Tag Archives: right to life

Cardinal Burke explains: Catholic employers cannot provide contraceptive coverage because they would be materially and formally cooperating with sin

From Renew America, on Thomas McKenna’s interview with Cardinal Raymond Burke on EWTN’s Catholic Action Insight:

Thomas McKenna: “It is beautiful to see how the faithful have rallied behind the Hierarchy….How does your Eminence comment on the union of solidarity of our bishops?”

Cardinal Burke: “Yes, I have received emails and other communications from lay faithful who say that they are supporting their bishops 100% and they have communicated to their bishops their gratitude and assured them that they want them to continue to be courageous and not to be deceived by any kind of false accommodations which in fact continue this same kind of agenda which sadly we have witnessed for too long in our country which is totally secular and therefore is anti-life and anti-family. I admire very much the courage of the bishops. At the same time I believe they would say it along with me that they are doing no more than their duty. A bishop has to protect his flock and when any individual or government attempts to force the flock to act against conscience in one of its most fundamental precepts then the bishops have to come to defend those who are entrusted to their pastoral care. So I am deeply grateful to all of the bishops who have spoken about this and who are encouraging the members of their flock to also speak up because our government needs to understand that what is being done with this mandate is contrary first of all to the fundamental human right, the right to the free exercise of one’s conscience and at the same time contrary to the very foundation of our nation.”

Thomas McKenna: “So a Catholic employer, really getting down to it, he does not, or she does not provide this because that way they would be, in a sense, cooperating with the sin…the sin of contraception or the sin of providing a contraceptive that would abort a child, is this correct?”

Cardinal Burke: “This is correct. It is not only a matter of what we call “material cooperation” in the sense that the employer by giving this insurance benefit is materially providing for the contraception but it is also “formal cooperation” because he is knowingly and deliberately doing this, making this available to people. There is no way to justify it. It is simply wrong.”…

Read it all, and check out the entire interview here.

Test of Fire: Election 2012

From Catholics Called to Witness:

AUL: The con

Watch it all.

Paganism in the 21st century, the sequel: Academia doubles down

It’s not enough that the Journal of Medical Ethics published a paper on the ethical underpinnings of infanticide–the editors involved are now justifying the decision to publish and are outraged (outraged, I tell you) and “disturbed” that they are receiving passionate, sometimes rude, responses to that publication. (Infanticide is apparently something to be considered “rationally” but abusive language calls for immediate condemnation–go figure).

Two responses have appeared; one by Julian Savulescu, editor, Journal of Medical Ethics, and in the comments, one by Kenneth M. Boyd, Rev Emeritus Professor of Medical Ethics and the editor responsible for deciding that the paper should be published.

First, Julian Savulescu:

The Journal of Medical Ethics prepublished electronically an article by Alberto Giubilini and Francesca Minerva entitled “After-birth abortion: why should the baby live?

This article has elicited personally abusive correspondence to the authors, threatening their lives and personal safety. The Journal has received a string abusive emails for its decision to publish this article. This abuse is typically anonymous.

I am not sure about the legality of publishing abusive threatening anonymous correspondence, so I won’t repeat it here. But fortunately there is plenty on the web to choose from. Here are some responses:

“These people are evil. Pure evil. That they feel safe in putting their twisted thoughts into words reveals how far we have fallen as a society.”

“Right now I think these two devils in human skin need to be delivered for immediate execution under their code of ‘after birth abortions’ they want to commit murder – that is all it is! MURDER!!!”

“I don‘t believe I’ve ever heard anything as vile as what these “people” are advocating. Truly, truly scary.”

“The fact that the Journal of Medical Ethics published this outrageous and immoral piece of work is even scarier”

(Comments from http://www.theblaze.com/stories/ethicists-argue-in-favor-of-after-birth-abortions-as-newborns-are-not-persons/#comments)

What a thin skin to consider those comments “disturbing” in any way.

As Editor of the Journal, I would like to defend its publication. The arguments presented, in fact, are largely not new and have been presented repeatedly in the academic literature and public fora by the most eminent philosophers and bioethicists in the world, including Peter Singer, Michael Tooley and John Harris in defence of infanticide, which the authors call after-birth abortion.

The novel contribution of this paper is not an argument in favour of infanticide – the paper repeats the arguments made famous by Tooley and Singer – but rather their application in consideration of maternal and family interests. The paper also draws attention to the fact that infanticide is practised in the Netherlands.

Many people will and have disagreed with these arguments. However, the goal of the Journal of Medical Ethics is not to present the Truth or promote some one moral view. It is to present well reasoned argument based on widely accepted premises. The authors provocatively argue that there is no moral difference between a fetus and a newborn. Their capacities are relevantly similar. If abortion is permissible, infanticide should be permissible. The authors proceed logically from premises which many people accept to a conclusion that many of those people would reject.

And this is a very good point, and one that advocates for “choice” had better take a hard look at, because he’s absolutely correct. The logical decision to allow termination of a baby in utero for any reason at any time (which is legal in the U.S.) leads to questioning the arbitrary line of location: inside or outside the womb.

Of course, many people will argue that on this basis abortion should be recriminalised. Those arguments can be well made and the Journal would publish a paper than made such a case coherently, originally and with application to issues of public or medical concern. The Journal does not specifically support substantive moral views, ideologies, theories, dogmas or moral outlooks, over others. It supports sound rational argument. Moreover, it supports freedom of ethical expression. The Journal welcomes reasoned coherent responses to After-Birth Abortion. Or indeed on any topic relevant to medical ethics.

What is disturbing is not the arguments in this paper nor its publication in an ethics journal. It is the hostile, abusive, threatening responses that it has elicited. More than ever, proper academic discussion and freedom are under threat from fanatics opposed to the very values of a liberal society.

On the Blaze which reported it (http://www.theblaze.com/stories/ethicists-argue-in-favor-of-after-birth-abortions-as-newborns-are-not-persons/#comments):

“Liberals are disgusting. They have criminal minds. To think that a person must be considered “worthy” to live is criminal.”

“It seems to me if good people are not going to stand up to do away with people who believe in doing away with live babies, then it means no one is good, and it’s just easier for God to drop a couple asteroids on earth.”

