John Jalsevac

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Obama joins Cardinal Dolan/Romney at Al Smith Dinner: pro-life leaders react

John Jalsevac
John Jalsevac
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October 19, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) – President Obama and Mitt Romney traded barbs and shared a meal with Cardinal Timothy Dolan last night at the lavish Al Smith Dinner – an annual Catholic charities fundraiser that this year was dogged by controversy over the question of whether the president should have been invited.

Many pro-life activists opposed Obama’s presence, citing fears that the light-hearted tone of the evening as well as the inevitable photo-op of the president yucking it up with the cardinal risked leaving the impression that all is amicable between the Catholic Church and the Democratic candidate. Dolan stated about the two candidates, “I’m privileged to be in the company of two honorable men, both called to the noble vocation of public service, whose love for God and country is surpassed only by their love for their own wives and children…”

The photo-op occurred as predicated, with various news media posting photos of the three laughing participants, similar to photos in the New York Times, the NY Daily News and the Associated Press, its syndicated photo being posted on the prominent Politico website.

At the center of the controversy is the president’s HHS birth control mandate which many, including the country’s Catholic bishops, have slammed as an unprecedented attack on religious freedom, as well as his extreme pro-abortion views and support for gay ‘marriage.’

Priests for Life’s Fr. Frank Pavone, Judie Brown of American Life League, and Monica Migliorino Miller, the Director of Citizens for a Pro-Life Society, were among those who publicly criticized the decision to invite Obama.

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But at the dinner itself any controversy took a back seat, the event mostly staying true to its traditional character – with Obama roasting his opponent in a light-hearted and self-deprecating speech, and vice versa.

Romney, however, took a notably more aggressive approach, at one point reminding attendees of the president’s strained relationship with the Catholic Church, joking, “the President has found out a way to take out the sting of the Obamacare mandates for the Church. From now on they’re going to be in Latin.”

Shortly before this the Republican candidate had mentioned “differences” between Obama and Dolan, suggesting that attendees would know if there were “no hard feelings” if Obama’s water turned into wine.

In his concluding remarks, Romney again hinted at the HHS birth control mandate controversy, thanking the Al Smith foundation for its work “in defense of the rights of conscience and in solidarity with the innocent child waiting to be born.” This last line earned Romney a sustained applause.

For his part, Obama steered clear of any reference to his difficulties with the Church. At one point, however, after acknowledging the “extraordinary work that is done by the Catholic Church,” the president went on to quote Scripture, saying, “tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope” - a scriptural choice that left one of the country’s top Catholic media personalities scratching his head.

EWTN’s Raymond Arroyo, host of The World Over, noted the remark, tweeting, “In light of HHS mandate, seems an odd citation.”

In the days before the dinner, the New York Post had quoted an anonymous source “close to Dolan” suggesting that the Cardinal wasn’t entirely comfortable with his decision to invite Obama. “He knows the president wants this for one reason, and that’s the photo,” the source claimed.

But if the cardinal had any qualms, he didn’t show it last night. In his concluding remarks, the cardinal, who has been in the thick of the charge against the HHS mandate, defended the event, saying, “might I suggest that this annual dinner actually shows America and the Church at their best?

“Here we are: in an atmosphere of civility and humor, hosted by a Church which claims that ‘joy is the infallible sign of God’s presence;’ men and women; young and old; of every ethnic and racial background.”

Dolan went on to mention Al Smith’s conviction that government should be on the side of the “uns” – the unemployed, the unhoused, the unfed, and the “un-wed mother, and her innocent, fragile un-born baby in her womb.”

Reactions to the dinner among pro-life leaders have been largely muted. Deal Hudson, the founder of Catholic Advocate who served previously as the director of Catholic outreach for George W. Bush’s campaign, told LifeSiteNews that he thinks the dinner “will either have zero impact on the election, or it will be to [Obama’s] detriment.”

“The media attention to this event did nothing but underscore the contrast of Obama’s pro-abortion position with the teaching of the Catholic Church and, particularly, with Cardinal Dolan,” he said.

Hudson pointed to the “loud applause and cheering” that erupted when Cardinal Dolan mentioned the unborn, which, he said, “tells you the audience was waiting for the pro-life message to be delivered in Obama’s presence.”

Jill Stanek, a popular pro-life blogger and activist, said that after watching the speeches she was undecided about the event. “I understand the view that Obama should not have been invited to speak, that to give him the podium could be viewed as giving him tacit approval,” she said. “I held that view before watching the speeches on t.v. and catching the vibe. I may still hold that view; I’m persuadable.”

