Monday, February 28, 2011

UK physicians to advice women that abortion is safer than delivery

The Telegraph reports today that new guidelines drawn up by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists instruct U.K. physicians advising women who are considering abortion to explain to them that abortion is safer for them than carrying their baby to term. Physicians are also to tell women that psychological harm following an abortion is unlikely, and there is no proven connection between electing an abortion and mental ill health. According to The Telegraph, "Until now, their advice has been that while rates of psychiatric illness and self-harm in women are higher among those who had an abortion, there was no evidence that termination itself was likely to trigger psychological problems....Speaking in a personal capacity, Prof Patricia Casey, a consultant psychiatrist and fellow of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, said: “The message this sends out is very worrying. There are more than 30 studies showing an association between psychological trauma and abortion.”"

Read the full story here.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Billboard in NYC stirs debate

A billboard in SoHo, situated a half a mile from a Planned Parenthood center, has sparked angry debate in New York. It depicts an African-American toddler in a pink sundress under the words "The most dangerous place for an African-American is in the womb." The claim is related to the recently published statistics about abortion in New York City, where three out of every five pregnancies by African American women are terminated with elective abortion. The billboard is sponsored by Life Always, an advocacy group in Texas that plans to bring the billboard to other cities as well, but started with New York to coincide with Black History Month.

City Council member Christine C. Quinn was quoted in the New York Times, expressing the anger that many feel about the billboard: "To refer to a woman’s legal right to an abortion as a ‘genocidal plot’ [as Rev. Michael J. Faulkner, of the New Horizon Church in Harlem, did] is not only absurd, but it is offensive to women and to communities of color. Every woman deserves the right to make health care decisions for herself, and I will continue to fight to protect this basic right and against this sort of fear mongering." Ms Quinn apparently does not look upon herself as a defender of the rights unborn women in the womb have to good health care and eventual moral autonomy.

To those upset by the billboard in New York City, we must answer with the great novelist Walker Percy in his 1981 letter to the New York Times, "To the pro-abortionists: according to the opinion polls, it looks as if you may get your way. But you're not going to have it both ways. You're going to be told what you're doing."

You can read the full Times account of the controversy here.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

RIP, Kurt Pritzl of Catholic University of America

The Rev. Dr. Kurt J. Pritzl, O.P., Associate Professor and Dean of the School of Philosophy, died at about 9:45 p.m. on Monday, February 21, owing to complications from the cancer diagnosed almost three years ago.
Father Pritzl was a great friend to many of us in the Center and an adviser to the Center from its earliest days.  He participated in our events frequently and came to our aid on a number of occasions when his advice and assistance were crucial the the success of our endeavors.   He has played a vital role in the world of Catholic philosophy for over two decades, shaping the School of Philosophy at the Catholic University of America, playing a leading role in the training of the next generation of Catholic philosophers, and working effectively in the movement to reinvigorate Thomism in philosophy.  He was a model of the Catholic intellectual.  He will be sorely missed by all of us.  You may read the memorial notice at CUA here:

Requiescat in pace. 

Sexual Assault Awareness Week at Notre Dame

This week is Sexual Assault Awareness Week at Notre Dame, featuring events every day to make everyone on campus more aware that sexual violence does occur on our campus and its victims are members of our student body. Sadly, this week the Chicago Tribune has reported another incident in which parents of a St. Mary's College student are upset with Notre Dame police that their daughter's report of a sexual assault perpetrated by a Notre Dame student was not given more careful attention when it occurred in September. The report that has recently come to light was filed shortly after Lizzy Seeberg's own report, the St. Mary's student who tragically committed suicide in September after police action on a sexual assault report she filed was delayed.

Last week the Notre Dame and St. Mary's College Observer reported that the U.S. Department of Education has made Notre Dame the subject of a federal review into the University's procedures and policies related to sexual assault complaints. University spokesperson Dennis Brown claims that the investigation is "unrelated to any specific cases" of sexual assault reported this year. While that may or may not be true, Notre Dame's independent student newspaper, The Irish Rover, highlighted in its issue this week that "Among colleges and universities in Indiana, Notre Dame ranks second only to Indiana University at Bloomington in the number of forced sexual assaults on campus." Phillip Johnson, director of Notre Dame's police force, has confirmed this sad statistic.

