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Posts Tagged ‘abortion’

By: Sr. Clare Hunter

Come on, world! You can’t have it both ways! You cannot think it is okay to abort and euthanize (that would be you, Belgium and The Netherlands) children with Down syndrome, handicapped, disabled and dying children, and then be shocked and outraged when parents abandon or refuse to pay for or raise them. The United Kingdom’s Daily Mail reports another “shocking” story of a surrogate mother raising a handicapped child because the “intended parents” (that is the official term, which I suppose is better than “the customers”), refused to take the disabled baby home. Of course, there are four, or five, eight or ten sides to the story, depending on parties involved with the sperm, eggs, uteruses, partners, spouses, surrogates, clinics, doctors, family members, and nations. Each version, in addition to being revolting, is inconsistent and confusing. The fact remains that we have two known cases of “intended parents” not taking a child that was born to a surrogate.  We also have four innocent children who will be forced to grow up separated from their beloved brother or sister.

26/365 - Hah!All of this is done, remember, in the name of “love” — whether an infertile party who want to love a child, a loving woman who wants to help an infertile couple have a child to love, or an impoverished mother who loves her biological children so much that she is willing to support them by carrying a child for others. In fact, the desire to abandon, or preferably to have aborted the disabled babies, was also to be done as an act of love. The “intended mother” of the baby in the U.K. reportedly said: “She’d be a…dribbling cabbage! Who would want to adopt her? No one would want to adopt a disabled child.” And most of us cringed watching Mr. Farnell, the father who left his disabled son in Thailand, explain: “They sent us the reports, but they didn’t do the checks early enough. If it would have been safe for that embryo to be terminated, we probably would have terminated it, because he has a handicap and this is a sad thing. And it would be difficult – not impossible, but difficult.”

We should in no way be shocked by these statements and responses. Once we have determined that a child is not a gift, but the right of adults who want or do not want them, we cannot expect to speak about them in any other way but as property or vegetation. Yes, the ability and desire to have a child is a privilege of being human. The inability to do so is very painful and a true suffering. We must support and pray for our loved ones who are not able to bear children. What we cannot do is ask them to buy into the lies and evils of modern medicine that have reduced human life to a commodity for profit and experimentation.

Clearly, we have ample proof that this Pandora’s Box of in vitro fertilization, surrogate mothers, and the buying and selling of sperm, eggs and embryos has made The Age of a “Brave New World” the nightmare reality that was promised once we rejected the purpose and gift of human sexuality and fertility. And, as always, it will be the innocent who will suffer the most. It will be the children. Those who will never be born, disposed of because they were not chosen, or frozen indefinitely. The poor babies who will be eliminated because they were a girl, not a boy, or have a defect, or are part of triplets, which is just not what that parent really wants right now. Not to mention the siblings who will never know the twin that they clung to for months before they were aborted, taken, or abandoned.

How blessed the little Thai boy Gammy is, and little “Amy” in the U.K. whose surrogate mothers are willing to love and raise them. How can we begin to help the countless children who will not be discovered and saved?

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By: Josephine Balsamo, Staff Spotlight

When I read DARKNESS: Abortion Seduces with Promised Sexual Freedom, published in July on Clash Daily, which is a self-described “mosh pit of breaking news, edgy opinion, lots of attitude, and a call to action for God- and country-loving patriots,” I was shocked at the author’s gross mischaracterization of women seeking abortion:

postabortion“One may argue that the sympathy for women who seek abortion is needed for one to reach out to these women. How misguided! The one who seeks an abortion feels that she is entitled to sympathy from others, because she is evil, wicked and perverse…Anyone who denies this is either deluded or depraved of all integrity…”

“It is the very sympathy that people show to women who abort their babies that not only weakens [the] pro-life stance, thus defeating its real purposing, but ridicules and blinds the people of the pro-life movement.”

Having worked one-on-one with hundreds of women who have had abortions over the last 10 years, I can tell you that post-abortive women are intensely aware that a child has been lost. It is this very realization that brings them to our doors, seeking reconciliation and healing from what many of them truly believe is an “unforgivable sin” – taking the life of their unborn child.

