Sarah Terzo

Opinion

Lies, pressure, negativity: what passes for ‘counseling’ at Planned Parenthood, abortion clinics

Sarah Terzo
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February 15, 2013 (LiveActionNews.org) - Pro-life activists have tried to put laws in place requiring counselors at abortion clinics to give factual information to women considering abortions. Many of these laws say that a woman must be offered detailed facts about the development of her unborn baby, information on resources in the community that are available if she carries the baby to term, and physical and emotional risks of the procedure. Planned Parenthood and other pro-choice groups adamantly oppose these laws. They oppose them even when it is not mandatory for the woman to see this information, but she would simply be offered the CHOICE to view it.

A Georgia Planned Parenthood director named Kay Scott summarize the abortion giant’s position on informed consent when she said:

“Supporters of the Woman’s Right to Know bill say it would allow time for reflection, but this bill is really about deception. …women already receive full informed consent before having an abortion…..”(1)

However, when speaking with post-abortion women, a theme that is repeated again and again is the fact that so few of them were given factual and unbiased information about the risks of abortion and the development of the unborn baby. Some were outright lied to – others received biased counseling or no counseling at all.

Several studies have testified to this:

According to a survey publicized in David Reardon’s book Aborted Women: Silent No more, out of 252 women who experienced post-abortion trauma:

  • 66% said their counselor’s advice was biased
  • 40 to 60% described themselves as not having been certain of their decision prior to counseling
  • 44% stated they were actively hoping to find an option other than abortion during counseling
  • 5% reported that they were encouraged to ask questions
  • 52 to 71% felt the questions were inadequately answered, sidestepped, or trivialized
  • 90% said they were not given enough information to make an informed decision
  • 83% said it was very likely that they would’ve chosen differently if they had not been so strongly encouraged to abort by others, including their abortion counselors
  • 95% of women who had abortions at Planned Parenthood said that their Planned Parenthood counselors gave “…little or no biological information about the fetus which the abortion would destroy”(2)

From a review on the psychological effects of abortion by researcher Catherine Barnard who examined a number of different studies on abortion and informed consent:

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“Several empirical studies in the U.S. have indicated the deficiencies of current abortion counseling practices with the majority of respondents reporting insufficient information provided by the abortion counselor; insensitive, unhelpful abortion clinic personnel, with respect to providing assistance in decision-making, and the provision of misinformation, thereby contributing to increased anxiety, confusion and levels of post-abortion depression and hostility.”(3)

In one incident, a young woman named Alicia went to Planned Parenthood to see if she was pregnant. She arrived for the pregnancy test with her husband and mother, yet when it came time to see the pregnancy counselor, she was ordered to go in alone and to leave her support people behind. According to Alicia, the clinic worker then asked her if she intended to have an abortion. Alicia indicated that she would want to keep her baby.

“You can be honest with me, are you being forced to keep it against your will?” I said, “Absolutely not. I wasn’t expecting to get pregnant so quickly, but if I am pregnant I want to keep my baby” and again she asked “So your husband or mom are not forcing you to keep it if you are?” I said, more aggressively and upset, “NO!” 

When she was asking me if I was forced to keep the baby she looked like she was reading from a script. I remember her saying that if I kept “it,” it would be very expensive and life changing. She was poking at the fact that I didn’t seem like I could afford to have a baby. She also asked if I was scared to say that I wanted an abortion, and that if I had any questions I could talk to someone that can ease my nerves. She never really said baby she said “it” a lot.”(4)

Alicia turned out not to be pregnant. She later commented:

“I have not been able to shake that experience, it was very disturbing that I had someone trying to convince me to abort my baby especially after telling her over and over again that I wanted to keep my baby. I didn’t sleep for a week!”(5)

19-year-old “Barbara” went to a clinic at her mother’s insistence after becoming pregnant. When she went, she wanted to keep her baby.

“The woman at the clinic started spewing facts so fast. They told me just enough to scare me….they mentioned all three points but made adoption sound negative and birth tragic, then really pushed abortion. I told them I was more than 14 weeks. She said they had to do it really quick because they couldn’t do more than a 14-week limit and pushed me to make the appointment for absolutely that day.”(6)

When Jennifer Clifford went to Planned Parenthood and found out that she was pregnant, she did not want to have an abortion. In her article “UN-Planned Parenthood” she tells her story:

