Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Pope Benedict XVI's Encyclical "Love in Truth"

28. One of the most striking aspects of development in the present day is the important question of respect for life, which cannot in any way be detached from questions concerning the development of peoples. It is an aspect which has acquired increasing prominence in recent times, obliging us to broaden our concept of poverty66 and underdevelopment to include questions connected with the acceptance of life, especially in cases where it is impeded in a variety of ways. Not only does the situation of poverty still provoke high rates of infant mortality in many regions, but some parts of the world still experience practices of demographic control, on the part of governments that often promote contraception and even go so far as to impose abortion. In economically developed countries, legislation contrary to life is very widespread, and it has already shaped moral attitudes and praxis, contributing to the spread of an anti-birth mentality; frequent attempts are made to export this mentality to other States as if it were a form of cultural progress. Some non-governmental Organizations work actively to spread abortion, at times promoting the practice of sterilization in poor countries, in some cases not even informing the women concerned. Moreover, there is reason to suspect that development aid is sometimes linked to specific health-care policies which de facto involve the imposition of strong birth control measures. Further grounds for concern are laws permitting euthanasia as well as pressure from lobby groups, nationally and internationally, in favour of its juridical recognition. Openness to life is at the centre of true development. When a society moves towards the denial or suppression of life, it ends up no longer finding the necessary motivation and energy to strive for man's true good. If personal and social sensitivity towards the acceptance of a new life is lost, then other forms of acceptance that are valuable for society also wither away.67 The acceptance of life strengthens moral fibre and makes people capable of mutual help. By cultivating openness to life, wealthy peoples can better understand the needs of poor ones, they can avoid employing huge economic and intellectual resources to satisfy the selfish desires of their own citizens, and instead, they can promote virtuous action within the perspective of production that is morally sound and marked by solidarity, respecting the fundamental right to life of every people and every individual.

44. The notion of rights and duties in development must also take account of the problems associated with population growth. This is a very important aspect of authentic development, since it concerns the inalienable values of life and the family.110 To consider population increase as the primary cause of underdevelopment is mistaken, even from an economic point of view. Suffice it to consider, on the one hand, the significant reduction in infant mortality and the rise in average life expectancy found in economically developed countries, and on the other hand, the signs of crisis observable in societies that are registering an alarming decline in their birth rate. Due attention must obviously be given to responsible procreation, which among other things has a positive contribution to make to integral human development. The Church, in her concern for man's authentic development, urges him to have full respect for human values in the exercise of his sexuality. It cannot be reduced merely to pleasure or entertainment, nor can sex education be reduced to technical instruction aimed solely at protecting the interested parties from possible disease or the "risk" of procreation. This would be to impoverish and disregard the deeper meaning of sexuality, a meaning which needs to be acknowledged and responsibly appropriated not only by individuals but also by the community. It is irresponsible to view sexuality merely as a source of pleasure, and likewise to regulate it through strategies of mandatory birth control. In either case materialistic ideas and policies are at work, and individuals are ultimately subjected to various forms of violence. Against such policies, there is a need to defend the primary competence of the family in the area of sexuality,111 as opposed to the State and its restrictive policies, and to ensure that parents are suitably prepared to undertake their responsibilities. Morally responsible openness to life represents a rich social and economic resource. Populous nations have been able to emerge from poverty thanks not least to the size of their population and the talents of their people. On the other hand, formerly prosperous nations are presently passing through a phase of uncertainty and in some cases decline, precisely because of their falling birth rates; this has become a crucial problem for highly affluent societies. The decline in births, falling at times beneath the so-called "replacement level", also puts a strain on social welfare systems, increases their cost, eats into savings and hence the financial resources needed for investment, reduces the availability of qualified labourers, and narrows the "brain pool" upon which nations can draw for their needs. Furthermore, smaller and at times miniscule families run the risk of impoverishing social relations, and failing to ensure effective forms of solidarity. These situations are symptomatic of scant confidence in the future and moral weariness. It is thus becoming a social and even economic necessity once more to hold up to future generations the beauty of marriage and the family, and the fact that these institutions correspond to the deepest needs and dignity of the person. In view of this, States are called to enact policies promoting the centrality and the integrity of the family founded on marriage between a man and a woman, the primary vital cell of society,112 and to assume responsibility for its economic and fiscal needs, while respecting its essentially relational character. In order to protect nature, it is not enough to intervene with economic incentives or deterrents; not even an apposite education is sufficient. These are important steps, but the decisive issue is the overall moral tenor of society. If there is a lack of respect for the right to life and to a natural death, if human conception, gestation and birth are made artificial, if human embryos are sacrificed to research, the conscience of society ends up losing the concept of human ecology and, along with it, that of environmental ecology. It is contradictory to insist that future generations respect the natural environment when our educational systems and laws do not help them to respect themselves. The book of nature is one and indivisible: it takes in not only the environment but also life, sexuality, marriage, the family, social relations: in a word, integral human development. Our duties towards the environment are linked to our duties towards the human person, considered in himself and in relation to others. It would be wrong to uphold one set of duties while trampling on the other. Herein lies a grave contradiction in our mentality and practice today: one which demeans the person, disrupts the environment and damages society. In vitro fertilization, embryo research, the possibility of manufacturing clones and human hybrids: all this is now emerging and being promoted in today's highly disillusioned culture, which believes it has mastered every mystery, because the origin of life is now within our grasp. Here we see the clearest expression of technology's supremacy. In this type of culture, the conscience is simply invited to take note of technological possibilities. Yet we must not underestimate the disturbing scenarios that threaten our future, or the powerful new instruments that the "culture of death" has at its disposal. To the tragic and widespread scourge of abortion we may well have to add in the future - indeed it is already surreptiously present - the systematic eugenic programming of births. At the other end of the spectrum, a pro-euthanasia mindset is making inroads as an equally damaging assertion of control over life that under certain circumstances is deemed no longer worth living. Underlying these scenarios are cultural viewpoints that deny human dignity. These practices in turn foster a materialistic and mechanistic understanding of human life. Who could measure the negative effects of this kind of mentality for development? How can we be surprised by the indifference shown towards situations of human degradation, when such indifference extends even to our attitude towards what is and is not human? What is astonishing is the arbitrary and selective determination of what to put forward today as worthy of respect. Insignificant matters are considered shocking, yet unprecedented injustices seem to be widely tolerated. While the poor of the world continue knocking on the doors of the rich, the world of affluence runs the risk of no longer hearing those knocks, on account of a conscience that can no longer distinguish what is human. God reveals man to himself; reason and faith work hand in hand to demonstrate to us what is good, provided we want to see it; the natural law, in which creative Reason shines forth, reveals our greatness, but also our wretchedness insofar as we fail to recognize the call to moral truth.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Study: Private Religious School Students More Likely to Have Abortion Than Public