Perhaps the author of the blog should have consulted the Elliot Institute — a non-profit group that has conducted over 30 in-depth studies on the detrimental effects of abortion on individuals — to see some facts about abortion in America today:

  • 64% of women felt pressured or coerced by others. Coercion can escalate to violence. The No. 1 cause of death for pregnant women in this country is homicide.
  • Up to 83% of all abortions are unwanted.
  • Most felt rushed and uncertain, yet 67% had no counseling before abortion.
  • 79% were not informed about available alternatives.
  • 84% said they were not given enough information to make an informed choice.
  • 60% said: “Part of me died.”
  • 65% suffer multiple symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder directly attributed to their abortion.
  • Women are more likely to suffer from clinical depression, substance abuse, anxiety disorders, and suicidal behavior after abortion.

To add insult to injury, the abortion coalition in this country spends a great deal of money to carefully market abortion as a good. They call it healthcare, a woman’s right, choice and freedom. It is marketed so well, in fact, that most women could not know the horror of what occurs in the clinic until after it’s over. Only then is the reality of abortion revealed…in its aftermath.

The truth is that many women who find themselves in an abortion clinic don’t want to be there. Backed into a corner with nowhere to turn and no viable options, these women succumb to abortion. It is not because they are inherently evil, but because they feel they have no other choice.

56885d76-53d1-46e2-87eb-a3ac0047121aAs a pro-life community, we need to reach out to these walking wounded, and help them find reconciliation and healing through Jesus Christ, who came to save all sinners, including those who have participated in abortion.

If our response in the pro-life movement to those who have been coerced into abortion is judgment alone, we might as well give up now and declare defeat. We need to remember that there are always at least two victims in every abortion – the mother and the child — and we need to love them both to truly create a culture of life.

To learn more about abortion’s injustice to women, please visit the Elliot Institute’s Unfair Choice Campaign.

Staff Spotlight is — in an ongoing effort to get a range of content on Encourage & Teach — content from staff members within the Diocese of Arlington from contributors who do not write as a part of their day-to-day job.

Josephine Balsamo has been the Program Coordinator for Project Rachel in the Diocese of Arlington’s Family Life Office since 2004. The ministry offers post-abortion healing retreats, monthly holy hours, professional counseling, a confidential phone line, referral to priests for the Sacrament of Reconciliation, and multiple other resources.

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By: Sarah LaPierre, Staff Spotlight

No sin is greater than God’s mercy.

These words can be hard to accept, but the truth is: God is waiting for us and wants to be with us. As Pope Francis recently said, “it is He who first wants to meet us, and first tries to meet us…it is He who seeks us and makes Himself discoverable, even for those who do not seek him.”

Take the first step, and turn back to God who is Love and Mercy. Read more below in this thoughtful piece from Aleteia.org about others who have accepted this invitation – and found healing after abortion.

 After My Abortion, Why Can’t I Feel God’s Forgiveness?

There is a beautiful Eucharist Prayer in the Roman Missal that says this: “God of love and mercy, You are always ready to forgive, we are sinners and You invite us to trust in Your mercy.” He does not force us. He invites us. He tells us that his mercy is there for us, and it is up to us to  accept his invitation. Mary had been to confession multiple times before she came to our “Entering Canaan” post-abortion ministry retreat. She often shared, “I have confessed my abortion so many times, but I just do not feel forgiven.” Because of various circumstances in her life, Mary had not been able to trustingly accept the mercy of God.

sadness raul lieberwirthIt is not unusual for someone who has been involved in an abortion to voice those feelings despite having received the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Many do not “feel” that they’ve been forgiven. In fact, in my experience, most Catholics who have lost a child in an abortion will confess this sin again and again. So much of what we believe as human beings is based on our feelings or past experiences. But feelings and experiences are not reliable guides to the truth.

Being forgiven and “feeling” forgiven are two very different things.