“i can’t even comment on this atrocity. I know these people are murderers in their hearts. And God will treat them as such. They are completely spiritually dead.”

“I have to say that I would personally kill anyone doing a after-birth abortion if I had the chance. Is that clear enough?”

The comments include openly racist remarks:

Racism: bad, bad, bad; infanticide: not so much

“Alberto Giubilini looks like a muslim so I have to agree with him that all muslims should have been aborted. If abortion fails, no life at birth – just like he wants.

“Journal of Medical Ethics” — hahaha! You libs and your quack science. Ya think that’s impressive, Albutt & Franpoop? No ****! I can beat you in my sleep. Here goes:

I take a ‘subject of a moral right to life’ to mean an individual who is capable of attributing to my own existence some (at least) basic value such that being deprived of this existence represents a loss to me.

Here’s the “projected moral status” you comunisti italiani pigs would get: Bang, bang. Drop in toxic waste dump reserved for left-wing contaminants.”

What the response to this article reveals, through the microscope of the web, is the deep disorder of the modern world. Not that people would give arguments in favour of infanticide, but the deep opposition that exists now to liberal values and fanatical opposition to any kind of reasoned engagement.

Infanticide is now a liberal value? Who knew.

And now, Kenneth M. Boyd:

Coming up to me at a meeting the other day, an ethics colleague waved a paper at me. “Have you seen this ?”she asked,  “It’s unbelievable!” The paper was ‘After-birth abortion: why should the baby live?” by two philosophers writing from Australia, Alberto Giubilini and Francesca Minerva.

Well yes, I agreed, I had seen it: in fact I had been the editor responsible for deciding that it should be published in the Journal of Medical Ethics; and no, I didn’t think it was unbelievable, since I know that arguing strongly for a position with which many people will disagree and some even find offensive, is something that philosophers are often willing, and may even feel they have a duty, to do, in order that their arguments may be tested in the crucible of debate with other philosophers who are equally willing to argue strongly against them.

Nothing to see here, folks, it was all just an academic exercise. Don’t worry that bioethics professors actually work on hospital committees that debate on what care, how much care, and whether any care should be provided for patients.

Of course for that debate to take place in the Journal of Medical Ethics, many of whose readers, doctors and health care workers as well as philosophers, may well disagree, perhaps strongly, with the paper’s  arguments, we needed first to make sure that the paper, like any other submitted to the Journal, was of sufficient academic quality for us to publish; and the normal way in which we determine this is to invite academics in relevant disciplines to review the paper critically for us, so that we can eventually make an informed decision about whether or not to publish it, either in its original or (as in this case) a form revised in the light of the reviewers’ reports.

So it appears that this paper passed muster with a number of academics. And none thought to disagree with the authors’ personal (not scientific, not medical) opinion of what a “person” is?

From the paper: We take ‘person’ to mean an individual who is capable of attributing to her own existence some (at least) basic value such that being deprived of this existence represents a loss to her.

Well, that might be their definition, but it’s not my definition or the definition of most people, academics or not. According to this definition, someone unconscious (no matter how short or long) or even someone sleeping does not fit their definition of “person,” much less a baby or an elderly person with dementia, all non-persons according to these academic heavyweights.

Satisfied by the reviewers’ reports and my further editorial review that the paper was of sufficient academic quality to be published in the Journal of Medical Ethics, and being charged with making the decision as an Editor with no conflict of interest [ed. comment: of course not, you’re already born and weren’t terminated as a baby] in the matter, since unlike my fellow-editors in the relatively small world of international academic medical ethics I have never met the authors, and indeed personally do not agree with the conclusions of their paper, I decided that it was appropriate to publish it in the interest of academic freedom of debate.

It has subsequently been suggested to me that people whose lives might have been ended by ‘after-birth abortion’ were this legal, might be deeply offended by this paper. If that is the case I am sorry, but I am also confident that many of these people are equally capable of mounting a robust academic reply to the paper which, again subject to peer-review, the Journal of Medical Ethics will be very willing to consider for publication.

According to this paper, everyone might have had their lives “ended by ‘after-birth abortion'” since the authors hold that killing infants is justified for any reason. So I guess we’re all offended.

Freedom of religion abolished in Scotland

From CNA, shades of what’s coming to the United States under Obamacare?

Two Catholic midwives from Scotland have lost their legal battle to avoid taking part in abortion procedures on grounds of “conscientious objection.”

“I view this judgment with deep concern,” said Archbishop Mario Conti of Glasgow. “I wish to put on record my admiration for the courage of the midwives who have, at very great cost to themselves, fought to uphold the right to follow one’s conscience.”

Mary Doogan and Connie Wood were previously told by the state-run National Health Service in Glasgow that they had to supervise and support fellow midwives who perform abortions. As senior staff, they were also expected to be on standby to help in abortion procedures in certain medical situations.

On Feb. 29 Scotland’s highest civil court ruled that the women’s religious liberties were not being infringed because “the nature of their duties does not in fact require them to provide treatment to terminate pregnancies directly.”

No, they don’t have to terminate them directly, just be party to an act they consider inherently evil.

Doogan said they were “very disappointed” by the verdict and that it would have “very grave consequences for anyone of conscience who wishes to choose midwifery as a career.”

The midwives had maintained that their right to opt-out of providing abortions for reasons of conscience was upheld by Article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights and Section 4(1) of the U.K.’s 1967 Abortion Act.

The two midwives previously told the Court of Session that “they hold a religious belief that all human life is sacred from the moment of conception and that termination of pregnancy is a grave offense against human life.”

But the National Health Service in Glasgow rejected their appeals, claiming that their rights are being respected because the midwives are not compelled to administer abortion-inducing drugs. The Court of Session today agreed with that argument.

The court ruled today that the 1967 Abortion Act allowed only qualified conscientious objection, and that the provisions of the European Convention on Human Rights in relation to freedom of conscience and religion were not absolute….

“Qualified conscientious objection” means no allowance for any conscientious objection.

Both Doogan and Wood have worked for over 20 years at Glasgow’s Southern General Hospital and have always made clear their conscientious objection to abortion.

