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Groups team up in fight for life and liberty

As Religious Liberty Week came to a close June 29, diocesan medical and legal professionals were found collaborating on defending our first freedom — our conscience rights. Queen of Apostles Church in Alexandria hosted, “Flatlining: Conscience Rights under Attack,” an event co-sponsored by the Diocese of Arlington Office of Marriage, Family and Respect Life, the Virginia Catholic Conference and the Northern Virginia guild of the Catholic Medical Association.

Held on the feast day of Sts. Peter and Paul, the gathering began with a Mass recalling the bold ministries of the two pivotal preachers and martyrs. The program that followed was geared specifically to healthcare providers and highlighted legislative threats against life and liberty of conscience in Virginia. As the bishops’ lobbyists in Richmond, representatives from the VCC explained the threats and what can be done to counter them. Diocesan Respect Life Director Amy McInerny served as moderator for the forum that convened close to 50 people.

After a brief overview of the VCC and its work at the state capitol by Executive Director Jeff Caruso, Associate Directors Felicia Pricenor and Tom Intorcio provided updates on abortion, health plan mandates, assisted suicide, and other challenges to life and conscience that were prominent during the 2019 Virginia General Assembly session. Debate is expected to continue and intensify in the coming months and into the 2020 legislative session that begins next January.

In particular, Pricenor explained that Virginia is vulnerable to dangerous legislation targeting the unborn. Many were aware of the shocking efforts by Del. Kathy Tran (D-Springfield) and Sen. Jennifer McClellan (D-Richmond) to remove most restrictions on second-and third-trimester abortions, allowing a healthy unborn child to be aborted even at nine months if the pregnancy is deemed to impair the mother’s mental health.

However, Sen. Jennifer Boysko (D-Fairfax) filed even more extreme legislation that would have enshrined abortion in Virginia law as a highly protected “fundamental right.” Under that bill, the “right to abortion” may supersede even the conscience rights of medical providers, employers and taxpayers by requiring access and payment for abortions.

Intorcio noted that Del. Kaye Kory (D-Falls Church) introduced a bill to legalize assisted suicide. Since the Hippocratic Oath (circa 400 B.C.), physicians have pledged not to administer lethal drugs — even if asked. “Assisted suicide destroys the doctor-patient relationship — forcing physicians to choose between healing and killing. As Pope Francis recently stated, ‘Doctors should serve life, not take it away,’ ” Intorcio added.

Fortunately, with the VCC mobilizing strong opposition to each of these threats, none of them passed. However, such bills will continue to be filed and our efforts to combat them must continue to build. Pricenor reminded attendees that bills impacting life and conscience are often decided by one-vote margins, and that every General Assembly seat is up for election this November.

Pricenor urged participants to engage in these critical debates and offered them concrete ways to get involved, including letting their legislators know where they stand on these bills.

Dr. Marie Anderson concluded the program with a special appeal to healthcare providers to participate in debates and decisions that affect the patients they are called to protect and serve as well as their own livelihoods. She reiterated that at Tepeyac OB/GYN, a prolife medical group where she practices, it is possible to work in accordance with the church. She said we must do what we can to safeguard these liberties. She invited medical professionals to join the Northern Virginia guild of the Catholic Medical Association to stay informed and supported during the challenging days ahead.

Caruso, Pricenor and Intorcio are on the staff of the Virginia Catholic Conference.

Find out more

To learn more, email Jeff@vacatholic.org, text VCC to 50457 or go to vacatholic.org. For more information on the Catholic Medical Association, go to novacathmed.org


© Arlington Catholic Herald 2019