Cheryl Sullenger

New docs reveal horrific details of botched 35-Week abortion in New Mexico disciplinary case

Cheryl Sullenger
By Cheryl Sullenger
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ALBUQUERQUE, NM, January 31, 2013, (Operation Rescue) -- New documents, including transcripts of a Medical Board disciplinary hearing held in November, 2012, indicate that late-term abortionist Shelley Sella committed four acts of gross negligence during a 35-week abortion on a woman with a history of previous Cesarean Section that resulted in a ruptured uterus.

The documents were released recently by the New Mexico Medical Board in response to an open records request made by Tara Shaver of Project Defending Life. Both Mrs. Shaver and Operation Rescue had filed the original complaints with the NMMB after receiving a 911 recording of a medical emergency that took place at Southwestern Women’s Options, a late-term abortion clinic in Albuquerque, on May 12, 2012. The records also show that it is the position of Sella and her attorney, Joseph Goldberg, that the complaints should not have been considered by the Board due to the fact that pro-life activists filed them.

The NMMB plans to issue a formal “Decision and Order” on the case against Sella on February 7, 2013. Possible discipline ranges from public censure to license revocation.

Also on the agenda is the appointment of a Task Force to amend Board regulations on Complaint Procedures.

“The New Mexico Medical Board should be thanking us for filing these complaints, not devising ways to cut us out of the complaint process based on our deeply held convictions,” said Troy Newman, President of Operation Rescue and Pro-Life Nation. “We have uncovered an extremely dangerous abortion practice taking place on a weekly basis that is seriously endangering the lives and health of women. Instead of criticizing us for bringing this to the attention of the Board, they should be grateful that we uncovered the violations during dangerous late-term abortions that fall well below the standard of care.”

Gross negligence

After hearing two days of testimony from Sella and two expert witnesses before Hearing Officer David K. Thompson, Administrative Prosecutor Daniel Rubin has recommended that Sella be disciplined for “gross negligence” for breaching the standard of care during her treatment of a patient referred to as “ML”. Those four breaches included:

  • Administering Misoprostol, a uterine contracting agent, during a “trial of labor after cesarean” or TOLAC.
  • Sent M.L. to a hotel where she could not be monitored after administering misoprostol.
  • Administered Misoprostol and Pitocin, another uterine contracting agent, simultaneously.
  • Attempted to abort ML’s fetus in a clinic rather than a hospital.

“The Respondent [Sella] was well aware of the risks of uterine rupture associated with her treatment of M.L., but willfully ignored such risks,” wrote Rubin in his Closing Arguments and Proposed Finding of Fact, dated January 4, 2013.

National implications

The case has national implications and could affect ability of abortionists to continue doing risky third trimester abortion in “stand-alone clinics” using a drug that is known to cause unpredictable and often powerful contractions.

Disturbingly, Sella worried, (as if it was unthinkable), that women with previous C-sections “would be forced to carry a pregnancy to term,” should there be an adverse ruling.

“It is possible that this case will set a new standard of care for third-trimester abortions, which those currently doing this barbaric procedure cannot meet. The implications are huge,” said Newman.

Currently, there are no set national standards for third trimester abortions that are currently being done in four “stand alone” clinics throughout the United States. Abortionists that admit to doing the procedures, in addition to Sella and her New Mexico associate Susan Robinson, are Lee Carhart in Germantown, Maryland; Warren Hern in Boulder, Colorado; and Josepha Seletz in Los Angeles, California. Sella told the Board that she is currently training Carmen Landau to do third trimester abortions in Albuquerque.

Misoprostol poses risks of rupture

The case began when ML, a 26-year old woman with a history of a previous cesarean section delivery, traveled to Southwestern Women’s Options, a late-term abortion clinic in Albuquerque, New Mexico, for an abortion of her pre-born baby at 35 weeks gestation. Her New York physician recommended the abortion after the baby was diagnosed with an abnormally large head and brain. The baby’s head was estimated to be the size of a baby at 40 weeks. Sella agreed to do the abortion on the basis of the fetal anomaly and the supposedly distraught mindset of the patient.

