. It is observed in the 195 Catholic dioceses in the United States. This year's theme is “The Measure of Love is to Love Without Measure.” The full statement follows and may be found online at

Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo
Chairman, Committee on Pro-Life Activities
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
September 27, 2010

During the Respect Life Month of October, Catholics across the United States will gather in prayer and thanksgiving, at charitable and educational events, and in public witness to the unique and priceless value of every human life, guided by the theme for this year’s Respect Life Program: “The Measure of Love is to Love Without Measure.” With each passing year, the need for personal and public witness grounded in God’s boundless love for each and every human being grows more urgent.

With over one million innocent children dying from abortion each year, the plague of abortion remains embedded in our culture. It is encouraging to see the continuing decline nationwide in the number and rate of abortions—due in large part to fewer teens becoming sexually active, and to growing recognition of the humanity of the unborn child. Yet the loss of even one child, and the pain experienced by the child’s mother and father in the aftermath of abortion, should impel us to redouble our efforts to end legal abortion, and to ensure that every pregnant woman has whatever help she needs to turn away from this heartbreaking choice.

For those the pro-life community could not reach and assist before they underwent an abortion, the Catholic Church throughout the United States offers compassionate, confidential counseling through its Project Rachel ministry. In contacting Project Rachel, no one need fear that they will encounter anything less than a reflection of God’s love and mercy and His constant offer of forgiveness and healing.

In many areas of public policy, the rift continues to widen between the moral principles expressed by a majority of Americans and the actions of government. For example, Americans oppose public funding of abortion by wide margins, with 67% opposing federal funding of abortion in health care in one recent poll. In early 2009, Catholics and others sent over 33 million postcards, and countless e-mails and letters to Members of Congress, urging them to “retain laws against federal funding and promotion of abortion.”

Yet in March of this year, Congress passed a health care reform law that allows for federal funding of abortion in some programs and could pressure millions of Americans to help subsidize other people’s abortions through their health care premiums. Ensuring that health care reform will meet the urgent needs for which it has been proposed, and is not misused to promote abortion or to trample on rights of conscience, will be an urgent task in the coming year.

Defenseless human life is also placed at risk today in the name of science, when researchers seek to destroy human life at its embryonic stage for stem cell research—and demand the use of all Americans’ tax dollars to support this agenda. In a recent poll commissioned by the Catholic bishops’ Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities, 57 percent of respondents favored funding only stem cell research avenues that do not harm the donor, using stem cells from cord blood, placentas, and other “adult” tissues; only 21 percent favor funding all stem cell research, including research that requires killing embryonic human beings. Yet the current Administration issued guidelines last year to fund human embryonic stem cell research, and some in Congress are preparing legislation to ensure continued funding despite a federal court’s finding that these guidelines may violate the law.

At the other end of life, seriously ill patients are again under threat from a renewed campaign for legalizing physician-assisted suicide. Instead of addressing these patients’ real problems by providing love, support and relief of suffering, this agenda urges us to eliminate the patient as though he or she is the problem. Marching under the false banner of “compassion” and “choice,” it raises the fearsome prospect of a future in which the only “choice” cheerfully granted to our most vulnerable patients is a lethal overdose of drugs.

Becoming a voice for the child in the womb, and for the embryonic human being at risk of becoming a mere object of research, and for the neglected sick and elderly is one of many ways we can teach our fellow citizens that “The Measure of Love is to Love Without Measure.” While critics want to portray the Church’s witness as a narrow and negative ideology, it is just the opposite: A positive vision of the dignity of each and every human being without exception, each loved equally by God and so equally deserving of our love and our nation’s respect.

Because we are created in the image of God, who is Love, our identity and vocation is to love sacrificially for the sake of others. Pope Benedict XVI has called this “the key to [our] entire existence.” In a homily during his recent visit to the United Kingdom, Pope Benedict reminded us that “our hearts can easily be hardened by selfishness, envy and pride,” and that “pure and generous love is the fruit of a daily decision.” Every day, he reminded us, “we have to choose to love.” In our homes, schools, workplaces, and in public, if we constantly witness to the inestimable worth and dignity of each human life through a loving concern for the good of others, if we allow the dignity of every human life to guide the decisions we make as voters and public policy advocates, we can surely succeed in creating a more just and humane society.

Our efforts, of course, must always be undergirded with prayer—the silent space for personal daily prayer that allows us to hear God’s voice deep in our hearts, and communal prayer that asks God to transform our culture into one that welcomes every human person.

Recently Pope Benedict made an unprecedented request for such prayer, by asking that Catholic bishops throughout the world, and all parishes and religious communities, observe a “Vigil for All Nascent Human Life” on the evening of Saturday, November 27, 2010. The U.S. bishops’ offices for pro-life activities and for divine worship will be working together to provide worship aids to assist pastors in planning these vigil services.

Speaking for the bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, I heartily encourage all Catholics, whether at home or traveling over the Thanksgiving holidays, to take part in this special prayer, whose purpose according to the Holy See is to “thank the Lord for his total self-giving to the world and for his Incarnation which gave every human life its real worth and dignity,” and to “invoke the Lord’s protection over every human being called into existence.”

May God bless all who work tirelessly to build a culture of respect for every human life, from conception to natural death.

Posted March 18, 2010

WFF Statement on Health Care Reform Proposal, March 18, 2010

Posted October 9, 2009

USCCB News Release

October 8, 2009

Bishops’ concerns include abortion, conscience, immigrants, affordability
Reaffirm commitment to work for reform that respects life and dignity of all

U.S. Bishops: Current Health Care Bills Violate Essential Principles; Will Seek Changes Or Have To Oppose

WASHINGTON—Three chairmen of the bishops’ committees working on health care reform urged the U.S. Congress to improve current health care reform legislation, expressing their “disappointment that progress has not been made on the three priority criteria for health care reform” cited in their previous letters.

The October 8 letter from Bishop William Murphy, Cardinal Justin Rigali and Bishop John Wester reiterated the bishops’ main concerns: that no one should be forced to pay for or participate in an abortion, that health care should be affordable and available to the poor and vulnerable, and that the needs of legal immigrants are met.

Bishop Murphy, Cardinal Rigali and Bishop Wester chair the U.S. bishops’ committees on Domestic Justice and Human Development, Pro-Life Activities and Immigration, respectively.

The bishops reaffirmed their commitment to working with Congress and the Administration toward genuine health care reform, but stated, “If final legislation does not meet our principles, we will have no choice but to oppose the bill.”

“We sincerely hope that the legislation will not fall short of our criteria,” wrote the bishops. “However, we remain apprehensive when amendments protecting freedom of conscience and ensuring no taxpayer money for abortion are defeated in committee votes.”

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has advocated for health care reform for decades. The bishops wrote that “Catholic moral tradition teaches that health care is a basic human right, essential to protecting human life and dignity. Much-needed reform of our health care system must be pursued in ways that serve the life and dignity of all, never in ways that undermine or violate these fundamental values. We will work tirelessly to remedy these central problems and help pass real reform that clearly protects the life, dignity and health of all.”

The full text of the letter can be found online at:

Posted September 30, 2009

USCCB News Release

September 30, 2009

USCCB Pro-Life Committee Chairman Releases Statement For Respect Life Sunday

WASHINGTON—In a statement to mark Respect Life Sunday, October 4, Cardinal Justin Rigali of Philadelphia called attention to those who are most vulnerable in recent debates on health care reform – the unborn, the poor, the elderly and the immigrant – and called upon Catholics to “examine how well we, as a nation and individually, are living up to our obligation to protect the rights of those who, due to age, dependency, poverty or other circumstances, are at risk of their very lives."

Cardinal Rigali chairs the Committee on Pro-Life Activities of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).

Cardinal Rigali noted that the lives of the unborn are those most at risk in America and “despite the opposition of 67% of Americans to taxpayer-funded abortion, all current health care proposals being considered by Congress would allow or mandate abortion funding, either through premiums paid into government programs or out of federal revenues."

Noting that the unborn are not alone in being under attack in current proposals, Cardinal Rigali called for health care that recognizes the humanity of the immigrant. “How can a just society deny basic health care to those living and working among us who need medical attention? It cannot and must not," he said.

Cardinal Rigali also addressed a dangerous and false cultural attitude that some persons are not worth protecting because of their perceived “low quality of life." He stated that “death is not a solution to life’s problems. Only those who are blind to the transcendent reality and meaning of human life could support killing human beings to mitigate economic, social or environmental problems."

“The antidote to such myopia is to recover an appreciation for the sanctity and dignity of each unique human being," he said.

Begun in 1972, the Respect Life Program stresses the value and dignity of human life. It is observed in the 195 Catholic dioceses in the United States. This year's theme is "Every Child Brings Us God’s Smile." The full statement follows and may be found online at

Cardinal Justin F. Rigali
Chairman, USCCB Committee on Pro-life Activities
September 29, 2009

Respect Life Sunday, this year celebrated on October 4th is a day set aside for Catholics in the United States to reflect with gratitude on God’s priceless gift of human life. It is also an occasion to examine how well we, as a nation and individually, are living up to our obligation to protect the rights of those who, due to age, dependency, poverty or other circumstances, are at risk of their very lives.

In the current debate over health care reform, it has become evident that a number of Americans believe that the lives and health of only some people are worth safeguarding, while other classes of people are viewed as not deserving the same protection. Such an attitude is deplorable, all the more so in the context of health care. Sanctioning discrimination in the quality of care given to different groups of people has no place in medicine, and directly contravenes the ethical norms under which Catholic hospitals and health care providers operate.

Unborn children remain the persons whose lives are most at risk in America: Over one million children each year die in abortion facilities. The Roe v. Wade decision in 1973 rendered states powerless to halt this killing. Thankfully Congress and most states acted to prevent public funding of abortions (with narrowly defined exceptions). Yet despite the opposition of 67% of Americans to taxpayer-funded abortion, all current health care proposals being considered by Congress would allow or mandate abortion funding, either through premiums paid into government programs or out of federal revenues.

It bears repeating: Abortion – the direct, intentional killing of an unborn girl or boy – is not health care. Abortion robs an innocent child of his or her life, and robs mothers of their peace and happiness. For 25 years, the Project Rachel post-abortion ministry of the Catholic Church has helped women move beyond their grief and remorse after abortion, helping them find peace by accepting God’s forgiveness and by forgiving themselves and others involved in the abortion decision. Abortion funding can only increase the number of dead and grieving.

Unborn children are not the only human beings disfavored under current proposals. Many people insist that undocumented persons living and working in the United States should not be allowed in any new system to purchase health-care coverage, and that poor legal immigrants be denied coverage for the first five years they are in the United States. Do immigrants forfeit their humanity at the border? How can a just society deny basic health care to those living and working among us who need medical attention? It cannot and must not.

While most Americans agree that those who cannot afford health insurance should have access to health care, some commentators have gone so far as to suggest offsetting the cost of expanded coverage by curtailing the level of care now given to elderly Americans. Other pundits have suggested that treatment decisions should be based not on the needs of the elderly patient, but on the patient’s allegedly low “quality of life" or the cost-effectiveness of treatment calculated over the patient’s projected lifespan. Such calculations can ignore the inherent dignity of the person needing care, and undermine the therapeutic relationship between health professionals and their patients.

It should not be surprising that the neglect, and even the death, of some people are offered as a solution to rising health care costs. Population control advocates have long espoused aborting children in the developing world as a misguided means for reducing poverty.

Some environmentalists now claim that the most efficient way to curb global climate change is to make “family planning" more widely available in the developing world. They report that an average of 2.3 pounds per day of exhaled carbon dioxide can be eliminated from the atmosphere by eliminating one human being. As used by population control advocates, the innocuous term “family planning" includes abortifacient contraceptives, sterilization, and manual vacuum aspiration abortions.

Oregon, where health care for low-income patients is rationed by the state, has denied several patients the costly prescription drugs needed to prolong their lives, while reminding them that the assisted suicide option is conveniently offered under Oregon’s health plan.

Many scientists justify the manipulation and killing of embryonic human beings in stem cell research, based on unsubstantiated hopes of finding new cures. Yet the facts increasingly show this approach to pose risks to patients, and to women who may be exploited to provide eggs for the research.

Death is not a solution to life’s problems. Only those who are blind to the transcendent reality and meaning of human life could support killing human beings to mitigate economic, social or environmental problems.

The antidote to such myopia is to recover an appreciation for the sanctity and dignity of each unique human being. One could begin by spending a day with a young child. The average child is a wellspring of joy and giggles, capable of daring leaps of imagination, probing curiosity, and even reasoned (though sometimes self-centered) appeals for justice. Children delight in God’s creation and love their family unconditionally. God gave every human being these marvelous aptitudes, and children can help us recover and appreciate them anew.

Since the advent of widespread contraception and abortion, a cultural hostility to children has grown. They are often depicted as costly encumbrances who interfere with a carefree adult life. No fewer than six recent books are dedicated to defending the childless-by-choice lifestyle – for selfish reasons, or to counter "overpopulation," a thoroughly discredited myth. In fact, if married couples were to have more children, Medicare and Social Security would not be hurtling toward bankruptcy. Since 1955, because of fewer children and longer life spans, the number of workers has declined relative to the number of beneficiaries, from 8.6 to only 3.1 workers paying benefits to support each beneficiary. Without substantially more young people to enter the work force as young adults, in 25 years, there will be only 2.1 workers supporting each beneficiary. Eliminating our young does not solve problems even on pragmatic grounds. It adds to them.

Children, and those who are dependent on us due to disability or age, offer us the opportunity to grow in patience, kindness, and love. They teach us that life is a shared gift, not an encumbrance. At the end of life, we will be judged on love alone. Meanwhile, in the midst of so many challenges to life, we look to "Christ Jesus our hope" (1 Timothy 1:1), who offers to all the world a share in his victory over death.

Posted May 8, 2009

USCCB News Release

May 5, 2009

Proposed NIH guidelines divorce stem cell research from ethical foundation
Innocent humans treated as commodities for body parts
Bishops call for cures ‘we can all live with’
Multi-media resources for parishes, schools on new Web page


WASHINGTON—The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) launched a new “Oppose Destructive Stem Cell Research” campaign today, equipping citizens to contact Congress and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to oppose embryonic stem cell research and support ethical cures and treatments “we can all live with.” The campaign is facilitated by the USCCB’s partner organization, the National Committee for a Human Life Amendment.

Following President Obama’s March 9 executive order, the NIH proposed guidelines for federally funded research that will require destroying live human embryos for their stem cells. The draft guidelines are open for public comment through May 26.

The campaign homepage,, summarizes why the proposed guidelines are unacceptable, provides links to USCCB resources (including the bishops’ statement “On Embryonic Stem Cell Research” and multi-media resources and ads), and encourages web users to “Contact Congress & NIH Now” through an e-mail interface. Several resources are available in both English and Spanish.

The campaign site explains that the NIH guidelines “would—for the first time—use taxpayer funds to encourage the killing of embryonic human beings for their stem cells.” It continues, “Embryonic stem cell research treats innocent human beings as mere sources of body parts, as commodities for our use.”

The webpage features a video of Cardinal Justin Rigali, chairman of the bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, critiquing the draft guidelines.

“The Catholic bishops of the United States will be writing to Congress and the Administration about the need to restore and maintain barriers against the mistreatment of human life in the name of science, and we urge other concerned citizens to do the same,” Cardinal Rigali said.
Catholics and other citizens are urged to contact both NIH and Congress because members of Congress and the Administration have expressed interest in pursuing an even broader policy. “They want to obtain stem cells by destroying human embryos specially generated for research through in vitro fertilization (IVF) or cloning procedures – a ‘create to kill’ policy,” the campaign page explains.

Those who want to call for stem cell research and cures “we can all live with” may speak out by visiting and clicking on “Contact Congress & NIH Now.”

