John Westen

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Germany, the morning-after pill, and the Catholic Church: Media and scientific manipulation

John Westen
John Westen
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COLOGNE, Germany, February 7, 2013, (LifeSiteNews.com) - A drama has been unfolding in Germany over the last month that has seen the leading conservative prelate in the country, Cologne’s Cardinal Joachim Meisner, seem to suggest that it is permissible in Catholic hospitals to administer the morning-after pill (MAP) to rape victims. The Bishops of Germany will be discussing the matter further at their next plenary meeting later this month.

MEDIA MANIPULATION

The story begins with a hard case which was trumpeted with selective facts in the media, manipulating sentiments and causing a national uproar. Headlines which exploded across the country and internationally read “Rape victim turned away by Catholic hospitals.”

After a party, a young woman found herself on a park bench wondering how she got there. The use of a date rape drug was suspected, so the 25-year-old went to an emergency clinic and was prescribed the MAP. Since rape was suspected, she was sent to hospital for a gynecological examination and in the process two Catholic hospitals refused, referring her to alternative hospitals.

But leaving the story there without further explanation, as the mainstream media did, painted a false picture resulting in public outrage.

Sophia Kuby of European Dignity Watch revealed the full story. Catholic hospitals refer her elsewhere, because the Health Ministry insisted that those hospitals offering treatment for rape must provide the abortifacient MAP. Knowing that hospitals that administer MAP must perform their own exams, Catholic hospitals would rather spare already traumatized women from having to have multiple invasive exams. Thus, referring them to hospitals which would comply with the state mandate to offer abortifacient drugs was necessary.

The national outcry against the Church, which came thanks to misleading media reports, prompted multiple press releases from Cardinal Meisner and also other bishops in the country.

A January 22 release had the Cardinal apologizing, noting that Catholics were “deeply ashamed” and that the turning away of the rape victim should never have happened. He said Catholic hospitals should indeed offer care to rape victims, including the needed gynecological exams.

He added, however, that they could not cause the abortion of an already conceived child. He said he understood that such a stance is difficult to accept in the face of such difficult circumstances but that protection of human life is an absolute.

SCIENTIFIC MANIPULATION

second release from the Cardinal which seemed to give approval for Catholic hospitals to use MAPs for rape victims came after the Cardinal received misleading scientific advice. The Cardinal said he was informed that new research suggests conclusively that the method of action of MAP is not abortifacient – that it does not cause the already conceived embryo to be unable to implant in the uterus (a post-fertilization effect).

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However, the study he was presented with, was anything but objective. It was authored by a physician advisor to a pharmaceutical company that manufactures MAPs, as the author admits at the end of the paper. A physician who reviewed the paper for LifeSiteNews.com noted that, the review of the research focuses mainly on those studies which found no evidence for post-fertilization effects.

Adding to the confusion, was the abortion-backing German society of obstetricians/gynecologists, which pounced on the opportunity to “affirm” the Cardinal in his statement on the EC pills not being abortifacient.

There are however numerous other studies and even MAP manufacturers that admit that the MAPs do have post-fertilization effects – in other words -- are indeed abortifacient.

The most objective view of the situation admits that there are studies giving evidence both ways. Some suggest post-fertilization effects and some don't ,depending on the hormone used and the time administered.

This view comes not from pro-life activists but from the leading researcher in the area, James Trussell, in a review released only this month. Trussel is by no means a pro-life activist. He is an avid proponent of contraception, MAP included. In his recent review of the literature, Trussell summarizes: “To make an informed choice, women must know that [emergency contraception pills]… prevent pregnancy primarily by delaying or inhibiting ovulation and inhibiting fertilization, but may at times inhibit implantation of a fertilized egg in the endometrium.”

NO TO ABORTIFACIENTS, NOW AND ALWAYS

Despite the indication that administration of MAP may be possible, in that second release the Cardinal says plainly that no abortifacient (a drug having the possibility of causing the already conceived child not to be able to implant) may be used in Catholic hospitals even for cases of rape.

To those who would argue for the use of abortifacients by suggesting embryos often fail to implant in nature without intervention, the Cardinal responds: “Termination of a human life by nature is called a natural phenomenon. Its deliberate imitation is called manslaughter.”

Should the action of the EC pills be purely contraceptive – preventing ovulation from occurring thus blocking conception – then Cardinal Meisner deems them acceptable for use in rape cases. “If a medication that hinders conception is used after a rape with the purpose of avoiding fertilization, then this is acceptable in my view,” he said.

The German bishops will be convening in a plenary session later this month, and the matter of MAPs is up for discussion. That discussion will no doubt be influenced by researchers with greater objectivity and also by consultation with Vatican guidelines on the matter.

An authoritative Vatican document on MAP was issued by the Pontifical Academy for Life (PAV) in 2000. That document condemned MAPs as akin to “chemical abortion” and “absolutely” unlawful.

The document was however questioned by theologians since it did not address the use of the MAP in cases of rape.

