Jan 24

Included an Executive Order on taxpayer funding of abortion.

This is a ritual that the past several presidents gave Day One priority to, in deciding the order of business requiring immediate attention when sworn into office. It’s called the Mexico City Policy and Democratic presidents overturn it while Republican presidents reinstate it. President Trump did that, and then some.

Susan B. Anthony List President Marjorie Dannenfelser headed the pro-life coalition of advisers Trump consulted late in his campaign, and her organization has kept elected officials and voters well aware of the promises he made to pro-life citizens, and updated on latest news following up on those promises. Even since the most recent post to its website, SBA List sent out an update with more background on how comprehensive this Executive Order is, and why it needed to specify more than past reinstatements. And what Dannenfelser added:

1. President Trump has modernized the Mexico City Policy by directing the Secretary of State to implement a plan to extend the Mexico City Policy across all global health assistance funding.

2. President Trump has directed the Secretary of State to ensure U.S. taxpayer dollars do not support organizations that support or participate in the management of a coercive abortion program. An example of this would be the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), which has a long history of supporting the Chinese population control program, which has included forced abortions.

“Not only has President Trump reinstated the Mexico City Policy, he’s modernized it by applying it to all foreign health assistance programs,” said SBA List President Marjorie Dannenfelser. “For nearly a decade under President Obama, Americans have funded UNFPA, which has a long history of involvement in China’s brutal birth limitation policy – enforcement of which routinely includes the atrocity of forced abortions. Thanks to President Trump, the Secretary of State is directed to ensure Americans are no longer complicit in violating the dignity of women and children overseas. No longer will abortion be a top U.S. export.

This came as great news to pro-life advocates based in the U.S. and abroad.

Reggie Littlejohn of Women’s Rights Without Frontiers had written an open letter to President-elect Donald Trump in December, asking him to investigate Planned Parenthood and “If they are found to be complicit with coercive population control in China – as we believe they will be — we request that you defund them.”

Obianuju Ekeocha of Culture of Life Africa has released a video revealing the reach and attempted grasp of Marie Stopes International in exporting abortion to Africa. Culture of Life Africa has reason for hope in the reinstatement of the Mexico City Policy.

Marie Stopes says abortion is at the core of their mission and hopes to double their abortion-related services by 2020. Their staff has been caught on tape boasting of doing illegal abortions around the world, and their United Kingdom branch was recently forced to temporarily suspend abortion services for children and vulnerable populations due to serious safety concerns. Marie Stopes is also actively involved in trying to overturn prolife laws overseas. Organizations like Marie Stopes should not receive American taxpayer support.

Both Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush cut off funding to the UNFPA during their administrations. In 1993, President Bill Clinton resumed funding for UNFPA, but for fiscal year 1999 signed a foreign aid appropriations bill that zeroed out funding for UNFPA. Funding to UNFPA was again completely cut off under President George W. Bush. In 2008, then-Secretary of State Colin Powell explained: “UNFPA’s support of, and involvement in, China’s population-planning activities allows the Chinese government to implement more effectively its program of coercive abortion. Therefore, it is not permissible to continue funding UNFPA at this time.” President Obama resumed U.S. taxpayer funding of UNFPA in 2009. From 2009 to 2016, over $300 million has been appropriated for UNFPA.

Both Uju and Reggie will be my guests on radio Tuesday to cover the impact of the Mexico City Policy being reinstated, and the operations and agenda of the international abortion movement. They’re both eager to engage the conversation and more fully inform the public. This is the global conversation we need to have and to hear.

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Aug 15

Don’t vote for pro-abortion politicians.

The choice should be clear and uncomplicated.

Nearly all of this election cycle has been almost historically unclear and terribly complicated. There are few certainties, and then campaign rhetoric and media spin can cast doubt even about those.

But one thing that is, was brought up at a major annual convention recently, got distorted in reporting by some media, and then clarified by an astute journalist of the highest integrity, and it all came down to one simple, concise message: Not voting for ‘pro-choice’ candidates is the least we can do.

Catholics and other Christians have helped get the country into the abortion divide for more than fifty years. Time to change that grave mistake.

How grave?

Carl Anderson (a true leader in an age with a dearth of them) Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus (an outstanding organization by any objective standard) addressed their annual convention in Toronto just over a week ago. Journalist Kathryn Jean Lopez was there, not planning to write about it, but taking notes as always. Talking with me on radio this Monday about events lately, the Knights’ involvement in international relief efforts in humanitarian crises, always protecting and defending human life and dignity, Kathryn said she saw Anderson’s brief remarks about moral responsibility in the political process distorted by some media into something he didn’t say, and decided to write about it after all. I’m so glad she did.

What this article says is so clear and concise and necessary.

Repeating something he said eight years ago, Anderson told those gathered: “The right to abortion is not just another political issue; it is in reality a legal regime that has resulted in more than 40 million deaths.” To his Toronto audience, he pointed out: “Forty million is greater than the entire population of Canada.” He asked: “What political issue could possibly outweigh this human devastation? The answer, of course, is that there is none.”

Kathryn told me that Carl Anderson went back to an address he gave two election cycles ago, in 2008, and delivered “non-partisan, uncontroversial” remarks to this gathering at this time in our history, because they applied in a timeless way. He named no candidate, no party, gave no endorsements or voting preferences other than that message about voting for candidates for office who would uphold the right of every human being to have a life in the first place, which then could be welcomed, sheltered, cared for, all the provisions the social gospel calls for as every believing Christian is called to know and to carry out.

