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Massachusetts Citizens for Life hold convention here

Posted By April 3, 2014 | 12:30 pm | Featured Article #1
Photo by Tanya Connor

Angela Franks tells about a 1927 U.S. Supreme Court decision, Buck v. Bell, which allowed states to legalize non-consensual sterilization. The decision said, “Three generations of imbeciles are enough.” 
Mrs. Franks said Carrie Buck, who was forcibly sterilized, probably had normal intelligence, but was most likely an incest victim sent to an institution.
Photo by Tanya Connor Angela Franks tells about a 1927 U.S. Supreme Court decision, Buck v. Bell, which allowed states to legalize non-consensual sterilization. The decision said, “Three generations of imbeciles are enough.” Mrs. Franks said Carrie Buck, who was forcibly sterilized, probably had normal intelligence, but was most likely an incest victim sent to an institution.

Religious, parental freedoms discussed

By Tanya Connor

WORCESTER – An attorney who filed a brief supporting religious freedom – in a case the U.S. Supreme Court heard last week – explained it here Saturday.
Atty. Dwight Duncan, who teaches at the University of Massachusetts School of Law, spoke at the Massachusetts Citizens For Life 2014 convention at Assumption College Saturday.
He said he filed an amicus brief for MCFL and other not-for-profit organizations in an HHS mandate case the U.S. Supreme Court heard March 25. A decision is expected later this year.
Two cases brought by family-run businesses were consolidated at the Supreme Court, he said. A lower court had decided in favor of Hobby Lobby Stores Inc. and another lower court had decided against Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp.
The businesses oppose the mandate of the Department of Health and Human Services, for which Kathleen Sebelius is secretary. The mandate requires their companies to pay for employees’ health insurance plans that include contraceptives, some of which are abortifacients, which they oppose for religious reasons.
One question is whether this mandate imposes on the practice of religion, Atty. Duncan said. He said Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. said part of the companies’ religious mission is providing health insurance for their employees.
Atty. Duncan said his brief argued that U.S. legal history and tradition has illustrated that corporate charters have been vehicles for the practice of religion. Roger Williams received a charter for Rhode Island which said no person there should be punished for religious opinions, he said.
Another question is whether business corporations are persons within the meaning of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, Atty. Duncan said. The federal Dictionary Act considers corporations legal persons, he said.
He said if the government burdens a person’s religious practice, the government must show that its interest in doing so is compelling and that the restriction is no broader than necessary.
It is problematic to say there is a compelling government interest in this case, he said. If it is so important that everyone have free contraceptives, why are some employers exempt from this mandate?
He also questioned whether the mandate is the least restrictive possible.
“If it’s so … important, why doesn’t the government do it itself?” he asked, in reference to providing free contraceptives.
There is something unAmerican about forcing persons to oppose their consciences, he said, noting that Quakers were exempted from military service, even though military service was considered important for the nation.
Government decisions impacting parents’ freedom were concerns raised in another talk at Saturday’s convention.
Linda R. Thayer, a retired public school science teacher and MCFL’s vice president of educational affairs, warned about the sex education portion of a bill before the Massachusetts Legislature.
The Massachusetts Comprehensive Health Curriculum Framework, which includes sex education, is now a recommendation, but House Bill 3793 seeks to make it the norm throughout the state, she said. She said if the bill is passed, schools using curricula consistent with the Framework would be considered in compliance with the new law.
The Framework is good on some health issues but not sex education, Mrs. Thayer said.
Fetal development is absent from the reproduction/sexuality section, she said. But objectives require students to be able to define sexual orientation by the end of grade 5, and by the end of grade 12 to be able to “identify resources available for treatment of reproductive health problems” and laws about “reproductive services.” She said that would essentially teach students how to get birth control and abortions without parental knowledge.
Mrs. Thayer said “safe sex” has been promoted for about 30 years, especially in minority communities, and now 26 percent of all teenagers in the nation, and 48 percent of African American teenagers, have a sexually transmitted disease, and Massachusetts has the 11th highest teen abortion rate in the nation.
About 70 percent of parents want their teenagers to refrain from sex and most people want teenagers to have abstinence education, she said. She said current Massachusetts law says schools must make their sex education material available to parents, but schools are not penalized if they don’t.
She suggested parents teach their children their values and expectations, network with like-minded families, explain hazards of messages from elsewhere, contact legislators and ask school officials what their children will be taught about abortion, birth control, pre-marital sex, marriage and homosexual behavior.
She asked listeners to have her speak in their areas and to send MCFL schools’ letters about sex education programs that they receive.
Abortion and contraception were also concerns raised by Angela Franks, a theologian and author of “Margaret Sanger’s Eugenic Legacy: The Control of Female Fertility.” She talked about Planned Parenthood promoting minors’ sexual activity and making money on abortions.
She said its foundress, Margaret Sanger, a eugenicist who lived from 1879-1966, believed in reducing the number of “unfit” people through birth control. It is estimated that from 1927 to the 1960s, 67,000 people in the United States were sterilized without their consent, she said. Now eugenics has morphed into pre-natal screening, she said.
She said she thinks people who work for Planned Parenthood today believe they’re helping people, and may not realize the eugenics philosophy has seeped into the agency’s “bloodstream.”
Mrs. Sanger thought women’s suffrage struggles for equal rights were superficial; the problem was women’s fertility, Mrs. Franks said. She said Mrs. Sanger was promiscuous, hence the need to avoid pregnancy.
Now Planned Parenthood tries to promote this lifestyle in schools and promote its representatives as “sexperts,” she said. But, she said, no study has been done to demonstrate that Planned Parenthood prevents teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections.
When International Planned Parenthood Federation was asked whether it teaches abstinence in the developing world, she said, the reply was: “Abstinence is not 100 percent effective in preventing pregnancy, so we would only recommend abstinence with condoms.”     Planned Parenthood tells adolescents serious, long-term emotional problems after abortion are rare, Mrs. Franks said. She showed charts of research she said a pro-abortion person did, that showed depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts were much higher in 15-18-year-olds who had abortions.
She said there is no evidence Planned Parenthood reports teen pregnancies resulting from statutory rape as is mandated.
It is hard to find out how much money Planned Parenthood makes from abortions, but it is estimated that one third of its $170 million in clinic revenue comes from abortions, she said.
Mrs. Franks suggested listeners educate others about Planned Parenthood and get local government to defund it.


