In Michigan, Feminists Refuse to Protect Women

Do Michigan’s feminists REALLY care about women?

In the ‘70s, when abortion proponents were making the case for legalized abortion across the land, they argued that passage of Roe v. Wade would ensure needed safeguards for women seeking to terminate a pregnancy.  “No more back alley abortions!” was their mantra.  Once abortion was legalized, they reasoned, women would no longer be forced to abort their unwanted children in unsafe, unlicensed facilities staffed by untrained, uncaring practitioners.  Bringing abortion into the light would protect women and save lives.

That was then, this is now. 

In Michigan, Republican Governor Rick Snyder has just signed House Bill 5711, what is called the “abortion omnibus”, a package of bills designed to ensure that abortion facilities meet universal medical standards.  Clinics which endanger women’s health will be brought into compliance, or they will close.  And oh, the ladies are mad!

What, exactly, does House Bill 5711 do?

  • Well, for one thing, H.B. 5711 requires health care facilities where more than 120 abortions are performed annually to be licensed freestanding outpatient surgical centers, subjecting them to rigorous building standards. Surgical abortion clinics could be forced to close if their building’s hallways and recovery rooms don’t meet certain dimensions required for surgical centers.  Hallways too narrow for a gurney to pass, and recovery rooms too small to accommodate anesthesia equipment and a medical staff—these inadequacies could render a building unfit to serve as an abortion facility under the new law.
  • For the first time, there will be mandated state health inspections of abortion clinics.
  • Doctors will ask patients whether they are choosing the abortion of their own free will, or whether they are being coerced by a third party, such as a parent, boyfriend or spouse.
  • Doctors will have to be physically present for the surgical procedure.  Webcam or “telemed” abortions, in which a medical doctor purportedly “administers” an abortion-inducing drug from another state, will be prohibited.
  • Doctors will be required to carry liability insurance, as are physicians in other areas of medical practice, covering the cost of potential injuries to patients in the course of an abortion.
  • And now, abortion providers will be required to dispose of fetal remains appropriately through medical waste incineration, cremation or burial.  Disposing of aborted fetuses in trash cans and dumpsters, which has been common until now, will be criminalized.

So I ask you:  What’s wrong with that?

Why aren’t feminists lining up to celebrate these regulations—regulations which preserve and protect women’s lives, while still permitting abortions under safe, regulated conditions?

Just the opposite appears to be true: 

  • Planned Parenthood called on the Governor to veto the legislation, alleging that it “creates unnecessary, burdensome and costly licensing requirements for women’s health centers and will reduce access to comprehensive care for women in rural areas via a telemedicine ban.”
  • Michigan State Democratic Senator Lisa Brown (D-West Bloomfield), who is perhaps best known for performing the Vagina Monologues on the Capitol steps and who was banned from speaking in the Legislature for a day because of her obscenity, has protested loudly—calling the protective legislation “an assault on women’s rights.”
  • State Sen. Coleman Young II (D-Detroit) criticized his Republican colleagues for pushing forward with the anti-abortion agenda. He said, “Get the government from underneath women’s clothes.  We’ve already had this conversation. Obama won, Romney lost, get over it.”
  • RH Reality Check, an online publication committed to advancing sexual and reproductive health and rights, called the legislation “the anti-choice super-bill”.

Oh, well. 

Apparently, safeguarding women’s lives is not as important as safeguarding abortion and abortion providers.

The Michigan Catholic Conference, meanwhile, praised the new legislation. 

A December 28, 2012 statement by the Conference quotes Rebecca Mastee, J.D., Michigan Catholic Conference Policy Advocate, saying:

 “Licensing and inspecting abortion clinics for health and safety standards will serve to better protect those women who, regrettably, choose the path of abortion…. Michigan Catholic Conference applauds Governor Snyder for signing House Bill 5711 into law and extends its appreciation for the governor’s effort to prioritize women’s health and safety. Despite the partisan campaign rhetoric and theatrics that accompanied House Bill 5711 through its legislative journey, good public policy that promotes the dignity of women has proven to be the winner.”

The MCC further applauds Governor Snyder’s veto of legislation to restructure Blue Cross-Blue Shield due to abortion funding provisions within the law.  The Michigan Catholic Conference explained:

“The Affordable Care Act (ACA) specifically allows states to opt out of abortion coverage in its health care exchanges, and there will be opportunities in the coming legislative session to further address abortion coverage in health insurance plans. No person or employer should be forced to pay for another person’s abortion, especially as it pertains to matters of conscience. Michigan Catholic Conference looks forward to working with the administration and the legislature to craft agreeable policy that ensures abortion—the intentional destruction of unborn human life—is not paid for at the expense of unwitting persons.”

CATHOLIC WITNESS IN A NATION DIVIDED (Build the Church, Bless the Nation)

“Our problem isn’t in Washington; it’s in our parishes.  Only if we first build the Church can we, will we, bless the nation.” 

–Al Kresta

Al Kresta, host of the popular “Kresta in the Afternoon” broadcast on Catholic radio and President and CEO of Ave Maria Communications, is talking about the Catholic vote in the 2012 election.  In November, according to the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, forty percent of Mass-attending Catholics voted for President Obama, a self-identified champion of two intrinsic evils:  (1) abortion, including partial-birth abortion; and (2) the redefinition of marriage.

Most elections don’t permit such black and white assessments.  In this case, however, Bishop Thomas Paprocki, bishop of Springfield in Illinois, concluded in a column in the Catholic Times on September 23, 2012:

“A vote for a candidate who promotes actions or behaviors that are intrinsically evil and gravely sinful makes you morally complicit and places the eternal salvation of your own soul in serious jeopardy.”

