The Pro-life Committee is a prayer and event-based group that seeks to spread the Gospel of Life. They provide information about the life issues of abortion, euthanasia, embryonic stem cell research, and capital punishment. The committee also promotes and participates in many pro-life activities throughout the year, including the National March for Life in Washington, DC, Maryland March for Life in Annapolis, and Pro-life 101 Training. There are no regular meetings. Volunteers participate in activities as they are held. Children and families are welcome to volunteer together. Events are accessible to those with physical limitations. New members are always needed.
What is abortion?
Abortion is the removal of a developing fetus, either spontaneously by natural means, as in miscarriage, or by artificial means as in an induced surgical (a surgical procedure is performed to remove the fetus from the womb) or chemical abortion (a medication is taken to cause the body to expel the fetus). Most people refer to a natural spontaneous abortion as a miscarriage, and an induced abortion as an abortion.
Most abortions are performed several weeks after a woman realizes she is pregnant, between 7 and 10 weeks, when the fetus already has arms and legs that are forming, a heart that is beating, brain waves that are measurable, and a face that is forming.
It may be performed in the first trimester by surgical procedures known as dilation and curettage or suction aspiration, or by ingestion of the medications RU 486 or methotrexate. In the second and third trimester the surgical procedures are dilation and evacuation, hysterotomy (similar to a C-section), and instillation of chemicals (saline, urea, prostaglandins) into the amniotic sac to kill the fetus and induce labor.
Why do women have abortions?
The majority of abortions are done for social reasons, such as the mother is not ready to have a baby or the father wants the woman to have an abortion. Only 7% of abortions cite a medical reason or case of rape or incest as the reason.
How prevalent is abortion?
Many people believe that abortions occur rarely, and only as a last resort. This is not true. Every year, about 2% of women aged 15-44 have an abortion; 47% of these women have had at least one abortion previously. In 2005 there were 1.21 million abortions in the United States. This number is down slightly from 1.31 million abortions in 2000, but the number has remained relatively steady at approximately one million or more abortions yearly since 1973. Of all pregnancies, 22% end in abortion (Guttmacher Institute, 2009).
What is Partial Birth Abortion?
Partial birth abortion is an abortion typically performed in the fifth or sixth month of pregnancy in which the abortionist pulls the baby out of the birth canal feet first, leaving the head inside the womb because it is too large to pass through the birth canal. A sharp surgical instrument is inserted into the base of the skull through which a tube is passed to literally suck out the brain, so that the skull collapses and the head can pass through the birth canal.
According to the National Coalition of Abortion Providers, 3000-5000 partial birth abortions occurred annually, mostly on healthy mothers and babies. The practice was banned in 2003 through hard fought legislation that was first introduced in 1995. This was the first restriction on any method of abortion since abortion became a national right in 1973 through a Supreme Court decision known as Roe vs. Wade. The ban excludes cases where partial birth abortion might be necessary to save the mother’s life.
Late term abortions by other means are not included in the ban.
Are there complications to abortion?
Abortion is a direct assault on a woman’s reproductive system, which is geared toward safeguarding the developing embryo and fetus. Physical complications include bleeding, infection, sterility, and even death. Psychological complications include depression, substance abuse, failed relationships, and an identified syndrome known as post abortion syndrome (PAS) similar to post traumatic stress disorder.
What does the Catholic Church teach about abortion?
The Church teaches that “Human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception. From the first moment of existence, a human being must be recognized as having the rights of a person—among which is the inviolable right of every innocent being to life. “ The Lord told the prophet Jeremiah, “Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you, and before you were born, I consecrated you. “ The Church has called abortion a moral evil since the first century. It is looked on as a grave offense causing irreparable harm to the innocent who is put to death, the parents, and the whole of society. The embryo must be treated from conception as a person, and must be defended, cared for, and healed as far as possible, like any human being. (Catechism of the Church, 2nd edition)
What can be done?
