Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Fargo parishioners urged to fight abortion bill

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Local parishes provide postcards opposing the Freedom of Choice Act as part of national campaign

Catholic congregants in the Fargo Diocese stared one of the most divisive issues in the country’s history in the eye Sunday morning.

“We can no longer have a culture of death,” said Cecelia O’Keefe, who attends Holy Spirit Catholic Church. “How can you not know that is a baby?”

This weekend was the kickoff date for the national “Fight FOCA Postcard Campaign,” designed to oppose the federal Freedom of Choice Act and other legislation that would lift restrictions on abortion. Local parishes provided parishioners with postcards asking their congressional representatives to “oppose FOCA or any similar measure, and retain laws against federal funding and promotion of abortion.”

FOCA would effectively codify Roe v. Wade, the landmark Supreme Court case on abortion, declaring abortion a fundamental right. It also would go beyond and remove federal and state restrictions on abortion, such as required parental consent and informed consent requirements. Some opponents say it would repeal the Hyde Amendment, which restricts the use of federal funds for abortions, but Tammi Kromenaker, director of the Red River Women’s Clinic, says “that’s up for disagreement.”

Mary Volk, who attends Holy Spirit Catholic Church, said her church’s homily, which addressed FOCA, “dealt with it in a very tactful way.

“No matter how you got into that situation, it’s still a baby,” she said.

The effort was no small undertaking. Rachelle Sauvageau, director of the Diocese of Fargo’s Respect for Life Office, said 38,000 postcards were mailed to the Fargo Diocese parishes. The Diocese of Bismarck put the cards in the diocese newspaper. And parishes in the Diocese of Crookston, which encompasses the Minnesota side of the Fargo-Moorhead area, are also distributing the cards.

In a statement released Thursday, the 35th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, President Barack Obama said he has “consistently had a 100 percent pro-choice rating with Planned Parenthood and NARAL Pro-Choice America,” and he stated his intention to pass the Freedom of Choice Act.

Samuel Aquila, bishop of the Diocese of Fargo, said the issue of abortion is so close to the heart of the Catholic Church, “because with both reason and faith, it recognizes the dignity of human life from the moment of conception until natural death.”

And Sauvageau said, “We all have a right to be born and to have that right protected not only in law but by those who should care for us.”

Kromenaker, of the Red River Women’s Clinic, said she believes, “Any organization has the right to lobby the government to vote the way they feel.”

She sees that as a part of her freedom of choice ethos.

But, as she sees it, FOCA is “very important because Roe v. Wade has been chipped away at year after year after year, making it much more difficult for women to obtain abortions. … To strengthen the freedom of choice that women have and have had for 36 years is a good thing.” In-Forum


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