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May 10 07 7:43 AM
Quote:In mid-June 2004, Ratzinger sent a confidential letter on the issue to Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, the head of a task force of the U.S. bishops studying the question, and then-Bishop Wilton Gregory, at the time the president of the conference. In a presentation to the June 14-19, 2004, meeting of the U.S. bishops, McCarrick characterized the Ratzinger letter as providing flexibility.I would emphasize that Cardinal Ratzinger clearly leaves to us as teachers, pastors and leaders whether to pursue this path of denying Communion, McCarrick told the bishops. In part on the strength of that assurance, the American bishops voted 183 to 6 in favor of a statement titled entitled Catholics in Political Life, which left to each individual bishop the decision of whether or not to give communion to pro-choice politicians.On July 3, 2004, Italian Vatican writer Sandro Magister published the full text of Ratzingers confidential letter to McCarrick and Gregory, titled Worthiness to Receive Holy Communion, which seemed to strike a much more firm line than McCarrick had suggested. There may be a legitimate diversity of opinion even among Catholics about waging war and applying the death penalty, but not however with regard to abortion and euthanasia, Ratzinger wrote. Regarding the grave sin of abortion or euthanasia, Ratzinger wrote, when a persons formal cooperation becomes manifest (understood, in the case of a Catholic politician, as his consistently campaigning and voting for permissive abortion and euthanasia laws), his pastor should meet with him, instructing him about the Churchs teaching, informing him that he is not to present himself for Holy Communion until he brings to an end the objective situation of sin, and warning him that he will otherwise be denied the Eucharist.When these precautionary measures have not had their effect or in which they were not possible, and the person in question, with obstinate persistence, still presents himself to receive the Holy Eucharist, the minister of Holy Communion must refuse to distribute it, Ratzinger continued, citing a ruling of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts regarding communion for Catholics who are divorced and civilly remarried with an annulment.Based on those statements, some accused McCarrick of having deliberately misled the American bishops about Ratzingers position. The waters were further muddied just a few days later, on July 12, when the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops released the text of another letter from Ratzinger to McCarrick, this one dated July 9. In it, Ratzinger thanks McCarrick for sending him the text of the statement adopted by the U.S. bishops at their June meeting.The key line of that July 9 letter was the following: The statement is very much in harmony with the general principles Worthiness to Receive Holy Communion, sent as a fraternal service to clarify the doctrine of the Church on this specific issue in order to assist the American Bishops in their related discussion and determinations.In other words, the Ratzinger of July 9 appeared to be endorsing the softer line pioneered by McCarrick and overwhelmingly endorsed by the American bishops. The perplexing result is that for the last three years, both sides in the communion controversy have cited Ratzinger in favor of diametrically opposed positions. Todays developments on the papal plane seem certain to add more heat, if little new light, to this standoff.Carefully studying the various statements that are now on the record, perhaps the best summary of Benedict XVIs position can be phrased as follows. In the abstract, Benedict clearly seems to feel that a Catholic politician who knowingly and consistently supports legislation that expands access to abortion is in violation of church teaching, and thus should not receive communion. Moreover, the pope seems prepared to support bishops who apply this principle to specific cases; that was the premise of his answer to this mornings question about the Mexican bishops. (Even though Cardinal Norberto Rivera has said he has no intention of excommunicating anyone.)
Quote:Yes...The excommunication was not something arbitrary. It is part of the Code [of Canon Law]. It is based simply on the principle that the killing of an innocent human child is incompatible with being in Communion with the body of Christ. Thus, [the bishops] didn't do anything new or anything surprising, or arbitrary.
Quote:If the bishops haven't excommunicated anyone, it's not that the pope wants to, Legislative action in favor of abortion is incompatible with participation in the Eucharist. Politicians exclude themselves from Communion.
Quote:values that are radically Christian,
Quote:life from the moment of conception until natural death as an integral requirement of human nature.