In 2007, however, the National Health Service in Glasgow decided to send more women undergoing late-term abortions to labor wards, instead of admitting them to gynecological departments. This change in policy led to the current dispute between the health service and the midwives….

Wow, so the National Health Service (NHS) sends women “undergoing late-term abortions” to labor wards?? So their babies can be “terminated” right next to a baby being born? How truly, truly bizarre. . .

Read it all. H/t to MCJ

Paganism in the 21st century: Ethicists argue in favor of ‘after-birth abortions’ as newborns ‘are not persons’

Follow up this post with Paganism in the 21st century, the sequel.

You do know that in ancient Rome and Greece, pagans all, they often “disposed” of unwanted and/or deformed newborns by leaving them outside the city walls to die of exposure? Welcome to the 21st century version:

The Abstract from the Journal of Medical Ethics:
Abortion is largely accepted even for reasons that do not have anything to do with the fetus’ health. By showing that (1) both fetuses and newborns do not have the same moral status as actual persons, (2) the fact that both are potential persons is morally irrelevant and (3) adoption is not always in the best interest of actual people, the authors argue that what we call ‘after-birth abortion’ (killing a newborn) should be permissible in all the cases where abortion is, including cases where the newborn is not disabled.

And here’s more:

Two ethicists working with Australian universities argue in the latest online edition of the Journal of Medical Ethics that if abortion of a fetus is allowable, so to should be the termination of a newborn.

Alberto Giubilini with Monash University in Melbourne and Francesca Minerva at the Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics at the University of Melbourne write that in “circumstances occur[ing] after birth such that they would have justified abortion, what we call after-birth abortion should be permissible.”

The two are quick to note that they prefer the term “after-birth abortion“ as opposed to ”infanticide.” Why? Because it “[emphasizes] that the moral status of the individual killed is comparable with that of a fetus (on which ‘abortions’ in the traditional sense are performed) rather than to that of a child.” The authors also do not agree with the term euthanasia for this practice as the best interest of the person who would be killed is not necessarily the primary reason his or her life is being terminated. In other words, it may be in the parents’ best interest to terminate the life, not the newborns….

The authors go on to state that the moral status of a newborn is equivalent to a fetus in that it cannot be considered a person in the “morally relevant sense.” On this point, the authors write:

Both a fetus and a newborn certainly are human beings and potential persons, but neither is a ‘person’ in the sense of ‘subject of a moral right to life’. We take ‘person’ to mean an individual who is capable of attributing to her own existence some (at least) basic value such that being deprived of this existence represents a loss to her.

[…]

Merely being human is not in itself a reason for ascribing someone a right to life. Indeed, many humans are not considered subjects of a right to life: spare embryos where research on embryo stem cells is permitted, fetuses where abortion is permitted, criminals where capital punishment is legal.

Giubilini and Minerva believe that being able to understand the value of a different situation, which often depends on mental development, determines personhood. For example, being able to tell the difference between an undesirable situation and a desirable one. They note that fetuses and newborns are “potential persons.” …

And what about adoption? Giubilini and Minerva write that, as for the mother putting the child up for adoption, her emotional state should be considered as a trumping right. For instance, if she were to “suffer psychological distress” from giving up her child to someone else — they state that natural mothers can dream their child will return to them — then after-birth abortion should be considered an allowable alternative.

The authors do not tackle the issue of what age an infant would be considered a person….

First Things, a publication of the The Institute on Religion and Public Life, notes that while this article doesn’t mean the law could — or would — allow after-birth abortions in future medical procedures, arguments such as “the right to dehydrate the persistently unconscious” began in much the same way in bioethics journals.

Read it all. Note the appropriation of language: “after-birth abortion” instead of “infanticide.” It takes you a minute to figure out that “after-birth abortion” means killing a child.

Of course, these “ethicists” do have a point. Why is the arbitrary moment in time of the birth the only difference between a “legal” abortion and an “illegal” murder? Good question. Too bad we’ve already ceded so much of the ground in the abortion debate that it becomes harder and harder to argue that the few minutes between inside and outside the womb mean anything in terms of the mother’s ability to “terminate” (see how easy it is to play the semantics game? I mean “kill”) her child.

An atheist’s case for life

From Nat Hentoff, political liberal, spiritual atheist, on The indivisible fight for life (1986):

…Now, I had not been thinking about abortion at all. I had not thought about it for years. I had what W. H. Auden called in another context a “rehearsed response.” You mentioned abortion and I would say, “Oh yeah, that’s a fundamental part of women’s liberation,” and that was the end of it.

But then I started hearing about “late abortion.” The simple “fact” that the infant had been born, proponents suggest, should not get in the way of mercifully saving him or her from a life hardly worth living. At the same time, the parents are saved from the financial and emotional burden of caring for an imperfect child.

And then I heard the head of the Reproductive Freedom Rights unit of the ACLU saying – this was at the same time as the Baby Jane Doe story was developing on Long Island – at a forum, “I don’t know what all this fuss is about. Dealing with these handicapped infants is really an extension of women’s reproductive freedom rights, women’s right to control their own bodies.”

That stopped me. It seemed to me we were not talking about Roe v. Wade. These infants were born. And having been born, as persons under the Constitution, they were entitled to at least the same rights as people on death row – due process, equal protection of the law. So for the first time, I began to pay attention to the “slippery slope” warnings of pro-lifers I read about or had seen on television. Because abortion had become legal and easily available, that argument ran – as you well know – infanticide would eventually become openly permissible, to be followed by euthanasia for infirm, expensive senior citizens.

And then in the New York Review of Books , I saw the respected, though not by me, Australian bio-ethicist Peter Singer boldly assert that the slope was not slippery at all, but rather a logical throughway once you got on to it. This is what he said – and I’ve heard this in variant forms from many, many people who consider themselves compassionate, concerned with the powerless and all that.

Singer: “The pro-life groups were right about one thing, the location of the baby inside or outside the womb cannot make much of a moral difference. We cannot coherently hold it is alright to kill a fetus a week before birth, but as soon as the baby is born everything must be done to keep it alive. The solution, however,” said Singer, “is not to accept the pro-life view that the fetus is a human being with the same moral status as yours or mine. The solution is the very opposite, to abandon the idea that all human life is of equal worth.” Which, of course, the majority of the Court had already done in Roe v. Wade….

