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2/16/2017 9:00:00 AM
Bishop on Catholic politicians and Planned Parenthood
BISHOP SCHARFENBERGER JOINS a protest of Planned Parenthood in 2016.
BISHOP SCHARFENBERGER JOINS a protest of Planned Parenthood in 2016.

(Editor's note: Bishop Edward B. Scharfenberger of the Albany Diocese released the following statement Feb. 13.)

"The public policy issue of defunding Planned Parenthood was the subject of demonstrations and counter-demonstrations across the country this weekend, including here in the Capital Region.

"Without question, Planned Parenthood provides some morally unobjectionable health services to women. However, this statement is not unlike saying that a man who beats his wife sometimes gives her flowers. Planned Parenthood is the unquestioned number-one pro­vider of abortions in our country. This is the primary 'product' for which it is known.

"Abortion is not health care; it is the intentional killing of a unique human person in his or her mother's womb. This is a scientific fact that has nothing at all to do with religion or religious belief.

"Consistent with this scientific fact, the Catholic Church clearly teaches the objective truth that abortion is a grave moral evil, and that material cooperation in abortion is a mortal sin.

"When individuals, particularly those in political office, gloss over or ignore the core issue of whether or not taxpayers should be funding the world's largest abortion business by citing Planned Parenthood's other services, they are engaging in obfuscation that is, at best, confused and, at worst, dishonest.

"When such individuals publically hold themselves out to be Catholic, their local bishop has a responsibility to offer correction, both for the well-being of the individuals' souls and to avoid scandal among the Catholic faithful.

"Such is the unfortunate case that I, as the Bishop of Albany, find myself in today. In a local protest over the weekend advocating for the continued public funding of Planned Parenthood, three Catholic politicians -- one federal, one state, and one local -- not only participated, but spoke passionately on behalf of maintaining such funding.

"While any judgment of these individuals' hearts or souls is left only to God, I am entrusted with the solemn duty of reminding them of the unambiguous teaching of our faith on the matter of abortion, informing them that it is inappropriate and confusing to the faithful to hold yourself out publicly as a Catholic while also promoting abortion, and challenging them to embrace the Gospel of Life and to renounce their public support for Planned Parenthood.

"My prayer is that these and other elected officials will come to see the truth that abortion harms women and babies, and that they courageously fight to defend the right to life of every human person from the moment of conception until natural death."

Reader Comments

Posted: Friday, February 17, 2017
Article comment by: Joanne Clough

For years, people have been frustrated by the fact that their tax dollars go to abortion-promoting organizations. The hundreds of millions of tax dollars for family planning programs Planned Parenthood receives are used to subsidize staff salaries and operational costs, allowing them to carry out their abortion advocacy.

Planned Parenthood operates as a non-profit organization, but consistently takes in more revenues than it spends. Nationally, PPFA’s 2014-2015 Annual Report showed a profit (income in excess of expenditures) of $58.8 million. While raking in this profit, the abortion chain also received $553.7 million in taxpayer dollars, half of their billion-dollar revenue.

Despite this massive taxpayer support, Planned Parenthood is a highly political organization. During the 2012 election, Planned Parenthood spent $15 million on advertising and get-out-the-vote activities, according to the Washington Post on November 14, 2012.

PPFA and its affiliates lobby at both the state and federal level to block any legislative proposals regulating abortion. PPFA spent $39.3 million lobbying elected officials in 2014-2015, opposing legislation to put in place simple commonsense safeguards, including laws that would inform parents before their minor daughters obtain abortions as well as safety standards in abortion clinics to protect the women receiving services there.

Posted: Thursday, February 16, 2017
Article comment by: Maureen Nicholson

I disagree that Planned Parenthood's main product is abortions. The main product is women's health care. Planned Parenthood was the primary health care that I had when I was off my parents health insurance and knowing that I could go there for my annual and not pay crazy amounts of money was relieving. I was especially relieved at 25 years old when they found abnormal cells in my cervix and had me follow up every six months to make sure it didn't develop into cancer. If they were not there, where would women go? I would not have been able to afford health care. I am very pro life. I have my own non profit with the mission statement to help women get the assistance and resources they need when they find themselves pregnant. You will not make abortion go away by condemning places like Planned Parenthood. You make is go away with education, community and love. A woman who feels alone and judged and unable to succeed or support her child may make that decision to abort. What are you doing, Bishop Scharfenberger to help women feel empowered and build a community to help raise these precious babies? Stop focusing on abortion and focus on the symptoms that cause abortion.

Posted: Thursday, February 16, 2017
Article comment by: Gregg Wilbur

Thank you Bishop Scharfenberger for your strong stand for life.

Planned Parenthood performs 300,000 abortions per year. To praise or otherwise defend the work of any organization that is so destructive is unconscionable, and politicians who do so should be ashamed of themselves.

Posted: Thursday, February 16, 2017
Article comment by: Michael Jones

I disagree that abortion is the primary "product" for which Planned Parenthood is known. I am a male who has utilized the services of this organization for primary healthcare reasons when I was unable to afford a visit to another office. Abortions happen at hospitals all over the country. We as Catholics need to be pro-life not only concerning what happens in utero, but regarding the healthcare options of people around the world who do not have access to appropriate levels of care. I am not defending the provision of abortion by any organization, but demonizing Planned Parenthood while ignoring the abortions that take place in secular hospitals around the nation is misguided, at best. Re-framing the message in a way that applauds Planned Parenthood for the good work that it does and encouraging it to end the practice of abortion is a good way to find common ground and encourage its actual pro-life/pro-health programs.

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