Aug 26

Like an earthquake, they keep coming, and keep fraying nerves and alerting people to pay attention.

They’re paying attention. Nationwide rallies were held last weekend to rattle the consciences of Planned Parenthood workers, and everyone else complicit in dealing in killing babies and dealing in selling their body parts. A California Planned Parenthood security guard quit over the realization of “the atrocities” happening in the clinics. While most of the media ignored the story or barely mentioned it, the video revelations have had major consequences. They can always and quickly be found here.

The Washington Post reported on the rallies at more than half of the country’s Planned Parenthood clinics, though written in different language.

Thousands of antiabortion [pro-life] activists descended upon Planned Parenthood clinics on Saturday to participate in a nationwide protest aimed at cutting off federal funding for the controversial health-care organization.

Why should the abortion giant receive taxpayer dollars when they make a huge profit from abortion and now we know they continue to profit from selling baby body parts? If that’s not controversial, nothing is.

The demonstrations unfolded at about 320 clinics around the nation, according to organizers, with some gatherings drawing a few dozen protesters and others drawing hundreds and perhaps thousands more.

They’re calling for investigations. (Warning: Raw reading here.)

On Monday, August 24, Live Action and Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) sent a letter to California’s top government officials. The letter described the likely illegal actions of Planned Parenthood and StemExpress, as recorded in the Center for Medical Progress’ seventh video.

The video recorded the testimony of Holly O’Donnell, a StemExpress whistleblower who detailed her experience working for StemExpress in the San Jose Planned Parenthood clinic. O’Donnell was instructed by her supervisor to use scissors to cut open the face of a baby boy to harvest its brain. After an attempted abortion, this baby boy was born alive, as evidenced by his beating heart. Nevertheless, the boy was not provided with the medical care required under law. Instead, he was killed, after being born alive.

(More on that latest video here.) States are being petitioned to investigate. When Congress reconvenes, they will too.

Live Action and ADF assert that Planned Parenthood needs to be immediately defunded, as its barbaric, unethical conduct does not deserve one more cent of taxpayer money – especially since approximately 13,000 health centers stand ready to serve the real healthcare needs of women around the nation.

ADF Senior Counsel Mike Norton pointed out:

No organization that traffics in the hearts, lungs, heads, and livers of unborn babies is entitled to taxpayer dollars. The only thing it’s entitled to is a federal and state investigation. Taxpayer money should fund local community health centers, not a scandal-plagued billion-dollar corporation. Thousands of community health centers can be trusted with our hard-earned money, while Planned Parenthood has proven for decades that it can’t be trusted.

At National Review Online, Kathryn Jean Lopez and other writers and contributors have been covering that part of the story extraordinarily well, saying the weekend rallies were protesting inhumanity.

This is an opportunity. We all find this disturbing, right? Even Hillary Clinton said so. So lets do better. Four decades into Roe, this is where we are. Let’s end this. No late-term abortions. No supply and demand for aborted body parts. No sending our loved ones to clinics that kill. Encourage, support, demand something better.

And she follows that with examples of “something better“.

“Women need to know they have a choice.” They don’t have to go to an abortion clinic to verify their pregnancy, she says, and she adds, “We’re free. And we give women what they want and what they need.” Fundamentally, if a woman Googles “pregnancy testing” and comes up with Avail, she has found a place that will give her “time” and “space” to think through her decision. If she is asked some strategic questions, Bishai explains, her “values” are likely to rise to the surface. Avail works to be “the safest place for making decisions,” as its staff provide a listening ear and “holistic” support. Avail wants a woman to be able to carry her baby to term if that is her decision. Women’s empowerment is very much in the air here.

And here.

The legislation that would defund Planned Parenthood instantly makes that money available “to other eligible entities to provide such women’s health care services” — entities like community health centers, or CHCs.

As a former medical director and family physician at two different community health centers in the Washington, D.C., area, I understand women’s health-care needs, especially those of the poor and underserved. I have witnessed firsthand how CHC medical professionals and staff provide comprehensive health care for women, as well as for men and children of all ages, including those yet to be born…

For all these needs and more, CHCs are there. Today, they serve the primary health-care needs of 23 million patients in over 9,000 locations across America. That’s about nine times more than the 2.7 million women and men Planned Parenthood serves at its 700 health centers. And CHCs provide all kinds of health care, including everything that Planned Parenthood does and then some — except abortions. For example, as a family physician, I cared for women whether they were seeking prenatal care or wanted to postpone pregnancy. I provided the full range of preventive health services and helped patients manage chronic diseases, such as diabetes and high blood pressure. I also cared for children from their very first newborn visit to their school physicals and visits for acute and chronic illnesses. My colleagues and I cared for adults of all ages, addressing their physical and mental-health needs.

This is where the funding needs to be, and the publicity. Read the whole piece, it’s written by a doctor in the trenches.

I’m proud to be a family physician and to have had the privilege of working at CHCs providing truly life-saving care for women and men of all ages. With more funding, CHCs could do even more to expand access to comprehensive health care. Rather than give federal dollars to Planned Parenthood — an organization tainted not only by abortion but now also by its unethical and possibly illegal trade in human body parts — let’s give the money to CHCs, which can truly care for the full range of women’s health-care needs.

This is what people really want, and they need to know where to find it and where to avoid dangerous traps. It’s becoming clearer. Before Congress is even back in session, there will be much more information pouring out. People are engaged. It’s about time.

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Aug 09

Defenders can keep deflecting attention from the truth. But now we know.

The White House won’t comment on what they claim no one there has seen.

The president commented on the “atrocity” of killing humans and harvesting their body parts. In another context, on another continent. But the ethic is consistent, right?

No. This is what he said in Africa:

“Young people, you can lead the way and set a good example. But it requires some courage because the old thinking, people will push back at you and if you don’t have convictions and courage to be able stand up for what you think is right, then cruelty will perpetuate itself,” he said. He added, “If there’s one thing I want YALI leaders to come out with, it’s the notion of you are strong by taking care of the people who are vulnerable, by looking after the minority, looking after the disabled, looking after the vulnerable. You’re not strong by putting people down you’re strong by lifting them up. That’s the measure of a leader.”