Posted April 27, 2009

USCCB News Release
April 23, 2009

“Pregnant women need our assistance now so that
abortion is not promoted to them as their only choice”


WASHINGTON—Cardinal Rigali, chair of the Committee on Pro-Life Activities for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), wrote to all U.S. Representatives urging them to co-sponsor the Pregnant Women Support Act (PWSA, H.R. 2035) re-introduced in the House by Rep. Lincoln Davis (D-TN) on April 22. The PWSA provides resources and support for pregnant and parenting women and their families.

“The Pregnant Women Support Act reaches out to women with a helping hand when they are most vulnerable, and most engaged in making a decision about life or death for their unborn children,” Cardinal Rigali said.

The Cardinal said that the PWSA offers “an authentic common ground, an approach that people can embrace regardless of their position on other issues.”

“There are some statements that almost everyone can endorse. First, the fact that over a million abortions take place every year in this country is a tragedy, and we should at least take steps to reduce abortions,” said Cardinal Rigali.

“Second, no woman should ever have to undergo an abortion because she feels she has no other choice, or because alternatives were unavailable or not made known to her. An abortion performed under such social and economic duress meets no one’s standard for ‘freedom of choice’,” the Cardinal continued.

Among other provisions, the PWSA will ensure that pregnant women are not denied coverage by insurance companies; establish a toll-free number for resources during pregnancy and after birth; provide life-affirming pregnancy services and parenting education in maternity group homes and other centers; provide new mothers with free home visits by registered nurses; and codify the current regulation allowing states to provide State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) coverage to unborn children and their mothers. It will also encourage adoption by expanding adoption tax credit and adoption assistance programs.

Cardinal Rigali distinguished the Pregnant Women Support Act from controversial proposals involving pregnancy prevention, which raise serious policy questions and in many studies have been shown not to reduce abortions. “Discussion of pregnancy prevention and related issues will surely continue inside and outside Congress. In the meantime, pregnant women need our assistance now so that abortion is not promoted to them as their only choice….I hope you will join Representative Davis in ensuring that the Pregnant Women Support Act will be considered and enacted by this Congress,” he said.

The full text of Cardinal Rigali’s letter is available at:

Posted April 22, 2009

USCCB News Release

April 21, 2009

For first time, federal tax dollars will be used to encourage destruction of living embryonic human beings "Suffering patients and their families deserve better," says Cardinal Rigali


WASHINGTON—Cardinal Justin Rigali, Chairman of the U.S. Catholic bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, reacted today to new draft guidelines for human embryonic stem cell research issued late last week by the National Institutes of Health. The text of his statement follows:

New draft guidelines for federally funded stem cell research involving the destruction of human embryos, released Friday by the National Institutes of Health, mark a new chapter in divorcing biomedical research from its necessary ethical foundation. Without unconditional respect for the life of each and every member of the human race, research involving human subjects does not represent true progress. It becomes another way for some human beings to use and mistreat others for their own goals. Suffering patients and their families deserve better, through increased support for promising and ethically sound stem cell research and treatments that harm no one.

In most respects these draft guidelines reflect the policy approved but never implemented by the Clinton administration in 2000. However, the Clinton policy was limited to embryos that had been frozen, to ensure that parents had time to consider the decision to donate them for research; the new guidelines are broader in allowing destruction of newly created embryos that were never frozen, increasing the prospects for a rushed and biased consent process.

Despite supporters’ constant claim that this agenda involves only embryos that "would otherwise be discarded," the guidelines provide that the option of donating embryonic children for destructive research will be offered to parents alongside all other options, including those allowing the embryos to live. For the first time, federal tax dollars will be used to encourage destruction of living embryonic human beings for stem cell research – including human beings who otherwise would have survived and been born.

It is noteworthy that, despite calls for an even broader policy by some in Congress and the research community, the draft guidelines do not allow federally funded stem cell research using embryos specially created for research purposes by in vitro fertilization or cloning. We can hope that the NIH and Congress will continue to respect this ethical norm, and will realize that the alleged "need" for violating it is more implausible than ever due to advances in reprogramming adult cells to act like embryonic stem cells. However, congressional supporters of destructive human embryo research have already said they will pursue a more extreme policy. The Catholic bishops of the United States will be writing to Congress and the Administration about the need to restore and maintain barriers against the mistreatment of human life in the name of science, and we urge other concerned citizens to do the same.

Posted January 22, 2009

USCCB News Release

January 19, 2009

Bishops Urge New President to Keep Laws on Conscience Rights, Foreign Aid for Abortion, Embryonic Stem Cell Research

WASHINGTON—The U.S. bishops urged President-elect Barack Obama not to rescind current policies that protect conscience rights of health care workers, prevent foreign aid to organizations promoting abortion, and ban funding of stem cell research that encourages destruction of human embryos.

They made the request in a January 16 letter from Cardinal Francis George, President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, shortly before President-elect Obama's inauguration. The letter followed by less than a week a previous letter outlining the bishops' broad policy agenda as the new Administration and Congress begin their work.

Cardinal George said some would expect the new president "to take executive action soon to reverse current policies" that uphold people's rights to follow their consciences and that respect innocent human life. Giving in to these expectations, he said, could be "a terrible mistake -- morally, politically, and in terms of advancing the solidarity and well-being of our nation's people."

Cardinal George hailed the recently issued regulation to protect conscience rights in health care as "a long-overdue measure for implementing three statutes enacted by Congress over the last 35 years." He said this is a "common-sense regulation, which explicitly protects the right of health professionals who favor or oppose abortion to serve the basic health needs of their communities."

Cardinal George also cited the Mexico City Policy, established in 1984, that has ensured that family planning funds are not diverted to organizations dedicated to performing and promoting abortions instead of reducing them. He warned: "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."

He said that the current embryonic stem cell policy sought "to ensure that Americans are not forced to use their tax dollars to encourage expanded destruction of embryonic human beings for their stem cells." He noted that "basic research in the capabilities of embryonic stem cells can be and is being pursued using the currently eligible cell lines as well as the hundreds of lines produced with nonfederal funds since 2001." He added that "recent startling advances in reprogramming adult cells into embryonic-like stem cells – hailed by the journal Science as the scientific breakthrough of the year – are said by many scientists to be making embryonic stem cells irrelevant to medical progress." He noted also that "adult and cord blood stem cells are now known to have great versatility, and are increasingly being used to reverse serious illnesses and even help rebuild damaged organs."

"To divert scarce funds away from these promising avenues for research and treatment, toward the avenue that is most morally controversial as well as most medically speculative, would be a sad victory of politics over science," he added.

The complete letter follows:

Dear Mr. President-elect:

I recently wrote to assure you of the prayers of the Catholic bishops of the United States for your service to our nation, and to outline issues of special concern to us as we seek to work with your Administration and the new Congress to serve the common good.

I am writing today on a matter that could introduce significant negative and divisive factors into our national life, at a time when we need to come together to address the serious challenges facing our people. I expect that some want you to take executive action soon to reverse current policies against government-sponsored destruction of unborn human life. I urge you to consider that this could be a terrible mistake -- morally, politically, and in terms of advancing the solidarity and well-being of our nation's people.

During the campaign, you promised as President to represent all the people and respect everyone's moral and religious viewpoints. You also made several statements about abortion. On one occasion, when asked at what point a baby has human rights, you answered in effect that you do not have a definite answer. And you spoke often about a need to reduce abortions.

The Catholic Church teaches that each human being, at every moment of biological development from conception to natural death, has an inherent and fundamental right to life. We are committed not only to reducing abortion, but to making it unthinkable as an answer to unintended pregnancy. At the same time, I think your remarks provide a basis for common ground. Uncertainty as to when human rights begin provides no basis for compelling others to violate their conviction that these rights exist from the beginning. After all, those people may be right. And if the goal is to reduce abortions, that will not be achieved by involving the government in expanding and promoting abortions.

The regulation to protect conscience rights in health care issued last month by the Bush administration is the subject of false and misleading criticisms. It does not reach out to expand the rights of pro-life health professionals, but is a long-overdue measure for implementing three statutes enacted by Congress over the last 35 years. Many criticizing the new rule have done so without being aware of this legal foundation – but widespread ignorance of a longstanding federal law protecting basic civil rights is among the good reasons for more visibly implementing it. An Administration committed to faithfully implementing and enforcing the laws of the United States will want to retain this common-sense regulation, which explicitly protects the right of health professionals who favor or oppose abortion to serve the basic health needs of their communities. Suggestions that government involvement in health care will be aimed at denying conscience, or excluding Catholic and other health care providers from participation in serving the public good, could threaten much-needed health care reform at the outset.

The Mexico City Policy, first established in 1984, has wrongly been attacked as a restriction on foreign aid for family planning. In fact, it has not reduced such aid at all, but has ensured that family planning funds are not diverted to organizations dedicated to performing and promoting abortions instead of reducing them. 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. 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.

The embryonic stem cell policy initiated by President Bush has at times been criticized from both ends of the pro-life debate, but some criticisms are based on false premises. The policy did not ban embryonic stem cell research, or funding of such research. By restricting federally funded research to cell lines in existence at the time he issued his policy, he was trying to ensure that Americans are not forced to use their tax dollars to encourage expanded destruction of embryonic human beings for their stem cells. Such destruction is especially pointless at the present time, for several reasons. First, basic research in the capabilities of embryonic stem cells can be and is being pursued using the currently eligible cell lines as well as the hundreds of lines produced with nonfederal funds since 2001. Second, recent startling advances in reprogramming adult cells into embryonic-like stem cells – hailed by the journal Science as the scientific breakthrough of the year – are said by many scientists to be making embryonic stem cells irrelevant to medical progress. Third, adult and cord blood stem cells are now known to have great versatility, and are increasingly being used to reverse serious illnesses and even help rebuild damaged organs. To divert scarce funds away from these promising avenues for research and treatment toward the avenue that is most morally controversial as well as most medically speculative would be a sad victory of politics over science.

I hope you will consider these comments in the spirit in which they are intended, as an invitation to set aside political pressures and ideologies and focus on the priorities and challenges that will unite us as a nation. Again I want to express our hopes for your Administration, and our offer to cooperate in advancing the common good and protecting the poor and vulnerable in these challenging times.

As we approach the first days of your new responsibilities as President of the United States, I will offer my prayers for you and for your family. May God bless your efforts in fostering justice and peace for all, Mr. President, as you begin your term.

Posted November 21, 2008

US Bishops Speak Out on Implications of “Freedom of Choice Act”

A principal focus at the November 2008 US Conference of Catholic Bishops meeting in Baltimore was on the dire implications of legislation that would nullify all state and national limitations on abortion. Known as the “Freedom of Choice Act”, this legislation has the support of President-elect Barack Obama, who promised that it among his first acts as President would be to sign this into law.

An early warning about dangerous impending legislation on abortion came in a September 30 letter for use during October, Respect Life Month. The letter, written by Philadelphia Cardinal Justin Rigali, chairman of the Pro-Life Committee, said, in part:

Today, however, we face the threat of a federal bill that, if enacted, would obliterate virtually all the gains of the past 35 years and cause the abortion rate to skyrocket. The “Freedom of Choice Act” (FOCA) has many Congressional sponsors, some of whom have pledged to act swiftly to help enact this proposed legislation when Congress reconvenes in January.

FOCA establishes abortion as a "fundamental right" throughout the nine months of pregnancy, and forbids any law or policy that could "interfere" with that right or "discriminate" against it in public funding and programs.

If FOCA became law, hundreds of reasonable, widely supported, and constitutionally sound abortion regulations now in place would be invalidated. Gone would be laws providing for informed consent, and parental consent or notification in the case of minors. Laws protecting women from unsafe abortion clinics and from abortion practitioners who are not physicians would be overridden. Restrictions on partial-birth and other late-term abortions would be eliminated. FOCA would knock down laws protecting the conscience rights of nurses, doctors, and hospitals with moral objections to abortion, and force taxpayers to fund abortions throughout the United States.

We cannot allow this to happen. We cannot tolerate an even greater loss of innocent human lives. …

(Full text)

More than forty bishops contributed to the discussion of the November 12 statement during the public sessions of the USCCB meeting November 11. Following are a few the bishops’ interventions.

Bishop Thomas Paprocki, auxiliary of Chicago and chairman of the Committee on Canon Law:

I speak in strong support of Point 3 regarding the defense of the unborn child from the moment of conception.  In particular we need to be aware of the significant and adverse effects of the proposed Freedom of Choice Act, which the President-elect has indicated he would sign if the Congress passes it.  A devastating consequence for Catholic health care institutions and providers would be the fact that the Freedom of Choice Act in its present form would nullify all conscience laws allowing doctors, nurses or other state-licensed professionals and hospitals or other health-care institutions to object conscientiously to performing or participating in abortions.  If this is allowed to happen, the next step would likely be for federal law to require abortions to be performed by all hospitals, including our Catholic hospitals, which, of course, we cannot do.  This could necessitate discontinuing all obstetrical services at Catholic hospitals.  However, I suspect that the forces of abortion would further seek to require health care institutions to provide abortion services.  If that were to happen we would need to consider taking the drastic step of closing our Catholic hospitals entirely.  It would not be sufficient simply to withdraw Catholic sponsorship or sell our hospitals to someone else who would provide abortion services, since giving permission to sell or alienate Catholic hospitals to those who would perform abortions would be a morally unacceptable cooperation in evil.  I do not think that I am being alarmist in suggesting the need to consider taking such drastic steps.  I am saying that we need to be prepared to respond in a morally appropriate and responsible fashion in the face of increasingly militant and virulent threats to pre-born human life and the moral rights of conscience to protect such life.  Thank you.  [Applause]

Bishop Daniel Conlon, Steubenville, member of the Marriage and Family Life subcommittee:  Regardless of any particular legislation either at the federal level or the state level, my guess is that the change of administration will lead some people to think that there should be a cessation in efforts to halt abortions or the war on abortion that we are so committed to.  There will  be calls for a truce, it you will.  I think people need to understand that we are dealing here with an absolute, that there is nothing here that will allow for compromise.  Cardinal George, in your initial comments, in your Presidential address, you made a poignant connection between slavery and abortion.  Slavery was an issue that divided this country substantially for a very long time.  In fact, the adoption of a Constitution that brought the country into existence almost did not happen because of slavery, and the issue was put off.  It was put off until the point that a civil war came into being and, which again, almost destroyed the union, and resulted in the loss of tremendous life.  It was very violent, and very divisive and very painful.  But it was a matter of an absolute: you either had slavery or you didn’t have slavery.  And so it is with abortion.  And I  think with this particular point your statement needs to make it clear that this is not a matter of political compromise, it’s not a matter of finding some way of common ground.   It is a matter of an absolute moral issue of a human being whose life cannot be compromised, but must be protected.   [Applause]

Cardinal Justin Rigali, Philadelphia, chairman Pro-Life Activities, suggested quoting Pope John Paul’s address during his visit to St. Louis in 1999:

The Dred Scott decision and slavery has already been mentioned, and the Cardinal [George] referred to it in his presidential address.  I would like to simply read twelve lines or so, and ask if it might not be possible to insert this quotation from Pope John Paul II on his visit to the United States, precisely to St. Louis, when I was the archbishop, and the quotation which may possibly be able--because the phrases are quite—they’re quite impressive.  If I may just read the twelve lines: 

“There are times of trial, tests of national character in the history of every country.  America has not been immune to them.  One such time of trial is closely connected with St. Louis.  Here the famous Dred Scott case was heard.  And in that case the Supreme Court of the United States subsequently declared an entire class of human beings—people of African descent—outside the boundaries of the national community and of the Constitution’s protection.  After untold suffering and with enormous effort that situation has, at least in part, been reversed.  America faces a similar time of trial today.  Today the conflict is between a culture that affirms, cherishes and celebrates the gift of life, and a culture that seeks to declare entire groups of human beings—the unborn, the terminally ill, the handicapped and others considered unuseful—to be outside the boundaries of legal protection.  Because of the seriousness of the issues involved and because of America’s great impact on the world as a whole the resolution of this new time of testing will have profound consequences”.

