Saturday, April 26, 2014

"There is a way to have a positive impact on the integrity of the Church...."

"Does the HHS Mandate Include Abortifacients?"

In a 4/3/14 fact sheet, the USCCB's Secretariat of Pro Life Activities rhetorically asks, "Does the HHS mandate include abortifacients?"  

Acknowledging the abortifacient potential of "the copper IUD and Ella," the fact sheet indicates that the "'contraceptive' mandate also raises an abortion problem."  Though the fact sheet references Rebecca Peck, M.D.'s and Rev. Juan Vélez, M.D.'s “The Postovulatory Mechanism of Action of Plan B: A Review of the Scientific Literature” (National Catholic Bioethics Quarterly, Winter 2013), it only meekly notes that  "the abortifacient potential of Plan B is disputed but cannot be dismissed."  

The USCCB fact sheet fails to note that Doctor Peck and Father Vélez have taken a comprehensive look at the research and have no doubt as to "the abortifacient potential of Plan B" (to say nothing of hormonal contraceptives in general!).  

Doctor Peck and Father Vélez also maintain that Catholic hospitals must cease using Plan B as a so-called emergency "contraceptive," for those identifying themselves as victims of sexual assault.

Even if the "Contraceptive Mandate" Did NOT Raise "An Abortion Problem" (and It Does), We MUST Oppose It!

Responses from America's Catholic bishops to coercive government interference in the lives of Catholics and Catholic institutions appear to have grown much more timid over the past half century.  One incident is particularly instructive.

 After having been shamefully exploited for contraceptive testing, "Colonialism, Catholicism, and Contraception" (Annette B. Ramirez de Arellano and Conrad Seipp, University of North Carolina Press, 1983) describes how Puerto Rico's reigning political powers were advocating for population control and contraceptives in 1960: 
  • "a group of Catholic laymen organized the Christian Action Party (CAP)....The appeal of the new party was based almost exclusively on its support of religious instruction for public school pupils and its objection to existing legislation on birth control and sterilization....

    "Bishops James P. Davis of San Juan and James E. McManus of Ponce issued a pastoral letter describing the CAP as `the answer to the intolerable attitude' of the island's established political parties....

    "Francis Cardinal Spellman of New York visited Puerto Rico....Spellman was asked to comment on the bishops' involvement with the CAP. Spellman's diplomatic [sic] reply was, `I keep out of politics. It is outside my competence and will,' thereby implying that Davis and McManus should do the same.

    "Scarcely a week later, ...[Bishops Davis and McManus] issued a pastoral letter prohibiting Catholics of Puerto Rico from voting for [CAP's opposition]....John F. Kennedy, who aspired to be his country's first Catholic president, quickly reacted to the pastoral letter, calling the bishops' action `wholly improper'.... the Kennedys attempted to quarantine the Puerto Rican dispute. Subsequent declarations of several distinguished Catholic prelates accomplished [such]" (pp. 150 - 153).
Imagine that!  Just 55 years ago on U.S. soil, at least two bishops were abundantly clear that Catholics could NOT even vote for candidates promoting contraceptives and sterilization.  And they named names!  Though there may be IRS difficulties with such, where does the Catechism say it cannot be done?

"The Broken Path"

No one describes our current situation more magnificently and forthrightly than a lay person who was appointed to the Pontifical Academy for Life by both Pope John Paul II and  Pope Benedict XVI: 
  • "the leadership of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops...has taken the moral currency of Catholic doctrine and, to a large extent, squandered it on securing seats at the table of the political and cultural powebrokers in America....Catholic structures, such as schools and hospitals, have grown dependent on government financial support....An ordained priest, including Catholic bishops, cannot feed the hungry soul when he is more interested in playing footsie with politicians" (Judie Brown, The Broken Path, American Life League, 2011, pp. viii - xii).

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Ethics at Mercy Health System?

