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Life, Precious & Precarious

In India, abortions are legal until the 12th week of pregnancy. Between the 12th and 20th week of pregnancy, abortions are permitted only if the child faces a health risk or the pregnancy poses a threat to the life of the mother. Beyond the 20th week, abortions are illegal. Well, at least it’s something.

But that didn’t stop Haresh and Niketa Mehta from petitioning the Mumbai High Court this August to allow them to abort their 25-week-old preborn baby. Their doctor testified that certain birth defects are not detectable until after the 20th week of pregnancy, and that it was discovered that their child would need a pacemaker operation the couple could not afford, and that the pacemaker would need to be changed every few years, presenting them with further financial hardship.

In a stunning move, the Catholic Archbishop of Bombay, Oswald Cardinal Gracias, appealed to the Mehtas not to abort their child. Cardinal Gracias, after condemning all abortions, promised that the Church would raise the baby if he were allowed to live, surgeries and all. What an amazing witness! Earlier, in January, Cardinal Gracias had said, “Abortion is a horrendous evil and has become a threat to human dignity because it directly attacks life itself.” He said further, “It is an utmost necessity that the international community is sensitized to creating and building a culture of life.” Clearly this Cardinal is prepared to practice what he preaches.

Meanwhile, this January here in the U.S., Commonwealth Catholic Charities of Richmond (CCR) of the Diocese of Richmond, Virginia, helped procure an abortion for a 16-year-old girl — with the full knowledge of Richmond Bishop Francis X. DiLorenzo. According to a report by The Washington Times (June 30), Bishop Di¬≠Lorenzo “was told that a diocesan charity planned to help a teenage foster child get an abortion in early January and did not try to prevent the procedure.” The 16-year-old girl, a Guatemalan, was a ward of the federal Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), which contracts out foster care to agencies such as CCR through the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Migration and Refugee Services (MRS). The girl had been given a contraceptive device by CCR employees two months earlier, in contravention of Catholic moral principles. She was driven to the abortuary by a CCR volunteer; a CCR staff member signed the parental consent form required in the State of Virginia for minors to have an abortion. The staff member, needless to say, was not the girl’s parent.

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