Feb 09

Women’s March on DC, March for Life, Human Trafficking Awareness.

None of these things is like the other, except that for the marches, hundreds of thousands of women and male sympathizers and advocates, of all ages, descended on Washington DC within a week of each other. While the effort to combat human trafficking was a month long awareness campaign. They got varying degrees of news coverage, and had core commonality: women.

And that tied them together in a ‘what’s wrong with this picture’ snapshot of division and dissent in America.

An Independent Journal Review writer captures it with little text and ample photographic proof of points.

A week after the Inauguration of Donald Trump, politically active women across America could choose to make themselves heard at two major rallies revolving around women’s issues. They could attend a pro-choice, feminist march known as the Women’s March or they could wait one week and attend the 44th annual pro-life, March for Life.

Some lucky few, such as myself, were able to attend both.

How were they different? She supplied ample proof in the photographs that they were diametrically opposite.

Take a look for yourself, perhaps you will agree.

The photos are lined up according to categories, and each type had comparative color photos to illustrate the point:

Young adults at both marches (photos) Examples of inclusion (photos) Signs at both marches (photos) Attire (photos) Speakers (photos) Men (photos)

The main reason for the 1st annual women’s march (photos) The Main reason for the 44th march for life (photos)

Then she concluded:

“Only one march persuaded me to attend again.”

Her reason was obvious, and made abundantly clear. (I don’t link to the article intentionally. Some of the graphics are vulgar and terribly undignified to the women and men who chose to portray themselves and make their graphic statements as they did. I choose not to make such disgrace more accessible.)

A writer who attended the March for Life turned up this past week in First Things with a first hand account that made admissions not often heard but painfully accurate in their incisive truths.

The voices proclaiming the “Forty-Fourth Annual March for Life” seemed to be celebrating an anniversary, not observing four-and-a-half decades of failure. If there was mourning at this event, it was hidden behind the banners and posters, behind the colorful sweatshirts of school groups, behind the cheers and prayers of the friendly crowds…

“This is the generation that will end abortion!” the speakers exclaim, every year. And every following year the marchers return, with equal enthusiasm and good cheer, as our national shame grows one year deeper.

But this year there was some justification for the enthusiasm. For the first time, a vice president visited the march, and the president tweeted his full support. One did not need to be a Trump supporter to applaud the administration’s reiterated promises to defund Planned Parenthood and appoint pro-life justices…

A week earlier, the Women’s March had formally committed itself to the abortion license, and anti-abortion women marching against Trump had found themselves heckled and marginalized. But at the March for Life, no efforts were made to police the ideology of the marchers. Feminists for Life, some stalwart Democrats for Life, and a pregnant woman carrying the quixotic poster: “End Abortion: Abolish Capitalism” walked side by side with the #MAGA caps and monarchists. All political differences faded in a cause greater than any government.

Since we must have a government, those of us who oppose abortion will listen to Trump’s promises. We will hope that he keeps them. But the enthusiasm I saw at the march last Friday, the cheerful and confident faces, was not the result of any recent election. It has been there for years, and will be as long as the fight against abortion continues.

And that will be for a while, since the major setbacks Planned Parenthood and the entire abortion industry and its backers suffered in Election 2016, in addition to the increase of common sense abortion restriction laws, and the undercover investigative series of videos revealing the marketing of baby body parts, has – somehow – helped the abortion giant mount a massive fundraising campaign. And use those funds and that marketing campaign push back against the federal government redirecting taxpayer funds away from abortion providers and toward federally qualified, comprehensive women’s health clinics.

All of which is aided by complicit big media, whose style books don’t allow for the ‘pro-life’ designation and haven’t for years. Or decades.

NPR is a good example.

The New York Times has plenty of examples, from this article using ‘anti-abortion march’ (as opposed to the Women’s March on Washington) in the headline of an article that opens with the words “For opponents of abortion…”

Which, interestingly, this NYT article did only slightly differently, using the headline ‘Abortion Foes Aim to Compete With Turnout for Women’s March’. Which also opens with the words “Opponents of abortion…” (And, note to NYT staff writers: The March for Life just held its 44th annual event, swelling each year into higher numbers of young activists joining the faithful annual attendees, making the whole event hundreds of thousands strong, and not competing with anybody. Though that was a revealing claim.)

And then there’s this post-March report in the Times declaring that “Pence Tells Anti-Abortion Marchers That ‘Life is Winning’, and again opening the article with the words “Abortion opponents…”, and used that wording in the text to talk about “opposition to abortion” to define a huge swath of America committed for four decades and growing, by what they oppose, and not propose.

Just saying. It’s so entrenched, so ingrained, so obvious, the bias.

But look who did that. This little blog post, off the beaten track of big media websites and spinoff blogs, written by a Dominican Brother to share experiences in the Dominican priory which happened to be situated just off the Mall of Washington and close to massive crowds assembled there for the Women’s March.