During Sexual Assault Awareness Week at Notre Dame, please pray with us that our campus can come to more fully embody our commitment to the dignity of human persons, not just in our policies and procedures, but in the actions of every member of our community and of the administration that seeks to care for its students' pastoral needs.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Is it so nutty to point out abortion rates of African American and Hispanic babies?

Linda Greenhouse in the New York Times claimed on Thursday that "there has been a lot of nutty talk about abortion lately," castigating Ruben Diaz for his remarks highlighting the racial disparity in the abortion rate in New York City, where 41% of all pregnancies end in abortion. The National Review Online has published Diaz's response.

An excerpt:
"New York City’s Department of Vital Statistics show that out of every 100 pregnancies, 41 babies are aborted. Forty-nine percent of Hispanic babies are aborted, and 59.8 percent of Black babies are aborted....It’s hard to imagine how anyone would consider me or any pro-lifer “nutty” for stating what these statistics show: Abortion in New York City IS racial genocide."

Read the full response here.

ND law grad, causing a ruckus in VA

From the Notre Dame Law School news page, an article about Anna Franzonello, '09 J.D., a former graduate student assistant at the Center for Ethics and Culture:

"Americans United for Life staff attorney and Notre Dame law grad Anna Franzonello, ’09 J.D., testified before the Virginia Senate Committee on Education and Health February 9 to present the AUL’s view that Virginia should “opt out” of President Obama’s Health Care Law. (Click here to read a newspaper account of the hearing.)

Later that day Ms. Franzonello led a news conference to discuss the significance of the recently released undercover videotape that features a couple posing as a pimp and a prostitute seeking abortion and contraceptive counseling at a Virginia Planned Parenthood clinic. (Click here to read an Associated Press story at the CBS News website.)

Franzonello was the subject of a Student Spotlight while studying law at Notre Dame and you can click here to read about her law school experience."

Thursday, February 10, 2011

RIP, Ernan McMullin, former chair of Notre Dame Philosophy Department

Eternal rest grant to him, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him. May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.

From Michael Garvey, Notre Dame Newswire:

Rev. Ernan McMullin, John Cardinal O’Hara Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at the University of Notre Dame, died yesterday (Feb. 8) at Letterkenny General Hospital in Donegal, Ireland. He was 86 years old.
A native of Ballybofey, Donegal, Father McMullin was an internationally prominent scholar in the philosophy of science. He studied physics at the National University of Ireland under the Nobel laureate Erwin Schroedinger and theology at Maynooth College before being ordained a priest in 1949 and receiving his doctorate in philosophy from the University of Louvain in 1954. He joined the Notre Dame faculty the same year, and for the next half century explained that decision by praising the then-new president who had recruited him. “Father Ted Hesburgh could charm a bird out of a tree,” he would say.

At Notre Dame, Father McMullin chaired the philosophy department from 1965 to 1972 and served as director of the history and philosophy of science program and of the Reilly Center for Science, Technology and Human Values before retiring in 1994, continuing to teach on the graduate level until 2003. For the last seven years, he had lived both in St. Paul, Minn., and Donegal.

“Ernan McMullin was a good priest, a good philosopher and a good friend to generations of Notre Dame students and teachers,” said David Solomon, director of Notre Dame’s Center for Ethics and Culture. “One of the giants of Notre Dame, his thought and personality transformed and dominated the philosophy department for almost half a century. With Ernan’s death following so quickly on the death a year ago of Ralph McInerny and the recent retirement of Alasdair MacIntyre, the philosophy department will lose a certain Gaelic flavor. We will much miss the brilliant conversation, the personal charm and the profound philosophical insights of these three towering figures.”

Father McMullin wrote and lectured widely on subjects ranging from the relationship between cosmology and theology, to the role of values in understanding science, to the impact of Darwinism on Western religious thought. He also was an unrivalled expert on the life of Galileo.

The author of some 200 articles in scholarly and popular journals, Father McMullin also published 14 books including “The Concept of Matter,” “Galileo: Man of Science,” “Newton on Matter and Activity,” “The Inference That Makes Science,” and “The Church and Galileo.”

