Your article and editorial (“Abortion and Down Syndrome,” Aug. 25), about proposed legislation in Ohio to prohibit abortions because of a Down syndrome diagnosis, pointed to the lack of prosecutions in North Dakota, the only state with such a law, but did not mention the true purpose and potential impact of the law.
Read the rest . . .
Creating sufficient, decent work that honors the dignity of families is a necessary component of the challenge facing all Catholics, and it is the Catholic way, said the chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development. Archbishop Thomas G. Wenski of Miami cited the importance of work in supporting families in the 2015 Labor Day statement, which drew on Pope Francis’ June encyclical on ecology, Laudato Si’.
“We must not resign ourselves to a ‘new normal’ with an economy that does not provide stable work at a living wage for too many men and women,” Archbishop Wenski said. “We are in need of a profound conversion of heart at all levels of our lives.” Archbishop Wenski challenged Catholics to “recommit ourselves to our brothers and sisters around the world in the human family, and build systems and structures that nurture family formation and stability in our own homes and neighborhoods.”
Archbishop Wenski noted that even though work is meant for the sake of family, “Wage stagnation has increased pressures on families, as the costs of food, housing, transportation, and education continue to pile up.” He added that “the violation of human dignity is evident in exploited workers, trafficked women and children, and a broken immigration system that fails people and families desperate for decent work and a better life.”
Archbishop Wenski said that, in Laudato Si’, Pope Francis challenges people to see the connections between human labor, care for creation, and honoring the dignity of the “universal family, a sublime communion which fills us with a sacred, affectionate and humble respect.”
The full text of the 2015 Labor Day statement is available online.
The Truth About Planned Parenthood
by Christopher Dodson, Executive Director, North Dakota Catholic Conference
Calls to defund Planned Parenthood renewed after the Center for Medical Progress released a series of videos that shows Planned Parenthood staff engaged in the collection and distribution of tissue and organs from aborted unborn children. The center claims that the videos show Planned Parenthood engaged in illegal activity, including the sale of unborn body parts for profit. Planned Parenthood claims that its actions were not for profit, were legal, and that defunding Planned Parenthood will deny access to women’s health and increase abortions. When we examine the facts, it becomes clear that Planned Parenthood’s claims do not justify continued funding with our tax dollars.
Planned Parenthood does abortions, and lots of them
Planned Parenthood claims that only three percent of its services are abortions. It arrives at this figure by counting every little service it provides, such as a pregnancy test, a Pap test, and tests for STDs. Suppose, therefore, that a woman comes in for an abortion. Planned Parenthood first tests if she’s pregnant, tests for STDs, conducts the abortion, and hands her contraceptives on the way out. By Planned Parenthood’s figuring, only one-fourth of the activities conducted involved abortion. Rich Lowry of the National Review noted that with this reasoning, “Major League Baseball teams could say that they sell about 20 million hot dogs and play 2,430 games in a season, so baseball is only .012 percent of what they do.”
Three percent is a lot and is three percent too much
Three percent of Planned Parenthood’s business comes to about 330,000 abortions a year. That is 330,000 too many. Any organization that does any abortions should forfeit access to taxpayer money.
Planned Parenthood is Anti-Religious Freedom
It is tempting to say that Planned Parenthood is all about abortion, but the truth is that the organization has included hostility toward religious freedom in its activities. When North Dakota voters considered a religious freedom measure Planned Parenthood affiliates from around the nation contributed $1.2 Million toward its defeat. They did this despite the fact that Planned Parenthood does not have a clinic in the state, the measure had nothing to do with “reproductive rights,” and many Planned Parenthood clinics operate in states with similar laws with no problems.
Don’t believe the claim that abortions will go up if Planned Parenthood loses tax funding or closes clinics
This claim appeals to the belief that greater access to contraceptives would lead to fewer unwanted pregnancies and therefore fewer abortions. The much ignored problem with this claim is that there exists little or no empirical evidence to support it. In fact, most studies closely looking at the issue have found that the opposite is true. For example, states and nations that fund and encourage high contraception access have higher rates and numbers of abortions. States like North Dakota that provide no funding for contraception have lower abortion rates.
Planned Parenthood’s Distraction Defense
Planned Parenthood claims the videos were edited. Actually, the unedited versions were posted at the same time. Planned Parenthood claims that they were secretly and illegally filmed. That might be true, but it does not change the substance of the videos. Planned Parenthood claims that the people behind the videos are extremists. Once again, who made the videos and what connections they might have had to other organizations is irrelevant. It does not change the substance of the videos.
