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United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

Life Issues Forum: No one should be forced to participate in abortion

In early November, three brave nurses came to Washington, D.C., to tell their disturbing stories of coercion to members of Congress and the public—about how they were forced to choose between participating in abortion and losing their jobs.

Cathy DeCarlo came to the U.S. from the Philippines in 2001 to advance her nursing career. In 2004, the New York City hospital that hired her assured her that she would never have to compromise her conscience by participating in an abortion. But on May 24, 2009, the hospital tricked DeCarlo into serving a patient having a late-term abortion. If she didn't assist, she would lose her nursing license, destroying her career.

"I'll never forget that day as I watched in horror as the doctor dismembered and removed the baby's bloody limbs, and then I had to account for all the pieces," DeCarlo said at a press conference outside the U.S. Capitol. "I still have nightmares about that day."

Fe Vinoya is a nurse in a same-day surgery unit in New Jersey where she and twelve other nurses were told they had to be trained to assist in abortions. Their jobs were threatened if they refused. "After years of working as a critical care and emergency room nurse, I never imagined that the hospital I worked for would force me to choose between taking the life of an unborn child and losing my job," Fe said. "[W]hen the government denies or coerces healthcare providers' conscience[s], it not only hurts patients and those of us committed to serving them, it also deters others from joining the profession," Fe added.

The third nurse, Sandra Mendoza, worked for eighteen years in pediatrics at the Winnebago County Health Department in Rockford, Ilinois. In 2015, she was informed that her clinic was being merged with women's health services and, consequently, all nurses would have to be cross-trained in abortion referrals and abortion-causing drugs. When Mendoza objected, she was told that if she didn't participate, she could no longer work at the health department.

"Like many nurses I know… I view nursing as more than just a job, but a calling and a vocation," Mendoza said. "I'm called to protect life not destroy it. I'm called to serve others and do no harm, as the Hippocratic Oath I took states. While we may not all agree on abortion, I'd hope we can all agree that no doctor or and nurse should be forced out of employment on account of their faith and commitment to protecting life."

In addition to medical providers and trainees being forced to participate in abortion, churches and others who oppose abortion are being forced to provide insurance coverage for it in a growing number of states. Current federal conscience protection laws are failing to prevent such discrimination due to loopholes and insufficient enforcement mechanisms. This can be solved, but your help is needed.

The Conscience Protection Act (H.R. 644/S. 301) fixes those loopholes and provides victims of discrimination with the ability to defend their rights in court. Contact Congress now through www.humanlifeaction.org. . . to urge your representatives to enact the Conscience Protection Act as part of its Fiscal Year 2018 appropriations bill. Finally, follow and share the #StandWithNurses social media campaign advocating for nurses like these three.

Greg Schleppenbach is the associate director of the Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. For more information on the bishops' pro-life activities, visit usccb.org/prolife.

Thanksgiving Day Appeal for Protection of the Vulnerable

Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), offers a Thanksgiving Day message to the nation with special gratitude for the gift of immigrants and refugees. 

Full statement follows:

“As we do every year, we will pause this coming Thursday to thank God for the many blessings we enjoy in the United States. My brother bishops and I, gathered last week in Baltimore, were attentive in a special way to those who are often excluded from this great abundance—the poor, the sick, the addicted, the unborn, the unemployed, and especially migrants and refugees.

My brothers expressed a shared and ever-greater sense of alarm—and urgency to act—in the face of policies that seemed unthinkable only a short time ago: the deportation of Dreamers, young hard-working people who should be the lowest priority for deportation; the anxiety and uncertainty of those with Temporary Protected Status from countries like Haiti, El Salvador, and Honduras, which are still recovering from natural disasters and remain ill-equipped to humanely receive and integrate them; and an unprecedented reduction in the number of people we will welcome this year into our country who seek refuge from the ravages of war and religious persecution in their countries of origin. 