But with the ongoing release of videos from Planned Parenthood clinics and in other setting with Planned Parenthood officials revealing the cruelty of abortion perpetuating itself in that industry and profiting from harvesting body parts of the most vulnerable human beings, the Obama administration was already in the process of investigating…the group releasing the videos of vulnerable human life being slaughtered, dismembered and sold with price tags for different body parts.

There’s no defending this anymore. It’s time to defund.

Planned Parenthood is in full damage control mode. It is working on impugning the credibility of pro-life undercover investigators from the Center for Medical Progress who…released another video on the abortion provider’s barbaric practices.

It is also defending the technical legality of its practice of harvesting organs for a fee during abortions, deploying its allies in the media and the White House, and seeking desperately to restore its carefully constructed and ferociously defended image as an organization primarily focused on women’s health, and only secondarily involved in providing abortions.

But the edifice is cracked and no amount of attacking the messenger or hair-splitting legal argument can change the fact that Planned Parenthood’s own medical directors have unwittingly offered rare and much-needed clarity about the nature of the business that Planned Parenthood has chosen, and shared (if inadvertently) the truth about precisely whose lives are destroyed as a result…

The being killed by Planned Parenthood’s abortionists is a human being, albeit at the earliest and most vulnerable stage of her life. Indeed, her organs are valuable to others precisely (and only) because they come from a human being.

Crushing human bodies. Evacuating human skulls. Harvesting human vital organs for a fee. This is what Planned Parenthood does. This is its business.

And business is booming. Planned Parenthood is the largest abortion provider in the world.

It’s about time this central, major point is made clearly.

The American people should be thankful for Dr. Nucatola’s and Gatter’s words [in video revelations], and even for the coarse and graphic manner in which they were delivered.

In doing so, they offered a rare glimpse of the horrible truth about the nature and human cost of Planned Parenthood’s work. Thanks to them, Planned Parenthood’s slick corporate image as merely an altruistic defender of women’s health is shattered. Having its true face revealed, the path forward is clear. No minimally decent society can support an organization whose business is killing and harvesting body parts for money. Defund Planned Parenthood now.

Because of the videos and the turning point they provide in the abortion debate, the subject came up in the GOP debate last Thursday, both abortion and defunding Planned Parenthood. It likely won’t when Democrats debate in October for the first time.

But Democratic commentator Kirsten Powers took it to the Democrats now.

Democrats like to talk about the importance of being on the “right side of history.” This phrase was invoked frequently during the same-sex marriage debate. Yet when faced with a series of videos detailing grotesque human rights abuses against unborn children by Planned Parenthood Federation of America doctors, Democratic Party forces have eschewed all concern for historical or moral rightness.

Pope Francis has correctly described the unborn as “the most defenseless and innocent among us.” But in the sordid tale of strategic crushing of the unborn to better harvest their hearts, lungs and livers, many Democrats have incredibly cast an organization with a roughly $1.3 billion annual budget in the role of the innocent and defenseless. Hillary Clinton emerged as Planned Parenthood’s highest profile protector Monday, decrying the “assault” against her allegedly helpless campaign donors.

The Democratic Party shilling for barbarism — whether by politicians, liberal media outlets, union officials or unrestricted abortion advocates — is not likely to be viewed favorably by future generations. These Democrats will be remembered for demonizing the activists who lifted the veil on a previously sanitized process and for seeking restraining orders to silence truth tellers. They will be remembered for publishing dehumanizing decrees — as The New Republic did — that people stop criticizing Planned Parenthood because as a medical matter, “The term baby … doesn’t apply until birth” (that thing on your sonogram is nothing more than a “product[] of conception.”) And they will be remembered for demanding investigations into citizen journalists for meticulously exposing atrocities in our midst.

I don’t use the word atrocity lightly.

Watching the videos exposing Planned Parenthood’s practice of dickering over the body parts of unborn humans, one is immediately struck by the age of the “fetuses,” to use the medical term for what parents-to-be and their gynecologists still call a “baby,” lectures from The New Republic notwithstanding.

What a refreshing blast of clarity Powers provides, when few other Democrats are willing to comment on the stunning revelations of the abortion industry profiteering on baby body parts.

[Planned Parenthood Senior Director of Medical Services Dr. Deborah] Nucatola noted that one-quarter of Planned Parenthood of Los Angeles abortions occur in the second trimester (3,000 out of 12,000, she said).

Did you get that? Nucatola appears to be saying that three thousand second trimester abortions occur every year in just one Planned Parenthood region. In another video, Dr. Savita Ginde, identified as Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains’ Vice President and Medical Director, explains: “We’re doing procedures at seventeen weeks, so we have fairly large identifiable [body] parts.” She then discusses the need to train abortion doctors so they don’t crush the desirable organs of these four-and-a-half-month old fetuses.

Guess who supports second trimester abortions, barring extreme extenuating circumstances? Almost nobody.

The edifice is cracked and crumbling fast. Hopefully, the sham is over.

“Even the most pro-choice people aren’t sold on abortion rights beyond the first trimester.”

This was the general position even prior to the release of videos demonstrating the harsh reality of such abortions. Following the meeting with Dr. Ginde, the undercover video makers are taken to a Planned Parenthood pathology lab where a medical assistant called “Jess” picks at an aborted fetus. “I just want to see another leg, with a foot,” she says. Ginde chimes in: “Here’s the heart.” At one point Dr. Ginde inexplicably murmurs: “It’s a baby.”

Even the abortionist can see it’s a baby. So what’s wrong with the Democratic Party?

While we’re waiting for an answer, the latest video is analyzed here, with a Planned Parenthood Director of Research referring to babies bodies and body parts as “line items” in the abortion calculus.

Latest video, that is, until the next one drops. Which should be any day now.

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Aug 04

Oh, what a tangled web we weave, when first we practise to deceive!”

Whatever one thinks of Walter Scott’s 19th Century epic poem perhaps best remembered by that line, you have to give him and his writing credit for pithy insight.

Enduring insight, given the politics of our time. Take this Wall Street Journal column by William McGurn, for instance.

‘When the science is inconvenient, when the facts don’t match up with the ideology, they are cast aside.”

So charged Sen. Barack Obama in a Planned Parenthood speech in 2007. The line was a dig at George W. Bush for his approach to abortion and reproductive rights. Eighteen months later, the new president repeated his snipe in his inaugural vow to “restore science to its rightful place.”