If you won’t guarantee a human life has the right to continue to exist, you cannot make a coherent argument that any goods or rights or provisions should or must, in the name of justice, be provided human life. It’s really that simple.

As Anderson says, there is a poison in our polity. Pluralism has encountered something grave, something that for more than four decades we have allowed to become a hidden background story, as we refer to it with euphemisms and hardened activism. What we need is the truth we can see on a sonogram — along with tender mercy, especially for those who have suffered because of the mainstreaming of abortion as a faux symbol of health care and freedom, even to the point of instituting government mandates in health-insurance coverage to make us believe these things.

She expanded on theses points again on Crux.

Anderson said abortion must be a priority. He didn’t say it’s the only thing we need to care about, but he did say that when assessing a candidate it ought to be a showstopper and a game-changer, and he’s completely right.

A point worth making is that Anderson was not speaking in the context of an academic theological debate. He was making an argument for a new, non-partisan political strategy, which is that we can change policy by withholding our vote from any candidate, of any party, who supports abortion.

Anderson sees that voting for pro-abortion politicians for other reasons has not brought them closer to a moral position, or even the pro-restriction position that polling shows is held by 8 in 10 Americans. His point was that at a time when America’s fundamental moral direction seems up for grabs, encouraging a pro-abortion candidate, for whatever reason, is not a wise prudential choice.

That’s all the more so as another Catholic vice-presidential candidate wraps himself in the flag of Pope Francis. Yet Francis, as it happens, is also against abortion.

This is not complicated, and should not be easily distorted or spun.

If there’s any breaking news in Anderson’s remarks, it is that we remain stuck in an unnecessary divide. This election is an opportunity for Catholics, for other Christians and religious believers, and all people of good will.

Don’t be party people. Be a people of life.

Talking about politics and practical front-line work, Anderson said to his brother Knights of Columbus: “Every time we save a life, we change the course of history.”

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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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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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Jan 30

Are we talking about the Charlie Hebdo unity rally and demonstration? Or the March for Life?

There’s a thought experiment. Robert Royal calls it “Magical Thinking” and  helps us think through it here.

“I am Charlie,” the common slogan, is silly and emblematic of how we express ourselves publicly about moral matters these days. But no shame on that crowd for saying – no matter in how confused a fashion – that we don’t allow some people to kill others, simply because they think they have a right to.

What shall we say, though, about the people who have remained largely passive in a world in which 1.32 billion babies have been aborted since 1980?

Or an America that has killed, without losing much sleep, 57.5 million babies since 1973?

More than Stalin (40 million).

Way more than Hitler (30 million).

Chairman Mao edges us out (60 million), but he had a bigger population to work with. And anyway, we’re catching up.

Out of those 57.5 million, 17.3 million black babies were aborted. It’s hard to get your head around such numbers, so this may help: That would be like eliminating the entire black populations of New York City, Chicago, Philadelphia, Detroit, Houston, Memphis, Baltimore, Washington DC, Dallas, Columbus, San Diego, Phoenix, Indianapolis, Boston – combined. And more than twice. Put a different way, it amounts to almost half the current African-American population.

If America’s police departments did that, we’d be seeing a lot more than demonstrations about “Hands up, don’t shoot.”

Perspective is everything, especially if it’s keen and clear and not seen through an ideological lens. Young adults and adolescents in greater numbers every year, along with other generations of Americans from the Roe era to the children in strollers, get the truth of the pro-life cause and movement.

It should not surprise America that the pro-life movement is growing younger and stronger. Incredible advances in science have made it possible for young women such as myself to first greet our children and witness their miraculous development beginning when they aren’t much bigger than a legume. Today’s women track their baby’s developments with any number of smartphone apps. Today’s children are growing up in a world where ultrasound pictures of their siblings are taped to the family refrigerator. Today’s would-be parents are bringing children into the world where tremendous medical advances keep nudging backward the age at which babies born prematurely can be kept alive…

The 2014 midterm elections saw a huge number of legislators who self-identify as pro-life elected to office. Pro-choice darling Wendy Davis was a spectacular failure, and candidates like Mark Udall, who campaigned on abortion rights, not only lost but were criticized for emphasizing their pro-choice positions. The war on woman rhetoric the abortion rights camp has been using will likely be retired, especially when the youngest woman in history was elected to Congress last year, and she is a staunchly pro-life woman in fiercely pro-choice state.

The tide has turned, the truth of human life and dignity is again self-evident to more Americans. The March is getting bigger, younger, more joyful and hopeful every year. It’s joined by burgeoning groups of witnesses to the demonstrable ravages of abortion, like Silent No More Awareness Campaign, Created Equal, Centurions, And Then There Were None, Rachel’s Vineyard, Live Action, and so many others.

The media mostly didn’t cover the March for Life. But they’re rendered more irrelevant every year by ignoring hundreds of thousands of exuberant young people pouring into the nation’s capitol, cramming Constitution Avenue and the streets and avenues crisscrossing Capitol Hill in Washington D.C. Especially when participants take to social media to share the news themselves.

And it’s those thinkers and writers who are engaging the culture with challenging responses to the tired slogans of a dying movement that claims the right to kill in the name of an ideology of ‘freedom of choice.’

Here’s a good example.

I don’t have the right to force someone to be pregnant. I don’t have the right to force someone to continue to be pregnant. I don’t have the right to force someone to become a mother against her will. I simply don’t.