Back to Dr. Norman Levinsky. This is all part of this learning process. It is not a huge step, he said, from stopping the feeding to giving the patient a little more morphine to speed his end. I mean it is not a big step from passive to active euthanasia.

Well, in time, a rather short period of time, I became pro-life across the board, which led to certain social problems, starting at home. My wife’s most recurrent attack begins with, “You are creating social mischief,” and there are people at my paper who do not speak to me anymore. In most cases, that’s no loss.

And I began to find out, in a different way, how the stereotypes about pro-lifers work. When you’re one of them and you read about the stereotypes, you get a sort of different perspective.

I began to wonder if [Mary] Meehan [writer] and I were the only pro-life people who came from the left. Meehan has a long background in civil rights work. And by the way, she said in the piece [written for the Progressive], “It is out of character for the left to neglect the weak and helpless. The traditional mark of the left has been its protection of the underdog, the weak and the poor. The unborn child is the most helpless form of humanity, even more in need of protection than the poor tenant farmer or the mental patient. The basic instinct of the left is to aid those who cannot aid themselves. And that instinct is absolutely sound. It’s what keeps the human proposition going.”…

Finally, with that in mind, back in 1971, two years before Roe v. Wade, in the state of New York, the legislature, after much pressure, decided to decriminalize abortion and make it a good deal easier. At the time, a significant editorial was delivered on the local CBS station by Sherri Henry, who has since become a big-time talk show host. And she wrote then, “[A]bortion is no longer illegal in New York. It is nothing to be ashamed of, nothing to fear. It is one sensible method of dealing with such problems as overpopulation, illegitimacy, and possible birth defects. It is one way of fighting the rising welfare rolls and the increasing number of child abuse cases.”

Very simple. When there are no children, they can’t be abused. When there are no severely handicapped children or adults, we will all save money. When everyone in failing health has to die by a certain age, how much more aesthetic our society will be.

Most people will begin to understand the lethal logic of the abortionists, the advocates of euthanasia, and the AMA, if this logic is presented lucidly, persistently and on the basis of the indivisibility of all life. All life.

Read it all.

10 things I learned in 40 Days for Life

40 Days for Life
This is the fourth or fifth time I’ve participated in the 40 Days for Life Campaign (February 22 to April 1). A few tips and observations:

  1. You will cry each time you see someone come out after she has had an abortion—her face is always stunned and slightly disbelieving.
  2. Prayer softens the heart (and by that, I mean my heart).
  3. Being a witness is much easier than being a martyr.
  4. Always wear comfortable shoes.
  5. Women who shout nasty things as they drive by are in intense pain.
  6. Men who shout nasty things as they drive by are in intense pain or so cowed by the culture that they think they’re “standing up for women’s rights.”
  7. Always dress warmer than you think you need to (after all, you’re going to be standing outside for a while).
  8. Saying three rosaries takes me about an hour (I always try to start with the Sorrowful Mysteries and end with the Glorious Mysteries, and in-between is anyone’s guess).
  9. You may not see anything change while you’re praying, and that’s okay—God honors your prayers.
  10. Pray with a joyful heart even though you’re in a sad place (and yes, abortion clinics have a certain something about them)–you are praying for Life.

Timothy Cardinal Dolan issues strongest statement yet against the HHS mandate

It’s all over the Internet today, a letter dated February 21, 2012, to the bishops of the United States from Timothy Cardinal Dolan, President of the USCCB, and the Most Reverend William E. Lori, Chairman of the Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty (all emphasis is mine):

Dear Brother Bishops,

Since we last wrote to you concerning the critical efforts we are undertaking together to protect religious freedom in our beloved country, many of you have requested that we write once more to update you on the situation and to again request the assistance of all the faithful in this important work. We are happy to do so now.

First, we wish to express our heartfelt appreciation to you, and to all our sisters and brothers in Christ, for the remarkable witness of our unity in faith and strength of conviction during this past month. We have made our voices heard, and we will not cease from doing so until religious freedom is restored.

As we know, on January 20, the Department of Health and Human Services announced a decision to issue final regulations that would force practically all employers, including many religious institutions, to pay for abortion inducing drugs, sterilizations, and contraception. The regulations would provide no protections for our great institutions—such as Catholic charities, hospitals, and universities—or for the individual faithful in the marketplace. The regulations struck at the heart of our fundamental right to religious liberty, which affects our ability to serve those outside our faith community.

Since January 20, the reaction was immediate and sustained. We came together, joined by people of every creed and political persuasion, to make one thing resoundingly clear: we stand united against any attempt to deny or weaken the right to religious liberty upon which our country was founded.

On Friday, February 10, the Administration issued the final rules. By their very terms, the rules were reaffirmed “without change.” The mandate to provide the illicit services remains. The exceedingly narrow exemption for churches remains. Despite the outcry, all the threats to religious liberty posed by the initial rules remain.

Religious freedom is a fundamental right of all. This right does not depend on any government’s decision to grant it: it is God-given, and just societies recognize and respect its free exercise. The free exercise of religion extends well beyond the freedom of worship. It also forbids government from forcing people or groups to violate their most deeply held religious convictions, and from interfering in the internal affairs of religious organizations.

Recent actions by the Administration have attempted to reduce this free exercise to a “privilege” arbitrarily granted by the government as a mere exemption from an all-encompassing, extreme form of secularism. The exemption is too narrowly defined, because it does not exempt most non-profit religious employers, the religiously affiliated insurer, the self-insured employer, the for-profit religious employer, or other private businesses owned and operated by people who rightly object to paying for abortion inducing drugs, sterilization, and contraception. And because it is instituted only by executive whim, even this unduly narrow exemption can be taken away easily.

In the United States, religious liberty does not depend on the benevolence of who is regulating us. It is our “first freedom” and respect for it must be broad and inclusive—not narrow and exclusive. Catholics and other people of faith and good will are not second class citizens. And it is not for the government to decide which of our ministries is “religious enough” to warrant religious freedom protection.