Today President Obama is the one finding the science inconvenient. In the past, the president hasn’t hesitated to weigh in on other controversies while they were in progress—from an altercation between a black Harvard professor and a local white cop to more recent comments about the rape allegations against Bill Cosby. Suddenly, however, he has nothing to say about two [now five] secretly recorded videos that include one Planned Parenthood doctor talking about a “less crunchy” abortion technique that would leave fetal organs intact for harvesting.

Nothing.

Then again, for all Mr. Obama’s talk about restoring science to its proper place, his promises made clear that, if elected, he would not only be the first African-American president but have a good claim to be deemed as the first Planned Parenthood POTUS as well. The price was jettisoning the soothing Bill Clinton language—“safe, legal and rare”—for a more militant approach in which no abortion is beyond the pale.

In the process, President Obama has had to overlook the contradictory approach to science among his own allies. Take sonograms, or ultrasounds. In the first video, Planned Parenthood’s Dr. Deborah Nucatola describes using ultrasound to help those doing the abortion “know where they are putting their forceps.”

On “Fox News Sunday” last weekend, Carly Fiorina underscored the contradiction. Planned Parenthood lobbies against laws requiring women to have an “opportunity to look at an ultrasound before she makes an incredibly difficult choice to end the unborn life within her,” said the Republican hopeful. “And yet they are using that same technology to harvest body parts.”

Just follow the logic. And the story line.

At other times when the facts don’t match up with his ideology, Mr. Obama retreats to silence. In 2013, when Kermit Gosnell’s abortion horrors were before the American people, Mr. Obama’s then-spokesman Jay Carney told reporters the president couldn’t comment on an ongoing trial.

The reporter pressed for an answer, noting that the president’s position had special relevance for this case. As an Illinois state senator, he pointed out, Mr. Obama had opposed a bill that would have provided medical care “to babies who would be born after a botched abortion” like those that Dr. Gosnell was accused of killing.

That’s worth pausing on for a moment, since it was so overlooked during both election cycles. This was all foreseeable, for those who paid attention.

Two weeks after that White House news conference, Mr. Obama made history as the first sitting president to address Planned Parenthood. Two weeks later, Dr. Gosnell was convicted of murdering three babies. Still, the president has said nothing.

Now we have two Planned Parenthood docs on film [and five videos so far] talking about the value of human organs in a fetus whose humanity they would deny. In private the euphemisms disappear. “When they talk to the public or to women about to get an abortion they talk about ‘tissue,’ ” says Charmaine Yoest of Americans United for Life. “But when they talk to someone buying body parts, it’s about intact hearts, livers and lungs.”

Tuesday, the WSJ Opinion page carried this response from Gail Finke.

William McGurn’s “The Political ‘Science’ of Planned Parenthood”… about President Obama’s sudden ignorance of science when it comes to abortion doesn’t go far enough.

Abortion advocates say that a fetus is a baby only if the mother wants it to be. A woman is 10 weeks pregnant with a baby if she wants to be a mother; another woman whose “fetus” is exactly the same age but who doesn’t want to have a baby can pay a doctor to “evacuate” the “products of conception.” If four embryos are created in one round of in vitro fertilization and two are implanted in a woman’s uterus, they are much-wanted children. The other two, their biological siblings, are nothing more than “extra embryos” that can be frozen or otherwise disposed.

The only difference between the thing being discussed (the person being discussed) is what the woman wants. You can call that many things, but one thing you can’t call it is science.

The tangled web is unraveling.

The fifth video was released Tuesday, involving negotiation of harvesting and selling body parts of five month old babies. More on that in the next post…

Mollie Hemingway lays out the different major strands of this sequential eruption of truth that is happening beyond the reach or control of the power elite who have controlled the message for so many years now, until now. She tells you that Planned Parenthood sought and got a temporary restraining order against the release of more videos, but that the injunction was not constitutional. Two more videos have been released since then.

She reports that Planned Parenthood hired a crisis communications firm to help manage its public relations crisis. The background is interesting.

There’s the suspicious claim that Planned Parenthood was hacked  in “an attack by extremists”, an intriguing account Hemingway unravels.

And the diminished attention major media outlets have given this major story.

The reaction last week by Hillary Clinton is very interesting, and Hemingway notes that, along with the link to Clinton’s interview with the New Hampshire Union Leader piece in which the Democratic front runner for the presidency called the videos “disturbing”. But since I first read that piece last week, it has been updated to read differently, giving Planned Parenthood a good deal of cover.

“Planned Parenthood is answering questions and will continue to answer questions.

(No, they’re really not.)

I think there are two points to make,” Clinton said. “One, Planned Parenthood for more than a century has done a lot of really good work for women: cancer screenings, family planning, all kinds of health services.

(Another myth. “In 2013, abortions made up 94% of Planned Parenthood’s pregnancy services, while prenatal care and adoption referrals accounted for only 5% (18,684) and 0.5% (1,880), respectively”, according to study findings by the Susan B. Anthony List.)

Hemingway continues on Hillary Clinton’s remarks:

And this [video series] raises not questions about Planned Parenthood so much as it raises questions about the whole process, that is, not just involving Planned Parenthood, but many institutions in our country.”

(Actually, the video series is about Planned Parenthood’s practices in our country.)

“And if there’s going to be any kind of congressional inquiry, it should look at everything and not just one part of it,” she said.

How about both/and. It indeed should look at everything in the abortion industry and ideology and the whole abortion culture. And it should look at Planned Parenthood’s harvesting and marketing of baby body parts in particular, and whether that breaks the law, as some of the videos seem to reveal. Like the latest one.

Captured on video is Planned Parenthod Gulf Coast Director of Research Melissa Farrell discussing with a potential buyer about the best way to harvest organs from aborted babies. Farrell states at 8:05 in the video that at Planned Parenthood, “if we alter our process, we are able to obtain intact fetal cadavers.” She also notes that they are willing to modify the abortion procedure to collect body parts, saying, “We deviate from our standard in order to do that.” Modifying an abortion procedure to obtain organs is prohibited under federal law.

And let’s put that claim of screenings, at least mammograms (number 10 in Hemingway’s piece), to rest finally.

