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How should the US react to human rights abuses in Ethiopia?

February 16, 2017 CNA Daily News 0

Washington D.C., Feb 16, 2017 / 10:44 am (CNA/EWTN News).- One member of Congress is hoping for a “serious policy review” by the Trump administration of the United States’ relationship with Ethiopia, citing human rights abuses by the government there.

“To truly stop violence abroad, Ethiopia must stop violence at home,” Rep. Chris Smith, chair of the House subcommittee on Africa and global human rights, stated at a press conference outside the U.S. Capitol building on Wednesday.

“Since 2005, untold thousands of students have been jailed, have been shot during demonstrations or have simply disappeared in the last 11 years,” Smith stated Feb. 15. “Ethiopia’s next generation is being taught that the rights that democracy normally bestows on a country’s citizens don’t apply in their country.”

Smith and Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Colo.) introduced a House resolution (H. Res. 128) Wednesday “highlighting the crisis in Ethiopia due to government violations of the human rights of its citizens,” Smith stated.

“With this resolution, we are showing that the United States remains committed to universal respect for human rights, and that we will not tolerate continued abuse of those human rights by Ethiopian security forces,” Coffman said.

There has been a “steady erosion” of democracy in Ethiopia since 2005, the congressmen maintained.

Government dissidents have been jailed, citizens have been tortured and killed by the government’s security forces, and freedom of the press has been infringed upon. Ethnic groups have been the victims of violence perpetrated by the government.

Peaceful protests in the Oromia and Amhara regions of the country were met with hundreds of killings and tens of thousands of arrests by security forces in 2016, Human Rights Watch said in its recent report on the country. Citizens released from jail claimed they were tortured while in custody.

“Instead of addressing the numerous calls for reform in 2016, the Ethiopian government used excessive and unnecessary lethal force to suppress largely peaceful protests,” Felix Horne, senior Africa researcher at Human Rights Watch, stated in the report released in January.

One protest in the Oromia region resulted in the police using tear gas, rubber bullets, and rounds fired into the air to break it up, claiming that the crowd was getting out of hand. An ensuing stampede killed 50. The Inter-religious Council of Ethiopia, on which Catholic leaders sit, called for prayer and peace amid the protests and asked government leaders to listen to the people.

The recent protests in the Amhara region of the country have showed a sense of “identity” on the part of embattled citizens, and their “need to survive,” Tewodrose Tirfe of the Amhara Association of America, a refugee who came to the U.S. in 1982, noted.

“The U.S. and the West cannot sympathize with a government that kills people,” Seenaa Jimjimo, a human rights advocate who was born and grew up in Ethiopia, insisted in her statement at Wednesday’s press conference.

Amidst protests, a state of emergency was declared by the state in October and is “being used as a method to crack down even further on basic human freedoms,” Coffman said.

Thus, the resolution is the “first step by our representatives to let the Ethiopian government know that the U.S. policy is changing, that their continued human rights violations on innocent civilians will not be tolerated,” Tirfe stated.

“We invoke the Global Magnitsky Act,” Gregory Simpkins, staff director of the House subcommittee on Africa, said on Wednesday of the law which enables sanctions against specific “entities and persons who violate the human rights of people.”

Ethiopia has acted as a key ally in fighting international terrorism, Smith noted, but if it fails to protect human rights at home then extremism could fester within its own borders.

“What Congressman Smith and I are asking is for the Congress of the United States to join together and pass this resolution condemning the Ethopian government for its human rights abuses,” Coffman stated.

“And I think it’s important for all Americans to care about human rights to encourage their member of Congress to co-sponsor this resolution so that we can pass it in the Congress.”

[…]

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DIY execution? Arizona’s ‘bizarre’ new death penalty policy

February 15, 2017 CNA Daily News 0

Phoenix, Ariz., Feb 15, 2017 / 04:37 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- It’s an odd time for death in the United States.