Perhaps this could be referred to explicitly.  Thank you.

Bishop Joseph Martino, Scranton:  I just think we have to define this term “common good”.  I say that with great reluctance, because I do agree with Cardinal Egan and others who have said we need to make sure the document has the appropriate punch and not an excessive length.  But I think one of the sad aspects of this past election would be the activity of Catholics United and Catholics in Alliance for the so-called “Common Good”.  I think they really redefined that phrase “common good” into kind of a utopianism, a prosperity-oriented materialism, I think.  And I think that that’s not what we mean at all by “the common good”.  That has a precise meaning in the Church’s teachings and in the Compendium of the Social Teachings of the Church.   So I just hope that, without lengthening this document, we do not let others think that “common good” is a chicken in every pot and a car in every garage.  There’s much more to it than that.

Archbishop Timothy Broglio, Military Services: Just very simply to echo what Bishop Trautman said: that it be prophetic in the sense of inviting the man who will—those who will read this document to accept the right position such as Nathan did with King David.  That should certainly guarantee that you stay up all night.

Bishop Blasé Cupich, Rapid City, member Translation of Scripture Texts subcommittee: And just to piggy-back on what Archbishop Broglio said, I think it is important to be prophetic, but to keep in mind that a prophecy of denunciation quickly wears thin.  And what we need, it seems to me, is a prophecy of solidarity: solidarity with those that we speak who have no voice, but also solidarity with a community that we serve and a nation that we live in, that is in need of healing today.  And so it seems to me that we must act, and be perceived as acting, as caring pastors as well as faithful teachers.  And as we do this work with this document to see it as part of the ongoing contact with the new administration, so that whatever is done will help and not hinder the personal contacts that our Conference will have in the ongoing years with this new administration.

Archbishop Joseph Naumann. Kansas City (Kansas), member Task Force on the Life and Dignity of the Human Person, Pro-Life Activities: Your Eminence, I think … it’s really a call to our Catholics in public life to integrity: integrity in terms of the way they live out their Catholic faith, and they can’t check their principles at the door of the legislature.  And I think we need to emphasize that integrity, and then also integrity in living their Catholic faith: that they cannot call themselves to be Catholic when they violate such a fundamental core belief of ours in terms of the dignity of the unborn.  And finally, I would just echo that, if we could make that summons and call to the entire Catholic community, at this point, to rally. I think that’s very important.

Bishop Robert Hermann, administrator, St. Louis:  Your Eminence, I just wanted to really encourage you to make this a very, very strong statement about what we really believe.  For this reason:  we have lost perhaps fifty times as many children in the last thirty-five years as we have lost soldiers in all the wars since the Revolution.  And that is a horrible, horrible thing to answer for.  And therefore I think any bishop here would consider it a privilege to die tomorrow to bring about the end of abortion.  Now if we’re willing to die tomorrow to bring about the end of abortion, then we should be willing to spend the rest of our lives dedicated to take all kinds of criticism, whatever it is, to stop this horrible genocide.  So, I know we’re giving you a tough assignment, but we know you can rise to the occasion.  So, I just want to encourage my brothers as they go back home not to be afraid to stand up. To see the gravity of this and not to be afraid to stand up in the pulpit  and to defend whatever it is that you write.  Thank you. [Applause]

A more complete account of the November USCCB meeting in Voices, Advent-Christmas 2008 - coming out soon.

Posted November 13, 2008


VATICAN CITY, 7 NOV 2008 (VIS) - At midday today, the Holy Father received participants in an international congress entitled: "A Gift for Life. Considerations on Organ Donation". The meeting is being held in Rome from 6 to 8 November and has been organised by the Pontifical Academy for Life in collaboration with the International Federation of Catholic Medical Associations and the National Transplant Centre.

In his address the Pope affirmed that "tissue and organ transplants represent a great advance of medical science, and are certainly a sign of hope for many people suffering serious and at times critical illnesses".

"Unfortunately the problem of the availability of vital organs for transplant is not theoretical but dramatically real, as evinced in the long waiting lists of many sick people whose only hopes of survival are linked to a minimal supply which in no way corresponds to effective need".

Benedict XVI then recalled how "the body of each individual, along with the spirit which is given individually, constitutes an indivisible unit in which is impressed the image of God Himself". For this reason, "priority must be given to respect for the dignity of the person and protection of his or her individual identity".

Referring then to the technology of organ transplants, the Pope highlighted the fact that people can only donate "if the health and identity of the individual are never put at serious risk, and always for morally-valid and proportional reasons. Any logic of buying and selling of organs, or the adoption of discriminatory or utilitarian criteria ... is morally unacceptable.

"Abuses in the transplant and trafficking of organs, which often affect innocent people such as children, must find the scientific and medical community united in a joint refusal. These are unacceptable practices which must be condemned as abominable. The same ethical principle must be reiterated when it is suggested that human embryos be created and destroyed for therapeutic purposes. The very idea of considering the embryo as 'therapeutic material' contradicts the cultural, civil and ethical foundations upon which the dignity of the person rests".

After highlighting how "informed consent is a precondition of freedom" ensuring "that transplants have the nature of a gift and are not interpreted as acts of coercion or exploitation", the Holy Father recalled that "vital organs must not be removed save from a dead body, which also has a dignity that must be respected. Over recent years science has made further progress in ascertaining the death of a patient. ... In an area such as this, there must be no suspicion of arbitrariness, and where certainty has not been reached the principle of precaution must prevail".

Recipients of organs, Benedict XVI went on, "should be aware of the value of this gesture. They are recipients of a gift that goes beyond its therapeutic benefit. What they receive, in fact, ... is a testimony of love, and this must arouse an equally generous response so as to enhance the culture of giving and gratuity".

"Transplants which accord to this ethic of giving", the Pope concluded, "require all sides to invest every possible effort in formation and information, so as increasingly to awaken consciences to a problem that directly affects the lives of so many people. It is important, then, to avoid prejudices and misunderstandings, to overcome diffidence and fear replacing them with certainties and guarantees, so as to create in all people an ever-greater awareness of the great gift of life".


Posted October 22, 2008

USCCB News Release

October 15, 2008

Bishop Holley Calls on Black Community to Overcome Abortion

WASHINGTON—Bishop Martin D. Holley, Auxiliary Bishop of Washington, issued a statement responding to a report by the Guttmacher Institute, Planned Parenthood's research branch, showing that black women have abortions at five times the rate of white women.

"As an African American, I am saddened by evidence that Black women continue to be targeted by the abortion industry. The loss of any child from abortion is a tragedy, but we must ask: Why are minority children being aborted at such disproportionate rates?" Bishop Holley said.

"Our legitimate commitment to other social concerns must not push the primary moral issue of abortion onto the back burner. It clearly must be at the heart and center of our discussion of the survival of African American people," Bishop Holley said.

Bishop Holley serves as Chair of the Sub-Committee on African American Affairs and is a member of the Committee on Pro-Life Activities of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).

Bishop Holley called for the federal defunding of the abortion industry. "Every year the federal government gives over $300 million to Planned Parenthood. Last year for the first time, Planned Parenthood took in over one billion dollars and reported a profit of $51 million," he said of the non-profit organization.

The Bishop called upon African Americans to "defend our community by rededicating ourselves to family life and marriage, promoting the gift of chastity and marital fidelity, committing ourselves to prayer and service to others and defending the life and dignity of each human person. We can welcome every child as a gift and we can overcome abortion."

The full text of Bishop Holley's statement follows:

As an African American, I am saddened by evidence that Black women continue to be targeted by the abortion industry. The loss of any child from abortion is a tragedy, but we must ask: Why are minority children being aborted at such disproportionate rates?

Many African Americans are not aware that since the Roe v. Wade decision legalized abortion throughout all 9 months of pregnancy, the number one cause of death in the African American community has been abortion. We have lost over 13 million lives. To put that in perspective, it is one third of our present Black population. Since 1973, twice as many Black Americans have died from abortion than from AIDS, accidents, violent crimes, cancer, and heart disease combined.

As I noted in my recent Respect Life Program article, "A Reflection on the African American Family and the Culture of Life" (, our legitimate commitment to other social concerns must not push the primary moral issue of abortion onto the back burner. It clearly must be at the heart and center of our discussion of the survival of African American people.

The Guttmacher Institute called on policy makers to "redouble their efforts to improve access to subsidized contraceptive services for these women." Yet studies have shown that increased access to contraceptives, especially among teens, does not reduce unintended pregnancy and abortion. On the contrary, several studies link increased access to contraceptives to an increase in STDs, with no decrease in abortion rates.

As the research arm of Planned Parenthood, the Guttmacher Institute is shamelessly trying to build a case for receiving more of our taxpayer dollars. Every year the federal government gives over $300 million to Planned Parenthood. Last year for the first time, Planned Parenthood took in over one billion dollars and reported a profit of $51 million. I join my voice with others in the Black community who have called for the defunding of the abortion industry.

We must demand an end to the victimizing of African American children, women, families and communities by Planned Parenthood and others in the abortion industry. Over 80 percent of Planned Parenthood clinics are located in minority neighborhoods. Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood, began the "Negro Project" to reduce the Black population. We should be shocked and heartbroken by the findings of a recent phone investigation, that recorded a fundraiser at an Iowa Planned Parenthood clinic saying she was "very excited" about a donation specifically for aborting Black babies.

My brothers and sisters, we can overcome abortion in our nation. Let us defend our community by rededicating ourselves to family life and marriage, promoting the gift of chastity and marital fidelity, committing ourselves to prayer and service to others and defending the life and dignity of each human person. We can welcome every child as a gift and we can overcome abortion.

USCCB Pro-Life Activities

LIFE ISSUES FORUM                                                                  

October 15, 2008

What Reduces Abortions?
By Richard M. Doerflinger

    Sometimes election years produce more policy myths than good ideas.  This year one myth is about abortion.  It goes like this: The Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision is here to stay, and that's fine because laws against abortion don't reduce abortions much anyway.  Rather, "support for women and families" will greatly reduce abortions, without changing the law or continuing a "divisive" abortion debate.

     Various false claims are used to bolster this myth.  It is said that over three-quarters of women having abortions cite expense as the most important factor in their decision.  Actually the figure is less than one-fourth, 23%.  It is said that abortion rates declined dramatically (30%) during the Clinton years, but the decline stopped under the ostensibly pro-life Bush administration.  Actually the abortion rate has dropped 30% from 1981 to 2005; the decline started 12 years before Clinton took office, and has continued fairly steadily to the present day.

     The steepest decline is among minors.  Is it plausible that economic factors reduced abortions for teens but not their older sisters, or their mothers who support them?

     The reality is this: In 1980 the Supreme Court upheld the Hyde amendment, and federally funded abortions went from 300,000 a year to nearly zero.  With its decisions in Webster (1989) and Casey (1992), the Court began to uphold other abortion laws previously invalidated under Roe.  States passed hundreds of modest but effective laws: bans on use of public funds and facilities; informed consent laws; parental involvement when minors seek abortion; etc.  Dr. Michael New's rigorous research has shown that these laws significantly reduce abortions.  In the 1990s, debate on partial-birth abortion – kept in the public eye, ironically, by President Clinton's repeated vetoes of a ban on this grisly late-term procedure – alerted many Americans to the violence of abortion and shifted public attitudes in a pro-life direction, just as growing concern over AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases was giving new force to the abstinence message for teens.  Now the Court has upheld a partial-birth abortion ban, and signaled that other laws to save unborn children and their mothers from the horrors of abortion may be valid.  If Roe is reversed outright, that will allow more laws that can further reduce abortions.

     By contrast, a pending federal "Freedom of Choice Act" (FOCA) would knock down current laws reducing abortions, and require public programs for pregnant women to fund abortion.  No one supporting that bill can claim to favor reducing abortions.

     Many women are pressured toward abortion, and they need our help.  The pressures are partly, but only partly, economic in nature.  Women are influenced by husbands, boyfriends, parents and friends, and by a culture and legal system that tells them the child they carry has no rights and is of no consequence.  Law cannot solve all problems, but it can tell us which solutions are unacceptable – and today Roe still teaches that killing the unborn child is an acceptable solution, even a "right."  Without ever forgetting the need to support pregnant women and their families, that tragic and unjust error must be corrected if we are to build a society that respects all human life.

Mr. Doerflinger is Associate Director of the Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.  Go to to learn more about the bishops' pro-life activities.  For more on FOCA see National Committee for Human Life Amendment:

Posted April 30, 2007

The Respect Life Apostolate of the Archdiocese of St. Louis reports the Komen Foundation for breast cancer supports Planned Parenthood; suggests

St. Louis Archdiocese - Respect Life Committee statement - (broken link)

Position Statement on Susan G. Komen for the Cure
Issued 7 June 2006; revised 29 March 2007

The Respect Life Apostolate of the Archdiocese of St. Louis acknowledges the beneficial work of Susan G. Komen for the Cure, formerly known as the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, in the area of breast cancer detection, prevention, research and treatment. Due to its policy allowing affiliates to offer financial support to abortion providing facilities and its endorsement of embryonic stem cell research, the Respect Life Apostolate neither supports nor encourages participation in activities that benefit Susan G. Komen for the Cure.

This position is based on the following facts:

1. Public records indicate that Susan G. Komen for the Cure ("Komen") affiliates in at least 22 states (Missouri is not among them) have provided sizable grants to local Planned Parenthood chapters for breast health care services.1

• Despite Komen donations for breast health care services, Planned Parenthood (the largest single abortion provider in the country) stated in its 2004-2005 annual report that 9,900 more abortions were performed and 26,000 fewer breast exams were provided in 2004 than in 2003. 2

• Donors cannot control how an organization designates its funds. Therefore, money donated for a specific service, i.e. breast health care, directly frees up funds to support other areas of an organization’s agenda, i.e. contraception services, “safe” sex education and abortion services.

2. The Komen website dismisses the link between procured abortion and increased risk of breast cancer.3 However, the research of Joel Brind, Ph.D., a professor of Endocrinology and founder of the Breast Cancer Prevention Institute, and the work of Dr. Janet Daling,4 a leading cancer epidemiologist and pro-choice advocate, invalidate a dismissal of the link. Daling said, “I would have loved to have found no association between breast cancer and abortion, but our research is rock solid, and our data is accurate. It’s not a matter of believing, it’s a matter of what is.”5

3. Komen endorses embryonic stem cell research that requires the destruction of embryonic human life, stating that “embryonic stem cells…have the most potential” for cancer stem cell research.6 The destruction of human life at any stage of development is never morally acceptable. Embryonic stem cell research is also unnecessary since adult stem cell research has a proven record of cures and treatments.

Based on these documented facts, the Respect Life Apostolate (RLA) does not endorse Susan G. Komen for the Cure. The RLA encourages you to contact Susan G. Komen for the Cure (5005 LBJ Freeway, Suite 250 ? Dallas, TX 75244) and call for an end to all associations between Komen affiliates and Planned Parenthood, recognition of the link between breast cancer and abortion, and a refusal to support research that leads to the destruction of any human life. Our hope is that the Komen Foundation will focus all funds on research to find causes and cures for breast cancer and refuse to give financial or other support to any abortion provider or organization that promotes the destruction of human life.