No…97 percent of Planned Parenthood’s work is not mammograms. In fact, zero percent of Planned Parenthood’s work is mammograms because Planned Parenthood doesn’t do a single mammogram. Planned Parenthood falsely made the claim that they did during their campaign to shame the Komen Foundation into continuing to fund them, and some media asserted it as well. President Obama has regularly made the claim during his War on Women messaging.

The only problem is that it’s just not true. From a Washington Post fact check a few years ago:

“The problem here is that Planned Parenthood does not perform mammograms or even possess the necessary equipment to do so.”

So let’s get to the truth. And stop the deceptions.

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Aug 02

Read it and weep.

The simpler, clearer version of what’s going on in the abortion industry all this time.

If you haven’t watched the damning videos of Planned Parenthood officials discussing fetal tissue donation (or, in plain language, exchanging aborted babies’ body parts for money), you should watch them now before you read further.

The first alarming question is whether Planned Parenthood illegally sells aborted fetuses’ organs and tissue. This is what Planned Parenthood and its defenders have repeatedly focused on, insisting that they are compliant with all laws.

But it is what precedes that “fetal tissue donation” that needs attention. Specifically, does Planned Parenthood regularly flout the federal ban on partial-birth abortion using loopholes? How do they get away with this? Do their patients—the women who apparently choose to donate the “fetal tissue”—know what’s going on in explicit terms?

Good questions. Let’s be clear about what’s really going on in abortion clinics, behind the sterile terminology and semantic gymnastics.

Many Americans may not know that the term “partial-birth abortion” is not a medical one but a legal one. And, according to Planned Parenthood doctor Deborah Nucatola, some abortion providers don’t consider it with any seriousness. In her own words, “It’s not a medical term, it doesn’t exist in reality.” What?

It’s clear Nucatola thinks the law is irrelevant—or, as she says, up for “interpretation.” She explains how abortion providers get around the law by injecting a fatal quantity of digoxin, a cardiotoxic drug, into the baby’s heart before dismembering or delivering it.

As hard as those videos are to watch, this is hard to read. Read on.

She explains: “Providers who use digoxin use it for one of two reasons. There’s a group of people who just use it so they have no risk of violating the Federal Abortion Ban. Because if you induce a demise before the procedure, nobody’s going to say you did a ‘live’—whatever the federal government calls it. Partial-birth abortion.” The second reason providers use it is “because they actually think it makes the tissue softer and it makes it safer and easier to do the procedure.” She counts herself in the second group.

So, if you “dig,” you’re guaranteed a dead baby and a successful abortion without having to worry about the law. Moreover, you’ll find that a baby that has already died from a heart attack is apparently “softer” and easier to pull apart with metal instruments.

We are talking about a human life here. In each and every case. The sheer lack of recognition of that basic fact in this kind of discussion about these kinds of procedures takes the breath away.

And it gets worse. When you follow the ‘abortion logic’ explained here. As horrible as the thought, language, and reality is of ‘crushing’ parts of a baby above and below valuable organs, this is the reality, for selling body parts. I can’t believe we’re at this point…

These babies are being strategically maneuvered, crushed, and dismembered under ultrasound guidance—while still alive.

This poses an ethical question. Do the women consenting to fetal-tissue donation understand what’s happening during the procedure? Do they know that their babies are alive at the start of the butchering? A 2001 study showed that 91 percent of women in the study “preferred their fetuses were dead before the abortions.” How “informed” is their informed consent?

It also poses a legal question. Is Planned Parenthood breaking the law—whether in its procedures for “donating” fetal tissue or by altering abortion methods—in order to get better specimens? If so, stripping it of federal funding would be a half-measure.

If Planned Parenthood is not breaking the law, then we need to change the law.

Full stop.

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Jul 31

Abortion clinic toll includes the living.

What happened to Planned Parenthood workers to deaden their sensibilities about human life? Chicago Tribune columnist John Kass wrote this piece after the first of now four videos, some terribly graphic, that reveal the abortion industry giant’s business practice of marketing baby body parts.

When we think of evil, we think of something violent or demonic, something filled with hatred and wretchedly hungry to devour the good.

But what if evil eats a salad at lunch and is polite, speaking rationally with nice table manners?

I’ve just seen a video where evil casually spears lettuce on a fork and calmly, scientifically, discusses the market for the body parts of aborted fetuses, while sipping a glass of wine.

“I’d say a lot of people want liver,” Dr. Deborah Nucatola, senior medical director for Planned Parenthood, says in the video…

This absolutely horrific video was recorded last year by investigators from the Center for Medical Progress, a California-based group that is opposed to abortion.

They allege that federally subsidized Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion provider and abortion rights advocate, is illegally selling body parts in violation of the law. The group said it plans to release other video in coming days.

They have. There are now four available for viewing, all over the internet. Like here.

John Kass characteristically spoke from the heart, and said what so many Americans have said, on every social media platform they have, after these videos started coming out.

What’s chilling is the absolute calmness in her voice.

I’m certain Dr. Nucatola — enjoying a nice lunch of salad and red wine and discussing organ harvests of the unborn — doesn’t consider herself to be evil. Perhaps you don’t either.

But I do. I have no other way to see it…

You’re free to go online and see for yourself. You might see things differently. But the way I see it, the way I hear it, is that this is the way evil works best, not as a growling beast crouching in the darkness, but in a rational, scientific voice. It is the way it’s always worked, the way it worked years ago, the way it works now…

Conservatives are publicly angry, but liberals haven’t handled this well at all. Some have argued for a more strident defense of Planned Parenthood’s organ policy. It’s obvious that they’d like a good dose of righteous moral indignation. But how do you invoke morality to defend this?

The left has recently celebrated Roman Catholic Pope Francis, who shares their position on global warming. They’ve used the pope as a cudgel in political debate, to mock those who think “climate change” is little more than a slogan for big government and redistribution of wealth.

So here’s my suggestion: Why doesn’t the left call the Vatican and ask Pope Francis to weigh in on this one? Ask him when life begins, and if there’s any morality in harvesting the organs of fetuses for research.

One evolving argument of Planned Parenthood, parroted by their media and political advocates, is that if no profit is made, then it is legal to sell the parts for research, since payment goes to defray expenses in transportation of the fetal organs and other costs.

