Pastor's Page
By Fr. George Welzbacher
August 14, 2011

The anti-human-life campaign has opened a new front. The Obama health-care reform will soon provide an entire range of contraceptives, including an abortifacient, the infamous "Morning After" pill, free of charge to the recipient. Mr. Obama seems to be committed to the goal of accelerating the demographic decline that, already in full swing, both here at home and around the globe, bodes ill for our nation's vitality and strength. He seems to be persuaded that there's just too many folks! One may recall that one of his first presidential acts was to abolish our government's then current policy of prohibiting the use of federal tax dollars to pay for abortions in foreign lands. And right now, with all the vigor and speed of our nation's emblematic eagle, Mr. Obama's Justice Department is suing Indiana's state government in the hope of striking down that state's legislation, recently passed, prohibiting the use of state tax dollars to subsidize Planned Parenthood.

But it's better to light one candle than to curse the darkness. A new religious order, the Sisters of Life, founded twenty years ago by New York's archbishop at the time, John Cardinal O'Connor, is attracting growing numbers of well educated, generous young women, many of them quite successful in their previous professional careers, to the cause of encouraging women with "problem pregnancies" to let their babies live.

May I offer two reports, one detailing the most recent effort of the "powers that be" to foster sexual decadence, and the other highlighting a pro-Life response, embodied in the new religious order, the Sisters of Life.

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Law Eases Availability of Birth Control
By: Janet Adamy, The Wall Street Journal
Tuesday, August 2, 2011

New health-insurance plans will be required to provide contraceptive services without charging a copayment next year under the federal health-care law, the Obama administration said Monday.

The requirement is part of the broader effort in the law to make preventive benefits MORE accessible to insured Americans. The new regulation classifies methods of contraception approved by the Food and Drug Administration as a preventive service, opening the door for millions of women to get doctor-prescribed birth-control pills, sterilization and other means of birth-control with NO out-of-pocket cost.

The move is a major win for those who favor broad access to birth-control and will help some lower-income women get such services.

"Not doing it would be like not covering flu shots or any of the other basic preventive services," said Kathleen Sebelius, secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services.

The agency said appropriately spacing pregnancies results in improved maternal health and better birth outcomes.

The change upset some conservative groups and the Roman Catholic Church, which historically opposed the use of birth control.    Under the regulation, the "morning-after pill"--used to prevent pregnancy when taken AFTER intercourse-would qualify as a preventive service if prescribed by a doctor.

"The pro-life majority of Americans-Catholics and others-would be outraged to learn that their premiums must be used for this purpose," said Daniel Cardinal DiNardo, archbishop of Galveston Houston and a committee chairman for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, referring to the morning-after pifl. 'Pregnancy is not a disease, and children are not a 'health problem.'"

The move was expected because the Institute of Medicine, an independent federal advisory body, last month recommended that contraception be categorized as a preventive service for the purpose of the law.

The Obama administration included an exemption for religious organizations that don't wish to include contraceptive services in insurance plans they provide employees. The Catholic bishops said the exemption is structured too narrowly and WOULDN'T apply to MOST Catholic social-service agencies and healthcare providers.

The changes also don't apply to Medicaid, the federal-state health insurance program for the poor, where coverage varies by state.

The preventive benefits announced Monday take effect for new individual and employer insurance plans issued August 1, 2012, or later. They won't apply to grandfathered health plans that took effect before President Barack Obama signed the overhaul law on March 23, 2010, and haven't changed significantly since then....
[Emphasis added].
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Life and Faith in Hell's Kitchen
The Wall Street Journal of July 29, 2011
William McGowan

"Safe, legal and rare" has long been the pro-choice mantra, but these days it applies less and less to the reality of abortion. In New York City, officials reported this year that 41% of pregnancies end in abortion--double the national rate. In the black community, the figure is 60%.

