Cassy Fiano

End the Down syndrome holocaust today

Cassy Fiano
By Cassy Fiano
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March 26, 2012 (LiveActionNews.org) - When you hear the word “holocaust,” most people automatically think of Hitler and the Nazis, slaughtering the Jews. Many people don’t know that there was another group that Hitler targeted first – a dress rehearsal of sorts for the horror that was to come later. The first group of people that Hitler went after was the disabled.

First, there was a law passed in 1933 which required the forced sterilization of people with disabilities, and over 400,000 people were sterilized. Then there was Aktion-T4, which authorized the murders of disabled people. Over 70,000 were killed. They would be placed in buses and taken to killing centers, where they were murdered as soon as they got there under the Nazi euthanasia program.

How many people will learn about that and be horrified? And how many of them know that right now, to this very day, we’re still practicing eugenics against the disabled? This holocaust, though, is a silent one. It’s one that many people won’t hear about, and if they do, they excuse it. The holocaust I’m referring to is the systematic killing of babies with Down syndrome.

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Prenatal testing has allowed more and more parents to find out that their children have Down syndrome before the babies are born. Unfortunately, 90% of those parents choose to kill their children, simply because they have an extra chromosome. It’s a horrifying notion, but one that stays, for the most part, under the radar. With the advent of a new test, MaterniT21, which is non-invasive and 99% accurate, there is a very good chance that it will only get worse. And now, the number of babies born with Down syndrome is dropping to a number low enough to have researchers and advocates worried. As more and more women choose to have babies later, the number of Down syndrome births should have risen about 35%. Instead, it has dropped 15%.

For every ten babies diagnosed prenatally with Down syndrome, only one will get to live. Only one will be lucky enough to have parents who love him enough to not murder him because he has an extra chromosome.

Why do so many parents feel they need to kill their baby once they find out that the baby is different? It’s a disturbing question to have to ask, especially when the reality of living with a child who has Down syndrome is so different from what people often picture. One recent study showed what a blessing these children are, and that the diagnosis is not the end of the world. The study found that:

99% of parents say they truly love their son or daughter with Down syndrome; 88% of brothers and sisters say they are better people because of their sibling with Down syndrome. People with Down syndrome themselves spoke up, too: 99% are happy with their lives, and 97% like who they are.

Another study, conducted by the Children’s Hospital in Boston, found that an overwhelming majority of parents of children with Down syndrome reported a more positive outlook on life.

These are not miserable, stupid people cursed with an extra chromosome and doomed to live empty, meaningless lives. These are not families who feel burdened because they have a child who is different. People who have Down syndrome go to school, make friends, work, get married. They are happy people with full lives. So why do parents get this diagnosis and almost immediately turn to abortion? What is it that makes them feel they have no other choice?

One troubling reason: the medical community encourages them to. Several studies have found that physicians often put a negative spin on the results and pressure the women to terminate the pregnancy. And that can weigh heavily on a woman who is confused and scared about what to do.

When I received the diagnosis that my unborn son has Down syndrome, it was an emotional roller coaster, to say the very least. I cried for just about three days straight. Every time I thought of my baby, I would just start crying again. It got better over time, but it was difficult. And I had a lot of fears. What if he isn’t healthy? Will his heart be OK? What will his life be like? Is he going to be made fun of and teased? Will he have friends? Those thoughts went through my head over and over again. And while for me, abortion was never an option to begin with, I was – and am – extraordinarily lucky to have a specialist who is very positive about Down syndrome. He never encouraged me to abort the pregnancy; to the contrary, he actually reassured me that many of his patients don’t. He recommended resources for me so I could educate myself. He mentioned local Down syndrome support groups. And while my mind had been made up the entire time, it was comforting to have such a positive experience.

