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 12

They should drop the claim that patients consent, for one.

And that they’re not about profit-making, just ‘recovering delivery costs’.

This sixth video released Wednesday in the ‘Human Capital series highlights someone who’s been doing business with Planned Parenthood revealing the back story on those claims.

Holly O’Donnell, a former StemExpress procurement technician, discusses the industrial process of abortions and the lack of care shown to the patients. More problematic for Planned Parenthood, O’Donnell explains that she has witnessed clinics not getting consent before harvesting blood and organs, despite the organization’s insistence that women are fully informed before procuring human organs and tissues from their abortions…

O’Donnell describes a pressure situation on procurement technicians to get as many opportunities for harvesting as possible, and that leads to shortcuts on consent or even informing the patients at all. The video shows a “gestation tracking log” in which technicians are expected to track all abortions by their stage, and how many consents they got signed from them. “The environment is morbid,” O’Donnell tells CMP. “You can feel it.”

That pressure ends up pushing technicians to get blood and organs even when the women expressly forbid it. In one case O’Donnell recalls, a late-term mother refused consent, which O’Donnell explained to the other technician. “You have to make sure you get her,” O’Donnell’s colleague told her, but O’Donnell said she had refused consent. That didn’t stop the technician, however. “If there was a higher gestation, and the technicians needed it, there were times when they would just take what they wanted. And these mothers don’t know. And there’s no way they would know.”

Right. It’s a highly profitable, powerfully political, globally connected  business. And it’s about profit, moneymaking, no matter what it takes. Forget the pink signs and fuzzy assurances that Planned Parenthood cares. They care about profit.

O’Donnell has no illusions about what the abortion-organ harvesting industry is all about. “I’m not going to tell a girl to kill her baby just to get money,” she says, “and that’s what this company does. Straight up. That’s what this company does.”

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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 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 30

Read this open letter to the Gay Community from a loving daughter.

She wonders why there isn’t more attention on the rest of this story, namely the children raised by two mothers or two fathers.

Same-sex marriage and parenting withholds either a mother or father from a child while telling him or her that it doesn’t matter. That it’s all the same. But it’s not. A lot of us, a lot of your kids, are hurting. My father’s absence created a huge hole in me, and I ached every day for a dad. I loved my mom’s partner, but another mom could never have replaced the father I lost.

I grew up surrounded by women who said they didn’t need or want a man. Yet, as a little girl, I so desperately wanted a daddy. It is a strange and confusing thing to walk around with this deep-down unquenchable ache for a father, for a man, in a community that says that men are unnecessary…

I’m not saying that you can’t be good parents. You can. I had one of the best. I’m also not saying that being raised by straight parents means everything will turn out okay. We know there are so many different ways that the family unit can break down and cause kids to suffer: divorce, abandonment, infidelity, abuse, death, etc. But by and large, the best and most successful family structure is one in which kids are being raised by both their mother and father.

And she wonders why gay people’s kids can’t be honest in talking about the realities, for them, of gay marriage.

It promotes and normalizes a family structure that necessarily denies us something precious and foundational. It denies us something we need and long for, while at the same time tells us that we don’t need what we naturally crave. That we will be okay. But we’re not. We’re hurting.

She notes that children of divorced parents, adopted children of biological parents they never knew, are “allowed” to speak out about their pain, suffering, longing, feelings.

But children of same-sex parents haven’t been given the same voice. It’s not just me. There are so many of us.

One of the first to publish such an account was Robert Lopez, and his account of being ‘raised by two moms’ clearly reveals his love for his mother, but also the long term impact that home life had on him. It opened the door for many other children of same-sex parents who were afraid to speak up because they loved them and didn’t want to hurt them.

In the past couple of days, that link has become inaccessible, and the online journal that published it has been dealing with technical issues. Which may or may not be related to the silencing Heather Barwick referred to in her honest, open letter.

If we say we are hurting because we were raised by same-sex parents, we are either ignored or labeled a hater.

This isn’t about hate at all. I know you understand the pain of a label that doesn’t fit and the pain of a label that is used to malign or silence you. And I know that you really have been hated and that you really have been hurt. I was there, at the marches, when they held up signs that said, “God hates fags” and “AIDS cures homosexuality.” I cried and turned hot with anger right there in the street with you. But that’s not me. That’s not us.

