Cardinal Lists 3 Focuses for Respect Life Sunday, October 5
Abortion Issue Has Good News and a Threat
WASHINGTON, D.C., OCT. 2, 2008 (www.Zenit.org) - Euthanasia, embryonic stem cell research and the threat of a federal bill that could obliterate 35 years of pro-life gains are among the focus areas for this weekend's Respect Life Sunday.
These areas were highlighted by Cardinal Justin Rigali of Philadelphia, chairman of the U.S. bishops' Committee on Pro-Life Activities, in a statement for the event marked by 195 U.S. parishes. The theme for this year is "Hope and Trust in Life." October is set aside as Respect Life Month, and parishes across the nation will sponsor conferences, prayer services, public witness events and fundraising activities.
In his message, Cardinal Rigali first mentioned euthanasia.
"Some medical ethicists wrongly promote ending the lives of patients with serious physical and mental disabilities by withdrawing their food and water, even though -- or in some cases precisely because -- they are not imminently dying," he explained.
The cardinal noted that citizens of Washington state will face a vote on euthanasia in November. In neighboring Oregon, where euthanasia is already legal, "the state has refused to cover the cost of life-sustaining treatments for some patients facing terminal illness, while callously informing them that Oregon will pay for suicide pills," Cardinal Rigali lamented.
He then turned attention to embryonic stem cell research, something that Michigan citizens will vote on in November.
"The Catholic Church strongly supports promising and ethically sound stem cell research -- and strongly opposes killing week-old human embryos, or human beings at any stage, to extract their stem cells," the prelate clarified. "We applaud the remarkable therapeutic successes that have been achieved using stem cells from cord blood and adult tissues."
On the decline
The cardinal had good news to share regarding abortion. Most Americans favor banning all abortion or permitting it only in the rare cases of danger to the mother's life or cases of rape or incest, Cardinal Rigali noted.
Referring to last month's study from the Guttmacher Institute, he reported that abortions in the United States declined 26% between 1989 and 2004.
This decline is most marked for girls under 18, a trend the cardinal attributed to the fact that "teens increasingly are choosing to remain abstinent until their late teens or early 20s."
Despite the good news on the abortion front, Cardinal Rigali sounded an alarm about a federal bill that could be passed when Congress convenes in January.
The "Freedom of Choice Act," the cardinal explained "establishes abortion as a 'fundamental right' throughout the nine months of pregnancy, and forbids any law or policy that could 'interfere' with that right or 'discriminate' against it in public funding and programs."
He added: "If FOCA became law, hundreds of reasonable, widely supported, and constitutionally sound abortion regulations now in place would be invalidated. Gone would be laws providing for informed consent, and parental consent or notification in the case of minors. Laws protecting women from unsafe abortion clinics and from abortion practitioners who are not physicians would be overridden.
"Restrictions on partial-birth and other late-term abortions would be eliminated. FOCA would knock down laws protecting the conscience rights of nurses, doctors and hospitals with moral objections to abortion, and force taxpayers to fund abortions throughout the United States."
"We cannot allow this to happen," Cardinal Rigali urged. "We cannot tolerate an even greater loss of innocent human lives. We cannot subject more women and men to the post-abortion grief and suffering that our counselors and priests encounter daily in Project Rachel programs across America."
"In this Respect Life Month, let us rededicate ourselves to defending the basic rights of those who are weakest and most marginalized: the poor, the homeless, the innocent unborn, and the frail and elderly who need our respect and our assistance," the cardinal concluded. "In this and in so many ways we will truly build a culture of life."
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Read Cardinal Rigali's full statement