Sella argued strenuously that obstetric standards and warnings issued by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists simply did not apply to abortions. ACOG does not support the trial of labor after cesarean (TOLAC) in a non-hospital setting and prohibits the use of Misprostol to induce or augment labor in women with histories of previous cesarean deliveries.

Misoprostol, also known as Cytotec, was originally developed to treat stomach ulcers but was later discovered to have the unfortunate side effect of initiating uterine contractions in pregnant women. Misoprostol use in abortion is unpredictable and can cause intense uterine contractions.

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Despite the risks, Misoprostol is used in two ways during a third trimester abortion. First it is administered vaginally to “ripen” the cervix and prepare it for the delivery of the dead baby. Secondly, it is administered buccally (between the cheek and jaw) to induce or augment labor.

Women who have had previous C-Section deliveries like ML are at greater risk for uterine rupture during labor. Misoprostol dramatically increases that risk and that is why ACOG considers it to be too dangerous to use on these women.

The Tiller Protocols

Sella claimed that protocols developed by Wichita abortionist George Tiller should be used for the standard of care for third trimester abortions rather than the tougher obstetrical, ACOG standards.

However, Dr. Gerald L. Bullock, an expert for the Board, testified that obstetrical standards are appropriate because there is essentially no difference between the procedure used in a third trimester abortion and an instance of a women in her third trimester whose baby has spontaneously died in the womb. Obstetrical standards are the unquestioned standard in the latter circumstance.

Sella learned to do the third trimester abortion procedure from the late George Tiller. Sella testified that she worked for Tiller at his infamous late-term abortion clinic in Wichita, Kansas, from 2002 until his death in 2009. Tiller developed the controversial abortion process and was considered the national authority on third trimester abortions.

Not mentioned in the Sella disciplinary proceedings was the fact that Tiller faced an 11-count petition for illegal late-term abortions brought by the Kansas State Board of Healing Arts that would likely have cost him his medical license, had he lived.

Another Tiller associate that also worked with Sella in Wichita, Ann Kristin Neuhaus, had her medical license revoked last year on a nearly identical petition. Both the Neuhaus and Tiller actions were based on complaints filed by Operation Rescue.

Sella testified that she uses the Tiller protocols in third-trimester abortions as do all other abortionists that do these grisly procedures, which are opposed by nearly 90% of Americans.
The testimony at Sella’s November disciplinary hearing revealed a time-line of events that led to ML’s uterine rupture and subsequent transfer to UNM hospital for emergency surgery. It paints a graphic picture of what can go wrong when abortionists consider themselves exempt from accepted medical standards.

May 10, 2011

On the morning of May 10, 2011, ML arrived at Southwestern Women’s Options (SWO) in Albuquerque for her first appointment. ML has been interviewed by a telephone “counselor”– likely an unlicensed and unqualified clinic worker — who took information about her state of mind and medical history – including her history of previous cesarean section – and relayed it to Sella and her associate, Susan Robinson, who also does third-trimester abortions at SWO. The two consulted and agreed that ML was a good candidate for the Induction abortion used at SWO.

On the day of ML’s arrival, Sella initiated “fetal demise” by vaginally injecting Digoxin into ML’s fetus. This drug stops the baby’s heart. After an ultrasound confirmed that the baby was dead, the patient’s cervix was packed with laminaria, which are seaweed sticks that slowly expand and dilate the cervix in preparation for labor and delivery. Sella then administered 100 micrograms of Mispropstol vaginally for the purpose of “softening the cervix.”

Dr. Bullock testified on behalf of the prosecution that the standard dosage of Misoprostol generally used for induction of labor is 50 micrograms, half of the dosage given by Sella when there was no intention of inducing labor. Afterwards, ML was sent to her hotel where no monitoring of her condition occurred. Dr. Bullock considered this a serious breech in the standard of care.

Sella testified that she intended to use the frequent dosing of Misoprostol along with numerous laminaria insertions and removals to prepare ML’s cervix for labor induction on the fourth day. Sella denied that she was inducing labor by administering Misoprostol vaginally on the first day.

