Issues & Education

This page provides an overview and resources on a number of the many complex issues impacting how persons and the culture-at-large views the dignity of human life and the human person. For further information on these issues, please contact Sr. Virginia Joy at (646) 689-2613. Please select from the following:


Abortion. It’s a word that grips us when we hear it—sometimes with anger, sometimes with fear, and oftentimes with pain. Most people avoid the subject. According to the Alan Guttmacher Institute, approximately 1 out of 3 women in the United States will have had an abortion by age 45. It’s fair to say that the majority of Americans have either had an abortion or know someone who has experienced one.

Abortion Statistics

Over 56,000,000 abortions have occurred in the United States since 1973. And the number continues to rise. Find out more at An important study on the women who have abortions has recently been released by the Guttmacher Institute. You may download the study or view the press release. Among the findings:

  • In 2008, the majority of women obtaining abortions (58%) were in their 20s; women in their 30s made up the second largest age-group (22%).
  • 42% of women having abortions were poor, a substantially greater proportion than were poor in 2000 (27%).
  • The overwhelming majority of women having abortions (85%) were unmarried, including 29% who were cohabiting.
  • Women with no religious affiliation had a relative abortion rate one and one-half times that of all women.
  • In 2006, the average woman paid $413 for a first-trimester abortion and $1,300 for an abortion at 20 weeks.
  • 61% of women obtaining abortions in 2008 already had children, including 34% who had two or more.
  • Half of the women surveyed reported one or more prior abortions; most of these women (37% of all abortion patients) reported both a prior birth and a prior abortion.
Roe v. Wade

Roe v. Wade is the 1973 Supreme Court case which struck down existing state laws nationwide that had heretofore made abortion illegal. Roe v. Wade effectively legalized abortion throughout a woman’s 9 month’s of pregnancy. While the legal validity of Roe v. Wade has always been considered questionable by those in defense of the sacredness of human life, in recent years this case has come under considerable scrutiny and criticism from the general public and influential media outlets.

The USCCB developed the “Second Look” national education campaign, providing facts vs. myths about the Supreme Court decisions that legalized abortion nationwide, to members of Congress, the media, and other key public interest groups.

Abortion & African Americans

Abortion has, in particular, devastated black and African-American communities across the United States. Among this population, abortion is the leading cause of death. In New York City, over 50% of pregnancies in these communities are terminated. The National Black Pro-Life Coalition developed the following videos to expose the abortion rates among their own community:

Abortion & Breast Cancer

Scientific research indicates a link between Abortion and Breast Cancer. Dr. Chris Kahlenborn documents the effect that abortion has on breast cancer, as well as uterine, cervical, liver, and other cancers, and even the transmission of AIDS in his book, Breast Cancer, Its Link to Abortion and the Birth Control Pill. Jenn Giroux tells about this connection in her article, Race for the Truth About the Susan G. Komen Foundation: Is Abortion and Hormonal Contraception a Prescription for Breast Cancer?


Visit for a beautiful adoption website with basic information, testimonials of birthmothers, profiles of adopted families, and places to go to get more resources.

Adverse Prenatal Diagnosis

An Adverse Prenatal Diagnosis often leaves expecting parents concerned and flanked with questions and mounting pressure by hospitals or physicians. In spite of that, there are resources and networks of support that assist during this challenging time in a pregnancy.

Diana’s Hope, National Gianna Center for Women’s Health and Fertility at St. Peter’s Healthcare System, Regional Medical Campus of Drexel University College of Medicine. Contact: Anne Nolte MD, (212) 481-1219. New York, New York is an online outreach to parents who have received a poor or difficult prenatal diagnosis. The family stories articles, and links within the site are presented as a resource for those who may have been asked to choose between terminating a pregnancy or continuing on despite the diagnosis. The families faced the same decision and chose not to terminate. By sharing their experiences, they hope to offer encouragement to those who may be afraid to continue on.

For complete listing go to Perinatal Hospice and Palliative – A Gift of Time:

Former Senator Rick Santorum writes about the gift of his daughter, diagnosed with Trisomy 18, in this article. Also, the New York Times published an informative article, called “Laws of Physics Can’t Trump the Bonds of Love”.

Help for those who have suffered a loss following an Adverse Prenatal Diagnosis can also be found on our Bereavement page.

Facts: Baby’s Development

Science for Unborn Human Life contains hundreds of easily accessible facts about the rapid development of the unborn child’s body, movement, sensations (including pain) and learning. Each fact is accompanied by a reference to the medical or scientific literature. SFUHL focuses on the first eight weeks after conception, the period when most abortions are performed. It is a good complement to the striking ultrasound images that are usually taken much later in gestation. The accuracy of the information is attested to by the comments of eight OBGYNs, whose comments are posted at the top of the home page.

Truth Booth: A window to the womb offers DVDs and displays of 3D and 4D ultrasound images, providing an educational experience for all age groups on the development of a child in the womb.

Infertility & In Vitro

Are you having trouble conceiving? Visit our webpage for information on dealing with infertility and new options that may help you conceive.

The following resources on infertility are available:

For those suffering with infertility, infertility prayers and Catholic infertility prayers are available.

Same-Sex Attraction

Courage is a support group that ministers to those with same-sex attractions and their loved ones. They also have an outreach called Encourage, which ministers to relatives and friends of persons with same-sex attractions.

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has published guidelines for programs of ministry to persons with homosexual inclinations in, “Ministry to Persons with a Homosexual Inclination: Guidelines for Pastoral Care”.

Stem Cells & Cloning

A common misperception is that the Catholic Church opposes all stem cell research. The Catholic Church, in fact, emphatically supports some stem cell research and funds such research through many of it’s Catholic Universities. The Catholic Church, does however, oppose embryonic stem cell research because it involves the destruction of a human being at the embryonic phase. The following resources on stem cell research are available:

  • The National Catholic Bioethics Centers provides consultation, resources, events, publications, and advocacy on Catholic bioethics issues, including stem cell research and cloning.
  • Brother Daniel Sulmasy, OFM writes about stem cells and cloning in his short article, “Cloning and Stem Cells”, a potential resource for a bulletin insert.

Respect Life Team

Sr. Virginia Joy, S.V.
Respect Life Director

Sr. Pia Jude, S.V.
Asst. Respect Life Director


Family Life † Respect Life