The Corner


Cardinal Dolan Calls for Alternatives to Abortion

Cardinal Timothy Dolan speaks at the Sisters of Life convent in New York City, February 18, 2019.

“Please, give us a call, we would be honored to serve you.”

At a Sisters of Life convent that houses women and their young children in New York City, Cardinal Timothy Dolan reaffirmed on Monday a pledge from the Catholic Church in New York: “We are enthusiastically committed — and have been for half a century — to providing women with a warm, embracing, life-giving alternative” to abortion. “We’re afraid,” he said, “that some women are getting the impression that there’s no help out there — that abortion is the only choice that she has.”

In an atmosphere in New York where abortion extremism — which the cardinal has referred to as a seeming preference for abortion — has been codified in the Empire State, he said that the message that the Church would like to convey to women is: “We’re here. We love you. We welcome you. There is an alternative here.”

Flanked by some of the women and men who do the work that makes this true, Cardinal Timothy Dolan renewed a commitment this morning that the Church in New York has explicitly been making for decades:

Any pregnant woman can come to the Archdiocese of New York, and we will do all in our power to assist you, so that you never feel that you have no alternative except an abortion. It does not matter what your marital status, religion, or immigration status might be. We do not ask to see marriage licenses, baptismal certificates, or passports. We are here to help, and all of our services are confidential. Any woman facing a difficult pregnancy and tempted to an abortion is assured of a warm welcome, encouragement, and loving support.

The host for the press conference was Mother Mary Agnes Donovan, S.V., the foundress along with the late Cardinal John O’Connor of the Sisters of Life, a community of women religious who serve pregnant women who come to them looking for help. “Standing in radical solidarity with a woman, during an unexpected or difficult pregnancy, the Sisters and the woman together find a pathway through fear, a path defined by realistic and ongoing emotional and practical support, that she may respond with courage and dignity to one of life’s most difficult moments.” They’ve served almost 10,000 women since their founding in 1991.

In addition to the Sisters of Life, Dr. Anne Nolte, a medical doctor who runs the Gianna Center, a practice dedicated to providing primary and reproductive health care to women and teenagers in line with the teachings of the Catholic faith, as well as representatives from Catholic Charities and ArchCare spoke. Dr. Nolte, in explaining some of the services Gianna provides, emphasized that they “welcome any pregnancy woman in need — regardless of what the need is.” They work with women, she said, to connect them “with the medical and other resources they need to care for themselves and their families.” They have a particular commitment, she added, to women and families who have been given adverse diagnosis.

The star of the show was Sena Love, a little girl alive because her mother was able to choose life when she faced her own crisis pregnancy. “I was scared, sad, and alone,” Brhane, an immigrant from Ethiopia, said: “When I got pregnant I was alone, without my family, without a job, and with a lot of pressure to not keep my baby. I didn’t know what to do . . . I went to Planned Parenthood.” She explained that on her way in she “met a really nice man who told me that there was help for me. I was so happy. He took me to meet the sisters and I talked to them for hours. They told me they were with me, that I wasn’t alone, and that they would help me.”

Sena Love

She explained that the sisters helped her to birth and beyond, and still continue to. They helped her find somewhere to live, a job, with immigration issues, and babysitting. A professional runner, they even helped her run the New York Marathon. “I love my daughter,” she said. “She changed my life. I am so happy.”

The cardinal talked about women, especially poor women, who feel duress and coercion to have an abortion. He said he hoped — and that the testimony of those on the front lines testifies to this — that this would be a liberating message for women.

Christopher Bell, head of Good Counsel homes in New York and New Jersey, emphasized:

The atmosphere in this state has been so geared toward paying for abortion, protecting abortion, offering abortion, that women often … don’t know that there really is an alternative.” He said that every woman currently in their homes had been urged by someone – a parent, a friend, a medical professional – to have an abortion. “We will take any pregnant mom who is in crisis and needs a place to stay…. There is concrete help and real hope.

“With more publicity, more women would know that help is out there,” Mother Agnes said. She explained that about 85 percent of the women who come to the Sisters who are abortion-bound or abortion-vulnerable wind up having their babies, with “critical and strategic support” the Sisters provide. Women often don’t know, she said, that there are others standing by to provide help. She said that the Sisters serve 600-1,000 women a year, and that’s been on the increase.

Reiterating a theme of a recent op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, Cardinal Dolan also reissued a plea to people of good will:

Wouldn’t it be a providential time for people on both sides of this issue to come together for life-giving alternatives to abortion. Is it not time to get together and emphasize things that we agree upon? The beauty of adoption? The help that women in vulnerable women with pregnancies need, during and after birth? Wouldn’t it be great if we could get together and provide alternatives to the horror of abortion?

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