The right to choose abortion is meaningless without the ability to pay for the procedure, believes Baltimore’s Kathy Rogers. In 2001, she decided to found Seneca Women’s Health Care, a group to help Maryland low-income women pay for the procedure.

The Baltimore Sun reports that Rogers is one of many women vying for a piece of the national spotlight in the March for Women’s Lives this weekend in Washington, D.C. Rogers’ fund is a part of the National Network of Abortion Funds, an organization that helps low-income women pay for abortions and discounted contraceptives nationwide.

The focus Seneca Women’s Health Care on the other members of the network places on economic access makes the funds controversial on both sides of the abortion debate. Baltimore Sun reporter K. Kaufmann wrote that the network had maintained a low profile because the “mainstream abortion-rights movement has not made economic access a priority, seeing it as potentially alienating to the middle-of-the-road voters it seeks to keep as supporters.”

Shawn Towey, a spokesperson for the network, says that only after intensive negotiations with march organizers did the group get a speaker slot for the coveted Sunday program. Towey said that low-income women’s access to abortion is in distress, “It’s so back burner . . . but the need is so acute.”

Thirty-five states restrict public funding for abortion except in cases of rape, incest or to save the life of the mother. Last year, funds in the network provided $2 million across the country, helping 20,000 women. Most of the funds were formed in the 1980s and 1990s, after the state and federal laws began banning the use of public funds for abortion.

At Seneca, the fund receives 8 to 10 calls per week, on average, but can only give money to up to five women each month.

For more information:

Seneca Women’s Fund–
Seneca Women’s Fund: Because reproductive rights
are meaningless without access:


VATICAN CITY–Reuters reports that a top Vatican cardinal has decreed that a Roman Catholic politician who unambiguously supports abortion rights should be denied Holy Communion at Mass. Francis Cardinal Arinze spoke at a news conference and presented a Vatican document restating the rules about celebrating mass.

When asked directly if Democrat John Kerry should be refused communion by his priest, Arinze answered, “Yes. If the person should not receive it, then it should not be given. Objectively, the answer is there.” If elected president, John Kerry would be the second Roman Catholic president in the history of the United States, the first was John F. Kennedy who was elected in 1960.

According to Reuters, in addition to being a supporter of abortion rights, Kerry has said he would nominate only Supreme Court justices who support his position. A practicing Catholic and a former altar boy, Kerry also supports stem cell research.

In the U.S. Senate, 12 Catholic politicians, all Democrats, could be affected by the edict: Kerry of Massachusetts; Tom Daschle of South Dakota, the Senate minority leader; Edward Kennedy, also of Massachusetts; Joseph Biden of Delaware; Patrick Leahy of Vermont; Christopher Dodd of Connecticut; Tom Harkin of Iowa; Mary Landrieu of Louisiana; Patty Murray of Washington and Barbara Mikulski of Maryland.

Frances Kissling, president of the Washington-based Catholics for a Free Choice group, accused the Vatican of not understanding the separation of church and state, the news agency reported.

Arinze, a Nigerian, is head of the Vatican department that establishes regulations on the way the sacraments should be practiced. Theodore Cardinal McCarrick of Washington, heads a panel studying how the church should deal with politicians with views that diverge from doctrine. He had said Kerry should follow Catholic teachings.

A controversy erupted when Kerry took communion during a Mass on Easter Sunday.

Kerry has said he keeps his religion separate from his public life. President Bush, a Methodist, approves of abortion only in cases of rape or incest or when the pregnancy endangers a woman’s life.