In 2008, LifeSiteNews interviewed the head of the PAV, and he confirmed the use of MAPs were not permissible even in cases of rape. Asked if there was an exception for rape cases in terms of Catholic hospitals being able to administer MAPs, Bishop Elio Sgreccia replied, "No. It is not able to prevent the rape. But it is able to eliminate the embryo.”

In the final analysis, no Catholic bishop would allow for MAP at Catholic hospitals if he believed it would have an abortifacient effect.

Even the chance of it causing an abortion would be enough to rule it out, because in a case where there is uncertainty in a matter of life and death, the Church teaches that one must err on the side of caution – the side of protecting life.

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A protester rallies against Hobby Lobby, protesting against the Supreme Court decision Dan Holm/Shutterstock
Dustin Siggins Dustin Siggins Follow Dustin

DNC chairwoman exhorts constituents to boycott local Hobby Lobby store

Dustin Siggins Dustin Siggins Follow Dustin
By Dustin Siggins

The Supreme Court's Hobby Lobby decision was nearly two months ago, but the issue as hot as ever, as was demonstrated yesterday when Democratic National Committee chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schulz, D-FL, urged constituents to boycott a Hobby Lobby store in her district.

In a press conference one lot away from the Hobby Lobby location in Davie, which opened in April, Wasserman-Schultz said that she wanted "people to know that this Hobby Lobby is here and they should vote with their purses and their pocketbooks, and women should not shop here."

"If you didn’t know this Hobby Lobby was here before, know it now and don’t shop here. They don’t deserve women’s business because they are the ones that all across the country have made it harder for women to get access to birth control,” she said.

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Wasserman-Schultz said that Hobby Lobby's corporate ownership "doesn’t support its employees" and "wants to be able to get in the personal business of their employees and make health care decisions and replace their own values, replace their employees’ health care decisions, with their values…."

She also criticized the Supreme Court's late June decision in favor of Hobby Lobby, which had sued the federal government over the Obama administration's HHS Mandate.

The Green family, which owns Hobby Lobby, say it violates their conscience to pay for coverage for the four abortifacients and potential abortifacients that the mandate required them to cover.

"The Supreme Court’s decision in the Hobby Lobby case was not only disappointing, it was dangerous," said the Democrat. "No boss should have the right to dictate and employee’s health decisions because [they] don’t belong in the bedrooms, doctor’s offices or pharmacies of their employees.

"A woman and her doctor know what’s best for their body. Not an insurance company. Not a politician. And certainly not a manager at a Hobby Lobby."

The Supreme Court's decision allowed closely held corporations to not fund coverage of contraception or abortion drugs and devices.

Wasserman-Schultz's office did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

Through a spokesperson, the Green family declined to comment about the Congresswoman's statements. 

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America is rejecting abortion because pro-lifers are having more children: study

Kirsten Andersen Kirsten Andersen Follow Kirsten
By Kirsten Anderson

According to a new Northwestern University study, American attitudes about abortion are trending more conservatively than other contentious social issues, a phenomenon the authors credit to the simple fact that pro-lifers have more kids.

“We find evidence that the abortion attitudes have lagged behind a liberalizing trend of other correlated attitudes,” the authors wrote. Using GSS data collected between 1977 and 2010, “We test[ed] the hypothesis that the comparatively high fertility of pro-life individuals has led to a more pro-life population.”

The authors wrote: “Support for abortion rights has turned flat after a period of increase following Roe v. Wade, and in recent years there are even indications of a reversal toward more restrictive attitudes. This U-turn is evinced particularly among younger cohorts, and is happening despite liberalizing trends in several ostensibly related issue domains.”

The authors speculated that the reason for the increase in pro-life attitudes among young people is that their parents had more children than their pro-abortion counterparts. When they examined the data, they found that pro-life individuals had, on average, 27 percent more children than those who considered themselves “pro-choice.”

Not only that, but pro-life parents appear to be much more likely to pass their views on to their children. The researchers found that the younger generation’s pro-life shift was too strong to be blamed solely on differences in fertility – meaning children of pro-abortion parents are rejecting their parents’ views.

“[E]ither pro-life beliefs are always more faithfully transmitted than pro-choice ones; or, there has been a cultural shift towards more pro-life beliefs that is being reflected in the parent-child correlations,” the authors wrote.

The study concluded that if it wasn’t for the higher fertility rate among pro-life people, the nation as a whole would favor abortion by about five percentage points more than it does currently – and researchers predict the pro-life trend will continue.

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“Taken together, these findings suggest that fertility has had at least some part in leading the population in a more pro-life direction over time,” the authors wrote. “Further investigation into this pattern indicates that not only are abortion attitudes associated with fertility, but in proportional terms—which is what matters for cultural change—the gap is widening.”

“Fertility has declined for both pro-choice and pro-life groups over the past 30 years, but fertility has declined far less markedly for pro-life individuals,” they added. “Whereas pro-[life] individuals born before 1940 were only having about 1.2 children per one child born to a pro-choice parent, this ratio has grown to over 1.5 for those born in the mid to late 1970s. This pattern suggests that future cohorts may place an even stronger demographic drag on the liberalization of abortion attitudes.”