But who cares if it’s legal? I don’t care if it’s legal. Slavery was legal once too, and not just in America, but just about every other country in the world. The powerful have always legalized their subjugation of the less powerful. And in our the modern world, there is nothing less powerful than life in the womb.

 

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Jun 25

That’s how the Wall Street Journal described the second Supreme Court ruling to uphold the Affordable Care Act, as written.

Which is precisely what was at the heart of the case before the justices yet again, what the AFA said. Here’s the later version of the WSJ story, though the news alert that dropped into my inbox said this in opening summary:

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled the Obama administration can continue to subsidize health-insurance purchases by lower-income Americans across the country, a decision that preserves a centerpiece of the Affordable Care Act.

The ruling marks the second time President Barack Obama’s signature domestic policy achievement has survived a near-death experience in the courts, and leaves the law on a firmer footing for the remainder of his time in office.

And thus

rescuing for the second time the most ambitious social program in nearly 50 years and ensuring that the law’s ultimate fate will be in the hands of the political process.

Which nearly everything is, these days. In the hands of the political process, that is. Except for those matters  in the hands of the judiciary, though that wing has long been bending in the direction of the prevailing political winds.

As usual, there’s a lot of coverage out there, something to fit any viewpoint. Though I’m a legal and policy wonk, my angle is of a purist, how carefully we adhere to the truth and meaning of language of law, policy, and everything else from political promises to social realities, scientific statements to biomedical facts, faith claims to gospel teachings, and all things as they uphold human dignity.

So the key issue for me is how words were so central to this case and final ruling. Leaving aside the specifics of the AFA, otherwise known as Obamacare, I believe everyone deserves health care. How that is best delivered is debatable. Interestingly, two allegedly conservative justices, Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Antonin Scalia, differed widely (and wildly) in their views of how to handle the Obamacare wording and challenge to it. And the wording of the opinion and dissent.

The WSJ reports:

The 6-3 ruling, written by Chief Justice John Roberts, upheld a signature achievement of President Barack Obama’s tenure. In buttressing the health law’s legal foundation it raised the odds that it may become as entrenched as Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

The case turned on wording, as the WSJ and any other responsible media reported, no matter how else they reported it. In particular, four words: “established by the State”.

Carrie Severino explains at NRO:

On the Chief’s appeal to context, Scalia points out that context “is a tool for understanding the terms of the law, not an excuse for rewriting them.” But, as Scalia explains, the Chief’s opinion does not merely redefine the words “established by the State,” it effectively deletes them from the statute because the majority’s position is that they add precisely no meaning to the law. Yet Congress used this apparently meaningless phrase over and over. “It is bad enough for a court to cross out ‘by the State’ once. But seven times?”

To which dissenting Justice Scalia went to great lengths by delivering his lively and blistering dissent from the bench, which is unusual.

To mention just the highlights, the Court’s interpretation clashes with a statutory definition, renders words inoperative in at least seven separate provisions of the Act, overlooks the con­trast between provisions that say “Exchange” and those that say “Exchange established by the State,” gives the same phrase one meaning for purposes of tax credits but an entirely different meaning for other purposes, and (let us not forget) contradicts the ordinary meaning of the words Congress used. On the other side of the ledger, the Court has come up with nothing more than a general provision that turns out to be controlled by a specific one, a handful of clauses that are consistent with either under­standing of establishment by the State, and a resemblance between the tax-credit provision and the rest of the Tax Code. If that is all it takes to make something ambiguous, everything is ambiguous. (emphasis added)

There was a lot of buzz about judicial activism on this ruling. NRO’s Peter Augustine Lawler posted this in response.

I’m sympathetic with Roberts’s statesmanlike view that the judiciary is not the branch of government equipped, all alone, to save us from Obamacare. So he refuses an opportunity for “judicial activism.” But, from another view, he turns out to be quite the activist, telling Congress what it really meant by its incompetently drafted, screwed-up law. And so if judicial activism is a synonym for judicial legislation, that’s what we have here. Someone might say that Scalia was uncharacteristically the activist for wanting to strike part of the law down. But he claims to be doing the least activist thing by sending the law back to Congress. It should figure out what it really meant and then say that…

All in all, there are some interesting separation-of-powers issues here, as well as the one about the extent to which the Court should scope out the political environment before deciding whether or not to strike a law down.

Yes. Which is precisely the point. It was the point when the Blackmun court wrote abortion into law and cited the Constitution as grounding for it, making that up as it went. It was the point going back to the Dred Scott decision on slavery. Both issues involve classes of human beings denied human rights by the high court.

With this ruling, Justice Scalia said in his dissent, “words no longer have meaning”.

How that atmosphere impacted the decision on how the definition of marriage was deliberated and decided is about to become clear. The task of restoring the meaning of language in communicating human truths is as vital as ever. The merits of Justice Roberts majority opinion may be understandable to many people. But Justice Scalia’s clarifying blast is a valuable call for truth in justice.

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Jun 18

And the costs are prohibitive.

Things are getting worse, too. Look at the incident at Chicago’s Northwestern University that prompted this editorial from the Chicago Tribune editorial board.

Universities were meant to be places where ideas can be voiced and debated without fear, where the search for truth has no artificial limits, where no assumption is beyond challenge. Their motto could be the line by the 17th-century poet and philosopher John Milton: “Let her and Falsehood grapple; who ever knew Truth put to the worse in a free and open encounter?”

How archaic that sounds now, sadly.

In February, communications professor Laura Kipnis wrote an article for The Chronicle of Higher Education titled “Sexual Paranoia Strikes Academe.”

That started a chain of events that blew up the academic arena of ideas where challenge and response should be the norm, and everyone should be intelligent and mature enough to engage in that arena with reason. Read the editorial to see how far short of that ideal the university fell when things started flaring up over Professor Kipnis’ article.

Geoffrey Stone, a First Amendment scholar and former provost of the University of Chicago, wrote in The Huffington Post that Northwestern had committed an “embarrassing” betrayal of “the core principles of academic freedom.” Kipnis’ sole offense, he said, was “writing an article that upset some students.”…

The article Kipnis wrote was in the best tradition of spirited inquiry. Northwestern’s rough treatment of her is bound to have an intimidating effect on professors who see the danger of expressing any opinion that could offend anyone.