Respecting life can often seem counter-cultural. Unfortunately the media and popular culture place value on personal freedom of choice and pleasure rather than responsibility and respect for human life. However, there are ways that each one of us can help make an impact on this problem.
*First, acknowledge that abortion is a problem that affects all of society, not just a few
*Pray for couples thinking about abortion, families who have been rendered incomplete because of an abortion, law makers considering public policy about abortion, and those performing and assisting with abortions
*Let others know that you believe abortion is wrong and that you believe in protecting all human life from the moment of conception to natural death
*Contact state and national legislators and let them know how you feel; show them what you think of their policies in the voting booth
*Be a role model and teach children to live the Ten Commandments. The Sixth Commandment, Thou shall not commit adultery, encompasses the whole of human sexuality. God created man and woman in His own likeness, and gives each an equal personal dignity. We are called to live by the moral virtue of chastity, according to our particular state in life (Catechism of the Church, 2nd edition). The intimate relationship, confined to marriage and open to procreation, maintains dignity and respects all human life.
Where can I learn more?
Priests for Life http://www.priestsforlife.org
United States :Catholic conference of Bishops: http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/index.cfm
The Second Look Project: http://www.secondlookproject.org/
National Right to Life (information and legislative action center): http://www.nrl.orgwww.nrl.org
Archdiocese of Baltimore, Respect Life office http://www.archbalt.org/family-life/respect-life/index.cfm
What is the difference between Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide?
Euthanasia and assisted suicide are similar in that death occurs in both instances. They differ in who performs the last act that results in death.
When a third party intentionally performs the last act that causes a patient’s death, it is called euthanasia. An example would be giving a patient an injection which causes death.
When the person who dies performs the last act, it is called assisted suicide. An example would be when a person swallows an overdose of drugs provided by a doctor for the purpose of causing death.
Why do people advocate euthanasia and assisted suicide?
The most common argument is that death offers the only means of attaining comfort or dignity for suffering patients, such as those with terminal, painful, or debilitating illnesses.
What about competent, terminally ill people who say they really want assisted suicide?
Suicidal wishes among the terminally ill, as well as the able-bodied, are linked to treatable depression. When their pain, depression and other problems are addressed, there is generally no more talk of suicide. If we respond to a death wish in one group of people with counseling and suicide prevention, and respond to the same wish in another group by offering them lethal drugs, we make the choice that some people's lives are objectively not worth protecting.
Why are people with disabilities worried about euthanasia and assisted suicide?
Many people with disabilities have experienced negative attitudes on the part of able-bodied people, including physicians, who say they would "rather be dead than disabled." Such attitudes could easily lead families, physicians and society to encourage death for people who are depressed and emotionally vulnerable as they adjust to life with a serious illness or disability. These individuals could feel pressured into accepting euthanasia or assisted suicide because they have no worth as human beings.
What does the Church teach about euthanasia and assisted suicide?
The Church teaches that those whose lives are diminished or weakened deserve special respect. Sick or handicapped persons should be helped to lead lives as normal as possible. Whatever its motives and means, direct euthanasia and assisted suicide involve putting an end to the lives of handicapped, sick, or dying persons. It is morally unacceptable and constitutes a murder gravely contrary to the dignity of the human person and to the respect due to the living God, our Creator.
How many States have passed or have attempted to pass assisted suicide laws?
Oregon passed an assisted suicide law in 1994. The law permits an adult who is capable, is a resident of Oregon, and has been determined by the attending physician and consulting physician to be suffering from a terminal disease, and who has voluntarily expressed his or her wish to die, to make a written request for medication for the purpose of ending his or her life.
Washington passed an assisted suicide law in 2008. The law is identical to the one passed in Oregon.
Since 1994, the following States have attempted to pass assisted suicide laws (some of these States have tried multiple times):
Why shouldn't euthanasia and assisted suicide be legalized?