There were not enough restrooms set up for the Women’s March that took place in Washington, DC, the day after the presidential inauguration. I found this out while visiting the Dominican priory on the southern side of the National Mall, where I saw many people from the March looking around for a restroom. Observing the desperation of those outside, some friars kindly offered to let a dozen marchers use the public restrooms in the priory. But, unexpectedly, hundreds of people quickly formed a line seeking relief.

While I was interested in helping those in need, this small act of mercy became a source of anxiety. Not only was a large crowd descending on the priory, but with the people came many disagreeable signs, shirts, and hats, some of which had messages that were anti-Catholic, pro-abortion, vulgar, or even pornographic. Nevertheless, those carrying or wearing these things had the courtesy to cover them up. The fervor that may have animated the large crowd did not go so deep as to make people oblivious or rude to flesh-and-blood humans.

That’s great news. Br. Martin’s account gives hope that “we can often find common ground on many issues when we take the time to speak with others.”

I have had several conversations on radio with guests who are doing this in their daily work, as I am in mine, speaking with whoever will listen and speak in turn, and engage. Anyone open to dialogue, with ideas grounded in fact and reason, and propositions backed by resources, and offers to help in any way needed, free for the taking. Especially for those in crisis, trouble, or need of any kind.

January was Human Trafficking Awareness Month. But Wednesday was ‘International Day of Prayer and Awareness Against Human Trafficking’ marked annually on 8 February, which falls on the feast of St. Josephine Bakita, who Pope Francis called an “enslaved, exploited and humiliated girl” who never lost hope, ended up a migrant in Europe, and became a nun.

Wednesday I featured a guest on radio who devotes his work to battling human trafficking and calls for “a new vigilance, a rising up, particularly of men who will love incredibly and sacrifically,” It was Australian musician Joel Smallbone, lead actor of PRICELESS, the top independent film on launch weekend last October, dramatically dealing with the issue of human trafficking in what turns out to be a drama about heroic love and sacrifice. Joel and his brother, Luke Smallbone, head the Grammy Award-winning band for KING & COUNTRY, and are releasing the film on DVD and On Demand February 14th from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment, in time for Valentine’s Day.

Joel explains it’s a love story that emphasizes the value of women, building a movement on the “idea of respect and honor in relationship and women being priceless. What we’ve found in our beliefs as men is that people are made equal. No one is a commodity and everyone deserves to be loved and loved well.”

He told me that “women are being objectified for their body or their looks, but not loved for their inherent beauty,” and he called this “a blatant ideology” that unfortunately, enslaves so many people in America and the world.

I thought of those in the Women’s March in January, who marched through the streets of DC in costumes made to appear as ‘women’s private parts’, female genitalia, and the signs with vulgar messages. And wondered how they could not realize how they degraded themselves and other women, objectifying them and playing right into the “blatant ideology” of women as commodities.

As Br. Martin showed, we’ve got to try to speak with each other, and find common ground.

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Feb 01

‘Choice’ was always a flimsy cover.

After 44 years of abortion on demand since Roe v. Wade, and tens of millions of human lives never lived and children never known or given a chance to be held, known or loved by their parents or at least one of them, or any family member, or couples eager to adopt, the cost of this violence and the cumulative ravages and drastic loss it left has been realized and mourned.

Of all the articles, columns, commentaries, posts and testimonies that have given voice to the plaintive cry of this awareness, this one sums up as well as any the story of how the ‘pro-choice’ movement came about and grew, and how it started falling apart as revelations came to light of what abortion really is and does. What it takes, and what it leaves behind.

It’s a grim experience, going through an abortion, and we assumed a woman would choose one only as a last resort. We were fighting for that “last resort.” We had no idea how common the procedure would become; today, one in every five pregnancies ends in abortion. Nor could we have imagined how high abortion numbers would climb. In the 43 years since Roe v. Wade, there have been 59 million abortions. It’s hard even to grasp a number that big…

We expected that abortion would be rare. What we didn’t realize was that, once abortion becomes available, it becomes the most attractive option for everyone around the pregnant woman. If she has an abortion, it’s like the pregnancy never existed. No one is inconvenienced…

Abortion can’t really turn back the clock. It can’t push the rewind button on life and make it so that she was never pregnant. It can make it easy for everyone around the woman to forget the pregnancy, but the woman herself may struggle. When she first sees the positive pregnancy test she may feel, in a panicky way, that she has to get rid of it as fast as possible. But life stretches on after abortion, for months and years — for many long nights — and all her life long she may ponder the irreversible choice she made.

Frederica Matthewes-Green captures the gamut of abortion emotions, lies and truths, activism and realism in a keenly exquisite expression of the impact of abortion.