And neither does anyone else…

What we, as a society, do have the right to do is to require, and we do that all the time.

It is an accepted norm of human society that we require parents (this includes mothers) to care for their minor children. We do not accept conditions and exceptions to this rule. The age, sex, stage of development, and location of the child do not in any way preclude the obligation, the societal requirement, that the parents ensure that that child’s basic needs are met. This is true whether the child is living in the same residence as the parents or not. The obligation remains intact even if the minor child is away at boarding school, or living with relatives. Human society requires that the parents of each child be responsible and answerable for his/her health and safety.

In the event that the biological parents choose to pass the obligation for raising that child along to someone else (adoption), we still require that that happens in a way which is in the best interest of the child.

And it’s about time we look out, once again, for the best interests of the child.

This is not a new and radical position. The social contract which exists between parent and child is ingrained within every culture on Earth. This basic understanding of the duty owed by parents to their offspring predates its being codified into written law. There has never been a human civilization which did not hold this expectation for parents.

Now pay attention to this:

What is new is the position we now hold. Western society has decided that in the unfortunate instances when the biological parents of a child are incapable of caring for their child, we as a society will step in as a safety net, and see to his/her health and safety collectively. We recognize and so value each life that we have made the historically unprecedented decision to fulfill the parental obligation even in the absence of parental ability.

It is this basic human premise and recognition of human value which Pro-Life people call upon with regard to what is owed the child in the womb. We acknowledge the biological fact of the humanity of that developing human being, and require of its mother the same societal norm which exists for the well-being of all children. We expect that the parents of that child will meet and fulfill the basic needs of that child. In the event that they feel incapable of caring for that child long term, we place upon them the same obligation which is already in place – that they transfer the care of that child to someone else in a manner which safeguards the health, safety, and well-being of that child.

Recognition and protection of the right to life and human dignity are preeminent, the right upon which all others build. Rallies for the rights to free expression of speech, even of the most vile and obscene sort, no matter how many world leaders lead the march, make no sense whatsoever if that first and fundamental right is subjected to an ideological bias against life deemed disagreeable.

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May 29

We need to be reminded of lessons we vow never to forget.

When Pope Francis visited each stop on his Holy Land pilgrimage last weekend, he delivered short but poignant messages, keeping with the way Francis addresses everything he sees and sums up concerning problems for global humanity.

They were each poignant, relevant, challenging, true and incisive. I followed them all, and thought the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial message was stunning.

The day after his return to Rome, Vatican expert analyst George Weigel was my guest on radio for an hour of compelling conversation about this Middle East visit, Pope Francis, what Christianity proposes to the modern world (which is the same as what it proposed to the ancient world), and the Church engaging current global affairs. Weigel is the world’s pre-eminent papal biographer (with a two-volume analysis and commentary on the life of John Paul II).

He made a very interesting point that after John Paul’s Yad Vashem address during his March 2000 pilgrimage, one might think nothing said there could be as profound.

Weigel vividly recalled the opening of that address.

In this place of memories, the mind and heart and soul feel an extreme need for silence. Silence in which to remember. Silence in which to try to make some sense of the memories which come flooding back. Silence because there are no words strong enough to deplore the terrible tragedy of the Shoah.

I have come to Yad Vashem to pay homage to the millions of Jewish people who, stripped of everything, especially of their human dignity, were murdered in the Holocaust. More than half a century has passed, but the memories remain.

How powerful a remembrance, one that seared our consciousness. But George went on to say that what Francis said last weekend at Yad Vashem was quite startling and profound, and probably at least equaled the depth of John Paul’s message.

Francis spoke from scripture readings that posed the voice of God, and it was powerful.

“Adam, where are you?” (cf. Gen 3:9). Where are you, o man? What have you come to? In this place, this memorial of the Shoah, we hear God’s question echo once more: “Adam, where are you?” This question is charged with all the sorrow of a Father who has lost his child…

Adam, who are you? I no longer recognize you. Who are you, o man? What have you become? Of what horror have you been capable? What made you fall to such depths?…

Who corrupted you? Who disfigured you? Who led you to presume that you are the master of good and evil? Who convinced you that you were god?

At this point, I had two thoughts, beyond a visceral reaction to so breathtaking an indictment.

One, the timely, insightful book my friend Elizabeth Scalia published just before Francis was elected pope, Strange Gods. From the beginning of his papacy Francis has warned often of idolatry.

And two, the fitting analogy of the abortion culture. “What made you fall to such depths…Who led you to presume that you are the master of good and evil? Who convinced you that you were god? Not only did you torture and kill your brothers and sisters, but you sacrificed them to yourself, because you made yourself a god.”

On Wednesday, preparing for an hour with National Review Online’s Kathryn Lopez, co-founder of Catholic Voices USA, we collaborated on what we saw as important topics to cover in fast and fleeting time, there was so much. It was the day a Tweetfest was planned by abortion activists claiming that #WomensHealth called for the global body of the United Nations to tie ‘reproductive rights’ (euphemism for abortion) to binding international documents. Kathryn and I both saw the tie-in.

Her post at NRO.

Were you to do a Google search for “International Day of Women’s Health,” as I just did, the first link you would find is from the Center for Reproductive Health. There you would learn that:

“On May 28, the Center for Reproductive Rights joins health and women’s rights advocates from around the world in commemorating the International Day of Action for Women’s Health. The Center also calls on governments to ensure access to sexual and reproductive health services, including contraception, which is essential to improve women and adolescent girls’ health.”