 

While there is a new push for death via euthanasia or physician-assisted suicide, there is also a push against the death penalty in several states.

 

This movement against the death penalty has made it increasingly difficult for states to access the drugs required for lethal injections. In response to that difficulty, the state of Arizona’s Department of Corrections has unveiled a unique solution that would effectively allow lawyers to kill their own death row clients.

 

The new policy, among other things, contains a clause that allows for defense attorneys to obtain lethal drugs to execute their own clients. These drugs would be subject to approval by the department director.

 

However, these drugs are extremely difficult to come by legally. Current state execution protocol stipulates the use either of two barbiturates, pentobarbital or thiopental for lethal injection. Thiopental is no longer manufactured in the U.S., and is illegal to import, while manufacturers of pentobarbital refuse to provide the drug for executions.

 

The difficulty in acquiring these drugs has led to the experimental use of less-effective drugs, sometimes with gruesome results.

 

“This is a bizarre notion that calls for actions that are both illegal and impossible,” Dale Baich from the office of The Federal Public Defender in Arizona told Arizona Central.

 

“A prisoner or prisoner’s lawyer cannot legally obtain these drugs or legally transfer them to the Department. Under the federal Controlled Substances Act, we cannot imagine a way to obtain the drug. Those that obtain controlled substances illegally, go to prison.”

 

The unusual policy comes at a time when many states are reconsidering the death penalty, and at a time of significant decline in executions. Thirty death sentences were imposed in 2016, the lowest since the death penalty was reinstated in 1973. In 1996, death penalty sentences peaked at 315.

 

Leaders in the Catholic Church both in the United States and abroad have also been in front of the push to abolish the death penalty.

 

Pope Francis has spoken against the death penalty several times, including in his address to the United States Congress in 2015, when he called for the end of the death penalty “since every life is sacred, every human person is endowed with an inalienable dignity, and society can only benefit from the rehabilitation of those convicted of crimes,” he said.

 

He also called the death penalty “unacceptable, however grave the crime of the convicted person” in his message to the Sixth World Congress against the Death Penalty in 2016.

 

Many bishops have also been outspoken about their opposition to the death penalty. In Sept. 2016, as California considered a ballot measure that would end the death penalty, Archbishop Jose Gomez said, “It is time for us to end the death penalty – not only in California but throughout the United States and throughout the world.”

 

“In a culture of death, I believe mercy alone can be the only credible witness to the sanctity of life and the dignity of the human person.”

 

Bishop Francis DiLorenzo of Richmond and Bishop Michael F. Burbidge of Arlington, Virginia released a joint statement last month calling for the abolition of the death penalty in their state after an execution.

 

The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that the death penalty may be used “if this is the only possible way of effectively defending human lives against the unjust aggressor.” However, it adds, such cases today “are very rare, if not practically nonexistent.”

[…]

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Why we need a religious freedom move from Trump – and soon

February 15, 2017 CNA Daily News 0

Washington D.C., Feb 15, 2017 / 06:00 am (CNA/EWTN News).- President Donald Trump must sign an executive order with broad protections for religious freedom, or global consequences could soon follow, Catholic leaders insist.

To sign an executive order establishing broad religious freedom protections is “one of the most important things President Trump could do early in his administration,” said Dr. Jay Richards, a professor at the Busch School of Business at The Catholic University of America.

“This isn’t just a Christian issue,” he told CNA, but rather a “Constitutional issue.” Current threats to religious freedom could be “solidified” if no such executive order is signed soon.

President Trump recently announced that he would uphold a 2014 executive order from President Obama, barring federal contractors from engaging in practices deemed to be discriminatory against LGBT employees, with no religious exemptions attached for organizations that have religious objections to gay marriage or adoption.

Thus, religious groups might not be able to contract with the federal government if they publicly uphold traditional marriage, or if they refuse to hire someone who is openly in a same-sex relationship and does not abide by their code of conduct.

