Sarah Terzo

Opinion

Ultrasound images save lives, change hearts: here’s the proof

Sarah Terzo
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February 7, 2013 (LiveActionNews.org) - Ultrasounds before abortions are routine in some abortion clinics. In others, they are performed only under certain circumstances.

Former Planned Parenthood worker Catherine Anthony Adair said the following in an interview:

At the time I worked for Planned Parenthood ultrasounds were only done if the woman was unsure of the dates of her last menstrual period, or if the doctor ordered one.

Women were not given the option of viewing the ultrasound.

In reality, ultrasounds before abortions are good medical practice. Besides verifying the length of the pregnancy, which determines what technique of abortion and what instruments are used, an ultrasound is one way to verify that a woman does not have a tubal or ectopic pregnancy. A woman may test positive for pregnancy, but really have a situation where the unborn baby is developing in the fallopian tubes and not in the womb. If this is not discovered, the tube can rupture, which is a major medical complication that can end in death. There have been a number of instances over the past several decades of women who have gone to abortion clinics, left thinking they were no longer pregnant, and then later died from a burst ectopic pregnancy. Some victims of this type of tragedy include Gladyss Delanoche Estanislao, 28; Sherry Emry and Yvette Poteat, both 26, and Angela Satterfield, 23. These women all died when abortion providers failed to diagnose their ectopic pregnancies.

In most cases, when ultrasounds are performed, women are not shown the images unless they specifically ask to see them, and sometimes not even then. Numerous former abortion providers have attested to this, including Dr. Joseph Randall, who was quoted saying:

They [the women] are never allowed to look at the ultrasound because we knew that if they so much as heard the heart beat, they wouldn’t want to have an abortion. (1)

The fact that Planned Parenthood and other pro-choice groups oppose any legislation that would allow a woman the option of seeing the ultrasound screen further attests to this pattern. Even in cases where the law states that the woman does not need to look at the ultrasound but must merely be given the option, Planned Parenthood has been contentious.

One pro-choice author, commenting on a proposed law in Louisiana which required a woman to see an ultrasound image of her baby before aborting it, called the ultrasound a “torture weapon” (2).

Referring to a bill supported by Rick Perry that would allow women who choose a chance to see an ultrasound of their unborn baby before going through with an abortion, Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards said the following:

Why is Rick Perry so cruel to women? … Rick Perry is running for president, and if he wins, you can bet he’ll force this dangerous agenda on every woman in every state. If we don’t stand up to him now, women may suffer the consequences for years to come. (3)

In Planned Parenthood’s world, allowing a woman to see an image of her baby on the ultrasound screen is a “dangerous agenda.” Many women who have abortions do not know the truth about fetal development. To quote Catherine Anthony Adair again:

We never discussed fetal development. The baby was referred to as the ”contents of the uterus” or a “clump of cells.” on the rare occasion a woman asked about the size of the baby, I would tell her it was about the size of the tip of my pencil, regardless of how many weeks into her pregnancy she was.

Jewels Green, another former clinic worker, said:

When explaining the abortion, the word ‘baby’ was never used, rather ‘contents of the uterus’, ‘the pregnancy’, or “products of conception” were the preferred terms to refer to the fetus.

The language of abortion counselors is often crafted carefully to avoid any reference to the baby. Even the term “fetus” is not always used. A 2012 NPR radio program interviewed abortion workers at a facility in England. In the interviews, the clinic workers never mention the word “abortion.” Rather, abortions were referred to as “treatments” – e.g., “the treatment room,” “treatment counseling,” etc.

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Ultrasounds cut through all this evasive rhetoric. They show the reality of the unborn baby. As for abortion providers’ statements that ultrasounds are “cruel” and “torture weapons,” anyone who has listened to women who regret their abortions has heard, over and over again, “I wish I’d had more information.” “If I’d known what abortion would really do to my baby, I wouldn’t have had one.”

Sometimes a woman who has had a past abortion gets pregnant again and is confronted with a picture of her new baby on an ultrasound screen. Then the lies are exposed, and she has to bear the full brunt of the knowledge of what she has consented to. Abortion providers may be able to avoid the truth when counseling women, but they will not be there to shield the woman from the truth for the rest of her life. Eventually, many of the women who are lied to in abortion clinics will learn the facts about fetal development, and the abortion providers will not be there to help them when this happens. Many times, the experience leads to depression and self-loathing.

So why do abortion providers avoid showing ultrasound images to women? Perhaps this is because up to 78% of women to see an ultrasound of their babies choose not to have abortions (4).

When abortion-minded women see ultrasounds of their babies at crisis pregnancy centers, amazing things happen. Here’s a story from one crisis pregnancy center worker in New Jersey. A woman (we’ll call her Gina) had been in the waiting room of the crisis pregnancy center while several of her friends encouraged her to keep the baby. When she came in for the appointment, however, she said:

No one can change my mind about getting an abortion! Not my friends in the waiting room and not that girl who just came in, and definitely not you.

The worker relates:

“I let Gina know that was not my intention to force her not to abort but rather to present her with her options so she could make the best, most well-informed decision.”

