Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Francis, poor women need your help

I don't write for many weeks and then I have articles on back to back days.  The timing of today's article is inspired by an email I received this morning from the Michigan Catholic Conference (MCC), the lobbying organization for the Catholic bishops of Michigan.  

As background to readers from outside the U.S., there is an effort afoot to end US federal funding for a group called Planned Parenthood.  This organization is one of the primary women's healthcare providers for poor women in the U.S.   3% of their services are abortion and by law they cannot use federal funds for abortions.  The majority of their services are related to women's reproductive care and the New England Journal of Medicine attributes the organization's family planning services with actually reducing the number of abortions.

However, there are extremists who oppose abortion that undertook a smear campaign, falsifying videos and accusing the organization of trafficking aborted baby bodies.  Now they seek to defund the organization completely.

At the encouragement of my father, below is a response I emailed moments ago to my bishop and his communication director. For context I also include the note I received from the communication director encouraging me to contact my elected officials asking them to vote to defund this organization. Maybe people would like to contact their representative and express their own opinion on this issue.  The link to a response form is included in the note from the diocese.  However, it appears that if you use it, your message first goes to the MCC.  I think I will just directly communicate with my rep.

All I can say is, Francis, poor women need your help...

My Response:

Dear Mike and Bp Earl,

I send you warm greetings this beautiful day.  However, I do need to comment on this note I received from Mike.

The content of this note fanning flames around videos known to have fabricated and false evidence is unacceptable behavior from an organization that says it is not only a staunch defender of truth but the ultimate defender of truth.  You are not credible guardians of truth if you do not tell it. I expect more from you as leaders.  Please expect more from yourselves too.

If you cannot achieve your objectives via strict adherence to facts, then perhaps you drive your agenda vs God's?  

Here is a link for fact checking about Planned Parenthood. 

As you can see, federal funds cannot be used for an abortion at Planned Parenthood.  Thus, your argument seems empty.

Furthermore, abortion constitutes about 3% of Planned Parenthood services.  Why are you fixated on defunding Planned Parenthood completely?  Why do you wish to defund the primary source of female healthcare services for poor women?  What is your proposed alternative to offer them care?  Please do elaborate.  I am interested in your solutions advocating for poor women, especially on the cusp of a visit from Pope Francis who cares so deeply, passionately and tenderly for the poor.  In the absence of offering an alternative healthcare option for poor women, it is difficult to see this as anything other than a sexist, misogynist move veiled in moral concern.

Your priorities confuse me greatly and I know church leaders worry a great deal about not causing confusion.  Therefore I know you will want to consider this confusion you inspire.  The federal budget includes well over $500 Billion for military.  The Planned Parenthood federal funding is roughly around $500 Million.  It would seem to me, as Christians representing the Prince of Peace, you would exert 1,000 times more effort and outrage at 1,000 times more funding going to the military than towards healthcare services for poor women.

By the way, the New England Journal of Medicine attributes Planned Parenthood, not strident Catholic organizations working feverishly spreading misinformation, as a key reason abortion rates have dropped in the U.S.  This is due to their family planning services.  http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMe1510281.  Please see the end of paragraph 2.

I wish you the peace of Christ, the wisdom of the Spirit and the love of God.

The original email from the MCC:

The Michigan Catholic Conference has just sent out the message below via the Bishops' Catholic Advocacy Network.  Please follow the link at the end of the message to contact your U.S. Representative.

Legislation is expected to come before the U.S. House of Representatives this week that would eliminate federal funding for Planned Parenthood of America and its affiliates. Planned Parenthood receives over half a billion taxpayer dollars a year and performs over a third of all abortions around the United States. Recently, a number of undercover videos show officials from the organization willing to participate in the trafficking of fetal organs and tissue, as well as to alter the abortion procedure to obtain more "intact" parts. Taxpayer dollars should not be supporting an organization with these practices.

In particular, House Resolution 3134 places a moratorium on funding for Planned Parenthood for one year and is on the agenda for the House Rules Committee this Wednesday evening. A vote of the full House is expected shortly thereafter.

Take a few minutes now to let your U.S. Representative know that H.R. 3134 and similar legislation such as H.R. 3301 should be adopted into law. Thank you in advance for your efforts on behalf of the unborn.

Michigan Catholic Conference

Click the link below to log in and send your message:


  1. I wonder what exactly the Catholic-affiliated hospitals do with fetal tissue from spontaneous abortions. Are they also selling this tissue in the same way Planned Parenthood supposedly does? Explains why they are so annoyed with Planned Parenthood - but not trying to make illegal the procuring of the tissue as well as the 'selling' of it.

  2. I will write here because on the catholica website where someone commented about this article I am unable to post a response. The comment was going on at length about a bill in Michigan...the wrong legislative bill. This mailing from the diocese is about a federal not a state bill. The person ripping apart my article was quite misinformed. Catholica is published from Australia so perhaps the person is unfamiliar with the two levels of politics in this country. Furthermore the person, because they were reading the wrong bill, went on about how this bill does not impact poor women. Again, yes it does. It is for federal funding for an organization called Planned Parenthood that is a provider of healthcare to many poor women. The bill the person incorrectly referred to occurred last year and had to do with the state exchanges for the affordable healthcare act.