Sexual and reproductive health services. That’s one of those phrases abortion-rights activists use when they don’t want to say abortion. Which is why there should be no tears shed for the “women’s health” lobby when they complain that their day was “hijacked” by pro-life activists today [May 28].

Kathryn included some remarkable screen shots for this post, check it out. By a long shot, the pro-life movement overtook Twitter with messages that countered the abortion propaganda of that day’s campaign. Her post captured the extreme lengths abortion activists have gone to for the right to end new human life.

Think about that. The right to end life at will.

And remember the Shoah. As John Paul II did.

Here, as at Auschwitz and many other places in Europe, we are overcome by the echo of the heart-rending laments of so many. Men, women and children cry out to us from the depths of the horror that they knew. How can we fail to heed their cry? No one can forget or ignore what happened. No one can diminish its scale.

We wish to remember. But we wish to remember for a purpose, namely to ensure that never again will evil prevail, as it did for the millions of innocent victims of Nazism.

“No one can forget or ignore what happened. No one can diminish its scale.” What is happening in abortion clinics every day cannot be ignored and vast numbers of women, men, siblings of those now lost will not forget. No one can diminish the scale of the population lost to abortion, close to 57 million babies in the US alone since Roe v. Wade, and countless numbers beyond. Watching those numbers tick up so rapidly moves some of us urgently to try to stop it.

Pope Francis at Yad Vashem, last weekend.

Almighty Lord, a soul in anguish cries out to you. Hear, Lord, and have mercy! We have sinned against you. You reign for ever (cf. Bar 3:1-2). Remember us in your mercy. Grant us the grace to be ashamed of what we men have done, to be ashamed of this massive idolatry, of having despised and destroyed our own flesh which you formed from the earth, to which you gave life with your own breath of life. Never again, Lord, never again!

“Adam, where are you?” Here we are, Lord, shamed by what man, created in your own image and likeness, was capable of doing.

Remember us in your mercy.

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May 19

ACOG, as in the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the doctors who care for women through pregnancy and deliver their babies. If anybody knows the origin and development of human life, they should. Or did.

Years ago, they became very political and ideological, and thus very flexible with science and human embryology.

Journalist Mollie Hemingway picks it up from here, in commentary on a Washington Post piece that could have come from the Onion. It’s about the flap over remarks Sen. Marco Rubio made on global warming, and science.

Last week, Sen. Marco Rubio took some heat for saying that he was skeptical of global warming activism. He was asked about the reaction to some of his comments and he noted some hypocrisy he’s witnessed on scientific consensus:

A snip from his response…

All these people always wag their finger at me about ‘science’ and ‘settled science.’ Let me give you a bit of settled science that they’ll never admit to. The science is settled, it’s not even a consensus, it is a unanimity, that human life begins at conception. So I hope the next time that someone wags their finger about science, they’ll ask one of these leaders on the left: ‘Do you agree with the consensus of scientists that say that human life begins at conception?’ I’d like to see someone ask that question.

To which Hemingway responds

Now, it’s probably worth noting at the outset that everything Rubio said in this paragraph was true. Human life begins at conception and nobody is ever asked about whether they deny that.

But let’s look at what the Washington Post‘s Chris Cillizza tweeted out in response:

Marco Rubio demanded people look at the science on abortion. So we did.

Hemingway continues:

The blurb for the piece says, “‘Science is settled … that human life beings at conception,’ Sen. Rubio said. We spoke with an expert on the science who didn’t agree.”

The story itself, with the same UpWorthy headline, is written by one Philip Bump and reads, stunningly:

(repeat: reads, stunningly):

We reached out to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, an association comprised of a large majority of the nation’s ob-gyns. The organization’s executive vice president and CEO, Hal C Lawrence, III, MD, offered his response to Rubio.

“Government agencies and American medical organizations agree that the scientific definition of pregnancy and the legal definition of pregnancy are the same: pregnancy begins upon the implantation of a fertilized egg into the lining of a woman’s uterus. This typically takes place, if at all, between 5 and 9 days after fertilization of the egg – which itself can take place over the course of several days following sexual intercourse.”

In other words: Consensus exists (if not unanimously), and the consensus is that uterine implantation is the moment at which pregnancy begins.

We presented that description to the senator’s office, asking if he wanted to clarify or moderate his statement. Brooke Sammon, the senator’s Deputy Press Secretary, told us that “Senator Rubio absolutely stands by the comment.”

Hemingway’s reaction:

Oh dear. Oh dear. Oh dear…It is somewhat mortifying that the idiocy of this is not immediately apparent to everyone. Did you catch it? Are you smarter than a Washington Post reporter? Do you know that “when human life begins” and “when an embryo implants in the uterine wall” are actually not synonymous statements? I bet you did. Or I bet you could figure that out pretty easily.

See, you will not learn this — or much of anything else about the reality of abortion or unborn human life — from the media, but in fact there is consensus about when human lives begin. It’s almost a tautology to say what Rubio said. It’s like saying “human life begins when human life begins.”

See, here’s what gets me. That the term “consensus” is thrown about so loosely and on such fundamental truths as human life, truths for which there is scientific evidence and about which it’s either embarrassing or ridiculous or both to hear serious people even introduce the idea of consensus. As if there is a consensus on the sun rising and setting each day, as if there is consensus on the idea of “a day” and its parameters and duration, beginning and end.