Rather than supporting any Komen fundraising, the Respect Life Apostolate encourages you to direct your donations to the following local hospitals that provide breast cancer services and patient support groups:

St. John’s Mercy Medical Center
Mail to: SJMMC Donations
12800 Corporate Hill Drive
St. Louis, MO 63131
Check: David C. Pratt Cancer Center
Memo: Breast Cancer Development

St. Mary’s Health Center
Mail to: St. Mary’s Health Center Foundation
6420 Clayton Road
St. Louis, MO 63117
Check: St. Mary’s Health Center Foundation
Memo: Empower and Engage Breast Cancer Program (patient support)

DePaul Health Center
Mail to: DePaul Foundation
12303 DePaul Drive
Bridgeton, MO 63044
Check: DePaul Health Center
Memo: Breast Cancer Programs

SSM St. Joseph Health Center
Mail to: St. Joseph Health Center
Foundation Office
300 First Capitol Drive
St. Charles, MO 63301
Check: St. Joseph Health Center Foundation
Memo: Breast Cancer Programs

St. Anthony’s Medical Center
Mail to: St. Anthony’s Medical Center – Cancer Center
10010 Kennerly Road
St. Louis, MO 63128
Check: St. Anthony’s Cancer Center
Memo: designate for breast cancer research or patient support services

1 Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation & Planned Parenthood: The Visible
Link. Right to Life of Indianapolis, August 2005.

2 Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Inc. (2007). 2004-2005 Annual
Report.  Retrieved March 27, 2007 from
<> Broken link

3 see "Factors That Do Not Increase Risk of Breast Cancer." Susan G. Komen
for the Cure. 27 March 2007.
<>. - Broken Link

4 see Daling JR, Malone KE, Voigt LF, White E, Weiss NS, Risk of breast
cancer among young women: relationship to induced abortion., Journal of the
National Cancer Institute 86: 21, 1584-92, Nov 2, 1994.

5 "The Cover Up." Coalition on Abortion/Breast Cancer. 27 March 2007.

6 “Cancer Stem Cell Research Shows Promise.” Frontline: The Susan G. Komen
Breast Cancer Foundation’s Newsletter. (Fall 2006). 29 March 2007
<>. Broken link

Posted April 19, 2007


DATE:   April 18, 2007

FROM:  William Ryan
O:  202-541-3200
H:  202-686-1824



Washington, DC—Cardinal Justin Rigali welcomed the Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision upholding the federal Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003 in Gonzales v. Carhart.

Cardinal Rigali, Archbishop of Philadelphia, is Chairman of the Committee for Pro-Life Activities, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). The full text of his statement follows:

“Today, after a decade of struggle in legislatures and courts, the U.S. Supreme Court finally upheld a federal law prohibiting the brutal and inhumane partial-birth abortion procedure.  This is the first time in 34 years that the Court has upheld a ban of any type of abortion.

“The Court’s decision does not affect the legal status of the great majority of abortions, and does not reverse past decisions claiming to find a right to abortion in the Constitution.  However, it provides reasons for renewed hope and renewed effort on the part of pro-life Americans.  The Court is taking a clearer and more unobstructed look at the tragic reality of abortion, and speaking about that reality more candidly, than it has in many years.

“Especially welcome is the Court’s explicit recognition of certain key facts: that abortion is the taking of a human life, and that government has a legitimate interest in protecting and preserving this life at every stage; that 'respect for human life finds an ultimate expression in the bond of love the mother has for her child'; that abortion may also cause grief and sorrow for women, which is only made worse when the reality of the procedure has been withheld from them until it is too late; and that the ethical integrity of the medical profession, as well as the fabric of our society, is threatened by the acceptance of practices that are difficult to distinguish from infanticide.  

“The Court also acknowledges that in some past decisions, the usual rules for constitutional review were distorted by an unwarranted hostility to legislative efforts to respect unborn human life.  We hope today’s decision marks the beginning of a new dialogue on abortion, in which fair-minded consideration will be given to the genuine interests of unborn children and their mothers, to the need for an ethically sound medical profession, and to society’s desperate need for a foundation of respect for all human life.”

Posted April 18, 2007

Quotes from the Supreme Court 5-4 decision April 18, 2007, which upheld the
2003 Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act:

Complete decision: < >

Judge Anthony Kennedy presented the majority decision on the "Partial Birth Abortion" Act:

"The Act does not regulate the most common abortion procedures used in the first trimester of pregnancy, when the vast majority of abortions take place. In the usual second-trimester procedure, "dilation and evacuation" (D&E), the doctor dilates the cervix and then inserts surgical instruments into the uterus and maneuvers them to grab the fetus and pull it back through the cervix and vagina. The fetus is usually ripped apart as it is removed, and the doctor may take 10 to 15 passes to remove it in its entirety. The procedure that prompted the federal Act and various state statutes, including Nebraska's, is a variation of the standard D&E, and is herein referred to as "intact D&E." The main difference between the two procedures is that in intact D&E a doctor extracts the fetus intact or largely intact with only a few passes, pulling out its entire body instead of ripping it apart. In order to allow the head to pass through the cervix, the doctor typically pierces or crushes the skull. [...]

"Respondents have not demonstrated that the Act, as a facial matter, is void for vagueness, or that it imposes an undue burden on a woman's right to abortion based on its overbreadth or lack of a health exception. For these reasons the judgments of the Courts of Appeals for the Eighth and Ninth Circuits are reversed.

"It is so ordered."

Justice Thomas, with whom Justice Scalia joins, concurring.

 "I join the Court's opinion because it accurately applies current jurisprudence, including Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pa. v. Casey, 505 U. S. 833 (1992). I write separately to reiterate my view that the Court's abortion jurisprudence, including Casey and Roe v. Wade, 410 U. S. 113 (1973), has no basis in the Constitution. See Casey, supra, at 979 (Scalia, J., concurring in judgment in part and dissenting in part); Stenberg v. Carhart, 530 U. S. 914, 980-983 (2000) (Thomas, J., dissenting). I also note that whether the Act constitutes a permissible exercise of Congress' power under the Commerce Clause is not before the Court. The parties did not raise or brief that issue; it is outside the question presented; and the lower courts did not address it. See Cutter v. Wilkinson, 544 U. S. 709, 727, n. 2 (2005) (Thomas, J., concurring).

Justice Ginsburg, with whom Justice Stevens, Justice Souter, and Justice Breyer join, dissenting, wrote, in part:

"Today's decision is alarming. It refuses to take Casey and Stenberg seriously. It tolerates, indeed applauds, federal intervention to ban nationwide a procedure found necessary and proper in certain cases by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG). It blurs the line, firmly drawn in Casey, between previability and postviability abortions. And, for the first time since Roe, the Court blesses a prohibition with no exception safeguarding a woman's health.

"I dissent from the Court's disposition. Retreating from prior rulings that abortion restrictions cannot be imposed absent an exception safeguarding a woman's health, the Court upholds an Act that surely would not survive under the close scrutiny that previously attended state-decreed limitations on a woman's reproductive choices. […]

"The Court offers flimsy and transparent justifications for upholding a nationwide ban on intact D&E sans any exception to safeguard a women's health. Today's ruling, the Court declares, advances "a premise central to [Casey's] conclusion"--i.e., the Government's "legitimate and substantial interest in preserving and promoting fetal life." Ante, at 14. See also ante, at 15 ("[W]e must determine whether the Act furthers the legitimate interest of the Government in protecting the life of the fetus that may become a child."). But the Act scarcely furthers that interest: The law saves not a single fetus from destruction, for it targets only a method of performing abortion. […]

" In sum, the notion that the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act furthers any legitimate governmental interest is, quite simply, irrational. The Court's defense of the statute provides no saving explanation. In candor, the Act, and the Court's defense of it, cannot be understood as anything other than an effort to chip away at a right declared again and again by this Court--and with increasing comprehension of its centrality to women's lives. ...

"For the reasons stated, I dissent from the Court's disposition and would affirm the judgments before us for review."

See complete decision: (Broken link)

Posted April 13, 2007

AP in USA Today - Bush calls for 'culture of life'

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Bush, at the national Catholic prayer breakfast, stressed his opposition to easing restrictions on federally funded embryonic stem cell research, a reference to a bill he's threatened to veto.

"In our day there is a temptation to manipulate life in ways that do not respect the humanity of the person," Bush said Friday. "When that happens, the most vulnerable among us can be valued for their utility to others instead of their own inherent worth."

The Senate on Wednesday voted 63-34 to pass the measure that it hopes will lead to new medical treatments. The vote, however, fell short of a veto-proof margin needed to enact the law over Bush's objections. The House is expected to approve a similar measure in the weeks ahead.

"We must continue to work for a culture of life where the strong protect the weak and where we recognize in every human life the image of our creator," Bush said.

Posted April 11, 2007

Pro-Life Official Hails Reintroduction of Genuine Cloning Ban

WASHINGTON (March 29, 2007) — The Pro-Life Secretariat of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) applauded Senators Sam Brownback (R-KS) and Mary Landrieu (D-LA) for reintroducing the “Human Cloning Prohibition Act” today.

Shortly before the House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved a similar bill in 2003, the bishops' Committee for Pro-Life Activities urged Congress to “ban this practice outright,” adding: “Cloning dehumanizes human procreation, treating new human life as a mere laboratory product made to specifications. Whether used to bring cloned human embryos to live birth (so-called “reproductive” cloning), or to exploit them as sources of “spare parts” for other humans (so-called “therapeutic” cloning), human cloning diminishes us all. The allegedly lofty goals proposed for cloning cannot outweigh the grim reality of the activity itself.”

“The Human Cloning Prohibition Act has clear precedent domestically and overseas,” said Deirdre A. McQuade, Director of Planning and Information for the Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities. “Five states and over 20 countries have similar complete bans on cloning. The United Nations has urged its member nations to enact such bans to preserve human dignity and protect women's health.”

Ms. McQuade added: “The cloning agenda poses a tremendous risk to women, as it would require exploiting countless women as egg factories. Women have died from the hormonal manipulation required for egg extraction. Others have become seriously ill or lost their natural fertility at a young age.”

“We urge other senators to support and co-sponsor this vital legislation to protect women as well as embryonic humans from exploitation,” Ms. McQuade said.

Posted October 19, 2006

News: Oregon changes “Physician-Assisted Suicide” to “Physician Assisted Death”

by Helen Hull Hitchcock
“Suicide” or “Death”?

All suicide is death, but not all death is suicide. The implication of “Physician Assisted Suicide” is that the person who will made dead by his physician’s assistance has made this choice voluntarily. “Physician Assisted Death” does not have the same connotation; the language suggests that a physician could “assist” in causing death for other reasons — even if this is not the stated intention of those who advocated the change in terminology. It is, after all, the physician who chooses to “assist” in causing the death. The new language eliminates the the volitional aspect on the part of the recipient of “death assistance”.

Posted August 10, 2006

International Conference on Ethics Features Dissenting Theologians

An international conference on theology and ethics was held in Padua, Italy July 8-11, 2006, as reported in the National Catholic Reporter August 11 (link to complete story appears below).

The conference, according to NCR's John Allen, was principally organized by Jesuit John Keenan, of Boston College who "spearheaded an effort to raise $450,000" for expenses of travel for participants. Titled “Catholic Theological Ethics in the World Church”, the conference featured theologians known for their dissent from Church teachings on a range of issues -- such as American feminists, Sr. Margaret Farley, of Yale, and Lisa Sowell Cahill of Boston College; Fr. David Hollenbach, SJ, of Boston College, Spanish Redemptorist Fr. Marciano Vidal (whose works were criticized by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in 2001), and Jean Porter of Notre Dame (who accused the US of "practices of torture" and criticized the Church's “authoritarian, top-down church government, culminating in the papacy itself. It is difficult to see how the concentration of power in one individual is consistent with the rule of law”, she said).

The report by NCR's John Allen did not give a full list of those in attendance, and did not comment on the source of funding for the Padua conference.

Link to John Allen's report on this international conference on ethics organized by John Keenan, "Global South ethicists take center stage": -- Broken link

Posted March 30, 2006

Pro-Life Spokeswoman Renews Call for “Holly’s Law” After Two More Women Die from RU-486

WASHINGTON (March 29, 2005) — An official of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) expressed continued support today for the “RU-486 Suspension and Review Act of 2005,” known as “Holly’s Law.” Deirdre A. McQuade, Director of Planning and Information at the Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities, addressed a congressional press conference sponsored by Rep. Chris Smith, Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, the bill’s author, and other supporters of the legislation.

“The Bishops’ Conference opposes every abortion as the taking of innocent human life,” said Ms. McQuade. “However, the RU-486 method compounds this offense by also threatening the lives, fertility, and well-being of healthy women.”

...For the complete news release click title for link to USCCB website.

Posted August 15, 2005

Is Oocyte Assisted Reprogramming (OAR) A Moral Procedure To Retrieve Embryonic Stem Cells? 

William Burke, M.D., Ph.D., Patrick Pullicino, MD, PhD., and The Rev. Edward J. Richard, MS, DThM, JD

August 15, 2005

Posted May 26, 2005

The National Catholic Bioethics Center
Press Release 5/26/2005

Statement on the Passage of the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act of 2005, H.B. 810

The National Catholic Bioethics Center is strongly opposed to the decision of the U.S. House of Representatives to relax the funding restrictions imposed by President Bush in 2001 on human embryonic stem cell research. H.R. 810, which President Bush has promised to veto, will provide federal funds for the destruction of frozen embryos to create additional stem cell lines beyond those currently approved for research.

Interestingly, the debate on this bill won the support of some politicians previously, or otherwise, considered to be "pro-life". This raises many questions related to the stability and breadth of support for the pro-life cause in the legislature. Some whose voting record on abortion has been consistent with their pro-life stance in the past have failed to carry over this same commitment to embryonic human life. For others, it seems that their interest in the advancement of cures for their own maladies has swayed their opinion to vote in favor of medical research with no proven success, rather than the preservation of life at its most delicate stage.

Most troubling to pro-life Americans is the fact that the United States Congress has, for the first time in history, voted to override the conscience of millions of Americans by placing them is a situation of funding with their tax dollars research which they find morally repugnant.

For further information contact Mark Bradford, Director of Development.

Posted May 18, 2005

USCCB Pro-Life Secretariat Press Release

DATE: May 18, 2005
FROM: William Ryan O -202-541-3200
H -202-686-1824

Cardinal William H. Keeler has urged Congress to reject a bill which would use federal funds to encourage researchers to destroy new human embryos from fertility clinics for stem cell research....

The full text of Cardinal Keeler’s letter can be found on the Web at

Posted May 18, 2005

One of the most important bioethics cases is about to be argued in the Court of Appeals in the UK. Leslie Burke has a degenerating neurological disease that may eventually prevent him from swallowing. He is fully competent. He wants a feeding tube if and when. He sued for the right and won. But the General Medical Council--which sets standards of medical treatment in the UK--supported by the UK government, appealed, claiming that the decision of whether Burke lives or dies by dehydration belongs with doctors!

Posted May 17, 2005

White House Bioethics Council Issues Paper on Stem Cell Research

The President’s Council on Bioethics, has just published a White Paper titled, "Alternative Sources of Human Pluripotent Stem Cells", which proposes methods of obtaining stem cells without destroying embryonic human beings.

Posted April 29, 2005

Press Release from the National Catholic Bioethics Center (

April 28, 2005

Statement on the National Academies' Guidelines for Human Embryonic Stem Cell Research

The National Catholic Bioethics Center was dismayed to discover that on Tuesday, The National Academies released guidelines intended to foster "responsible practices" for those engaged in privately funded human embryonic stem cell research. The following statement was offered in response by one of the Center's staff ethicists, molecular biologist Rev. Tadeusz Pacholczyk, Ph.D.:

"The National Academies' decision to sanction the generation of embryonic humans by SCNT (cloning) precisely in order to extract or strip-mine their stem cells is an unethical recommendation that dehumanizes and commodifies human beings at their earliest and most vulnerable stage. Science must adhere to higher standards. It shouldn't promote or encourage in any fashion the destruction of the weaker members of the species in the interests of the powerful and the more developed. These ethically bankrupt guidelines just released by the National Academies remind us how the regulation of certain critical areas within the life sciences may ultimately require independent and extra-scientific bodies in order to achieve any meaningful ethical oversight."

Dr. John Haas, President of the Center, observed that "it is impossible to establish ethical guidelines for fundamentally unethical activities." The NCBC urges the ethical use of adult stem cells for research and therapy, an avenue which has already shown tremendous promise and even successful therapies.