To that, Dr. Bullock responded, “Well, yeah, I would agree that she probably intended to soften the cervix, but whether you intend to induce labor or not, that is what it did, and the lady came back in the second day in the late evening in active labor, and you can’t call that spontaneous labor, and you can’t call that spontaneous labor. This was Misoprostol induced labor. If the lady had stayed at home and hadn’t been at the clinic, she would have never gone into labor that day.”

Water breaks

On the second day, May 11, ML returned to the clinic in the morning. Sella changed out her laminaria, gave her another dose of Misprostol, and again sent her back to her hotel with instructions to take yet another dose of the drug at 3:00 pm. ML took the drug as instructed.

At about 5:00 pm that same day, ML returned to the clinic for another laminaria change and Misoprostol dose. However, while Sella was inserting new laminaria, she inadvertently broke her bag of water.

While it is unknown exactly when ML’s contractions began, Dr. Bullock testified that this incident likely stimulated the onset of labor. In fact, there was great debate from expert witnesses about the times and dosages of Mispropstol and other medications administered to ML due to confusing medical records kept by the clinic, including some inaccurately recorded dosage times.

The onset of labor prompted ML report back to the clinic for a third time on May 11, the second day of the process, near the midnight hour. Sella was forced to scrap her plan to begin labor on the fourth day of the abortion and took steps to manage ML’s labor in preparation for an early delivery.

The final day

At shortly after midnight on May 12, Sella checked the progress of ML’s cervical dilation and again administered Misoprostol. At the same time, Sella began to give her patient Pitocin, another uterine stimulant that is not supposed to be used simultaneously with Misoprostol.

It is estimated that the Misoprostol was in ML’s system along with the Pitocin for 3½ hours. Meanwhile, ML was given pain medication, sedated, and placed in the gurney room. She was supposed to sleep through the night in mild labor and be checked for progress again around 7 am. There was never any testimony concerning how well ML actually did through the night or what her pain/comfort level was during this ordeal.

The large size of the baby’s head created an increased risk of uterine rupture, a fact was apparently ignored by Sella, as noted in the Board documents. ML had received a lower transverse incision during the surgical delivery of a previous child. That incision type is supposed to be less likely to rupture that the classical vertical incision, but even so, that did not prevent the Sella’s reckless practices from inflicting harm.

In the morning of May 12, Sella removed the laminaria and checked ML’s cervix. Sella had intended to collapse the skull in order to make it smaller and easier to deliver. However, she could no longer feel the baby’s head as she had expected. She conducted an ultrasound and discovered that the baby was now lying sideways in the womb. At that moment, she suspected that the uterus had ruptured.

Sella had an office worker call 911 and request an emergency transport for ML to UNM. Since Sella has no hospital privileges, she had to call one of three abortionists from the UNM Center for Reproductive Health, a stand-alone abortion clinic affiliated with the UNM Medical Center, to treat ML at the hospital. But those abortionists have problems of their own. Several 911 calls placed from the UNMRHC that have been obtained by Project Defending Life and Operation Rescue indicate a regular pattern of botched abortions at that facility as well.

A 7.5 pound baby?

It took 24 minutes from the time 911 was called for ML to arrive at the emergency room.

Once there, ML was rushed into surgery where her dead baby was removed and her uterus repaired. A unknown hospital physician noted on her chart that the baby weighed 7.5 pounds. Sella vigorously disputed that assessment. She opined that the baby was never weighed and that ultrasound measurements placed the baby’s weight at 5 pounds, 13 ounces. We may never know the truth.

“There is little difference if the baby weighed 7.5 pounds or just under 6 pounds. This was a baby that was the size of many full term babies. The entire revolting discussion on the record attempting to justify this is completely barbaric,” said Newman.

“A thousand wonders”

Dr. Bullock noted that the rupture occurred when the baby’s over-sized head came down and stretched the c-section scar, where the uterus was weak. The head broke through the scar and tore the uterus, forcing the baby – at least partially – into the woman’s abdominal cavity.

