OpinionMon Jun 25, 2012 - 1:40 pm EST
Affirming love, avoiding AIDS
June 25, 2012 (HLIAmerica.org) - It was a distressing report from the Center for Disease Control — a May 2012 update on HIV and AIDS among gay and bisexual men. The report details the degree of HIV/AIDS infection in the population of men who have sex with men (MSM).
Though the report is both startling and disturbing, I am compelled to first echo the Church’s teaching that unjust discrimination toward human beings, including those who have deep-seated homosexual inclinations, is never acceptable and most be decried wherever it occurs. Every human being should be treated with respect, his dignity honored, and his health and welfare protected and preserved. This is our obligation as Catholics.
Here are some of the sobering figures: Though they make up only 2 percent of the U.S. population, in 2009 MSM accounted for 61 percent of all new HIV infections in the United States and 79 percent of all infections among newly infected men. In 2010, this rate of diagnosis among MSM remained unchanged at 61 percent and 78 percent respectively.
By the end of 2009 there were an estimated 784,701 persons in the United States living with an HIV diagnosis and 51 percent of these were MSM. Similarly, 51 percent of AIDS diagnoses were among MSM. From 2006-09 infection rates of young men increased 34 percent. Nearly half of infections are in white males, while 30 percent are black/African American, and 19 percent are Hispanic. By the end of 2009, nearly 300,000 MSM had died from AIDS.
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In the United States, 2 percent of the population — those who engage in homosexual acts — account for 61 percent of all new HIV infections; 19 percent of this population is infected with HIV. This is truly startling and demands our attention. It is God’s words to Cain after he killed Abel that come to mind — “The voice of your brother’s blood is crying to me from the ground.”
We must respond to this cry. A dignified response to the HIV/AIDS crisis is a human response that encourages moral behavior. Pope Benedict XVI has repeatedly emphasized that a medical response is necessary but insufficient. Speaking of the crisis he says, “Above all, it is an ethical problem. The change of behavior that it requires — for example, sexual abstinence, rejection of sexual promiscuity … ultimately involves the question of integral development. … For if it is to be effective, the prevention of AIDS must be based on a sex education that is itself grounded in an anthropology anchored in the natural law and enlightened by the word of God and the Church’s teaching” (“Africae Munus,” No. 72).
In other words, chastity, abstinence and genuine friendship are essential. Somewhat surprisingly, the CDC report doesn’t entirely disagree with this, as it states that HIV is caused by the kind of behavior engaged in by homosexual men, and while condom use is recommended, the CDC goes so far as to warn against the riskiest acts stating that avoiding them are “the most effective ways to prevent HIV.”
Unfortunately the response of the federal government has not emphasized abstinence and chastity. The projected 2012 budget allocated 21.5 billion dollars to HIV/AIDS in the United States. Of that, only 1 billion is directed toward prevention. A survey of the organizations that receive these monies indicates that little if any funds are slotted for abstinence education. It is, quite simply, not a part of the federal government’s response to the crisis.
Favored is an approach that stresses “risk reduction” including condoms, counseling and testing rather than encouraging primary behavioral changes. The assumption seems to be that asking one to change his sexual behavior is unrealistic, and asks too much.
This is disastrously bad policy. As Matthew Hanley and Jokin de Irala noted in their book Affirming Love, Avoiding AIDS: What Africa Can Teach the West, “[F]rom a purely pragmatic point of view, there remain large and serious concerns about the practical impact and efficacy of risk reduction strategies.”
An authentic response to the HIV/AIDS crisis is neither discrimination nor enabling silence. We owe love that recognizes the dignity of the human person, respects the sexual act as God intended it and considers first the well-being of the other. A proper vision of sexuality must be encouraged and true friendship and compassion offered to those infected and those who struggle with deep-seated homosexual inclination.
This crisis begs for commitment to the moral law, respect for the inherent dignity of the person, and a greater recognition that each person is capable of choosing behavior that is both good for him and that allows for his flourishing.