For further information, contact Mark Bradford, Director of Development.

Posted March 3, 2005
March 2, 2005

Re: United Nations Commission on the Status of Women ­ Beijing Platform for Action

Dear Madam Ambassador,

Women for Faith and Family strongly supports the amendment that says that the Beijing document did NOT create a right to abortion.


Helen Hull Hitchcock, President
Women for Faith & Family
PO Box 300411, St. Louis, MO 63130
Ph: 314-863-8385; Fax: 314-863-5858
WFF web site:

Posted March 3, 2005

From: USCCB Pro-Life Secretariat
Date: Thu, 03 Mar 2005 11:53:04 -0500
Subject: Statement on Parental Notice Before Teen's Abortion Hearing

DATE: March 3, 2005
FROM: William Ryan
O: 202-541-3200
H: 202-686-1824



WASHINGTON-- Today the Constitution Subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee holds the first hearing on The Child Interstate Abortion Notification Act, H.R. 748. The bill was introduced by Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fl.) with 105 original cosponsors. This Act would require abortion doctors to notify parents before doing abortions on teenaged girls from out-of-state unless parental involvement or judicial authorization under the girl's home state law has been satisfied.

"It is wrong to take a child away from her parents to another state for a secret abortion, yet abortion advocates support this practice and admit that it happens all the time," said Cathy Cleaver Ruse, Esq., Director of Planning and Information for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities. "The overwhelming majority of Americans believe parents should be involved in abortion decisions involving their teenaged daughters.

"This horrible practice exposes teens to the dangers of surgery without the benefit of their medical records or history, and without necessary medical follow-up, said Ruse. "We applaud the House Constitution Subcommittee for conducting today's hearing on the Act, and urge the Congress to pass this law to help to protect vulnerable girls from exploitation.

USCCB Pro-Life Secretariat

Posted March 2, 2005

Pope John Paul II, Angelus message February 27, 2005 (from hospital)

"The penitential climate of Lent, which we are now living, helps us to better understand the value of suffering that in one way or another, touches all of us. It is in looking at Christ and following Him with patient trust that we are able to understand how every human form of pain has within it the divine promise of salvation and joy. I would like this message of comfort and hope to reach everyone, especially those who are going through difficult moments, those who suffer in body and spirit.

"To Mary, Mother of the Church, I renew my entrustment: 'Totus tuus'. May she help us in every moment of life to fulfill God's holy will. May my paternal blessing reach everyone."

Posted February 25, 2005

Friday Fax
February 18, 2005
Volume 8, Special Report

UN Adopts Pro-Life Declaration Against Human Cloning

In a monumental victory for the pro-life movement, the UN today adopted a declaration condemning human cloning. The UN called on Member States to adopt urgent legislation outlawing all cloning practices "as they are incompatible with human dignity and the protection of human life."

Costa Rica, which led the effort for a cloning ban, called the declaration a success for those who seek to promote ethical scientific research.

"This is a powerful message to the world that this morally questionable procedure is outside the bounds of acceptable experimentation, said Austin Ruse, president of the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute, one of the main NGOs involved in the negotiation. "By adopting this declaration, the international community is united in condemning all human cloning as exploitative and unethical. This should encourage similar bans in legislatures around the world including in the US Senate, said Ruse.

The declaration, introduced today by Honduras, came on the last day of a week-long special session devoted entirely to resolving this issue. The declaration proved at the last minute to be an acceptable compromise to countries that have appeared staunchly divided all week. The declaration also marks the end of three years of UN deadlock over human cloning.

Countries were divided mainly over whether to protect "human life or the "human being. Costa Rica, Uganda, the United States and others who sought to ban all forms of human cloning, supported "human life. Countries including Belgium, Singapore and the United Kingdom, who wanted to ban only cloning that would result in born human beings, insisted on protecting the "human being, which according to some international legal documents would protect only those already born.

The declaration also calls on countries to "prevent the exploitation of women." Cloning requires harvesting eggs from women, and delegates from developing countries feared their women being turned into inexpensive "egg farms." The declaration calls on wealthier nations to direct attention and funding to pressing medical issues such as HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. It also condemns all applications of any genetic engineering techniques that threaten human dignity.

The declaration sets an international ethical standard that sends a clear signal to countries that encourage human cloning. For instance, in the United Kingdom, two "licenses" for research cloning have been issued. The first is currently subject to a legal challenge on the basis that the cloning "license" is unlawful and unnecessary. It is due to be heard in the High Court shortly. Cloning opponents in the United Kingdom welcomed the UN's resolution and look forward to Member States fulfilling their international obligations.

Copyright 2005 C-FAM (Catholic Family & Human Rights Institute).
Permission granted for unlimited use. Credit required.
Catholic Family & Human Rights Institute
866 United Nations Plaza, Suite 427
New York, New York 10017
Phone: (212) 754-5948 Fax: (212) 754-9291
E-mail: [email protected] Website:

Posted February 25, 2005
Subject: Statement on Oregon Assisted Suicide Case
DATE: February 22, 2005
FROM: William Ryan
O: 202-541-3200
H: 202-686-1824


Washington"Today the Supreme Court agreed to review a decision by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals allowing the use of federally controlled drugs for assisted suicide in the state of Oregon. The question before the Supreme Court is whether Oregon doctors may "opt out" of federal standards governing the safe use of controlled substances and prescribe them with the intent to assist in suicides. The case is Gonzales v. Oregon.

"Federally controlled drugs should be used to heal and comfort patients, not to kill them," said Cathy Cleaver Ruse, Esq., Director of Planning and Information for the Pro-Life Secretariat of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Since 1984, Congress has provided that federal licenses to prescribe these drugs can be withheld from physicians who use them to endanger "public health and safety," regardless of what a state's law may allow.

"This case has never been about the federal government 'overturning' Oregon law," Ruse clarified. "Rather, it is about whether Oregon doctors can exempt themselves from federal law and prescribe federally controlled substances with the intent of causing their patients' deaths." "Oregon's state law does not give its doctors a right to overturn federal law," Ruse said.

"We are hopeful the Court will uphold the uniform enforcement of the Controlled Substances Act and stop the use of federally controlled drugs for assisted suicides," said Ruse.

USCCB Pro-Life Secretariat

Posted February 22, 2005


VATICAN CITY, FEB 21, 2005 (VIS) - John Paul II has written a Message to Bishop Elio Sgreccia, president of the Pontifical Academy for Life, and to participants in a study congress on the theme: "The Quality of Life and the Ethics of Health," being held in the Vatican from February 21 to 23.

The Holy Father writes that "in the first place, it is necessary to recognize the essential quality that distinguishes each human being by the fact of being created in the image and likeness of the Creator Himself. ... This level of dignity and quality belongs to the ontological order and is constitutive of the human person, it endures in every moment of life, from the first instant of conception up to natural death, and it is fully realized in the dimension of eternal life. Consequently, man must be recognized and respected in any condition of health, illness or disability."

"Under pressure from affluent societies," the Pope says, "a notion of the quality of life is being favored which is at the same time both reductive and selective, and which consists in the capacity to enjoy and to experience pleasure, or even in the capacity for self-awareness and participation in social life. As a consequence, any kind of quality of life is denied to human beings not yet or no longer capable of expressing their intelligence and will, and to those no longer capable of enjoying life as a series of sensations and relationships."

Later in his Message, the Pope refers to the moral dimension of the concept of health, "that cannot be overlooked." After recalling the spread of alcoholism, drugs and AIDS, he adds: "How much of life's energy, and how many young people's lives, could be saved and kept healthy if each individual had the moral responsibility to know how to promote better prevention and the conservation of that precious good we call health!

"Of course, health is not an absolute good," John Paul continues, "especially when it is seen as simple physical well-being, mythicized to the point that it restricts or overlooks higher ends, even proposing reasons of health in the refusal of nascent life. This is what happens in so-called 'reproductive health.' How can we not recognize in this a reductive and deviant concept of health?" Health, the Pope highlights, "can only be sacrificed to attain higher ends, as is sometimes asked in service towards God, towards the family, towards our brothers and sisters or towards society as a whole. Health must be guarded and cured as the mental-physical and spiritual equilibrium of the human being. Squandering health because of various disorders, especially those associated with the moral degradation of the individual, represents a serious ethical and social responsibility."

Source: Vatican Information Service 2/21/2005

Posted February 4, 2005

Catholic center, now in Phila., pioneered bioethics
Sun, Jan. 30, 2005 - The Philadelphia Inquirer

by Kristin E. Holmes

"When the National Catholic Bioethics Center was founded in 1972, abortion was illegal and no one had ever heard of HIV/AIDS or the potential of stem cells to cure.

The Catholic Health Association of the United States was looking for a think tank, one that would consider the ethical issues of the day from a Catholic perspective.

"The church is always looked at as reactionary and behind the curve," said the center's president, John Haas, "but the truth is we were in front of the curve. We have one of the oldest bioethics centers in the country."

The nonprofit center has just moved its staff of 12 from headquarters in Boston to Philadelphia, where it will carry on its mission to "promote and safeguard the dignity of the human person in health care." While the center upholds Catholic teachings, it operates independently of the church hierarchy and raises its $1.6 million annual budget from grants, contracts and private donations.

The center provides consultation services, conducts research, and publishes two journals and at least one book annually on bioethical issues. The latest is an update of its Handbook on Critical Life Issues, which examines such topics as the theology of suffering, euthanasia, organ transplantation, and stem cell research."

To read the complete article (broken link)

Posted November 22, 2004
Nancy Valko was interviewed and quoted in the following article. Click the title to take you to the Birmingham News:

Defining death: Question of brain death can complicate the ethics of organ donation

Monday, November 15, 2004
By Dave Parks

Posted November 12, 2004
Vatican City (Vatican Information Service) - November 12, 2004

In a welcoming address at the Pontifical Council for Health Care Ministry International Conference on palliative cures, the Holy Father said, "Medicine always places itself at the service of life. Even when it knows it cannot defeat a serious pathology, it dedicates its own capabilities to alleviating suffering. To work with passion to help the patient in every situation means to be aware of the inalienable dignity of every human being, even those in the extreme conditions of a terminal state."

On the topic of euthanasia, he said, "dramas caused by an ethic which seeks to establish who can live and who must die. ... Even when motivated by sentiments of a poorly understood compassion, ... euthanasia, instead of redeeming the person from suffering, suppresses them." He stated that compassion, when wrongly understood, "leads to snuffing out life in order to alleviate pain, thus overturning the ethical statute of medical science. ... true compassion, on the contrary, promotes every reasonable effort to favor the patient's healing."

In closing remarks, John Paul II said, "science and technology, in any case, can never give a satisfactory answer to the basic questions of the human heart. Only faith can answer these questions. The Church intends to offer her specific contribution by the human and spiritual accompaniment of the ill."

In a Message to the president of the Association of Italian Catholic Doctors, Domenico Di Virgilio, on the occasion of the organization's 23rd national congress, dated November 9, the Holy Father reaffirms the ethical principles on which the Hippocratic Oath are based: "There are no lives that are not worth living; there is no suffering, no matter how grave, that can justify killing a life; there are no reasons, no matter how noble, that make plausible the creation of human beings, destined to be used and destroyed."

"May the conviction that life must be promoted and defended from conception till natural death always inspire you in your decisions: what will distinguish you as Catholic doctors is precisely the defense of the inviolable dignity of every human being. May you never neglect the spiritual dimension of the human being in your work of safeguarding and promoting health."

Posted September 14, 2004

Euthanizing Babies

"Why does accepting euthanasia as a remedy for suffering in very limited circumstances inevitably lead to never-ending expansion of the killing license? "Blame the radically altered mindset that results when killing is redefined from a moral wrong into a beneficent and legal act", writes Wesley Smith in an article on the new legalization of infant euthanasia in the Netherlands in the September 13 edition of the Weekly Standard. "If killing is right for, say the adult cancer patient, why shouldn't it be just as right for the disabled quadriplegic, the suicidal mother whose children have been killed in an accident, or the infant born with profound mental retardation? At that point, laws and regulations erected to protect the vulnerable against abuse come to be seen as obstructions that must be surmounted. From there, it is only a hop, skip, and a jump to deciding that killing is the preferable option," Smith writes. He points out that "mercy killing" of infants and young children is not something new to Dutch medical practice, but until now it has been illegal. Further, euthanizing babies and children is not confined to the Netherlands; it is also increasing in Belgium, where a similar movement to legalize it is in progress.

Wesley J. Smith is a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute, an attorney for the International Task Force on Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide, and a special consultant to the Center for Bioethics and Culture. His next book, Consumer's Guide to a Brave New World will be released in October.

Read the full article, "Now They Want to Euthanize Children", on the Weekly Standard web site:

Posted August 30, 2004
From: USCCB Pro-Life Secretariat
Date: Fri, 27 Aug 2004 15:21:12 -0400
To: [email protected]
Subject: Life Issues Forum


August 27, 2004

For Immediate Release

Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Judged Unconstitutional
by Gail Quinn

On August 26, a federal judge in Manhattan, Richard Conway Casey, issued a ruling in which he called partial-birth abortion "gruesome, brutal, barbaric and uncivilized." Nonetheless, he believed he was compelled to rule that a ban on the brutal procedure is unconstitutional.

The ban on partial-birth abortion was signed into law by President Bush in November 2003. It was immediately challenged in three federal court districts by the abortion industry. Earlier this summer a judge in San Francisco, writing a decision in strong support of partial-birth abortion, ruled the ban unconstitutional. The Nebraska decision has yet to be issued.

As one reads Judge Casey's decision, you can almost feel his utter distress about the procedure that was discussed in his courtroom--its ethics, its brutality. He says

...the fetus's arms and legs have been delivered outside

the uterus while the fetus is still alive.

With the fetus's head lodged in the cervix,

the physician punctures the skull with scissors or crushes the head with forceps....

The physician

then drains the fetus's skull by suction, or by using a finger,

and the skull collapses.

Judge Casey also explains that the fetus could be moving at the time the skull is crushed, and that the procedure can "subject fetuses to severe pain."

How on earth, one may ask, if the Judge was aware of the horrible and painful things done to kill unborn children by partial-birth abortion, could he rule that banning it is unconstitutional?

The simple answer is the Supreme Court and its decisions in Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton (1973) and their progeny, Stenberg v. Carhart (2000).

Roe made abortion legal but said it could be prohibited late in pregnancy, as long as there is an exception for the mother's health. But health, as defined by the Supreme Court in Doe, was nothing more than a farce. It defined health as including "all factors -- physical, emotional, psychological, familial, and the woman's age."

Judge Casey called attention to the fact that purported safety advantages offered by the abortionists in support of partial-birth abortion "do not rise above the realm of the hypothetical." And he noted that their justifications for the procedure were "incoherent", "false," or "merely theoretical."

Still, the judge said he was faced with differing medical opinions, and that the Supreme Court in Stenberg has ruled that where differing medical opinions exist in regard to abortion, "a health exception is constitutionally required." Despite the sheer inhumanity of the partial-birth abortion procedure, Casey said that lower court judges who disagree with the higher court nevertheless have a constitutional duty to obey its rulings.

This decision shows clearly how Roe v. Wade and the cases that flow from it have taken out of the hands of the American people the right to prohibit some of the most heinous and painful acts committed on the youngest and most vulnerable in the human family. Roe v. Wade must be overturned.

Gail Quinn is executive director of the Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities of the U. S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Washington, D.C.

USCCB Pro-Life Secretariat

From: USCCB Pro-Life Secretariat
Date: Fri, 27 Aug 2004 09:20:30 -0400
To: [email protected]
Subject: Statment on NY Partial-Brith Ruling

DATE: August 26, 2004

FROM: Sr. Mary Ann Walsh
O: 202-541-3200
H: 301-587-4762



WASHINGTON-- A federal judge in the Southern District of New York found August 26 that partial-birth abortion "is a gruesome, brutal, barbaric, and uncivilized medical procedure," but said that the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act must be struck down under the dictates of Roe v. Wade.