To approve the taking of innocent human life is contrary to a primary purpose of law in an ordered society. Legalizing assisted suicide would demean the lives of vulnerable patients and expose them to exploitation by those who feel they are better off dead. Such a policy would harm the medical profession, whose ethical code calls on physicians to serve life and never to kill. The voiceless or marginalized in our society -- the poor, the frail elderly, the chronically ill, the disabled -- would be the first to feel pressure to die.
Where can I learn more?
This information on euthanasia and assisted suicide came from United States Catholic Conference of Bishops and International Task Force on Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide web documents. For more information on these topics, please visit the following websites:
Maryland Catholic Conference: http://www.mdcathcon.org/endoflife
United States Catholic Conference of Bishops: www.usccb.org/prolife/issues/euthanas/index.shtml
International Task Force on Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide: http://www.InternationalTaskForce.org
National Catholic Bioethics Center: www.ncbcenter.org
What is a stem cell?
The cell is the basic unit of life. A stem cell is a relatively unspecialized cell that, when it divides, can do two things: make another cell like itself, or make any number of more specialized cells. As an example, a stem cell in our blood can make new red blood cells, or white blood cells, or other kinds—depending on what the body needs.
Is there more than one type of stem cell?
There are two basic types of stem cells--embryonic and adult stem cells. Embryonic stem cells are harvested from living human embryos. Adult stem cells are obtained from people who are already born so even babies have “adult” stem cells. Adult stem cells can be harvested from various organs and tissues such as umbilical cord blood, bone marrow, nerves, muscle, and even fat.
What is the Church’s position on stem cell research?
Contrary to what you may have heard, the Catholic Church is not opposed to stem cell research. In fact, the Church encourages research and development of medical therapies using stem cells--but only using those referred to as adult stem cells.
Why does the Church oppose embryonic stem cell research?
The Church opposes embryonic stem cell research on moral grounds. The Church teaches that every human being has dignity and worth because each of us is created in the image and likeness of God. The Church also teaches that life begins at the moment of conception. The human created at that moment is killed in the process of harvesting the embryonic stem cell tissue.
Why does the Church encourage adult stem cell research?
No one has to be killed to obtain adult stem cells and there is an added advantage to using adult stem cells. Because the adult stem cells can be obtained from the same patient, they are an exact match. So, the problem of immune rejection that occurs when using embryonic stem cells can be avoided. In addition, adult stem cells are already pre-programmed to replace the various organs and tissues of our body, each according to its type.
Have any therapies been developed using embryonic stem cells?
Even though some doctors and scientists claim that embryonic stem cell research will lead to cures for many diseases, this is largely speculation on their part. Embryonic stem cells have never treated a human patient and animal trials suggest that stem cells are too unstable to be used for treatment any time soon. Because these cells grow so quickly, they are too likely to form lethal tumors, creating conditions worse than the diseases.
What about therapies using adult stem cells?
The good news is that 73 treatments have been developed so far for various types of diseases and injuries; among these are:
- Ovarian cancer
- Brain cancer
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Corneal regeneration
- Parkinson’s disease
- Spinal Cord Injury
- Stroke damage
- Sickle cell anemia
- Limb gangrene
- Rheumatoid arthritis
There is every reason to believe that additional therapies will be developed for more diseases and injuries using adult stem cells.
Where can I learn more?
The information on stem cell research came from United States Catholic Conference of Bishops and The Coalition of Americans for Research Ethics web documents. For more information about stem cells, please visit the following websites:
United States Catholic Conference of Bishops: www.usccb.org
Do No Harm: The Coalition of Americans for Research Ethics: www.stemcellresearch.org
Stem Cell Research Cures: www.stemcellresearchcures.com
Maryland Catholic Conference: http://www.mdcathcon.org/stemcellresearch
What is Capital Punishment?