Fr. Frank Pavone, however, said he believes the dinner was ultimately harmful. “No doubt, the Obama campaign will use his presence at the dinner to say, ‘Look, I’m not attacking the works of the Catholic Church. On the contrary, I’ve helped raise money for them,’” Pavone told LifeSiteNews. “Meanwhile, the actions of his Administration continue to threaten the very survival of Catholic institutions.”

Pavone said he believes in “respectful dialogue” with those with whom Priests for Life disagrees, pointing to some of his friendships with pro-abortion activists. But, he said, “We just seek to do it in ways that minimize the chances that it will be exploited for the political gain of those on the other side of the disagreement.”

“Engage Obama respectfully, yes, but don’t use him for fundraising or let him use us by claiming credit for the fundraising.”


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Ben Johnson Ben Johnson Follow Ben

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African denounces Western elites pushing population control in his country

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By Ben Johnson

An op-ed in one of the leading publications in Uganda has denounced the promotion of IUD use and other long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARCs) in the nation as a colonialist form of population control.

An article published in New Vision, which bills itself as “Uganda's leading daily,” and which was posted online after being translated into broken English, contradicts the frequent claim that there is a desperate cry from Africans and brown people generally to provide the “unmet need” for contraception in the Third World.

Programs to convince African women to use the IUD or other forms of contraception “are projects of multibillion international agencies distributing them under the guise of helping the poor countries to control birth rates,” Stephen Wabomba wrote.

The use of the IUD leads to an increase in “the spread of STIs/HIV/AIDS, infections or increased rates of Pelvic Infection Diseases (PID),” and other maladies, he said. The IUD, which is inserted into the uterus and may work for years at a time, offers no protection against sexually transmitted diseases and often does not prevent fertilization.

Western governments and NGOs are very much “aware of the side effect[s] but still force them on us through sensational marketing strategies by claiming that there is unmet need” for contraception “in Uganda,” he wrote.

He instead suggested the use of Natural Family Planning methods as the “best alternative” for married couples, as well as increased “funding of chastity and abstinence education in Uganda.”

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He called on every citizen of Uganda “to stand up and be counted as a lover of life” and become a “protector of the voiceless and defenseless unborn children being aborted every day.”

Wabomba is heeding his own advice by acting as director of the Pregnancy Help Center in Jinja, the second largest city in Uganda. The town of 87,000 is perched on the shores of Lake Victoria.


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UN tells Chile and Peru to legalize abortion

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By Guilherme Ferreira Araújo

On July 7 and 8, the United Nations Human Rights Commission (UNHCR) discussed Chile’s abortion laws and issued a report asking for liberalization of those laws.

According to the report, Chile “should establish exceptions to the general prohibition of abortion, contemplating therapeutic abortion and in those cases in which the pregnancy is a consequence of a rape or incest.”

Chile is one of the few countries that prohibits abortion in all cases.  So far, the country has managed to stand against internal and external pressure to legalize abortion.

But during her campaign, President Michele Bachelet promised to make the legalization of abortion a priority.  Indeed, last May she stated that her intention was to reopen the debate so that the government could approve therapeutic abortion before the end of this year.  The U.N. report also said that Chile “should make sure that reproductive health services are accessible to all women and adolescents."

One of the reasons the UN is using to pressure Chile’s government to change their abortion laws is the high number of clandestine abortions allegedly taking place in Chile. The UNHRC points to “official data” showing 150,000 annual clandestine abortions. However, not only is it impossible to corroborate that figure, but other sources show that this number could be exaggerated by a factor of 10.  According to an article published in the Chilean news publication, Chile B, the annual number of clandestine abortions in Chile may vary between 8,270 and 20,675.

Inflating the number of illegal abortions and maternal mortality is a common tactic of the pro-abortion movement’s effort to legalize the deadly practice. Dr. Bernard Nathanson, founder of the National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL), famously admitted the tactic after becoming pro-life.

“We claimed that between five and ten thousand women a year died of botched abortions,” he said. "The actual figure was closer to 200 to 300 and we also claimed that there were a million illegal abortions a year in the United States and the actual figure was close to 200,000. So, we were guilty of massive deception."

Chile has also been used as a prime example that legalized abortion does not reduce maternal mortality.

A study published in 2012 by Plos One Institute found that since 1989 when Chile banned abortion, there has been an annual decrease in maternal death. That study, and others compiled and published by the Chilean MELISA Institute strongly challenge the myth that abortion is safe or even necessary to increase maternal health.

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Notwithstanding the empirical data, the United Nations is also hard at work to pressure Chile’s neighbor to the North, Peru, to liberalize its own abortion laws.  In the case of Peru it is the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) that has issued the report, not the UNHRC.  CEDAW representatives examined Peru’s case on July 1 and suggested that Peru should legalize abortion in case of rape and severe abnormalities of the unborn child.