Faith and Healthcare

By Tanya Connor

WORCESTER – Faith and healthcare were brought together in talks at Saturday’s Massachusetts Citizens For Life 2014 convention at Assumption College.
Dr. John Howland, family practitioner in Southbridge and a member of the Worcester Guild of the Catholic Medical Association, explained what he said is currently a “hot topic”: Massachusetts Medical Orders For Life-Sustaining Treatment. (A term used elsewhere is POLST, which substitutes the word “Physician.”)
He said he does not recommend MOLST, a medical document that functions as a doctor’s order, for most patients.
As with MOLST, there are real problems with living wills, which are not legally-binding documents in Massachusetts, Dr. Howland said. When filling out a form one does not know what future situations will entail.
Instead, he encouraged filling out the legal document called the Health Care Proxy form, especially the Catholic one, with which one designates a person to be a proxy who will make decisions if one can’t, using all the medical information available at the time.
In Massachusetts the proxy is standard and trumps MOLST, Dr. Howland said. If he wrote on his MOLST form that he did not want dialysis, and later became unable make decisions, and the doctor told his proxy that short-term dialysis would benefit him, the proxy could choose it for him.
He said questions on the MOLST form about whether one wants artificial nutrition and hydration, presented in a morally neutral way, concern him. Dehydration is a slow form of euthanasia, he said. For example, a patient in a morphine-induced coma who cannot eat or drink, if not nourished artificially, might die of dehydration rather than the underlying cancer.
Another problem on the MOLST form is declining cardiopulmonary resuscitation, which would prohibit others from giving one CPR even if one chokes on food, he said.
Despite these concerns, Dr. Howland took a positive view of death. In the world, people view death with fear and despair, as the end, and seek to control when they die, he said.
“As a Christian, I see death through the eyes of faith,” he said. “I’m not afraid to die. Death is an opportunity for resurrection. I will become a burden … but I have hope my life and my death will have meaning and purpose.”
Greek philosophers saw death as the separation of soul and body, Father Christopher Mahar said in his talk. He is working on a doctorate in bioethics and is rector of the Seminary of Our Lady of Providence in Rhode Island.
St. Ambrose said human beings were created to have a natural end and go to God, he said. But sin entered and death became an interruption, contrary to nature; that’s why Jesus pleaded to be spared from death.
St. Thomas Aquinas said Christ took on human nature, so the soul united with the body is more human and more God-like, Father Mahar said. So the most perfect state is the resurrected body.
Science doesn’t incorporate the soul, because its existence can’t be proved, but faith and science work together, he said. He  talked about detecting when death has occurred.
Cardiopulmonary death is the irreversible cessation of breathing and circulation, and brain death is the irreversible cessation of clinical brain function, he said.
Medical criteria for death are important with advances in technology, he said. For example, it is now possible to keep oxygenated blood flowing through a dead body with a ventilator. In the past, when the lungs stopped doing that job, it was clear that the person had died.
Another issue is organ harvesting, which may not be done until the donor is dead, but must then be done within several minutes, he said. He said Blessed John Paul II and other Vatican officials consistently supported the criteria for brain death in encouraging organ donation.
Father Mahar said sometimes patients are assumed to be brain dead when they are alive, but have a disorder of consciousness: they are in a coma, a vegetative state or a minimally conscious state.
Patients in vegetative and minimally conscious states can sleep, wake and breathe without a ventilator, he said.
Many experts are saying that up to 40 percent of those diagnosed as vegetative because of traumatic brain injury are really minimally conscious, he said. They might be able to take food on their own, though that would take a long time. They might hear and feel pain, including dehydration. And they might recover consciousness.