This is not just about contraception, abortion-causing drugs, and sterilization—although all should recognize the injustices involved in making them part of a universal mandated health care program. It is not about Republicans or Democrats, conservatives or liberals. It is about people of faith. This is first and foremost a matter of religious liberty for all. If the government can, for example, tell Catholics that they cannot be in the insurance business today without violating their religious convictions, where does it end? This violates the constitutional limits on our government, and the basic rights upon which our country was founded.

Much remains to be done. We cannot rest when faced with so grave a threat to the religious liberty for which our parents and grandparents fought. In this moment in history we must work diligently to preserve religious liberty and to remove all threats to the practice of our faith in the public square. This is our heritage as Americans. President Obama should rescind the mandate, or at the very least, provide full and effective measures to protect religious liberty and conscience.

Above all, dear brothers, we rely on the help of the Lord in this important struggle. We all need to act now by contacting our legislators in support of the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act, which can be done through our action alert on www.usccb.org/conscience.

We invite you to share the contents of this letter with the faithful of your diocese in whatever form, or by whatever means, you consider most suitable. Let us continue to pray for a quick and complete resolution to this and all threats to religious liberty and the exercise of our faith in our great country.

Timothy Cardinal Dolan
Archbishop of New York
President, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

Most Reverend William E. Lori
Bishop of Bridgeport
Chairman, Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty

Check it out.

Promised objectivity, Americans receive Planned Parenthood ideology

From HLI America, part of Human Life International, a report on how the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) used information provided by the Women’s Preventive Services committee of the Institute of Medicine (IOM, part of the National Academy of Sciences) to further their political pro-abortion agenda by insisting that including contraceptives in government-mandated health care is medically necessary, when objective evidence shows that it isn’t.

Virtually all of the Women’s Preventive Services committee members are affiliated in some way with Planned Parenthood or NARAL.

From HLI America:

… But these eleven members—out of a total of sixteen—demonstrate a more than casual commitment to the furthering of the abortion lobby. In fact, according to information available from the public record, a total of $116,500 has been donated to pro-choice organizations and candidates by these committee members. What is more, public records show that not one of the sixteen committee members has financially supported a political candidate who is politically anti-abortion. Whatever one thinks of the relevant issues, one would be hard pressed to argue that this IOM committee is politically non-partisan. This committee was purportedly assembled for the very purpose of providing outside, objective, and expert advice to the policy-making HHS; as the above roll call demonstrates, however, the committee was anything but a balanced sampling of experts….

The committee held three “open information-gathering sessions” to receive expert testimony regarding the preventive services that should be mandated and funded. However, nearly all the invited speakers were known advocates of contraception and abortion on demand. In a press release, Michael O’Dea notes:

At both meetings, the invited speakers represented organizations which advocate coverage of contraception, without cost sharing of expenses. Those organizations include the Guttmacher Institute, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and the Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses, Planned Parenthood, The Kaiser Family Foundation and the Society for Family Planning.

Furthermore, there was not one representative from the Catholic health care system, despite the fact that, taken together, it constitutes the single largest provider of health care in our country. Representatives of the pro-life and pro-family organizations (who were forced to seek for themselves permission to speak) were relegated to the brief public comments portion at the end of the day.

This relegation is not insignificant, for though the use of contraception by American women during child-bearing years is nearly universal, support for publicly funded contraception is not. As indicated by a recentRasmussen poll, 46% of Americans do not support the committee’s recommendation, while only only 39% of Americans believe that contraception should be covered free of charge. This diversity in viewpoints should have been reflected both in the makeup of the committee and of the speakers invited to testify at the hearings. Instead, there was a built-in bias in support of the provision of contraception, sterilization, and abortion-inducing drugs….

The central claim of the report, as it is bears on Recommendation 5.5, is “that greater use of contraception within the population produces lower unintended pregnancy and abortion rates nationally” (pg. 92). In support of this claim, the report cites only two sources—one of which is a non-peer-reviewed advocacy report. This spurious source was published by the Guttmacher Institute, the former research arm of Planned Parenthood, and a strong advocate for abortion and contraception. One reason for this dearth of evidence is simple: numerous studies show that greater access to oral contraception and emergency contraception does not in fact reduce unintended pregnancies or abortion….

Read it all. (H/t Stand Firm)

The Rev. Jesse Jackson on abortion

From the Rev. Jesse Jackson in Right to Life News from January 1977:

…In the abortion debate one of the crucial questions is when does life begin. Anything growing is living. Therefore human life begins when the sperm and egg join and drop into the fallopian tube and the pulsation of life take place. From that point, life may be described differently (as an egg, embryo, fetus, baby, child, teenager, adult), but the essence is the same. The name has changed but the game remains the same.

Human beings cannot give or create life by themselves, it is really a gift from God. Therefore, one does not have the right to take away (through abortion) that which he does not have the ability to give.

Some argue, suppose the woman does not want to have the baby. They say the very fact that she does not want the baby means that the psychological damage to the child is reason enough to abort the baby’. I disagree. The solution to that problem is not to kill the innocent baby, but to deal with her values and her attitude toward life–that which has allowed her not to want the baby. Deal with the attitude that would allow her to take away that which she cannot give.

Some women argue that the man does not have the baby and will not be responsible for the baby after it is born, therefore it is all right to kill the baby. Again the logic is off. The premise is that the man is irresponsible.

If that is the problem, then deal with making him responsible. Deal with what you are dealing with, not with the weak, innocent and unprotected baby. The essence of Jesus’ message dealt with this very problem — the problem of the inner attitude and motivation of a person. “If in your heart . . .” was his central message. The actual abortion (effect) is merely the logical conclusion of a prior attitude (cause) that one has toward life itself. Deal with the cause not merely the effect when abortion is the issue.

Psychiatrists, social workers and doctors often argue for abortion on the basis that the child will grow up mentally and emotionally scared. But who of us is complete? If incompleteness were the criteria for taking life we would all be dead. If you can justify abortion on the basis of emotional incompleteness then your logic could also lead you to killing for other forms of incompleteness — blindness, crippleness, old age….

