Priests for Life Newsletter
Volume 17, Number 4
July - August 2007
Table of Contents
Dr. Matthew Harrison, one of our medical advisors at Priests for Life, recently told us of a woman who came to his office after having taken RU-486 at an abortion mill. After taking the drug, she changed her mind about having the abortion and wanted to save the baby! The RU-486 process requires taking a second drug three days later, and she had not yet taken that second drug. Because RU-486 interferes with the working of progesterone (and therefore begins a process of starving the unborn child), Dr. Harrison decided to give the woman a progesterone treatment. It worked! After he continued this treatment through her pregnancy, the baby was born healthy!
Neither doctors nor pregnant mothers should too easily conclude that “it’s too late” when it comes to the life of a baby! If you hear of someone who has taken RU-486 and has changed her mind, don’t let her think it’s too late. And if you are a sidewalk counselor, please keep this story in mind as you talk to women who come out of abortion mills after having taken this deadly drug!
The lay associates of the Missionaries of the Gospel of Life continue to grow. In March, Fr. Frank Pavone received the promises of Judge William P. Clark, Jr., and his wife Joan, in the beautiful chapel on their ranch in Shandon, CA. Judge Clark served as National Security Advisor under President Reagan and has held many other positions in state and federal government. “Judge Clark and his wife Joan are fervent advocates of life,” Fr. Frank explained, “and have been models of the spirituality we promote in the Missionaries of the Gospel of Life even before this Society of Apostolic Life was formed. They join me in inviting all those who are committed to defending life to learn this spirituality, which can be lived in the midst of the world and of one’s own vocation.” For information, visit www.missionariesofthegospeloflife.org.
August 15-21: This annual Pro-life Retreat and Conference will be held at the Bishop DeFalco Retreat Center in Amarillo, Texas. Fr. Frank Pavone will be joined by Bishop John Yanta of the Diocese of Amarillo. The retreat is also open to seminarians and pro-life leaders, and will contain opportunities for educational conferences as well as retreat talks. We will be joined by Dr. Alveda King, Dr. Theresa Burke, and Janet Morana for some of the conferences. Come for all or part of the retreat, as your schedule allows. It begins with Mass at 5:00 PM Central time on August 15 and ends with a closing Mass on August 21 at 7:30 AM. For more information, contact Ray at Retreats@priestsforlife.org or by phone at 718-980-4400 ext. 271.
The call to defend life is a vocation.
Priests for Life now offers the opportunity for priests and laity alike to commit themselves on a full-time basis to defending the unborn. This can take various forms:
By Fr. Frank Pavone
The April 18 Supreme Court decision, Gonzales v. Carhart, by which the Court upheld the ban on partial-birth abortion, is one of the most important Supreme Court decisions on abortion, and lays the groundwork for much future progress on this issue.
By permitting this federal ban to stand, the Court also reaffirms certain rights of individual states to legislate on abortion. Although Roe v. Wade told the states they could not prohibit abortion, the degree to which the states could regulate it has swung back and forth as a result of subsequent Supreme Court decisions. In 1992, the Planned Parenthood v. Casey decision, while reaffirming the core of Roe, nevertheless gave states wide latitude in passing abortion regulations. In 2000, however, the Carhart decision on partial-birth abortion again created obstacles for the states, and was used to challenge any common sense abortion regulation unless the regulation included an unlimited emotional health exception. Recall that “health” has a special meaning in abortion law: it includes “all factors—physical, emotional, psychological, familial, and the woman’s age—relevant to the well-being of the patient” (Doe v. Bolton). The practical impact of Carhart was that common sense regulations of abortion supported by 70-80% of the public were enacted by state legislatures only to be bottled up in court for years.
For example, parental notice could not be required if the minor girl could cite an emotional reason for not wanting notification to be made. Such an unlimited emotional “health” exception would swallow any regulation. In Gonzales, the new majority effectively rejected such an unlimited emotional health exception.
This new decision reaffirms the latitude given to the states by the Casey decision, stating that abortion legislation will only be unconstitutional “if its purpose or effect is to place a substantial obstacle in the path of a woman seeking an abortion before the fetus attains viability.” Henceforth, this will be the guideline for state abortion regulations.
Abortion advocates want abortion to have the privileged status accorded by Courts to freedom of speech and freedom of religion. Abortion advocates insist that courts use very strict standards for constitutional review of any legislative efforts to respect unborn human life, and that if a law regulating abortion might be unconstitutional even in a rare and hypothetical circumstance, the whole law should be thrown out. In the Gonzales decision, the Supreme Court rejects this approach. The Court sent the message that it will not strike down abortion regulations simply because they are abortion regulations. Nor can the courts strike down abortion laws based merely on abortion proponents’ speculative claims. The Court reaffirmed that states have legitimate interests in protecting fetal life and the health of women.
