Posts Tagged ‘foundation’

How Science Should be Used to Stem the Tide

By Arland K. Nichols

WASHINGTON, D.C., JAN. 18, 2012 ( Recent controversies in the United States surrounding the “morning after pill” point to international trends making such potentially abortifacient drugs increasingly accessible to men and women of all ages. While the Catholic Church’s consistent teaching about the intrinsic evil of contraception (cf. Humanae vitae) seems to be increasingly validated by the sciences as a destructive social and physical phenomenon in society, many still have the mistaken impression that it is to be avoided only for “religious” reasons. In fact, what we are seeing is widespread acceptance of drugs that not only prevent pregnancy, but actually cause abortions, making their labeling as “contraceptives” somewhat misleading.

In the late 1990s the Rockefeller Foundation formed the International Consortium for Emergency Contraception (ICEC), whose charter was to spread the use of “emergency contraception” throughout the world.[1] Among the original member organizations are International Planned Parenthood Federation, Population Council, and Population Services International, and their initial campaign targeted nations long in the crosshairs of “population control” organizations: Sri Lanka, Kenya, Mexico and Indonesia.

The campaign has been “successful” as emergency contraception is now available in over 140 countries today.[2] It is available from a pharmacist (which allows for consultation with the patient) without a prescription in 58 nations and enjoys full “over the counter” status in six nations — India, Norway, Netherlands, Sweden, most provinces in Canada, and for women as young as 17 in the United States. The widespread and growing acceptance of emergency contraception is a troubling trend for Catholics that deserves our attention, so in order that our concern may be properly informed, let’s briefly make some distinctions among the drugs in question.

The primary emergency contraception promoted all these years by the ICEC is the synthetic hormone levonorgestrel, which is marketed under numerous names: in English-speaking countries these include Plan B, Next Choice, Levonelle and Pregnon. Levonorgestrel is approved for use up to 72 hours after sexual intercourse, but is commonly used up to five days later to prevent pregnancy. Studies indicate that  levonorgestrel does not kill an embryonic human being who has already implanted in the uterus; nonetheless, it may still act as an abortifacient.  

Levonorgestrel is often confused with what is popularly known as “the abortion pill” or “RU-486.” RU-486 is the synthetic steroid, Mifepristone. Mifepristone (marketed as Mifeprex in the United States) is FDA approved to chemically abort a child who has reached seven weeks of age in the womb. Mifepristone terminates established pregnancies.

Another “emergency contraceptive” was added to the market when the European Medicines Agency approved ulipristal acetate in 2009, while the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) approved its use for the United States in 2010. It is marketed as Ellaone and Ella, respectively, and is available in 30 countries. Its method of action is summarized well by the European Medicines Agency: “Ulipristal acetate prevents progesterone from occupying its receptor … progesterone is blocked, and the proteins necessary to begin and maintain pregnancy are not synthesized.”[3] That is, it can prevent a newly conceived child from implanting, and can disrupt the child that has already implanted, killing him.

Because levonorgestrel is the most common emergency contraceptive, here we will focus on two common and flawed claims that have led to its acceptance in the international community. The first claim is that science has proven that levonorgestrel never causes an early abortion, so a woman may take it without fear of ending the life of her child.

Levonorgestrel primarily functions so as to prevent a woman from ovulating. As has been noted, it does not kill a child that has already implanted. Many studies indicate that Plan B may also have a secondary method of action if a woman ovulates even though she took levonorgestrel.[4] If fertilization occurs (bringing a new human being into existence) following a “breakthrough ovulation” the drug may prevent this embryonic human being from implanting on his mother’s uterus. Patrick Yeung Jr. and his coauthors explain that levonorgestrel “interferes with the normal development and function of the corpus luteum; a dysfunctional corpus luteum then leads to an impaired endometrium [wall of the uterus] that interferes with embryonic implantation.”[5] They argue that “no evidence exists to contradict this interceptive effect” and suggest that “levonorgestrel is estimated to act as an abortifacient 3%-13% of the time” when taken immediately prior to ovulation. This abortion-inducing effect is acknowledged by the FDA, which states that levonorgestrel “is believed to act as an emergency contraceptive principally by preventing ovulation or fertilization. … In addition, it may inhibit implantation (by altering the endometrium).”[6]

The Catholic Church, noting that levonorgestrel may at times act as an abortifacient by preventing the child conceived from implanting in his mother’s womb, says in Dignitas personae that use of such a drug when it prevents implantation “fall[s] within the sin of abortion and [is] gravely immoral” (n. 23).