Numbers like these motivate the SISTERS OF LIFE, a small order of nuns celebrating its 20th anniversary this summer. The sisters take traditional vows of poverty, chastity and obedience, but they also take a fourth vow "to protect and enhance the sacredness of human life." According to Archbishop Timothy Dolan, once the sisters connect with un-wed pregnant women in need, "the battle is half over."

The order was the vision of the late John Cardinal O'Connor, whose Nov. 2, 1989 weekly column in the newspaper Catholic New York was titled "Help Wanted: Sisters of Life."

One respondent was Agnes Mary Donovan, a professor of developmental psychology at Columbia University Teachers College. She became one of the order's founders in 1991 and Mother Superior two years later.

There are now 70 members, with an average age of 37. Like Mother Agnes, the women who have joined are educated and worldly. They include a Yale Russian major who aspired to join the CIA, a former nurse who worked in the Middle East, and a former computer-manufactufing executive.

The sisters help those suffering from the trauma of a past abortion and those who want to put their children up for adoption. But their most important work is their "Visitation Mission," a spiritual call center where sisters have contact with about 700 women a year.

According to the coordinator of the Visitation Mission, Sister Magdalene, some of the women seeking counsel have "all the means in the world" but feel that their social and professional lives, as well their marriage prospects, would be over unless they abort. "But pregnancy is a wake-up call," she explains. "It tends to stop them from doing what they might imagine they'd do without a second thought. We believe it's a moment of grace."

Half of those counseled by the Visitation Mission remain at home. Others are placed in private homes or in maternity facilities run by other religious orders. And then there are the women who move in with the nuns, in the Convent of the Sacred Heart in Manhattan's Hell's Kitchen [the traditional nick-name for a once impoverished area in Manhattan's mid-town west]. 

There the women can stay as long as six months prior to giving birth and up to a year afterward, some holding down jobs, others studying. Meanwhile the sisters go about their lives of prayer, contemplation and occasion rollerblading. The nuns "rely on providence"-i.e. donations--for food, baby clothing and strollers. They excel at recruiting "Josephs" for heavier household chores. "Our motto is that no man leaves without doing us a favor," says Sister Rita Marie, the local convent superior.

The rooms are Spartan and lights go out at 9 p.m. Following Cardinal O'Connor's vision, the nuns take a healing approach. They don't keep records of who is Catholic and who isn't, they don't try to convert anyone or arrange a baptism unless asked, and they don't even require that the women pray.

Since the first guest arrived in 1998, 150 babies have been born at the convent. The sisters take heart in "the beauty of a mother coming to the understanding of the dignity of her calling and how that gives life back to HER." Sister Rita Marie explains.

Guests have included the homeless, pregnant and undocumented Tanzanian who showed up sobbing on the lawn of the sisters' retreat center in Stamford, Connecticut and later likened the care at Sacred Heart to "angels planting a root and watering it every day." Then there was the Trinidadian nanny, six months pregnant with twins, whose boyfriend was trying to induce a miscarrage by kicking her down the stairs. There was the Polish immigrant who studied for the MCAT exam while living at the convent, as well as the former network journalist whose boyfriend split when she got a Down Syndrome diagnosis, and whose friends could not believe she'd throw herself so far "off-track" to have the child.

Another alumna had just finished a graduate program in England, gotten pregnant, and been dumped by her law-student boyfriend and returned to the U.S. "in a horrible state of depression." For an educated woman with professional ambitions, she said "an abortion seems like the most practical thing in the world. But once you do get pregnant, it's not so easy."

She had a daughter, got a magazine job and a subsidized apartment. The boyfriend then returned and became a lawyer here. The couple married and had two MORE daughters. She is now managing editor of one of fashion's top magazines and sends her children to private school on the Upper East Side. "Life can turn on a dime," she tells colleagues whom she trusts with her story.
[Emphasis added].

Mr. McGowan is the author of "Gray Lady Down: What the Decline and Fall of the New York Times Means for America" (Encounter, 2010).
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