Sr. Megan Brown, R.S.M., D.Min.
Vice-President of Mission & Values
Mercy Hospital of Philadelphia
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Mathew Mathew, M.D., FACP
Assistant Chief Medical Officer
Mercy Catholic Medical Center
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Sr. Donna Watto, RSM.
Vice President of Mission and Values
Mercy Fitzgerald Hospital
Darby, Pennsylvania


I write to you as officers of the Mercy Health System and advisory board members of the Institute of Catholic Bioethics at St. Joseph's University.  I believe that scandalous seeds of confusion have been sown by Catholic hospitals in the archdiocese - so much so that it is misleading for them to be called "Catholic":
    1) No Mercy Health System OBGYN can be identified on One More Soul's list of NFP only OBGYNs);
    2)  Mercy Health System's Vendor Compliance Program, does NOT clearly specify:
    • Catholic teaching with regard to nutrition and hydration, and
    • that health care services cannot honor non-specific directives to forego nutrition and hydration.

Thank you.


Ethics at St. Mary Medical Center?

Mr. Richard Brochu
Chair of Ethics Resource Team 
St. Mary Medical Center
Langhorne, Pennsylvania

Dear Mr. Brochu,

Dr. Frank Craparo of Abington Perinatal Associates has been reported to be involved with fetal "reduction" – a euphemism for abortion (See  In the past, Craparo's name could actually be found on the physician directory of St Mary Medical Center!

When one of Craparo's Abington Perinatal Associates, Dr. Stephen Smith, recommended an abortion to a young mom and patient, an ethics investigation reportedly ensued, and Smith's name disappeared from your directory (cf, Pope vs. Doctors: How New Vatican Orthodoxy Undermines Medical Ethics and Imperils Your Health, Huffington Post, 2/10/10).  While I can find no indication that Abington Perinatal Associates has ceased doing "reductions," Smith's name has returned to your directory!  Joining him are fellow Abington Perinatal Associates Richard Latta, MD and Marc Rosenn, MD.

St. Mary's disclaimer indicates that "practitioners also provide services outside of St. Mary Medical Center where there is no institutional obligation to practice under the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services."  Common sense should tell us that allowing Abington Perinatal Associates at a Catholic hospital is akin to allowing the proverbial fox in the hen house.  The disclaimer insults moral sensibilities and intelligence.

Also, Saint Mary's publicly available Advanced Directives and Living Wills  fails to clearly specify:

  • Catholic teaching with regard to nutrition and hydration, and
  • that health care services cannot honor advance directives (e.g., non-specific directives to forego nutrition and hydration) opposed to Catholic teaching.


Ethics at Holy Redeemer?

Rev. Mark G. Swope, MDiv, MBE, 
Coordinator of the Ethics Program and Ethicist at Holy Redeemer Health System
Weekend Assistant at St. Martin of Tours/Philadelphia

Dear Father Swope,

I firmly believe that scandalous seeds of confusion have been sown by Catholic hospitals in our archdiocese - so much so that it is misleading for them to be called "Catholic."  For example:
    1) No Holy Redeemer OBGYN can be identified on One More Soul's list of NFP only OBGYNs;
    3) Holy Redeemer's Advance Directive form does NOT clearly specify:
    • Catholic teaching with regard to nutrition and hydration, and
    • that health care services cannot honor non-specific directives to forego nutrition and hydration.

Until today, I was unaware that a priest of the Archdiocese was overseeing "ethics" at Holy Redeemer.  Another ethics consultant is Vincent McPeak, MD:  "Dr. McPeak's interests and his expertise in bioethics include medical-ethical issues in reproduction, end-of-life care and advance directives."  Huh?


Tuesday, April 8, 2014

"'The Pill Kills' National Day of Action"

When you count abortions from chemical and mechanical methods, there have been 308,000,000 in the United States, since Roe v. Wade (cf, Pharmacists for Life International )!  So many of those are from "Plan B" and other abortifacients.  As per the American Life League's STOPP International,

Save the date: June 7 will bring nationwide protests against the pill....