This issue gets presented as if it’s a tug of war between the woman and the baby. We see them as mortal enemies, locked in a fight to the death. But that’s a strange idea, isn’t it? It must be the first time in history when mothers and their own children have been assumed to be at war. We’re supposed to picture the child attacking her, trying to destroy her hopes and plans, and picture the woman grateful for the abortion, since it rescued her from the clutches of her child…

Read the article. She asks the intellectually honest question of how we would react to seeing this sort of behavior in nature, in animals, with a mother turning on her own babies.

You would immediately think, “Something must be really wrong in this environment.”

So how did this early pro-choice feminist come to this?

I changed my opinion on abortion after I read an article in Esquire magazine, way back in 1976. I was home from grad school, flipping through my dad’s copy, and came across an article titled “What I Saw at the Abortion.” The author, Richard Selzer, was a surgeon, and he was in favor of abortion, but he’d never seen one. So he asked a colleague whether, next time, he could go along.

Selzer described seeing the patient, 19 weeks pregnant, lying on her back on the table. (That is unusually late; most abortions are done by the tenth or twelfth week.) The doctor performing the procedure inserted a syringe into the woman’s abdomen and injected her womb with a prostaglandin solution, which would bring on contractions and cause a miscarriage. (This method isn’t used anymore, because too often the baby survived the procedure — chemically burned and disfigured, but clinging to life. Newer methods, including those called “partial birth abortion” and “dismemberment abortion,” more reliably ensure death.)

After injecting the hormone into the patient’s womb, the doctor left the syringe standing upright on her belly. Then, Selzer wrote, “I see something other than what I expected here. . . . It is the hub of the needle that is in the woman’s belly that has jerked. First to one side. Then to the other side. Once more it wobbles, is tugged, like a fishing line nibbled by a sunfish.” He realized he was seeing the fetus’s desperate fight for life. And as he watched, he saw the movement of the syringe slow down and then stop. The child was dead. Whatever else an unborn child does not have, he has one thing: a will to live. He will fight to defend his life.

The last words in Selzer’s essay are, “Whatever else is said in abortion’s defense, the vision of that other defense [i.e., of the child defending its life] will not vanish from my eyes. And it has happened that you cannot reason with me now. For what can language do against the truth of what I saw?”

The truth of what he saw disturbed me deeply. There I was, anti-war, anti–capital punishment, even vegetarian, and a firm believer that social justice cannot be won at the cost of violence. Well, this sure looked like violence. How had I agreed to make this hideous act the centerpiece of my feminism? How could I think it was wrong to execute homicidal criminals, wrong to shoot enemies in wartime, but all right to kill our own sons and daughters?

After so much more deeply probing, painful, confessional thought, she concludes…

In time, it’s going to be impossible to deny that abortion is violence against children. Future generations, as they look back, are not necessarily going to go easy on ours. Our bland acceptance of abortion is not going to look like an understandable goof. In fact, the kind of hatred that people now level at Nazis and slave-owners may well fall upon our era. Future generations can accurately say, “It’s not like they didn’t know.” They can say, “After all, they had sonograms.” They may consider this bloodshed to be a form of genocide. They might judge our generation to be monsters. One day, the tide is going to turn. With that Supreme Court decision 43 years ago, one of the sides in the abortion debate won the day. But sooner or later, that day will end.

It’s happening now, and this 44th annual March for Life last weekend adds another element of closure on the lies of more than four decades of abortion activism. These students at the University of Notre Dame expressed in a brief letter to the editor of a student newspaper the core reasons for their pro-life activism, in a message that is whole-life as much as anything.

Why We March.

We march because we believe that abortion is the deliberate and systematic dehumanization of an entire class of people based on their age, wantedness and state of dependency.

We march because we stand against the elimination of human life based on sex, race or disability.

We march because the world that we want for those who are refugees, immigrants, poor, elderly, homeless, disabled, sick or lonely is impossible if we allow the dehumanization of any group of persons, especially vulnerable or defenseless persons.

We march against any human person being considered disposable for the “greater good,” against any deliberate death being justified as a “necessary evil,” against any human life being classified as “negligible.”

We march because we believe what we’ve said before: Dependency is not a measure of worth. No poverty, no vulnerability, no age, no disability, no sickness and no condition has the capability of demeaning the worth of any human person.

We march for a world in which all life is defended and valued, in which all life is considered with the dignity it deserves.

The president of the Notre Dame Right to Life organization and one of the letter writes was on my radio program talking about the more than 710 Notre Dame members attending the DC March for Life as one of many activities the group carries out throughout the year to advocate for the dignity and defense of vulnerable human life.

One new plan they have is to hold roundtables or panel discussions on campus between people who hold pro-life beliefs, and those who believe abortion should remain legal and provided as an option for women in an unwanted pregnancy. The ground rules would be that each would listen to the other, engage with civility, and agree to work together for the common good.

This needs to happen. The Women’s March on Washington a week before the March for Life in DC couldn’t have been more opposite in goals and demonstration of mission. There has got to be some ground on which human rights activists can walk together.

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Jan 18

From Martin Luther King Jr. to his followers in Congress, the rights movement has changed.