“Next, the nurse asked me how I felt about the possibility that I could be pregnant. I let her know that I was excited at the idea but unsure of my future. She honed in on that uncertainty and probed further- what would I do with the child? Could I support it? What would my parents think? These were issues that I had not yet allowed to enter into my mind; I was taking the whole thing one step at a time. Consequently, I could not answer her questions as quickly as she blurted them out. As I floundered for responses, a look of smug resolution came over her face, as if she had already decided what I was going to do. I was a textbook abortion customer to her- young and afraid, and not knowing where to turn.” (7)

 

Clifford continues, describing what happened after the pregnancy test came back positive:

“She reminded me of my age and of my state in life. I knew I could not support the child on my own, so I asked her for a number I could call for government assistance. She claimed she didn’t have one to give me. It struck me as odd that she couldn’t provide me with a point of contact. Surely other women had been in this same situation before me and had needed information on how they could get help to keep their children as well. Why did Planned Parenthood, then, not keep such an important number handy?”

Clifford then asked for a referral to an obstetrician, which Planned Parenthood refused to provide. She goes on:

“The nurse breathed a heavy sigh of disapproval and curled her lip, as if I wasn’t understanding her point. ‘We don’t deal with pregnant women.’ Shocked, I wondered how this company could call itself ‘Planned Parenthood’ when it was unable or unwilling to deal with expectant parents….She seemed to sense my uneasiness and pressed some more.

She mentioned my parents again, appealing to my utter terror in having to break the news to them. The nurse bombarded me with negativity, playing on my fears and concerns and continuing to offer me the ‘easy way out.’… When I disagreed, she thrust a package of pamphlets at me on abortion costs and procedures, adoption information, and a small excerpt on prenatal care. She presented this to me and told me to come back when I had made up my mind…” (8)

This, then, is informed consent at Planned Parenthood.

Even some pro-choice activists have admitted that counseling at abortion clinics leaves something to be desired. Jennifer Baumgardner, who started the t-shirt campaign “I Had An Abortion” told the story of an abortion patient in her book “Abortion & Life.” She quotes the young woman saying:

“I went with my boyfriend and friend to Planned Parenthood. I think I was headed into my eighth week at that point. I went into a room for pre-abortion counseling- five quick, terse questions. I had assumed that I was going to get a half-hour and I would finally be able to tell someone or talk to someone about how freaked out I was, but I didn’t get to.”(9)

Another powerful source of information about how clinics really counsel women comes from former clinic workers who have left the abortion field and are now willing to describe how their clinics attempted to sell abortions to women using biased counseling and inaccurate information.

In an article in the Christian Herald, former clinic worker Kathy Sparks said the following about her response when abortion patients asked questions about the developing baby:

“Sometimes we lied. A girl might ask what her baby was like at a certain point in the pregnancy: Was it a baby yet? Even as early as 12 weeks a baby is totally formed, he has fingerprints, turns his head, fans his toes, feels pain. But we would say ‘It’s not a baby yet. It’s just tissue, like a clot.’(10)

While medical science has not yet determined exactly when the baby can feel pain, it is clear that Sparks was withholding vital information that would help pregnant women make a decision that they would have to live with for the rest of their lives. An unborn baby at 12 weeks does indeed have fingers and toes, a beating heart, and developing fingerprints. To characterize such a well-developed human being as “tissue” or “a clot” is outright dishonest.

According to Joy Davis, another former clinic worker whose testimony appeared in the Pro-Life Action League’s DVD “Abortion: The inside Story”

“When I first started working there [at the clinic], I had to sit and listen to women answering the phone for at least a month before they would allow me to answer the phone. We had to know exactly what we were doing when we were talking to these women. We had to find out very quickly what their problem was, play on that and get them in the clinic for an abortion. We were very good salespeople.”

Former Clinic Worker Deborah Henry elaborates on this theme:

“Many women could not afford to have babies, so we would use examples - like the price of babies’ shoes, the price of clothing, how much it cost to raise a baby. If they weren’t finished with their education, the hindrance it would have on their education, how would they find a baby sitter, who was going to take care of that baby for them? We would find their weakness and work on them….All they were told about the procedure itself was that they would experience slight cramping similar to menstrual cramps, and that was it. They were not told about the development of the baby….The women were never given any type of alternatives to the abortion.”(11)

In a rare moment of candor, abortion clinic worker Sallie Tisdale says the following in an article in Harpers Magazine. Tisdale was still working in the clinic at the time of the quote:

“It is when I am holding a plastic uterus in one hand, a suction tube in the other, moving them together in imitation of the scrubbing to come, that woman ask the most secret question. I am speaking in a matter-of-fact voice about ‘the tissue’ and ‘the contents’ when the woman suddenly catches my eye and says ‘How big is the baby now?’