Part of the problem is that most of us can point to few genuine examples of forgiveness in our personal life. All too often, people dispense forgiveness in grudging, calibrated doses. The right words are said, but the heart nurses its hurt. It can’t let go and be free with acceptance and love.

Another part of the problem is being unable to forgive yourself. This is usually the second greatest obstacle to healing after abortion, and sometimes it is an even greater challenge than believing in God’s forgiveness.

Many also find it hard to believe that anyone could be forgiven for their involvement in abortion by the simple acts of walking into a confessional, telling a priest about it, and fulfilling a penance of three, or three thousand, Hail Mary’s. How can this ever equate to, how can it ever cancel out,  participating in the death of your own child? It just seems way too easy. Thankfully, it is that easy.

We can never make up for our abortions, and three or three thousand Hail Mary’s will never be enough. Neither is speaking out publicly or working in ministry or praying in front of clinics.  All of these are good activities in and of themselves. But no one has to “atone” for abortion by doing these. They are not required for forgiveness or salvation. And no one should feel obligated to take part in them unless they do so out of love for God and neighbor.

There is only one thing that atones for the sin of abortion (or for that matter, any sin): the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  The healing we receive is  through his freely and generously given gift of mercy, not through anything we do, apart from making a worthy Confession.

Mary Ellen put it this way:

At first “mercy” was just a word, an idea, which in my mind was vaguely synonymous with compassion and forgiveness. I heard it in the prayers and blessings at the gatherings I attended. But, I heard it constantly. Every piece of writing from the “Entering Canaan” post-abortion ministry echoed the word Mercy. Over the years, without my knowing it, the word Mercy became for me a kind of mantra, something to hold onto in the dark. It began to work on me without my knowing it.

“Something to hold onto in the dark,” not a feeling. A knowing, while still in the darkness of self-recrimination! A choosing to believe in this mercy in which we’ve been invited to trust.

Believing that our “feelings” are somehow a gauge of our forgiveness can be misleading. Kathy had gone on a weekend retreat and left feeling totally healed and forgiven. She was experiencing a spiritual high. However, as the days went by and the old familiar refrains of self-hatred and despair begin to play again in her head, the “stinking thinking of abortion” once again told her she was not forgiven or healed. “He healed everyone else on that weekend but not me,” she thought, “My sin must be worse. He loves and forgave the others, but not me.”

Kathy reacted the same way Mary did to an absence of positive feelings. Both believed that forgiveness would bring permanent feelings of joy and peace—the opposite of how they felt after their abortion. Here is the truth: if you go Confession and receive absolution, you are forgiven, no matter what the sin or circumstances around it or how you feel afterward!

Healing from abortion is multifaceted. In addition to Confession and growth in one’s relationship with God, it’s important to understand the dynamics of the abortion and explore the reasons it happened. Also key to the healing process is identifying personal abortion connectors (i.e., people, places, sounds, odors or other things that subconsciously trigger vivid memories of the abortion experience). Often one needs to delve into other issues in one’s life that became manifest before or after the abortion, such as  abuse, addiction, or psychological disorders that need to be addressed for healing.

As people move through this process and confront other painful experiences and actions they regret, it may often seem to them that they are moving backwards. So it is crucial that they make an act of the will to trust God’s mercy no matter what. As they grow in their relationship with God, they are able to look honestly at their lives, knowing they are unconditionally loved regardless of what they’ve done. Having the support of others—through ministry, professional counseling, or spiritual direction—is essential in this process.

As Mary Ellen says so well:

I am learning Mercy, because it is a process and a journey into the kind of deep love and forgiveness of myself—and others—that I can only begin to grasp. From my first, almost neutral experience with Mercy as a simple word, it has evolved in my life experience as a tangible and effective tool, an action verb that I have learned can, more quickly than I ever imagined, bring a swift conclusion to the obsessive dark voice that would grind my spirit with self-recrimination and unbelief.  Be gone Satan!

Mercy is a way of life, and it is life-changing.  Now whenever darkness calls, I choose Mercy and life.

How about you? Will you choose Mercy?