In a providential alignment of historic dates on the national calendar, Monday of ‘Inauguration Week’ was the annual celebration of the great civil rights leader Rev. Dr Martin Luther King Jr., news reports circulated that early civil rights activist and now senior Representative John Lewis and a growing company of protesters would not attend the inauguration of President-elect Donald Trump, which shared attention with reports that a Women’s March on Washington the day after the inauguration would bring hundreds of thousands of protesters to DC to repudiate the new president and what they expected would be the damage wrought by his perceived policies.

Dr. Martin Luther King delivered one of his lesser known talks, ‘Our God Is Marching On’, in 1965 to encourage engagement in public policy and the political process, with a timeless message.

Let us march on ballot boxes until we send to our city councils, state legislatures, and the United States Congress, men who will not fear to do justly love mercy, and walk humbly with thy God.

Let us march on ballot boxes until brotherhood becomes more than a meaningless word in an opening prayer, but the order of the day on every legislative agenda.

Let us march on ballot boxes until all…God’s children will be able to walk the earth in decency and honor…

And yet, this week is a snapshot in a ‘what’s wrong with this picture?’ look at the setbacks King’s aspirations have suffered in the modern day splintering of the movement into diverse ‘rights’ groups, many based on identity with redefined terms and redirected energies.

Here’s one, based on the new activism of Congressman John Lewis against President-elect Trump, with Lewis leading a boycott of the inauguration by members of Congress who don’t see the incoming president as ‘legitimate’.

Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) on Tuesday accused Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) of resting on his status as a civil rights icon, arguing he has done little in Congress.

“I have long contemplated the idea of just going to the [House] floor and saying, ‘John Lewis, thank you for your contribution to civil rights during the Civil Rights era. I would appreciate it if you would contribute something since then…

King also criticized Lewis and other Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) members for sharpening divisions in Congress.

“When they formed the Congressional Black Caucus back years ago in the aftermath of or in the immediate beginning of the civil rights movement, the shape of that, I looked at it even then and said, ‘How can you form a caucus that’s established on race?’” he asked. “And now, the Congressional Black Caucus, I just openly say it – they’re the self-segregating caucus.”

“I mean, the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. – as [this week] we celebrated his birthday – wasn’t about segregation, it was about de-segregation,” King added, citing Monday’s holiday for the civil rights leader.

“But now, they self-segregate and use the vehicle created as the self-segregating caucus in order to advance a leftist political agenda that is not at all reflective of Martin Luther King [Jr.’s] memory.”

This is all a shame. Dr. King and his family who continue his work today have long referred to ‘the Beloved Community’ based on ‘love and mercy, peace and brotherhood, decency and honor’. That’s pretty much gone in this post-election transition time, as it was through the campaign and election season.

And about “God’s children”, not only does this week fall within a week of the anniversary of the infamous Roe v. Wade Supreme Court law legalizing abortion on demand – which King’s niece Alveda never stops reminding the country is the new civil rights movement – this year the annual March for Life in DC is preceded by a Women’s March on Washington to protest the presidency of Donald Trump and the perceived harm his administration will do to women’s rights.

But can’t they walk together, as Dr. King asked in his day, especially of fellow clergy in Letter from Birmingham Jail? Isn’t there some common ground?

The stated goal of the March for Life is “a world where every human life is valued and protected.

The vision statement…of the Women’s March pledges a commitment to nonviolent solutions, noting that there is “no true peace without justice and equity for all.

Furthermore, even though the women who are organizing the Women’s March had only two months to put their event together, they have created a diverse, enthusiastic and eager community.

Since those words were written in that article, the women planning this event narrowed their community to those who shared the core belief in abortion as a woman’s right. So the Women’s March grew less diverse, when organizers disinvited New Wave Feminists and other pro-life organizations. Though some enthusiastic and eager pro-life women plan to go anyway.

But that’s January 21st, a full news day away from all the planned protests in DC of the inauguration, the parade and celebrations scheduled for those historic events. If only those who celebrate King’s legacy actually tried to live it, we would have more decency and honor.

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Jan 27

The mission is to protect all vulnerable human lives.

So the old, unworkable claim that being “anti-abortion” (speaking of old terminology) is ‘single-issue’ activism about just saving babies is as incoherent as the claim that being “pro-choice” is wide-reaching activism about comprehensive care for women in need and their families. You can’t stand for the right to healthcare, free or low-cost contraceptive drugs, the personal right to ‘consult your doctor or minister’ (all of which is so often claimed) or the right to anything else if you can’t or won’t guarantee the right to live in the first place.

That is self-evident. But too may people have deluded themselves in the abortion movement, along with willing and compliant facilitators in media, politics, academia and other opinion shaping positions, it’s now a rescue mission for them as well as babies, mothers, their families and society.