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A declaration that PP is an 'enemy of the Church' would mean that Catholics who work with, advocate for, or support Planned Parenthood, incur automatic excommunication. American Life League
Lisa Bourne

New campaign asks Pope Francis to declare Planned Parenthood an ‘enemy of the Church’

Lisa Bourne
By Lisa Bourne

The Catholic pro-life organization American Life League (ALL) is launching a campaign calling for the Catholic Church to declare Planned Parenthood an “enemy of the Church.”

Using prayer and education, ALL’s Defend the Family campaign seeks to expose the nation’s largest abortion provider for contribution to the destruction of human lives, as well as the family. 

The campaign, said Jim Sedlack, vice-president of ALL, is quite simply “a way of calling attention to the fact that this is a very bad organization.”

“Planned Parenthood is attacking the family, either by killing preborn children or by robbing the souls of the older children,” he said. 

A declaration that PP is an “enemy of the Church” would mean that Catholics who work with, advocate for, or support Planned Parenthood, incur automatic excommunication.

Such a declaration would not be unprecedented. Popes in the past have identified and condemned organizations that posed a grave threat to the Church, most recently Pope Pius XII in 1949 with Communism and Pope Clement XII in 1738 with Freemasonry.

While specifics would depend on the wording of the Papal pronouncement, Sedlak told LifeSiteNews if the Holy Father makes the declaration there would be no mistaking its intent.

“When the pope makes the declaration it becomes crystal clear,” Sedlak said. “There’ll be no shades of gray, it’ll be black and white, it’ll be clear to the world.”

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'Now is the time'

There are still people who are not fully aware of the extent of the societal damage inflicted by Planned Parenthood, said Sedlak, including members of the Church hierarchy. He said it’s important to emphasize the truth of what the abortion giant does.

“That’s why we’re focusing on the enemy,” said Sedlak. “When people really stop and focus on Planned Parenthood, they realize it’s the enemy.”

ALL cites Planned Parenthood’s targeting of children to sexualize them as a major cause of the destruction of the family and a fundamental reason for the Defend the Family campaign.

“They really push for getting young people into lives of sexual sin,” Sedlak said. “Young people who aren’t pulled into sexual activity do not provide a cent of income to Planned Parenthood, but young people who are pulled in provide millions of dollars to the Planned Parenthood empire.”

ALL compiled a comprehensive report on Planned Parenthood titled, “The Vatican can help save souls from Planned Parenthood,” as part of the Defend the Family campaign.

“The document builds the case,” said Sedlak. “Why Planned Parenthood, why now is the time.”

Sedlak told LifeSiteNews that for its part Planned Parenthood has always recognized that its greatest enemy is the Catholic Church, even working to have the Church lose its status at the UN.

“They fight anybody who wants to take sex away from the kids in any way possible,” Sedlak said. “That’s one reason why Planned Parenthood is the sex mafia.”

And when Sedlak uses the term “mafia,” he means it literally, pointing out that the Holy Father condemned the mafia in his June 21, 2014, homily in Calabria, Italy, denouncing its, “Adoration of evil and contempt for the common good.”

“Planned Parenthood kills far more people than the mafia,” Sedlak said.

Also underscoring the need for the Vatican to act on declaring Planned Parenthood an enemy of the Church, is the convening of the Extraordinary Synod on the Family this October in Rome, which will lead into the general synod in 2015.

Sedlak told LifeSiteNews that these, along with the 2015 World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia, are events that ALL will rally around to raise awareness of the Defend the Family campaign.

Preliminary response to the campaign has been very positive, he said.

Sedlak told LifeSiteNews that the “Vatican can help save souls from Planned Parenthood” report was so well received upon initial presentation to Vatican officials, that ALL was asked to translate it into three more languages.

“The support we’ve gotten from talking to bishops has been overwhelming,” Sedlak said.

Prayer is priority #1

The Defend the Family campaign consists first and foremost of prayer, Sedlak told LifeSiteNews.

“Our approach is that we need prayer support,” he said. “The only way that we’re going to succeed is through prayer to the Blessed Mother; the only way it will succeed is if God wants it to succeed.”

Participants are asked to say regular prayers after Mass, to offer prayers for the pope and to initiate communication with local bishops about the dangers that Planned Parenthood poses to the faithful.

Sedlak also added that The Defend the Family campaign is for everyone, not just Catholics.

He said pro-life supporters of all faith traditions are invited to contact ALL for assistance in encouraging their religious denomination or church leader to declare Planned Parenthood an enemy.

In addition to prayers for the campaign, ALL is asking people to sign and submit ALL’s Declaration of Encouragement to the Holy Father, enroll in the Spiritual Bouquet for the Holy Father and to share ALL resources on Planned Parenthood.

Information, links and resources are available on the campaign website, defendthefamily.org.

Sedlak told LifeSiteNews that ALL is giving the success of the Defend the Family campaign up to God.

“This is all happening in God’s time, and so far he’s been blessing us mightily,” Sedlak said. “And we’re going to go wherever God takes us.”

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