Theresa Bonopartis is the director of the post-abortion healing program Lumina and co-developer of the “Entering Canaan” post abortion ministry model. This article was originally published at http://www.aleteia.org, and was used with permission from Aleteia; all other rights are strictly reserved. 

For confidential inquiries, please contact Project Rachel at 888-456-HOPE or info@helpafterabortion.org to talk to someone today.

Staff Spotlight is — in an ongoing effort to get a range of content on Encourage & Teach — content from staff members within the Diocese of Arlington from contributors who do not write as a part of their day-to-day job.

Sarah LaPierre is the Program Director of Project Rachel and Gabriel Project.

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By: Kathleen Yacharn

Generally, it’s much easier to get someone to tell you about a bad time they had at a restaurant, a hotel, an airline or concert venue than it is to get someone to tell you about the good time they had. Most of us don’t bother with writing online reviews for the decent or even great meals or stays we had. But why is it that usually within a day or two of an uncomfortable time with a rude server, long wait, or bad food, we’re signing up for an account on Yelp or Urban Spoon, ready to unleash our righteous anger, of course as a civic duty to help others avoid the place?

Isn’t it because people are so much more motivated by strong emotion than by satisfied entitlement? When we have even a great time, we might tell a few people, but isn’t that what we expected in the first place? Instead of appreciating the good things in our lives, we take them in and move on with a sense of complacency, which unfortunately bleeds into our civic and moral lives, too.

sleeping babyFor those of us who believe in protecting God’s creation, from conception to natural death, we have to be careful to avoid that cultural complacency. If we are pro-life, then we have to live that truth 24 hours a day, seven days a week, not just once a year during the March for Life. We have to communicate the message tirelessly because it is a matter of life and death and anything less than ceaseless effort can tip the scales in people’s hearts and minds toward the great lie that is the culture of death.

I write this asking you to take the time today, literally just a few minutes, to support life in a meaningful way. The Virginia Catholic Conference is the public policy agency representing Virginia’s two bishops. Bishop Paul S. Loverde of our Arlington Diocese and Bishop Francis X. DiLorenzo of the Richmond Diocese. They need you to comment on yet another machination of the abortion industry trying to promote their cause at the expense of the lives of innocents. Read below the VCC’s request, share it with your friends, and truly support life today.

 

Your Comments Needed as Abortion Center Regulations Review Begins

The Virginia Department of Health is now reviewing the recently enacted abortion center health and safety regulations (several years before regulations are typically reviewed) due to a recent directive from Governor McAuliffe. 
Click here to tell the Board of Health that this review process is premature and that these commonsense regulations must be maintained. Public comments will be accepted until July 31, 2014.

Again and again, the abortion industry claims that these regulations are unnecessary and expensive. Yet, inspections of these abortion centers repeatedly reveal health and safety violations that are endangering Virginia women.


One particularly egregious violation was uncovered during a biennial 
licensure review inspections at one Virginia abortion center. The abortion center’s complication log revealed that 15 of the 18 complications recorded in January 2014 were “incomplete medical terminations” (RU-486). In 11 of those cases the women returned for another chemical abortion, while 4 women decided to have surgical abortions. RU-486 is only approved by the FDA to be used in the first 49 days of pregnancy with a “failure” rate of 8%.  This incredibly high complication rate puts women’s well being at great risk. If these abuses are occurring while abortion centers are regularly inspected, imagine the conditions with no regulations! Please click here to tell the Board of Health to maintain all the regulations because the abortion industry cannot self-regulate.


If you are not a member of the Conference’s advocacy network, click 
here to receive regular Conference email alerts and updates. Please like us on Facebook, follow@VACatholicConf on Twitter, and sign up for our blog at www.fromthetibertothejames.wordpress.com.