There are those who argue that the right to privacy is of higher order than the right to life. I do not share that view. I believe that life is not private, but rather it is public and universal. If one accepts the position that life is private, and therefore you have the right to do with it as you please, one must also accept the conclusion of that logic. That was the premise of slavery. You could not protest the existence or treatment of slaves on the plantation because that was private and therefore outside of your right to concerned.

Another area that concerns me greatly, namely because I know how it has been used with regard to race, is the psycholinguistics involved in this whole issue of abortion. If something can be dehumanized through the rhetoric used to describe it, then the major battle has been won. So when American soldiers can drop bombs on Vietnam and melt the faces and hands of children into a hunk of rolling protoplasm and in their minds say they have not maimed or killed a fellow human being, something terribly wrong and sick has gone on in that mind. That is why the Constitution called us three-fifths human and then whites further dehumanized us by calling us “niggers.” It was part of the dehumanizing process. The first step was to distort the image of us as human beings in order to justify that which they wanted to do and not even feel like they had done anything wrong. Those advocates of taking a life prior to birth do not call it killing or murder; they call it abortion. They further never talk about aborting a baby because that would imply something human. Rather they talk about aborting the fetus. Fetus sounds less than human and therefore can be justified.

In conclusion, even if one does take life by aborting the baby, as a minister of Jesus Christ I must also inform and/or remind you that there is a doctrine of forgiveness. The God I serve is a forgiving God. The men who killed President John F. Kennedy and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. can be forgiven. Everyone can come to the mercy seat and find forgiveness and acceptance. But, and this may be the essence of my argument, suppose one is so hard-hearted and so indifferent to life until he assumes that there is nothing for which to be forgiven. What happens to the mind of a person, and the moral fabric of a nation, that accepts the aborting of the life of a baby without a pang of conscience? What kind of a person, and what kind of a society will we have 20 years hence if life can be taken so casually?

And then, Jackson entered politics (as a Democrat). . .and his views, shall we say, evolved accordingly.

Because the Southern Baptists are down for the fight. . .

From the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, a response to Pres. Obama’s non-compromise:

President Obama’s Department of Health and Human Services has issued a requirement that all insurance plans under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), also known as Obamacare, cover free-of-charge certain so-called “contraceptives” that are actually much more than that. Some of the drugs and devices required to be covered will actually cause abortions. The required drugs include Ella and Plan B, which can destroy a developing human being prior to, or even after, implanting in the mother’s womb.

The government requirement also covers IUDs. These devices also prevent fertilized eggs from implanting in the mother’s womb. While some, including the Obama administration, call these contraceptives, they are abortifacients. When a developing human being is expelled by direct human action from the mother’s womb, that is taking a human life—an abortion.

We consider this callous requirement by the Obama administration to be a clear violation of our nation’s commitment to liberty of conscience and a flagrant violation of our constitutional protection to freedom of religion. For many people of faith, this requirement is abhorrent. It forces them to choose between their religious convictions about when human life begins and providing health care for themselves, their families, or their employees. Clearly, the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment protects people from such trampling of their religious convictions….

Also, this outrageously narrow exemption will not protect people of faith in the general population who as a matter of religious conviction do not want to cover as part of their health insurance premiums drugs and devices that cause abortion. The Obama administration’s requirement is an affront to all people who are pro-life. On strictly pro-life grounds, people should not be required to violate their deeply held beliefs about abortion….

The Obama administration’s brazen determination to force all Americans to pay for abortions is an affront to our nation’s core commitment to liberty of conscience. A person who is not free to follow the dictates of his or her moral conscience is not free. Government has no authority to dictate compliance on matters that do such violence to the consciences of a vast segment of the population. The Obama administration has declared war on religion and freedom of conscience. This must not stand. Our Baptist forebears died and went to prison to secure these freedoms. It is now our calling to stand in the gap and defend our priceless First Amendment religious freedoms.

Read it all.

USCCB: White House misrepresents its own contraceptive mandate


There are lots of euphemisms one can use: “mistaken,” “misspoke,” “inaccurate,” “fabricate,” “misrepresent,” “mislead,” etc., but the bottom line is very clear:

To lie (verb):

  • to speak falsely or utter untruth knowingly, as with intent to deceive.
  • to express what is false; convey a false impression.

And that is exactly (and quite rightly) what the USCCB is calling the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) on with the HHS’s inaccurate and false “fact sheet” on the new mandated regulations on contraception:

The Obama administration, to justify its widely criticized mandate for contraception and sterilization coverage in private health plans, has posted a set of false and misleading claims on the White House blog (“Health Reform, Preventive Services, and Religious Institutions,” February 1). In what follows, each White House claim is quoted with a response.

Claim: “Churches are exempt from the new rules: Churches and other houses of worship will be exempt from the requirement to offer insurance that covers contraception.”

Response: This is not entirely true. To be eligible, even churches and houses of worship must show the government that they hire and serve primarily people of their own faith and have the inculcation of religious values as their purpose. Some churches may have service to the broader community as a major focus, for example, by providing direct service to the poor regardless of faith. Such churches would be denied an exemption precisely because their service to the common good is so great. More importantly,the vast array of other religious organizations – schools, hospitals, universities, charitable institutions – will clearly not be exempt.

Claim: “No individual health care provider will be forced to prescribe contraception: The President and this Administration have previously and continue to express strong support for existing conscience protections. For example, no Catholic doctor is forced to write a prescription for contraception.”

Response: It is true that these rules directly apply to employers and insurers, not providers, but this is beside the point: The Administration is forcing individuals and institutions, including religious employers, to sponsor and subsidize what they consider immoral. Less directly, the classification of these drugs and procedures as basic “preventive services” will increase pressures on doctors, nurses and pharmacists to provide them in order to participate in private health plans – and no current federal conscience law prevents that from happening. Finally, because the mandate includes abortifacient drugs, it violates one of the “existing conscience protections” (the Weldon amendment) for which the Administration expresses “strong support.”

Claim: “No individual will be forced to buy or use contraception: This rule only applies to what insurance companies cover. Under this policy, women who want contraception will have access to it through their insurance without paying a co-pay or deductible. But no one will be forced to buy or use contraception.”

