NewsFri Jul 20, 2007 - 12:15 pm EST
Use of Graphic Abortion Photos Strongly Defended by Pro-Life Leaders
By Hilary White and Steve Jalsevac
TORONTO, July 20, 2007 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Every summer, motorists and pedestrians in towns across Canada and the US are presented with groups of pro-life volunteers standing next to or holding large signs displaying photos of aborted children. Such projects as Face the Truth in the US, Show the Truth in Canada and the Genocide Awareness Project on both sides of the border bring the images to the public, often stirring debate in newspapers.
The debate within the pro-life movement is ongoing with proponents arguing that the use of graphic images has been among the most successful tools in every human rights struggle since the 18th century when William Wilberforce used them in his campaign against the slave trade. Photos of the Nazi holocaust of the Jews are widely understood to have played a crucial role in awakening the world to the reality of that evil.
Pro-life leaders say that the media blackout on the horrific realities of abortion is so complete that there is little other means of making the case in public.
Fr. Frank Pavone, considered one of today’s most knowledgeable, respected and widely travelled pro-life evangelists, recently gave his views on the use of graphic abortion photos at the 2007 Canadian March for Life Youth Conference in Ottawa. Pavone strongly supports the use of such images as one important part of pro-life strategies.
Pavone stated, "There is no single thing that I have seen more powerful to change people on abortion than simply showing them the pictures… When people see what abortion does to a baby, they are stung to the heart and their consciences are awakened."
The pro-life priest who has founded and heads a new order of priests with a special dedication to pro-life evangelism, says that use of the photos is crucial for educating a disbelieving or evading public about the true reality of abortion. He told the Ottawa youth, "Some people think abortion just makes the baby kind of disappear. They still don’t appreciate that it is an act of violence. It is only the pictures of the aborted children, torn apart, limb for limb that convince people that abortion is an act of violence."
Fr. Pavone emphasizes the graphic images frequently cause numerous, almost instant conversions of pro-abortion people to a pro-life position. He states, "I get emails every day - you will hear people say, ‘I was 100% pro-choice until I saw those pictures.’ We get emails everyday saying that the people who went to our website and saw the pictures of the babies began to cry and in a minute, they moved from being 100% pro-abortion to being 100% pro-life."
The motto of the Priests for Life Website is "America will not reject abortion until America sees abortion." Pavone told the youth "Canada will not reject abortion until Canadians see it and you can make that happen."
Joe Scheidler, the National Director of Pro-Life Action League in the US, who has used the images from the beginning of his decades-long involvement in the pro-life movement, told LifeSiteNews.com that the fight against abortion would never have made any political headway without the images.
Others in the movement, however, have gone so far as to condemn the images as immoral. In February this year, Calgary’s outspokenly pro-life Catholic bishop, Fred Henry, recently sent a letter to all his parishes and Catholic schools banning the local group, the Canadian Centre for Bioethical Reform, that depends upon the images as the centre of their argument. Henry condemned the use of the images as immoral saying they violated the moral principle that "the end…does not justify the means."
The Calgary bishop’s insistence contrasts with that of other Catholic authorities who admit of the legitimacy of the shocking images, even while declining to use them. Pavel Reid, then director of the pro-life activities of the Vancouver archdiocese, wrote to pro-life activist Stephanie Gray in 2004, saying that while the archdiocese would not use the graphic images, there was no argument to be made against their use from the point of view of "faith and morals, but is a prudential decision with which Catholics may disagree."
"Catholics in the Archdiocese remain free to support the GAP," Reid wrote.
Scheidler, who has just finished a ten-day tour of Face the Truth, used stronger language calling the condemnation of graphic images, "extremely dangerous" to the cause of the unborn. "The pictures upset people, but only because they don’t want to admit that this is our culture. If it’s immoral, I don’t see how so many good people can do this."
Scheidler cited the bishops he had worked with using the images, including the revered late Bishop Austin Vaughn. He told LifeSiteNews.com that condemning graphic images because they are upsetting is playing into the hands of the media and pro-abortion movement that "wants us to shut up and go away."
