June 22, 2007


Standing up for life in the City of Brotherly Love

(Listen to this editorial being read)

Need more evidence that there is a full-fledged culture war going on in America?

This month, we need to look no further than the City of Brotherly Love.

Only a week after the Philadelphia City Council passed a resolution by a 9-8 vote declaring the city as

“pro-choice,” the council thankfully on June 14 rescinded that horrendous decision by a 13-4 vote.

While plenty of us shook our heads in disbelief trying to comprehend how the June 7 vote initially passed by the slimmest of margins, we can thank the thousands of Philadelphians who stepped up during the next seven days to let council members know in no uncertain terms that their action was inappropriate, offensive and unacceptable.

Not surprisingly, Cardinal Justin Rigali and his newspaper, The Catholic Standard & Times, were appalled by the City Council’s action and took appropriate steps to try and right this wrong in the city where American democracy was born.

Through the power of the press, the newspaper implored its readers to take a stand and let council members who voted to label the city “pro-choice” know what they thought of the action.

“Take charge: You have the power to change Council’s decision,” read one headline. The newspaper also printed council members’ names, work addresses, phone numbers and some

e-mail addresses to let any readers who wanted to express their anguish over the decision know how to do so.

Cardinal Rigali may have said it best: “In a city where so many people vigorously defend life at every stage, proclaiming Philadelphia ‘pro-choice’ is inconsistent with reality. It unfairly saddles those who support life at all stages with this shameful label.”

Other Catholic voices were also justifiably quick in condemning the initial council action.

“We are known as the ‘City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection,’ ” said a statement issued by the Philadelphia-based National Catholic Bioethics Center. “There is nothing loving about the assault on human life that is abortion. It is a tragic violation of both our vulnerable sisters and their never-to-be-born children.”

The initial resolution that passed no doubt made stomachs turn with its callous approach toward life. We, as Catholic Christians, embrace all life from conception until natural death.

“Being a pro-choice city means encouraging the expansion of all forms of reproductive health care,” the initial Philadelphia City Council resolution stated. “Being a pro-choice city means defending the right to choose a legal and safe abortion as a final but critical option for women.”

Safe abortion? Plenty of medical professionals would tell you that’s an oxymoron, that there’s no such thing.

This medical procedure is anything but safe—for the expectant mother, unborn child, the child’s father and all family members affected.

What we’ve learned from medical studies in recent years is this: The effect of abortion is felt for a lifetime. Studies have also shown many would-be-moms, dads and their families regret their decision and wish they could turn back time.

While we, like so many others, were appalled by the council’s first vote, we shouldn’t be surprised that Planned Parenthood was behind the initiative. In fact, news reports say that the group helped Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown craft the document.

What is just as troubling is Brown’s cavalier attitude about this life-and-death issue. Apparently, some of her fellow council members and most of the city’s constituents were unaware that such a resolution was in the works.

“They [Planned Parenthood] asked me to do it. I agreed with their views, and I agreed to introduce the bill,” Brown told one Philadelphia media outlet. “At the end of the day, we have to decide what we want the city to look like and be about.”

What Brown, Planned Parenthood and the eight other council members who voted for the first resolution succeeded in doing was demonstrating how out of touch some of Philadelphia’s city leaders are with a healthy number of constituents.

Thankfully, the words and actions of thousands of people helped reverse an irrational action precipitated by a special-interest group and a wayward councilperson.

It also showed democracy in action, and how plenty of residents in the City of Brotherly Love are striving to build a culture of life.

— Mike Krokos

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