Byrnes: Court ruling won't deter fight against abortion
Guam's church leader is seeking to galvanize pro-lifers into stepping up their fight to protect the unborn, on the heels of a federal court's recent decision that paved the way for abortion via telemedicine on Guam.
Acknoweldging that the ruling was a blow to the anti-abortion movement on Guam, Archbishop Michael Byrnes urged Catholic school teachers and parish priests to "make the teachings about the grave sin of abortion a regular activity with your students."
"We are naturally disappointed and upset about this latest legal effort that impedes the work to protect the unborn," Byrnes said of the court's ruling.
"However, during a week of anger and sadness for local advocates of our precious unborn children, such a message from a secular pro-lifer can be an encouragement to us in Guam to remain unshaken in our efforts to eradicate abortion in our island, even in the world," the archbishop said in his message to the Catholic faithful.
Federal Judge Frances Tydingco-Gatewood issued a ruling on Sept. 3, allowing off-shore physicians to provide counseling via video-conferencing and to remotely supply abortive pills to Guam women seeking to terminate their pregnancies.
In a followup decision last week, the judge issued a preliminary injunction that halts the enforcement of Guam laws that require "in-person" counselling and penalize physicians who violate the requirements.
"We hang our heads in sadness and pray for children whose environment and circumstances offer no such care," Byrnes said.
"It's an inherent part of who we are as human beings to care and protect the youngest among us. Brought to life by our Creator who is Love himself, it is our nature to love and cherish the children who surround us," he added.
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The court ruled that the state must not interfere with women's right to choose.
“Here, there is undisputed evidence of the burdens the law imposes on a woman seeking abortion in Guam,” the court said.
Tydingco-Gatewood's decision came amid the national debate on the Supreme Court's decision that upheld abortion ban in Texas.
"It reminds us that guarding humanity and standing up for the dignity and right to life of all human beings is not exclusively Christian," Byrnes said.
"We take heart that we are not alone in effortsto protect innocenthuman beings in the womb. Some convictions are universal. Or at least they should be." Noting that Tydingco-Gatewood's ruling won't be the last setback for the anti-abortion movement, the archbishop urged the pro-lifers to "persist in defending the lives of our unborn."
"Pray fervently, speak up, push for pro-life legislation and join voices and efforts together," Byrnes said. "I recognize that we, the Church must do much more to bring light to this atrocity of abortion. I urge our priests to more vigorously and frequently speak about the grave evil of abortionat their masses, gatherings and CCD classes."
"I commend those locally who fight for the lives of our unborn children, includingmembers of the Guam Catholic Pro-Life Committee, the Esperansa Project, Knights of Columbus and those from other religious denominations," Byrnes said.
"The Safe Haven organization also provides invaluable assistance to pregnant women and girls in Guam. As we ll, Ohal·a Adoptions offers a compassionate option through adoption while "bringing peace,hope, and stabilityto the women and childrenof Guam."