Scheidler, echoing the experience of many groups using the images, said the pictures save lives. During his group’s most recent tour, 20 pregnant young women who had intended to abort, approached volunteers saying that though the images had shocked them, they had helped them decide against abortion.
"People are converted by it," Scheidler said. "[Condemning the pictures] is like telling the Apostles they can’t talk about Christ crucified. you can talk about the resurrection but not the crucifixion."
Some pro-life supporters, while allowing that the shocking abortion images have a legitimate place in the debate, have taken a different approach.
Right to Life Michigan is the organization in the US that pioneered the use of "softer" images in their successful pro-life television ads billboards and radio spots. Despite the group’s emphasis on the gentler approach, however, Pamela Sherstad director of public information at RTL Michigan told LifeSiteNews.com that the use of shocking images of aborted children has its proper place.
"We use them. We have them on the website and we give a warning for people who do want to see the reality of abortion. It does tell the truth of what happens: when abortion occurs, an innocent human life is destroyed." Sherstad said.
Read related LifeSiteNews.com coverage:
Calgary Bishop Cites Graphic Images for Withdrawal of Support for Prominent Pro-life Group
See full text of excerpt from Fr. Frank Pavone’s speech at National March for Life 2007 Youth Conference
Fr. Frank Pavone on the Power of Graphic Abortion Images
See the Priests for Life website
See Center for Bioethical Reform website
See Pro-Life Action Leagues’ face the Truth page
See Canada’s Show the Truth website
See past Interim article
On the need to show the full horror of abortion
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Planned Parenthood closes Iowa abortion facility because of low business
DUBUQUE, Iowa, May 3, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – Planned Parenthood closed an Iowa abortion facility on Friday, noting low business that left the facility unsustainable from a financial standpoint.
Although Planned Parenthood of the Heartland announced in January that it planned to close the Dubuque, Iowa, office, pro-life sidewalk counselors were overjoyed on Friday to read the sign in the window that read: “Our office is closed, effective April 28, 2016.”
The office did not perform surgical abortions but did provide medication abortions to the community of about 58,000.
“Rejoice with us for the lives of unborn children saved!” Iowa Right to Life said in a statement after the closure.
As with numerous other closures, Planned Parenthood, which styles itself a provider of “care no matter what,” emphasized it was closing its doors to preserve its bottom line.
“After assessing the shifting health care landscape, changing demographics, and the challenges of operating in areas with low patient volumes, we made the tough decision to close the Dubuque Health Center,” the group said in an announcement. “This change allows us to expand hours and see more patients in Cedar Rapids, where there is unmet demand due to lack of clinician hours.”
“While we regret making this change, we know it is a necessary step in order to continue our mission to provide, promote and protect reproductive and sexual health through health services, education and advocacy. Patients have been notified, and if they wish, they can receive a broader array of services at our health center in Cedar Rapids, where we have expanded hours to accommodate more patient,” Planned Parenthood said.
American Life League’s vice president, Jim Sedlak, remembers speaking to the county right to life group nine years ago.
“I told them at the time that they needed to protest outside Planned Parenthood at least once a week,” he said. “They told me they would do better than that. Over the last eight years, these dedicated pro-lifers were outside Planned Parenthood every hour it was open. And now...it’s closed for good.”
That aligns with advice that David Bereit, the founder of 40 Days for Life, once told young people who wanted to know how to end abortion.
Be loving and compassionate, he said.
“Your peaceful, loving presence out there flies in the face of all the stereotypes they want to throw onto us,” he added. “When you show them love instead of condemnation, when you show them peace and joy instead of anger and judgment, that will begin to break down the walls.”
Iowa Right to Life credited just such tactics with closing an office in Red Oak that performed webcam abortions. “Planned Parenthood shut down in Red Oak in large part because of the constant, prayerful presence outside their clinic,” the group said.
Upon hearing of the latest abortion facility shuttering, the Dubuque County Right to Life said that Planned Parenthood isn't the only group that will move its base of operations. “We will probably put our efforts in Cedar Rapids and will continue to spread the pro-life message,” said Executive Director Marian Bourek.
Ted Cruz confronted by mom who supports aborting disabled babies…just like hers
MARION, Indiana, May 3, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – Senator Ted Cruz was met on the campaign trail by a mother who strongly opposed a state pro-life law that would have protected children with birth conditions – like her own.