A coalition of religious leaders, including the then-president of Catholic Charities USA Fr. Larry Snyder, wrote President Obama in 2014, asking him for an exemption for religious organizations.

The order essentially elevated LGBT persons to a “protected class,” thus threatening employers who are religiously opposed to this lifestyle by withholding federal contracts or funding because of so-called “discrimination,” Richards explained.

Recently, a draft of another order which would establish broad conscience protections was leaked to the press, but that order has not been issued or signed. This draft was “just perfect,” Dr. Richards thought, because “it would undo a lot of the damage” wrought against religious freedom from the Obama administration.

That order wouldn’t just affect federal contractors, he explained, “but any entity that receives federal funding or is eligible for student loans.”

“So if something like this doesn’t happen, it would not be very long – in fact I would predict it would be probably within the year – that Christian and Catholic colleges would start being essentially coerced into accepting this kind of officially-mandated view on these transgender questions,” he said.

Obama-era regulations and rules would be enforced by government agencies. Schools and colleges could be “threatened with the revocation of student loan eligibility” if they religiously object to federal government mandates on marriage and sexuality.

Now, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops is trying to gather signatures asking the president to sign a religious freedom executive order. They cite “unprecedented” threats to religious freedom to insist on the order’s importance.

“Religious freedom in America has suffered years of unprecedented erosion. President Trump can correct some of this within the executive branch,” a USCCB action alert stated.

Along with a religious exemption to the LGBT executive order for federal contractors, the petition asks for “relief” from the HHS contraception mandate for the Little Sisters of the Poor and for other employers that are suing the government over the mandate and its “accommodation.”

An order should also include protections for religious schools to publicly affirm their beliefs on marriage and keep their accreditation, the continuance of the tax-exempt status for religious organizations that support traditional marriage, and conscience protections for doctors and hospitals refusing to perform abortions, they said.

“Any Executive Order should make it clear that religious freedom entails more than the freedom to worship but also includes the ability to act on one’s beliefs. It should also protect individuals and families who run closely-held businesses in accordance with their faith to the greatest extent possible,” the bishops’ conference stated.

Regarding the freedom of Catholic charities to minister to undocumented immigrants without being threatened by federal authorities, Richards said “the language is not there explicitly” in the proposed order.

For grants to Catholic social services who serve refugees and immigrants, “it would shield Catholic entities doing that on religious grounds” and “would at least mean that Catholic ministries couldn’t be threatened with the revocation of their non-profit status or government grants, simply because they’re exercising their religious freedom.”

There are various threats to religious freedom today, Dr. Richards said, from mandates that public school students must have access to locker rooms and bathrooms of their self-identified gender identity to private business owners who face lawsuits and fines for declining to serve same-sex weddings out of conscience.

President Obama’s executive order “essentially federalized all these” threats to religious freedom, Richards said.

If nothing is done to protect religious freedom, any entity that receives federal funding could be cut off from it for failing to abide by certain government mandates. “I would expect these things to continue to happen,” he added.

 

[…]

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Portland responds with love after Latino Catholics harassed during Mass

February 9, 2017 CNA Daily News 0

Portland, Ore., Feb 9, 2017 / 06:01 am (CNA/EWTN News).- A week after Hispanic Catholics experienced racial harassment and taunts from a group of men during a Spanish Mass, the local community in Portland, Oregon sprang into action to show their support for the churchgoers.

 

Despite the chill and the rain, an estimated 200-300 people created a human barrier on Sunday, Feb. 5, protecting parishioners of St. Peter Catholic Church from possible harassment.

 

It was a different scene than what had greeted parishioners the week before, when a group of about eight men dressed as hunters shouted racial and sexual slurs at parishioners during Spanish Mass, and taunted the congregation for being made up of many immigrants, according to the Catholic Sentinel. The group of men was nowhere to be seen the following week.