‘Little miracles’: Mom gives birth to naturally-conceived quintuplets after refusing ‘selective reduction’
AUSTRALIA, February 5, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) -- A 26-year-old Australian mom has given birth to five healthy babies, all conceived naturally, after refusing the doctor’s advice that she must abort three of them in order to give the remaining two a better chance at life.
“After my initial ultrasound I was told I could consider the selection method to give 2 babies the best chance in life,” wrote mom Kim Tucci in a Facebook post last September.
“I watched a YouTube video on the procedure and I cried. I could never do that! Was I selfish for not giving two the chance of 100% survival? All I knew is that I already love them and that every heart beat I heard I connect with them more. For me life starts when a heart starts beating and all I know for sure is that I will do whatever it takes to bring them into this world healthy,” she wrote.
Last Thursday Kim and her husband Vaughn welcomed the five new members into their family — one boy and four girls —increasing the number of their children from 3 to 8. The babies were born at 30 weeks, 10 weeks early, due to insufficient space in Kim’s womb. They weighed on average about 2.5 pounds.
The quintuplets’ story began last March, after Kim and Vaughn had been trying for six months to conceive just one more child for their family. Due to health complications, Kim wondered if she would ever become a mother again.
After what she thought was an extra long cycle, she decided to take a pregnancy test.
“I was feeling tired and a little nauseated and thought I would take a pregnancy test just to get the ‘what if’ out of my head. To my shock and utter excitement it was positive,” she wrote on a Facebook post.
The parents got the shock of their lives when doctors confirmed in an ultrasound examination that there was not one baby, but five.
“After a long wait for the ultrasound we finally went in. The sonographer told me there were multiple gestational sacks, but she could only see a heart beat in two. I was so excited! Twins!”
“I was moved to another machine for a clearer view and had the head doctor come in and double check the findings. She started to count, one, two, three, four, five. Did i hear that correctly? Five? My legs start to shake uncontrollably and all i can do is laugh. The sonographer then told me the term for five is ‘quintuplets,’” Kim wrote.
Even though Kim began to feel stretched to the limit with all those human lives growing inside her, she chose to focus on her babies, and not herself, referring to them as “my five little miracles.”
“It's getting harder as each day passes to push through the pain, every part of my body aches and sleeping is becoming very painful. No amount of pillows are helping support my back and belly. Sometimes I get so upset that I just want to throw my hands up and give in.”
“Sometimes my pelvis becomes so stiff I can barely walk and my hips feel like they are grinding away constantly. I'm finding it hard to eat as I basically have no room left in my stomach, and the way it is positioned it's pushed all the way back with the babies leaning against it.”
“My skin on my belly is so stretched its painful and hot to touch. It literally feels like I have hives! No amount of cream helps relieve the discomfort. I have a lot of stretch marks now. Dealing with such a huge change in my body is hard.”
“Is it all worth it? Yes!!!! I will keep pushing through,” she wrote in one Facebook post days before the babies were born.
The newborns' names are Keith, Ali, Penelope, Tiffany, and Beatrix. They were born at King Edward Memorial Hospital in Subiaco, Western Australia. Mother and babies are reported to be doing well.
UN rights chief tells Catholic countries to legalize abortion over Zika virus: bishops and cardinal react
GENEVA, February 5, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) -- The United Nations, following the lead of international abortion activists, is now urging Latin American countries hit by the mosquito-borne Zika virus to lift restrictions on abortion for pregnant women who have contacted the virus and whose pre-born children may be at risk for birth defects, including having smaller than normal heads.
The UN human rights office said today that it is not enough for South American countries to urge women to postpone pregnancy without also offering them abortion as a final solution.
“How can they ask these women not to become pregnant, but not offer… the possibility to stop their pregnancies?” UN spokeswoman Cecile Pouilly told reporters.
UN human rights chief Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein said that governments should make available contraception and abortion services.
“Laws and policies that restrict (women’s) access to these services must be urgently reviewed in line with human rights obligations in order to ensure the right to health for all in practice,” he said.