These words suggest a quiet need for definition of the boundaries being drawn. It isn’t so odd, after all, that she feels relief when I describe the growing buds bulbous shape, its miniature nature. Again, I gauge, and sometimes lie a little, weaseling around its infantile features until its clinging power slackens.”(12)

Sometimes pro-choice publications also reveal the bias that is all too prevalent in abortion counseling. Planned Parenthood has a training manual called “The Complete Guide to Pregnancy Testing and Counseling.” It presents a hypothetical situation in which a woman comes to the clinic with ambivalent feelings about having an abortion. It suggests that the clinic worker:

“Tell her that no one makes the decision to have an abortion easily or ever feels really ‘good’ about it. Acknowledge that feelings of discomfort and sadness are normal. Ask about the reasons for which she and her husband decided on an abortion. Help her to reaffirm that this is the best decision for them right now. Remind her that feelings of guilt, sadness or loss do not mean that a wrong decision was made.”(13)

Life Dynamics discovered another document meant to train abortion clinic providers. The Reproductive Health Access Project gives “Pregnancy Options Counseling Points for the Ambivalent Patient.” Here are some of the points.

“2. Normalize feelings of ambivalence.

3. Acknowledge common feelings such as shame, disappointment, guilt and regret.

4. Reframe the situation – she may be making the most responsible decision by NOT continuing the pregnancy.

5. Be conscious of time – you do not need to know everything about the patient to help her make a decision.

6. Refer to the pregnancy, not the baby.

7. Elucidate that the patient’s choice not to be a mother now does not mean she is choosing not to be a mother in the future.”

Many, many more sources could be cited to prove that abortion clinics fail when it comes to abortion counseling. Numerous former clinic workers, beyond those quoted here, have testified that their former employers told them to lie, mislead, and withhold information. Many more women have testified to such deceit and coercion. This article only presents a fraction of the evidence that these deceptive practices go on in clinics all around the country.

 

1. Kay Scott “ABORTION: 24-HOUR-WAIT SUPPORTERS TRY TO DECEIVE” The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Atlanta, GA), Jan 21, 2005 pA15

2. David Reardon’ Aborted Women: Silent No More (Elliot Institute, January 1, 2002 http://www.amazon.com/Aborted-Women-Silent-No-More/dp/0964895722/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1359675798&sr=8-1&keywords=Aborted+Women%3A+Silent+No+more

3. Barnard, C. (1990), The Long Term Psychological Effects of Abortion, Portsmouth, NH: Institute for Pregnancy Loss; and Vaughan, H. (1990), Canonical Variates of Post-Abortion Syndrome, Portsmouth, NH: Institute for Pregnancy Loss.

4. Susan Michelle Tyrrell ““‘They kept asking me if I was being ‘forced’ to keep the baby’: Alisha’s Planned Parenthood visit” Life Site News December 1, 2011http://www.lifesite.net/news/they-kept-asking-me-if-i-was-being-forced-to-keep-the-baby-alishas-planned

5. Ibid.

6. Trish Diggins “Selling Lies: Deception & The Abortion Industry”, The Forerunner Mar 1, 1992 http://www.forerunner.com/forerunner/X0433_Deception__Abortion_.html

7. Jennifer Clifford “UN-Planned Parenthood” The Catholic Resource Network, EWTN 1998 http://www.ewtn.com/library/PROLIFE/UNPLAN.TXT

8. Ibid

9. Jennifer Baumgardner Abortion & Life” (New York, NY: Akashic Books, 2008) 127

10. Gloria Williamson “The Conversion of Kathy Sparks” Christian Herald January 1986 p 28

11.Personal Testimony “Meet the Abortion Providers” Convention 1993

12. Sallie Tisdale “We Do Abortions Here” Harpers Magazine Oct 1987 p 68

13. “The Complete Guide to Pregnancy Testing and Counseling” Planned Parenthood 1985 (p 24-25) quoted in “Achieving Peace in the Abortion War” by Rachel M MacNair, Ph.D., published by the Feminism & Nonviolence Studies Association January 2009.

Reprinted with permission from LiveActionNews.org. Sarah Terzo is a pro-life author and creator of the clinicquotes.com website. She is a member of Secular Pro-Life and Pro-Life Alliance of Gays and Lesbians.



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BREAKING: In historic meeting Pope, Russian Patriarch decry abortion, defend traditional marriage

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Feb. 12, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) - A joint declaration signed by both Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill, head of the Orthodox Church of Moscow and All Russia, issued today after their historic meeting in the Havana Cuba airport issues a strong call for the defense of life and family. 

The declaration commenced with a wish to reestablish Christian unity, stating a “determination to undertake all that is necessary to overcome the historical divergences we have inherited.”