 

The harassment came at an already tense time for the parish because of new federal immigration policy proposals. Pastor Fr. Raul Marquez, a native of Colombia who has been pastor at St. Peter’s for 5 years, said he had never seen anything like it.

 

“All that Sunday I felt upset and didn’t understand,” he told the Sentinel.

 

But the next Sunday came as a pleasant surprise. News of the previous attacks had spread on social media through two videos of the incident, and local community members banded together, with one post reading: “ATTN WHITE PEOPLE – USE YOUR WHITE BODY TO INTERRUPT RACISM!”  It urged people to place themselves “between violent bigots and people of color” to form a “strong human chain to stand as a buffer between Latino worshippers and those who hate them.”

 

And it worked. Catholics, Christians and non-believers showed up in force to provide support, complete with welcoming signs in both English and Spanish and a table of coffee and sweets.

 

Local priest Father Ron Millican from nearby Our Lady of Sorrows parish and Rev. Elizabeth Larson from St Mark Lutheran Church came to show their support for Fr. Marquez, as well as Matt Cato, director of the Archdiocese of Portland’s Office of Life, Justice and Peace.

 

Archbishop Alexander Sample expressed his support to St. Peter’s through a letter to the parish, saying that he was saddened by the harassment and offering his prayers for healing.

 

“Please be assured that I, as your Archbishop and shepherd, stand firmly with you in the face of such ignorant and hateful words. You are our brothers and sisters, and as members of the same family of faith, we must hold fast to our unity in Christ,” he said.

 

He added that the incident was not isolated and that the same group had been harassing other churches in the area. The men were reportedly part of a Portland-based group called “Bible Believers”—hard-right street preachers who appear at protests against President Donald Trump.

 

“Be assured of my love and prayers for all of you. May Our Lady embrace you all in her mantle of love and protection,” Archbishop Sample concluded.

 

Brenda Ramirez, a 21 year-old parishioner, told the Portland Tribune that she was shocked to hear about the attack at her church, but was happy with the large showing of support from the local community.

 

“It’s just beautiful. This is what America is — not racism or hate. This is what it should be.”

Where have civility and respect for one another gone?Can we please stop demonizing those with whom we (even vehemently) disagree?

— Archbishop Sample (@ArchbishpSample) February 4, 2017

[…]

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The need for a Catholic ministry to transgendered persons

February 9, 2017 CNA Daily News 0

Washington D.C., Jun 5, 2017 / 03:12 am (CNA).- Walt Heyer remembers the moment when he started desiring to be a girl.

When he was just 4 years old, Heyer’s grandmother would crossdress him while she was babysitting. She loved seeing Heyer in dresses, and even made him his own purple chiffon dress.

But it was their secret, grandma said – don’t tell mom and dad.

At age 7, Heyer brought the purple chiffon dress home with him, and hid it in his bottom dresser drawer.

Heyer’s mom soon found the dress, and confronted him about it. That’s when he told his parents that grandma had been dressing him like a girl for years.

“You could have set off an atomic bomb in the house for the conflict between my dad and my mom, and my mom and her mom, my dad and his mother in law,” he said.

Heyer’s parents didn’t have the vocabulary or the resources to know how to handle the situation. His dad reacted out of fear, and implemented very stern disciplinary measures. An uncle of Heyer’s found out about the story, and started teasing him about it. Eventually, he sexually abused Heyer.

“You see people who have such disordered thinking (gender dysphoria) are hurting,” Heyer said.  “The problem is that we don’t know what to do with them.”  

The desire to be a woman – to be someone other than the abused and hurt little boy – stayed with Heyer into adulthood, even though he had married a woman and had two children. At age 42, he surgically transitioned to a woman and asked his friends to start calling him Laura.

“But it began as a fantasy and it continued as a fantasy, because surgery doesn’t change you to a female. It’s no more authentic than a counterfeit $20 is authentic. You can’t change a biological man into a biological woman.”

