By Patricia Pitkus Bainbridge
Director, Respect Life Office
As the end of 2005 draws near, many corporations and individuals will be making decisions about those annual end-of-year charitable donations to various medical charities and other non-for-profit organizations. Wanting to be charitable (and in some cases, wanting a tax deduction), many are unaware their donations may be going to organizations whose philosophies, agendas, and/or programs violate the dignity of the human person.
When money is put into a canister near a checkout counter, donors may not be aware they are unwittingly supporting causes that they would ordinarily consider to be immoral. When neighbors ring the doorbell collecting for well-known medical charities, does the donor know if those charities promote anti-life activities in addition to the “good” they do? When small children show up at the front door with a bright orange UNICEF box, do donors understand what programs their donations may help fund?
Originally founded to provide basic health care and nutrition to children after World War II, UNICEF lost its moral compass as it jumped on the population control, comprehensive sex education, radical feminism, and “reproductive rights” bandwagons. The respected Catholic Family & Human Rights Institute reports, “UNICEF has endorsed, even helped to write, numerous documents that call for increased access to abortion, as well as for the legalization of abortion.”
March of Dimes
Another popular organization that has lost its way is the March of Dimes (MOD). Originally founded to find a cure for polio, the MOD now is involved with a myriad of activities that violate the dignity of the human person.
The MOD supports embryonic stem cell research;
advocates and funds research on pre-implantation genetic diagnosis; and advocates for mandatory contraceptive coverage for insurance plans that cover prescription medicine.
In addition, MOD has financially supported Planned Parenthood—the largest single committer of abortions in the United States. It continues to have joint projects with Planned Parenthood going so far as awarding the President/CEO of Planned Parenthood of Palm Beach and Treasure Coast Area the “Woman of Distinction 2003” award. MOD supports “comprehensive sex education” that includes advocacy of contraception and abortion and approves of genetic counseling that includes informing women of their “reproductive options” (including abortion) when they are told that their unborn baby has a genetic disorder or fetal deformity.
Probably the most surprising group holding to immoral ideologies is the Salvation Army. Most of us are aware of the good work done by the Salvation Army, but few people are aware that the Salvation Army promotes contraception and approves of abortion in cases of rape, incest, health of the mother and fetal deformity.
The Salvation Army’s International Headquarters states their position clearly:
[Salvation Army] accepts that termination of a pregnancy may be justified on certain limited grounds; that is, where, in the judgment of competent medical and allied staff, the pregnancy poses a serious threat to the life of the mother, or could result in irreversible physical injury to the mother.
In cases of proven rape or legally defined incest an abortion may be justified because of the extent to which rape and incest violate the whole person. Termination of a pregnancy may also be justified where
reliable diagnostic procedures determine that a foetal [sic] abnormality is present which is incompatible with life other than brief post-natal survival or where there is total absence of cognitive function.
Compare that with the Salvation Army-USA’s position statement:
“[the Salvation Army] is opposed to abortion as a means of birth control, family planning, sex selection or for any reason of mere convenience to avoid the responsibility for conception. . . The Salvation Army recognizes tragic and perplexing circumstances that require difficult decisions regarding a pregnancy.
Such decisions should be made only after prayerful and thoughtful consideration, with appropriate involvement of the woman's family and pastoral, medical and other counsel.
So how does this statement differ from the previous one? Basically, the Salvation Army-USA is saying the same thing, but in a slightly disingenuous manner. It has to be read very carefully to understand that the only abortions they oppose are those used for birth control, family planning, sex selection or convenience.
Perhaps the Salvation Army-USA is somewhat bothered by their position on abortion or perhaps they are trying to fool their donors. Either way, their position was enough for my donations to cease years ago.
One of the groups whose original moral foundation has crumbled is the YWCA. A visit to their website quickly reveals a radical feminist world view.
In addition, the YWCA is a long-time, aggressive advocate for abortion on demand. It called for the liberalization of abortion laws in 1967 and in 1970 “voted to give special emphasis to the repeal of all laws restricting or prohibiting abortions.”
Today, the YWCA continues with its pro-abortion activities and is a proud member of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice.
A sampling of other popular non-profit groups that have philosophies and/or programs that violate the dignity of the human person include: AARP, American Cancer Society, American Lung Association, American Red Cross, Doctors Without Borders, Earth Day, Juvenile Diabetes Association, Muscular Dystrophy Association, National Audubon Society, National Multiple Sclerosis Society, The National Wildlife Federation (Ranger Rick), Sierra Club, Save the Children, and the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation (Race for the Cure events).
But, don’t these groups do some good?
There is no doubt that all of the above mentioned groups provide some worthwhile services or have some programs that are praiseworthy. The question is whether these praiseworthy efforts outweigh the group’s immoral actions or philosophies.
While there are no easy answers to every moral dilemma we might face when trying to be charitable and yet not wanting to support immoral causes, I think we can take the lead from our beloved John Paul II who—after many years of support—decided to withhold contributions from UNICEF in 1996. In this decision the Vatican criticized “the involvement of UNICEF in family planning that could involve methods considered morally unacceptable by the Catholic Church.”
While meeting the needs of the poor, the hungry, the disabled, the infirmed, and the marginalized is imperative, it is my hope people of good will give consideration to funding organizations that provide the necessary research, programs, and services without violating the teachings of the Church.
If you are interested in donating to an organization doing research on birth defects, and you do not want your money going to the March of Dimes, you might want to consider the Michael Fund (www.michaelfund.org).
Other medical charities that do not violate the dignity of the human person include: the Breast Cancer Prevention Institute (www.bcpinstitute.org), the Thomas Hartman Foundation for Parkinson Research (www.hartmanfoundation.org), and Easter Seals (www.easterseals.com).
If you want your donations to support morally acceptable programs assisting victims of natural disasters, poverty and/or other unfortunate circumstances, please consider giving to Catholic Charities (www.ccrfd.org), Society of St. Vincent de Paul (www.svdpusa.org), the Knights of Columbus (www.kofc.org), Peter’s Pence (www.usccb.org/ppc), and Catholic Relief Services (www.catholicrelief.org).
You might be surprised at the many wonderful programs and services these organizations provide—all in accordance with Church teaching.