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February 13, 1998     The Message
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February 13, 1998

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10 The Message -- for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana By DARCI SMITH Catholic News Service -T Michigan couple sees the joys" LANSING, Mich. (CNS) -- Robert and Jennie Mahoney have lived a life devoid of few joys: He served 18 years in the Michigan Legislature, and togeth- er they raised 10 children. And both are blind. "You're given one life, and you've got to do the very best you can with it," said Robert Mahone) 76. "And it's not easy m life is hard. People today want to think that everything can be easy, and you don't have to struggle or fight or work for anything. "But half the joy in life is making some success out of it," he added in an interview with The Michigan Catholic, Detroit archdiocesan newspaper. Robert Mahoney's successes prompted him to write his autobiography, "Living Out of Sight," which he self- published in 1995. Jennie Mahoney became visually impaired following a high fever at age 3, and lost the remainder of her eye- sight at 11. Robert Mahoney has been blind in one eye since birth, and lost sight in the other as the result of detached retina suffered in a skiing ccident while he was an 11th-grader at Holy Redeemer High School in Detroit. The two met at the Michigan School for the Blind in Lansing, where the young Jennie Kubinger studied for 10 years, and Robert Mahoney attended for a year.. She graduated and went on to become the first blind student at Adrian College, majoring in home econom- ics. He earned his high school diploma from Detroit's Northern High School. In 1941 they married and rented an apartment in Detroit, and became members of St. Raymond Parish. To support his new wife, Robert Mahoney went door- to-door selling mops, brooms and brushes made by the blind. He was helped along his route by a guide dog. "I always figured that the grace of God was there that really helped us along," Robert Mahoney recalled. "We tried to follow our faith, all the teachings." The young couple started their family in 1944 with the birth of their son, Gary. Three daugh!ers m Roberta, Rosemary and Colleen -- and six more sons -- Dennis, Joseph, Mark, Michael, Bill and Robert -- would fol- low. "The first five, I think, were the hardest," said Jennie Mahoney, now 78. "As the kids got a little bit older they could help a bit, even just running and getting a diaper for you helps."' When the children were young, she recalled putting bells on their shoes to keep track of where the little ones were. After 12 years in door-to-door sales, doctors told Robert Mahoney  who was born with the two bad heart valves  that he had to find a new profession. "I had everything against me when you come down to it: blind, a bad heart and a big fam- ily," he said. At a friend's urging, Robert Mahoney ran for Democratic precinct delegate and won. His years as a door-to-door sales- man paid off in grass-roots con- Robert Mahoney stayed in the for 18 years, and is best known that requires hunter safety classes for prove that anyone could buy a blind legislator went out and bought. bill passed the following year. ': Faith is central to the Mahoney ple recalled attending daily Mass and ing the rosary together. "Without that, I don't think we Robert Mahoney said of their faith. "The 1 was there." It was his pro-stance housing that eventually "drove him islative position in 1972 "As a man and a Christian, service to my principles and his 1995 book. "It's always much easier people want to hear and so what they should hear." ,u're given one life, and you've i do the nections. In 1954, he ran for the Michigan Legislature and won. And so Robert Mahoney was off to Lansing as Michigan's first blind state representative. While he represented his constituents five days a week in the state capital, Jennie Mahoney was home raising their brood. In 1956 the Mahoneys established a mail-order busi- ness, Michigan Notary Service, which sold seals, bonds, rubber stamps and other notary needs. Jennie Mahoney took care of the business. "When the phone would ring, Jennie'd yell and say, 'You kids be quiet, (it's) the busi- ness phone!"' Robert Mahoney explained. She'd write down the caller's name and address in Braille, then "she'd get some material to mail out, type the envelope out and then put a stamp on it and have the kids go to the mailbox," he added. Michigan Notary Service is still in business today, run by the couple's daughter Colleen. very best you can with Robert Mahoney went on to serve missioner and as a lobbyist, and he the family in Lansing. The advent made life easier for the blind, the Most days, Robert Mahoney can Web on a special Braille computer friends as far away as England.  