The organism suggested that the government eliminate all laws that punish women who abort and asked that Peru “urgently” adopt a law to fight violence against women, a notion often used as a euphemism for legalizing abortion.  

The CEDAW commission presented the conclusions of the report on July 22 and put special emphasis on the abortion issue. This happens despite the strong opposition to abortion in Peru. A recent survey showed that 79 percent of Peruvians support the Catholic Church’s position on abortion.

The CEDAW pressure on Peru is not new. In 2011, after the UN sanctioned Peru for denying an abortion to a teenager, Carlos Polo, Director of the Population Research Institute’s Latin American office, stated that the UN organism doesn’t have the right to force Peru to approve abortion.


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People ask me all the time, “How do you live with your past?” My answer is silly, but it is a true story. Youtube screenshot
Abby Johnson Abby Johnson Follow Abby

I helped so many women abort their babies. Now how do I live with that?

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By Abby Johnson
Abby Johnson business card Planned Parenthood

I have many memories of my time with Planned Parenthood. I spent eight years of my life there. Some memories are good, some are not. But they are contained in my mind. It’s easy to forget them. I have forgotten so much about my time there in just four and a half short years. 

I found my old business card the other day. That is a tangible memory for me. It made me think of the day that I heard I had been promoted to direct the clinic. I was so happy…hugging and jumping up and down with my supervisor. She was so proud of me.

I thought about the day I moved everything into my new, big office. I put pro-choice stickers all over my file cabinet. I called my parents to share the news. They were, of course, proud of me, but hated my work. I can’t imagine how conflicted they were in their minds and hearts. Human resources sent me my new paperwork. There was my new title, my new and amazing salary. 

A few days later, my new business cards came. I remember putting them in my new business card holder on my desk. I filled up the business card holder that I kept in my purse. I had already become used to hearing myself say my new title.

I was proud of myself. I was proud of the hard work I had put in to earn that new title. I worked so many hours, sacrificed so much time from my family. But I knew it would be worth it. And now I had the job title to prove it.

I remember proudly passing out my new business cards to anyone that would take one. Being pro-choice was not just a movement to me; it was a lifestyle. I wholeheartedly embraced that lifestyle and loved being a part of it. 

These tangible reminders that I occasionally find are sometimes hard to work through. I remember receiving the records from my medication abortion. That tangible reminder of my past was difficult to manage. I look at my “Employee of the Year” award that I received from Planned Parenthood and think back to the night I received it. I ended up putting that old award on my desk as a reminder of where I came from and how much my life has changed. Seeing that plaque no longer brings back those tangible memories. 

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One of the reasons I was so taken aback when finding my old business card was not just because it was a reminder of how proud I had been to run an abortion clinic…something I find deplorable now. It was because of the things I took part in while I had that big title.

The memories of handing women small monetary checks in order to pay for their silence after we had left them with a serious infection after their abortion. The memories of watching women bleed out on our abortion table and being instructed not to call the ambulance because we didn’t want to let the pro-lifers know that we had a medical emergency. The memories I have of “joking” about the babies that died in our facility by abortion. The memories I have of training our abortion facility employees on the “normalcy” of abortion and how to convince women that abortion is the best choice for them.

Part of being a former abortion clinic worker is learning how to deal with your past sin. It may be the lady who came to your clinic for an abortion that you bump into at the store. It could be standing in front of your former abortion facility and remembering all of the damage your words and actions did to so many women. It could be finding that old business card that reminds you of the pride you felt when you became the director of an abortion facility. 

People ask me all the time, “How do you live with your past?” My answer is silly, but it is a true story. 

One day I was watching the kid’s movie “Kung Fu Panda” with my daughter. In the film there is a wise, old tortoise named Oogway. He is talking to one of his students who is frustrated with his current situation. Oogway asks his student, “Do you know why today is called the present? Because it is a gift.”

That little line by an animated tortoise hit me like a ton of bricks. Today is a gift. There is absolutely nothing we can do with our past. And there is very little we can do to control our future. We live NOW. We serve NOW. We choose to move on from our past NOW. 

I don’t know what your past sins are. And I don’t know how frequently you are reminded of them. But as someone who has to face their past sins on pretty much a daily basis, I can tell you that you can be free from their burden. Being reminded of your past doesn’t mean that you have to live with constant grief. It simply means that you have been given the opportunity to transform your past into something positive…maybe you can help others make different choices than you did, maybe you can help others heal from the same struggles that you lived through. I don’t know what you are being called to do, but as the saying goes, “God can turn our mess into a message.” 

Carrying around past burdens doesn’t help us in any way. Know that you can be forgiven. Accept that forgiveness. Use your life to help others. The present is indeed a gift.

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