This has gone on for too long to comprehend. The anniversary of Roe v. Wade just passed the 43rd year mark, and the toll is beyond breathtaking. When I see a television special, or coverage of the Washington DC March for Life, and the screen has a ticker in the corner upping the number of babies aborted since the start of that program alone, I panic and want someone to do something to stop this madness that’s so rapidly spiraling out of control. But the only difference between that moment and every other over these decades is that the ticker is right there, on the screen, in full sight, digitally ticking up the numbers to tally the latest toll as fast as abortions are happening.

Here’s a screen full of numbers. Look at any box, especially the one tallying the number of abortions since you loaded the page. From the time I opened it to link it here, to mere minutes later, it showed nearly 700 new abortions worldwide. Watching it tick up is horrifying. Every number is a human life. When I started these last few sentences, I refreshed that page and that one number went back to zero with the reload. On quick glance, it’s already up to 154 and I don’t want to look again at what it’s up to since this sentence was started. (Okay,  I just did, 207.)

I just closed that page, not to have to look again. But see, that’s exactly the point. Fr. Frank Pavone of Priests for Life has always said “America will not reject abortion until America sees abortion.” Out of sight, out of mind. Multiply that toll exponentially by the countries that have legalized abortion (hence the worldwide counts on that abortion ticker page) and the genocide of unborn boys and girls is horrific. And not so out of sight anymore, since the trial of notorious late term abortionist Kermit Gosnell in 2013, and the series of undercover videos documenting Planned Parenthood’s sale of baby body parts that emerged in 2015.

Just about every sentence here calls for further elaboration, and that will come in the days, weeks and months ahead. This is a prominent issue in the American presidential election this year, one among many but a very important one for many candidates still in the race in the GOP, their supporters, and  citizens who may be holding out on politics at the moment, but holding stronger views on protecting innocent, vulnerable human life. Democrats have no candidate running for the presidency who holds pro-life views, and Democrats for Life have to hold their own in the party that has forced their numbers to dwindle.

Amazing, the irony of noting the analogy to The Emperor’s Clothes and calling it obvious.

The 2015 March for Life in DC chose the theme ‘Pro-Life and Pro-Woman Go Hand In Hand’. Fr. Pavone explains:

The real difference between those in the pro-life movement and those in the “abortion rights” movement is not that we love the baby and they love the mother.

The real difference is that they say you can separate the two and we say you can’t.

We love them both. And we are convinced that you cannot serve the mother while destroying her child, and that you cannot save the child without helping the mother.

Much more to come on that.

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Feb 03

The truth and the lies have become clearer.

Vast numbers of young people turning out for the March for Life in Washington DC, other such rallies across the US, and in the groups, operations, organizations and services dedicated to daily outreach and care for women and children, are survivors of the Roe generation. They’ve lost siblings, classmates and peers, some even their own child in a surprise and unintended pregnancy, and they know the toll it has taken on them, their parents, families and society. They’re the most life loving, fiercely determined, committed and outspoken generation of pro-life activists. Abortion activists saw that years ago, the evidence that their generation was dying off as a natural consequence of devaluing human life and motherhood and the natural bond between the generations.

There are so many ways this story is coming out and reaching people. Star Wars fans, humanitarians in general who aren’t used to these types of personal accounts, look at this one.

In 1914 Agnes Cuff, a flighty and unstable young woman with few prospects and little money found herself pregnant. The father didn’t want to be involved. She was alone, shamed, poor and pregnant.

Today she would be encouraged to get herself to an abortion clinic and end the unwanted pregnancy.

Instead a little boy was born.

English actor Alec Guinness, most famous for his role as Obi Wan Kenobi in Star Wars was Agnes Cuff’s only child. On his birth certificate he is named “Alec Guinness” but those were only his first names. The place for the child’s last name is blank. So is the column where the father’s name is listed.

It has never been confirmed who Guinness’ father was. Some speculated that he was a member of the Anglo-Irish Guinness family. Alec Guinness himself thought his father was a banker named Andrew Geddes.

Alec Guinness converted to the Catholic faith in 1956 and was a faithful Catholic for the rest of his life. His delightful conversion story is told in his autobiography Blessings in Disguise

CNN runs a piece by a feminist against abortion.

Abortion betrays women by having us believe that we must become like men — that is, not pregnant — to achieve parity with them, professionally, socially, educationally. And if we are poor, overwhelmed or abandoned by the child’s father, or if medical expenses would be too great for us or for our child, social “responsibility” requires us to rid ourselves of our own offspring…

Is this really the equality we were looking for 42 years ago?

I think most women want to see a culture that respects and honors women not only for the myriad talents we bring as individuals to our professions, our communities and our country. Women also want to live in a society that, at the very same time, cherishes our shared, and indeed, wondrous capacity to bear new human life. We want to be respected for the work we do as mothers.

What about a culture where women’s childbearing capacity is recognized not as an impediment to our social status and certainly not as the be-all and end-all of women’s capacities as it once was, but as that which calls upon all persons in society to show a bit of gratitude? Rather than structure society around the wombless, unencumbered male, ought not society be structured around those who, in addition to being able to do all that men can do, can also bear new human life?