They also have printers to print both Braille, as Well as a scanner that reads And (mail) that we don t understand are always coming over at 1 evening," Jennie Mahoney said. Now residents of Lansing, Gerard Parish, the Mahoneys spend ing to books and magazines on tape,, and playing cards or games. ,'Jennie. bage every day," Robert games, and we have a tournament "It's really vicious," he laughed. Protests intensify over "quick-fix' abortion By JOHN BURGER Catholic News Service NEW YORK (CNS) -- Pro-life activists in the New York City area are intensifying efforts to dissuade women from taking a generic version of the contro- versial abortion-inducing pill RU-486. Announcements that two New York area medical centers are participating in trials of the new pill have made pro-life activists determined to stress that a human life is taken, regardless of the abortion method. Trials of a generic version of the French-made pill are being conducted at the Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx and the Women's Medical Pavilion in the Westchester County town of Dobbs Ferry. Used in the first seven weeks of pregnancy, the procedure involves two types of medica- tion, RU-486 -- generically known as mifepristone to stop the pregnancy m and a prostaglandLn, misoprostol, that stimulates uterine contractions to expel the fetus. Three separate doctors' exams are required to ensure the process is completed. If the dead fetus is not expelled, surgery is required. To date, the procedure has been used by an estimated 200,000 European women. Christopher T. Slattery, direc- tor of crisis pregnancy ceoters in Manhattan and the Bronx, said protesters of the abortion pill want to "emphasize the parent- hood of early life so women aren't deceived into thinking there is no harm done in an early abortion." Slattery planned to hold demonstrations March 21 near the two medical centers and at other sites where abortions are performed, either with RU-486 or the newer methods. Two of the latest methods involve use of the cancer drug Methotroxate or a syringe to abort fetuses as young as eight- days-old. The Food and Drug Admin- istration approved RU-486 for sale in the United States in September 1996, but it is not yet available on the market. Under boycott pressure from pro-life groups in the United States, its French maker, Roussel Uclaf, last year transferred U.S. patent rights for the drug to the nonprofit Population Council. The council has not revealed who will manufacture the drug for the U.S. market. RU-486 induces a miscarriage that generally occurs at home, said Dr. Steven Kaali, director of the Dobbs Ferry clinic. He is par- ticipating in the study of the drug being conducted by Abortion Rights Mobilization, based in Manhattan. Angela McNaughton, execu- tive director of the Pregnancy Care Center in New Rochelle, N.Y., said that the drug is pre- sented as a "quick fix" but that like other types of abortion it is traumatic and leaves the woman with a sense of loss. "It is a very unnatural process," she told Catholic New York, the archdiocesan newspaper. "It's against .all good repro- ductive health .... It requires four office visits and leaves the woman alone for much of the procedure," she said. "There are a lot of physical complications. And this .... We don't effects. The the New of a nationwide the chemical "We want to notice," said they think into protests, Rabbis join in effort to ban partial-birth By NANCY FRAZIER O'BRIEN Catholic News Service left the birth canal, as is the case in the partial-birth procedure, "abortion is specifically prohib- ited at that stage," he said. The Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act, twice vetoed by President Clinton and facing override votes in both houses of Congress this year, contains an exception when the mother's life is endangered, Gersten noted. The institute's first major cam- paign will be aimed at convinc- ing the nine Jewish U.S. senators who voted to uphold Clinton's veto to change their votes. There are currently 10 Jewish U.S. sen- ators, but only Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania m the sole Republican among the 10- voted to override the first Clinton veto in 1996. So far, more than 70 Reform, ConservatiVe rabbis have ter urging the veto. Jewish ter and the have signed the the person cannot the mother'S Gersten, the first time of the made tion to ly WASHINGTON (CNS) -- A new organization based in the Washington suburbs is working to mobilize the Jewish commu- nity on the issue of partial-birth abortion. "There is no basis in Jewish law for this procedure," said Chris Gersten, president of the Institute for Religious Values, which has its headquarters in Bethesda, Md. Jewish law "allows for and even mandates abortion in certain circumstances," such as when a mother's life is at risk, said Gersten in a telephone interview with Catholic News Service. But when the child's head has