After less than 10 years, and a conversion experience, Heyer regretted his transition and desired to live as a man again. He now runs a website called sexchangeregret.com, where hundreds of people contact him every year, sharing their own experiences and regrets of sex change surgeries. Most of them follow the pattern of feeling affirmed by their sex change for a time, only to have underlying psychological problems come roaring back after about 10 years, Heyer said.

Heyer told his story in a talk earlier this year at a Courage conference in Phoenix, where dozens of clergy and those in ministry from throughout the country gathered to learn how to best serve those with same-sex attraction in the Church.

Just recently, the ministry has been including talks and resources not just on same-sex attraction, but also on the issue of transgenderism, as transgender advocates continue to garner attention in the public sphere.

How can the Church help transgendered people?

There are few Catholic ministries that exist today that minister particularly to those struggling with transgenderism and gender dysphoria. Other than a handful of local ministries, Courage – the Church’s outreach to people with same-sex attraction – is one of the few ministries addressing the issue of transgenderism on a national and international level.

“Until recently, pastoral care to individuals who struggle with their sexual identities as male or female has largely occurred at a local and personal level,” said a spokesperson for the U.S. Bishop’s Conference Office of Public Affairs.  

“As attention to and awareness of this experience has grown, we are seeing more efforts regionally and nationally to respond in a way faithful to the Catholic understanding of the human person and God’s care for everyone.”

Part of the problem is that the issue of transgenderism and its acceptance in popular culture is so new that mental health experts are still trying to catch up to the trend, said Dr. Gregory Bottaro, a Catholic psychologist with the group CatholicPsych.

“I think the mental health profession hasn’t really had time to really thoroughly catch up on it, besides those in the field who kind of just flow with the current of whatever is popular in the moment,” he said.

But mental health professionals who are willing to follow any current trend are only “furthering the divide” between Catholic and secular practitioners, he added.  

At the moment, the biggest concern regarding the popularising and normalizing of transgenderism is the effect it’s having on children, Dr. Bottaro said.

“With kids, it’s really important to recognize that their sexual development is so fragile, and the influence of what’s popular in the culture needs to be really, strongly filtered and studied and understood,” he said.

“The Catholic response is a return to true anthropology –  male and female he made them – to understand that our biology and our psychology are not separate things, and so to encourage the development of a curriculum of human nature that is consistent with a true anthropology,” he said.

And it’s not just the Catholic Church that is concerned with the effects of transgenderism on children.

In a paper entitled “Gender Ideology Harms Children,” The American College of Pediatricians lays out specific reasons that they are concerned about the popularising and normalising of transgenderism among kids.

“A person’s belief that he or she is something they are not is, at best, a sign of confused thinking. When an otherwise healthy biological boy believes he is a girl, or an otherwise healthy biological girl believes she is a boy, an objective psychological problem exists that lies in the mind not the body, and it should be treated as such. These children suffer from gender dysphoria,” the group said in its paper.

To encourage a child into thinking that “a lifetime of chemical and surgical impersonation of the opposite sex is normal and healthful is child abuse,” they added.  

“So while there are biological abnormalities (children born with ambiguous genitalia or an extra chromosome), they’re certainly not circumstances to build philosophical systems on, so we see those as abnormalities and anomalies,” Dr. Bottaro explained.

Learning how to best serve transgendered persons

When asked, the U.S. Bishop’s Conference Office of Public Affairs referred back to Courage as an example of a ministry that was providing pastoral care and guidance on transgenderism at a national and international level.

Dioceses that have their own chapters of Courage to accompany those with same-sex attraction are also “in a good position to help people who have questions regarding their sexual identity as well,” the spokesperson said.

Father Philip Bochanski is the executive director of Courage International. He said the organization will continue to discern how best to serve transgendered persons and their families.

“There seem to be some similarities between the experience of confusion regarding one’s sexual identity and the experience of same-sex attraction, but there are also many differences,” Fr. Bochanski said.