Just ask Sir Tim Hunt, formerly esteemed scientist at University College London. Who had an incident of misspeaking in a clearly clumsy setup for a talk before a world conference of science journalists, which he may forever regret.

As jokes go, Sir Tim Hunt’s brief standup routine about women in science last week must rank as one of the worst acts of academic self-harm in history. As he reveals to the Observer, reaction to his remarks about the alleged lachrymose tendencies of female researchers has virtually finished off the 72-year-old Nobel laureate’s career as a senior scientific adviser.

What he said was wrong, he acknowledges, but the price he and his wife have had to pay for his mistakes has been extreme and unfair. “I have been hung out to dry,” says Hunt.

His wife, Professor Mary Collins, one of Britain’s most senior immunologists, is similarly indignant. She believes that University College London – where both scientists had posts – has acted in “an utterly unacceptable” way in pressuring both researchers and in failing to support their causes.

Certainly the speed of the dispatch of Hunt – who won the 2001 Nobel prize in physiology for his work on cell division – from his various academic posts is startling. In many cases this was done without him even being asked for his version of events, he says. The story shows, if nothing else, that the world of science can be every bit as brutal as that of politics.

That’s an important component of this case study to note. It’s pervasive now.

Sitting on a sofa with his wife, Hunt tries to explain why he made the remarks that got him into trouble while Collins groans in despair as he outlines his behaviour. Hunt had been invited to the world conference of science journalists in Seoul and had been asked to speak at a meeting about women in science. His brief remarks contained 39 words that have subsequently come to haunt him.

What in the world could have caused so much trouble, in so few words? Here’s what he said in the now infamous, awkward setup on the topic of women in science.

“Let me tell you about my trouble with girls. Three things happen when they are in the lab. You fall in love with them, they fall in love with you, and when you criticise them, they cry,” he told delegates.

Just as an aside, I’m a woman and longtime investigative journalist who worked for two decades for one of the nation’s leading news magazines interviewing thought leaders, including a Nobel laureate the day he won the prize, and members of a presidential administration, among other dignitaries. Had I been sitting in that audience, I would not have laughed, smiled, or shown any glimmer of reaction, probably thinking ‘that was a stupid thing to say‘, and waiting for him to get to the important stuff.

But it was a tougher crowd.

Hunt may have meant to be humorous, but his words were not taken as a joke by his audience. One or two began tweeting what he had said and within a few hours he had become the focus of a particularly vicious social media campaign. He was described on Twitter as “a clueless, sexist jerk”; “a misogynist dude scientist”; while one tweet demanded that the Royal Society “kick him out”.

The next morning, as he headed for Seoul airport, Hunt got an inkling of the storm that was gathering when BBC Radio 4’s Today programme texted requesting an interview…

After Today was broadcast, and while Hunt was still flying back, Collins was called by University College London. She is a professor and a former dean there, while Hunt was an honorary researcher.

“I was told by a senior that Tim had to resign immediately or be sacked – though I was told it would be treated as a low-key affair. Tim duly emailed his resignation when he got home. The university promptly announced his resignation on its website and started tweeting that they had got rid of him. Essentially, they had hung both of us out to dry. They certainly did not treat it as a low-key affair. I got no warning about the announcement and no offer of help, even though I have worked there for nearly 20 years. It has done me lasting damage. What they did was unacceptable.”

The story appeared in newspapers round the world under headlines that said that Hunt had been sacked by UCL for sexism. Worse was to follow…

Hunt is under no illusions about the consequences. “I am finished,” he says. “I had hoped to do a lot more to help promote science in this country and in Europe, but I cannot see how that can happen. I have become toxic. I have been hung to dry by academic institutes who have not even bothered to ask me for my side of affairs.”

This is now standard operation procedure for academic institutions, political ones, elite media and activist organizations influenced by “the illiberal left”, as Kirsten Powers calls it, in her challenging book The Silencing: How the Left is Killing Free Speech. She was my guest on radio twice recently, each time eager and ready to engage, and we had lively conversations about the need for engagement of diverse opinions in the arena of ideas, with respectful debate and intellectual engagement. I also share her deep concern over vanishing civil discourse and a dominant culture of intolerance, shutting down debate and even discussion.

It’s an important book, for its intellectual honesty  and insight by a professional political strategist well-known as a liberal who worked in the Clinton administration, and a current commentator on Fox News. She has accumulated a full package of insights from all that experience, which started in a childhood immersed in news and political affairs. Much like mine. We share a deep appreciation for the art of the argument, and the need for robust public debate between proponents of different ideas. That’s not only not what’s happening, she worries it’s becoming increasingly threatened by the bully forces of “the illiberal left.”

The behavior of the illiberal left flies in the face of decades of jurisprudence forged by liberal Supreme Court Justices who argued for an expansive view of the First Amendment and treated free speech as a precious commodity to be guarded jealously…

Supreme Court Justice William Brennan Jr. – a liberal lion known for his outspoken progressive views – was perhaps the strongest First Amendment advocate of the modern era.

Powers cites what was likely Brennan’s most well-known free speech opinion, in which he defended “a profound national commitment to the principle that debate on public issues should be uninhibited, robust and wide-open…” But, she says:

The illiberal left does not share this commitment. Their burgeoning philosophy in favor of government power to curtail freedom of thought, speech, and conscience is troubling.

Because it’s brutal, with a ‘mob mentality’ enforcing silence where free speech laws still protect those still willing to speak out. However, Powers says:

The illiberal left knows that delegitimization works. It’s their strongest weapon in a country with unparalleled free speech protections. If you can’t suppress views you don’t like with repressive laws, then delegitimize the people expressing them.

While we still have free speech laws in place…

deligimization through demonizing and intimidation remains the illiberal left’s most effective tactic…The illiberal left seeks to short-circuit this process (of debate). They don’t want to defend their views, nor do they want to allow forums for other people to present views that are at odds with the conclusions they have drawn on an array of issues. Sometimes, the mere suggestion of holding a debate is cast as an offense.

And this is early in her book. It’s filled with case studies backing up everything she says, and she says a lot that needs to be said.

Under a section titled ‘Age of Un-Enlightenment’, she says what so many have been afraid to say, which she does throughout the book.