Response: The statement that no one will be forced to buy it is false. Women who want contraception will be able to obtain it without co-pay or deductible precisely because women who do not want contraception will be forced to help pay for it through their premiums. This mandate passes costs from those who want the service, to those who object to it.

Claim: “Drugs that cause abortion are not covered by this policy: Drugs like RU486 are not covered by this policy, and nothing about this policy changes the President’s firm commitment to maintaining strict limitations on Federal funding for abortions. No Federal tax dollars are used for elective abortions.”

Response: False. The policy already requires coverage of Ulipristal (HRP 2000 or “Ella”), a drug that is a close analogue to RU-486 (mifepristone) and has the same effects. RU-486 itself is also being tested for possible use as an “emergency contraceptive” – and if the FDA approves it for that purpose, it will automatically be mandated as well.

Claim: “Over half of Americans already live in the 28 States that require insurance companies cover contraception: Several of these States like North Carolina, New York, and California have identical religious employer exemptions. Some States like Colorado, Georgia and Wisconsin have no exemption at all.”

Response: This misleads by ignoring important facts, and some of it is simply false. All the state mandates, even those without religious exemptions, may be avoided by self-insuring prescription drug coverage, by dropping that particular coverage altogether, or by taking refuge in a federal law that pre-empts any state mandates (ERISA). None of these havens is available under the federal mandate. It is also false to claim that North Carolina has an identical exemption. It is broader: It does not require a religious organization to serve primarily people of its own faith, or to fulfill the federal rule’s narrow tax code criterion. Moreover, the North Carolina law, unlike the federal mandate, completely excludes abortifacient drugs like Ella and RU-486 as well as “emergency contraceptives” like Preven.

Claim: “Contraception is used by most women: According to a study by the Guttmacher Institute, most women, including 98 percent of Catholic women, have used contraception.”

Response: This is irrelevant, and it is presented in a misleading way. If a survey found that 98% of people had lied, cheated on their taxes, or had sex outside of marriage, would the government claim it can force everyone to do so?…

Claim: “Contraception coverage reduces costs: While the monthly cost of contraception for women ranges from $30 to $50, insurers and experts agree that savings more than offset the cost. The National Business Group on Health estimated that it would cost employers 15 to 17 percent more not to provide contraceptive coverage than to provide such coverage, after accounting for both the direct medical costs of potentially unintended and unhealthy pregnancy and indirect costs such as employee absence and reduced productivity.”

Response: The government is violating our religious freedom to save money? If the claim is true it is hard to say there is a need for a mandate: Secular insurers and employers who don’t object will want to purchase the coverage to save money, and those who object can leave it alone….

Claim: “The Obama Administration is committed to both respecting religious beliefs and increasing access to important preventive services. And as we move forward, our strong partnerships with religious organizations will continue.”

Response: False. There is no “balance” in the final HHS rule—one side has prevailed entirely, as the mandate and exemption remain entirely unchanged from August 2011, despite many thousands of comments filed since then indicating intense opposition. Indeed, the White House Press Secretary declared on January 31, “I don’t believe there are any constitutional rights issues here,” so little was placed on that side of the scale. The Administration’s stance on religious liberty has also been shown in other ways. Recently it argued before the Supreme Court that religious organizations have no greater right under the First Amendment to hire or fire their own ministers than secular organizations have over their leaders– a claim that was unanimously rejected by the Supreme Court as “extreme” and “untenable.” The Administration recently denied a human trafficking grant to a Catholic service provider with high objective scores, and gave part of that grant instead to a provider with not just lower, but failing, objective scores, all because the Catholic provider refused in conscience to compromise the same moral and religious beliefs at issue here. Such action violates not only federal conscience laws, but President Obama’s executive order assuring “faith-based” organizations that they will be able to serve the public in federal programs without compromising their faith.

Check it out.

And here come the Orthodox

A response to the HHS mandated regulations by the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of North and Central America:

The Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of North and Central America, which is comprised of the 65 canonical Orthodox bishops in the United States, Canada and Mexico, join their voices with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and all those who adamantly protest the recent decision by the United States Department of Health and Human Services, and call upon all the Orthodox Christian faithful to contact their elected representatives today to voice their concern in the face of this threat to the sanctity of the Church’s conscience.

In this ruling by HHS, religious hospitals, educational institutions, and other organizations will be required to pay for the full cost of contraceptives (including some abortion-inducing drugs) and sterilizations for their employees, regardless of the religious convictions of the employers.

The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution guarantees the free exercise of religion. This freedom is transgressed when a religious institution is required to pay for “contraceptive services” including abortion-inducing drugs and sterilization services that directly violate their religious convictions. Providing such services should not be regarded as mandated medical care….

Read it all.

Susan G. Komen: does she or doesn’t she?

Okay, this has gotten incredibly confusing–full of conflicting stories and vague press releases, so at this point, for me, I’m requesting a refund of the donation I sent the Susan G. Komen Foundation and will wait this out.

Here are some links–see if you can make sense of it all:

CatholicVote.org may be right in that this is not a complete reversal of their decision to stop funding Planned Parenthood by Susan G. Komen. All I know is that the MSM is sure reporting it as if it were–celebrations galore that PP is getting more Komen money. This will teach me to contribute to an organization before I really know what they’re doing.

No discussion, no reconsideration, no reason

With the debate about freedom of religion and mandated HHS regulations on birth control coverage, we shouldn’t overlook other significant issues with this set of regulations:

  • Pregnancy is not a disease.
  • Why is it the responsibility of U.S. taxpayers to provide free birth control to women?
  • Insurance companies already offer policies that cover birth control, contraception, and pregnancies. Why the determination by the administration to make it mandatory for every policy to include this coverage at no cost?

From the Wall Street Journal:

…The new rule, released nearly two weeks ago, will make nearly all health plans cover women’s preventive services, including FDA-approved forms of contraception, without co-pays or deductibles. Catholic hospitals, schools and charities had hoped to get an exemption on the grounds that the Catholic Church opposes the use of most forms of birth control. The rule, however, allows only a few religious employers — mostly places of worship – to opt out of the requirement and says that other faith-based employers have until August 2013 to comply.