During his career, Father McMullin held visiting appointments at the University of Minnesota, the University of Cape Town, the University of California at Los Angeles, and Princeton and Yale Universities. He also served on numerous scholarly committees and congresses worldwide and is the only person ever to have been elected president of all the following professional organizations: the American Philosophical Association, the Philosophy of Science Association, the Metaphysical Society of America and the American Catholic Philosophical Association. His numerous awards included honorary degrees from Maynooth, the National University of Ireland, Loyola University in Chicago, Stonehill College, and Notre Dame.

Father McMullin’s formidable intellect and erudition were transcended by the warmth of his personality. From the remotest rows of a lecture hall or from a hundred yards across a campus quadrangle, a humorous twinkle in his eyes would often be strikingly visible. Many of his close friends were the developmentally disabled people of South Bend’s Friends of L’Arche community, of which he was an active member and supporter.
Father McMullin is survived by his sisters, Maire O’Donnell of Mountcharles, Donegal, and Ailis Malone of Vancouver, Wash.

A funeral Mass will be celebrated Saturday (Feb. 12) at 11 a.m. at Saint Agatha’s Church, Clar, Donegal. The family requests that memorial donations be made to Down Syndrome Ireland; Citywest Business Park; Old Naas Road; Dublin 12, Ireland.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Mass celebrated in Tahrir Square in the midst of Egpytian political unrest

Mass was celebrated on Sunday in Tahrir Square, the epicenter of Egypt's political unrest after weeks of protests calling for President Hosni Mubarak to step down. Egypt's Coptic Christian community has faced discrimination under Mubarak's thirty-year rule, and terrorist bombings of their churches. On Sunday, Muslims stood in solidarity with the Christian worshipers, forming a protective ring around the perimeter of the square while Mass was celebrated. According to the Daily News, "On Friday, the holy day for Islam, Christian protesters in Tahrir Square joined hands to form a protective cordon around their Muslim countrymen so they could pray in safety. Sunday, the Muslims returned the favor. They surrounded Christians celebrating Mass in Cairo's central plaza, ground zero for the secular pro-democracy protests reverberating throughout the Middle East."

Read the full story of their witness to peace here.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Recent case exposes myth of "safe", legal, and rare abortion provision in Pennsylvania

A corrupt Philadelphia physician has been charged with one count of murder and seven counts of infanticide for his performance of late-term abortions. Inducing labor in third-trimester mothers and then cutting the spinal chords of the babies they deliver is an illegal but sadly commonplace practice for late-term abortions; the scandal in this story lies in the conditions in which Dr. Kermit Gosnell carried out the procedures, which the grand jury has described as "third world." The criminal grand jury found that: "[He] regularly and illegally delivered live, viable, babies in the third trimester of pregnancy – and then murdered these newborns by severing their spinal cords with scissors. The medical practice by which he carried out this business was a filthy fraud in which he overdosed his patients with dangerous drugs, spread venereal disease among them with infected instruments, perforated their wombs and bowels – and, on at least two occasions, caused their deaths. Over the years, many people came to know that something was going on here. But no one put a stop to it." Read the full Grand Jury Report here.

As Joseph Bottum of the Weekly Standard comments, "Pennsylvania may not be a third-world country, but its abortion mills—like those in most other states—really are reminiscent of one: free and independent entities, uniquely exempt from supervision and regulation, carved out from the rest of medicine. Every other kind of doctor is weighed down by record-keeping and inspection requirements. Abortionists alone are free. “Pennsylvania’s Department of Health has deliberately chosen not to enforce laws that should afford patients at abortion clinics the same safeguards and assurances of quality health care as patients of other medical service providers,” the Gosnell grand jury explained. “Even nail salons in Pennsylvania are monitored more closely for client safety.”... Many people knew what was going on at his Philadelphia clinic; several filed complaints with state and local agencies. But nothing was done, and at the time of his arrest, he hadn’t been visited by a medical examiner for 17 years. As the grand jury noted, with the change of governors in Pennsylvania in 1995—when the pro-abortion Tom Ridge replaced the pro-life Bob Casey—“the Pennsylvania Department of Health abruptly decided, for political reasons, to stop inspecting abortion clinics at all,” as “officials concluded that inspections would be ‘putting a barrier up to women’ seeking abortions.”"

You can read more about the gruesome case in Politics Daily or The Weekly Standard.