In the meantime, the ministry’s outreach for parents, called EnCourage, is already actively engaged with parents and families who have a transgendered loved one, Fr. Bochanski said.

The goal of EnCourage is to help parents and family members of those with same-sex attraction, or transgendered persons, to maintain strong family ties while also holding to their understanding and teaching of the faith.

“Our EnCourage members pursue these goals by striving to grow in their own prayer lives, to learn more about what the Church teaches and how to present it in a loving way, and to find ways to show love and support without either condemning their sons or daughters, nor condoning immoral decisions.”

“Like the experience of same-sex attraction, questions regarding sexual identity have a profound impact not just on the individual but on his or her whole family,” he said.

“I’m glad that our EnCourage members and their chaplains have the opportunity to share their experience of speaking the truth in love in their own families with other parents and spouses who are striving to understand and support their loved ones who identify as transgender.”

Heyer said first and foremost, the Church must gently but firmly challenge people, rather than affirm them in their gender dysphoria.

“If we affirm them in changing genders we’re actually being disobedient to Christ, because that’s not who they are. He made them man and woman,” Heyer said.

He also said that pastors and those in ministry in the Church need to be better informed about the long-term physical and emotional consequences of sex change surgery.

“Because we’re not talking about the consequences. We’re only talking about them transitioning, which all looks really good for 8-10 years,” he said, at which point many people desire to go back to their original gender.

“So if we can get a bigger set of glasses and look long term…then we can look and see the destruction that happens and begin to address the destruction.”

Pastors and psychologists, working together

Deacon Dr. Patrick Lappert, a permanent deacon and plastic surgeon, also addressed the clergy and ministry leaders at the recent Courage conference. In his talk, he addressed the medical background of transgender surgeries, as well as the terminology used when discussing the issue.

It’s important for those in ministry to be well versed in the issue, both from a catechetical standpoint and from a medical and secular standpoint, Dr. Lappert told CNA.

“One of the dangers in the subject is that ignorance causes people to respond in unhelpful ways – sometimes in anger, sometimes confusion, revulsion, all kinds of emotional things that do not serve anyone, and certainly do not serve the Church,” he said.

“Be so fluent in the issue (and the terminology) that nothing surprises you, so that you can serve the person justly with the truth and with love,” he advised.

It is also important for priests and Church leaders to have good working relationships with psychologists and psychiatrists who share a Christian anthropological view of the human person, and would not encourage people in their gender dysphoria, Dr. Lappert said.

Dr. Bottaro said he has seen an increase in good working relationships between pastors and psychologists who believe in a true Christian anthropology.

“I think priests are becoming more and more aware of the need for it, the more volatile the situation becomes, the more obvious and pressing the need is for mental health expertise from a Catholic perspective,” he said.  

He said that he thinks Courage is a good place to start as far as ministry goes, because they have the “experience and expertise to sort of bridge the gap.”

“It could become a whole separate ministry, but it’s definitely related to what Courage is already doing, so it could become a branch of it, or they could decide that there’s many more people suffering from the effect of transgenderism,” he said.

But the issue of transgenderism extends beyond just those struggling with gender dysphoria, he added. It’s a cultural issue even more so than a psychological one, and it needs to be addressed on the levels of education and improved family life and catechesis just as much as it needs to be addressed on an individual basis.

Throughout the process of discerning and pastoral care for both people with same-sex attraction and with gender dysphoria, the most important thing is to remember the foundation of everyone’s identity, Fr. Bochanski added: “That of being created in the image and likeness of God the Father, and of being called to share in God’s grace as his sons and daughters.”

 

This article was originally published on CNA Feb. 9, 2017.

 

[…]

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Can we end the need for abortion? One organization aims to find out

February 9, 2017 CNA Daily News 0

Denver, Colo., Feb 9, 2017 / 12:01 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Women’s healthcare is reaching a new dawn in the state of Colorado, courtesy of a new Catholic Charities initiative whose goal is to eliminate abortion from the definition of women’s healthcare.