Gina and I met for about an hour and it was such a pleasant time. I got to know her and her family dynamics, life objectives, and relationship with the father of her baby. I reviewed information on abortion with her and invited her to listen as I discussed the options of parenting and adoption so that she could truly make the best decision for herself. She welcomed the opportunity and afterwards thanked me for helping her to think about the pregnancy from other perspectives. But even after our time together, Gina was firm in decision to abort.

Then Gina had an ultrasound, and it was life changing!

Immediately after looking at the monitor, Gina looked at our nurse and me and said, “Yo, that’s it! That’s my baby!” (This was the first time she identified “it” as a baby.) “I can do this!” It was such a turn of events…” (5)

Gina carried the pregnancy to term and kept her child.

The Woman’s Choice Network is a pro-life organization that helps women who are facing unplanned pregnancies and encourages them to choose life.

In 2011, the network assisted more than 1,500 women. Of the 172 who saw their sonogram when considering abortion, 123 continued the pregnancy.

“The sonogram is just the first step. It’s day one of a two-year journey. Most of the work we will do comes after the sonogram,” Ms. Scheuring said, citing baby supplies, mentoring, assistance finding child care and other help.”

“We really leave it up to them, and we do have an occasional woman who doesn’t want to look,” she said. “But almost every woman, most every boyfriend and almost every weepy grandma in the room looks at that screen. They want to see. And the most common response we hear is ‘We had no idea.’” (6)

It should be noted that this pro-life facility, like most pro-life facilities, offers women ongoing help after they decide to continue their pregnancies. This is in contrast to abortion clinics, which take the woman’s money, do the abortion, and send her home.

In another article, a married woman who became pregnant at age 39 after she had already had all the children she wanted weighed abortion and decided she would probably keep the baby. But:

Unfortunately, she says, her maternal instincts did not respond to reason: when a young friend placed her baby in her arms, she found herself looking with distaste into “a little scrunched face inspiring no tenderness, only intense tedium at the thought of tending him. What was I going to do with the baby I couldn’t return to his mother?” ….she was not sure – despite her reservations – what it would cost her emotionally to have an abortion if something were wrong. When told she had as much chance of having a miscarriage from the amniocentesis as she did, at her age, of having a Down syndrome child, she hoped for the miscarriage: “That is until, lying on the table where the procedure was to take place, I saw the ultrasound scan on a television monitor above me reveal the perfectly shaped head of the child I carried. I wanted that baby!” (7)

Pro-life author Randy Alcorn recounts the following story, told to him by pregnancy center workers, in his book Pro-Life Answers to Pro-Choice Arguments:

Barb came to Cobb Pregnancy Services Tuesday wanting a verification of pregnancy so she could get an abortion. She was 16 weeks pregnant. Janet, her counselor, put in a video [The Eclipse of Reason] that showed the abortion procedure for a baby of this age. When Janet returned to the room, Barb was looking down and said “I can’t have no baby.”

Janet shared her regret concerning an abortion she’s lived with for more than 25 years. She then got permission to call me to do an ultrasound and show Barb her baby. The little girl was most cooperative to show even her mom’s untrained eye that she was alive, very active and doing well insider. She opened and closed her mouth, had hiccups, laid-back as if in a beach chair, stretching her little legs. She even held up hands so Barb could count her fingers

Barb was visibly touched. When the scan was over, I asked Barb what her plans were. She replied “I am going to have my baby.” I asked if the scan had made a difference, she said, “Big time. I just came in here to get a pregnancy verification so I could go have an abortion.” (8)

A woman who was considering abortion after a pregnancy resulting from rape agreed to a free ultrasound at a pregnancy center:

She was blinking. She was just hanging out, looking around, sucking on her thumb. … It was so realistic, so lifelike. It looks like you can just reach right in there and pick up the baby.

I know they have a heartbeat at 4 to 6 weeks, but it still doesn’t feel as real to you until you see a human. It amazed me.

She kept her baby.

“I never thought I could love or bond with a child [who] was conceived under such horrible circumstances, but that’s where we don’t give God enough credit,” Oliver said. “I look at her, and I don’t even see him. She’s beautiful and perfect.” (9)

Another crisis pregnancy center worker recalls a woman who came running into the pro-life center sobbing after a Planned Parenthood worker accidentally allowed her to see the ultrasound screen before her abortion. Immediately upon seeing her baby on the screen, the woman knew she could not go through with the abortion and sought refuge in the pro-life clinic (10).

On November 2, 2012 the organization 40 Days for Life, which arranges prayer campaigns and protests outside abortion clinics, told the following story:

A woman had made the long drive from another county for an abortion appointment. She was one of the first to arrive that day, walking past the vigil participants and into the building.

As she was leaving, the volunteers noted that she might have been inside long enough for the abortion. They also noted that she was crying, so one of them asked her, “Is there anything I can do to help?”

“I couldn’t do it,” the woman said. “They were doing an ultrasound, so I asked if I could see it. At first they refused, telling me ‘you don’t really want to see it.’ But I insisted ‘yeah, I do want to see it, because if I can see it … maybe I won’t do it.’”