The illiberal left isn’t just ruining reputations and lives with their campaigns of deligitimization and disparagement. They are harming all of society by silencing important debates, denying people the right to draw their own conclusions, and derailing reporting and research that is important to our understanding of the world. They are robbing culture of the diversity of thought that is so central to learning and discovery…

When people are afraid to express their opinions because they’ve seen other people as deviants deserving of public shaming or worse, they will be less likely to speak freely…This is not the kind of world we want.

No, it isn’t. We’re in a Paul Revere moment in our history in the US, and a pivotal one globally. Whoever hears the call to stand up to the assault on free speech should be emboldened to engage, challenge, present and defend truths about human rights and dignity that the “illiberal left” work to discredit or eliminate altogether.

This battle goes back to Plato, who battled the Sophists of his time. In Abuse of Language, Abuse of Power, Josef Pieper described how they so deftly worked at retooling vocabulary and rhetoric to change the meaning of words to justify anything. Pieper explicitly described the results.

 The place of authentic reality is taken over by a fictitious reality…deceptively appearing as being real, so much so that it becomes almost impossible anymore to discern the truth.

We’re getting darned close to that place.

For the general public is being reduced to a state where people not only are unable to find out about the truth but also become unable even to search for the truth because they are satisfied with deception and trickery that have determined their convictions, satisfied with a fictitious reality created by design through the abuse of language.

Powers makes the point from current politics:

What sets the illiberal left apart are their campaigns to delegitimize people who deviate on even one issue by openly engaging in racist and sexist attacks, all the while presenting themselves as the protectors and representatives of all women and non-white people.

This is going to be a rich and robust presidential campaign season for the next year and a half. So much is at stake.

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Jun 02

Marketed under terminology crafted to trigger sympathy and compliance, it still is what it is.

The former Hemlock Society changed its name to Compassion and Choices. Sounds nice and fuzzy. So does Death With Dignity, though less so Aid In Dying although that still softens the fact that someone is ending someone else’s life. At least Mercy Killing uses the word, though softened with the spiritual concept of charity.

Working closely with Terri Schiavo’s family and some of their legal and spiritual counselors during that ordeal which erupted on the national and then international consciousness in early 2005, I did investigative reporting that turned up facts, claims, contradictions and records that mostly didn’t make it to big media reports on the story, though my radio network covered it all. Someone sent me a letter from a man in the Netherlands warning that if America let this woman die by court ordered starvation and dehydration, Dutch euthanasia would come to this country. How prescient that was.

Not long after, Hollywood gave the euthanasia and assisted suicide movements huge momentum, though not without warning there, either. Hollywood professional Barbara Nicolosi laid it all out here.

The evidence is undeniable: Somewhere in the middle of the Terri Schiavo tragedy, Hollywood and the cultural left climbed aboard the latest human-killing bandwagon and have since thrown the weight of their talent and creativity behind it. As with abortion, the forces of darkness are outmaneuvering the forces of good on what will certainly be the moral issue of the 21st century.

If we lose the fight on euthanasia, we lose our souls. By removing suffering and the meaning of suffering from our culture, we make the final step in denying and defying our creature-hood. Once again, the seductive lie of Eden will trip us up: “If you will do this thing, you shall be like God.”

Our response to the mercy-killing machine must be more than an occasional op-ed piece; we need a shrewd and all-encompassing cultural strategy if we are going to make a good fight in the euthanasia war.

Shrewd means that we fight smart. It means appealing to the emotions of the masses through stories, not non-fiction tomes. Songs, not philosophical tirades. Heroes, not pundits.

That was 2011, we’ve had heroes and storytellers since then, but we still need that shrewd and all-encompassing cultural strategy. Because death has been peddled as an available and increasingly acceptable option, through semantic engineering. Barbara Nicolosi, one of the heroes, swung for the fences in this appeal to awareness and action, sanity and reason.

If we’ve learned anything from the abortion wars, it’s that the words “choice” and “right to choose” set our cause back decades. We need an emotionally winning language for this fight. The other side should not get away with christening themselves “mercy killers”; they are “death dealers,” “elder abortionists,” “needlers.” Please, not “death with dignity”; let’s get there first with “medical murder” and “unnatural death.” Not “end-of-life clinics” but “human garbage pits.” We need slogans like, “Make your insurance adjuster’s day; let him kill you.” Or, “Everything we know about euthanasia we learned from the Nazis.”

We must be aggressive in exposing the deceptions driving the euthanasia movement — lies like the implication that personhood can somehow disappear from a wounded human body. Or that a human life could ever lose its value. Or that suicide can be a courageous act. We must contradict the notion that suffering is the worst thing that can happen to a person.

That message got a lot of currency with the sad and tragic Brittany Maynard story used to the advantage of the assisted suicide movement and sensationalized by complicit media. What didn’t get so much coverage were the stories, names, faces and voices of others who faced and knew extreme suffering, and tried to witness to the truth of Nicolosi’s message about human life, dignity, and living through suffering.

Like the seminarian who kept trying to reach Maynard through Facebook posts and interviews, mostly in pro-life media, with true compassion. Philip Johnson had the same diagnosis and knew the pain.

And Lauren Hill, the determined teenager, who played her beloved sport of basketball even through pain and increasing disability, because her motto was “never give up.” If you don’t click on these hyperlinks to check out the stories, at least read this short one on her legacy, written on a Marine news site by Pfc. Ned Johnson.She was a basketball player — an athlete. She scored legitimate points for her junior college. But more importantly, she scored a lot of points in life.

Hill was diagnosed with a brain tumor. Cancer. In high school. At 18.

That’s when Hill proved she was more than many of us could ever hope to be. She went to college with this tumor. Then she made the basketball team, scored 10 points across four games before her body became too weak for her to continue.

She started a fundraiser that raised more than $1.5 million for pediatric cancer research…

There are many others who witness to courage and hope and true dignity, through their own suffering. Mark Davis Pickup is one, and he’s appealing to California legislators to consider the gravity of the bill before them this week, and the consequences of their vote.