“Well, you know, everybody was really lucky this time, because quite often, particularly the way this rupture went, it was a thousand wonders that it didn’t extend another centimeter into the uterine arteries, which would have had a horrendous bleeding episode if that had happened,” he said.

Dr. Bullock described ML’s injuries and the harm done to her:

“Yes, the understood harm is going to be another cesarean, a scar that went caddywhompus, the scar that went crossways…all the way down to the cervix, which will make it more hazardous. In fact, one of the doctors at UNM said that she should not get pregnant again.”

Rules written in blood

The written Closing Argument document submitted by Board prosecutor Daniel Rubin states that no specific national standard exists with respect to late-term abortions and that obstetrical standards should be applied in this case.

“In other words, these late-term abortionists just make things up as they go along,” noted Newman. “According to Sella’s own testimony as well as her expert witness, Phillip Darney – himself an admitted late-term abortionist – all third-trimester abortionists are engaging in horrifically dangerous procedures with drugs that should not even be used in settings where there is no access to immediate emergency care. Yet, they continue to insist that the higher obstetrical standards should not apply to them. But each one of those rules in written in blood. ACOG and other standards prohibit the conduct that Sella engaged in because at some point, someone died from similar circumstances.”

Defense expert’s vested interest

Darney is the head of the Bixby Center for Global Reproductive Health at the University of California San Francisco. This is the same organization that is training non-physicians to do abortions. The training program made news last when a California lawmaker proposed changing the law to allow these non-physicians to do abortions without the supervision of licensed doctors.

Darney had every reason to speak favorably about Sella’s third-trimester abortion protocols. He admits that he does abortions at the Women’s Option Center in San Francisco General Hospital and that some of those abortions are in the third trimester. Darney’s organization also as established a training program through the University of New Mexico that uses Sella and Southwestern Women’s Options as a training facility for abortionists in his program.

Shadowy world of regulatory gaps

In the end, ML’s unfortunate experience has revealed a shadowy world of regulatory gaps where abortionists make up their own rules. In the abortionist’s world, time-tested standards of care simply do not apply. They simply make up their own. This is a world where abortionists can subject women to dangerous practices that would not be tolerated in any other medical discipline, yet expect to be treated like they walk on water.

By filing these complaints, Project Defending Life and Operation Rescue have attempted to close those gaps and return the abortionists to the real world of medical accountability and ethics.

Abortionists often consider themselves a special class that is exempt from the mundane rules that apply to everyone else. That arrogant attitude is fed by liberal politicians and other pro-abortion society-influencers. Earlier this month, Sella was featured along with Robinson, Hern, and Carhart in a film that premiered at the Sundance Film Festival called “After Tiller.” The four third-trimester abortionists were lionized and applauded for their bravery in providing abortions for which few have the stomach.

One has to wonder how much courage it really takes to kill a defenseless baby in the womb and inflict upon vulnerable women dangerous practices that fall well below national standards.

To illustrate this, one can imagine that on one hand, there is a 35-week pregnant woman with a history of c-section that hasn’t felt movement for awhile and is tragically informed that her baby has died in the womb. On the other hand, there are women like ML, who has her 35-week baby killed by an abortionist. At that moment, one might think that both women share a common circumstance, but nothing could be further from the truth.

The first woman will be treated according to the highest standards of medicine in order to protect her life, her health, and her future fertility, while women undergoing abortions are subjected to dangerous practices, prescribed drugs that endangered their lives, and as in ML’s case, robbed their ability to bear children.

“Sella was glowingly presented in her disciplinary hearing as an expert who was ‘well trained’ in third trimester abortions. If this is the best abortionists have to offer, it just isn’t good enough,” said Newman. “We cannot and will not stand idly by while women are abused by the reckless indifference of the abortion cartel. We will continue to hold abortionists accountable for their negligence, just as we have endeavored to do with Sella. As far as the Board’s highly anticipated decision goes concerning her professional fate, we are simply praying for justice.”

 

Documents:

This article originally appeared on Operation Rescue and is reprinted with permission.