The religious leaders expressed the wish to combine the efforts of Orthodox and Catholics “to give witness to the Gospel of Christ and to the shared heritage of the Church of the first millennium, responding together to the challenges of the contemporary world” since “human civilization has entered into a period of epochal change.”

"We regret that other forms of cohabitation have been placed on the same level as this union, while the concept, consecrated in the biblical tradition, of paternity and maternity as the distinct vocation of man and woman in marriage is being banished from the public conscience."

After discussing the violent Christian persecution underway in the Middle East and North Africa, the Pope and Patriarch turned their attention to the West. “At the same time, we are concerned about the situation in many countries in which Christians are increasingly confronted by restrictions to religious freedom, to the right to witness to one’s convictions and to live in conformity with them.”

“In particular, we observe that the transformation of some countries into secularized societies, estranged from all reference to God and to His truth, constitutes a grave threat to religious freedom,” they said. “It is a source of concern for us that there is a current curtailment of the rights of Christians, if not their outright discrimination, when certain political forces, guided by an often very aggressive secularist ideology, seek to relegate them to the margins of public life.”

The declaration expresses concern about the “crisis in the family in many countries” and notes “Orthodox and Catholics share the same conception of the family.”

“The family is based on marriage, an act of freely given and faithful love between a man and a woman,” it says. “We regret that other forms of cohabitation have been placed on the same level as this union, while the concept, consecrated in the biblical tradition, of paternity and maternity as the distinct vocation of man and woman in marriage is being banished from the public conscience.”

Marriage, they said, “is a path of holiness, testifying to the faithfulness of the spouses in their mutual interaction, to their openness to the procreation and rearing of their children, to solidarity between the generations and to respect for the weakest.” It is “a school of love and faithfulness.” Love, says the declaration, seals the union of the husband and wife “and teaches them to accept one another as a gift.”

The Pope and Patriarch called for an end to abortion. “We call on all to respect the inalienable right to life,” said the declaration. “Millions are denied the very right to be born into the world. The blood of the unborn cries out to God (cf. Gen 4:10).”

The declaration also condemned euthanasia and immoral reproductive technologies, which would include IVF and destructive research on human embryos.

The emergence of so-called euthanasia leads elderly people and the disabled begin to feel that they are a burden on their families and on society in general. We are also concerned about the development of biomedical reproduction technology, as the manipulation of human life represents an attack on the foundations of human existence, created in the image of God. We believe that it is our duty to recall the immutability of Christian moral principles, based on respect for the dignity of the individual called into being according to the Creator’s plan.

The declaration decries the persecution of Christians, particularly in the Middle East and North Africa, where “whole families, villages and cities of our brothers and sisters in Christ are being completely exterminated.” 

They called on the international community to act urgently since “churches are being barbarously ravaged and looted, their sacred objects profaned, their monuments destroyed.”  With “pain” they called to mind “the massive exodus of Christians from the land in which our faith was first disseminated and in which they have lived since the time of the Apostles, together with other religious communities.”

They specifically called on all Christians to pray that may “not permit a new world war.”

 

The complete text of the joint declaration follows:

“The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God the Father and the fellowship of the holy Spirit be with all of you” (2 Cor 13:13).

1. By God the Father’s will, from which all gifts come, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, and with the help of the Holy Spirit Consolator, we, Pope Francis and Kirill, Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, have met today in Havana. We give thanks to God, glorified in the Trinity, for this meeting, the first in history.

It is with joy that we have met like brothers in the Christian faith who encounter one another “to speak face to face” (2 Jn 12), from heart to heart, to discuss the mutual relations between the  Churches, the crucial problems of our faithful, and the outlook for the progress of human civilization.

2. Our fraternal meeting has taken place in Cuba, at the crossroads of North and South, East and West. It is from this island, the symbol of the hopes of the “New World” and the dramatic events of the history of the twentieth century, that we address our words to all the peoples of Latin America and of the other continents.

It is a source of joy that the Christian faith is growing here in a dynamic way.  The powerful religious potential of Latin America, its centuries–old Christian tradition, grounded in the personal experience of millions of people, are the pledge of a great future for this region.

3. By meeting far from the longstanding disputes of the “Old World”, we experience with a particular sense of urgency the need for the shared labour of Catholics and Orthodox, who are called, with gentleness and respect, to give an explanation to the world of the hope in us (cf. 1 Pet 3:15).