Anyway, Hemingway then gets into the scientific “consensus” on when human life begins (to continue with this article). And for those who need show and tell, she provides video and emphasis on the parts to pay particular attention to, for better understanding.

So…

Who to believe, bloggers at the Washington Post or embryologists? I’m so confused! And the Post wasn’t just wrong but, like, so embarrassingly wrong as to require a correction, a mea culpa, and a serious amount of soul-searching. (I get a kick out of how the people who make these videos, which are used by medical and media sites, say “Low health literacy costs the US healthcare system between $106 billion to $238 billion each year. Please watch and share a medical animation to raise health literacy!” Indeed!)

You can’t make this up.

OK, so some people tried to gently point out the egregious and embarrassing error to Cillizza and Bump, who have steadfastly refused to correct the piece they promoted.

Stay with this. Hemingway wrote a long piece, but characteristically incisive and clarifying, like a blast of ice water to the face. Because that’s just what it takes, and even then some people won’t flinch.

Please note: Bump thinks the problem is not with his own flawed reporting and comprehension but with Rubio’s statement! Bump thinks this tweet and his piece do something other than make him look extremely bad!

But it gets worse:

(Bump writing here)…

There’s a blurry line between “pregnancy” and “life” in this discussion. When we asked ACOG if the two were interchangeable, we were told that the organization “approach[es] everything from a scientific perspective, and as such, our definition is for when pregnancy begins.” On the question of when life begins, then, the scientific experts we spoke with didn’t offer any consensus.

“Life” is something of a philosophical question, making Rubio’s dependence on a scientific argument — which, it hardly bears mentioning, is an argument about abortion — politically tricky.

Mollie Hemingway rebounds…

Uh, what? Let’s list the problems here:

1) Rubio didn’t mention anything about definitions of pregnancy, so there’s no blurry line in “this discussion” about his statement regarding when life begins and someone else’s statement about when pregnancy begins…

2) It’s probably a good time to mention that ACOG is a group known for its strenuous support of abortion. Beyond the question of why Bump used this group instead of embryologists as sources, there’s also the issue that he’s not identifying them as vehemently pro-choice (as in, they even support partial-birth abortions).

Don’t miss that point. It’s critical to this whole article, and more gravely, to the public debate over abortion, human life, women’s health, and frankly violations of law. Partial birth abortions: see Kermit Gosnell.

But stay with Hemingway for now…

3) No one is mentioned in this piece other than ACOG. Yet Bump claims, “the scientific experts we spoke with didn’t offer any consensus.” This is a difficult claim to swallow…Is there any evidence whatsoever that he spoke with anyone other than the pro-choice group?

4) Dude, life can be a totally trippy thing, I agree, but Rubio was not talking philosophy. He was talking science. And the question of when human life begins is not philosophical, it’s scientific. You might debate when you have the right not to be killed by someone else, be it three months’ gestation, five months’ gestation, or birth. Some deny the right to life of various classes of people long after birth, too. Philosopher and abortion advocate Peter Singer has said children don’t achieve full moral status until after two years. And these are, in fact, philosophical questions. But the scientific question of when life begins is actually pretty straight forward, if mysteriously unknown to some at our biggest media institutions. Or as Dougherty mocked, “Guys, guys. Human ‘life’ is an illusion created by social consensus, WaPo is breaking this whole thing open!” To me Bump’s bizarre statements are more reminiscent of a group of college students from a third-rate public university having what they think sounds like a really deep conversation after passing around the bowl.

So here Hemingway brings readers back to the present ‘Politics vs. Science’, because science has been politicized for an ideological agenda.

If this is long for some readers already, here’s a cue to pay close attention now:

Bump inadvertently hit on something in his final lines, when he wrote, “After all, if someone were to argue that life begins at implantation, it’s hard to find a moral argument against forms of birth control that prevent that from happening.”

Did you know that the definition of pregnancy was changed not long ago from beginning at “fertilization” to beginning at “implantation”? Did you know that this was a political decision? Did you know that some groups have even tried to say that implantation is when “conception” occurs, too?

Before we get into this story of politics and science, I might note a few statements from early in the birth control battles. Alan Guttmacher, former president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America and a leader in the International Planned Parenthood Federation said:

We of today know that man… starts life as an embryo within the body of the female; and that the embryo is formed from the fusion of two single cells, the ovum and the sperm. This all seems so simple and evident to us that it is difficult to picture a time when it was not part of the common knowledge.

Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood, said, “If, however, a contraceptive is not used and the sperm meets the ovule and development begins, any attempt at removing it or stopping its further growth is called abortion.”

Birth control pioneer Marie Stopes said, “A large number of the opponents of birth control deliberately confuse birth control with abortion. I suppose it is all right for me to explain to you that abortion can only take place when an embryo is in existence. An embryo can only be produced after the sperm cell and the egg cell have actually united, after their nuclei have fused and after the first cell divisions have taken place. The moment that that has taken place you have there a minute, invisible, but actual embryo, and anything which destroys that is abortion, and we never in our clinic do anything which can in any way lead to that destruction. But until the sperm cell has united with the egg cell, no embryo exists or can exist, and anything which keeps the sperm away from the egg cell cannot lead to or be abortion because no embryo can then exist.”

All of these statements are from the first few decades of the 20th century. As technology developed that enabled embryos to be destroyed before implantation, what was so “simple” and “evident” and “common knowledge,” in Guttmacher’s words, suddenly became none of those things.

