Priests for Life Newsletter
Volume 13, Number 1
Calling all priests: Please sign
Letter for Priests to sign
The Dilatation and Evacuation (D&E) Abortion Procedure
The D&E Abortion Procedure Diagram
Catalog of Resources!
Bulletin item in Spanish for the 30th Anniversary
of Roe vs. Wade
Calling all Priests: Please Sign Statement
Just prior to November's elections, we began asking
priests nationwide to sign the statement that appears on page 2, and many of you
have faxed or mailed us your signed copy. If you have not yet seen it, please
take this opportunity to read it and attach your name. The simple points it
makes about our responsibilities in the civic arena echo precisely what our
bishops have said. We intend to use this statement during the next two years to
motivate voters as well as elected officials. Right now the statement is on our
website, and we will keep you informed of its use. You may fax the statement to
us at any of the following fax numbers: 718-980-2542 or 718-980-6944 or
718-980-3853 or 718-980-5826, or you may mail it to PO Box 141172, Staten
Island, NY 10314.
A sad contradiction to what the statement says was
recently seen in Michigan, where a few priests wrote a letter to the Detroit
Free Press actually calling into question the fact that being "pro-choice" on
abortion is a clear contradiction to one's Catholic faith. While we prefer in
this newsletter to focus on the positive things priests are doing, we are
obliged to give some response to this particular incident.
The letter states,
"Catholic church teaching throughout most of its
history did not regard the embryo and fetus in its early stages of development
as a full human being."
Church teaching throughout its entire history clearly asserts that God alone is
Lord of the entire process by which human life comes about. Therefore, despite
any changing views about the status of the embryo based on changing scientific
knowledge through the centuries, the moral teaching that all direct abortion is
wrong has always been clear, constant, and definitive.
The letter states,
"Many of the most respected Catholic theologians …
conclude …that the lack of differentiation of the individual in the first 14
days of development preclude concluding that we have at this stage a unique
individual human being."
Response: Not only
does such a conclusion ignores the latest science, it also ignores the fact that
abortion occurs throughout pregnancy. The procedure involves dismemberment and
decapitation. Just see page 3 and 4 of this newsletter and you will see what
these priests are missing.
There are few better ways to ignore our responsibilities
in the face of this atrocity than to start some abstruse theological argument
about the individuality of 14-day old embryos.
The letter by these priests makes other misleading,
erroneous points that we believe amount to scandal. Our message to the priests:
please use your time and energy to help end abortion rather than to confuse
people about it.
Letter for Priests to Sign
We invite you to sign and fax (or mail) back to us the
following statement. It will be used in a non-partisan way on our website and
sent to media outlets nationwide to express our common commitment to life. God
bless you! -- Fr. Frank Pavone and Staff
"As Catholic priests, ordained to preach the Gospel of
Life, Justice, and Peace, we
a) affirm, in union with our bishops, that all citizens,
particularly Catholics, should exercise their duty to vote and should "embrace
their citizenship not merely as a duty and privilege, but as an opportunity
meaningfully to participate in building the culture of life" (US Bishops,
1998, Living the Gospel of Life, n. 34);
b) embrace a consistent ethic of life, which asserts that
all life issues are linked and important, and which acknowledges that "among
important issues involving the dignity of human life with which the Church is
concerned, abortion necessarily plays a central role" (US Bishops, 2001,
Pastoral Plan for Pro-life Activities, A Campaign in Support of Life);
c) echo our bishops' teaching that "No public official,
especially one claiming to be a faithful and serious Catholic, can responsibly
advocate for or actively support direct attacks on innocent human life" (US
Bishops, 1998, Living the Gospel of Life, n. 32).
We are confident that the Lord of Life and Peace, who has
conquered the power of death, offers His people the grace necessary to build a
Culture of Life.
Parish City, State
The Dilatation and Evacuation (D&E) Abortion Procedure
Analysts of public opinion widely acknowledge that the
public debate on partial-birth abortion, beginning in 1995, caused many
Americans to re-evaluate their assessment of whether abortion should be legal in
all circumstances. A key element of the public debate was the fact that
illustrations of the procedure were shown on national television and in print
Now, Priests for Life has obtained medically accurate
drawings of an even more common and widely acknowledged second-trimester
abortion procedure, dilatation and evacuation (D&E). The chart you see on page 4
of this newsletter was developed by medical illustrators with the advice and
input of physicians. (The images were obtained through Nucleus Communications,
Inc. and may only be reproduced with their permission.)
