Brian R Corbin's Reflections on Religion and Life

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USCCB Response to Rep Ryan’s Pregnancy Prevention Bill. Thoughts?

LIFE ISSUES FORUM                                                                   July 24, 2009

Let the Taxpayers Beware!
By Susan E. Wills
It should be called the Planned Parenthood Economic Stimulus Package of 2009.

Instead, co-sponsors Tim Ryan (D-OH) and Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) have given their “new” (though largely recycled) bill the promising title “Preventing Unintended Pregnancies, Reducing the Need for Abortion and Supporting Parents Act.” Sponsors describe the bill as a “common ground” approach to reducing unintended pregnancies and abortions, one that should appeal to opposing sides in the abortion debate.
Sure, the bill is dressed up with some funding for after-school programs, and some (very poorly crafted) efforts to provide support for pregnant students. But make no mistake. The bill is “about access to birth control,” according to Congressman Ryan (MSNBC’s “Hardball,” May 19, 2009). In the same interview, Ryan explained: “We have to have birth control and contraception offered to these poor women who don’t have access to contraception, period, dot. There’s no other way we’re going to be able to reduce [abortions].” About what you’d expect in a bill whose co-sponsors enjoy a 100% pro-choice rating from NARAL.
Accordingly, their bill calls for grants for comprehensive sexuality education (abstinence-only educators need not apply!). It substantially increases funding for the federal Title X Family Planning Program. It denies state choice, making family planning services a mandatory Medicaid entitlement in all states, and greatly expands family planning eligibility under Medicaid to all women who are eligible under state law for prenatal, labor, and delivery care.
Some people might find this approach sensible. But they ignore at least two things. First, since at least 1980, taxpayers have been funding “family planning services” to the tune of over $1 billion  per year. In 2006 such public expenditures totaled $1.85 billion . So today, virtually all teenagers who are sexually active and do not want to become pregnant are already using contraception. Only 7% are not  using it, according to the Guttmacher Institute.
Second, contraceptives don’t work very well in real life. In the first 12 months of contraceptive use, 16.4% of teens (1 in 6) will become pregnant. Among low-income cohabiting teens, the failure (pregnancy) rate over 12 months is 48.4% for birth control pills and 71.7% for condoms.
Numerous studies in the United States and Europe have found that greater access to contraception fails to reduce unintended pregnancies and abortions. A recent $10 million intervention in England giving at-risk teens comprehensive sex education and contraception is a perfect example. Teens in the program had a pregnancy rate 2.5 times higher  than a similar group of at-risk teens (16 vs. 6 percent).
Why does increased access to contraception fail at the population level? Thinking they are protected from pregnancy and disease, more young people become sexually active and have more partners, offsetting any reduction in pregnancy from individual contraceptive use. And the increased level of sexual activity causes STD rates to soar.  In the U.S., 1 in 4 teen girls has at least one STD; many of these are incurable and some are fatal.
The sharpest decline in unintended pregnancies and abortions since 1990 has occurred among those under 18, due not to comprehensive sex ed or contraception, but chiefly to the growing number of young people choosing to remain abstinent.

Visit the Secretariat’s website for contraception facts and citations at , and let your member of Congress know that the Ryan/DeLauro bill cannot fulfill the promises in its title. The real abortion-reduction bill in Congress now is the Pregnant Women Support Act (S.1032, H.R.2035), which needs our support.
Susan Wills is Assistant Director for Education and Outreach in the Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. To learn more about the bishops’ pro-life activities, see .

Filed under: Culture, healthcare, morals

Health Workers and Religious Exemptions/Washington

By Michelle Boorstein
Well, President Obama’s faith outreach team says they welcome disparate viewpoints.
A group of faith leaders, including five from the president’s own hand-picked faith advisory group, just released a signed document calling for the Obama Administration to be much more specific about what kind of exemptions religious health care workers should be entitled to when it comes to tasks they morally oppose.
The document, signed by a small but ideologically diverse group, comes about six weeks after the White House started the process of rescinding the so-called “conscience clause” regulation put in place last year by the Bush Administration. That regulation cut off federal funding for thousands of state and local governments, hospitals, health plans, clinics and other entities if they do not accommodate workers’ moral or religious beliefs.

The Obama White House announced its plan to rescind the Bush regulation, but didn’t say what it would be replaced with, if anything. Now this group of eight yesterday released comments calling for the White House to be not only more specific but to reaffirm its commitment to decades-old federal laws meant to offer some “conscience” protections.
The document is part of a surge of feedback sent to the Department of Health and Human Services as a 30-day comment period comes to an end.
Signers include five members of the advisory council to the White House’s Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Initiatives: Nathan Diament of the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America; Rev. Joel Hunter; Wake Forest Divinity School Director Melissa Rogers; Rabbi David Saperstein of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism and Rev. Jim Wallis of Sojourners.
The group spans the spectrum politically but includes mostly religious traditionalists.
Those who opposed the Bush regulation to begin with would say existing federal laws already create protections for people opposed to abortion and sterilization. But this document says federal law hasn’t gone far enough to protect religious workers. It also notes that the Bush Administration regulation never defined “abortion,” leaving it unclear whether the term includes dispensing birth control pills or Plan B contraception, among other services.
Also signing the document were Catholic law professor Douglas Kmiec, Southern Baptist Convention lobbyist Richard Land and Washington and Lee law professor Robin Fretwell Wilson.