It does not matter that it was legal
Perhaps the most used distraction technique is the claim that what Planned Parenthood did is legal under federal law. The Center for Medical Progress alleges that the videos show Planned Parenthood engaged in the trafficking of fetal body parts for a profit, something that is illegal under federal law. The legal system will have to determine whether Planned Parenthood violated federal laws. In the meantime, we should not lose sight of the fact that even what Planned Parenthood admits to doing is unconscionable, even if legal.
It is illegal in North Dakota
What Planned Parenthood admits to doing would be a felony if done in North Dakota. Our Congressional delegation should keep that in mind when voting on whether to defund Planned Parenthood. North Dakotans have already said that Planned Parenthood’s actions are unacceptable.
Possible Good Does Not Make it Right
Planned Parenthood and its defenders have resorted to the consequentialist argument that, no matter how you feel about abortion, what was shown in the videos is actually good because it may lead to cures. That is another distraction technique and one that relies on a flawed moral analysis. A good outcome cannot justify an evil act. The intentional killing of human life is evil and no amount of resulting “good” can make the killing morally acceptable.
Planned Parenthood likes to point out that no federal dollars pay for abortions. This is partly true. Federal law prohibits the use of federal funds to directly pay for most abortions. Tax dollars can, however, pay for abortions due to rape, incest, or to save the life of the mother. More importantly, all money is somewhat fungible. Tax dollars going to Planned Parenthood help support its agenda in other ways, an agenda that includes abortions and anti-religious freedom activity.
The mere fact that something is legal does not mean that citizens should have to disregard an organization’s involvement in the activity when it comes to deciding whether to fund another activity by the organization. In other words, even if our tax dollars do not directly pay for abortions, Planned Parenthood’s provision of abortion should exclude it from receiving our tax dollars.
Space does not permit discussion of Planned Parenthood’s never disavowed racist and eugenic history. It should be clear, even without that information, that the time has come to defund Planned Parenthood and send it to the ash heap of history.
Natural and Human Ecology:
a discussion on Laudato Si’
The encyclical Laudato Si’, released earlier this summer, continues to be a hot topic of discussion for Catholics and non-Catholics alike.
Join the Catholic bishops of Minnesota, along with many others, on September 9 to delve into some of the encyclical’s themes and to consider ways in which Minnesota Catholics can put them into practice within our families, parishes, and broader communities.
An engaging line-up of discussion panelists will join us, including:
- Cecelia Calvo, Project Coordinator of the Environmental Justice Program, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
- Fred Callens, owner of Callens Honey Farm, St. Leo, Minn.
- Dr. Daniel Finn, Clemmens Professor in Economics & Liberal Arts and professor of theology, St. John’s University
- Dr. Christopher Thompson, Academic Dean, The St. Paul Seminary
The event is free and open to the public.
The event is co-sponsored by Minnesota Catholic Conference, Catholic Rural Life, and the University of St. Thomas Center for Catholic Studies.
Pass Effective Sentencing and Criminal Justice Reform:
- Restore sentencing proportionality. Too often people are serving excessively long sentences even for non-violent offenses. Expand current judicial sentencing options related specifically to non-violent drug offenses;
- Permit reductions in mandatory minimum sentences for non-violent drug offences and permit crack cocaine offenders to seek retroactively lighter sentences under the 2010 Fair Sentencing Act;
- Expand earned time credits for good behavior. Prisoners who have committed non-violent offenses should be able to reduce the length of their sentences by successfully participating in recidivism reduction and reentry programs.
- Promote and support recidivism reduction and reentry programs including: occupational and vocational training, mental health and substance abuse treatment, assistance to find housing and employment, mentoring and life skills coaching, and domestic violence deterrence classes;
- Remove barriers that prevent access to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) and Federal Student Aid for formerly incarcerated individuals so they are able to meet their basic needs and further their education;
- Promote partnerships with faith-based, community and non-profit organizations to provide recidivism reduction programs and services;
Congress has the opportunity to pass substantive legislation to reform of our nation’s broken criminal justice system. There is bi-partisan support and agreement among a diverse body of advocates spanning the philosophical spectrum for reform. In September, as part of his trip to the United States, Pope Francis will visit a prison outside Philadelphia reflecting his consistent support for prisoners and for justice and mercy. What could be a better message from our government than to show Pope Francis our own commitment to these principles as reflected in our criminal justice system?
The United States imprisons more people than any other nation. Incarceration costs have quadrupled in the past two decades with our nation spending an average of $29,000 annually per prisoner to house each. It is simply too costly financially and in terms of lives negatively affected to continue to incarcerate people at this level.
Pope Francis has said, “God is in everyone’s life. Even if the life of a person has been a disaster, even if it is destroyed by vices, drugs or anything else-God is in this person’s life.”