Such a cultural restructuring in support of caregiving — one that pro-life feminists seek — would benefit this generation’s fathers as well. Many men today would prefer to dedicate far more time and attention to their children than fathers of prior generations did, or could. Pro-woman, pro-child, pro-family policies would enable just that.

Not all women become mothers, but those who do so depend upon a cultural esteeming of both pregnancy and motherhood for their social and professional support. When we belittle the developing child in the womb, a scientific reality that most pro-choice advocates have come to admit, we belittle and distort that child’s mother. We make her out to be one with property rights over her developing unborn child (much as husbands once had property rights over their wives).

We give her the inhumane (but for 42 years, constitutionally protected) right to decide the fate of another human being, of a vulnerable child — her child — to whom she properly owes an affirmative duty of care. We do all this rather than offering her the myriad familial and social supports she needs, whatever her situation, and cherishing her role in the miracle of human life.

Those supports are being offered, in something like 2,500 crisis pregnancy centers, otherwise known as pregnancy help centers, across the US, a service expanding abroad as more service providers are training teams of caregivers and organizations outside the US. They cover everything a woman might need in what’s frequently called a ‘crisis pregnancy’, from medical aid to legal, financial, material, spiritual, and maternal aid once the child is born, when mothers choose to care and provide for their babies.

The Monday after the Super Bowl in the US always draws a great deal of media attention to the sports hype aftermath, and the commercial hype as well, especially rating the commercials that aired at extravagantly high cost during those hours of one of the most highly viewed sports games of the year.

Look how one well known and long established American company handled their ad.

This new ad by Pampers had 950,000 views on YouTube before it ran during the Superbowl. Babies are the focus here—born and unborn—and its message is that every first is significant, no matter how small it seems. The ad begins with a sonogram and goes on to show the many firsts between children and parents. It’s a heart-warmer, even if it is about diapers.

Especially because it is about diapers, which means a new life in the world, in the life of a couple, which now makes them a family. Well done. The pandering has stalled, and the pampering has shifted, back to where it belonged.

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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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Jan 22

Human dignity and human rights, “for all God’s children.”

How ironic that the day set aside to honor Dr. King is only a few days before the anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade anniversary. What would he say?

Alveda King, the niece of MLK and a dedicated pro-life advocate, notes her uncle was strongly pro-life.

“Were he alive today, he would be working to secure peace and justice for those in the womb and healing for a nation that is still pained by over 53 million missing lives,” King says. The toll abortion has taken on the African American community is enough to shock the conscience of every American.

According to the US Census Bureau, African Americans comprise 12.4% of the American population; however, over 30% of the nation’s abortions are done on black women. Recently released data from the New York City Department of Health shows the Big Apple hitting a 40% abortion rate. As if that number wasn’t appalling enough, when the data is broken down all racial lines, around 60% percent of New York City’s abortions are done on black women. In other words, 1,448 African American babies are aborted for every 1,000 born. Among black teens in New York City, that number jumps to a staggering 72% abortion rate or 2,360 abortions for every 1,000 babies born.

Read that. Engage this issue.

Center for Disease Control data shows that since Roe vs. Wade (1973) abortion has been the leading cause of death among African Americans. More African Americans have lost their lives to abortion than to heart disease, cancer, accidents, violent crimes or AIDS- combined.

Let that sink in. It’s not a coincidence.

African Americans are a prime target of the abortion industry. In analyzing the location of the nation’s abortion centers, some have found a disproportionate number situated in majority-black neighborhoods. One such center was that of Kermit Gosnell, the disgraced abortionist from Philadelphia who is now charged with murder after the deaths of at least two women and seven newborn infants at his facility.

According to the Grand Jury report, the Gosnell abortion business preyed upon low-income black women. These women were subjected to absolutely deplorable conditions. Basic health considerations were ignored and abortions were being performed by unlicensed and even untrained staff using unsanitary surgical instruments.

That trial should have made a huge difference, one that’s bee overdue for decades.

The Gosnell case made national headlines but his business strategy of targeting low-income black women is not an anomaly in the abortion industry. This goes back to the beginning of the modern pro-abortion movement with Planned Parenthood’s founder Margaret Sanger, an unabashed eugenicist.

Despite its claims otherwise, the pro-abortion movement does a grave disservice to African American women and the greater African American community. Abortion advocates fail black women when they rally against common sense clinic regulations, which could have prevented the Gosnell tragedy. They fail black women when they work to undermine crisis pregnancy centers, which are an invaluable resource for so many low-income black women. And they fail the African American community by denying basic humanity to black babies in the womb.

Martin Luther King, Jr. boldly envisioned an America in which everyone would be free to share in the same opportunities as everyone else.

However…

In legalizing abortion-on-demand, the Court ruled that a group of people, namely unborn children, did not deserve any legal protection whatsoever. For this reason, Roe vs. Wade is completely antithetical to King’s Dream.