4. We thank God for the gifts received from the coming into the world of His only Son. We share the same spiritual Tradition of the first millennium of Christianity. The witnesses of this Tradition are the Most Holy Mother of God, the Virgin Mary, and the saints we venerate.  Among them are innumerable martyrs who have given witness to their faithfulness to Christ and have become the “seed of Christians”.

5. Notwithstanding this shared Tradition of the first ten centuries, for nearly one thousand years Catholics and Orthodox have been deprived of communion in the Eucharist. We have been divided by wounds caused by old and recent conflicts, by differences inherited from our ancestors, in the understanding and expression of our faith in God, one in three Persons – Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We are pained by the loss of unity, the outcome of human weakness and of sin, which has occurred despite the priestly prayer of Christ the Saviour: “So that they may all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you … so that they may be one, as we are one” (Jn 17:21).

6. Mindful of the permanence of many obstacles, it is our hope that our meeting may contribute to the re–establishment of this unity willed by God, for which Christ prayed. May our meeting inspire Christians throughout the world to pray to the Lord with renewed fervour for the full unity of all His disciples. In a world which yearns not only for our words but also for tangible gestures, may this meeting be a sign of hope for all people of goodwill!

7. In our determination to undertake all that is necessary to overcome the historical divergences we have inherited, we wish to combine our efforts to give witness to the Gospel of Christ and to the shared heritage of the Church of the first millennium, responding together to the challenges of the contemporary world. Orthodox and Catholics must learn to give unanimously witness in those spheres in which this is possible and necessary. Human civilization has entered into a period of epochal change. Our Christian conscience and our pastoral responsibility compel us not to remain passive in the face of challenges requiring a shared response.

8. Our gaze must firstly turn to those regions of the world where Christians are victims of persecution. In many countries of the Middle East and North Africa whole families, villages and cities of our brothers and sisters in Christ are being completely exterminated. Their churches are being barbarously ravaged and looted, their sacred objects profaned, their monuments destroyed. It is with pain that we call to mind the situation in Syria, Iraq and other countries of the Middle East, and the massive exodus of Christians from the land in which our faith was first disseminated and in which they have lived since the time of the Apostles, together with other religious communities.

9. We call upon the international community to act urgently in order to prevent the further expulsion of Christians from the Middle East. In raising our voice in defence of persecuted Christians, we wish to express our compassion for the suffering experienced by the faithful of other religious traditions who have also become victims of civil war, chaos and terrorist violence.

10. Thousands of victims have already been claimed in the violence in Syria and Iraq, which has left many other millions without a home or means of sustenance. We urge the international community to seek an end to the violence and terrorism and, at the same time, to contribute through dialogue to a swift return to civil peace. Large–scale humanitarian aid must be assured to the afflicted populations and to the many refugees seeking safety in neighbouring lands.

We call upon all those whose influence can be brought to bear upon the destiny of those kidnapped, including the Metropolitans of Aleppo, Paul and John Ibrahim, who were taken in April 2013, to make every effort to ensure their prompt liberation.

11. We lift our prayers to Christ, the Saviour of the world, asking for the return of peace in the Middle East, “the fruit of justice” (Is 32:17), so that fraternal co–existence among the various populations, Churches and religions may be strengthened, enabling refugees to return to their homes, wounds to be healed, and the souls of the slain innocent to rest in peace.

We address, in a fervent appeal, all the parts that may be involved in the conflicts to demonstrate good will and to take part in the negotiating table. At the same time, the international community must undertake every possible effort to end terrorism through common, joint and coordinated action. We call on all the countries involved in the struggle against terrorism to responsible and prudent action. We exhort all Christians and all believers of God to pray fervently to the providential Creator of the world to protect His creation from destruction and not permit a new world war. In order to ensure a solid and enduring peace, specific efforts must be undertaken to rediscover the common values uniting us, based on the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.

12. We bow before the martyrdom of those who, at the cost of their own lives, have given witness to the truth of the Gospel, preferring death to the denial of Christ. We believe that these martyrs of our times, who belong to various Churches but who are united by their shared suffering, are a pledge of the unity of Christians. It is to you who suffer for Christ’s sake that the word of the Apostle is directed: “Beloved … rejoice to the extent that you share in the sufferings of Christ, so that when his glory is revealed you may also rejoice exultantly” (1 Pet 4:12–13).

13. Interreligious dialogue is indispensable in our disturbing times. Differences in the understanding of religious truths must not impede people of different faiths to live in peace and harmony. In our current context, religious leaders have the particular responsibility to educate their faithful in a spirit which is respectful of the convictions of those belonging to other religious traditions. Attempts to justify criminal acts with religious slogans are altogether unacceptable. No crime may be committed in God’s name, “since God is not the God of disorder but of peace” (1 Cor 14:33).