Capital punishment, also known as the death penalty, is the deliberate ending of a human life as punishment by the state. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, and Death Penalty Information Center, 972 people (including 10 women) were executed from 1976 through June 2005. Most executions take place in Texas, as well as many in Virginia, Oklahoma, Missouri, and Florida. Over 3400 people are currently on death row.
What does the Bible say about Capital Punishment?
Many people think that there are passages in the Old Testament that advocate for capital punishment, such as “a life for a life, an eye for an eye” in Deuteronomy 19:21. However the main intent of this passage is to try to limit the punishment to fit the crime, not impose the death penalty. When Cain killed Abel, God did not end Cain’s life, but put him in exile to punish him as well as to protect him from others who might want to harm him (Genesis 4:15).
Clearly the New Testament teaches us to protect life and practice mercy. Jesus treated many sinners with compassion and rebuked others for casting stones.
What does the Church teach now about Capital Punishment?
The Church teaches that every life is a precious gift from God. Those who inflict harm on others should be held accountable and punishment should be consistent with the demands of justice and with respect for human life and dignity.
There are several purposes of punishment: redressing the disorder caused by the offense, i.e., just retribution; defending public order; deterring future wrongdoing; and promoting reform, repentance, and conversion of those who commit evil acts. We must recognize the dignity of each person, even someone who has denied the dignity of others. Dignity is not something that is earned or lost through behavior. Respect for life applies to all, even the perpetrators of terrible acts.
The document A Culture of Life and the Penalty of Death was developed by the Committee on Domestic Policy
of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), 2005. The document teaches that “Our nation should forgo the use of the death penalty because:
*the sanction of death, when it is not necessary to protect society, violates respect for human life and dignity.
*state-sanctioned killing in our names diminishes all of us.
*its application is deeply flawed and can be irreversibly wrong, is prone to errors, and is biased by factors such as race, the quality of legal representation, and where the crime was committed.
*We have other ways to punish criminals and protect society.
Although the teaching of the Church does not exclude the death penalty if it is the only possible way of defending human life against an unjust aggressor, the need for the death penalty is practically non-existent. Maryland repealed its law allowing capital punishment in 2013.
St. Paul’s Respect Life Corner
40 DAYS FOR LIFE
Consider making time to pray weekly for the 40 Days for Life Spring Campaign(Mar 1-Apr 9) at Hillcrest abortion clinic in Catonsville. The vigil calendar at www.40daysforlife.com/baltimore is ready for sign-ups.
Kick-Off Event will be Thursday March 2 at St. Agnes Church Hall. Meet and greet with refreshments at 6:30 followed by our guest speaker, Deacon SkipComegna of Church of the Resurrection, Ellicott City.
If you would like to volunteer at West Baltimore Pregnancy Choices, a new prayer room and pregnancy referral Center across the street from Hillcrest, please contact Kim Frazer at email@example.com.
MARCH FOR LIFE
The National March for Life was an outpouring of love and respect for life by people of all ages (but disproportionately younger people) from all over the country, including 11 busloads from North Dakota, even after getting stuck on the Pennsylvania turnpike for 20 hours following last year's march due to a snow storm. Our St. Paul/Resurrection contingent was about 60 people strong and commited as ever to the protection of life from the moment of conception to natural death. See pictures here:
And save the date MONDAY, MARCH 13, 2017 IN ANNAPOLIS for the MARYLAND MARCH FOR LIFE.
This is an evening event with mass, short march, rally, and refreshments at St. Mary's Church. Car pooling will be available. More information to come.
Pregnant, Need Help? Call the Gabriel Network 1-800-ANGEL-OK, Birthright 410-384-7700
Suffering Post-Abortion Stress? Call Project Rachel Baltimore 410-625-8491 or firstname.lastname@example.org
End of Life Issues? Contact the National Catholic Bioethics Centers at http://www.ncbcenter.org/resources/ncbc-offers-free -ethics-consultations or call 215-877-2660.
For more information about any of our upcoming Pro-Life events or committee,
please contact Sandi Nettina: email@example.com