Abortion has not made our society more equitable. In fact, it has done the opposite. Abortion has allowed society to arbitrarily decide whose lives are valuable and whose are expendable. True equality treats all human life the same, regardless of race, stage of development or condition of dependency. Abortion prevents millions of African Americans from sharing in King’s Dream and it must be ended.

That’s why they march, the pro-life movement who began giving voice to the voiceless on the first anniversary of Roe. Like King, they never gave up and never will. In fact, their ranks are only growing larger and younger and more determined. They’ve spread from the annual Washington DC rally and March for Life throughout the country to the West Coast Walk for Life.

The Chicago March for Life held last Sunday had a tenfold increase in participants over last year, and they were loud, joyful, exuberant, determined, happy, hopeful, positive, and very supportive. The plaza erupted at just about everything any speaker said, starting with the young African-American woman who was pressured to have an abortion but looked into a pregnancy help center where she found support and everything she needed to keep her baby, which wound up being babies when she learned she had twins. The beautiful little girls, Amelia and Olivia, were with her on stage as she spoke of hope and life and aid for women.

Two congressmen, Democrat Dan Lipinski and Republican Peter Roskam, spoke of bipartisan support for the protection of all human life and women’s health in Congress. They were brief but powerfully moving, invoking predecessors in the cause of human rights, including the drafters of the Declaration of Independence.

Dr. Martin Luther King invoked that, too. On many occasions. Because the majority of Americans still hold those truths as self-evident.

In one of his lesser known addresses, ‘Our God Is Marching On’, King explained why he and his movement marched.

He said “it is not an accident that one of the great marches of American history should terminate in Montgomery, Alabama.” In that city, “a new philosophy was born” of the struggle of the oppressed, one that united an entire community to squarely face the oppressors. And out of that struggle, he said, a powerful new idea was born, one “that electrified the nation and the world.”

And then “the conscience of America began to bleed.” And as a result “of this democratic spirit,” the nation finally forced Congress  to write legislation in the hope that it would eradicate “the stain of Birmingham”, of discrimination of a whole class of human beings by another class. And that legislation gave them some degree of “their rightful dignity”.

Once more the method of nonviolent resistance was unsheathed from its scabbard, and once again an entire community was mobilized to confront the adversary. And again the brutality of a dying order shrieks across the land. Yet, Selma, Alabama, became a shining moment in the conscience of man. If the worst in American life lurked in its dark streets, the best of American instincts arose passionately from across the nation to overcome it. There never was a moment in American history more honorable and more inspiring than the pilgrimage of clergymen and laymen of every race and faith pouring into Selma to face danger  at the side of its embattled [Blacks].

At the side of its embattled, oppressed fellow human beings discriminated against and denied human rights by a class of human beings who had the legal right to do so, until those laws changed.

That’s why they marched then, said Dr. King. That’s why they march today.

 

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Jan 25

That was only one sign seen at the March for Life in Washington D.C. Friday, carried by the Hare Krishnas. Feminists for Life were there, Atheists for Life, and members of the gay Republican group GOProud joined the March this year, because they’re all against abortion. And for human dignity. For all human beings.

That’s the message, the one Abraham Lincoln and Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. ’got’ and stood for and dedicated themselves to in their work in whatever way they could. Which is why this momentous week that opened on Martin Luther King Day was a very big one for the national debate on human rights. Especially since the most pro-abortion president in American history was sworn in on Dr. King’s day, with his hand on a Lincoln Bible and a King Bible. If only he dedicated his presidency to that cause of just laws for “all God’s children” as Dr. King said, and “the millions as yet unborn” as President Lincoln said, he could serve the  great and noble  “common good” to which politicians refer so often, loosely.

Something different was in the air this year at the March for Life, participants said all day through their Tweets and Facebook posts and text messages and radio interviews. The cause was the same, the determination and dedication were the same, certainly the bad weather was the same (bitter cold), even the growing numbers of pro-life ralliers continued the consistency of growing, this year to over half a million strong. And mostly young people. So very many young people, with countless buses of high school and college students from all over the country converging on the Mall of Washington and student organizations carrying banners and chanting with zeal that they’re the pro-life generation.

‘Maybe it’s the 40th anniversary of Roe that made it seem different,’ several said. But I heard more than a few wonder out loud what else it was, because they felt invigorated and fortified in a new way.  The Washington Post suggested there would be a significant difference this year because of the changing of the guard, the new head of the event who brought a new focus to the cause.