She was right. Once she saw her nine week baby on the ultrasound screen, she knew that she couldn’t go through with the abortion. (11)

Ultrasounds are a liability to abortion clinics in another way as well. Clinic staff can be disturbed by the picture of the baby on the ultrasound screen. By now, many people in the pro-life movement have heard the story of Abby Johnson, the Planned Parenthood director who became pro-life after watching the abortion of a 13-week-old unborn baby on the ultrasound. A lesser-known story is that of Joan Appleton, who had a similar experience. When talking during a conference in Chicago, Illinois sponsored by the Pro-Life Action League about the reason she left her abortion clinic, she said:

And I too had seen an ultrasound abortion. It was, we did first trimester, this was late first trimester, probably early second trimester, really we could look to 13.7 weeks. Give or take. I can’t remember offhand what the specific problem was, but we wanted to do the abortion by ultrasound, to make sure that we did indeed get the entire, all the baby. The terminology was that we wanted to make sure we had the entire pregnancy. I handled the ultrasound while the doctor performed the procedure, and I directed him while I was watching the screen. I saw the baby pull away. I saw the baby open his mouth. I had seen Silent Scream a number of times, but it didn’t affect me – to me it was just more pro-life propaganda. But I couldn’t deny what I saw on the screen. After that procedure, I was shaking, literally, but managed to pull it together, and continue on with the day.

Unlike Abby Johnson, Appleton did not leave her job immediately – but this incident was pivotal in convincing her that abortion was wrong.

Dr. Stuart Campbell performed abortions for years, but the new, vivid, 3-D ultrasound images changed his mind:

Even a fetus lying there dead doesn’t convey the horror that one experiences seeing a baby moving its arms and legs, opening its mouth, sucking its thumb, and then thinking, gosh, somebody wants to, you know… It looks so vital. It has changed my view. I don’t think there’s any doubt about that. (12)

Dr. Campbell no longer performs abortions.

Dr. Randall, quoted before, testified to the following:

I think the greatest thing that got to us was the ultrasound. At that time, the ultrasound, or soundwave picture which was moving, called a “real-time ultrasound,” showed the baby on TV. The baby really came alive on TV and was moving. And that picture, that picture of the baby on ultrasound bothered me more than anything else[.] … We lost two nurses. They couldn’t take looking[.]

He said this at the “Meet the Abortion Providers” conference sponsored by the Pro-Life Action League.

The phenomenon of abortion clinic workers leaving after seeing ultrasounds has been so prevalent over the past several decades that major medical publications have addressed the problem.

According to an article in ObGyn News:

[Abortion clinic] Staff members also may be affected by sonographic images and may need opportunities for venting their feelings and reconfirming their priorities[.] (13)

Alison Herwitt, NARAL Pro-Choice America’s director of government relations, told a reporter the following while discussing a bill that would allow government grants to crisis pregnancy centers to purchase ultrasound machines:

They don’t want them to go to Planned Parenthood, where they’ll get their full range of options. They just want them to go to crisis pregnancy centers, where women will be exposed to this weapon at taxpayers’ expense. (14)

Perhaps inadvertently, Herwitt has spoken the truth. Ultrasounds are a powerful weapon against the lies and deceit of the abortion industry.

1. “Pro-Choice 1990: Skeletons in the Closet” New Dimensions October 1990
2. Janet Hadley “Abortion: between Freedom and Necessity” (Great Britain: Virago Press, 1996) 150
3. Maggie Haberman “ Richards: Perry ‘so cruel’ to women” Politico, Sept 1, 2011
4. Adam Cohen“The Next Abortion Battleground: Fetal Heartbeats” Time Ideas October 17, 2011
5. Melissa Fischer “Gina’s Decision” Heartbeat Newsletter (First Choice Women’s Resource Centers, New Jersey) Summer 2012, p2
6. Ann Rodgers “Women’s center in Pittsburgh’s North Side welcomes ultrasound machine” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette August 18, 2012
7. Faith Abbott “a Tale of Two Women” Human Life Review, Spring 1993 in Tamara L Roleff. Abortion: Opposing Viewpoints (San Diego, Greenhaven Press, 1997) 111 to 112
8. Audrey Stout, Marietta Georgia, e-mail to Randy Alcorn February 12, 2000 Randy Alcorn “Pro-life Answers to Pro-Choice Arguments” (Sisters, Oregon: Multnomah Publishers, 2000) 199
9. Karla Dial “Bringing Good Things to Life”Citizen June 2003
10. Roderick P Murphy. Stopping Abortions at Death’s Door (Southbridge, Massachusetts: Taig Publishing 2009) P194
11. 40 Days For Life Blog http://40daysforlife.com/blog/?p=3755
12. Stuart Campbell “The Hidden Wonders of New Life” The Tablet October 7 2004
13. ObGyn News, Quoted in Rachel M MacNair, PhD. Achieving Peace in the Abortion War (New York: iUniverse, 2009) page 59
14. Karla Dial “Bringing Good Things to Life

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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