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May 21 08 9:52 AM
A federal appeals court panel in Richmond, Va., on Tuesday struck down a Virginia law that made it a crime for doctors to perform what the law called "partial birth
In a 2-to-1 decision, a panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth
Circuit ruled that the law was more restrictive than the federal Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act, which the United States Supreme Court upheld last year in Gonzales v. Carhart.
Both laws prohibited the procedure known medically as intact dilation and extraction. It involves removing an intact fetus and, typically, piercing or
crushing its skull. The more common second-trimester abortion procedure, dilation and evacuation, involves dismembering the fetus in the uterus.
The key difference between the two laws, Judge M. Blane Michael wrote for the majority, was that the federal law imposes criminal charges only when doctors
intend at the outset to perform the procedure, while Virginia law also made it a crime for doctors to perform the prohibited procedure by mistake.
"Unlike the federal act," Judge Michael wrote, "the Virginia act subjects all doctors who perform" the more common procedure "to
potential criminal liability, thereby imposing an unconstitutional burden on a woman's right to choose."
The Virginia law, Judge Michael wrote, imposes criminal liability on doctors who set out to perform the more common procedure "but who nonetheless
accidentally deliver the fetus to an anatomical landmark and who must perform a deliberate act that causes fetal demise in order to complete removal." The
landmarks in question are passed, in the law's words, when "the infant's entire head" or "trunk past the navel" is "outside
the body of the mother."
Judge Michael was joined by Judge Diana Gribbon Motz. Both were appointed by President Bill
Judge Paul V. Niemeyer, who was appointed by the first President Bush, issued a fierce dissent. "With a troubling opinion," he wrote, "the
majority now seeks to circumvent the Supreme Court's ruling in Gonzales v. Carhart."
"The majority's selective use of statutory language and its rationalizations," Judge Niemeyer wrote, "represent nothing less than a
strong judicial will to overturn what the Virginia Legislature has enacted for the benefit of Virginia's citizens and what, in materially undistinguishable
terms, the Supreme Court has upheld as constitutional."
Tuesday's decision was the appeals court's second encounter with the law, which it struck down on different grounds in 2005. The Supreme Court
ordered the appeals court to reconsider its decision in light of Gonzales v. Carhart.
A spokesman for the state attorney general, Bob McDonnell, issued a statement suggesting that the state may seek a review of the decision from the full
appeals court, which is generally conservative, or from the Supreme Court.
"We are extremely disappointed with the divided decision," said the spokesman, J. Tucker Martin. "We are reviewing the panel opinion at this
time and considering all possible courses of action."
Stephanie Toti, a lawyer with the Center for Reproductive Rights, which represented the plaintiffs in the case, a doctor and a medical center, said in a
statement that the Virginia ban was extreme.
"The only way for doctors to obey this law would be to stop performing the most common second-trimester abortion methods," Ms. Toti said.
Oct 18 08 5:33 AM
From left, Alfred E. Smith IV, John McCain, Cardinal Edward Egan and Barack Obama.
Has Arch-Bishop/Cardinal Edward Egan commented ever on Barack's "pro-choice" strong stance?...He seems to be enjoying his
Maybe Jesus sat with sinners as well; but, He never kept His mouth shut...until His final trial (when words were no longer a necessity)....
Jan 6 09 8:57 AM
"It's cheap but dangerous. Certain people are more delicate than others. But afterwards, I felt relief."
Speaking about her experience taking an ulcer medication to induce an abortion.
Amalia Dominguez was 18 and desperate and knew exactly what to ask for at the small, family-run pharmacy in the heart of Washington Heights, the thriving
Dominican enclave in northern Manhattan. "I need to bring down my period," she recalled saying in Spanish, using a euphemism that the pharmacist
It was 12 years ago, but the memory remains vivid: She was handed a packet of pills. They were small and white, $30 for 12. Ms. Dominguez, two or three
months pregnant, went to a friend's apartment and swallowed the pills one by one, washing them down with malta, a molasseslike extract sold in nearly every
bodega in the neighborhood.