In prayer and in public, your voices are urgently needed to bring Gospel values to bear on vital decisions being made by those who represent you.

~~~
The Virginia Catholic Conference is the public policy agency representing Virginia’s Catholic bishops and their two dioceses.

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By: Thomas O’Neill

Some things are so predictable that you take them as a given, such as fireworks on the National Mall on Independence Day, or fireworks throughout the media and the political world whenever the Supreme Court hands down a decision on a socially contentious issue. June 30 proved to be no exception.

When the Supreme Court decision on Burwell v. Hobby Lobby was handed down, the reaction was immediate and intense. Some folks, especially those on the side of Hobby Lobby, were excited about the affirmation of religious liberty. Yet, in the media, the reaction was largely negative — outrage over the “denial” of contraception to employees, and a parade of “horribles” about what would be denied next, by whom and to whom.

Hobb3Petula Dvorak, in a column for the Washington Post, attempted to strike a middle path, calling the decision “dangerous,” and warning that “the five male justices who ruled in favor of Hobby Lobby just handed employers a powerful tool to opt out of laws they don’t like.” Yet, Dvorak also admits that Hobby Lobby isn’t forcing their employees not to use contraception — their employees are still free to buy it on their own. But now, she argues, many lower-tier employees will be unable to afford contraception and will fall back on less reliable methods, leading “inevitably” to more abortions.

One of the greatest canards involved in this case — the seemingly universal assumption that contraception has been an unmitigated blessing on American society. This myth persists not because it is true, but because it is so widely accepted that the only time people talk about the Pill’s effects is simply to laud it as the wonderful gift that it is.

Taking a deeper look gives us a more nuanced view. Contraception was billed as liberating women from the “tyranny” of motherhood, of being forever relegated to the sidelines of bearing and raising children. It also promised to prevent a population explosion, preventing unintended pregnancies and the overpopulation of our planet. Finally, it would liberate us from the puritanical sexual mores which had repressed sexual relations for centuries. The truth — in the form of a pill — was here to set us free.

Worried woman visiting a psychologist.Unfortunately, the actual story of contraception in America is not quite as idyllic. Since the sexual revolution of the 1960s, social effects have gotten dramatically worse, not better. Abortion rates are quadruple what they were in 1970, and 51 percent of women who have an abortion report using contraceptives the month they got pregnant. From 1960 to 2011, the percentage of children living with a single parent has tripled, and among women under 30 today, 53 percent of all births are to unwed mothers. Meanwhile, when asked about having a child outside of wedlock, almost 56 percent of high school seniors view it as “a worthwhile lifestyle choice” and as “not affecting anyone else.”

Since contraception use became widespread, the connection between sex, marriage, and children has been lost, to the detriment of our society and particularly our children. Countless studies have shown that children of single parents and cohabitors are significantly more likely to: have psychological problems, drop out of high school, become unwed parents, and to end up in poverty.1 Moreover, these results are true even after controlling for race, family background, and socio-economic factors.

All of this in the name of “liberating” adults. Yet, do any of us really believe that consequence-free sex justifies all these negative effects? Has casual sex, cohabitation, and marriages with a 50 percent chance of divorce really made anyone happier?

Not all of this can be laid at the feet of contraception — many other factors are involved, of course. But the overall culture that contraception creates has not been a boon to women, children, or to society.


[1] See the Institute of American Values’s The State of Our Unions 2012 and Why Marriage Matters: 30 Conclusions from the Social Sciences for a summary of hundreds of social scientific studies on these topics.

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By: Natalie Plumb

We celebrated a tremendous victory on Monday when the Supreme Court decided in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act protects closely held, private for-profit corporations from being forced to comply with the HHS mandate under Obamacare. The mandate would force these corporations to provide insurance coverage of abortifacient drugs and devices, regardless of the owners’ religious conscience, and despite their faith that forbids complicity in abortion. For cogent Catholic responses to this, read this articlethis article, this article and this article.

HobbyLobby