WHAT: “The Pill Kills” National Day of Action

WHEN: June 7, 2014


Outside your nearest Planned Parenthood or similar abortion/contraception business or pharmacy that distributes the pill


SIGN UP AS A SPONSOR: Simply add your organization’s name on our website and Facebook page by replying to this newsletter, AND HELP SPREAD THE WORD. This is at no cost to you. No further action is required of you. Just let us know your group will be a sponsor ASAP. Our media campaign will launch in early May, so we need to have our list of sponsors finalized by April 21.

DAY of ACTION EVENTS: Organize an event in your town!
In past years, many American Life League Associates have protested the pill at its distribution points, including Planned Parenthood locations, similar abortion and contraceptive providers’ offices, and at local pharmacies. Your protest can be as simple as a 30-minute prayer vigil or can be expanded to include one or more speakers. Plan your event now!....

Sign up TODAY to sponsor The Pill Kills 2014 National Day of Action by replying to Rey Flores: or Rita Diller:

In the Archdiocese of Philadelphia and in our neighboring Diocese of Trenton, we probably bear a special responsibility to expose the heinous nature of the Pill.  Like every other area of the U.S., we are home to all sorts of pharmacies (including those in department stores and supermarkets) that sell these poisons.  Yet, according to a Planned Parenthood directory ( and, we are also home to 4 of the world's 15 "leading" manufacturers of "the Pill":
Your Excellency,

I was mistaken.  When I came across internet references to the "Medical Moral Commission of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia" (1, 2, 3, 4), I incorrectly assumed the commission to be current and you to be its chair.  To whom may Catholics in the Archdiocese address medical moral concerns?

Archbishop Chaput has spoken of a national leadership "hostile - to religious engagement in public affairs" (Heart on Fire).  Yet even among our politicians who identify themselves as Catholic and pro life, USCCB-supported efforts such as the Health Care Conscience Rights Act (HR940/S1204), the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act (HR7/S946), the Abortion Insurance Full Disclosure Act (H.R. 3279/S1848), the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act (HR1797/S1670/S 886), and the Child Interstate Abortion Notification Act (HR732/S32/S369) seem to have gained little traction!  Along with leaders we have sent to D.C., there seems minimal awareness among our Philadelphia-area neighbors of the perils to the sanctity of human life, religious freedom, and conscience posed by the HHS mandates.

On medical moral concerns, I believe that scandalous seeds of confusion have been sown by Catholic hospitals in the archdiocese - so much so that it is misleading for them to be called "Catholic":
    1) there is a paucity of NFP-only physicians among OBGYNs with privileges (i.e., Only one OBGYN can be identified who is on One More Soul's list of NFP only OBGYNs);
    4) publicly available information on end of life care poorly presents Catholic teaching (Right in the home archdiocese of the late Terri Schindler-Schiavo, neither Holy Redeemer's Advance Directive form, nor Mercy Health System's Vendor Compliance Program, nor Saint Mary's Advanced Directives and Living Wills, strike me as clearly specifying:

    • Catholic teaching with regard to nutrition and hydration, and
    • that health care services cannot honor non-specific directives to forego nutrition and hydration).

On medical moral concerns, I believe that seeds of confusion are also sown by certain advertisments in parish bulletins.  One More Soul has identified less than a handful of pharmacies - across the country - that do NOT sell abortifacients and contraceptives.  Unless there is indication that a pharmacy does not sell such poisons, inclusion of an ad in a parish bulletin can send a misleading message .  I know of four parishes in my own Bucks County that provide such ads: 

Support for authentically pro life pharmacists requires vigilance, to ensure that parishes are not inadvertently promoting providers of morally excluded particles and devices.

Your Excellency, I would appreciate the opportunity to meet with you, to address medical moral concerns.


The Beatitudes from "Jesus of Nazareth"


Use of Emergency So-Called Contraceptives in Catholic Hospitals for Those Reporting Rape

Book & Film Reviews, pt 1

Book & Film Reviews, pt 2

Blog Archive

And yup, that's me!

And yup, that's me!
(from page 1 of the NY Sun, 3/22/04)

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12/12/08 Interview with Rev. Tad Pacholczyk, Ph.D. of the National Catholic Bioethics Center

March for Life 2010