Andrea DeBruler, a 41-year-old nurse, confronted the presidential hopeful in the city of Marion as Cruz campaigned with Gov. Mike Pence.
DeBruler first asked Cruz, then Pence, about House Bill 1337, which bans abortions performed due to the child's race, sex, or disability, such as Down syndome.
DeBruler held up a picture of her daughter, Jania, who was born with cerebral palsy. “This was a choice,” she said.
She asked Sen. Cruz if he supported the bill, which made Indiana the second state in the nation to ban abortion for Down syndrome, after North Dakota.
“I'm not Governor Pence,” he replied. “But I'll tell you this: I believe in protecting human life.”
Pence, who endorsed Cruz in today's make-or-break Indiana primary, listened to her objections.
“I'm not here as a Republican, I'm not here as a Democrat. I'm here as a woman, a woman with choices, choices that you guys should not make,” DeBruler said.
After hearing that she felt many families lacked sufficient resources to care for children, especially in an area like Marion, Gov. Pence offered to connect her with social services.
“God bless her,” he said, looking at Jania's picture, “and God bless you.”
Though it may be unusual to encounter a woman arguing for the right to abort her own child, the governor handled it calmly. Pence had specifically reflected on “precious moments” he spent with “families of children with disabilities, especially those raising children with Down syndrome” when he signed the bill into law in March.
"We are truly thankful for the passage of this historic legislation by the Indiana House and applaud the new civil rights protections this bill creates for unborn children, as well as the new provisions this bill establishes for the humane final disposition of aborted babies," Indiana Right to Life President Mike Fichter said at the time.
DeBruler told the UK media outlet The Independent that H.B. 1337 “means you can no longer have an abortion based on deformity. I’m against this law, because I think it should be a woman’s choice” to abort for any reason.
Congressional Democrats made similar statements during hearings last month for Rep. Trent Franks' federal Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act (PRENDA), with Congressman John Conyers saying the bill is “patently unconstitutional,” because a woman has the right to abort a child before viability for any reason.
Both leading contenders for the Democratic nomination expressed their displeasure with the law, which protects unborn children from racial or sexual discrimination, as well as discrimination on the basis of an inborn trait like mental capacity.
When Gov. Pence signed the law, Sen. Bernie Sanders tweeted:
The decision to have an abortion is for a woman to make, not the Governor of Indiana. https://t.co/1VOroXS2br— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) March 24, 2016
Hillary Clinton later said, “I commend the women of this state, young and old, for standing up against this governor and this legislature.”
DeBruler told The Independent, despite her comment about not being a Democrat or a Republican, she is in fact a Democrat and will vote for Hillary Clinton in today's primary.
The moral challenge to Cardinal Wuerl in pending Notre Dame outrage
May 3, 2016 (CatholicCulture) -- In 2009, when the University of Notre Dame invited President Barack Obama to deliver a commencement address, dozens of American bishops lodged loud public protests. Yet this year, as Notre Dame prepares to confer an even greater honor on Vice President Joe Biden (together with former House Speaker John Boehner), the silence from the hierarchy is deafening.
Back in 2009, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Houston said that Notre Dame’s invitation to President Obama was “very disappointing,”, while then-Archbishop Timothy Dolan termed it a “big mistake.” The late Bishop John D’Arcy, then leader of the Indiana diocese in which the university is located, spoke of “the terrible breach which has taken place between Notre Dame and the Church.” For the first time in his 25 years of service to the Fort Wayne-South Bend diocese, Bishop D’Arcy declined to attend the Notre Dame commencement exercises; instead he addressed a protest rally organized by pro-life students, faculty, alumni, and staff.
These prelates and others explained their dismay by referring to the statement “Catholics in Political Life,” released in 2004 by the US Conference of Catholic Bishops. In that document, the bishops reflected on the need to maintain a consistent public witness in defense of human life, and therefore to distance themselves from public officials who support legal abortion. The statement set forth a clear policy that Catholic institutions should not give public honors to “pro-choice” politicians:
The Catholic community and Catholic institutions should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles. They should not be given awards, honors or platforms which would suggest support for their actions.
