I know that US policy ties international aid population control. I need to quote a specific example. K.C. Vernon, B.C.

The following information comes from a speech given by Dr. Marie M. Mascarenhas at an international symposium which was held at the American Family Institute in Washington D.C. The conference (The Wealth of Families: Ethics and Economics in the 1980s) was opened by Mother Teresa and closed by Malcolm Muggeridge.

Dr. Mascarenhas is a practising physician and the director of CREST/Family Welfare Centre in Bangalore, India. She has a world-wide reputation for teaching natural family planning (NFP) and is the recipient of many distinguished awards for her “contributions to Women’s Education and Development.” She was the Principal Investigator for India in the World Health Organization’s clinical multi-centre trials for NFP in 1975 – 1977, and was WHO Medical Adviser to a Conference in Washington D.C., on “NFP Current Knowledge and Strategies for the 1990s.”

In her speech Dr. Mascarenhas said that eight million sterilizations in one year in India could not have possibly have been done “without the massive injection of your American money.” Then she came to specific uses of American aid:

“Foreign aid, which is largely American, has been openly tied to family planning programs. In my very own hospital, we offered a much needed nutrition program, and all the dynamics were worked out on this program, only to be told at the end that the women in the program who received the nutrition had to be either sterilized or have an abortion. There was no free choice, even though we offered a natural method of family planning which should have been acceptable as an alternative.”

The “alternative” was NFP which – in a population which was 72 per cent illiterate – proved to be 96 per cent effective, far more effective than other methods. (Later studies show a 98 per cent success rate for NFP, but, of course, no profit for US Drug companies).

Can a priest give absolution for an abortion? D.K. North York, Ont.

Because I am not a canon lawyer I have consulted others who are experts about this answer. It is generally agreed that priests in all dioceses in Canada and the USA can give absolution for an abortion.

Because I suspect that others might be interested in this question, and because I think Pope John Paul II, in Evangelium Vitae, offered encouragement and consolation to women who have had abortions, I quote this passage.

“I would like now to pay special word to women who have had an abortion. The church is aware of many factors which may have influenced your decision, and she has no doubt that in many cases it was painful and even shattered decision. The wound in your heart may not yet have healed. Certainly what happened was and remains terribly wrong. But do not give in to discouragement, and do not lose hope. Try rather to understand what happened and face it honestly. If you have not already done so, give yourselves over with humility and trust to repentance. The Father of mercies is ready to give you his forgiveness and his peace in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. You will come to understand that nothing is definitely lost and you will also be able to ask forgiveness from your child who is now living in the Lord. With the friendly and expert help and advice of other people, and as a result of your own painful experience, you can be among the most eloquent defenders of everyone’s right to life.”

Thank you for your question which not only gives me the opportunity to quote this passage, but also to thank the many women – worldwide – who have had abortions, deeply regretted them , and become invaluable workers in saving other babies and their mothers.

Is there any Anglican organization which is strictly pro-life? J.H. Newmarket, Ont.

I first met members of NOEL, the National Organization of Episcopalians for Life – which has Chapters throughout the USA – at a National Right to Life Convention in the early 1980s. I used to get their excellent newsletter The Noel News, NOEL welcomes new Chapters, which appear to be associated with local churches, and which also seem to involve whole families in pro-life activities. The address which I have is NOEL 10520 Main Street, Fairfax, Virginia, 22030, USA. Phone: (703) 352-5888.