"Today Roe v. Wade once again made the unthinkable constitutional," said Cathy Cleaver Ruse, Esq., spokesperson for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities. "Because of Roe, killing a child in the process of being born is called a constitutional right rather than an act of barbarism."

New York Judge Richard Conway Casey ruled against the Act because it did not include a health exception as required by Roe. The government argued that the abortion method was never medically necessary, a conclusion shared by the American Medical Association.

"The crucial question of medical necessity was never answered in this trial," said Ruse. "At every turn where medical records were sought, the medical institutions refused to produce them. In essence, the abortion doctors said 'just trust us,' and no hard evidence was considered," Ruse said.

"The health exception, is a farce," said Ruse. "As created by the Supreme Court in Doe v. Bolton, the health exception is 'all factors -- physical, emotional, psychological, familial, and the woman's age., It's the quintessential exception that swallows the rule -- so broad that you could drive a truck, or a fully-formed unborn baby, right through it."

The case was brought by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of the National Abortion Federation and several individual abortion doctors. Earlier this month the Department of Justice appealed an adverse ruling in a similar case in California; a third case is still pending in a Nebraska federal court.

As partial-birth abortion was debated on the national stage over the last several years, many people refused to believe it existed. But testimony from the ACLU's team of abortion doctors about their methods for killing children in the fifth and sixth months of pregnancy revealed partial-birth abortion to be every bit as real and as horrible as the pro-life community claimed. Full transcripts of the trial are available at

Stephen Chasen, MD, an ACLU witness, testified that he didn't know whether partial-birth abortion hurts the baby. When Judge Casey asked him if he had "any care or concern for the fetus whose head you were crushing," Chasen answered, "No." A fetal neurobiology expert testified that such abortions would cause "severe and excruciating pain" to the child.

"Partial-birth abortion promises nothing but pain, for everyone involved," said Ruse. "We applaud the Justice Department for its vigorous defense of the Act, and encourage an appeal of this ruling," she said.

USCCB Pro-Life Secretariat

From: USCCB Pro-Life Secretariat
Date: Tue, 24 Aug 2004 11:48:09 -0400
To: [email protected]
Subject: New Poll on Stem Cell Research Funding

DATE: August 23, 2004

FROM: Sr. Mary Ann Walsh
O: 202-541-3200
H: 301-587-4762



WASHINGTON-- Despite exaggerated recent claims about the benefits of embryonic stem cell research, Americans strongly prefer funding research that does not require destroying human embryos. They also strongly oppose human cloning for either reproductive or research purposes.

These are the chief findings of survey questions commissioned by the Pro-Life Secretariat of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). The questions are part of a national survey conducted by International Communications Research, which polled over one thousand American adults by telephone in mid-August.

The poll suggests that Americans are closely divided on federal funding of stem cell research that requires destroying human embryos, with 43 percent in favor and 47 percent opposed. However, when given a choice between funding all stem cell research (both adult and embryonic), and funding only alternatives such as adult stem cell research to see if there is no need to destroy embryos for research, Americans clearly prefer funding only adult stem cell research by a margin of 61 percent to 23 percent. Opposition to funding embryonic stem cell research is stronger among women, low-income Americans, seniors, and regular churchgoers.

The survey also shows that Americans overwhelmingly oppose the use of human cloning to create embryos for medical research, 80 percent to 13 percent.

"Cloning embryos for their stem cells is the logical next step in the embryonic stem cell research agenda," says Richard Doerflinger, Deputy Director of the USCCB Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities. Americans also oppose cloning to provide children to infertile couples, 82 percent to 11 percent.

"Polls on embryonic stem cell research often fail to mention that the research requires destroying human embryos," says Doerflinger. "Yet this fact is essential to understanding the moral issue. Some polls also make exaggerated claims about the (hypothetical) medical benefits of embryonic cells, while ignoring the documented benefits of alternative research that poses no moral problem. No instrument for testing public opinion should mislead the public on these crucial aspects of the issue."

Poll questions and results are attached.


Questions asked by International Communications Research, a national research firm headquartered in Media, Pennsylvania. A weighted sample of 1001 American adults was surveyed by telephone August 13-17, 2004, with a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percent.

1. Stem cells are the basic cells from which all of a person's tissues and organs develop. Congress is considering the question of federal funding for experiments using stem cells from human embryos. The live embryos would be destroyed in their first week of development to obtain these cells. Do you support or oppose using your federal tax dollars for such experiments?
Support 43.3%
Oppose 46.9%
Don't know 9.0%
Refused 0.8%

2. Stem cells for research can be obtained by destroying human embryos. They can also be obtained from adults, from placentas left over from live births, and in other ways that do no harm to the donor. Scientists disagree on which source may end up being most successful in treating diseases. How would you prefer your tax dollars to be used this year for stem cell research?

(Options rotated)

Supporting all methods, including those that require destroying human embryos,
to see which will be most successful 23.0%


Supporting research using adult stem cells and other alternatives, to see if there is no need to destroy human embryos for research. 61.4%
Neither (volunteered) 8.0%
Don't know 6.7%
Refused 0.8%

3. Should scientists be allowed to use human cloning to try to create children for infertile couples?
Yes 11.1%
No 82.1%
Don't Know 6.4%
Refused 0.4%

4. Should scientists be allowed to use human cloning to create a supply of human embryos to be destroyed in medical research?
Yes 13.3%
No 79.8%
Don't Know 6.1%
Refused 0.7%

USCCB Pro-Life Secretariat

Posted August 4, 2004

DATE: August 3, 2004

FROM: David Early
O 202-541-3200
H 703-534-4775



WASHINGTON - This week the U.S. Department of Justice filed an appeal of a June ruling by a federal judge in the Northern District of California declaring the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act in violation of Roe v. Wade.

"The American Medical Association says that partial-birth abortion is never medically necessary," said Gail Quinn, Executive Director of the Catholic bishops' Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities. "To say that it is a fundamental constitutional right, as the federal judge in California did," said Quinn, "makes a mockery of the Constitution."

"We commend the U.S. Department of Justice for appealing this dreadful decision. There is no place in a civilized society for this cruel and dangerous practice," said Quinn.

USCCB Pro-Life Secretariat

Posted June 24, 2004

Dear all,
Earlier this year, there was an article about Ron Wilkison titled "Warehousing the Disabled" (reprinted and online at: Ron has been in a St. Louis nursing home since a few months after he had severe brain injury from a truck accident in 1999. Ron has been the subject of news articles in Pennsylvania (where his parents live) and recently on a local TV news station here in St. Louis.

Ron's parents have been trying to get guardianship of Ron since his wife divorced him and remarried over 2 years ago but lawyers for Workman's Comp (after initially agreeing to transfer Ron to a better, cheaper facility near Ron's parents) continue to fight tooth and nail to keep Ron in the St. Louis nursing home where Ron receives no therapy and just a weekly visit from me for stimulation. Ron's parents have spent thousands on lawyers as well as monthly visits to come from Pennsylvania to see Ron. At the present time, the guardian is a lawyer appointed by the court but when Ron was recently hospitalized for pneumonia, Ron's mom was at the hospital trying to direct medical care-not the guardian/lawyer.

Even though Ron's parents were next in line for guardianship in court papers, a St. Louis County judge ruled last year that the parents could not have guardianship unless they proved how Ron's health care expenses would be paid since Workman's Comp refuses to pay for his care in Pennsylvania.(Ironically, Ron's mom contacted Medicaid in Pennsylvania and they indicated that they would cover the expenses if Ron was transferred but this has seemed to make no difference in the case.)

Now, Ron's ex-wife (on behalf of their daughter since she has relinquished guardianship herself) is petitioning the court to keep Ron in St. Louis so that their daughter can visit with him every few weeks, despite Ron's parents long-standing and written offer to take the daughter to Pennsylvania for visits. (Ron's daughter was 5 months old when the accident happened in 1999.)

According to Ron's mom Sherry, at a court hearing yesterday in St. Louis, her lawyer reported that new, outrageous arguments are now being made. According to Sherry (who was not allowed in the courtroom but talked with her lawyer afterwards), it has now even being suggested that Ron's parents may be really after withdrawal of treatment so Ron would die and Missouri allegedly has more protective laws than Pennsylvania so Ron would be "safer" here than in the parents' state! Ironically, there is another argument that Ron's parents would want all sorts of expensive rehab for Ron and cause even more expense for Workman's Comp. (Sherry has denied both contradictory arguments.) And, once again, the argument is being made by the Workman's Comp lawyer that Ron is in a permanent "vegetative" state and thus won't get better so he might as well just stay at the nursing home in St. Louis.

Another irony is that just recently, Ron's mom has offered Ron tastes of foods and he has swallowed them. At one point, he even sucked a bit of gravy from a fork according to Ron's mom, Sherry.

The suspicion is that the court case will go on and on in the hope that Ron will eventually just die or the parents will just give up. (And, of course, the lawyers and court will continue to be paid.) Another hearing is to be scheduled next month.

This case was initially just about guardianship but now the focus seems to have shifted to Ron's so-called permanent "vegetative" state and inability to recover. Even Judge Greer isn't entertaining the idea of just leaving Terri Schiavo permanently under the guardianship of a court-appointed lawyer but that is what seems to be happening to Ron Wilkison and his parents.

Nancy Valko, RN.

Posted May 19, 2004

Arizona Debates Right-to-Die Internet Registry

Nancy Valko Comment: Some states also have proposed similar registries for organ donation. I certainly wouldn't feel comfortable driving around with either but especially with both! (See excerpt and link to story below.)

But seriously, one of the problems with these registries is that such decisions against treatment are almost never needed immediately, especially in emergencies when doctors are trying to determine whether a sudden respiratory or cardiac arrest is a terminal event or a condition that can be reversed or helped. Not to mention notification of family members and the time needed to closely read such a document. (Many of my patients have told me that they want an advance directive specifically because they don't want to be resuscitated if they will be "like Nancy Cruzan" without realizing that we doctors and nurses don't possess that foresight.)

Many people who would use such a registry may also not realize that their directive may be interpreted as "if in doubt, don't treat me," thus accepting a future death rather than even the possibility of disability-or even recovery. There is a difference between a "Do Not Resuscitate" order in the case of a dying person and an advance directive that may be intepreted as a presumption not to treat. - NV

Fox News story - Wednesday, May 19, 2004

A bill introduced in the Arizona Legislature would make that state among the first to have a free online registry for residents to file end-of-life directions - or living wills (search) - for medical treatment.

The health care directives registry would make information about treating patients' life-threatening conditions available to hospitals and health care workers so they can know whether patients want to be on life support (search) or whether they should be allowed to die. Arizona, which has a huge senior citizen population, would be the first state to provide such a service for free; North Carolina and Hawaii charge for the service.

The hope is that the service could prevent cases like that of Florida's Terri Schiavo, who has been on life support in a vegetative state since 1990. Schiavo's parents want to keep her on life support but her husband says she would want to be allowed to die. ,,, (Complete story:,2933,120324,00.html) broken link 6/27/2005

Posted April 30, 2004
US Bishops Pro-Life Director Corrects CFFC Claims -- Again

The director of the US Bishops' Pro-Life Activities Secretariat, Gail Quinn, responded to the misinformation in a letter by Frances Kissling of "Catholics for a Free Choice" published in the Washington Post. The PLA Secretariat is a consistently powerful voice for the Church's defense of life -- womb to tomb. Its web site, <> provides an amazing amount of useful information, including the revealing transcripts from "Partial-birth Abortion" hearings. -- hhh

Letter to the editor, Washington Post: broken link 6/27/2005

The Catholic View on Abortion

Friday, April 30, 2004; Page A28
Frances Kissling of Catholics for a Free Choice [letters, April 22] pretended to clarify Catholic teaching on abortion, but her group, as the U.S. bishops' conference has repeatedly explained, is not a Catholic organization. Its closest ties are to the National Abortion Federation (NAF).

Ms. Kissling directed the NAF before heading Catholics for a Free Choice. In 1991, in an interview in Mother Jones magazine, she summarized her relationship to the church as follows: "I spent 20 years looking for a government that I could overthrow without being thrown in jail. I finally found one in the Catholic Church."

The Catholic Church teaches that every human being, from conception to natural death, has a fundamental right to life, which must not be infringed.

Laws that seek to exclude the unborn child or any class of humanity from this fundamental respect and protection are unjust laws that all should oppose.

Executive Director
Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities
U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops

Posted April 23, 2004

DATE: April 22, 2004

FROM: William Ryan, USCCB Pro-Life Secretariat

O: 202-541-3200
H: 202-686-1824



WASHINGTON-"As abortion activists gather this weekend to protest what they see as new threats to 'choice,' abortion providers are in court describing the grisly reality behind the political slogan," said Cathy Cleaver Ruse, Esq., Director of Planning and Information for the Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Her comments came in regard to the so-called March for Women's Lives that will take place here April 25. The National Organization for Women, a sponsor of the event, describes it as "the most significant and massive abortion rights march in over a decade." The reason for the urgency, according to organizers, is the new threat to "choice" arising chiefly from the ban on partial-birth abortion.

As "pro-choice" activists prepared for the march, federal courtrooms coast-to-coast heard graphic testimony, with little media coverage, about exactly what happens to unborn babies during partial-birth abortions. Lawsuits were filed against the federal ban when it was enacted last November, and trials began March 29 in federal courts in Nebraska, New York, and California. The Nebraska and California trials recently ended, though no rulings have been issued. The New York trial is still underway.

"The trials this month create a telling backdrop for the 'pro-choice' demonstration this weekend," Ruse said. "The star witnesses, seasoned abortion doctors, have taken the stand to describe in astonishingly frank terms how they crush the skulls and dismember the bodies of infants in the fifth and sixth months of pregnancy. This is the true face of 'choice.'"

(Transcripts of the trials, available in full at, also include testimony from a pediatric pain specialist about the "excruciating pain" experienced by unborn children and by medical experts say the procedure is "never necessary.")

The "March for Women's Lives" comes 31 years after the Supreme Court Roe v. Wade decision. "Roe v. Wade has been a social experiment on the lives of women and children," Ruse said. "After thirty-one years we know almost nothing about abortion's impact on women's health, on marriages, or on surviving siblings-we don't even know with certainty how many children have died."

"Legalized abortion has been an unstudied, unchecked experiment," she said.

Maternal health risks, fetal health complications, and rape account for only about 7% of abortions annually, according to statistics gathered by abortion supporters. The two overarching reasons that women have abortions, according to their statistics, are a lack of practical resources and emotional support.

"In other words, women abort their babies because they need practical help and emotional support and no one will give it to them," Ruse said. "This is the dirty secret of the pro-choice movement. Abortion is a reflection that we have failed to meet the needs of women."

"No compassionate person wants a woman to go through the personal tragedy of abortion," she added. "Women deserve better than abortion."

USCCB Pro-Life Secretariat

Posted April 20, 2004

Richard Doerflinger, Deputy Director of the Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, wrote on the Pope's recent address on giving food and water to deeply disabled persons in an article published on the "Life Issues Forum" of the Committee's web page. With Mr. Doerflinger's permission, we provide introductory paragraphs and a link to the complete article on the USCCB web site.

USCCB Committee on Pro-Life Activities - Life Issues Forum

Pope's Speech is About Human Dignity
by Richard M. Doerflinger
April 9, 2004

Pope John Paul II recently gave a speech on our obligation to care for patients in a "vegetative" state. From some reactions, you would think he had brought back the Spanish Inquisition.

One harsh reaction came from Arthur Caplan, University of Pennsylvania bioethicist. His MSNBC commentary, "Must we all die with a feeding tube?", conjured a "cruel" scenario where patients are "forced to endure medical treatment that they do not want." He says the pope is attacking patient autonomy.