The second claim that is often used to gain public acceptance of Plan B is that easy access to it will reduce unintended pregnancies and, thus, abortions. For example, Doctor Andre Lalonde of Canada’s Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists has stated “[b]etter access and greater knowledge and use of emergency contraception could significantly reduce the incidence of unintended pregnancy in Canada.”[7] This claim was echoed by the Institute of Medicine’s (IOM) recent recommendation that led the United States Department of Health and Human Services to require all insurance plans to cover levonorgestrel free of charge. The IOM stated “that greater use of contraception within the population produces lower unintended pregnancy and abortion rates nationally.”[8] Such assertions are specious, as numerous studies show that greater access to emergency contraception reduces neither unintended pregnancies nor abortion.

A 2010 study of eleven randomized control trials by Chelsea Polis of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health concluded: “Our review suggests that strategies for advance provision of emergency contraception which have been tested to date do not appear to reduce unintended pregnancy at the population level.”[9] Further, a 2007 study published in Obstetrics and Gynecology arrived at the same conclusion: “increased access to emergency contraceptive pills enhances use but has not been shown to reduce unintended pregnancy rates.”[10] And a November 2006 study in the same journal concluded that increased access to emergency contraception “did not show benefit in decreasing pregnancy rates.”[11] Similarly, levonorgestrel does not reduce rates of abortion, as indicated in a 2004 study published in Contraception.[12] In spite of free provision of emergency contraception to 18,000 women, “no impact on abortion rates was measurable. While advanced provision of EC probably prevents some pregnancies for some women some of the time, the strategy did not produce the public health breakthrough hoped for.”

All told, the studies reveal that, contrary to the many “professional and editorial opinions and projections” that emergency contraception reduces unintended pregnancies and abortion, I am unaware of a single population-based study indicating that it is actually effective in doing so.

Yet the international trend toward greater and easier access to levonorgestrel continues, and over time, drugs that are more likely to cause the death of the embryonic human beings (such as “Ella” and “EllaOne”) are likely to replace levonorgestrel. While this article has not focused on the immoral use of contraception within marriage, it has identified the pervasive and life-threatening results of the contraceptive mentality in society. We cannot ignore these troubling trends which are clear manifestations of the culture of death. Our knowledge and principle-based action can stem the tide as seen in Honduras which, in 2009, banned the sale of emergency contraception.

Massive and influential organizations with deep pockets are actively promoting abortion-inducing contraceptives throughout the international community, misleading many who would oppose their use if they were aware of their potential abortifacient effects and non-effectiveness in reducing abortion rates. To date, such organizations have faced little effective opposition. One way for the Catholic pro-life community to stem the tide is to shed light upon the false claims made about emergency contraception. Against those who claim that “science” requires the adoption of ever more life-changing and life-ending medications, we must be ready to reply with the scientific facts that show their claims for what they really are — anti-life.

* * *

Arland K. Nichols is the National Director of HLI America, an educational initiative of Human Life International. His articles may be found at




[4] The author notes that there are some, including within the Catholic scholarly community, who suggest that an abortifacient effect is extremely unlikely. Perhaps most notable is Rev. Nicanor Pier Giorgio Austriaco, O.P. See “Is Plan B an Abortifacient?,” National Catholic Bioethics Quarterly, (V7 N4), 703-707.

[5] Yeung et al., “Argument Against the Use of Levonorgestrel in Cases of Sexual Assault,” Catholic Health Care Ethics: A Manual for Practitioners, Ed. Edward J.Furton, (Philadelphia: 2009), 144.








Founder of Pave the Way Foundation Speaks on Steps for the Future

By Anita Bourdin

ROME, JAN. 17, 2012 ( Benedict XVI’s invitation to promote peace by working with the youth is right on target, according to the Jewish founder of a New York-based organization that aims to reconcile religions.