by Steven EditorJune 1, 2009

Washington, DC ( -- A new study finds that women students at private, religious schools are not less likely than their counterparts at public schools to have an abortion. In fact, sociologist Amy Adamczyk published an article in the June issue of the Journal of Health and Social Behavior saying they are more likely.
Adamczyk, an assistant professor at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice and the Graduate Center, City University of New York, conducted the study.
While previous research has investigated the link between religion and abortion attitudes, fewer studies have explored religion's impact on abortion behavior.
"This research suggests that young, unmarried women are confronted with a number of social, financial and health-related factors that can make it difficult for them to act according to religious values when deciding whether to keep or abort a pregnancy," she said.
The researcher noted that shame in finding out that a religious school student is pregnant could result in a higher abortion rate.
"Religious school attendance is not necessarily indicative of conservative religious beliefs because students attend these schools for a variety of reasons," Adamczyk said. "These schools tend to generate high levels of commitment and strong social ties among their students and families, so abortion rates could be higher due to the potential for increased feelings of shame related to an extramarital birth."
Despite Adamczyk's finding that rates of reported abortions were higher for young women educated at private religious schools, the type of religious school was not a factor: Catholic schools had similar rates as other religious schools.
Results revealed no significant link between a young woman's reported decision to have an abortion and her personal religiosity, as defined by her religious involvement, frequency of prayer and perception of religion's importance.
Despite the absence of a link between personal religious devotion and abortion, religious affiliation did have some important influence. Adamczyk found that conservative Protestants were the least likely to report having an abortion, less likely than mainline Protestants, Catholics and women with non-Christian religious affiliations.
Regarding the impact of the religious involvement of a woman's peers, Adamczyk found no significant influence. However, Adamczyk did find that women who attended school with conservative Protestants were more likely to decide to keep their baby if pregnant in their 20s than during their teen years.
"The values of conservative Protestant classmates seem to have an abortion limiting effect on women in their 20s, but not in their teens, presumably because the educational and economic costs of motherhood are reduced as young women grow older," Adamczyk said.
Adamczyk examined how personal religious involvement, schoolmate religious involvement and school type influenced the pregnancy decisions of a sample of 1,504 unmarried and never-divorced women age 26 and younger from 125 different schools. The women ranged in age from 14 to 26 at the time they discovered they were pregnant.
Twenty-five percent of women in the sample reported having an abortion, which Adamczyk considers lower than the likely actual number.
Data for this study came from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health), a three-wave school-based study of the health-related behaviors of students in grades 7 to 12 at the time of the first wave. Adamczyk analyzed data from the first and third waves of Add Health, the first wave taking place from 1994 to 1995 and the third wave being completed between 2001 and 2002.
The article is "Understanding the Effects of Personal and School Religiosity on the Decision to Abort a Premarital Pregnancy."
The Journal of Health and Social Behavior is a quarterly journal of the American Sociological Association.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Sweden Rules "Gender-based" Abortions Legal

pic from

The Local (Sweden's News in English)
May 12, 2009

Swedish health authorities have ruled that gender-based abortion is not illegal according to current law and can not therefore be stopped, according to a report by Sveriges Television.

Stopping meds made Swedish woman's 'dementia' disappear (20 May 09)
Repeat heart attack risk declines in Sweden: study (19 May 09)
Swedish surgeon forgets swabs in sewn up mum (10 May 09)
The Local reported in February that a woman from Eskilstuna in southern Sweden had twice had abortions after finding out the gender of the child.

The woman, who already had two daughters, requested an amniocentesis in order to allay concerns about possible chromosome abnormalities. At the same time, she also asked to know the foetus's gender.

Doctors at Mälaren Hospital expressed concern and asked Sweden’s National Board of Health and Welfare (Socialstyrelsen) to draw up guidelines on how to handle requests in the future in which they "feel pressured to examine the foetus’s gender" without having a medically compelling reason to do so.

The board has now responded that such requests and thus abortions can not be refused and that it is not possible to deny a woman an abortion up to the 18th week of pregnancy, even if the foetus's gender is the basis for the request.