But Caplan is wrong about the problem, and wrong about the Holy Father's speech.

Here's the problem. Twenty years ago, many ethicists started urging broad policies for withdrawal of assisted feeding ­ not because it is especially ineffective, burdensome, or unwanted by patients, but, as ethicist Daniel Callahan warned, because the ethicists felt that "a denial of nutrition may in the long run become the only effective way to make certain that a large number of biologically tenacious patients actually die." Adding to the problem, health insurance policies now often reward undertreatment, and chronically disabled patients who can survive with basic care are frowned upon once they exceed the average cost allotment for their condition.

Even in the "tube feeding" cases that have divided families and sparked headlines, the patients generally said nothing clear in the matter; some family members want to continue their care while others want to let them die. Some relatives have said the patient is essentially already dead ­ an "empty shell" with no dignity.

What does this trend have to do with patient autonomy? Not much. If these patients had no human dignity, there would be no reason to respect their autonomy either.

This is the central problem the Holy Father addressed. ... (read complete article on USCCB web site:

Posted April 18, 2004

Re: Memorandum from USCCB Pro-Life Secretariat - PBA physicians testimony and Pro-Abortion March

Comment - Helen Hull Hitchcock

The USCCB Pro-Life Committee, to its everlasting credit, is posting transcripts of the chilling testimony of physicians who commit Partial-birth Abortions (Excerpt and link provided in their Memorandum below). Committee spokesman, Cathy Cleaver Ruse comments that the issue is "not for some abstract notion of 'choice', but, as the testimony shows, it is for a very real, very cruel, and very painful way of killing nearly viable and even post-viable unborn children."

But there is evidently a radical disconnect within the conference of bishops -- and it centers on a pro-abortion Catholic presidential contender.


Posted April 14, 2004

Ethicists Do Battle Over Pope's Comments on Euthanasia, Disabled

by Paul Nowak Staff Writer
April 10, 2004

Washington, DC ( -- In the wake Pope John Paul II's proclamation that feeding tubes are necessary medical care for all who need them, Arthur Caplan, director of the Center for Bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania, reacted writing an editorial for MSNBC entitled, "Must we all die with a feeding tube?" Caplan's essay is sparking opposition from pro-life advocates.

"The Pope's order spells trouble for your health care -- not only because it threatens to undermine a powerful social consensus in the United States about your right to refuse medical treatment, but also because it means you can no longer be sure whether a hospital will respect your request or that of your loved ones making a decision for you," says Caplan."

Caplan cited the 1990 case of Nancy Cruzan, the Missouri woman who became brain damaged after a car crash.

John Ashcroft, then Attorney General of Missouri, insisted that a feeding tube remain to nourish her, despite her family's wishes that she be left to die. The Supreme Court ruled that food and water tubes constitute medical treatment, and can be withdrawn if it can be shown that it is the patient's wish.

Thus, Caplan argues that the Pope's command on March 20 infringes on the "fundamental" right to control one's medical care even if it means one's own destruction."

But Nancy Valko, a representative of Nurses for Life and a leading monitor of end-of-life issues, disagrees with Caplan's assessment.

She said that the Patient Self-Determination Act (PSDA), which passed Congress as part of a budget reconciliation bill required health care providers to provide information on legal documents allowing for the withdrawal of medical treatments.

The first living wills, explains Valko, were drafted by an attorney with a euthanasia group to address the refusal of "heroic measures," restricted to when an individual was actually dying and required the patient's own signature.

After that Cruzan decision, the documents deteriorated in a vague form were instead of only the patient, any "surrogate," such as friends or family, could refuse any medical treatment, even simple a simple IV as a "feeding tube" or antibiotic as "life support," even when the patient is not dying. Even worse, any vague statement by the patient can be taken as "clear and convincing" evidence that the individual wishes to die.

"It also should not be surprising that the Pope's statement, the Schiavo case, and the now fairly frequent media stories about people waking up after even years in a 'vegetative' state are considered threats to the lethal evolution of the so-called "right to die" into what has become really medicalized, private killing with little or no legal or ethical protections for vulnerable people," said Valko.

"Unfortunately, the traditional common sense ethic of neither prolonging nor hastening/causing death is now being misrepresented as an attack on people's rights," Valko concluded. "In Caplan's world, the only ethical thing we have to fear is being 'forced' to live too long rather than a legal and ethical system that too often believes some people are a waste of health care dollars and really better off dead."

Expanding on the Catholic Church's pro-life policies on assisted suicide and euthanasia, the Pope stated to the World Federation of Catholic Medical Associations that removing the feeding tube of a disabled patient is immoral and amounts to "euthanasia by omission."

Pope John Paul II also said that the lexicon used to describe such patients -- as being in a "vegetative state" was degrading and inhuman. 

Posted March 23, 2004

Missouri Children's Health Insurance Bill -- HB 1307 -- Bi-Partisan House Bill adds the term "Unborn Children" to the definition of those eligible for the State Children's Health Insurance Program.

For Further information contact: State Rep. Matt Muckler (D-Ferguson) 573-751-4726 or State Rep. Bob Dixon (R- Springfield) 573-751-9809

To review the House Bill go to: (Broken link)

Posted March 23, 2004

Austin Ruse: U Senate Continues Debate Today On Federal Amendment Defending Traditionaly Marriage

Dear Colleague,

As you read this a Senate hearing will be underway looking into a Constitutional amendment to define marriage as between a man and a woman. Senate staff tell us that a markup of such an amendment could begin as early as next week.

Spread the word.

Yours sincerely,

Austin Ruse


March 22, 2004 Volume 1, Number 32

US Senate Hearing Begins Today on Federal Marriage Amendment

The US Senate continues debate today on a federal amendment to the Constitution that would defend traditional marriage. The amendment, first introduced in the House of Representatives by Marilyn Musgrave (R-CO) in May of 2003, states that marriage is a union between one man and one woman, and that neither the federal nor state constitutions can introduce measures to allow that title to be granted to other partnerships. The hearing in defense of traditional marriage was called by Senator John Cornyn (R-TX), chairman of the Judiciary committee, and will be the third hearing requested by Cornyn in under a year.

There is a sense of urgency to the proposed amendment because of the growing number of cities that are allowing same-sex marriages. In a previous hearing Cornyn said that "the only reason we are discussing this today is the work of aggressive lawyers, and a handful of activist judges.traditional marriage has always been the law in all 50 states renegade judges (and some local officials) are attempting to radically redefine [it]."

In addition, at the national level he said that marriage continues to be defined traditionally, as can be seen from the Defense of Marriage Act, a bipartisan measure passed in 1996. President George Bush has inserted himself into the debate, promising that the administration will defend the Defense of Marriage Act, but also called for an amendment to the Constitution at the end of February.

Senator Wayne Allard (R-CO) will testify in the first panel, and is one of five Senators sponsoring the amendment. According to Allard," this definition is neither new nor radical. It is a concept embraced by a majority of Americans of all religions, races and political affiliations. It is my belief that protecting the tradition and union of marriage is among the important policies the Congress should address." House Representative Barney Frank (D-MA), also expected to testify, has said, "giving an option to marry to same sex couples has zero effect on the marriages of opposite sex couples." Representative John Lewis (D-GA), the final Congressional witness is also scheduled to testify in opposition.

Teresa Collett, a professor at St. Thomas Law School will testify on constitutional law, and in previous testimony said "either the state will continue to regulate marriage out of concern for the well-being of the family or it will view it as a means of individual fulfillment. In the past it has not been necessary to address the nature of marriage because of the societal consensus that marriage was about family formation. Today we confront differing views, and we must choose."

Katherine Spaht, of the Louisiana State University Law Center and Reverend Richard Richardson of the Black Ministerial Alliance of Greater Boston are both expected to testify as proponents of the amendment. Phyllis G. Bossin, chair of the Family Law Section of the American Bar Association, was quoted by the Washington Post as saying that a constitutional amendment protecting marriage was "problematic" and is expected to testify along with Cass Sunstein of the University of Chicago Law School against the amendment.

In previous hearings Cornyn said that defense of traditional marriage is not discriminatory. "Millions of Americans who support the traditional institution of marriage should not be slandered as intolerant. The institution of marriage was not created to discriminate or oppress-it was established to protect and nurture children." Senior Senate staff say that a markup of the amendment could begin within a week of the hearing.

Copyright---Culture of Life Foundation.
Permission granted for unlimited use. Credit required.

Culture of Life Foundation
1413 K Street, NW, Suite 1000
Washington DC 20005
Phone: (202) 289-2500
Fax: (202) 289-2502
E-mail: [email protected]
Web site

Posted March 22, 2004

VATICAN CITY, MAR 20, 2004 (VIS) - Today in the Clementine Hall John Paul II received 400 participants in an international congress promoted by the World Federation of Catholic Medical Associations (FIAMC) and by the Pontifical Academy for Life.

After recalling that conference members focussed on the theme of the clinical condition known as the "vegetative state," the Pope affirmed that "the intrinsic value and the personal dignity of every human being do not change, no matter what the specific circumstances of their life. Human beings, even if they are seriously ill and impaired in the exercise of their highest functions, are and always will be human beings and will never become 'vegetables' or 'animals'. Our sisters and brothers who are in a 'vegetative state' fully preserve their dignity."

"Physicians and health workers, society and the Church have a moral duty toward these persons which they cannot shirk, without neglecting the requirements of professional deontology as well as Christian and human solidarity. Sick people in a vegetative state, waiting to recover or for a natural end, have the right to basic health care (nutrition, hydration, hygiene, warmth, etc)."

The Holy Father emphasized that water and food, even when administered artificially, are "a natural means of preserving life, not a medical procedure. Therefore, their use must be considered ordinary and appropriate and as such, morally obligatory."

The probability that there is little hope for recovery, "when the vegetative state lasts longer than a year, cannot ethically justify abandoning or interrupting basic care, including food and hydration, of a patient." Death by starvation or dehydration carried out "consciously or deliberately is truly euthanasia by omission."

The Pope recalled the "moral principal according to which even the slightest doubt of being in the presence of a person who is alive requires full respect and prohibits any action that would anticipate his or her death. . The value of the life of a man cannot be subjected to the judgement of quality expressed by other men; it is necessary to promote positive activities to counteract pressure for the suspension of food and hydration, as a means to putting an end to the life of these patients."

"Above all," he added, "we must support the families" that have a patient in the vegetative state. "We cannot leave them alone with the heavy human, economic and psychological weight." Society must promote "specific programs of assistance and rehabilitation; economic support and help at home for the family; . and support structures when there are no family members able to address the problem." In addition, he said, volunteers provide "fundamental support to help the family to escape isolation and to help them to feel a valuable part of society and not abandoned by social institutions."

John Paul II ended by emphasizing that "in these situations spiritual and pastoral help is especially important in order to understand the deeper meaning of a seemingly desperate situation."


Posted March 2, 2004

WAREHOUSING THE DISABLED: the case of Ron Wilkison

"Wall of Shame" - Jefferson City, MO -- Press Release 2/26/2004 Women for Faith & Family sent a letter of support to Missouri pro-life legislators whose pictures were displayed as a "Wall of Shame" in the rotunda of the Missouri Capitol building at a pro-abortion rally on February 17.

Posted February 19, 2004
Bioethics Challenged by a "New Paradigm," Says Papal Envoy
Cardinal Sounds a Warning for World Day of the Sick

LOURDES, France, FEB. 10, 2004 ( How can the prevailing mentalities and even the law justify the elimination of human beings in certain circumstances?

This question was answered in Lourdes by Cardinal Javier Lozano Barragán, president of the Pontifical Council for Health Care Workers and John Paul II's special envoy to World Day of the Sick celebrations, which end Wednesday.

Posted February 16, 2004

Cloning Turns a Human Being Into "Industrial Material," Warns Vatican Bioethics Expert

"Insistence on this path of so-called therapeutic cloning, with 'amazing' ends, conveys the idea that it is a political battle", Bishop Elio Sgreccia said in a statement on Vatican Radio February 13 about reports of cloning of human beings in Korea. "That is, there is a desire to attain freedom to do whatever one wishes with the human embryo from the industrial point of view," he said.

From the moral point of view, no form of human cloning can be justified. It is "asexual reproduction," he said. The cloned human being lacks a father or a mother, since it comes from the genetic code of only one individual, the bishop added.

"This desire to control the total constitution of a human individual is, in itself, immoral," he stressed. Bishop Sgreccia is vice-chairman of the Pontifical Academy for Life and director of the Bioethics Center of the University of the Sacred Heart in Rome.

(To read complete report go to Code: ZE04021307 Date: 2004-02-13

Posted February 4, 2004

Warehousing the Disabled: the case of Ron Wilkison - By Kristin Giganti
A little over four years ago, on September 30, 1999, Ron Wilkison's life changed forever. The 31-year-old New Castle, Pennsylvania, native was on the job about an hour south of St. Louis, Missouri, driving for Midwest Delivery. Unable to stop in time, Ron's vehicle skidded onto a four-lane highway and collided with a tractor-trailer. The outlook for Ron was grave: He survived, but suffered a severe brain injury.

Ultimately, what made Ron's future so precarious was not his actual injury, but the warped way society and many in the medical community increasingly view victims of debilitating brain injuries....

NOTE: to read the complete story, click on the title above.

Posted January 14, 2004

New Research Shows Dangers of Condoms in HIV Prevention

Availability of condoms statistically increase promiscuity and risk of contracting HIV according to medical experts who presented their findings on the "ABC" approach to the HIV/Pandemic in Washington, DC last week. The presentations, hosted by the Medical Institute for Sexual Health, were critical of the insistence by some NGOs and policy makers that the "C" (condom) approach will stem the tide of the pandemic....

NOTE: to read more of this story, click on link above.

Posted January 3, 2004

United States Conference of Catholic Bishops:

Comments on FDA Proposal to Change "Emergency Contraception" from Prescription to Over-the Counter

On December 5, 2003, the USCCB addressed the Food and Drug Administration on the subject of making drugs for so-called "Emergency Contraception" (EC) available over-the-counter, without prescriptions. The letter to the FDA and a summary of the statement, which was signed by USCCB general counsel Mark Chopko, appears below. The complete statement is accessible on the bishops' web site (click link above.)

The full statement includes discussion of a) The Abortifacient Properties of EC and the Implications for Informed Consent; b) Public Health Concerns; c) Potential for Coercion of Pharmacists.

NOTE - see also "Breaking News" page: December 17, 2003 - for USCCB news release on EC "Plan B".

December 5, 2003

Division of Dockets Management (HFA-305) - Food and Drug Administration
5630 Fishers Lane, Room 1061, Rockville, Maryland 20852
Subj: Docket No. 2001P-0075 (concerning a proposal to "Switch Status of Emergency Contraceptives From Rx to OTC")

Dear Sir or Madam:

On November 25, 2003, the Food and Drug Administration announced a meeting of the Nonprescription Drugs Advisory Committee and the Advisory Committee for Reproductive Health Drugs, to be held on December 16, 2003, for the purpose of considering a proposal to make Plan B or levonorgestrel-only "emergency contraception" ("EC") available without a prescription. 68 Fed. Reg. 66113 (Nov. 25, 2003). The agency invited written comments. Id

On behalf of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, we submit the following comments in opposition to the proposal to make EC available without a prescription.

Interest of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops is a nonprofit corporation organized under the laws of the District of Columbia. All active Catholic bishops in the United States are members of the Conference. The Catholic Church, the largest religious denomination in the United States, has over 66 million adherents in over 19,000 parishes throughout the country. The Conference advocates and promotes the pastoral teaching of the bishops in such diverse areas as education, family life, health care, social welfare, immigration, civil rights, and the economy.

Our opposition to the proposal to make EC available over-the-counter stems from our concerns for promoting the dignity of human life, maintaining public health, and protecting family life.

Approval of over-the-counter use of EC is objectionable for several reasons.

