Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington

From the

Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane

Deacon Eric Meisfjord, Editor
P.O. Box 48, Spokane WA 99210
(509) 358-7340; FAX: (509) 358-7302

Letters to the Editor

(From the , 2009 edition of the Inland Register)

Regarding Letters to the Editor

The Inland Register welcomes letters to the editor. Letters should be no longer than 500 words. Letters must be signed, with address and phone number for contact, but names will be withheld upon request. Letters may be edited for length or clarity. Remember to be charitable.

Send letters to:

  • Inland Register | P.O. Box 48 | Spokane, WA 99210-0048
  • E-mail:
    Fax: (509) 358-7302

    The personal anguish of abortion


    I feel compelled to write.

    Recently we quietly passed the 36th anniversary of Roe vs. Wade, the controversial Supreme Court decision to legalize abortion. On that day I happened to be enjoying a favorite Spokane pastime: drinking coffee at a shop downtown. As I snuggled into the worn-in, overstuffed, oversized couch, I sipped my tea and alternately read my book and noted the ebb and flow of people around the shop. I must have reached an engaging section of my book because the next time I looked up, the scene around me completely changed. I noticed for the first time a woman sitting alone at the corner table by the window. Something about her felt so infinitely sad; her soul wrenching despair seemingly laid open on her stoic face made my breath catch; I had never seen someone in so much anguish and yet still composed. Tears began to blur my vision as I felt the depth of her sadness wash over me while she stared out the window watching cars bumble down the ice laden street.

    Three teenage girls disrupted my observations when they converged on my couch, animatedly discussing American Idol and Simon’s latest comments. After they settled into the couch and we exchanged smiles for greetings the way most young people do, I saw a man seat himself at the lady’s table. I watched her look at the man, cognizant of his presence and yet untouched in her reverie. He reached across the table and took her hand in his, whispering two words: “I know.” At the tenderness of his touch, the pain of her expression, my tears leaked down my winter-chapped cheeks. After moments stretched into minutes of silence, she leaned over and pulled out a pink greeting card sized envelope from her briefcase. “She would have been 35 today. Hannah.” Stoically, methodically, as if she was refusing to allow the pain and despair boiling below the surface to rise, she passed the card with her free hand to him and he placed it on the table without a glance. “We were kids. We did what we had to do. We were kids having a kid. We weren’t ready,” he said to her in a flat tone as if willing himself to believe the words he seemingly spoken a thousand times. She feigned a weak smile at his lip service and looked out the window. They sat in silence.

    The girls next to me jolted me back into the realm of the coffee shop; my tea had since grown cold and I struggled to sit forward to place it on the coffee table in front of my snow boot-laden feet. I glanced up as the metal legs of a chair scraped against the cement floor. He was leaving. She continued to stare out the window, not acknowledging his departure, still drowning in deep despair while maintaining an aloof facade. It was like the old crumbling gothic cathedrals in Europe, beautiful but somehow dark and tragic. I heard her slowly hum happy birthday, low and unsteady, each note an effort to vocalize. When she finished, murmuring “happy birthday, Hannah. I’m so sorry,” she got up from the table and walked out the door, shoulders drooped and head bowed.

    I sat in silence, lost in my thoughts. Tears continued to roll intermittently down my cheeks. I realized something deeply moving and profoundly sad: She aborted Hannah 35 years ago.

    I hope she reads this letter. I hope this is the year she begins to heal and reconcile herself from the pain one decision made 35 years ago. Please pray for her and all women struggling with the guilt, despair, and loss of abortion decisions.

    Name withheld by request

    Political advertising


    It is with genuine interest that I read the successive weeks of Letters to the Editor in our Catholic newspaper, especially concerning this particular matter – life – which continues to be under attack after 36 years.

    Sometimes I get the feeling from ideas expressed that the notion of right and wrong has been obscured in favor of the overly compassionate, laissez-faire notion of, “Well, it all depends …”

    In regard to this attitude, may I quote Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen? “America, it is said, is suffering from intolerance. It is not. It is suffering from tolerance of right and wrong, truth and error, virtue and evil, Christ and chaos. Our country is not nearly so much overrun with the bigoted as it is with broadmindedness … in the face of this broadmindedness, what the world needs is intolerance.”

    So, in tune with that, may I say this? I believe the five Supreme Court Justices committed a grave sin against our Creator and humanity in 1973, when they took advantage of our “broad-mindedness” and made Roe vs. Wade “the Law of the Land.” This, in turn, created an immeasurable division in God’s people, making it necessary for them to choose between Pro-Life and the misnomered “Pro-Choice.”

    There is no middle ground. This is a matter of life and death.

    This leads me to concur with Miss Whelan (“Letters to the Editor,” IR 1/15/09) , who in her youth has expressed a conscience-driven insight: that the presence of advertising in the Inland Register by candidates clearly known (by their voting records or by words from their own mouths) not to honor the sanctity of life, definitely sullies the remaining contents of our religious paper.

    Who knows to what extent these contradictory messages affected the thinking of area Catholic voters, who obviously just helped elect a number of pro-choice officials, from the top on down?

    R. H. Henrickson, Oakesdale, Wash.



    In regard to “Rumors aside, FOCA no threat to Catholic hospitals” (IR 2/5/09):

    This article undermines those of us working to stop the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA), a task assigned by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). In fact, FOCA legislation will make abortion a Constitutional right, and our Catholic Hospitals will not be allowed to deny anyone’s Constitutional rights.

    The bishops’ own legal counsel wrote: “The combined impact of these various provisions is the likely invalidation of a broad range of state laws if challenged under FOCA, including ... government programs and facilities that pay for, provide, or insure childbirth or health care services generally, but not abortion; laws protecting the conscience rights of doctors, nurses and hospitals, if those laws create even minimal delay or inconvenience in obtaining an abortion or treat abortion differently than other medical procedures....”

    This article opens stating that the “legislation died with the 110th Congress” under the Bush Administration. This is intentionally misleading by Ms. O’Brien of Catholic News Service (CNS). All pending legislation of the 110th Congress under the Bush administration has to be reintroduced under the new administration of the 111th Congress; it does not mean it is dead.

    President Obama said this at a Planned Parenthood conference.

    “Well, the first thing I’d do as president is sign the Freedom of Choice Act. That’s the first thing that I’d do.”

    Bishop Robert N. Lynch feels sure FOCA is no threat. His statement was not based on any facts or recommendations of the USCCB, but on his feeling that “there’s no sense of ominous danger.” He is basing what he believes on his keen sense of “ominous danger”?

    Sister Carol Keehan, Daughter of Charity, and President of the Catholic Health Association. She is just as unreliable, stating, “I don’t believe FOCA will pass.” Once again, her thoughts are based on nothing. Sister Carol goes on to say that in the worst case, “I want to make it very clear that Catholic health care will not close….”

    Someone needs to tell Sister Carol that she does not have this kind of power to promise this.

    In fact, the bishops have stated that closing hospitals may very well be an option rather than allow abortions in Catholic hospitals, placing Sister Carol and Bishop Lynch in opposition to the USCCB, while Ms O’Brien of CNS reduces the USCCB to promoters of rumors started by Internet bloggers and others, whose e-mail source cannot be traced. I guess Ms. O’Brien was trying to root out those Catholics making “FOCA Novenas.” Boy, wouldn’t we like to know!

    I have been asked to announce the card signing campaign at Mass, but articles like this cause confusion and is irresponsible journalism from the CNS and the Inland Register.

    To conclude, we need to stay on this until the bishops say otherwise.

    Martin G. Baird, Spokane

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