Wednesday, February 11, 2009

A teacher's reflection on the March for Life

Catholic Memorial and the March for Life, 2009

This past January, my wife and I had the privilege of travelling to Washington D.C. with thirty-four CMH pro-life club members, as well as two CMH teachers, Jim Yourkovich and John Waliszewski. The trip gave members of the CMH community an opportunity to express our opposition to the abortion industry in the United States. The Archbishop of Milwaukee, Timothy Dolan, and Catholic Memorial President, Father Paul Hartmann, led us in marching and in prayer for the lives of unborn children. Among us were a few hundred thousand other pro-lifers, and together, and with hopeful hearts, we made a statement to support the sanctity of human life.

After the march, we attended a dinner event with Father Hartmann and Archbishop Dolan. Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner also attended the pro-life dinner that night (the only legislator to respond positively to our invitations), as well as some CMH Alumnae. The highlight of the dinner was when Mr. Sensenbrenner gave us a detailed a presentation about his work in Congress over the last 30+ years. He has been a very vocal and active advocate of the pro-life cause since he started his career in American politics in the seventies. He spoke to us about three pieces of legislation that he expects will be dealt with this year. He informed us about the Mexico City Policy, the Hyde Amendment, and the Freedom of Choice Act. These are three important pieces of legislation that could lead, and in the case of Mexico City Policy, will lead to an increase of abortions, depending on the decisions made in Washington in the near future. These are policies that, if implemented by pro-abortionists, will dramatically affect the safety of the unborn both on the national and international level. It is important that Christians are aware of these pieces of legislation, as they will affect our future and future generations. We can do something about these policies, but allow me to first explain how they will affect our future.
On the day of the March for Life, I first learned from Congressman Sensenbrenner about the Mexico City Policy. Little did I know that on the next day an executive order would be signed by the president, to finalize this policy. As of that day, the Mexico City Policy allows our federal government to fund international family planning groups that provide abortion services. You may have already shaken your head in dismay about this policy after having read about in the news, as I did.

We also learned from the congressman that the Hyde Amendment will, most likely, be the next pro-life issue that Congress will deal with. If reversed, which Sensenbrenner fears, this bill would allow Americans’ federal tax money to be used to pay for abortions. Yes, your hard-earned money and mine would be used to destroy the lives of unborn children, even though abortions are already quite profitable for doctors, healthcare systems, and clinics that perform them. It has been illegal for federal tax dollars to be used for abortions since the Hyde Amendment was put into place in 1976, but that could change soon if the president signs the repeal of this amendment.

The Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA) is another piece of legislation that the president pledged to Planned Parenthood that he would pass. This piece of legislation is the worst piece of all since it would lift all restrictions on abortions that are currently in place. According to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), it would be, “the most radical abortion legislation in history.” Here is why:

1. FOCA will invalidate laws to protect a woman from unsafe abortion clinics and to ensure that she is informed about abortion.
2. FOCA will require taxpayers to pay for abortions. (That’s why the Hyde Amendment needs to be reversed first).
3. FOCA will require states to allow “partial birth” and other late-term abortions.
4. FOCA will require states to allow abortions by non-physicians.
5. FOCA will ban laws protecting the right of conscientious objection to abortion.
6. FOCA will deny parents an opportunity to be involved in their (own) daughter’s abortion decision.

These 6 points were taken from a Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities Fact Sheets- United States Conference of Bishops (USCCB).

So what, if anything, can we do about this? Bishops’ Conference suggestions urge us to contact our local house representatives, our congressmen and congresswomen, and the president with messages of protest. In addition, I urge you to pray each day with your family for the lives of unborn children. I also urge you to have conversations with people about this issue and to do so in a loving way. Communicate that this is the issue of our time, but prepare yourself by doing a little research beforehand. Tell them that there have been 50,000,000 legal abortions since January 22, 1973 (The Alan Guttmacher Institute and Planned Parenthood's Family Planning Perspectives, 2008).

We have the power to inform, and to lead others toward a deeper understanding of the sanctity of life. It is our challenge and responsibility at Christians. This is another reason I encourage Catholic Memorial students to join the Pro-Life Club – to learn more.

During my time marching for life in D.C., my wife and I talked to many people about the sanctity and value of life. All that time, we didn't realize that our first child was growing silently in the womb of my wife. Knowing that now, my march for life has even greater meaning for me because now my wife and I know that we also marched with life during those days, marching with our first child with us all along the way.

In closing, before the March for Life, there was a beautiful mass at the Verizon Center in downtown Washington D.C. The place was packed to the brim with more than 20,000 people. Through his personal representative, Pope Benedict the XVI delivered a powerful but troubling message: American society is “enslaved by the culture of death.” Wow, what a statement. Is this true? Well, if you stop to think about that for a second, you'll realize that the Pope's assessment is the truth. With pieces of legislation in action and on the horizon, with the president advocating the expansion of abortion availability, and with the exorbitant amount of destruction of human life that has already taken place around us over the last thirty three years, nothing could be closer to this heart-wrenching truth.

Now is the time to stand together in this fight to defend the sanctity of human life, so let’s act today. To borrow a slogan, “Life: Imagine the potential!”

Joe Fricano
CMH Spanish Department
Boys' and Girls' Soccer
Panama Service Project
Catholic Memorial High School

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