Cardinal Justin Rigali, speaking in his role as Chairman of the US Bishops’ Pro-life Committee, wrote, “Especially welcome is the Court’s explicit recognition of certain key facts: that abortion is the taking of a human life, and that government has a legitimate interest in protecting and preserving this life at every stage; that 'respect for human life finds an ultimate expression in the bond of love the mother has for her child'; that abortion may also cause grief and sorrow for women, which is only made worse when the reality of the procedure has been withheld from them until it is too late; and that the ethical integrity of the medical profession, as well as the fabric of our society, is threatened by the acceptance of practices that are difficult to distinguish from infanticide.”
As our friends at Americans United for Life have summarized,
Gonzales has restored the guidelines from Casey that are more deferential to state legislation.
reinforces the importance of informed consent. Justice Kennedy wrote for the
"The State has an interest in ensuring so grave a choice is well informed. It is self-evident that a mother who comes to regret her choice to abort must struggle with grief more anguished and sorrow more profound when she learns, only after the event, what she once did not know: that she allowed a doctor to pierce the skull and vacuum the fast-developing brain of her unborn child, a child assuming the human form."
This is an unprecedented passage in an opinion by a majority of the Supreme Court justices.
the first time in 34 years, the Supreme Court narrowed the unlimited emotional
health exception of Doe v. Bolton to a focus on "significant health
risks." It opens the door for utilizing all our research on the negative
impact of abortion on women.
opens the door to more aggressive regulation of abortion.
It also has implications for bioethics. The Gonzales opinion shows greater Supreme Court humility than in Casey in 1992; the new majority will defer more to state legislatures. There is a considerably diminished possibility that the new Supreme Court majority will create, for example, a new "right to human cloning" or a new "right to destructive embryo research." They will leave these decisions to the states.
1. Why do we need “Priests
for Life?” Isn’t every priest “for life?”
Yes, and we just help them to say so. Precisely because being “for life” is integral to being a priest, this association helps them to be even more confident, equipped, and effective at doing what they were ordained to do: proclaim, celebrate, and serve the Gospel of Life! We network priests with one another and provide, by word and example, the encouragement they need to carry out the pro-life dimensions of their ministry in union with their local bishop. Priests for Life is not some kind of elite club of priests who are more pro-life than the rest. Rather, Priests for Life is a sign and stimulus to the rest of the Church to encourage everyone to rally to the defense of the most defenseless members of the human family, the unborn.
2. Is Priests for Life political in its approach?
Priests for Life is committed to proclaiming and applying the teachings of the Church on political responsibility, as expressed by the United States bishops in “Living the Gospel of Life” (1998). We are completely non-partisan; neither are we afraid of the fact that people, upon understanding the Church’s teaching on the primacy of the right to life, will draw the practical conclusion that they should vote for a pro-life candidate. Our business is not to work for any particular party, but neither is our business to obscure the concrete implications of the Church’s teaching in the political arena.
3. Do the bishops support
Priests for Life?
Priests for Life receives a constant stream of letters from bishops across the nation thanking us for the service we provide to the priests and laity of their dioceses. Bishops regularly invite us to join them for clergy seminars, pro-life masses, and other events.
Moreover, the US Bishops’ Pastoral Plan for Pro-life Activities states, “This plan foresees dialogue and cooperation between the national episcopal conference and priests, deacons, religious, and lay persons, individually and collectively. We seek the collaboration of every Catholic organization in this effort.” We at Priests for Life are committed to providing such collaboration. It should be noted here that the Pro-life Committee of the Bishops’ Conference does not have the role of “endorsing” pro-life organizations. Rather, it seeks to encourage all those who are working to promote the Gospel of Life, as the Pastoral Plan indicates.
Some of the recent letters we received include the following statements:
“Priests for Life has been arguably one of the most important movements in the history of North American Church.” -- Most Reverend Robert J. Baker, Bishop of Charleston, South Carolina
“I am especially grateful to you for your dedication and service on behalf of the pro-life movement.” -- Anthony Cardinal Bevilacqua, Archbishop Emeritus of Philadelphia
“Fr. Pavone’s new book helps us to strengthen our convictions with clear teaching and compelling motivation.” -- Most Reverend Anthony M. Pilla, Retired Bishop of Cleveland and Past President, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.
