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Priests for Life Newsletter

Volume 12, Number 4
July - August 2002

Contents


MIDTERM ELECTIONS:

Have you informed your people of the deadlines for voter registration and how to register? Remember that in the end, what matters in every election is who gets to the polls. How will you help? See the link "Register and Vote" on the front page of our site, www.priestsforlife.org.


Resources in Spanish

Priests for Life is happy to announce that we have increased the number of resources we have in Spanish. Along with Fr. Frank's bi-weekly commentary on pro-life issues, we also have intercessions and bulletin inserts, as well as our Priests for Life prayer booklet. All of these may be downloaded from our website at the Spanish resources page, www.priestsforlife.org/spanish/Spanish.html. We ask you to please spread the word to priests, deacons, and others who minister in the Church to our Hispanic brothers and sisters.

Suggested Petitions in Spanish for the General Intercessions

- Que todos los líderes y miembros de la Iglesia, puedan acoger con gozo el llamado de proclamar, celebrar, y servir al Evangelio de la Vida, roguemos al Señor...

- Que la Iglesia, Pueblo de la Vida, pueda dar un alegre y convincente testimonio de que cada vida humana proviene de Dios, le pertenece a Dios, y está hecha para regresar a Dios, roguemos al Señor...

- Que la Iglesia, llamada a optar siempre por los más pobres, siempre defienda a los no nacidos, que son los hijos de Dios más indefensos, roguemos al Señor...

Suggested bulletin insert in Spanish:

El Monumento Nacional de la guerra de Vietnam en Washington DC es una brillante pared negra que mide 492 pies y contiene los nombres de los 58,022 Americanos que se sabe, murieron en dicha guerra. Si en lugar de nombrar los soldados caídos en la guerra, esta pared nombrara a todos los niños asesinados por el aborto desde 1973, la pared mediría unas 60 millas de longitud. Las fatalidades de nuestras guerras juntas, son menores que las fatalidades que produce el aborto en un solo año.


Counseling tips: Helping People Choose Life, Not Abortion

Fr. Frank Pavone, Founding Director

Saving lives in our day has never been easier, and this is so for the tragic reason that more lives are in danger and easily snuffed out than ever before. The potential victims are all around us: in our families, in our neighborhoods, in our Churches. How do we counsel someone who is pregnant, in need, and tempted to abortion?

Counseling in these situations can be direct (speaking to the one who is pregnant) or indirect (speaking to someone who knows her), brief or extended. We intend to carry a series of articles on practical counseling in this newsletter, but want to begin with a few insights and suggestions about the direct counseling of the pregnant individual.

  1. Narrowing the focus. We are speaking here of the abortion-minded woman, and for our purposes we will define this person as one who sees abortion as either her only option or one of her likely options.

    Others who are pregnant but not abortion-minded may come to us for various kinds of help and advice, and helping them is certainly part of the mission of the Church. But stopping an abortion has dynamics that are unique and require special attention.
  2. She does not want the abortion. A key thought to keep in mind is that those who have abortions don't want them. As Frederica Mathewes-Green has said, no woman wants an abortion like she wants a Porsche or an ice cream; rather, she wants it like an animal caught in a trap wants to gnaw off its own leg.

    Most likely, this pregnant girl has received no advice from anyone she has spoken to except "You have to get an abortion; there's no other way." We should assess right from the start who knows about the situation and what they are telling her. We then need to provide the voice of hope, that there are alternatives. Deep down, this is what she is hoping against hope to hear. Countless post-abortion testimonies reflect the experience of crying out -- on the inside -- for an alternative.
  3. Why some feel adoption is worse than abortion. In his article, "Abortion: A Failure to Communicate," (First Things 82, April 1998: 31-35), Paul Swope of the Caring Foundation gives us the following insights regarding studies done on women's perception of abortion, adoption, and parenting:

    "Adoption, unfortunately, is seen as the most "evil" of the three options, as it is perceived as a kind of double death. First, the death of self, as the woman would have to accept motherhood by carrying the baby to term. Further, not only would the woman be a mother, but she would perceive herself as a bad mother, one who gave her own child away to strangers. The second death is the death of the child "through abandonment." A woman worries about the chance of her child being abused. She is further haunted by the uncertainty of the child’s future, and about the possibility of the child returning to intrude on her own life many years later. Basically, a woman desperately wants a sense of resolution to her crisis, and in her mind, adoption leaves the situation the most unresolved, with uncertainty and guilt as far as she can see for both herself and her child. As much as we might like to see the slogan "Adoption, Not Abortion" embraced by women, this study suggests that in pitting adoption against abortion, adoption will be the hands-down loser.

    "The attitude of these women toward abortion is quite surprising. First, all of the scores of women involved in the study (none of whom were pro-life activists and all of whom called themselves "pro-choice") agreed that abortion is killing. While this is something that is no doubt "written on the human heart," credit for driving home the reality of abortion is also due to the persevering educational work of the pro-life movement. Second, the women believe that abortion is wrong, an evil, and that God will punish a woman who makes that choice. Third, however, these women feel that God will ultimately forgive the woman, because He is a forgiving God, because the woman did not intend to get pregnant, and finally, because a woman in such crisis has no real choice, the perception is that the woman’s whole life is at stake.
  4. Find out whom she is afraid to hurt, disappoint, or lose. Whom is she trying to please or protect?