14. In affirming the foremost value of religious freedom, we give thanks to God for the current unprecedented renewal of the Christian faith in Russia, as well as in many other countries of Eastern Europe, formerly dominated for decades by atheist regimes. Today, the chains of militant atheism have been broken and in many places Christians can now freely confess their faith. Thousands of new churches have been built over the last quarter of a century, as well as hundreds of monasteries and theological institutions. Christian communities undertake notable works in the fields of charitable aid and social development, providing diversified forms of assistance to the needy. Orthodox and Catholics often work side by side. Giving witness to the values of the Gospel they attest to the existence of the shared spiritual foundations of human co–existence.

15. At the same time, we are concerned about the situation in many countries in which Christians are increasingly confronted by restrictions to religious freedom, to the right to witness to one’s convictions and to live in conformity with them. In particular, we observe that the transformation of some countries into secularized societies, estranged from all reference to God and to His truth, constitutes a grave threat to religious freedom.  It is a source of concern for us that there is a current curtailment of the rights of Christians, if not their outright discrimination, when certain political forces, guided by an often very aggressive secularist ideology, seek to relegate them to the margins of public life.

16. The process of European integration, which began after centuries of blood–soaked conflicts, was welcomed by many with hope, as a guarantee of peace and security. Nonetheless, we invite vigilance against an integration that is devoid of respect for religious identities. While remaining open to the contribution of other religions to our civilization, it is our conviction that Europe must remain faithful to its Christian roots. We call upon Christians of Eastern and Western Europe to unite in their shared witness to Christ and the Gospel, so that Europe may preserve its soul, shaped by two thousand years of Christian tradition.

17. Our gaze is also directed to those facing serious difficulties, who live in extreme need and poverty while the material wealth of humanity increases. We cannot remain indifferent to the destinies of millions of migrants and refugees knocking on the doors of wealthy nations. The unrelenting consumerism of some more developed countries is gradually depleting the resources of our planet. The growing inequality in the distribution of material goods increases the feeling of the injustice of the international order that has emerged.

18. The Christian churches are called to defend the demands of justice, the respect for peoples’ traditions, and an authentic solidarity towards all those who suffer. We Christians cannot forget that “God chose the foolish of the world to shame the wise, and God chose the lowly and despised of the world, those who count for nothing, to reduce to nothing those who are something, that no human being might boast before God” (1 Cor 1:27–29).

19. The family is the natural centre of human life and society. We are concerned about the crisis in the family in many countries. Orthodox and Catholics share the same conception of the family, and are called to witness that it is a path of holiness, testifying to the faithfulness of the spouses in their mutual interaction, to their openness to the procreation and rearing of their children, to solidarity between the generations and to respect for the weakest.

20. The family is based on marriage, an act of freely given and faithful love between a man and a woman. It is love that seals their union and teaches them to accept one another as a gift. Marriage is a school of love and faithfulness. We regret that other forms of cohabitation have been placed on the same level as this union, while the concept, consecrated in the biblical tradition, of paternity and maternity as the distinct vocation of man and woman in marriage is being banished from the public conscience.

21. We call on all to respect the inalienable right to life. Millions are denied the very right to be born into the world. The blood of the unborn cries out to God (cf. Gen 4:10).

The emergence of so-called euthanasia leads elderly people and the disabled begin to feel that they are a burden on their families and on society in general.

We are also concerned about the development of biomedical reproduction technology, as the manipulation of human life represents an attack on the foundations of human existence, created in the image of God. We believe that it is our duty to recall the immutability of Christian moral principles, based on respect for the dignity of the individual called into being according to the Creator’s plan.

22. Today, in a particular way, we address young Christians. You, young people, have the task of not hiding your talent in the ground (cf. Mt 25:25), but of using all the abilities God has given you to confirm Christ’s truth in the world, incarnating in your own lives the evangelical commandments of the love of God and of one’s neighbour. Do not be afraid of going against the current, defending God’s truth, to which contemporary secular norms are often far from conforming.

23. God loves each of you and expects you to be His disciples and apostles. Be the light of the world so that those around you may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father (cf. Mt 5:14, 16). Raise your children in the Christian faith, transmitting to them the pearl of great price that is the faith (cf. Mt 13:46) you have received from your parents and forbears. Remember that “you have been purchased at a great price” (1 Cor 6:20), at the cost of the death on the cross of the Man–God Jesus Christ.

24. Orthodox and Catholics are united not only by the shared Tradition of the Church of the first millennium, but also by the mission to preach the Gospel of Christ in the world today. This mission entails mutual respect for members of the Christian communities and excludes any form of proselytism.

