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June 28, 1996     The Message
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June 28, 1996

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The Message --f01' Catholics of Southwedtern Indiana { Massive education effort urged on partial birth abortion' By NANCY FRAZIER O'BRIEN Catholic News Service ALEXANDRIA, Va. (CNS) -- A massive education effort is needed to achieve an override in Congress of President Clinton's veto of the Partial-Birth Abor- tion Ban Act, said speakers at the National Right to Life con- vention June 20. But "the public discourse on abortion has already begun to shift" because of discussions on the gruesome partial-birth pro- cedure, said Rep. Charles T. Canady, R,Fla., author of the legislation vetoed by Clinton. "We have shifted attention to the consequences of choosing a particular kind of abortion, to the consequences of choice for the child," he added. Canady addressed the open- ing general session of the NRLC's June 20-22 convention in Alexandria. Other speakers at the session included Brenda Pratt Sharer, a registered nurse who witnessed three partial- birth abortions; Douglas John- son, NRLC federal legislative director; and Wanda Franz, NRLC president. Father Michael Mannion, director of campus ministry at The Catholic University of America, addressed the session on behalf of Cardinal James A. Hickey of Washington, who was at the U.S. bishops' meet!ng in Portland, Ore. "If you have any doubts that he and his fellow bishops stand with you" on the issue of partial- birth abortions, Father Mannion said, "remember a rainy Mon- day in April" when Cardinals Hickey and Bernard F. Law of Boston joined others in a demon- stration outside the White House on that issue. Canady said the partial-birth abortion ban passed in Congress despite a "barrage of false claims" and "medical mytholo- gy" about the procedure. "Advo- cates of abortion will say any- thing that they think will keep Americans from understanding what partial-birth abortion is about," he said. The legislation vetoed by Clinton would have banned a procedure used in late-term abortions in which the unborn child is partially delivered before surgical scissors are stabbed into the base of the infant's head. The child's brain is then removed by suction, allowing for easier delivery of the rest of the fetus. A veto override vote is expect- ed in Congress later this sum- mer. Canady said opposition to the veto is "vociferous and growing." But Johnson said that "we've got our work cut out for us" on the override vote. "The outcome is still in doubt," he said. A Wirthlin Poll commissioned by NRLC and released June 20 found that only 26 percent of Americans knew that Congress had passed a law banning par- tial-birth abortions and only 27 percent knew Clinton had vetoed it. But when they were told in detail what a partial-birth abor- tion involved, 84 percent of the respondents said they should be banned. The poll of 1,002 people was conducted May 28-30, and had a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points. The most dramatic state- ments against partial-birth abortions came from Shafer, who said she considered herself pro-choice until working for three days in 1993 at Dr. Martin Haskelrs abortion clinic in Day- ton, Ohio. She sai d she had wprked in emergency roomS, home care, nursing homes during 14 ye as a nurse, but nothing  pared me" for the experienC Haskelrs clinic, where she nessed the death of a Down drome baby with "the most P! fect, angelic face I've ever see "I wish President could have I was standing that day, said. "I don't think he have vetoed that bill' .... : :: Johnson said the NRLCI begun a national camPa! end partial-brth aboalU olwng the distribution fs lions of pieces of literat placement of newspaper ads a public service announceme on radio, and a ,ordiiia campaign to urge CongreSs override the veto. "Do all you can to equip  self for the next staffo ' debate," he told pr o'lie lea" :: at the convention. Military archbishop says directive on postcards violates rigm By NANCY FRAZIER O'BRIEN Catholic News Service WASHINGTON (CNS) -- An Air Force directive ordering Catholic chaplains not to partic- ipate in the chuch's postcard campaign to Congress against partial-birth abortions violates their rights, according to the head of the U.S. military arch- diocese. Archbishop Joseph T. Dimino of the Archdiocese for the Mili- tary Services USA said in a June 20 statement that the Air Force judgeadvocate general had made "a most unfortunate interpretation" of Department of Defense regulations when he said participation in the post- card campaign would violate the ban on political activities by members of the armed forces on active duty: "We are not discussing poli- tics; we are discussing morali- ty," Archbishop Dimino said. "We are discussing the need to stop partial-birth abortions; we are discussing the need to strug- gle constantly in order to main- tain high moral standards in our country. "Catholics who proudly serve their country, and the members of their families, should not be deprived of an opportunity, which is their right, to partici- pate with every other American Catholic in the effort to stop a gross immoral procedure," he added. "Catholic chaplains, as they stand in the pulpits of our military chapels, must not be prohibited from proclaiming the teachings of their church, espe- cially moral teachings." The directive telling Air Force chaplains not to participate in the postcard campaign or to encourage others to participate was contained in a June 7 memo from Air Force headquarters in Washington to all senior chap- lains. "We understand the sensitiv- ity of this issue and appreciate your interest in supporting the Archdiocese for the Military Services," the memo said. "How- ever, your military status, and the status of your chaplains, carries with it unique responsi- bilities and limitations that have been imposed by Congress to insure the separation of our military forces from political issues." Lou Timmons, a public affairs officer for the Air Force, said the directive does not restrict chap- lains tkom preaching on abortion. But they cannot have the post- cards at Masses or urge parish- ioners to write to Congress on the issue of partial-birth abortions, he told Catholic News Service June 21. "The issue as we see it is not religious," he said. "It's not any- thing to do with abortion at all." Rather it has to do with a par- ticular campaign to override a particular veto, he added. One Air Force instruction cited'in the memo prohibits the use of"official authority or influ- ence to interfere with an elec- tion, to affect its course or out- come, to solicit votes for a particular candidate or issue, or to require or solicit political con- tributions from others." The memo was made public June 20 at the National Right to Life convention in Alexandria, Vs., along with a letter from Father Lawrence Gosselin, a priest of the Melkite Diocese of Newton, Mass., and an Air Force chaplain, protesting the move. "This is a serious breach of the religious rights (as well as the freedom of speech) of mili- tary members to speak out on this issue in its appropriate forum as priest-to-parishioner," Father Gosselin wrote. "I am reminded that following World War II the German mili- tary bishop and chaplaincy were roundly condemned for their failure in pastoral leadership against the horrors of euthana- sia, abortion and genocide," he added. The postcard campaign, which was to begin in Catholic parish- es June 29-30, is aimed at con- vincing Congress to override Clinton's veto of the Partial- Birth Abortion Ban Act. Although the legislation con- tained an exception that allowed the partial-birth procedure to be used to save the mother's life, Clinton said he vetoed it because it did not include an exception to preserve the woman's health. Supporters of the bill say a health exception could be used to permit the pro- cedure in any circumstances. The legislation vetoed by Clin- ton would have banned a proce- dure used in late-term abortions in which the unborn child is par- tially delivered before surgical scissors are stabbed into the base of the infant's head. The child's brain is then removed by suction, allowing for easier deity- " ery of the rest of the fetus. The postcard campaign is co- Sponsored by the National Com- mittee for a Human Life Amend- ment, a grass-root s Catholic pro-life group, and the U.S. bish- ops' Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities. It asks Catholics to send postcards in favor of the veto override to the three mem bers of Congress -- two senators and one House member -- who represent them. The Air Force memo . excerpts from a legal opin issued June 5 by the r judge advocate genera said. "We believe trlaL .'-,,'. cable directives P.rOhL from participating, m '.,om. paign or encouraging -bey Force chaplains or mere participate in it.  Francis Schutte P.O. 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