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Dr. Miriam Grossman speaks to large audience in Mississauga, Ontario Steve Jalsevac/LifeSite
Lianne Laurence

VIDEO: How DO you to talk to kids about sex? US sex-ed critic gives practical tips

Lianne Laurence
By Lianne Laurence

MISSISSAUGA, ON, August 27, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – Talking to their children about sex is “anxiety provoking to say the least,” for parents, says American sex-ed expert, Dr. Miriam Grossman.

“Some people just can’t even do it, and that’s okay,” the New York-based psychiatrist told the crowd of 1,000 who packed a Mississauga conference hall August 18 to hear her critique of the Ontario Liberal government’s controversial sex-ed curriculum.

After Grossman explained how the Liberal sex-ed curriculum is dangerously flawed and ideologically driven, she used the question-and-answer session to give parents much appreciated and sometimes humorous practical advice on how to teach their children about “the birds and the bees.”

“If you feel you can’t do it, maybe there’s someone else in the family or in the constellation of people that you know you can trust that could do it,” said Grossman, author of “You’re teaching my child WHAT?” and an internationally sought-after speaker on sex education.

A child, adolescent and adult psychiatrist with 12 years’ clinical experience treating students at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) clinic, Grossman said explaining sexuality and procreation to children is “a process,” that “shouldn’t ideally happen all at once. A child is not a miniature adult, and absorbs…new information differently than adults do.”

And parents need to be sure just what their child wants to know.

To illustrate this, Grossman referred to her earlier story about a father who gave his son every detail on human procreation after the boy asked him, “Dad, where do I come from?”

After the father finished, his son replied, “Well, that’s funny, because Johnny told me that he came from Montreal.”

“Try to find out what your child is really getting at, and, don’t give it all at once,” Grossman said. “You start with a little bit at a time…and you know, there’s so many variables here, and people have their own traditions and their own ways of explaining things, and something that might be right for my family might not be right for your family.”

She also advised that, when confronted with a four, five, six or seven-year-old asking about a pregnant woman, or where babies come, a parent can ask, “What a good question that is. What do you think?”

And parents can also legitimately put off the discussion when appropriate, telling the child, “That’s really not something you need to know about right now.”

“Wow, what a novel idea: Telling a child that they could wait until they’re older to discuss that subject,” Grossman said, adding that parents wouldn’t brook a six- or even fifteen-year-old child asking how much money they made or had in the bank. “Excuse me? Not every subject has to be an open book.”

However, the time will come when a child needs to know “about how her body’s going to change, about reproduction, about how a new life is created.”

That time, Grossman advised, is puberty, or “as puberty is beginning,” and this is especially so for girls, who, if unprepared for the surprise onset of menstruation “might think [they’re] dying.”

“The actual nitty-gritty about the birds and the bees and intercourse” can “be told in bits and pieces, or it can be told all at once, if you feel it’s necessary,” she said, adding that it’s beneficial if the parent acknowledges his or her awkwardness, because the child will think: “This must be such an important subject that my mother or my father is sitting there squirming, but he’s doing it anyway. I’m really loved.”

“And the children need to understand that as you grow up, you change a lot, not only physically but emotionally,” Grossman said, “and what may seem odd or disgusting when you’re ten years old, or whatever age, it becomes something very special and beautiful when you’re older and you’ll understand it later. You don’t have to understand it now.”


Know your child and guard your home

But as an essential foundation for this discussion, parents must both know their children and guard their home from the encroachments of a culture that Grossman described as “very, very sexualized” and “really horrible.”

“Children need parents who are loving but are also firm and authoritative,” she asserted.  “They don’t need best friends. They need us to guide them, to know what they’re doing, to be on top of what they’re doing.

So parents need to be aware of whom their child is “hanging around with, and what kind of movies are they watching…what’s going on with your child.”

“You need to know that anyway, even if it’s not about sex education,” she pointed out. “Try and know your child. Every child is different.”

And Grossman emphasized that it is “extremely important to be careful about what your child is exposed to in the home, in terms of television and Internet, obviously.”

Children need to understand that “just like you have garbage you take out of the house, you put it in the garbage bin, it’s dirty, it smells…there are other things that also don’t belong in the house.”