See more comments at www.priestsforlife.org/praise
-- A Review of Fr. Frank’s new book
For the last ten years, Fr. Frank Pavone, National Director of Priests for Life, has sent out a bi-weekly message to pro-life activists across America and around the world. This “biweekly column,” published in many newspapers and pro-life periodicals, contains unique insights and practical applications of the pro-life message. Now, in his book “Ending Abortion, Not Just Fighting It,” Fr. Frank takes a sampling of a hundred of these columns and offers them anew to the pro-life movement and the Church. (At the same time, he continues to offer new reflections every two weeks in his column, available free of charge on request at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
The essays in the book are grouped according to eight major themes, most of which center on different groups of people involved in both sides of the abortion controversy. The themes are, “The Activists,” “The Arguments,” “The Women,” “The Babies,” “The Celebrations,” “The Abortionists,” “The Government,” and “The Church.” Within those sections, Fr. Frank relates many personal encounters and testimonies, such as “The Conversion of Norma McCorvey,” and “My Days with Mother Teresa.” He explores the world of the unborn child, considering topics like “Unborn Pain” and “Fetal Memory,” and considers what “Solidarity with Women” means.
The essays are filled with practical ideas for action, including ways to get abortion clinic workers to quit, to improve the effectiveness of pregnancy centers, to register voters in Churches, to expose the evil of abortion, and even to dialogue with abortionists. The essays draw practical implications from key doctrines of the faith, from liturgical feasts and seasons, and even from secular celebrations.
A No-nonsense approach
Fr. Frank’s essays take a no-nonsense approach to abortion, exposing its reality and expressing the absolute character of the moral imperative to respect life. His reflections cut through the pervasive rhetoric, found both in the Church and in the wider society, that tend to dull our consciences to the urgent priority of ending abortion. One essay, for example, is titled “Useless Advice,” in which he points out that when people in the Church say, “We can’t tell people how to vote,” this statement is both untenable and contradictory to specific, non-partisan guidance that the Church gives to voters. He offers clear guidance on understanding such concepts as “Separation of Church and State,” and “Consistent ethic of life,” analyzing these phrases in a way that disables the deceptive connotations that they have acquired, without compromising their valid meaning.
Pro-life leaders, activists, and bishops have had great things to say about Fr. Frank’s book.
“Fr. Frank, even though I have been involved in the pro-life movement for thirty years, you are always able to help me see and appreciate the issues in a deeper way.” – Peggy Hartshorn, Ph.D, President, Heartbeat International
“Your Book will be a special blessing for all those committed to the pro-life movement, giving us much food for thought, insights from experiences over the recent decades, and an agenda with concrete ideas and suggestions for the future.” -- Adam Cardinal Maida, Archbishop of Detroit
“Your book “Ending Abortion” is like dew on the parched landscape in America. It will educate and encourage all who read it to continue the battle for life with renewed vigor.” Most Rev. James C. Timlin, Bishop Emeritus of Scranton
You are encouraged to remember the following intentions as you pray the Liturgy of the Hours:
July intention: That God may strengthen those who suffer ridicule and rejection for their pro-life convictions.
August intention: That preachers in all denominations may courageously preach about abortion and euthanasia.
Fr. Frank’s Homilies from EWTN Live Televised Mass:
Fr. Pavone enlightens and inspires millions with his homilies on EWTN. You too can benefit from his wisdom with this CD! Fr. Pavone will teach you how to live the Gospel in your everyday life and in particular how you can live your commitment to the pro-life movement. (#1982) at $10 each
The Procedure: The horror of abortion exposed:
This DVD features an episode of our “Gospel of Life” TV series in which Fr. Frank quotes from practicing abortionists to describe the procedure. You will also hear the horror abortion causes the mother as you watch several women of the Silent No More Awareness Campaign share their testimonies! Share this DVD with others who are not sure where they stand on the abortion issue. (#1983) at $10
Let Freedom Ring! Songs of Love, Life & Liberty
This inspirational CD by Dr. Alveda King contains eleven songs that will aid your worship and renew your commitment to the pro-life movement. Great for prayer meetings! Makes a great gift for pastors, family and friends! (#1985) at $13.00
The Latter Rain Project
This music Video DVD written by Dr. Alveda King, tells the story of a young woman considering abortion. Persons of all ages participated in this video to show the reality of abortion and the love of the pro-life movement for mother and child. Great to play in Church or at home! (#1887) at $13.00
Order these products at www.priestsforlife.org/store or at
Priests for Life
P.O. Box 141172
Staten Island, NY 10314;
Fax: (718) 980-3900
Priests for Life
PO Box 141172
Staten Island, NY 10314
Tel. 888-PFL-3448, (718) 980-4400
Subscribe to Fr. Frank's bi-weekly prolife column (free): email@example.com
Click here to See What
Abortion Looks Like!
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