Gary Krupp, founder of the Pave the Way Foundation, spoke with ZENIT on the occasion of the annual day of Jewish-Catholic dialogue, celebrated in Italy today.

ZENIT: On the occasion of the annual day of dialogue with Judaism organized by the Catholic Church in Italy today, could you explain the aim of the Pave the Way Foundation, which you founded?

Krupp: The Pave the Way Foundation (PTWF) is a non-sectarian organization that seeks to remove obstacles between the world’s religions. Jewish-Catholic dialogue has been an important part of understanding one another’s faith traditions and that clears away prejudices and hatred. PTWF, however, concentrates our efforts on identifying concrete obstacles and seeks to remove them. First, through our historic gestures we establish a level of trust and then we can move to accomplish our core mission. Religion must be removed as a tool to justify private agendas. Removal of this abuse makes dialogue easier.

ZENIT: The message of Pope Benedict for the World Day of Peace 2012 is focussed on educating the youth in justice and peace: How can we put into practice this invitation for peace between religions?

Krupp: The message of Pope Benedict XVI is exactly right on. It is the youth who must learn the truth about the problems of today if we ever hope to solve them. The hidden problem in learning, however, is the international media and its abuse of its awesome power to control ideas and thinking. News reports today intentionally editorialize and push private agendas, which muddies the truth and in turn creates hostility, hatred and in some cases death. Along with the Pope’s remarks, I would add a statement of caution to the youth of today. Take care to weigh what you learn from news reports and mass media. Question the report; go to original local sources in order to seek the true story. Then try to find solutions based on the facts, not unbalanced and biased reporting.

ZENIT: You have come several times to Rome and you have been received by John Paul II and Benedict XVI: Do you remember one of these meetings as especially important for you?

Krupp: Our fantastic meetings with both Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI have been life changing. One was July 29, 2000, I received a telephone call from then Archbishop Renato Martino, that the Pope invested me as a Papal Knight of St. Gregory the Great. It was this action that changed the course of my life’s work, prompting my wife Meredith and I to form Pave the Way Foundation (Merry came up with the name).

Specifically, two of the most important recollections in meeting with both Holy Fathers are, first: Jan. 18, 2005, when PTWF organized the Jewish audience to simply thank Pope John Paul II for all he had done in religious reconciliation with Jewish people. Watching three rabbis bless the Pope in Hebrew in the Clementine Hall and seeing tears in the eyes of the Pope will forever be etched in my memory.

The second most memorable meeting was when we presented the Bodmer Papyrus to Pope Benedict XVI with our wonderful friend and donor, Mr. Frank Hanna III, on Jan. 22, 2007. After our presentation ceremony, I gave the Pope a little framed photo of the rainbow that appeared in the sky when he blessed the memorial at Auschwitz. I took this photo when we accompanied the Pope with Jerzy Kluger to Poland, May 27, 2006. Pope Benedict was emotionally moved with this seemingly insignificant gift. The Pope asked me, “Was this Auschwitz?” I said, “Yes, Holy Father, I took this picture myself.” He seemed almost as excited about this little photo of the rainbow and God’s sign of approval in Poland, as he was in accepting the most important Christian manuscript in existence today.

ZENIT: How important is the Yad Vashem research on the Righteous Among the Nations for the dialogue between Jews and Catholics?

Krupp: Yad Vashem’s research is precise and exacting and I believe extremely important in Jewish-Catholic relations. PTWF submission of the evidence in the case for Eugenio Pacelli as “Righteous Among the Nations” should be given immediate attention so that the black legend regarding Pope Pius XII is corrected by truth and facts. This is Jewish responsibility since we have amassed a huge amount of evidence that Eugenio Pacelli was indeed one of the great heroes to the Jewish people during the Holocaust.

Ingratitude is one of the worst character flaws in Judaism; the acceptance of the truth of Pacelli’s personal heroism, I believe, is essential to bring my Jewish brothers and sisters

to redemption. Eugenio Pacelli’s reputation must be restored to where it was before the KGB intentionally began the greatest character assassination of the 20th century. This KGB

Operation called “Seat Twelve” successfully accomplished its mission to isolate the Jews from the Catholics at the very moment of religious reconciliation with “Nostra Aetate.”