With the help of our own medical advisor, Dr. Tony
Levatino, who used to perform D&E abortions before he was converted to the
pro-life position, Priests for Life will publicize and explain this chart.
Following are some quotes from medical and legal sources
about the D&E procedure, which is legal throughout the United States.
"Dilatation and evacuation has become one of the two most
frequently used methods of abortion in the second trimester" (Berger et al, ed.,
Second Trimester Abortion: Perspectives After a Decade of Experience,
Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, 1981, p.120).
[Note: According to the Alan Guttmacher institute,
12% of abortions are performed at 13 weeks or more, by any procedure, which
would translate into approximately 159,600 per year.]
"Second-trimester D&E abortions are performed on an
outpatient basis in both hospitals and free-standing clinics…Most surgeons rely
on large forceps to evacuate the products of conception" (Berger, op cit.,
The following account of D&E is part of sworn testimony
given in US District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin (Madison, WI,
May 27, 1999, Case No. 98-C-0305-S), by Dr. Martin Haskell, an abortionist:
"And typically when the abortion procedure is started we
typically know that the fetus is still alive because either we can feel it move
as we're making our initial grasps or if we're using some ultrasound
visualization when we actually see a heartbeat as we're starting the procedure.
It's not unusual at the start of D&E procedures that a limb is acquired first
and that that limb is brought through the cervix and even out of the vagina
prior to disarticulation and prior to anything having been done that would have
caused the fetal demise up to that point."
"When you're doing a dismemberment D&E, usually the last
part to be removed is the skull itself and it's floating free inside the uterine
cavity…So it's rather like a ping-pong ball floating around and the surgeon is
using his forcep to reach up to try to grasp something that's freely floating
around and is quite large relative to the forcep we're using. So typically
there's several misdirections, misattempts to grasp. Finally at some point
either the instruments are managed to be place around the skull or a nip is made
out of some area of the skull that allows it to start to decompress. And then
once that happens typically the skull is brought out in fragments rather than as
a unified piece…"
Catalog of Resources!
Priests for Life is happy to announce a comprehensive
catalog of all our brochures, booklets, audio and video tapes that have inspired
people worldwide to fight abortion. Materials from Fr. Frank (including episodes
from his Defending Life program on EWTN) as well as from other pro-life
leaders are included. Some items available in Spanish. Contact our Orders
department for more information: (718) 980-4400, ext. 239, or
Bulletin item in Spanish for the 30th Anniversary of Roe vs. Wade
Norma McCorvey, conocida como "Jane Roe" del caso
Roe vs. Wade de 1973 en el que la Corte Suprema de los Estados
Unidos legalizó el aborto, es ahora una Católica pro-vida. El 23 de Marzo de
1997, ella declaró con las siguientes palabras: " Yo soy Norma McCorvey. Fui
conocida como Jane Roe el 22 de Enero de 1973 cuando la Corte Suprema de los
Estados Unidos declaró que la mujer tiene el "derecho de abortar". Ahora me
reconozco como una hija de Dios, una nueva criatura en Cristo; He sido perdonada
y redimida. Hoy, públicamente me arrepiento de haberme involucrado con el aborto.
Humildemente pido perdón a los millones de mujeres y niños no nacidos que han
experimentado la violencia del aborto. En este lugar de sanación, El Monumento
Nacional de los no-nacidos, me uno a todos los que honran el valor de cada niño
creado a la imagen y semejanza de Dios, y declaro que lucharé en el nombre de
Jesús, hasta ver abolido este holocausto".
You are encouraged to remember the following intentions
as you pray the Liturgy of the Hours:
January intention: That the faithful more deeply study
the words and actions of Christ, to know how to care for the least of our
brothers and sisters.
February intention: That God may bless and strengthen the
pro-life efforts of college students.
Remember, the Bishops' Pastoral Plan for Pro-life
Activities calls for Pro-life Petitions at Every Mass! Suggestions:
That God's people, who proclaim that death has been
conquered in Christ, may be active in defending His gift of life, we pray to the
That God's people may use their many talents to proclaim
the sanctity of life in the arenas of business, media, the arts, and politics,
we pray to the Lord...
More suggestions, tailored for each Sunday of the
year, are at