How many mothers feel the same emotions that I felt, had the same fears that I did, only to have their doctors reinforce those fears? To encourage them to abort? It might sound like an exaggeration, but consider that the two largest advocacy groups for Down syndrome — the National Down Syndrome Society (NDSS) and the National Down Syndrome Congress (NDSC) — do not take a stance on abortion. They do not encourage parents who receive a prenatal diagnosis to keep the baby. If the decision is made to abort, then it is shrugged off as a personal decision and nothing more. And while both groups do phenomenal work on behalf of people with Down syndrome, it is disheartening, to say the least, that they do not advocate for the 90% of babies slaughtered.

There is an attitude, one perpetuated by the culture of death, that for some people, it’s just “too much” to raise a child with Down syndrome. When a pregnant woman gets the diagnosis and expresses doubt that she can handle it, it is not uncommon for people to agree with her, to say that she’s doing nothing wrong by aborting. They’ll even say it’s better for the child, because who would choose to live a life with a disability? Better dead than to have Down syndrome. What they won’t do is point out to her that the vast majority of parents with Down syndrome children are happy and love their kids, that people who have Down syndrome are happy with their lives. They won’t be told that children with Down syndrome are such a joy that there are very long waiting lists to adopt a child with Down syndrome.

Thankfully, there is at least one organization dedicated to fighting for the right of these people to live: the International Down Syndrome Coalition for Life. And in honor of today, World Down Syndrome Day, they made a video asking mothers of children with Down syndrome what they would tell themselves if they could go back to before they had children. The responses made me laugh and cry.

These are the things we should be spreading in those moments of fear and confusion. And even for those of us who don’t have someone with Down syndrome in our lives, we still need to stand up and fight for the right of these people to live. To not be killed just because they are different. So today, whether you are personally affected or not, I ask you to take a stand. Take the time to learn about Down syndrome, and to educate others. Resolve to do all that you can to stand up for everyone’s right to live – everyone’s, no matter how many chromosomes he or she may have.

Reprinted with permission from LiveActionNews.org

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Lisa Bourne

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Cardinal Dolan: Debate on denying Communion to pro-abortion pols ‘in the past’

Lisa Bourne
By Lisa Bourne

As America heads into its 2014 midterm elections, a leading U.S. prelate says the nation’s bishops believe debate over whether to deny Communion to pro-abortion Catholic politicians is “in the past.”

The Church’s Code of Canon Law states in Canon 915 that those “obstinately persevering in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to Holy Communion.” Leading Vatican officials, including Pope Benedict XVI himself, have said this canon ought to be applied in the case of pro-abortion Catholic politicians. However, prelates in the West have widely ignored it, and some have openly disagreed.

John Allen, Jr. of the new website Crux, launched as a Catholic initiative under the auspices of the Boston Globe, asked New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan about the issue earlier this month.

“In a way, I like to think it’s an issue that served us well in forcing us to do a serious examination of conscience about how we can best teach our people about their political responsibilities,” the cardinal responded, “but by now that inflammatory issue is in the past.”

“I don’t hear too many bishops saying it’s something that we need to debate nationally, or that we have to decide collegially,” he continued. “I think most bishops have said, ‘We trust individual bishops in individual cases.’ Most don’t think it’s something for which we have to go to the mat.”

Cardinal Dolan expressed personal disinterest in upholding Canon 915 publicly in 2010 when he told an Albany TV station he was not in favor of denying Communion to pro-abortion politicians. He said at the time that he preferred “to follow the lead of Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI, who said it was better to try to persuade them than to impose sanctions.”

However, in 2004 Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who became Pope Benedict XVI the following year, wrote the U.S. Bishops a letter stating that a Catholic politician who would vote for "permissive abortion and euthanasia laws" after being duly instructed and warned, "must" be denied Communion. 

Cardinal Ratzinger sent the document to the U.S. Bishops in 2004 to help inform their debate on the issue. However, Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, then-chair of the USCCB Task Force on Catholic Bishops and Catholic Politicians, who received the letter, withheld the full text from the bishops, and used it instead to suggest ambiguity on the issue from the Vatican.

