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October 4, 2007 Edition

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Mother's womb:
Help make it safe for all babies

Catholics throughout the United States observe October as Respect Life Month. Although we should be concerned about respecting life all the time, this is a special month set aside to focus on various life issues.

Forty Days for Life

Forty Days for Life is a 24 hours a day, seven days a week prayer vigil outside local abortion centers to pray to God for an end to abortion.

It began on Wednesday, Sept. 26, and ends on Sunday, Nov. 4, in 89 communities throughout the U.S. In Madison, it will be held outside Planned Parenthood on 3706 Orin Rd., off Hwy. 51. For information visit www.40daysforlife.com/madison

Related items this week:

Throughout this month, I will be writing about life issues. The obvious place to start is at the beginning of life: the child in the mother's womb. That's the place where we all began our journey of life.

For most of us, the womb was a place of safety, warmth, and nourishment. Our mother's love for us somehow seeped through the umbilical cord. Even as small developing fetuses, we knew we were loved not only by God, but by our mother.

Womb is not safe for all babies. Yet, for some babies, the womb is not a safe place. And it's becoming increasingly unsafe.

In fact, a report released earlier this year by Biblical Family Advocates said that the loss of life due to abortions worldwide is even higher than we have known. In the United States there are about 1.3 million surgical abortions per year. In the world, there are about 46 million children aborted each year.

Many women are making the heart-breaking decision to abort their children unaware of the dangers of surgical abortion to themselves and, of course, as well as to their unborn child. Some women are being coerced into abortions, not aware of the alternatives available to help them and their babies. In fact, according to one survey, more than 60 percent of post-abortive American women said they felt pressured to have an abortion.

Bill to protect women from coercion. What can we do to help save the lives of women and their babies? In Wisconsin, the state legislature is considering a bill to protect women who are being forced into having an abortion. Assembly Bill 427 is authored by Representative Mark Gundrum (R-New Berlin) and Senator Roger Breske (D-Eland).

This bipartisan proposal would require the physician who is to perform or induce an abortion to determine whether or not the women has consented to the abortion freely and without coercion. The bill would also require the doctor to inform the women of services for those threatened with domestic abuse and provide her with a private phone if she wishes to call for assistance.

The Wisconsin Catholic Conference (WCC) testified in support of this proposal put forward by Wisconsin Right to Life. WCC Associate Director Barbara Sella quoted Pope John Paul II's encyclical, The Gospel of Life, in which the late Holy Father mentions the pressures placed on women to have an abortion by the father of the children, other family members, or friends. "Sometimes the woman is subjected to such strong pressure that she feels psychologically forced to have an abortion," (GL, 59) he said.

Take action. Concerned citizens should contact their state legislators to support this bill. It is one step to help all mothers choose life for their unborn children. We can also support pregnancy centers and provide help to pregnant women in our families, neighborhoods, and communities. Let's help make the womb a safe place for all babies.

Mary C. Uhler

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We reserve the right to edit or reject letters. Limit letters to 200 words or less. All letters must be signed. Please include your city or town of residence.

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The Catholic Herald
702 S. High Point Rd.
Madison, WI 53719-3522

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E-mail: info@madisoncatholicherald.org
Support bill to protect women from coerced abortions

To the editor:

At a recent public hearing at the state Capitol, an Assembly committee heard testimony from women who told their dramatic and heart-wrenching stories about being coerced into having an abortion. These courageous women came to Madison to urge the committee to pass Assembly Bill 427, the Coercive Abortion Prevention Act. This legislation would protect women who are being forced to have an abortion against their will.

In 2004, the Medical Science Monitor reported that according to a study of American post-abortive women, 64 percent of the women felt pressured by others to have an abortion. Pregnant women are often intimidated into aborting through financial, relational, or emotional threats.

Current Wisconsin law prohibits an abortionist from performing an abortion on a woman against her will. Unfortunately, women entering Wisconsin's abortion clinics are not aware of this law and the abortionist is not required to assess whether the woman is being coerced into having an abortion. This glaring shortcoming in current law would be remedied by AB 427.

Under AB 427, the abortionist must assess whether an abortion is voluntary or coerced. If the abortion is coerced, the abortionist may not perform the abortion.

In addition, a woman who is being threatened with physical harm unless she submits to an abortion will no longer be without assistance. The bill requires that the abortionist inform her of resources available for victims of domestic abuse and provide her with assistance in contacting those resources.

To find out how you can support AB 427, visit WisconsinRighttoLife.org

Susan Armacost, Legislative Director
Wisconsin Right to Life, Milwaukee

Retired priest appreciates being treated with dignity

To the editor:

Our 30 seminarians offer welcome signs of hope. Prayer, Eucharistic Adoration, our Diocesan Vocation Office, and encouragement by priests, Bishop Morlino, and others helped them to accept God's call to study for priesthood. At the Priests' Assembly, the Vocation Office invited all priests to make a video about their vocation. The office hopes these videos inspire young and older men to discern if God is calling them.

Bishop Morlino also stressed that priestly vocations are encouraged when seminarians and others discerning priesthood see retired priests treated with dignity. The Bless Our Priests Collection helps do this by providing funds for current and future financial needs of increasing numbers of retired priests.

I, a retired priest, have been treated with dignity by my bishops, diocese, and others. In special ways the Retired Priest Ministry has responded to hidden and visible needs of myself and other priests. Members helped me move to the Bishop O'Connor Center, drove me to and from surgery, and cared for me. These well-trained volunteers don't force themselves on priests. Priests freely accept their help as I and others gratefully have.

These are some ways God works through committed Catholics to encourage seminarians and priests.

Fr. Don Lange, pastor emeritus, Madison

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