One common feature of all these developments is their tendency to tear apart the family, the fundamental building block of our, or any, society. These threats to so many vulnerable immigrant and refugee families must end now. My brothers have urged me to speak out on their behalf to urge the immediate passage—and signature—of legislation that would alleviate these immediate threats to these families.

Another common feature of these policies is that they are symptoms of an immigration system that is profoundly broken and requires comprehensive reform. This is a longer-term goal, one that the bishops have advocated for decades to achieve, and one that must never be overlooked. Only by complete reform will we have the hope of achieving the common goals of welcoming the most vulnerable, ensuring due process and humane treatment, protecting national security, and respecting the rule of law. We are committed to such reforms and will continue to call for them.

So this year, I give thanks for the gift and contributions of immigrants and refugees to our great nation. I also pray that next year, families now under threat will not be broken and dispersed, but instead will be united in joy around their tables, giving thanks for all the blessings our nation has to offer. 

Have a Happy Thanksgiving all!”
  • Published in Nation

U.S. Bishops urge extension of Temporary Protected Status for Haiti

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Office of Migration and Refugee Services (USCCB/MRS), released its report today, entitled Haiti’s Ongoing Road to Recovery: The Necessity of an Extension of Temporary Protected Status, recommending the U.S. government extend Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Haiti. 

Bishop Joe S. Vásquez of Austin, Texas, Chairman of the USCCB Committee on Migration, in a letter introducing the report, states: “[W]hile conditions in Haiti are improving, the country is not yet in a position where it can adequately and safely accept return of the estimated 50,000 Haitian nationals who have received TPS.”

A delegation from USCCB/MRS traveled to Haiti, from September 4-7, 2017, to examine the progress Haiti had made since its initial designation for TPS in 2010 and the challenges that remain. The delegation also assessed the ability of the country to safely accept and reintegrate returned nationals should TPS for Haiti be terminated. USCCB/MRS Committee Member, Archbishop Thomas Wenski of Miami, Florida, led the delegation and was accompanied by Bishop Launay Saturné of Jacmel, Haiti, as well as staff from MRS and the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc.

Currently, there are an estimated 50,000 Haitians living in the U.S. with TPS. Through its work in Haiti and in the United States, the Catholic Church knows these individuals to be hardworking contributors to American communities, Catholic parishes, and our nation. Unfortunately, Haitian TPS recipients are living in a state of uncertainty and flux as Haiti’s current TPS designation is set to expire on January 22, 2018, with the Administration required to make a decision to extend or terminate the status by November 23, 2017.

Bishop Vásquez states in his introductory letter: “We urge the Administration to provide an 18-month extension of TPS for Haiti to ensure recipients’ continued protection while their country rebuilds. We further urge Congress to work in a bipartisan manner to find a legislative solution for TPS recipients who have been in the United States for many years.”

This report and other resources related to TPS are available on the Justice for Immigrants website. Resources include a backgrounder on TPS, a toolkit for Catholic leaders that offers ideas on how to show their support and solidarity with TPS recipients, and the USCCB/MRS report on TPS for El Salvador and Honduras.

Read the full text of the Haiti report.

  • Published in Nation

U.S. Bishops respond to terror attack in New York City

Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), has issued the following statement in response to yesterday afternoon’s deadly attack on innocent people in Manhattan that has left at least eight people dead.  

Cardinal DiNardo’s full statement follows:

“This afternoon we heard of what appears to be a deliberate attack on innocent people in New York City. This horrendous act weighs on all of our hearts. Reports about the attack are too preliminary to understand fully what has happened, but it grieves me deeply that we must again respond to such acts of terror.

To the family and friends of those who have died, please know that you are not alone, and that the prayers of the Bishops and of all the Church are with you and your loved ones. To you and to everyone, I would like to say that the forces of darkness always try to wipe away our hope; but our hope is in the name of the Lord and will always remain firm. Let us remember the words of the Lord to prophet Joshua: be strong and steadfast! Do not fear nor be dismayed, for the Lord, your God, is with you wherever you go.”
  • Published in Nation
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