A couple of weeks after Cardinal McCarrick’s June 2004 address to the USCCB, the letter from Cardinal Ratzinger was leaked to well-known Vatican reporter Sandro Magister, who published the full document. Cardinal Ratzinger’s office later confirmed the leaked document as authentic.

Since the debate in 2004, numerous U.S. prelates have openly opposed denying Communion to pro-abortion Catholic politicians.

In 2008, Boston Cardinal Sean O’Malley suggested the Church had yet to formally pronounce on the issue, and that until it does, “I don’t think we’re going to be denying Communion to the people.”

In 2009, Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington D.C. in 2009 said that upholding of Canon 915 would turn the Eucharist into a political “weapon,” refusing to employ the law in the case of abortion supporter Rep. Nancy Pelosi.

Cardinal Roger Mahoney, archbishop emeritus of Los Angeles, said in a 2009 newspaper interview that pro-abortion politicians should be granted communion because Jesus Christ gave Holy Communion to Judas Iscariot.

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However, one of the Church’s leading proponents of the practice, U.S. Cardinal Raymond Burke, who is prefect of the Vatican’s Apostolic Signatura, insists that denying Communion is not a punishment.

“The Church’s discipline from the time of Saint Paul has admonished those who obstinately persevere in manifest grave sin not to present themselves for Holy Communion,” he said at LifeSiteNews’ first annual Rome Life Forum in Vatican City in early May. "The discipline is not a punishment but the recognition of the objective condition of the soul of the person involved in such sin."  

Only days earlier, Cardinal Francis Arinze, former prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, told LifeSiteNews that he has no patience for politicians who say that they are “personally” opposed to abortion, but are unwilling to “impose” their views on others.

On the question of Communion, he said, “Do you really need a cardinal from the Vatican to answer that?”

Cardinal Christian Tumi, archbishop emeritus of Douala, told LifeSiteNews around the same time that ministers of Holy Communion are “bound not to” give the Eucharist to Catholic politicians who support abortion.

Pro-life organizations across the world have said they share the pastoral concern for pro-abortion politicians. Fifty-two pro-life leaders from 16 nations at the recent Rome Life Forum called on the bishops of the Catholic Church to honor Canon 915 and withhold Communion from pro-abortion politicians as an act of love and mercy.

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‘His bones are basically like paper’: Parents refuse to abort baby with rare condition

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By Kirsten Anderson

At just 11 weeks old, little Layton Diven is not like other babies. Every time his parents pick him up or cuddle him, there is a chance they will break his bones. In fact, Layton has already suffered more than 20 fractures in his short life – beginning at the moment of his birth.

Layton has Osteogenesis Imperfecta (OI), a rare disease that makes his bones brittle and prone to breakage. There are several types of OI, and Layton’s type, OI Type III, is the most severe type found among infants. Most babies born with the disease, like Layton, are born with multiple fractures, especially along the rib cage. Many struggle to breathe or swallow. The incurable disease is progressive, so it will get worse as he gets older.

Layton was diagnosed with OI in the womb, but abortion wasn’t an option for his parents, Chad and Angela Diven, who considered their baby a gift from God, no matter his condition.

“We weren't going to have an abortion, so he was born with the disease,” Angela Diven told KSLA. “God chose me for him, to be his mom, so I have to take that huge responsibility and do what's best for him.”

That responsibility comes with a heavy price. Layton requires 24-hour care, but both Angela and Chad have full-time jobs. He can’t go to regular daycare, because it’s not safe for him.

“You can't just pick him up like a normal baby,” Diven said. “You can't dress him like a normal child; his bones are basically like paper. He can't go to daycare because of his condition. He's medically fragile, and a daycare can't handle him."

Childcare costs are just the beginning, though – the treatments Layton will need throughout his life are expensive and may not be covered by insurance.

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Layton is currently receiving pamidronate IV therapy, which will help to strengthen his bones. But in order to be able to stand or walk, he will need metal rods implanted in his legs – an operation that will cost the Divens $80,000. The OI specialist coordinating Layton’s care is in Omaha, Nebraska, while the Divens live in Louisiana. As he grows, Layton will also require special equipment, such as a wheelchair, along with extensive physical therapy.