But despite the admonitions of Bishop Paprocki and other American Church leaders concerning the government’s far-reaching policies such as the HHS Mandate, a significant number of Catholics hit the polls in support of President Obama, who has been called the most pro-abortion president in our nation’s history.

“Clearly,” says Kresta, “our own house is not in order. When the Church is so compromised that it fails to serve as a counter community forming a counter culture based on counter values and telling a counter story, we jeopardize our own salvation and our nation’s well-being.”

Kresta believes this is the time to refocus our efforts from the culture war model to a Catholic discipleship model. “Whether or not the culture war is over,” he says, “I can’t say. I know that because of Christ’s promise in Matthew 16:17-19, the war for souls is not over and that battle takes place with the Church not the state as the central actor.”

Cognizant of their mission to build the Church and thereby to bless the nation, on Saturday, January 12, 2013, Ave Maria Communications will offer a one-day conference “Catholic Witness in a Nation Divided” on the campus of Eastern Michigan University.  The conference will address four areas of concern to Catholics following the 2012 election:  religious liberty, the definition of marriage, life issues, and immigration.

“We see this as a work of the New Evangelization,” Kresta explains.  “After the conference, we will assess the suggestions and response and then plan our next move.

“The fundamental problem, it seems to me, is that most Catholics still don’t see their lives as one of intentional discipleship. This is why so many operate without a sense of divine purpose in their lives. Why is there this absence of mission in, I would guess, at least half of American Catholics?  Some would place the number up at 85%. I think, among other reasons, most Catholics have never been encouraged to take responsibility for their mission according to the Decree on the Apostolate of Lay People, especially para. 7. They have never considered what spiritual gifts they’ve received as a result of baptism and confirmation nor how they can use those gifts for the building up of the body according to 1 Cor 12:4-13 and Ephesians 4:4-16.”

The Conference will feature:

– Deal Hudson, President of the Pennsylvania Catholics Network and former publisher of Crisis Magazine, will introduce the conference.

RELIGIOUS LIBERTY – Gerard V. Bradley, professor of law at Notre Dame University School of Law, will address the area of religious liberty.  There will be a response and discussion by a panel including Richard Thompson,  president and chief counsel at the Thomas More Law Center; and Robert Muise, Co-Founder and Senior Counsel of the American Freedom Law Center.

DEFINITION OF MARRIAGE – William B. May, founder and president of Catholics for the Common Good, will be the keynote speaker on marriage, with a response from panelists Dr. Gregory Popcak, executive director of the Pastoral Solutions Institute and host of More2life on Ave Maria Radio, and David Grobbel, associate director of the Office of Marriage and Family Ministry in the Archdiocese of Detroit.

PRO-LIFE ISSUES – The keynote presenter on Life issues will be Father Frank Pavone, national director of Priests For Life.  Responding to his presentation will be panelists Dr. Monica Miller, director of Citizens for a Pro-Life Society; Michael J. New, assistant professor of political science at UM-Dearborn and columnist at National Review Online; and Teresa Tomeo, host of Catholic Connection on Ave Maria Radio.

IMMIGRATION – Kevin Appleby, director of the Office of Migration Policy and Public Affairs, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, will be the keynote speaker on immigration.  Fr. Robert Sirico, president of the Acton Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty, will respond.

CLOSING ADDRESS – Al Kresta, CEO of Ave Maria Communications and host of the popular Kresta in the Afternoon on Ave Maria Radio, will moderate the panel discussions and deliver the closing address.

The conference will be held from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. in the Grand Ballroom in Eastern Michigan University’s Student Center, located at 900 Oakwood Street, Ypsilanti, Michigan 48197.  The conference registration fee of $40 will include lunch and parking.  Clergy and Student rates are available.

For more information, contact Kathy Schiffer at 734.358.9876 (



Destroyed by Fire, Greek Orthodox Church Undergoes Massive Restoration

In December 2002, just a few days before Christmas, a fire gutted the sanctuary of Assumption Greek Orthodox Church in St. Clair Shores, Michigan, one of the state’s largest Orthodox churches.  The front vestibule was destroyed by fire; and smoke and water damage compounded the problem.  Estimates of the damage reach as high as $3.5 million.

With no suitable worship space, the community was forced to hold its 2002 Christmas liturgy on folding chairs in the gymnasium.  From the start, parish members and the community pitched in to clean and restore what had been lost.   Parishioners Louie and Angie Ropotos helped to bring a new nativity icon from Chicago in time for the Christmas liturgy, replacing the nativity icon which had burned in the fire.  Volunteers worked around the clock to salvage what they could—filling dumpsters with debris, cleaning and wiping smoke stains from artifacts.

Since that time, the 1,200 member congregation has  worked toward an ambitious goal:  full restoration of the church.

Greek master iconographer Vlasis Tsontsoris

Repairs were made to the structure, but for the first few years, the walls were bare.  Then in 2006, the parish hired Greek master iconographer Vlasis Tsotsonis to begin the restoration.  Plans were made; then, in 2009, Tsotsonis spent three months in St. Clair Shores and painted the altar.

In September 2012, Tsotsonis returned with his assistant Niko Gaitanidis and apprentice Ilia Brako to complete the solea, the vacant area of the church interior situated between the Iconostasion (Templon) and the first row of church pews. This area is used liturgically for processions with the Gospel and the Holy Gifts (Small Entrance and Great Entrance).

And just weeks before Christmas 2012, Father Michael Varlamos welcomed guests to a reception introducing the restored iconography.

Tsotsonis and his team will return to Michigan once more in 2014 to complete the icons in the dome.  His hope is that when people walk into the church, they will feel embraced by God.