We are not competitors but brothers, and this concept must guide all our mutual actions as well as those directed to the outside world. We urge Catholics and Orthodox in all countries to learn to live together in peace and love, and to be “in harmony with one another” (Rm 15:5). Consequently, it cannot be accepted that disloyal means be used to incite believers to pass from one Church to another, denying them their religious freedom and their traditions. We are called upon to put into practice the precept of the apostle Paul: “Thus I aspire to proclaim the gospel not where Christ has already been named, so that I do not build on another's foundation” (Rm 15:20).

25. It is our hope that our meeting may also contribute to reconciliation wherever tensions exist between Greek Catholics and Orthodox. It is today clear that the past method of “uniatism”, understood as the union of one community to the other, separating it from its Church, is not the way to re–establish unity. Nonetheless, the ecclesial communities which emerged in these historical circumstances have the right to exist and to undertake all that is necessary to meet the spiritual needs of their faithful, while seeking to live in peace with their neighbours. Orthodox and Greek Catholics are in need of reconciliation and of mutually acceptable forms of co–existence.

26. We deplore the hostility in Ukraine that has already caused many victims, inflicted innumerable wounds on peaceful inhabitants and thrown society into a deep economic and humanitarian crisis. We invite all the parts involved in the conflict to prudence, to social solidarity and to action aimed at constructing peace. We invite our Churches in Ukraine to work towards social harmony, to refrain from taking part in the confrontation, and to not support any further development of the conflict.

27. It is our hope that the schism between the Orthodox faithful in Ukraine may be overcome through existing canonical norms, that all the Orthodox Christians of Ukraine may live in peace and harmony, and that the Catholic communities in the country may contribute to this, in such a way that our Christian brotherhood may become increasingly evident.

28. In the contemporary world, which is both multiform yet united by a shared destiny, Catholics and Orthodox are called to work together fraternally in proclaiming the Good News of salvation, to testify together to the moral dignity and authentic freedom of the person, “so that the world may believe” (Jn 17:21). This world, in which the spiritual pillars of human existence are progressively disappearing, awaits from us a compelling Christian witness in all spheres of personal and social life. Much of the future of humanity will depend on our capacity to give shared witness to the Spirit of truth in these difficult times.

29. May our bold witness to God’s truth and to the Good News of salvation be sustained by the Man–God Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour, who strengthens us with the unfailing promise: “Do not be afraid any longer, little flock, for your Father is pleased to give you the kingdom” (Lk 12:32)!

Christ is the well–spring of joy and hope. Faith in Him transfigures human life, fills it with meaning. This is the conviction borne of the experience of all those to whom Peter refers in his words: “Once you were ‘no people’ but now you are God’s people; you ‘had not received mercy’ but now you have received mercy” (1 Pet 2:10).

30. With grace–filled gratitude for the gift of mutual understanding manifested during our meeting, let us with hope turn to the Most Holy Mother of God, invoking her with the words of this ancient prayer: “We seek refuge under the protection of your mercy, Holy Mother of God”. May the Blessed Virgin Mary, through her intercession, inspire fraternity in all those who venerate her, so that they may be reunited, in God’s own time, in the peace and harmony of the one people of God, for the glory of the Most Holy and indivisible Trinity!
 
Francis                                  Kirill
Bishop of Rome                      Patriarch of Moscow 
Pope of the Catholic Church    and all Russia



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Congress subpoenas StemExpress, notorious late-term abortion facility in body parts investigation

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WASHINGTON, D.C., February 12, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) - Planned Parenthood has declared itself innocent - but it forgot to consult Congress.

The special committee investigating Planned Parenthood, the Select Investigative Panel on Infant Lives, announced on Thursday night that it is issuing subpoenas to three organizations involved in the possible trafficking of human organs.

StemExpress, the company that partnered with Planned Parenthood to extract tissue and organs from aborted babies' cadavers, is the most conspicuous of the three.

Former StemExpress technician Holly O'Donnell described how a technician restarted an aborted baby's heartbeat, then told her to cut through the child's face to harvest his brains.

The National Institutes of Health paid StemExpress thousands of dollars for fetal tissue samples, records show.

Undercover videos depict the biotech company's CEO, Cate Dyer, boasting, "I have a picture from Hillary" Clinton on her desk. In another video, she jokes about shipping the fully intact bodies of aborted babies to unsuspecting lab technicians.

StemExpress publicly cut ties with Planned Parenthood last August.