ZENIT: How can a media organization such as ZENIT participate in changing mentalities and promoting peace?

Krupp: ZENIT’s work throughout the years has been exemplary in reporting the truth and always in a positive manner. I can only encourage that when reporting on issues as sensitive as the Holy Land that the news reports are fair and the story reflects both sides of the conflict. Often, too many reports of Palestinian suffering supersede any mention of Israeli suffering, with the constant rocket attacks

against civilian populations. Since there are 1.1 million Israeli citizens who are Muslim Arabs, violence against  all Israelis, Christians, and Muslims as well. It is these acts of violence that first prompted the necessity for sea blockades, security checkpoints and a security wall. If the violence ends, then these security measures, so often criticized, can be lifted. If one seeks peace, they must stand in everyone’s shoes.

ZENIT: What is your wish for Jewish-Catholic dialogue in 2012?ty checkpoints and a security wall. If the violence ends, then these security measures, so often criticized, can be lifted. If one seeks peace, they must stand in everyone’s shoes.

Krupp: In 2012, my wish is that the intense work of posting 46,000 pages of documents and news articles and video recording of eyewitnesses of the actions of the Holy See during WWII, will be finally studied in a serious way, so that this 48-year-old obstacle between Jews and Catholics can be eradicated. Our wish is that God grants wisdom to the negotiators of the Fundamental Agreements between Israel and the Holy See. This diplomatic obstacle should be completely resolved soon after 17 years of negotiations. Pave the Way Foundation’s goal recognizes that resolution of these two issues will “pave the way” to the wonderful positive relations between Jews and Catholics.

Interview With U.S. Ambassador to Holy See

ROME, JUNE 7, 2007 ( The United States and the Holy See are going down parallel paths in many important areas, especially in efforts to advance freedom and human dignity in the world, according the U.S. ambassador to the Holy See.

In anticipation of President George Bush’s upcoming meeting with Benedict XVI on Saturday, Ambassador Francis Rooney comments on the points of convergence and divergence between the United States and the Holy See.

This is the first meeting between Bush and Benedict XVI since the funeral of Pope John Paul II in 2005, when the president and first lady Laura Bush met Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger.

The Holy Father received Laura Bush in an audience in Feb. 2006.

Q: What do you think President Bush’s goal is in visiting with Benedict XVI, in this, their first meeting since the funeral of John Paul II?

Ambassador Rooney: This is a tangible reflection of how important the Holy See is to the United States and to the president.

The most direct and tangible way to show the interest of the president is a presidential visit.

There is a great deal of excitement on our part to have the president here and to have him devote this time and effort to the Holy See.

The United States and the Holy See have many values in common and are going down parallel paths in many important areas, especially in efforts to advance freedom and human dignity in the world.

The president has done many things that relate to the values that the Holy Father and the Holy See support and nurture.

Q: Following on the heels of the summit of the Group of Eight nations in Germany, what do you think the main points of discussion will be between Benedict XVI and Bush?

Ambassador Rooney: The broad platform of discussion will be the issues that relate to freedom and the promotion of human dignity in the world.

In that context, I think the recent increase in consciousness about global warming will be discussed. The president has had some very direct and concrete things to say about that and the Holy Father has mentioned the environment in one of his recent official pronouncements.

I’m sure the efforts of the world to combat terrorism and to understand and deal with fundamentalism is also a likely topic for discussion.

The Holy Father has spoken about some of the religious and dogmatic foundations related to extremism. Of course, the president has spoken about the necessity of the world to combat violence and extremism.

Q: You have spoken with ZENIT before on issues of immigration. The topic has moved to headlines again with the new proposed U.S. legislation. What are your thoughts on the new legislation?

Ambassador Rooney: The president has said this is legislation he can support.

President Bush has been a believer in the need for a rational, orderly, legal and fair system of immigration and of dealing with the 11 or 12 million illegal aliens in the United States from the beginning of his term in office, even before 9/11, as evidenced by his trip to Mexico to meet with President Vicente Fox.

He has been a supporter for this type of legislation from the beginning, courageously, sometimes even against some of the members of his own party.