The cramps began several hours later, doubling Ms. Dominguez over, building and building until, eight and a half hours later, she locked herself in the
bathroom and passed a lifeless fetus, which she flushed.
The pills were misoprostol, a prescription drug that is approved by the Food and Drug Administration for reducing gastric ulcers and that researchers say is commonly, though illegally, used within the Dominican community to
induce abortion. Two new studies by reproductive-health providers suggest that improper use of such drugs
is one of myriad methods, including questionable homemade potions, frequently employed in attempts to end pregnancies by women from fervently anti-abortion
cultures despite the widespread availability of safe, legal and inexpensive abortions in clinics and hospitals.
One study surveyed 1,200 women, mostly Latinas, in New York, Boston and San Francisco and is expected to be released in the spring; the other, by Planned Parenthood, involved a series of focus groups with 32 Dominican women in New York
and Santo Domingo. Together, they found reports of women mixing malted beverages with aspirin, salt or nutmeg; throwing themselves down stairs or having people
punch them in the stomach; and drinking teas of avocado leaf, pine wood, oak bark and mamon fruit peel.
Interviews with several community leaders and individual women in Washington Heights echoed the findings, and revealed even more unconventional methods like
"juice de jeans," a noxious brew made by boiling denim hems.
"Some women prefer to have a more private experience with their abortion, which is certainly understandable," said Dr. Daniel Grossman, an
obstetrician with Ibis Reproductive Health in San Francisco, which joined Gynuity Health Projects in New York in conducting the larger study. "The things
they mention are, 'It is easier.' It was recommended to them by a friend or a family member."
Dr. Carolyn Westhoff, an obstetrician at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center, said the trend fits into a larger context of Dominicans
seeking home remedies rather than the care of doctors or hospitals, partly because of a lack of insurance but mostly because of a lack of trust in the health
care system. "This is not just a culture of self-inducted abortion," she said. "This is a culture of going to the pharmacy and getting the
medicine you need."
Physicians say that women can obtain the pills either through pharmacies that are willing to bend the rules and provide the medicine without a prescription
or by having the drugs shipped from overseas.
It is impossible to know how many women in New York or nationwide try to end their pregnancies themselves, but in the vibrant, socially conservative
Dominican neighborhoods of Upper Manhattan, the various methods are passed like ancient cultural secrets. In a study of 610 women at three New York clinics in
largely Dominican neighborhoods conducted eight years ago, 5 percent said they had taken misoprostol themselves, and 37 percent said they knew it was an
abortion-inducing drug. Doctors and community leaders say they have not seen any signs of the phenomenon disappearing, which they find worrisome because of
concerns about the drug's effectiveness and potential side effects.
Sold under the brand name Cytotec, misoprostol is approved to induce abortion when taken with mifepristone, or RU-486; doctors also sometimes use it to induce labor, though it is not approved for that use. A
spokesman for Pfizer, which manufacturers Cytotec, declined to comment beyond saying that the company does not support the off-label use of its products and
noting that the label includes "F.D.A.'s strongest warning against use in women who are pregnant."
That warning, in capital letters, also notes that the drug "can cause abortion."
But it does not always do so, not least because notions of how best to use it vary from inserting several pills into the vagina to letting them dissolve
under the tongue. The side effects can be serious, and include rupture of the uterus, severe bleeding and shock.
"We do worry because we don't know where women are getting the instructions from," said Jessica Gonzalez-Rojas of the National Latina
Institute for Reproductive Health, which was also a partner on the Ibis study. "We imagine that there is misinformation on how to take it, which is why it
could be hit or miss."