That’s not most of us. It’s the extreme left and right doing the most outright condemnation. Most of us who are trying to engage at all, are trying to do so reasonably and charitably. Many of us make efforts to speak clearly and listen closely, with the courage of conviction and respect for the dignity of those who challenge and even try to silence our beliefs, beliefs which at core witness to human dignity.

So Heather Barwick closes her letter to the Gay Community in which she was raised, with which she identified most of her life, who she understands with great compassion, and appeals to now as a children’s rights activist, with this:

I know this is a hard conversation. But we need to talk about it. If anyone can talk about hard things, it’s us. You taught me that.

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Jun 28

The court didn’t interpret a law. It invented a right.

And it turned on the feelings and thoughts of Justice Anthony Kennedy, who wrote the majority opinion and proved to be its pivotal player. No matter how prepared the experts in jurisprudence I’ve dealt with for years thought they were for this decision, they were all stunned when it came out, so sweeping was its usurpation of judicial power and lack of recourse to history and tradition.

So historic and pivotal a moment as this requires full examination, there are so many angles and issues. For now, start with law professor Helen Alvare’s early assessment of what happened, and especially whether and how the ruling considered a largely overlooked population of people generally left out of gay marriage debates: children.

Regarding children’s interests, until the first same-sex marriage opinions began to emerge in the states, every state and the US Supreme Court had grounded marriage recognition in the state’s interest in linking children with their parents. Adults received rights respecting marriage and parenting, because they first had duties — duties to the children the vast majority of marriages produced.

Today, the Supreme Court rules instead, however, that marriage is about adults’ “defin[ing] and express[ing] their identity,” adults’ desire for “nobility,” “fulfillment,” “aspirations,” “autonomy,” “self-definition,” avoiding of “loneliness,” and desire for “companionship and understanding”. The list goes on.

Regarding children? Who have now been stripped completely out of any definition of marriage that any state is permitted to have? The majority opinion assumes that there will be trickle-down benefits for children. But of course it could offer no evidence on this point. In fact, the vast majority of children (86%)[1] reared in same-sex homes have a legal mother and father and will not be affected by the new marriage rights of the same-sex couple in their home; they were conceived in a prior heterosexual relationship by one of the now-LGBT partners. And the testimony of now-adult children reared in same-sex homes reveals their deep longing and loss respecting the absent parent of an opposite sex, even as they often loved the adults who raised them.

More on that to follow here in the days ahead, with adult children of same sex parents now speaking out in greater numbers.

As for Helen’s footnote [1], here it is:

[1] Gary J. Gates, Family Formation and Raising Children Among Same-Sex Couples, Nat’l Council on Fam. Rel.: FAMILY FOCUS, Winter 2011, at F1 [hereinafter Gates, Family Formation] (“[One research study] suggest[s] that offspring of lesbian and gay parents are more often the product of different-sex relationships that occur before individuals are open about their sexual orientation.”); GARY J. GATES, WILLIAMS INST., LGBT PARENTING IN THE UNITED STATES (2013) (providing a statistical summary of the demographics of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) households); Ronald Bailey, “The Science on Same Sex Marriage,” The REASON FOUND. (April 15, 2013),  (“Nearly 20 percent of same-sex households . . . reported having children, and 84 percent contained children biologically related to one of the householders.”).

Links are on the Crux post of her opinion piece, which should be thoroughly read.

So should this piece by Professor Alvare.

Today’s opinion in Obergefell v. Hodges, which invents a constitutional right to same-sex marriage applicable to the 50 states, is a story of judicial pride, successful marketing by same-sex marriage groups, and the triumph of modern therapeutic individualism. It is not a legal story. It has “nothing to do with” the Constitution, as Chief Justice Roberts so accurately states in his dissent…

Roberts warned same-sex marriage advocates that they had “lost, and lost forever: the opportunity to win the true acceptance that comes from persuading their fellow citizens of the justice of their cause,” because such opportunities require legitimate democratic process, not constitutionally illegitimate fiat.

This is only the beginning of a better understanding of what’s happened here. And what is about to.

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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 14

Or does it just seem that way all of a sudden, from high profile news stories?

Gender and race have featured prominently in media lately under the whole category of the ‘trans’ movement.

A few thoughts…

What does the transgender movement do to the feminist movement? The Federalist considers.

A central theme of modern, or third-wave feminism is that women should not be treated merely as sexual objects. A central theme of the trans movement is the presentation of trans women as hypersexual objects. Feminism is not big enough for both of these themes. Either being a woman is essentially defined as being alluring to men, or it isn’t. Either the playboy bunny defines the essence of womanhood, or it doesn’t. At the moment, the trans movement opposes more than a century of feminism on this point. Third-wave feminists, in their eagerness to be allies, have abandoned this basic tenet. It must be reclaimed.