There’s still much more in this article, fully available at the link and advisable to read and re-read and grasp in its scope. Hemingway realizes it’s long.

So she concludes:

OK, that was a lot to work through. And for people who value the sanctity of all human life, from actual conception to natural death, none of these semantic changes matter one bit. But you can see how they would help those activists with different views on when human lives can be ended.

The thing is that activists can redefine pregnancy all they want and it won’t change the central issue at hand — the question of whether it’s ok to end the life of a genetically distinct human. We won’t resolve that debate any time soon, but obscuring the facts on when and how human life begins will not help matters.

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May 12

Some headlines, over and beyond Mother’s Day weekend.

New York Post editor William McGurn captured a lot here.

Mother’s Day is a good day in our house, partly because of the general bonhomie that links us with the many moms in our lives. There’s my wife, the mother of my children. There’s also her mother and my mother, both still with us and adored by their grandchildren.

And in the special recesses of our hearts, there are three more. These are the women who brought our daughters into the world — three women in China whom we have never met and whose names we don’t even know but to whom we owe our family.

Think of that, and let it sink in that three women in China gave life to three baby girls and then, because of their circumstances, gave those baby girls over for another family to raise and provide a good life, for each one of them.

This past summer my eldest traveled to China on her own to volunteer at an orphanage, where she learned a lesson that became her college essay. She had always wondered how a woman could give up her baby, she wrote. Then, at the orphanage, she became attached to one little fellow after just a few weeks, and gained a new appreciation for how difficult a decision it must have been — and the great selflessness that goes with it. And how lucky she was to have such a woman carry her to term, especially in a nation where she could easily have been aborted.

Another full stop. Contemplate just that thought.

Now, when moms and dads have families the traditional way, biology is a powerful partner: The child is of both of you, meant for you, a part of you and yet apart from you in a wondrous way. For an adoptive mom, love must fill in what biology has left open…

Our daughters come from very different places. The eldest comes from Yangzhou, where Marco Polo claimed to have served as governor under Kublai Khan in a city not unlike San Francisco.

The middle one comes from Nanchang, birthplace of the People’s Liberation Army, closer to a West Virginia.

The youngest comes from Chairman Mao’s home province, Hunan, where girls are known as “chili peppers” after the dominant ingredient in the spicy local cuisine.

Out of this patchwork of Chinese geography, with no DNA or blood to bind us, their mother formed a family. And when these girls sit on the edge of our bed Sunday morning and watch their mom enjoy the cup of coffee they’ve made for her, on their faces you would see the certainty this good woman gave them: I am loved.

What a testimony.

And then there was another one, quite the opposite, quite jarring. The recorded account of a young woman, plastered all over social media, who had her abortion experience videotaped (strategically) in a sort of defiant effort to show how that ‘choice’ can be a happy one. As if it’s really just a woman removing something from her body that got in the way of her plans and pursuits, an inconvenience she could easily remove. Some people were understandably repulsed by this show.

But my friend Elizabeth Scalia saw something more. She looked deeper, or longer, or thought harder about what the video really revealed. And she urges her readers ‘don’t become distracted by what this young woman is saying with her mouth, or you’ll miss all she’s revealing in her face.’

A month after the abortion — with the dramatic change in hairstyle that so many women effect when emotions are high and they need to feel in control of something — watch Emily, then. The light is gone from her eyes. The seeming disconnect between pc-fed head and instinctive heart is laid out in breathtaking and stark incongruity, even down to the shadows, the blue note, the lack of energy. Devastating. Cognizant of it or not, she is a mother in grief…

Frankly, if I were a young woman watching this and pondering abortion, one glance at those haunted eyes, that beautiful, woebegone countenance and benumbed, vacant tone, and I would be running to my nearest Birthright, or to the Good Counsel network, or to the Sisters of Life, whose founder, the mighty John Cardinal O’ Connor of the Archdiocese of New York, once pledged to help any needy pregnant woman seeking assistance instead of abortion, and whose successor, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, has maintained that position.

My heart breaks for this young woman and her baby who are so clearly victims of a pervasive rhetoric full of untruths and the banality of real evil. She needs our prayers and our whole-hearted spiritual assistance. Evidenced before us is a mind seduced and under the power of nefarious propaganda that has told her to serve her own desires unto death — one that has encouraged her to soul-shredding idolatry while its promulgators serve only death and political campaign coffers. It is a mind owned by insipid platitudes, now at war with a heart that says, “bone of my bone, flesh of my flesh, my baby, my heart, myself.”

What this young woman now knows — what resonates so clearly in her assertion that if her house were afire, she would grab the sonogram of her extinguished baby, and run — is that when she consented to kill her baby, she killed a very real piece of herself.

Even after a woman delivers a baby, or miscarries, or aborts, there remains within her, for the rest of her life, microscopic bits of her child — of each child she has ever conceived. Look up microchimerism and you will understand there is no such thing as “getting rid” of one’s baby, only of stopping it’s life and disposing of it, while carrying it within one’s very blood and sinew, forever.

Go to Elizabeth’s post for all the links in that text to places of help and healing, protection and caring, a few of which I provided here because they’re so critical for women in crisis.

She continues her appeal to understand what really goes on in an abortion, referring to ‘Emily’s good abortion’ video.

