As the 104th Congress concludes, congratulations to the Honorable Christopher H. Smith for his work as Chairman of the Congressional Pro-Life Caucus. Congressman Smith, in the words of the Deputy Director of the USCC, Mark J. Gallagher, “spearheaded these remarkable legislative advancements” for the unborn: restoring the exclusion of abortion coverage under the Federal Employees Health Benefits program; restoring the ban on abortions in military hospitals abroad; enacting the ban on federal funding for harmful experimentation on human embryos; restoring the prohibition of the Washington, D.C. government using local tax revenues to pay for abortions; and several other important initiatives.
The American Life League has published five reference works designed to deepen the understanding of two of Pope John Paul II’s most important encyclicals: Veritatis Splendor and Evangelium Vitae. The study guide for the latter comes with the strong endorsement of John Cardinal O’Connor, Archbishop of New York, who writes: “I have no doubt that the volume will prove beneficial to so many who are searching for the abundant life which is promised in the Gospel and proclaimed by our Holy Father in the encyclical.”
A federal judge has awarded the successful plaintiffs in Rosenberger v. UVA—a religious discrimination case—over $300,000. The lawsuit was launched when the University of Virginia denied funding to Wide Awake, a student journal at UVA, because of its religious content. Ronald Rosenberger and other editors of the publication appealed the decision through the University’s internal appeals process without success, following which they sued for violation of free speech and free exercise rights. The case went to the Supreme Court last year, which declared that universities cannot deny access to general student funds on the grounds of religious viewpoint.
The debate over the California Civil Rights Initiative, a ballot measure (Proposition 209) to end affirmative action in California, was as ugly as any public debate in recent memory. The measure passed comfortably despite the nastiness, which came largely from those opposed to it. Its foremost advocate, Ward Connerly, had the windows of his Sacramento office shot out, the premises sprayed with graffiti, his home vandalized (by students from the University of California at Santa Cruz), and his honor assailed by efforts to link him with, alternately, ethnic cleansers and the Ku Klux Klan. Pat Ewing, director of Defeat 209, attempted to associate Connerly with the notorious David Duke in the minds of voters, saying: “There is not a dime’s worth of difference between David Duke and Ward Connerly on 209.” Opponents of CCRI did not do democracy proud.
Researchers at Penn State’s Hershey Medical Center have published the results of a study concluding that women who have had an abortion have a 30 percent increased risk of developing breast cancer. The results appeared in the British Medical Association’s Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, and echo other recent findings.
The New Corinthians Curriculum, a “K-8” supplement for religious education, was published recently by the Foundation for the Family, a Cincinnati-based non-profit organization dedicated to strengthening the family. The Curriculum consists in a 328 page manual for parents and teachers, along with a 52 page booklet on teaching human sexuality. The new curriculum follows the 1995 guidelines set down by the Pontifical Council for the Family in Truth and Meaning of Human Sexuality, which urged that education for chastity not be separated from education in other virtues nor reduced to mere biology lessons.
Feminists for Life, a pro-life advocacy group, has designed a “Send a Kit to Campus” program to educate college women about alternatives to abortion. The kit contains phone numbers of abortion alternative organizations, information about adoption, and establishing paternity, and includes their website: http://www.serve.com/fem4life.
Archbishop Christophe Munzihirwa was killed during cross-border artillery exchanges between Zaire and Rwanda, as the two African nations moved closer to war. At the same time Zambia’s Roman Catholic Bishops issued a pastoral letter urging political parties to renounce violence in the lead-up to Zambian elections to be held on November 18. The letter was a response to threats by the former president, Kenneth Kaunda, that the United National Independence Party, would disrupt the elections because of a constitutional clause preventing Kaunda from becoming president of Zambia again.