A senior administration official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told reporters Thursday that there were no plans to reconsider the decision and repeated statements made by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius that the rule struck “the appropriate balance between respecting religious freedom and increasing access to important preventive services.”

The call came only a few minutes after House Speaker John Boehner also weighed in on the controversy, saying that he believed the administration should think again.

As The Wall Street Journal has reported, the rule has been criticized by Catholic leaders and Republican presidential candidates, who have said it suggests the Obama administration is trying to undermine religious liberty. (Read more about that here and here.)…

Read it all.

Support Belmont Abbey College against the mandated HHS regulations

Belmont Abbey College

Already in front of the mandated HHS regulations issue (remember, these regulations were issued this past August to take affect in one year), Belmont Abbey College in North Carolina, working with the Becket Fund, filed suit against the federal government (specifically HHS) on November 10, 2011, to protect their First Amendment and federal statutory rights to be free from what they consider a “government-imposed substantial burden on its religious freedom.” From the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty:

…So in August 2011, when the federal government issued a regulation requiring that all group health plans must cover “[FDA-]approved contraceptive methods, sterilization procedures, and patient education and counseling for all women with reproductive capacity,” Belmont Abbey knew it could not be true to both the government mandate and its Church’s teachings.  This is so because FDA-approved contraceptives include a number of drugs Belmont Abbey, and many scientists, consider to be abortifacients—most notably Plan B and Ella.  Were Belmont Abbey to choose not to cover contraception and sterilization as required by the government mandate, it would be penalized with a hefty fine and forced to terminate its health insurance for employees and students. For example, a religious organization with 100 employees would have to pay the federal government $140,000 per year for the “privilege” of not underwriting medical services it believes are immoral. In other words, Belmont Abbey would be forced to pay for the right to remain true to its principles!…

Belmont Abbey’s only recourse is to sue the federal government and ask the court to protect its First Amendment and federal statutory rights from this substantial burden by the federal government.

Check it out, and check out the Becket Fund’s FAQs on the case. If you’re able, donate to Belmont Abbey:

“A monk at Belmont Abbey may preach on Sunday that pre-marital sex, contraception, and abortions are immoral, but on Monday, the government would force the same monk to pay for students to receive the very drugs and procedures he denounces,” said Hannah Smith, Senior Legal Counsel at the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty. “This is much worse than an un-funded mandate; it is a monk-funded mandate.”

After cutting ties with Planned Parenthood, Komen donations up 100 percent

Well, good. From the Daily Caller:

In the wake of this week’s announcement that Susan G. Komen for the Cure will no longer be awarding grants to Planned Parenthood, the breast cancer organization’s donations have gone up 100 percent in the last two days.

On a Thursday conference call Nancy Brinker, the founder and CEO of the Komen Foundation, told reporters that the organization is “singularly focused” on combating breast cancer, and that the politics of the decision to stop funding Planned Parenthood has been distracting from their mission.

Nevertheless, since cutting ties, Brinker announced that Komen’s donations have gone up in the last two days — by 100 percent.

“Our donations are up 100 percent in the past two days. With all of the emotion around these issues — which we understand, we get emotional too, we do this every single day of our lives,” Brinker said, explaining that they do not make decisions to be popular, they make them to fight cancer….

Read it all.

Stand Firm: Three ways Christians rationalize voting for pro-abortion candidates

Interesting post by Matt Kennedy+ and comment discussion going on at Stand Firm on whether Christians can/should/ought to vote for any candidate who supports abortion, no matter their position on other issues:

I’ve been engaged in a number of conversations lately with Christians—some of them well known orthodox Anglican thinkers and leaders—trying to justify their support for pro-abortion politicians and candidates. In almost every exchange I’ve run into slightly different forms of the same three arguments.

The first goes something like this: “I agree that abortion is wrong but we cannot legislate moral choices. Instead, why don’t we simply focus on preaching the gospel. Only changed hearts will bring about a changed culture.”

The logic behind this rationalization is stunningly bad—so bad it’s hard to answer without a tinge of incredulity and exasperation. But here’s a paraphrased summary of my most common response: Right you are about changed hearts. But why the false dichotomy? One might as well say: “I agree that killing toddlers is wrong, but we cannot legislate moral choices.” Sure we can and we must. Not only do we proclaim the gospel and pray that God’s grace will change hearts and change the culture but we also put laws on the books that prevent people from killing their children.

Both/and not either/or.

The second rationalization employs logic every bit as bad if not worse than the first but a little more subtle. It goes something like this:…

Check it out.

Ace nails it

From Ace commenting on Michael Gerson’s piece in the Washington Post on the new HHS mandated regulations–excellent as usual: Radical: For No Reason Except To Punish Cultures He Abhors, Obama Mandates That Catholic Organizations Must Now Pay for Abortions for Their Workers:

…I don’t know what to say except the arrogance is breath-taking. Obama doesn’t understand the point of government.

The point of government is to run an orderly house in which a great many people may live together in relative harmony despite sharply disagreeing with each other on many things.

A hotelier, if his goal is to just run a successful hotel, should not care very much if some rooms are rented by Jews, and some by Catholics, and some by atheists; and some by families, and some by pairs of cheatin’ spouses.

Only if the hotelier puts his own moralism over the business would he attempt to force his guests to live by his specific rules of life.

Obama is a moralist, and an arrogant one. For all the talk of Christians being rigid moralists, the dirty little secret is that the left is far more rigidly, arrogantly moralistic, and it is cheerleaded by our cultural institutions (media, academia) rather than pushed back against, so its arrogance is encouraged.

Obama is pushing, very hard, a rigid moral system, and attempting to “shove it down the throats” of people who do not seek nor need his moral instruction.

It just happens to be that his code of morality is an unconventional one, borne not in the first century but in the twentieth, and which, when taken to extremes, has included conceptions of sexuality which are essentially Satanic in their license.

Can he make a little space for those who do not rush to embrace his Madonna Moralism?

No. For to do so would be to confess doubt about the Moral Scheme he has in mind for people; it would signal that he’s not utterly certain of his own moral beliefs.

And few on the political left have any sense of modesty about any of their culture-changing schemes….

Read it all.