And children learn quickly what is, and is not, permissible inside the home, Grossman said. “Me, I keep kosher…If I go into a store, my kids know from a very young age, we don’t eat that.”

So they are used to the idea of “the world outside and the inside world, of inside your home, and inside your heart as well.”

Parents can also convey this by telling their children that “the world is an upside-down place, and sometimes the most special, holy subjects are…just thrown in the gutter. And that’s a bad thing. In our family, in our tradition, we don’t do that.”

“Sexuality is one of the subjects that in this upside-down world, it is sometimes just in the gutter,” she said. “And so I want you to tell your child to come to me when you have questions, I will give you the straight story about it.”

Grossman herself is “not even sure,” as she stated in her seminar, that sex education should be in the schools: “I believe sex education should be at home for those parents that want to do it.”

She also noted that parents “can make mistakes. We all make lots of mistakes but it’s okay, you can always come back and do it differently,” adding that this is “another wonderful message for your child. You know what, it’s okay to make mistakes, you can always go back and try and fix it.”

Grossman urged parents to visit her Facebook page, website and blog. “I have so much information you can get there that you’ll find useful,” and added that she will be publishing books for children, and has posted her critique of New York City’s sex-ed curriculum, which is similar to Ontario’s.

The parental backlash to that sex-ed curriculum, set to roll out in the province’s publicly funded schools this September, has been “amazing” Grossman noted.

Grossman’s seminar was sponsored by Mississauga-based HOWA Voice of Change along with the Canadian Families Alliance, an umbrella group representing more than 25 associations and 200,000 Ontarians opposed to the curriculum. The report on her devastating critique of the sex-ed curriculum can be found here, and the video here.

Ontario readers may find information and sign up for a September 2 province-wide protests at MPPs offices here. So far, there are protests planned for 92 of Ontario’s 107 constituencies. The parents’ movement seeking removal of the curriculum is urging all concerned citizens to join this special effort to influence individual Ontario legislators.

See related reports:

Ontario’s dangerous sex-ed is indoctrination not science says U.S. psychiatrist to large audience

Videos: US psychiatrist tells parents “stand firm” against dangerous sex-ed

See the LifeSiteNews feature page on the Ontario sex-ed curriculum containing nearly 100 LifeSite articles related to the issue

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Pete Baklinski Pete Baklinski Follow Pete

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Did the pope just endorse a gay children’s book? Of course not, says Vatican

Pete Baklinski Pete Baklinski Follow Pete
By Pete Baklinski

ROME, August 28, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) -- While mainstream media is gushing with news today that Pope Francis allegedly praised a children’s book that promotes gender theory, the Vatican is decrying what they called the "manipulation" of a cordial letter from an official in the Secretariat of State to suggest that the Vatican is promoting teachings contrary to the Gospel.

Italian children’s author Francesca Pardi was reported by The Guardian to have submitted a parcel of children’s books promoting the acceptance of homosexuality and gender theory to Pope Francis in June after Venice’s mayor Luigi Brugnaro publicly banned the author’s newest book, Piccolo Uovo (Little Egg), from children’s schools. The book was criticized by pro-family leaders for promoting non-natural family structures of two men and two women.

In a letter accompanying the books, Pardi wrote: “Many parishes across the country are in this period sullying our name and telling falsehoods about our work which deeply offends us. We have respect for Catholics. ... A lot of Catholics give back the same respect, why can’t we have the whole hierarchy of the church behind us?”

The Guardian is reporting that Pardi has now “found an unlikely supporter in Pope Francis,” who through his staff has responded to the author and is presented as “praising her work.” It quotes the following from a July 9 letter to Pardi from the Vatican.

“His holiness is grateful for the thoughtful gesture and for the feelings which it evoked, hoping for an always more fruitful activity in the service of young generations and the spread of genuine human and Christian values,” wrote Peter B. Wells, a senior official at the Vatican Secretariat of State, in a the letter The Guardian is reporting it has seen.  

While the letter gently calls the author to use her talents to spread “genuine human and Christian values,” The Guardian takes it as the pope’s endorsement of gender theory.