How have we arrived at a point in which feminists fundamentally alter their definition of womanhood to accommodate men?

This is a good examination of conscience for the feminist movement, among others, but chief among others.

There is nothing male about pants, muscles, and short hair. Just ask Rosie the Riveter. The social constructs of feminine and masculine are totally up for grabs, and that’s fine, but a masculine woman is still a woman, and there’s nothing wrong with that, or with that woman living however she wants to. The same goes for feminine men.

The problem here is how Annie Leibowitz and Vanity Fair set about showing us that Jenner is truly a woman. They did it by painting precisely the pinup we teach our daughters to reject as their central aspiration. The sexual objectification of trans women is used as proof of their womanness, but the sexual objectification of non-trans women is considered demeaning because it associates their primary worth in relation to male desire. Being oppressed by men is being oppressed by men, even if those men are wearing dresses.

Speaking of oppression, the Rachel Dolezal story took social identity politics to a whole new level.

A prominent civil rights activist who heads a Washington state NAACP chapter has apparently been identifying herself as African-American for years despite being white, her mother revealed Thursday.

Rachel Dolezal, president of NAACP Spokane and adjunct professor of Africana studies at Eastern Washington University, is a leading voice in the local black community, and was even invited by the city to chair a police oversight commission.

So, a white lady posing as a black lady, better to identify with blacks, is bizarre. And unnecessary, as her mother attests.

Rachel’s mother attributed her daughter’s behavior to being raised among four adopted African-American siblings, during which time Dolezal began to “disguise herself.”

“Her effectiveness in the causes of the African-American community would have been so much more viable, and she would have been more effective, if she had just been honest with everybody,” Ruthanne Dolezal told the Spokane Spokesman-Review.

Those high profile identity stories breaking as close together as they did in news cycle time led some commentators to draw comparisons. First Things Magazine’s Carl Trueman was one.

To him,

the point of comparison is rather obvious: If identity is a matter of psychological conviction and can override and even directly contradict biology, then we have no basis to privilege the soft biology of race over the much more significant biology of sex. Nor can the possession of a history of oppression lead to such privileging. Talk to any feminist. They can tell you something about oppression.

Into the upheaval came Pope Francis, steeped in the long history of human anthropology, and usually with something to say that applies them to these confusing times. Especially about the transgender movement, so widely covered in recent days and weeks.

One week after Bruce Jenner appeared on the cover of Vanity Fair wearing an ivory corset declaring he is a woman, Pope Francis again denounced gender ideology as an aberration.

Speaking to the bishops of Puerto Rico on Monday, June 8th, during their ad limina visit to Rome, the Pope said the ideology is among the most pernicious threats to marriage and family life.

“Let me draw your attention to the value and beauty of marriage,” he said. “The complementarity of man and woman, the crown of God’s creation, is being questioned by so-called gender ideology, in the name of a freer and fairer society.”

But “the difference between man and woman is not for opposition or subordination, but for communion and procreation, always in the ‘image and likeness’ of God,” he said…

Pope Francis explained that while contemporary culture has opened new opportunities for understanding the sexual difference, it has also introduced “many doubts and much skepticism.”

“For instance,” he said, “I wonder if the so-called gender theory is not also an expression of a frustration and resignation, which aims to eliminate the sexual difference because it no longer knows how to face it.”

“The removal of the difference, in fact, is the problem, not the solution.”

(Where did that get covered in big media?)

He therefore urged the bishops of Puerto Rico to “safeguard the treasure” of marriage, which he called “one of the most important of Latin American and Caribbean peoples.”

The Pope also called on the bishops to defend and protect the family from the many social problems that afflict it, including: “the economic situation, migration, domestic violence, unemployment, drug trafficking, and corruption.”

Always directing attention to the existential peripheries, Francis took this opportunity to say, in so many words, that certain First World ‘ideologies’ are remote from the realities of tragic Third World struggles unimaginable to the privileged political classes and cultural elites in the West.

We have poverty, joblessness, lack of access to education and opportunity, community safety and solidarity, and the existential peripheries here too. We just have to focus attention on these social problems. Which should be easier once we recognize how connected they are with the stories grabbing headlines for other, more sensational reasons.

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