By Michelle Boorstein  |  April 8, 2009; 10:04 AM ET Washington Post

Filed under: healthcare

Cardinal Says Moral Education Needed To Fight AIDS

Notes Contributions of Religions in Senegal

DAKAR, Senegal, MARCH 26, 2009 ( The archbishop of Dakar is emphasizing that in order to combat AIDS in Africa, education in values is the most important necessity.

Cardinal Théodore-Adrien Sarr explained Tuesday to Vatican Radio that since 1995, at the request of former President Abdou Diouf, Christian and Muslim religious communities have been engaged in the struggle against AIDS.

He noted: “We said we could preach and exhort in favor of abstinence and fidelity, and we have done so, both Christians as well as Muslims. And if today the rate of AIDS infection in Senegal is still low, I believe it is thanks to the religious communities, which have emphasized morality and moral behavior.”

“Given that I don’t think that condoms can eradicate AIDS,” he affirmed, “I believe our appeal for abstinence and fidelity, in other words, for moral values and the observance of sexual customs, continues to be truly valid.”

The cardinal acknowledged that there could be difficulties in some countries of the continent “because there are different customs.” However, he stated “that it is necessary to know that Africa is very varied and that there are African societies that know the concept of abstinence and fidelity very well and cultivate it” and that it “is necessary to help them to continue to cultivate it.”

Speaking about Senegal’s situation, he expressed the fear that “if they start to distribute condoms massively to our young people, this will not help them and it will be very much more difficult for them to control themselves and to remain faithful until marriage.”

“I think that to help people through education to make the effort to control themselves continues to be a valid contribution for the prevention of AIDS,” he noted.

Papal visit

Cardinal Sarr observed, “It is a pity that instead of reflecting on how the Pope was received and especially all that he experienced with the peoples of Cameroon and Angola, some of the media put the accent almost exclusively on the question of condoms and abortion.”

“There were beautiful things on this trip that must be transmitted,” he continued. “Instead some found nothing better to do than fuel controversies which, moreover, were magnified, excessive as regards the rest of the content” of the Papal visit.

The cardinal asserted that “it is increasingly necessary that the West and Westerners stop thinking that they alone are the depositories of truth, that only what they conceive as the way of seeing and behaving is valid.”

Making a personal reflection on the Papal trip, the prelate said that “if the Pope put these two problems on the table, that of abortion and condoms, perhaps it is to remind us Africans, and especially Africa’s bishops, that it is better to think with our own heads and for ourselves; to live the Gospel and its values and to promote them for ourselves, to foster those values that don’t always seems to be our own.”

“In any case,” he concluded, “I have committed myself to work so that we can express ourselves and demonstrate that we have ways of seeing and acting that are valid, even if they are different from those that some propose to us.”

Filed under: Culture, healthcare, Medical Ethics, Social Doctrine

Concerns about Sebelius HHS Nominations

More from Archbishop Naumann on the Sebelius HHS nomination

Posted on March 5, 2009 by Dennis Sadowski

Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City, Kan., has been questioning Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, a Catholic, for her support of legalized abortion for a year and a half now, and he has asked her on at least two occasions not to present herself for Communion in Kansas.

In his latest public comment, he now says her nomination by President Barack Obama as secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services is “troubling” because of her abortion stance. The archbishop offered his most recent comments about Sebelius — summarized in a Catholic News Service report – in his column in the March 6 issue of The Leaven, the archdiocesan newspaper.

In an interview with Our Sunday Visitor, he further explains his stance.

While calling Sebelius a gifted leader who represents Catholic social teaching well when it comes to concerns such as the development of affordable housing and increasing access to health care for poor children, Archbishop Naumann strongly takes the governor to task for her long-held support for abortion. In the interview the archbishop said he can understand why Sebelius was nominated to the federal post but reiterated that he finds it troubling.

An excerpt: “But I think from the church’s point of view, it’s sad because it places another high-profile, pro-abortion Catholic into national leadership along with Vice President (Joe) Biden and Speaker (Nancy) Pelosi and a raft of others that are in the Congress. And so I think it makes our job as bishops more challenging, because we have to be even more clear that this is not acceptable for a person in public service to say that they are Catholic and then to support these policies that are anti-life, you know go against the most fundamental of all human rights, the preservation of innocent life.”

Filed under: healthcare, Medical Ethics, Social Doctrine



WASHINGTON—The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has launched an e-mail campaign urging Congress to maintain widely-supported pro-life policies and to oppose the federal funding and promotion of abortion. The e-mail campaign augments the massive national postcard campaign launched in dioceses throughout the country in late January. Both efforts are being coordinated through the USCCB’s partner organization, the National Committee for a Human Life Amendment (NCHLA).
            Since 1993, NCHLA has coordinated national postcard campaigns equipping citizens to express their pro-life views clearly and respectfully to Congress. The current campaign is unprecedented in scope, exceeding those sponsored by the Catholic bishops in the past.
            Deirdre A. McQuade, Assistant Director for Policy and Communications at the USCCB’s Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities, explained the supplementary e-mail campaign. “Tens of millions of cards have been distributed in parishes, schools, non-Catholic churches, and civic organizations across the country,” she said. “The e-mail campaign will give even more citizens the chance to participate.”
            The e-mails urge a constituent’s Senators and Representative to “please oppose FOCA or any similar measure” and “retain existing laws against funding and promotion of abortion.” They also state: “It is especially important that Congress retain these laws in the various appropriations bills, e.g., the Hyde Amendment in the Labor/Health and Human Services appropriations bill.”
            “To guard against the erosion of current pro-life measures—and to keep abortion from becoming a federal entitlement—our voice is needed now more than ever,” McQuade said.

Filed under: Culture, healthcare, morals, Politics, Social Doctrine