By giving President Obama an honorary degree and offering him an opportunity to speak at graduation, Notre Dame clearly violated that policy. University officials could offer only garbled partial defenses, claiming that they were honoring Obama not because he supports unrestricted abortion, but because he is President of the United States.
This year the university cannot offer even that lame defense of the decision to award the Laetare Medal to Vice President Biden. Unlike Obama, Biden is a Catholic, and by granting him this award the university is explicitly saying that the Vice President has “illustrated the ideals of the Church and enriched the heritage of humanity.” In other words, Notre Dame is honoring Vice President Biden as a Catholic political leader despite his unwavering support for abortion and same-sex marriage.
Give credit to Bishop Kevin Rhoades, the current leader of the Fort Wayne-South Bend diocese, for raising a lonely voice of protest. “I believe it is wrong for Notre Dame to honor any ‘pro-choice’ public official with the Laetare Medal, even if he/she has other positive accomplishments in public service,” Bishop Rhoades said. But if any other bishops have joined him in that rebuke to Notre Dame, I must have missed their public announcements.
Some observers, of liberal political sympathies, have argued that it is wrong to honor John Boehner, too, because the former Speaker disagreed with the US bishops’ stand on immigration. This is a tired old argument, conflating disagreement with the bishops on a prudential political decision with defiance of Church teaching on a fundamental moral principle. But it is noteworthy that Notre Dame officials saw fit to make a joint award, no doubt in a cynical effort to dodge political criticism by choosing one honoree from each side of the political spectrum.
“We live in a toxic political environment where poisonous invective and partisan gamesmanship pass for political leadership,” said Father John Jenkins, the president of Notre Dame, in announcing the Laetare Award recipients. (Notice the pre-emptive suggestion that those who criticize the school’s choices may be engaged in “poisonous invective.”) He went on to make a tortured argument that although Notre Dame is honoring two politicians, it is not honoring them for what they have done in their political careers:
In recognizing both men, Notre Dame is not endorsing the policy positions of either, but celebrating two lives dedicated to keeping our democratic institutions working for the common good through dialogue focused on the issues and responsible compromise.
By now we all know the familiar dodges. The politician claims to oppose abortion personally, but to feel a delicate reticence about imposing his views on others. He says that we must be willing to compromise (even on life-and-death decisions). He insists that he is not “pro-abortion” but “pro-choice.”
That last bubble of rhetoric was unceremoniously burst by Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington, DC, when he celebrated Mass at Georgetown after Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richard had delivered a lecture there. “The word ‘choice’ is a smokescreen,” he said, “behind which those killing unborn children take refuge. Every chance you get, blow that smoke away!”
Now Cardinal Wuerl himself has a chance to “blow that smoke away.” As things stand, he is scheduled to celebrate Mass at the Notre Dame commencement, and to receive an honorary degree. He could pull out; he could absent himself from the ceremonies, to ensure that he does not become part of an event that pays homage to a “pro-choice” Catholic politician.
And there is a precedent. Back in 2009, the Harvard legal scholar (and former US ambassador to the Holy See) Mary Ann Glendon was chosen to receive the Laetare Award. But when she learned that President Obama would be speaking, she announced her decision to decline the award. Clearly annoyed that her presence might be used to quiet the critics of the honor for Obama, Ambassador Glendon wrote that she did not want to be used as a counterweight, nor did she see the Notre Dame commencement as an appropriate venue for a genteel debate about legal abortion:
A commencement, however, is supposed to be a joyous day for the graduates and their families. It is not the right place, nor is a brief acceptance speech the right vehicle, for engagement with the very serious problems raised by Notre Dame’s decision—in disregard of the settled position of the U.S. bishops—to honor a prominent and uncompromising opponent of the Church’s position on issues involving fundamental principles of justice.
Could Cardinal Wuerl do this year what Ambassador Glendon did in 2009? Even at this late date, his withdrawal would send a powerful message of support for the right to life: an unmistakable rebuke to politicians who hide behind the smokescreen that the cardinal himself identified. To be sure, if he did withdraw, the cardinal would be caught in an avalanche of public criticism; he would suffer for his public witness. But there is a reason why cardinals wear red.
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