1. EC can have an abortifacient effect. To make it more widely available through over-the-counter use would conflict with a trend in law and medicine which recognizes the human embryo as a human subject and a patient deserving of protection.

2. Many women are currently unaware that EC can have an abortifacient effect. This is a matter that would be of deep concern to many women were they aware of it. Over the counter use will only guarantee continued unawareness by excluding the participation of physicians who might otherwise provide this information.

3. EC carries significant risks and is contraindicated for many women. Indeed, the package insert says that EC is not to be used as a routine method of contraception. Making EC available over-the-counter would eliminate the clinical oversight necessary to ensure that EC is not used routinely. In particular, it would eliminate the clinical monitoring and follow-up needed to address the risk of ectopic pregnancy, a potentially life-threatening condition.

4. The potential for misuse of EC is especially grave in the case of minors. Over-the-counter availability for EC will make it possible for a minor to have ready access to the drugs without ever seeing a physician or notifying her parents. The Administration, if anything, should be encouraging physician involvement and parental notification, not thwarting it as this proposal, if adopted, would do. Over-the-counter access to EC may also increase risk-taking behavior and promiscuity, an especially acute problem in the case of teenagers who have higher rates of sexually transmitted disease in this country than their counterparts in other developed nations.

5. Availability of EC is not likely to significantly reduce abortions. Indeed, as we have noted, EC itself can have an abortifacient effect. Regions that have made the drugs available have not seen a reduction in abortions.

6. Over-the-counter availability of EC would likely increase the pressure already being placed on pharmacies and pharmacists to violate their consciences. 

December 15, 2003

Parents of severely ill children contemplate 'right to die'
By Debra Jasper and Spencer Hunt
(Gannett News Service)

In her mind, Ajia Swanson sees her 3-year-old daughter, Jhanae, running through a park in her little yellow bobby socks and Mickey Mouse tennis shoes, laughing and playing with friends.

But in her living room, Swanson sees Jhanae as she really is, wearing the little yellow socks and tennis shoes but strapped to a tiny wheelchair, her breath coming in loud, even gasps as a ventilator forces air into her lungs.

Jhanae's face is so swollen that her eyes form only slits. Her body is so contracted that she wears splints to force her fists open. On a good day, she coos or gurgles. But she doesn't laugh or play like she does in her mother's dreams. She never will.

"We were thinking that with therapy or brain surgery, she could come out of whatever it was she was in. That with hope and prayer she'd be OK," Swanson says. "Instead, she breathes five minutes tops on her own without turning blue."

Go to complete story: [Link broken 12/3/2007]

Comment: As I learned 20 years ago when my daughter with Down Syndrome was awaiting open-heart surgery, even something as supposedly simple as getting a babysitter or a kind word was sometimes very hard to find but enormously encouraging. After my daughter died, I started volunteering for respite care, babysitting, etc. for other parents of children with disabilities and serious medical problems. Not only was this enjoyable and healing for me, but my other children wound up making new friends.
Nancy V.

Terri Hall of Springfield, Mo. could write a book on the difficulties of getting support services for a child with expensive medical needs. She has been caring for her son Tyler who has been ventilator-dependent for many years. She writes: "There are only 2 facilities in the State Of Mo. that will take critical care children and they are always too full to accommodate anymore. Can't they live in the hospital? NO. The State Of Mo. stopped that practice along time ago."

Somehow, she has found the time and energy to get a "fine bunch of people both laymen and professionals ... to start a non-profit organization for the sole purpose of providing equipment and supplies to families that are no longer covered by our state's funding."

Those interested in Terri's proposed foundation may contact her at:

Terri Hall e-mail or at:

c/o Heart For Humanity Foundation
P.O. Box 3102
Springfield, MO 65804

-- Nancy V.

December 11, 2003

Cloning in New Jersey: New Jersey Assembly Bill 2840 looks to be the most radical human cloning measure ever put into law. It should be stopped.

by Wesley J. Smith in Weekly Standard 12/11/2003

"USING 'embryonic stem cell research' (ESCR) as a Trojan Horse, the authors of New Jersey Assembly Bill 2840 are trying to sneak one of the most radical human cloning legalization schemes ever proposed into law. How radical is A-2840? If the bill passes, it will be legal in New Jersey to implant cloned human embryos into wombs, gestate them for up to nine months, and then destroy them for use in research", writes Wesley J. Smith a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute. His next book will explore the science, morality, and business aspects of human cloning.

Exaggerated? Alas, no. If it's not illegal, it's legal, as the author points out. Quote from Leon Kass: "Shallow are the souls that have forgotten how to shudder."

Read complete story:

December 5, 2003

The Human Rorschach Test

by Sydney Smith - Tech Central Station (excerpt)

The author, a family practice physician, discusses important moral and technological dimensions of brain injury. Complete story (includes helpful links) (Broken link)

Terri Schiavo, the severely disabled Florida woman at the center of a medical and legal controversy these past months, has become something of a Rorschach test of American life and death values. For some, she's the worst-case scenario of the limits of medical technology -- snatched from the jaws of death only to be left to a fate worse than death. For others, she's the worst-case scenario of medical paternalism -- completely and totally disabled, voiceless, at the mercy of doctors and avaricious relatives, and deserving of every legal protection the law can muster.

It isn't surprising that the Schiavo case has engendered such controversy, or such strong feelings. It is, in many ways, a case that exists in the shadowlands of both medicine and the law....

So little and so much has changed in the past ten years. Our science is no closer to understanding consciousness, but our society is more confident that those living in altered forms of it are closer to death than to life. In the era of Quinlan and Cruzan, the burden of proof lay on those who would deny basic care to the severely cognitively impaired. Today, the burden of proof is on those who would continue it. If that isn't a slide down the slippery slope, what is?

December 1, 2003

Nat Henthoff, a columnist for the Village Voice in New York City, a publication not best known for promoting "conservative" values, has contributed valuable insights on the "slippery slope" to euthanasia in several recent columns. The following excerpt from his essay, "The Culture Of Death: Who Will Decide When You Should Die?" from the December 1 edition, quotes WFF's contributing editor, Nancy Valko.

Complete essay:

... Another specialist in these life-or-death matters whom I have relied on for many years is Nancy Valko. She not only writes extensively and gives workshops on medical ethics, but actually also works full-time in the intensive care unit at a county hospital in St. Louis....

In an article ("Futility Policies and the Duty to Die", Voices [Lent/Easter2003]), she writes:

"This theory [that some lives are no longer worth living] has now evolved into 'futile care' policies at hospitals in Houston, Des Moines, California and many other areas. Even Catholic hospitals are now becoming involved.... Thus, the 'right to die' becomes the 'duty to die,' with futile care policies offering death as the only 'choice'.... A poor prognosis, which can be erroneous and is seldom precise, will become a death sentence."

I have debated bioethicists who are true believers in the "duty to die" when care is "futile." These exchanges have been on college campuses, radio, and television. When I bring up the history of "futile care" in pre-Hitler Germany (as I did in last week's column), the "duty to die" advocates become deeply offended. Nonetheless, they are sincerely continuing a lethal legacy.

Nancy Valko continues: "Just a generation ago, doctors and nurses were ethically prohibited from hastening or causing death. Family disputes and ethically gray situations occurred, but certain actions such as withdrawing medically assisted food and water from a severely brain-damaged but non-dying person were considered illegitimate no matter who was making the decision.

"But," Nancy Valko emphasizes, "with the rise of the modern bioethics movement, life is no longer assumed to have the intrinsic value it once did, and 'quality of life' has become the overriding consideration. Over time, the ethical question, 'what is right?' became 'who decides? -- which now has devolved into 'what is legally allowed?'"

In the ... November 4 Philadelphia Inquirer story, Stacey Burling reported what physicians and bioethicists consider a worrisome obstacle to expanding "what is legally allowed."

"Hospital leaders [around the country] fear they would lose a lawsuit if they denied care demanded by a family." These officials and bioethicists want more case law to enable them to end lives they consider "futile."

Until the media spend more space and care on who decides whether -- and how -- certain disabled Americans should die, I recommend your remembering that, as disability rights activists say, many of us are only temporarily able.

November 17, 2003

Catholic Medical Association's Resolution Prohibits "Emergency Contraception" in Catholic Hospitals (link broken)

"... Therefore be it resolved that 'emergency contraception' is a misnomer as it does not consistently prevent fertilization, And

"Therefore, be it further resolved that as 'emergency contraception' has the potential to prevent implantation whether given in the pre-ovulatory, ovulatory, or post-ovulatory phase, that it cannot be ethically employed by a Catholic physician or administered in a Catholic Hospital in cases of rape."

November 11, 2003

Sixteen Year Old Girl May Have Died from Contraceptive Use

A New Zealand coroner issued a report this week that says the suspicious death of a teenage girl a year ago may have been caused by the contraceptive pill called Estelle 35D.

October 29, 2003

Update on Non-Heart-Beating Organ Donation - by Nancy Valko, RN
"Unknown to most of the public, hospitals are now already required to report every death to the local transplant organization even when tissue or organ donation is refused."

October 29, 2003

Organ donation and the definition of death

St. Louis Review editorial

"The NHBD protocol is cruel and dangerous and does not meet standards of respect for human life".

October 20, 2003

Strong Euthanasia Warning from Holland -- Florida's Terri Case Opens the Door for Euthanasia in the USA

"Patients are not sure if the doctor helps to kill or to cure. The Dutch Euthanasia Law is a very dangerous example to follow".

October 19, 2003

The Pope's Perseverance -- Unraveling the Mortal Coil, in Plain View (click title for complete story - requires registration)

by Frank Bruni (October 19, 2003) for the New York Times

COMMENT: Our society tends to view the elderly and disabled especially as the "beneficiaries" of the "right to die" but here is the pope. Unafraid to show his human weakness, he instead wears it as a badge of honor. He is a walking refutation of the Culture of Death.

Nancy Valko

October 15, 2003

Cardinal Alfonso López Trujillo of the Pontifical Council for the Family Explains Problems with the Use of Condoms for AIDS Prevention Click here for the complete interview

September 28, 2003

What if There Is Something Going On in There? (Click title to go to original story: requires registration)

By Carl Zimmer

New York Times Magazine

Daniel Rios is 24 years old, with wavy black hair, a thick mustache and a glassy stare that seems to look both at you and through you. One day almost four years ago, while he was taking a shower, a blood vessel ruptured in his brain, and he collapsed on the bathroom floor. After emergency surgery, he lay in a coma for three weeks. When he finally opened his eyes, he could not speak or move his body; his head simply lolled. In the months that followed, the doctors monitoring him at the Center for Head Injuries at the J.F.K. Johnson Rehabilitation Institute in Edison, N.J., saw few signs that he had any meaningful mental life. Sometimes he looked as if he were crying. Other times his eyes would follow a mirror passed before his face. On his best days he was able to close his eyes on command. But those days were rare. For the most part he lay unresponsive, adrift in a neurological twilight.

One morning just over a year after his accident, Rios was taken to the Sloan Kettering Institute on Manhattan's East Side. There, in a dim room, a group of researchers placed a mask over his eyes, fixed headphones over his ears and guided his head into the bore of an M.R.I. machine. A 40-second loop of a recording made by Rios's sister Maria played through the headphones: she told him that she was there with him, that she loved him. As the sound entered his ears, the M.R.I. machine scanned his brain, mapping changes in activity. Several hours afterward, two researchers, Nicholas D. Schiff and Joy Hirsch, took a look at the images from the scan. They hadn't been sure what to expect -- Rios was among the first people in his condition to have his brain activity measured in this way -- but they certainly weren't expecting what they saw. ''We just stared at these images,'' recalls Schiff, an expert in consciousness disorders at Weill Medical College of Cornell University. ''There didn't seem to be anything missing.'' (Click title above to go to complete story)

COMMENT: It is hard to overstate the potential impact of this story. For years, the possibility that so-called "vegetative" patients can think but not respond and that there are even recoveries from such states have been dismissed by "experts" like Dr. Ron Cranford and others when the term "permanent vegetative state" first started to gain public awareness in "right to die" cases.

Over the years, as cases of recovery started to be reported, these experts maintained that these recoveries were merely mistakes in diagnosis even when, as happened in Dr. Cranford's case, the recovery occurred after 2 1/2 years with one of his own patients because the wife refused to withdraw feedings. Because of the intractable pessimism of such experts, we have seen brain-injured patients routinely dispatched by withdrawal of treatment even soon after their illness or injury and "vegetative" state become a routine part of "living wills" and other advance directives. It is now common -- as this article admits -- for severely brain-injured people who don't have treatment withdrawn to wind up warehoused in nursing homes after a short time because any rehab is considered futile.

In recent years, the term "minimally conscious" was invented and added to "vegetative" as another "hopeless" condition in "right to die" cases like those of Michael Martin and Robert Wendland. And non-heart beating organ donation began to be quietly adopted, in large part, because it is based on the assumption that doctors can accurately predict a poor prognosis for cognitive recovery soon after a person is injured and still requires a ventilator.

As a nurse, who has worked with severely brain-injured people for over 30 years and seen the recoveries myself, I can't tell you how excited I am to see such an article as this. Perhaps now rehab and other policies will start to change, people will begin to receive the treatment they need and there will be a renewed interest in research like this.

Most importantly, I hope that this new information will make the public and the experts rethink their position that non-dying, brain-injured people are "hopeless" and thus better off dead.

Nancy Valko

September 22, 2003

Hemlock Society Plans to Include New Dangerous Provisions in Advance Directives

The above link provides an excerpt from the International Task Force on Euthanasia and Assisted-suicide's recent update, Year 2003, Volume 17, Number 2 (6/4/03) on how the Hemlock Society is planning on including new dangerous provisions in "living wills" and other advance directives. The language in virtually all of these documents about comfort measures has been used as cover for terminal sedation/dehydration. The Hemlock Society's new provision is a subtle reworking of such language to cover the faster lethal overdose and, of course, once such language is passed there will be the usual expansion from "terminal illness" to other vulnerable groups like the disabled.

Note that Hemlock "has targeted senior citizen organizations (especially the AARP) to promote its advance directive, the campaign thrust is much broader and includes 'religious, legal, and medical groups'". Of course, that will include bioethics groups, "end of life" education groups and hospice. We must make sure such strategies are exposed and that targeted groups are aware of this.

Web site:

August 29, 2003

Breast Cancer Doc Angela Lanfranchi Says Aboration Link Is Real - (Broken link)

See Breaking News page for recent updates on Terri Schiavo case

Florida Bishops Urge Safer Course for Terri Schiavo (August 28, 2003)
Florida Bishops issued a statement 8/27/2003 regarding Terri Schiavo's case.
Go to: (Broken Link)

Governor Bush intervenes in Schiavo case -- but Judge denies request (August 27, 2003)

Florida Governor Jeb Bush asked Circuit Judge George W. Greer to delay removing the feeding-tube for Terry Schiavo so that a court-appointed guardian can "independently investigate the circumstances of this case and provide the court with an unbiased view that considers the best interests of Mrs. Schiavo."

But Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge George Greer was unmoved by the governor's August 25 letter. "I read [the request from Bush] because it came from the governor and I respect his position,'' Greer said. "Beyond that, it is going in the file'', he told the Tampa Tribune.

Governor Bush said that he would not normally write a judge concerning a pending legal proceeding, but he said his office received 27,000 e-mails "reflecting understandable concern for the well being" of Mrs. Schiavo. (Women for Faith & Family wrote to Governor Bush asking for his intervention on July 21, 2003).

Michael Schiavo, who has been in a battle with his wife's parents over his wish to remove his wife's feeding-tube, told the Tampa Tribune that "The governor has deliberately twisted the facts in this case in an apparent effort to kowtow to his 'right-to-life' political supporters. This has nothing to do with him. He should stay out of it".

World Net Daily story - August 26 --

Bush's letter - (Broken Link)

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