Despite the hardships they knew would come, the Divens stepped out in faith to bring Layton into the world. Now, they are reaching out to the internet for help to shoulder the financial burdens that came with their baby blessing. The family has set up both a GoFundMe and a Facebook page called “Lifting Up Layton Diven,” where people can receive updates on Layton’s condition and contribute to the cost of his care.

To donate to baby Layton’s medical trust fund, click here.

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Cardinal Raymond Burke, prefect of the Vatican's Apostolic Signatura Steve Jalsevac / LifeSiteNews
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Sources confirm Cardinal Burke will be removed. But will he attend the Synod?

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By John-Henry Westen

Sources in Rome have confirmed to LifeSiteNews that Cardinal Raymond Burke, the head of the Vatican’s highest court, known as the Apostolic Signatura, is to be removed from his post as head of the Vatican dicastery and given a non-curial assignment as patron of the Order of Malta.

The timing of the move is key since Cardinal Burke is currently on the list to attend October’s Extraordinary Synod on the Family. He is attending in his capacity as head of one of the dicasteries of the Roman Curia, so if he is removed prior to the Synod it could mean he would not be able to attend.

Burke has been one of the key defenders in the lead-up to the Synod of the Church's traditional practice of withholding Communion from Catholics who are divorced and civilly remarried.

Most of the Catholic world first learned of the shocking development through Vatican reporter Sandro Magister, whose post ‘Exile to Malta for Cardinal Burke’ went out late last night.

If Burke’s removal from the Signatura is confirmed, said Magister, the cardinal “would not be promoted - as some are fantasizing in the blogosphere - to the difficult but prestigious see of Chicago, but rather demoted to the pompous - but ecclesiastically very modest - title of ‘cardinal patron’ of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, replacing the current head, Paolo Sardi, who recently turned 80.”

At 66, Cardinal Burke is still in his Episcopal prime.

The prominent traditional Catholic blog Rorate Caeli goes as far as to say, “It would be the greatest humiliation of a Curial Cardinal in living memory, truly unprecedented in modern times: considering the reasonably young age of the Cardinal, such a move would be, in terms of the modern Church, nothing short than a complete degradation and a clear punishment.”

On Tuesday, American traditionalist priest-blogger Fr. John Zuhlsdorf also hinted he had heard the move was underway. “I’ve been biting the inside of my mouth for a while now,” he wrote. “The optimist in me was saying that the official announcement would not be made until after the Synod of Bishops, or at least the beginning of the Synod. Or at all.”

“It’s not good news,” he added.

Both Magister and Zuhlsdorf predicted that the controversial move would unleash a wave of simultaneous jubilation from dissident Catholics and criticism from faithful Catholics. The decision to remove Cardinal Burke from his position on the Congregation for Bishops last December caused a public outpouring of concern and dismay from Catholic and pro-life leaders across the globe.

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Both men speculated on the reasons for the ouster. 

Magister pointed out that Burke is the latest in a line of ‘Ratzingerian’ prelates to undergo the axe.

“In his first months as bishop of Rome, pope Bergoglio immediately provided for the transfer to lower-ranking positions of three prominent curial figures: Cardinal Mauro Piacenza, Archbishop Guido Pozzo, and Bishop Giuseppe Sciacca, considered for their theological and liturgical sensibilities among the most ‘Ratzingerian’ of the Roman curia,” said Magister.

He added: “Another whose fate appears to be sealed is the Spanish archbishop of Opus Dei Celso Morga Iruzubieta.”

Fr. Zuhlsdorf observed that Pope Francis may also be shrinking the Curial offices and thus reducing the number of Cardinals needed to fill those posts. He adds however, “It would be naïve in the extreme to think that there are lacking near Francis’s elbows those who have been sharpening their knives for Card. Burke and for anyone else associated closely with Pope Benedict.” 

“This is millennial, clerical blood sport.”

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