    Some believe that the key elements causing a person to seek abortion are practical matters like money or housing. Just as significant, however, are relational concerns. Frederica Mathewes-Green conducted listening groups in major cities across the United States to ascertain why women get abortions. Her book, Real Choices, gives excellent insights from what she learned. She writes, "Women in the listening groups uniformly talked about pressures in relationships; the abortion was done, each told us, either to please someone or to protect someone" (p.17). "For nearly every woman, the abortion decision is the result of many reasons, not just one. Relational and practical, emotional and material problems all jumble together in a dense knot, and abortion appears the most efficient -- if not the only -- way to solve them all" (p. 20).

    The "pro-choice" Alan Guttmacher Institute states the following on its website (www.agi-usa.org/pubs/fb_induced_abortion.html) about why women get abortions:

    "On average, women give at least 3 reasons for choosing abortion: 3/4 say that having a baby would interfere with work, school or other responsibilities; about 2/3 say they cannot afford a child; and 1/2 say they do not want to be a single parent or are having problems with their husband or partner."
  5. See and treat the situation as a life and death emergency, which it is. Though it may come to us in the most calm and normal of circumstances, the conversation with someone who might have an abortion has immersed us all at once into a life-or-death struggle. We need to treat it accordingly with the highest priority, being sure not only to assist the pregnant individual in our conversation, but to maintain contact with her on a daily basis, either doing so ourselves or entrusting her to an individual who can do so. Even if we seem to have persuaded her to choose life, those who are pressuring her to abort will be at it again later that day and the next day.

    We should know the nearest abortion-alternatives and the people who serve there, and we should, wherever possible, establish the connection ourselves between the person in need and the pregnancy assistance center. Simply giving her the contact information does not assure that she will call. Hotline numbers like the National Life Center (800-848-LOVE) should be on the tip of our tongue.
  6. Different levels of persuasion are necessary in different cases. Some abortion-minded individuals can be talked out of it with counseling alone, maybe just one talk. Others will be persuaded only if they see photos of the developing baby. It is good to have some at hand (see our website at www.priestsforlife.org/resources/abortionimages/fetaldevelopment.htm). It is also advisable to identify a doctor in the parish who is willing to volunteer his or her services in these emergencies, and provide an ultrasound for the mother.

    Some will not be moved either by counseling or by positive images, and may need to see the pictures of aborted children (see www.priestsforlife.org/images). There are those who, despite their knowledge of the life of the child and the violence of abortion, have completely closed their heart to the child. Sometimes, speaking about the risks of abortion to their own health and safety, and information about abortion malpractice and the dangers of the procedure, can persuade them not to go through with it. Finally, there are those who have placed themselves beyond the realm of reason, and only some form of peaceful, direct intervention can save that life.
  7. A priest's counseling is unique. You as a priest are offering, by your very presence, a caring fatherly image that contradicts the abandonment that this woman likely experiences from the baby's father. Moreover, the powerful religious symbolism a priest provides is an essential element which professional counseling by itself cannot provide.
  8. Invite them to come. People who are pregnant and in need will come if we invite them to. By preaching and writing about abortion within our parishes and schools, and inviting people to come forward to seek help, we give them permission to bring to us this deeply personal and troubling matter. And as a result, lives will be saved.

Prayer Intentions

You are encouraged to remember the following intentions as you pray the Liturgy of the Hours:

July intention: For an end to capital punishment.

August intention: Daily intention for the babies scheduled to be aborted that day.


Recommended Books

(See a fuller list of pro-life books we recommend on our website at www.priestsforlife.org/books)

Catholic Bioethics and the Gift of Human Life

by William May

This book gives a detailed overview of Catholic teaching on major bioethical issues, including contraception, abortion, reproductive technologies, experimentation, euthanasia, assisted suicide, organ transplantation, and the definition of death.

ISBN Number 0-87973-683-6

Published in 2000 by Our Sunday Visitor, 200 Noll Plaza, Huntington, IN 46750; Phone 1-800-348-2440; Email osvbooks@osv.com; Website www.osv.com 


Abortion Industry in Trouble!

The pro-life movement, through the work of Life Dynamics, is now in possession of concrete evidence that hundreds of abortion clinics have knowingly and deliberately avoided their duty to report statutory rape. Minors who have been impregnated by adults are sold abortions every day, and not a word is spoken about the sexual abuse they have suffered. Priests for Life will be working closely with other groups to facilitate legal action against these clinics. For more information, visit www.childpredators.com.


Recommended Summer Action Item

The pro-life movement needs to reach people who are not going to come, on their own, to a pro-life talk or presentation. The summer months provide a great opportunity to bring the pro-life message to people who are out and about at the malls, ball games, beaches, parks, and other public gatherings. Organize literature distribution, life chains, and other peaceful gatherings with signs showing the reality of abortion. The First Amendment gives us an open door to this type of activity. Youth groups especially can be harnessed for this type of action. Please let us know if you need help in planning this kind of activity!


 

 

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