I am a Canadian. As you know Canada’s Supreme Court recently struck down my nation’s laws against assisted suicide, opening wide the gates for physician assisted killing of suicidal sick and disabled people. Please do not take California down a similar path. It is not the hallmark of a “civil society”. There is nothing civilized about euthanasia or assisted suicide. Do not be fooled by euphemisms for killing like “death with dignity”. Dignity is not bestowed on people by injecting them with poison when they are at their lowest point. That is abandonment not dignity. Death with dignity is not an event, it is a process, the end result of having lived a life with dignity, benefiting from the best 21st Century palliative care (which is capable of eliminating physical pain), and being surrounded by loved ones.

Someone may say “What about those who do not have loved ones?” Precisely! What about them? Is the answer to euthanize them or seek to include them within the tender embrace of community? Another person may say, “I should have the autonomous right to determine the time and place of my own death.” Really? That presumes decisions only affect the individual making them. That is not true. Our decisions always impact others. The idea independent personal autonomy is diametrically opposed to the concept of interdependent community.

If I choose suicide (assisted or otherwise) it will not affect just me: It will affect my wife, children and grandchildren. It will impact my community and my doctor for I will ask her to stop being my healer and become my killer. And it will affect my nation by helping to entrench the notion that there are some lives unworthy to be lived.

Doctors, patients and healthcare experts are appealing likewise to California lawmakers and the people who elected them to protect and defend human life at all stages. That state’s lesislature is poised to vote one way or the other on the assisted suicide bill before them. Stephanie’s Journey puts a personal face and family on a profound call for care taking in this delicate process. Carolyn Moynihan covered it well here.

Disability Rights & Defense Fund expert Marilyn Golden testified before the California State Senate Health Committee with this comprehensive, riveting report, so lawmakers at least would make an informed vote.

I’m covering this on radio Wednesday with a California expert speaking for the disability community, to hear what he’s been saying in calls to legislative offices in the state, and hearing in response.

Because as Terri Schiavo’s family continues to proclaim, in carrying on her legacy and give voice to the voiceless, where there’s life, there’s hope.

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May 11

No case for rights of any sort can be made by those who insist on the lawful ability to kill babies.

It doesn’t get more basic than that.

Feminist author Naomi Wolf made an important and intellectually honest statement of fact in her 1995 article “Our Bodies, Our Souls: Re-thinking Pro-Choice Rhetoric”. I cited it in my book Non-Negotiable: Essential Principles of a Just Society and Humane Culture.

But to its own ethical and political detriment, the pro-choice movement has relinquished the moral frame around the issue of abortion. It has ceded the language of right and wrong to abortion foes. The movement’s abandonment of what Americans have always, and rightly, demanded of their movements–an ethical core–and its reliance instead on a political rhetoric in which the foetus means nothing are proving fatal…

By refusing to look at abortion within a moral framework, we lose the millions of Americans who want to support abortion as a legal right but still need to condemn it as a moral iniquity. Their ethical allegiances are then addressed by the pro-life moevement, which is willing tos peak about good and evil.

But we are also in danger of losing something more important than votes; we stand in jeopardy of losing what can only be called our souls. Clinging to a rhetoric about abortion in which there is no life and no death, we entangle our beliefs in a series of self-delusions, fibs and evasions. And we risk becoming precisely what our critics charge us with being: callous, selfish and casually destructive men and women who share a cheapened view of human life.

This comes to mind now as Congress prepares, again, to vote on the so-called ‘20 Week Abortion Ban‘.

Pro-life leaders are applauding the US House of Representatives for scheduling a vote this week on the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which bans abortions after the 20th week of pregnancy…

Eleven states have approved similar measures to H.R. 36. The New York Times reports that 37 new rules on abortion have been enacted in 11 states already this year. Arkansas alone approved six new laws. On Thursday, Wisconsin legislators proposed banning any abortion after 20 weeks.

In clearer language, abortion on a five month old baby.

In the meantime, while much of the new legislation focuses on waiting periods, counseling, and what doctors can say to patients, The New England Journal of Medicine last week published a study showing that severely premature newborns at age 22 weeks (some weighing 1.1 pounds at birth) may survive with intensive treatment with few lasting developmental problems.

Which wound up on the front page of the New York Times last week in a revealing article accompanied by a compelling photo of a young girl on a swing, fully healthy and alive, who represented those babies born so prematurely who received such life-giving treatment and clearly not only survived but thrived.

The issue of ‘viability of the fetus’ is a turning point in this debate over when abortion is ‘acceptable’ and must be protected as a ‘right’, and when it pushes the limit.

Abortion pushes the limit of what civilized society should allow from the very beginning of life when that society fights so many other battles to serve vulnerable minorities of other sorts in other conditions to secure their rights. Before they are whatever other identity in a protected class, they are first human.

This vote Wednesday better happen, and pass. Until the deception and insanity of Roe v. Wade can be undone, incremental common sense laws establishing long overdue limits have to work their way forward to protect the most innocent, youngest class of brothers and sisters among us. It is the civil rights movement of our time.

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May 07

It stated the obvious.

But on Thursday, this story appeared on the cover of the New York Times, prominently, above the fold, with a photo to help illustrate the point. First of all, look at the photo and read the caption. That pretty much sums up the story. Which became much more difficult to access online the very day it appeared.

Here’s the opening paragraph:

A small number of very premature babies are surviving earlier outside the womb than doctors once thought possible, a new study has documented, raising questions about how aggressively they should be treated and posing implications for the debate about abortion.

Several things about that. The photo shows a thriving young girl who was born ‘very prematurely’, illustrating the full humanity of life at all stages. The opening sentence in the piece emphasizes “a small number of very premature babies”, planting the idea that these babies are “very premature’ (so what?), and that only a “small number” of the them survive outside the womb if delivered that early (so…we should disregard them?). Oh, and another thing downplayed in the lead. It was documented in “a new study”.

What was buried deeper in the Times story was that this study was produced by the esteemed New England Journal of Medicine.

There’s a lot to say about this report, a lot to unpack. But for now, the clear and delightful humanity of the little girl on the swing in the photo accompanying the story says it all. And the implications this has on the debate about abortion…no question. After the Gosnell trial there were enormous implications. Truth has a way of coming out in spite of efforts to suppress it.

Across America, states are introducing bans on abortion after 20 weeks. That’s a five month old baby. This New England Journal of Medicine study will certainly add information to that heated debate, which is nothing more than a radical, ideological drive in the first place.

How the abortion movement has sustained power and influence after these many years is the bigger story.

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