[Jeanne] Monahan embodies the movement’s transition. The photogenic, warm former federal government policy worker was picked in November to take over the March for Life after the death of Nellie Gray, the hard-line, media-unfriendly 88-year-old who ran the massive event almost single-handedly out of her home. Despite being an event primarily of youth, until last year the march had a bare-bones Web site and no accounts on Twitter or Facebook…

Monahan’s charge is to modernize the march for a country that is becoming more conflicted about abortion even as it remains steadfastly committed to the Roe ruling and the value of personal choice. For the movement’s next generation of leaders, the question is whether those two things can coexist. Should the focus remain on Roe and changing laws to limit access to abortion, or has that left a legacy too judgmental for younger Americans? Should the emphasis shift to changing minds and hearts, particularly of women who are pregnant and don’t want to be?

It’s not either/or for the wide pro-life movement made of many different intiatives and organizations. It’s both/and. Pregnancy help centers continue to spread all over the country, always near abortion clinics, offering women a real and true choice, with any help she may need in a crisis pregnancy, whether medical. financial, legal, material or emotional. They’re doing heroic work.

So are many, many others, trying to change laws and hearts and minds.

The Silent No More Awareness Campaign gives voice to women who regret their abortions and finally want to speak out about the reality of its ravages.

Rachel’s Vineyard has steadfastly supported women and does amazing work helping women and families heal.

Women are individually helping other women and the culture in general by sharing their very personal experiences in columns and blog posts, and writing opinion pieces like this, about the beauty of maternity and what Pope John Paul II called the “feminine genius,” recalling women to important truths in a ‘theology of the body’ way.

This was a beautiful thing that came together for the terrible reason that ending the life of an unborn child on demand for any reason at all is the law. And the sea of humanity at that March showed the happy faces of just about every demographic and profile that makes up America and many from beyond these shores. They were there because every human life has dignity. No exceptions.

And Pope Benedict sent out a tweet to encourage them all, each and every one.

“I join all those marching for life from afar, and pray that political leaders will protect the unborn and promote a culture of life.”

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Jan 13

Starting from the top.

So many times during so many press conferences or reading news stories, I’ve wanted to ask this question.

Mr. President, do you hear yourself?

 

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Jan 28

The news media. Last year Newsweek tried to claim young women were the ones missing. That fallacy exposed, they tried just ignoring it this year. So did most other big outlets. But media blackouts don’t work anymore. Except to marginalize the media…

In all the places that did cover Monday’s massive March for Life on the Mall of Washington, one theme emerged more than ever before: “the new face of the pro-life movement is young, vocal and rapidly expanding.”

Got coverage? Yes.

When abortion activist Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL, saw last year’s March for Life in Washington, D.C. she was utterly astounded: “I just thought, my gosh, they are so young,” she told Newsweek. “There are so many of them, and they are so young.”

Abortion advocates like Keenan must be uneasy with the “so-many-so-young” trend. However, as leaders of the pro-abortion movement get older and focus on retirement, the pro-life movement is ever more youthful, numerous and vibrant.

And totally plugged-in to the world of social networking. A ‘smartphones for life’ group engaged participants in their campaign to help the media do their work by providing contact info for major media outlets. These young people texted and tweeted the March, they blogged and posted YouTube videos from it. They went to and around traditional media and rendered them even more irrelevant than they already were.

You’re not going to see this anywhere in ‘big’ media: Surprised by Beauty at the March for Life. You may be surprised by some of the participants noted there.

The 1989 Tiananmen Square uprising of pro-democracy students and intellectuals led to untold deaths of Chinese citizens at the hands of the government. Chai Ling was one of the student leaders who survived the massacre. Smuggled out of China in a box to the U.S., where she received an Ivy League education, married, and had children, Chai became a Christian 13 months ago. Her convictions have turned to the pro-life cause, and she came to the March to help spread the word about her efforts to end female abortion and infanticide in China.

No media blackout is going to prevent this from spreading.

Tweeting and texting, the Echo Boomers are taking the reins of the decades-long effort to restore legal protection to the unborn in Alaska and across the U.S.

These 20-somethings – children of Baby Boomers and Generation Xers – were born and raised after the 1973 Supreme Court decision of Roe v. Wade. They are survivors of the era of legalized abortion in America. But a full third of their generation did not survive – 26 million of their brothers, sisters and friends have been aborted.

For those who made it, like 28-year-old Christine Kurka of Eagle River, Alaska and 22-year-old Windy Thomas of Anchorage, the abortion debate is about human rights – rights they believe should be equally applied to all members of the human family, including the very youngest.

At age 18, Kurka was motivated to speak up for the unborn. Her awakening came during a visit to the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C., where she heard recordings of the Nuremberg trials. She understood that apathy, silence and the deflection of responsibility were no defense in the face of evil.

“If we say nothing, we are acquiescing,” Kurka told the Catholic Anchor in a recent interview.

Kurka began to see a correlation between the destruction of the Jewish people behind the walls of concentration camps and abortion.

“It’s a quiet thing, people don’t see it,” she explained.

She realized “it wasn’t going to be enough to just personally stay away from abortion or not to have one myself. I was going to have to be actively speaking and doing something.”

In the chambers of Congress, out the door of Planned Parenthood, and across the social media network, they are.

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