The University of New Mexico and Southwestern Women’s Options have come under investigation after it became clear the university had a close relationship with one of the nation's most notorious late-term abortionists to receive aborted babies' tissues and organs for scientific experiments.

Last year, investigators discovered that the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center obtained its samples from SWO, where Dr. Curtis Boyd is one of a handful of people in the nation willing to perform abortions in the third trimester.

University officials told the Albuquerque Journal they had no documentation of the specifics of arrangement - how many organs Boyd supplied, for instance. But the New Mexico Alliance for Life uncovered a document containing the information.

"Fetal liver and kidney samples were obtained 15 minutes after termination from six fetuses ranging from 12 to 22 weeks gestation," the document states.

The group questions whether he changed the abortion technique to obtain the greatest number of organs, and whether he employed the illegal partial birth abortion method.

As part of the arrangement Dr. Boyd, who was deemed "faculty" in university documents, also trained UNM students in his industry. The university later ended that program.

All three organizations had been asked to comply with the Congressional investigation but had failed to do so voluntarily, according to the panel's chairwoman.

“By failing to fully cooperate with our investigation, these organizations have compelled our panel to subpoena these documents in order to acquire information that is vital to the completion of our work,” said the panel's chair, Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-TN. “Without these subpoenas, the American people and the House itself would be left to speculate about what is going on in the fetal tissue industry."

"We cannot leave questions unanswered,” she said.

StemExpress has stonewalled before, seeking a legal injunction forbidding David Daleiden and the Center for Medical Progress from releasing undercover footage of its CEO. A judge in California ruled against the company last summer.

Meanwhile, New Mexico pro-life leaders welcome the focus on their state.

"The fact that UNM HSC disbanded its late-term abortion resident program at SWO is a tacit acknowledgement of guilt in violating their own policies, procedures and blatant misuse of public trust and funds," said Elisa Martinez, executive director of the New Mexico Alliance for Life. "The flimsy agreement between UNM and late-term abortionist Curtis Boyd, signed by UNM's Dr. Eve Espey, appears to be constructed to conceal the potential sale of late-term baby body parts to UNM, which to date, has withheld any documentation as to the compensation of Curtis Boyd, the compensation of residents and any record of their late-term baby body parts inventory."



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Clinton and Sanders commit to fund abortion worldwide by gutting the Helms amendment

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WASHINGTON, D.C., February 12, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) - Both candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination have endorsed a key pillar of the population control agenda, for the first time pledging to "fix" a U.S. law prohibiting foreign aid from funding abortion overseas.

Hillary Clinton makes the new promise in a new video posted online by the Population Connection Action Fund, formerly Zero Population Growth.

An unidentified activist for the group asks if the former Secretary of State will "help fix the Helms Amendment" - a 1973 law that blocks federal dollars from paying for abortion “as a method of family planning" overseas.

"Oh yeah, yeah, yeah. I'm on record on that," Clinton replies on the video, which was publicized by The Huffington Post.

She continues, "One of the reasons why I -" before abruptly interrupting herself and giving the activist a thumbs-up as the video ends.

Despite her comment, Clinton had not publicly said she would change the way the law is implemented in any way. In an Iowa town hall meeting last November, she said she would "we have to take a look at this for conflict zones" where rape is used as a weapon, but held out the possibility that a future government "maintains our prohibition."

Her chief rival, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, went further, promising to fund global abortion providers by executive order.

“Sen. Sanders is opposed to the Helms amendment,” Arianna Jones, Sanders' deputy communications director, told The Huffington Post. “As president, he will sign an executive order to allow for U.S. foreign aid to pay for abortions in cases of rape, incest, or when the life of the woman is at risk. He will also work with Congress to permanently repeal both the Hyde and Helms amendments.” The Hyde Amendment prohibits federal funding of abortions for American women except in the cases of rape, incest, or to save the life of the mother.

The question is the latest in an ongoing attempt to siphon money from the U.S. Treasury into the hands of abortionists, at home and abroad.

While the late Sen. Jesse Helms, who was staunchly pro-life, intended to prevent taxpayers from underwriting abortion, population control advocates and others who promote abortion say the law he authored never did that - but three Democratic presidents somehow missed that fact.

"The restriction has been wrongly implemented by all eight presidential administrations since its inception, as a total ban on abortion care," according to the Center for Reproductive Rights.

Feminist activists and non-governmental organizations like the Global Justice Center have lobbied President Obama to reinterpret the rule and fund abortion for African women raped by Boko Haram and other terrorist organizations in the region.

Although President Obama shown little restraint in recasting the law - for instance, claiming that civil rights laws banning sexual discrimination apply to transgender people - he has declined to do so in this case.



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