I must not be the first to notice that, in the midst of this grand decision, we are also in the midst of the Fortnight for Freedom, “a time when our liturgical calendar celebrates a series of great martyrs who remained faithful in the face of persecution by political power — St. Thomas More, the Patron of the Diocese of Arlington, St. John Fisher, St. John the Baptist, SS. Peter and Paul, and the First Martyrs of the Church of Rome.”

Today, on July 4, we celebrate our Independence Day. That means freedom. The rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Freedom of speech; freedom of the press; freedom of religion. As the First Amendment says: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”

Thank you, Supreme Court, for upholding those roots and those rights. But, as Bishop Loverde stressed in his column, never stop praying; never quit fighting! The battle has only just begun.

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By: Sr. Clare Hunter

The Washington Post’s Louise Melling wrote last week about how satisfying it is that a movie portrays abortion sympathetically and even comically. However, for me, other testimonials come to mind…

  • Joyce tells me that she keeps having dreams of her 30-year-old daughter. She is a beautiful young woman who smiles at her. It has helped ease some of the pain in dealing with the abortion, and she is wondering if this is a sign that her daughter, and God, have forgiven her.
  • A hospice nurse shared with me an experience of being at the deathbed of 85-year-old Lydia. The nurse realized that Lydia was not in physical pain, but emotional turmoil.  Lydia burst into tears and begged forgiveness for an abortion she had 65 years ago and never spoke about. After the priest came, Lydia’s body relaxed and she looked “radiant,” dying peacefully the next day.
  • I read a comment from Lea, who said:  As someone who worked at an abortion clinic for seven years, I find it now quite disturbing. Although I do not sit and scold girls for having it, I must say there is a lot about it we won’t tell you. I cleaned up a lot. The bodies of aborted babies got thrown in dumpsters pretty much. What really got to me was whenever I performed one, I could feel the baby twitch. Like a startled type of twitch. For years I didn’t think much until my daughter got pregnant at 14 and I performed one on her. When that baby twitched and got thrown away, I cried in secret for weeks. Those babies had nerves. My grandchild had nerves. They felt their heads being crushed. Now, respect my opinion as I will respect yours, but to me, that is murder. And no longer do I find it a choice someone can make because it’s their body. I no longer believe it is just their body. It’s someone else in their body. And I can’t bring myself to support it. My daughter committed suicide five months later.[1]

I get it. I actually understand why people want to make us laugh about abortion. The articles, blogs, and reviews about the upcoming romantic comedy, “Obvious Child,” are correct. If one in three (the number is actually more like one in four[2], but I see the logic in making it seem like “everybody’s doing it”) women have an abortion,[3] then there are a countless number of mothers in our country who are living with the reality of ending the life of their child. That also means there are equally that many fathers whose sons and daughters were killed. Should we mention the grandparents, aunts and uncles, brothers and sisters? Regardless of the religious, political, and socio-economic backgrounds, there is nowhere we can go, no family, no relationship left unscathed by abortion.  That is too much. It is too painful, overwhelming, and inconsolable.  In the unbearable guilt, grief, and fear, it makes perfect sense to do what I — what we — do best. Desensitize.

sad-man-and-womanIn our fallen nature, what should shock us, make us uncomfortable, and repulse us usually becomes entertainment.  From Circus Maximus to public hangings, the crowds cheering at the guillotine of the French Revolution to reality television, we are experts at normalizing the profane.  A phenomenon studied and theorized for centuries; people continue to need psychological and physical outlets to deal with horrible, inhumane behavior and deep woundedness.

Secretly, we seek that macabre pleasure of knowing that someone is more “messed up” than we are. But the answer cannot continue to be desensitizing through entertainment.  In fact, what we need is more sensitivity. The mother and father who chose abortion do not need levity to deal with their tragedy. Whether there is guilt or regret — now or later — they will have to face the reality of their decision to end the life of their child, just as all of us have to face the wounds we incur in our lifetime. I believe that by desensitizing ourselves to painful situations and the consequences of grave immoral choices, we become incapable of knowing true selfless love and honesty. As relationships of love are based on sensitivity, what becomes of a culture desensitized?


[1] Gurl.com, 90% Of Women Who Had Abortions Felt Relieved (2013).

[2] Guttmacher Institute, Fact Sheet: Induced Abortion in the United States (2014).

[3] The Daily Signal, In ‘Obvious Child,’ Abortion as Comedy at a Theater Near You (2014).

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