Our Catholic tradition supports the community’s right to establish and enforce laws that protect people and advance the common good. But our faith also teaches us that both victims and offenders have a God-given dignity that calls for justice and restoration, not vengeance. The bishops of the United States, in their 2000 pastoral statement, Responsibility, Rehabilitation, and Restoration: A Catholic Perspective on Crime and Criminal Justice, stated, “Just as God never abandons us, so too we must be in covenant with one another. We are all sinners, and our response to sin and failure should not be abandonment and despair, but rather justice, contrition, reparation, and return or re-integration of all into the community.”
See recent testimony submitted by the USCCB Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, Catholic Charities USA and the Society of St. Vincent de Paul calling for criminal justice reform by clicking here.
North Dakota’s U.S. Senators will soon vote on whether to defund Planned Parenthood and its affiliates after the entity was found to be trafficking in fetal tissue and organs procured through abortions. Planned Parenthood claims that its actions were legal because consent was received from the mother and because it was not done for a profit.
Nevertheless, if Planned Parenthood conducted those activities in North Dakota, even with consent and without profit, they would have committed a felony. Here’s the statute:
14-02.2-02. Experimentation on dead fetus – Use of fetal organs or tissue for transplantation or experimentation – Sale of fetus or fetal organs or tissue – Penalty.
- An experimentation may not knowingly be performed upon a dead fetus resulting from an occurrence other than an induced abortion unless the consent of the mother has first been obtained; provided, however, that the consent is not required in the case of a routine pathological study. In any criminal proceeding, consent is conclusively presumed to have been granted for the purposes of this section by a written statement, signed by the mother who is at least eighteen years of age, to the effect that she consents to the use of her fetus for scientific, laboratory, research, or other kind of experimentation or study. Such written consent constitutes lawful authorization for the transfer of the dead fetus.
- A person may not use a fetus or fetal organs or tissue resulting from an induced abortion in animal or human research, experimentation, or study, or for animal or human transplantation except for diagnostic or remedial procedures, the purpose of which is to determine the life or health of the fetus or to preserve the life or health of the fetus or mother, or pathological study.
- A person may not perform or offer to perform an abortion where part or all of the consideration for the abortion is that the fetal organs or tissue may be used for animal or human transplantation, experimentation, or research or study.
- A person may not knowingly sell, transfer, distribute, give away, accept, use, or attempt to use any fetus or fetal organs or tissue for a use that is in violation of this section. For purposes of this section, the word “fetus” includes also an embryo or neonate.
- Violation of this section by any person is a class C felony.
The vote on defunding Planned Parenthood comes down to this: Why should North Dakota taxpayers fund entities that engage in activities that are felonious in North Dakota?
Urgent action is needed. The Senate is scheduled to vote as early as 5:30 pm EDT today on S. 1881, introduced by Sen. Joni Ernst, (R-IA), to withhold federal funds from the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Inc. and affiliates. All these funds would be reallocated to mainstream health facilities and public health departments so there is no reduction in funding for women’s health. Please send a message to your senators urging that they vote in favor of S. 1881. Time is of the essence.
Christopher Dodson, Executive Director of the North Dakota Catholic Conference, issued the following statement regarding the Eighth Circuit’s decision to uphold a lower court ruling striking down North Dakota’s post-fetal heat-beat abortion ban.
Today’s decision is disappointing, though not surprising, given the current views of the U.S. Supreme Court. What is surprising is that the Eighth Circuit basically admitted that its hands were tied by flawed and outdated abortion decisions.
Just as the North Dakota Catholic Conference did in its testimony in favor of the legislation in 2013, the Eighth Circuit court called attention to the problems with the “viability” standard.
The court stated, “Although controlling Supreme Court precedent dictates the outcome in this case, good reasons exist for the Court to reevaluate its jurisprudence.”
It goes on to say that the “Court’s viability standard has proven unsatisfactory because it gives too little consideration to the “substantial state interest in potential life throughout pregnancy,” noting how changes in technology and medicine determine when the state’s interest to protect life begins even though those changes have nothing to do with the unborn child’s development. “How it is consistent with a state’s interest in protecting unborn children that the same fetus would be deserving of state protection in one year but undeserving of state protection in another is not clear,” states the court.
Perhaps even more importantly, the court suggested that some of the very foundations that formed the basis of Roe have changed.
The Eighth Circuit sees what most Americans can see, but the Supreme Court doesn’t. The Supreme Court’s abortion jurisprudence is once again on a “collision course with itself” and cannot hold. The question is how many unborn lives will be lost before the Court comes to this realization?