“Pope Francis sends letter praising gay children's book,” the paper’s headline states. “Italian book that explores different family types including same sex was banned by mayor of Venice, but pontiff becomes unlikely supporter,” reads the subtitle.

In a press release that Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi sent to LifeSiteNews on Friday, the vice speaker of the Vatican, Ciro Benedettini, made clear that the friendly reply letter to the author in no way approves of attitudes or positions that are contrary to Catholic teaching and the Gospels.

The Vatican's statement also says that in the original letter from the secretariat of state Wells merely "acknowledged receipt" of the materials sent by Pardi, and also made clear that the letter was private and not meant for publication. 

"In no way does a letter from the Secretary of State intend to endorse behaviors and teachings not in keeping with the Gospel," says the statement, decrying the "manipulation" of the letter.

Benedettini said the blessing of the pope at the end of the letter was meant to be for the author herself, and not to affirm positions concerning gender theory that are contrary to the Church's teaching. Using the letter to this end is erroneous, he said.

Pope Francis has strongly condemned the notion of “gender theory” on numerous occasions, saying that it is an “error of the human mind that leads to so much confusion.”

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Lisa Bourne

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Poll suggests most US Catholics wrongly believe Pope Francis backs gay ‘marriage’

Lisa Bourne
By Lisa Bourne

August 28, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) -- A considerable majority of U.S. Catholics are in conflict with Church teaching on abortion and marriage, a new study says, and a startling number of those also believe Pope Francis backs homosexual “marriage.”

Despite Church teachings, Catholics in America also closely parallel the general populace in their support for abortion and homosexual “marriage,” falling short in the Biblical call to be “in the world but not of the world.”

The findings suggest what many Catholics have said is a climate of confusion in the midst of the Francis pontificate. Concerns over that confusion prompted a coalition of pro-family groups to respond with an international petition effort asking the pope to reaffirm Church teaching, drawing more than a half-million signatures.

The survey, conducted by Public Religions Research Institute, found that 60 percent of all U.S. Catholics favor legalized homosexual “marriage,” compared to 55 percent of all Americans. Likewise, 51 percent of Catholics think that abortion should be legal in all or most cases, with 53 percent of the general population holding this view.

The Catholic Church teaches that marriage is a sacramental union between one man and one woman, mirroring Christ and the Church respectively as bridegroom and bride.

The Church also teaches that life begins at conception, that each human life possesses dignity as a child of God and is to be afforded protection, making abortion an intrinsic evil.

Catholics, accounting for 22 percent of adults in the U.S. population, have a favorable view of Pope Francis, the study said, but they are very confused about his take on homosexual “marriage.”

Of the Catholics who back homosexual “marriage,” 49-percent also think the leader of the Catholic Church backs it along with them. Fifteen percent of those Catholics who oppose homosexual “marriage” also mistakenly believe Pope Francis supports it.

Pope Francis has made numerous statements in support of life, marriage and family, but the confusion remains.

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"After Ireland and the U.S. Supreme Court both approved same-sex 'marriage,' a strong reaffirmation of Church teaching could save the sacred institution of marriage, strengthen the family and dispel the lies of the homosexual revolution," TFP Student Action Director John Ritchie stated.  "Young Catholics -- even non-Catholics -- look to the Church as a beacon of morality and stability in our Godless culture, but some of our shepherds have issued confusing statements."

TFP Student Action is a part of the lay Catholic organization American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property, and is part of the alliance behind the Filial Appeal, the petition asking the Holy Father to reinforce Catholic teaching at the Vatican’s upcoming Synod on the Family in October.

Ritchie explained how the confusion was aiding the Church’s enemies, and warned of the potential consequences.

"This prayerful petition asks Pope Francis to clear up the moral confusion that's been spreading against Natural and Divine Law," he said. "If the enemies of the family continue to chip away at holy matrimony, the future of the family and civilization itself will be in even more serious peril."

At press time more than 500,000 signature had been gathered for the appeal, including five cardinals, 117 bishops and hundreds of well-known civic leaders.

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