Catholic Bishops Ask State to end funding for “Maria Talks”
By Dave Andrusko
Step by step pressure is building to do something about the highly controversial website “Maria Talks”–which is funded to the tune of $100,000 annually by the state of Massachusetts–up to defunding the website and taking it down.
Last week we borrowed from alerts sent out by National Right to Life’s state affiliate, Massachusetts Citizens for Life. Those offered background details about “Maria Talks,” which features a fictional, computer-generated teen.
MCFL president Anne Fox explained that the site is inaccurate and deliberately misleading, and that “It literally coaches minor girls on how to obtain abortions without their parents knowing.” In fact “Maria” counsels that “getting an abortion is much easier than it sounds.”
Last Friday in a statement released by the Massachusetts Catholic Conference, the state’s four Catholic bishops–Cardinal Sean O’Malley of the Boston Archdiocese, George Coleman of the Fall River Diocese, Timothy McDonnell of the Springfield Diocese and Robert McManus of the Worcester Diocese—wrote that “we strongly support and join with those in the public policy arena who urge the state to eliminate funding for the website and who are asking the state to assist in its removal.”
They dismissed the idea that the problem is merely poor word choice and forcefully argued that the site is guilty of “talking down to minors under the mistaken assumption that the young are incapable of responding positively to challenging and uplifting appeals to their better nature.”
With regard specifically to abortion, the Bishops wrote “[T]he website describes abortion in misleadingly opaque terms, touting the procedure as ‘easier than you think,’ and emphasizes ways to obtain an abortion without parental knowledge. The website fails to acknowledge that many women, especially those undergoing an abortion in their teenage years, suffer long-term negative consequences.”
Last week the Boston Herald reported that 62 members of the state House sent a letter to Gov. Deval Patrick asking him to cut off state funding for the site unless changes were made.
Here is just a sampling of what can be found at www.mariatalks.com.
1. “An abortion is when the contents of the womb (uterus) are removed, so that the uterus goes back to how it was before a woman got pregnant.”
2. Abortion is “more common than you might think.”
3. Safe? “Yes. My Aunt Lucia says that abortions are safe and effective, though some people may experience temporary discomfort.”
4. Can girls under 18 get an abortion? “If you are under 18 and have decided that abortion is right for you, you can call the Planned Parenthood Counseling and Referral Hotline at 1-800-258-4448 (option 3). They can either help you talk to your parents, or if you decide that you can’t or don’t want to do that, they will provide you with a free lawyer who will help you go to court and talk to a judge. These hearings are scheduled quickly, are kept completely confidential and so far, no minor who’s gone through this process has ever been denied access to an abortion by a judge (emphasis added).”