The new initiative, called Marisol Health, hopes to empower women by offering a holistic option for healthcare, which also includes aid with housing and every spectrum of human services.

Just ask Marisol’s Vice President, Jan McIntosh. She has been involved with the evolution of Marisol Health from its establishment in 2016, with dreams to empower women in a big way.

“It was really during 2016 that we developed the whole Marisol concept with expanded medical care – a continuum of care to meet the urgent and ongoing needs of vulnerable women experiencing unexpected pregnancies, as well as women living in poverty with children,” McIntosh told CNA.

“Trying to eliminate the need for abortion is really at the heart of this, by building a network of well-integrated services to provide the solutions to the concerns that might lead women and men down the path to make that decision to terminate a pregnancy,” she said.

Marisol’s system essentially works as a directory of aid that will connect women to a network of pre-existing medical facilities, maternity centers, and long-term housing programs, which have all been interwoven to offer women and families all-encompassing care.

Depending on their situation, a woman could walk into one of Marisol’s centers and come out with a new doctor, a new place to live, and a new community of support, including emotional counseling, parenting help, and child education services.

These services are in connection with established community organizations. According to McIntosh, Marisol is only possible through the joint efforts between Catholic Charities and key partners within the community.

“We think it’s very important to work with the community and with other organizations that are serving the women and children that we are servicing,” McIntosh said.

Marisol Health has already kicked up a lot of excitement for women around the state, and has become a successful option for healthcare at one of Colorado’s biggest college campuses: CU Boulder.

Jenny Langness, a Marisol Program Director involved at the CU Boulder campus, told CNA that “students have been excited to learn about our continuum of care.”  

“Our hope is to make CU Boulder a campus that is welcoming and accessible to pregnant and parenting students, and through Marisol Health Services, will offer women true alternatives to abortion,” Langness said, adding that Marisol’s presence on campus has truly been able to “empower women.”

Marisol was originally brought to the university’s campus through Real Choices – an existing student organization which has now merged with Marisol – to educate young women and men about alternatives to abortion through seminars and events that speak about a holistic approach to sexual health and overall wellness.

Jen Boryla, a Marisol Volunteer Coordinator, told CNA that “we want a health center that promotes the wellbeing of the entire person – mind, body and spirit.”

“We hope that by educating and teaching the younger generation about a better way to be healthy and to think about their family planning, we can influence our culture broadly, as well as impact individual’s lives,” Boryla said.

So far, Marisol has seen a successful response at all of their locations. Since 2013, when the idea of Marisol was starting to take shape, they have seen 240 babies born to mothers that their services have helped. Within the past 7 months, Marisol has also provided all-inclusive prenatal care to more than 77 women.

“We are definitely having a positive response, and we are growing every month in the number of women who are hearing about our services and that are coming to us,” she continued.

In addition, Marisol Health centers are also offering mammograms – a vital piece of women’s healthcare that other clinics, such as Planned Parenthood, does not offer. They also offer free pregnancy testing, ultrasounds and STD/STI testing.

“We have partnered with St. Joe’s mobile mammography program, and they will be servicing us at both of our Marisol sites and also at the Bella Natural Women’s Care in Englewood,” she noted.

Marisol’s success has already made it a potential model for healthcare in other states and dioceses throughout the country. Jan said that Marisol is “actively planning” with other programs across the country that are interested in developing more comprehensive healthcare for women.

Future goals for Marisol include one major, overarching theme: ending the need for abortion in Colorado.

“In order to do that, we need the resources for the intensive care that this takes, and we do believe that there are thousands of men, women and families who need these services,” Jan stated.

“Our real hope is to fill our current health centers to capacity and then with the support of donors and grants and other funding to expand to other communities in Colorado, both along the Front Range and possibly into the mountain communities.”

[…]