A body is made of living tissue and living tissue has memory. Pretty it up on video however you like, the insertion of a vacuum into a woman’s body and the perpetration a violent, limb-shredding execution within the deep recesses of her womb cannot help but reverberate like dark energy, throughout the woman’s body, mind and soul. You want to grab a sonogram of the baby you killed because the living part of that baby, still residing within you, is calling out for more of you, all of you.

And then there’s the consideration of women after the abortion. No longer the ‘women and babies’ outreach efforts because the babies are gone. But the women need help and relief. And look who’s there to help them. Women who were there, working in an abortion clinic or being ‘clients’ or ‘patients’ of one.

There has been an explosion recently of women sharing their personal abortion experiences as part of a new self-described “pro-VOICE” movement. The stated goal of this campaign is to shift the focus from debating the legality of abortion or discussing whether abortion is right or wrong, to sharing stories from individuals who offer an intimate look at life after abortion. One example is an article that was recently put out by Upworthy. In an attempt to paint abortion as a positive experience, the woman in the article said that she was “surprised” by several things that have happened after her abortion. There are many women who now suffer because of their abortion and we felt like our voices needed to be heard as well.

Here are those five voices.

Read them. Hear their voices. They want to be heard. They are mothers, after all. And they have something to say about the truth and consequences of that human relationship.

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Aug 08

That heading requires a book instead of a post. But here goes…

The use of moral language is controlled by the thought police of elite media and politics, or at least they try to. So do some bullies in social networking media, who wield it or fight it (depending on the topic) with all their might in the verbal arena. I’d prefer to call it the arena of ideas, which it used to be when Socratic reasoning still mattered, but it’s more a pugilistic boxing arena now with punches thrown and swings taken with words, sometimes mean and angry ones, sometimes deftly honed, sharpened and maneuvered ones that cut a deep slice meant to wound.

Whose morality? is often thrown back at someone trying to reason in moral terms, and it becomes an automatic conversation stopper. So people in the current cultural climate have to learn to argue from reason alone, which still wins the day in the great Catholic intellectual tradition when engaged by anyone open to truth. You can’t argue or debate the definition of marriage in law from the basis of morality anymore. And ‘women’s issues’ has become a runaway train laden with the freight of ‘reproductive justice’ and ‘choice’ and ‘preventive health care services’ and ‘contraceptive coverage’ to stave off the ‘war on women’ and so on.

Where’s this going? Everywhere. I’ve written about semantic engineering since I first discovered the California Medical Association journal’s 1970 editorial.

“It will become necessary and acceptable to place relative rather than absolute values on such things as human lives… Since the old ethic has not yet been fully displaced it has been necessary to separate the idea of abortion from the idea of killing, which continues to be socially abhorrent. The result has been a curious avoidance of the scientific fact, which everyone really knows, that human life begins at conception and is continuous whether intra-or extra-uterine until death. The very considerable semantic gymnastics which are required to rationalize abortion as anything but taking a human life would be ludicrous if they were not often put forth under socially impeccable auspices. It is suggested that this schizophrenic sort of subterfuge is necessary because while a new ethic is being accepted the old one has not yet been rejected”.

Over four decades later, and 40 years of Roe, acceptance and rejection of ethics have ebbed and flowed.

Which gets to some headlines out lately that share the common thread of the use of semantic engineering and rhetorical manipulation to control public opinion about social moral policy. Just as Walter Lippman warned about in the early to mid-twentieth century (especially in Public Opinion,1922).

Just a few random samplings:

President Obama’s campaign for his new economic policy, which is the same as his old economic policy.

The president’s promise of transparency, which is ultimately happening in spite of his administration’s efforts to the contrary.

In truth, I can’t think of a less transparent administration than this one, which keeps using that word as though it means something else.

Then there’s his strong opposition to the Patriot Act, until he became president and found some benefit of not only using but broadening the Patriot Act.In recent months, Barack Obama has forcefully defended the use of the Patriot Act to gather the phone records of every American. But before he was elected president, he had a very different perspective on the issue.

In December 2005, Congress was debating the first re-authorization of the Patriot Act, a controversial 2001 law that gave the federal government expanded power to spy on Americans. And Barack Obama was one of nine senators who signed a letter criticizing the then-current version of the legislation for providing insufficient protections for civil liberties.

The senators focused on Section 215 of the Patriot Act, which allows the government to obtain “business records” that are “relevant” to a terrorism investigation. Sen. Obama and eight of his colleagues worried that the provision would “allow government fishing expeditions targeting innocent Americans. We believe the government should be required to convince a judge that the records they are seeking have some connection to a suspected terrorist or spy.”

Congress eventually re-authorized the Patriot Act, including Section 215. A few years later, Obama was elected president of the United States. And under President Obama’s watch, the NSA engaged in surveillance suspiciously similar to the broad “fishing expeditions” Sen. Obama warned about.

The government has argued that records of every phone call made in the United States are “relevant” to counter-terrorism investigations generally, allowing them to obtain information about the private phone calls of millions of Americans — exactly the kind of argument Sen. Obama warned the government would make if the language of Section 215 wasn’t tightened.

And then there’s this wonkish piece about energy and environmental policy that, when you cut to the chase, turns on rhetoric.

Keep the poor in the dark: That’s the aim of some of the world’s biggest and most influential environmental groups. And last month, both the U.S. Export-Import Bank and the World Bank helped advance it. Out of concern for climate change, they announced, they would restrict financing for coal-fired power plants…

The groups that opposed the Vietnamese project include Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace USA, Pacific Environment, the Center for International Environmental Law, and the Center for Biological Diversity. In a letter to President Obama, they protested that the Thai Binh project would “emit unacceptable air pollution that will worsen climate disruption.”…

That electricity is essential to modernity is incontrovertible. The rich countries of the West developed their economies by producing electricity from coal. Now the rest of the world wants to do the same. And yet, the environmental elites are determined to prevent that from happening.

