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Priests for Life Newsletter

Volume 13, Number 1
January-February 2003

Calling all priests: Please sign Statement
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
Prayer Intentions

Calling all Priests: Please Sign Statement

Dear Fathers, 

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: 321-225-8271 or 718-980-6944 or 718-980-3853 or 718-980-5826, or you may mail it to PO Box 236695, Cocoa, FL 32923.

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."

Response: Catholic 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

Dear Father,

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); and

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.

______________________________________ __________________________

Signed Date

______________________________________ __________________________

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 ads.

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., p.121-128).

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…"

The D&E Abortion Procedure in Diagrams


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: 321-500-1000, 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".


Prayer Intentions

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 Lord...

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


Priests for Life
PO Box 236695 • Cocoa, FL 32923
Tel. 321-500-1000, Toll Free 888-735-3448 •