9/11 changed many things in the United States and certainly has made the border security and immigration issue more complicated. It has raised sensitivity of the need to secure borders.

In the context of securing borders, which I think everyone agrees is critical, we still need to solve the problem that the president was trying to solve in the first place, which is the 11 or 12 million people living illegally in our country, who are providing valuable goods and services, as well as a rational means of dealing with future potential migrants.

The president’s proposals, for the last seven years, have been about providing a means to identify who these people are in our country. Unless you have some kind of process to make them come forward, like his proposal, how can you identify who they are in the first place?

So you identify who they are and provide them a framework to either work in the United States or to go home. And possibly a framework to work in America for a while as a worker and then go home to their home country, or possibly an avenue toward citizenship for certain people who meet all the criteria that the president and Congress agree on. But there has got to be a process for that. You cannot just ignore it.

What I’ve learned as an ambassador that I didn’t realize before is the global nature of population shifts and migration. The world of free trade, widespread communication and transportation technology, and the free flow of goods and services, has radically changed the paradigm.

The United States is not the only country dealing with immigration issues. Italy is dealing with them; the United Kingdom is dealing with them. The issue of Turkish workers in Germany is very well known. It is a global phenomenon.

From a principled point of view, the concepts of Catholic social teaching — such as uniting families and allowing individuals to enjoy the fruits of their own labor, which is an inalienable human right — to me ties into what our country is built on. That is, that all men are created equal and all have the opportunity to develop their talents and create opportunities in their lives.

There is a lot of symmetry in Catholic social teaching and the principles America is built on.

Q: The presidents of the Catholic bishop’s conferences wrote a letter last week to the leaders attending the G-8 summit asking them to honor their commitments to Africa. Can you explain the recent efforts made by Bush in Africa?

Ambassador Rooney: Fighting AIDS in Africa has been a huge priority for the president.

He started PEPFAR — the President’s Emergency Program for AIDS Relief. It was a $15 billion program at the start of his second term, but now he has called for doubling it and having it continue over the first five years after he leaves office to really get the job done.

It is a courageous thing. All these people around the world talk about how to deal with Africa and what the United States should or shouldn’t do. They ought to look at what the Unites States is doing.

The vast majority of the money being spent in this program coincides with the values of the Holy See, especially regarding the treatment of those suffering from the disease and the cultural education being made available to help people change their lives and behavior.

We hosted a conference recently focusing on AIDS and the important role of the Vatican’s Good Samaritan Foundation, involving Caritas International and experts from the United Nations.

Attention was given to AIDS treatment, where the money needs to be spent, and showing the important role the Good Samaritan Foundation plays, as well as the important role PEPFAR is playing. Around 27% of all people with AIDS are being treated by Catholic organizations.

It is another area where the Holy See and the United States have very common objectives and are pursing parallel tracks very much in line with each other.

It’s a similar discussion about climate change and emissions. What the president has said is that there are certain countries that produce most of the serious emissions, and everybody knows who they are.

The way to deal with these emissions is to use advanced technologies to solve the problem, not just move them to another country.

I think it is logical to make available the technologies to countries that need it the most to solve the problem for everyone. I saw recently that U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has also said the same thing.

Q: You have spoken already about some of the points of convergence between present U.S. government and the Holy See, but what do you see as the main areas of divergence?

Ambassador Rooney: I don’t know that there are very many areas of divergence. There have been some in the past — certainly the well-known position of the Holy See about the entry into the war in Iraq.

But since then, the Holy See’s support of the efforts of the coalition to bring stability to the country and freedom to create a decent place for people to live to raise their families shows that there has been some convergence there.

Q: There has been a lot of discussion about the persecution of Christians in Iraq, including a recent statement made by the head of the Chaldean Church Patriarch Emmanuel III Delly of Baghdad. Is this something that will be discussed by Bush and Benedict XVI?

Ambassador Rooney: It could be. The Holy Father represents Christians and we are a major part of the coalition forces trying to bring stability to Iraq.

We share the same goals of creating stability and opportunity, while providing freedom and safety for the Iraqi people. In that sense, the Holy See has been supportive of the nation-building and community-building efforts of the coalition forces.