Many of those same elites are cloaking their rhetoric in moral terms. In late June, Ken Berlin, a lawyer and leader of the “Energy & Environment Team,” a group set up to promote Obama’s climate-change agenda, sent out a list of talking points to be used by Obama’s supporters. The first one: “We have a moral obligation to future generations to leave them a planet that’s not polluted and damaged by carbon pollution.”

And now, as evidenced by the recent moves by the Ex-Im and World Bank, we have adopted a policy that it’s better for the world’s poor to continue living in the darkness and destitution that always comes with energy poverty than for them to be damaged by “carbon pollution.”

If that’s a moral stand, then I’m Jack the Ripper.

And if we can begin to talk about our moral obligation to future generations not to kill any of their members by ‘choice’, then we will have begun to progress toward talking about things like economic policy and carbon pollution. But until then, the talk is incoherent.

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May 30

Among other things the trial of notorious abortionist Kermit Gosnell did to jolt cultural awareness of what abortion is and does, it gave us a whole new sense of how we count children who have gone missing in America.

Just after the three young women abducted a decade ago by Ariel Castro were rescued, without neighbors ever realizing they were there and experts not seeing enough evidence to trace their existence, I interviewed International Child Legal Counsel Liz Yore on the topic of missing children and ways to protect our children better. Since then, she’s posted some searing insights on her blog, namely ‘The Other Missing Children.’

In the early 1980s, child advocates jumped on the missing children bandwagon mobilizing the country to search for abducted children. The spate of missing children cases began with the Etan Patz disappearance, and then the Adam Walsh abduction and murder.  The missing children movement mobilized a nation to look for missing children and demand tougher state and federal laws.

Liz does us a favor recalling our history on this, the urgent need and the response.

As a nation, we rejoiced over the recovery and return of missing children and mourned over the death of a missing child. With every high profile case, a new federal law was named after a missing child. First came the Adam Walsh Act, then the Jacob Wetterling Act, and Jessica’s Law, and the Amber Alert, to name just a few…The technology age ushered in new inventions to assist in finding missing children. The Amber Alert flashed missing child alerts on electronic highway billboards along with mobile phone alerts warning the public of an abduction in progress…

The world watched with admiration as America demonstrated that it takes missing children seriously and the statistics proved it. Since the days of milk cartons, the recovery rate of missing children rose from 62% to 97%. But there are millions more missing children, who went missing without a trace or even a mention. They weren’t seen on flyers or on Amber Alerts. They simply disappeared. They had no name. We never saw their faces. Until Now.

Until the 2010 Philadelphia Grand Jury issued its 261 page report on the Kermit Gosnell Abortion Mill on Lancaster Avenue replete with photos of the carnage of aborted babies.

For the first time, the nation saw some of the missing children from an abortion; the babies that survived the extraction and abduction by the abortionist’s instruments and toxic solutions. The photos showed the faces of babies inconveniently born alive from failed abortions. Children born breathing, squirming, crying, and moaning. The photos showed the babies whose spines were snipped so that they would stop breathing and go missing forever. A recent 2010 report found that 1200 babies are born alive from a botched abortions and are left to die or killed in the clinic. Finally, a Grand jury displayed the photos of fully formed babies with their faces were clearly displayed in the Gosnell clinic. The Grand Jury took another step; they named these babies; Baby A, through Baby G.

The Grand Jury performed a noble feat. They showed the photos of the babies born alive. The evidence required that they named the victim babies, Baby A-Baby G. To charge a crime, you must name the victim. The profound, but simple act of showing the photo of the face of a born alive baby and naming the newborn acknowledged its existence, its dignity and its humanity.

Every child aborted had a face, a body, a unique set of characteristics, an identity. Seeing the faces and bodies of babies killed in late term abortions forced us to consider what abortion does in any stage of pregnancy. The Gosnell trial forced us to face their humanity.

The grim and staggering statistics of the missing babies from abortions point to an unimaginable failure to protect and recover over 1 million missing children per year and over 54 million gone missing since the Roe decision. Some survive but seldom are they recovered and rescued. So much for America’s missing child success rate.

The curtain has finally been pulled back after 40 long years…

Elie Wiesel, the holocaust survivor understands the power of photos to breakdown the denial of a slaughter. When Wiesel visited the D.C. Holocaust Museum and looked at the photos of the dead bodies of the children piled up in mounds in the concentration camps, he said, “ So many children, I now see the pictures of the children. Why the children? My God, why the children?”

Yes, so many children gone missing from our nation. Surely, 54 million missing from abortion will shock the conscience? They are gone forever. No missing children posters will help find them. No Amber Alert will flash on the highway that they are missing.

Will America pass a law to protect Baby A, like it did in honor of Adam Walsh? Will we honor them on May 25th, Missing Children’s Day? Or will we keep pretending that these babies aren’t missing?

My sense is that this watershed moment won’t allow us, collectively, to go back. Liz told me “it’s time for a paradigm shift.” It’s time to be honest about what abortion is and does. Gosnell’s conviction of killing babies only begins to tell that truth, finally using honest language. Babies have been killed. Gosnell got life. His victims never had that chance.

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