In 2007 in Massachusetts, an 18-year-old Dominican immigrant named Amber Abreu took misoprostol in her 25th week of pregnancy and gave birth to a 1-pound baby girl who died four days later; a judge sentenced her in June
to probation and ordered her into therapy. In South Carolina in February, a Mexican migrant farm worker, Gabriela Flores, pleaded guilty to illegally
performing an abortion and was sentenced to 90 days in jail for taking misoprostol while four months pregnant in 2004. A Virginia man, Daniel Riase, is serving
a five-year prison sentence after pleading guilty in 2007 to slipping the pills into his pregnant girlfriend's glass of milk.
Researchers studying the phenomenon cite several factors that lead Dominican and other immigrant women to experiment with abortifacients: mistrust of the
health-care system, fear of surgery, worry about deportation, concern about clinic protesters, cost and shame.
"It turns an abortion into a natural process and makes it look like a miscarriage," said Dr. Mark Rosing, an obstetrician at St. Barnabas Hospital in the Bronx
who led the 2000 study, which was published in the Journal of the American Medical Women's Association. "For people who don't have access to
abortion for social reasons, financial reasons or immigration reasons, it doesn't seem like this horrible thing."
Ms. Dominguez, for her part, said she had no insurance or money to pay for an abortion, and could not fathom getting one for fear her mother would find out.
One of her friends had spent $1,200 on an abortion that left her with a uterine infection, and another friend endured the procedure without anesthesia, she said. In addition, Washington Heights is a tightknit community where
abortion - as well as birth control - is shunned; if Ms. Dominguez were spotted entering a
clinic, rumors could fly.
"There are scary moments, and you got to have a friend right next to you," said Ms. Dominguez, now 30 and a mother of four. "It's cheap
but dangerous. Certain people are more delicate than others. But afterwards, I felt relief."
A friend of Ms. Dominguez's said her stepsister took the pills last year because she was in the country illegally, and worried that a doctor might turn
her in. "She was just scared," the woman said, speaking on the condition that her name not be published to protect the stepsister's privacy.
"She had no papers, no insurance, no nothing."
The woman went to a free clinic afterward to make sure the pills had worked (they had). Health care workers and other community leaders say such visits are
how they discovered widespread illicit use of the drug as well as homemade potions.
Dr. Rosing said he learned about Cytotec during his residency at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia hospital in Washington Heights, where he saw a lot of
Dominican immigrants with incomplete abortions in the emergency room. They spoke of taking the "star pill," a nickname for the hexagonal shape of one
form of misoprostol. He suspected "that has to be the tip of the iceberg," he said, "and it was."
The pills allow pregnant women a degree of denial over what is taking place. Like Ms. Dominguez, many women in the neighborhood talk about the need to bring
on - or "down" - their periods, not abortion. Afterward, they might tell doctors or relatives they had lost the baby.
The Planned Parenthood study concluded that women in both nations "seemed to see inducing the termination of pregnancy, or abortions, as a part of the
reality of their lives," in a community where, as one interview subject put it, "we are all doctors." The report noted that in a culture steeped
in machismo, birth control is generally seen as the woman's responsibility.
"If I introduce the condom into a relationship, I'm basically saying I've had somebody else, and I've not
been faithful to you," said Haydee Morales, a vice president at Planned Parenthood of New York.
Debralee Santos, program director at Casa Duarte, a community arts organization in Washington Heights, said that while she had never had reason to distrust
medical professionals, she understood the apprehensions that kept other women from seeking them out. "I get it, I really do," she said.
"It's a community that, even as it comes of age, always relies on itself first," explained Ms. Santos, who was born in the United States to
immigrant parents. "Women, in particular, continue to help each other in ways that speak to tradition and solidarity."
Ms. Dominguez, who volunteers at Casa Duarte and is known as Flaca, Spanish for skinny, did not want her name or photograph published at first. But after
some thought, she decided to allow it so more people would learn about the trap many pregnant Dominican women feel they are in.
Jan 30 09 6:25 AM
Feb 6 09 5:00 AM
Obama is expected to add to the list soon.
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