But Brazil’s bishops strongly asserted yesterday that efforts should be made to eradicate the virus, not the people who may be infected by it.
The disease is “no justification whatsoever to promote abortion,” they said in a statement, adding that it is not morally acceptable to promote abortion “in the cases of microcephaly, as, unfortunately, some groups are proposing to the Supreme Federal Court, in a total lack of respect for the gift of life.”
Honduras Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga has also come out strongly against the notion of “therapeutic abortions” as a response to the problem. Unlike Brazil where abortion is legal in the case of rape or health of the mother, abortion remains entirely illegal in Honduras.
“We should never talk about ‘therapeutic’ abortion,” the cardinal said in a homily at a February 3 Mass in Suyap. “Therapeutic abortion doesn’t exist. Therapeutic means curing, and abortion cures nothing. It takes innocent lives,” he said.
While the World Health Organization (WHO) declared an international public health emergency February 1 on account of concerns over the virus, critics have pointed out, however, that not one death as resulted from the virus. Even on WHO’s own website the virus is described in mild terms.
“It causes mild fever and rash. Other symptoms include muscle pain, joint pain, headache, pain behind the eyes and conjunctivitis. Zika virus disease is usually mild, with symptoms lasting only a few days,” the website states. “To date, there have been no reported deaths associated with Zika virus,” it added.
Critics suspect that the crisis is being manipulated to advance an anti-human agenda on the pre-born.
“Is Zika, actually, a hideous virus that threatens to spread uncontrollably across the world creating an army of disabled children with tiny heads and low IQ’s? Or might this be a willful misinterpretation of the scarce data to manipulate public opinion and legislatures?” wrote pro-life critic Mei-Li Garcia earlier this week.
“It becomes very clear that the publicity surrounding this story has a very little to do with medicine and a lot to do with a convenient crisis that is being used by those pushing for the legalization of abortion around the world,” she wrote.
Hillary’s litmus test for Supreme Court picks: They must ‘preserve Roe v. Wade’
DERRY, NH, February 5, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) - Hillary Clinton has a litmus test for Supreme Court nominees - several, in fact. At a Democratic event on Wednesday, Clinton unveiled her criteria in selecting a judge for the nation's highest court.
“I do have a litmus test, I have a bunch of litmus tests," she said.
"We’ve got to make sure to preserve Roe v. Wade, not let it be nibbled away or repealed,” she said.
That echoes her recent call to arms speech before Planned Parenthood last month, when she stated that taxpayers must fund abortion-on-demand in order to uphold the "right" of choice.
“We have to preserve marriage equality,” Clinton said, referring to last summer's Obergefell v. Hodges case, a 5-4 ruling that redefined marriage nationwide. “We have to go further to end discrimination against the LGBT community."
Her views differentiate her from the Republican front runners. Ted Cruz has called the court's marriage ruling "fundamentally illegitimate," and Donald Trump told Fox News Sunday this week that he would "be very strong on putting certain judges on the bench that I think maybe could change things." Marco Rubio has said he won't "concede" the issue to the one-vote majority.
All Republican presidential hopefuls say they are pro-life and will defund Planned Parenthood.
Her husband, Bill Clinton, raised the makeup of the Supreme Court early last month in New Hampshire, saying it receives "almost no attention" as a campaign issue.
On Wednesday, Hillary said "the next president could get as many as three appointments. It’s one of the many reasons why we can’t turn the White House over to the Republicans again.”
Clinton said her judicial appointees must also reverse the Citizens United ruling on campaign finance and oppose a recent decision striking down a portion of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. In 2013's Shelby County v. Holder, justices struck down Section 4(b) of the act, which said that certain states and jurisdictions had to obtain permission from the federal government before changing their voting laws.
At one time, most politicians frowned upon any "litmus test" for judicial nominees, emphasizing the independence of the third branch of government. "I don't believe in litmus tests," Jeb Bush told Chuck Todd last November.
But with the rise of an activist judiciary in the middle of the 20th century, constitutionalists have sought to rein in the power of the bench.