April 29, 2013
Gosnell, Late-Term Abortions, and the Abortion Culture of Infanticide
The mainstream media is now devoting some attention to the trial of late-term abortionist Kermit Gosnell, who is charged with homicide for cutting the spinal columns of moving and squealing babies born alive during abortion procedures. And, at long last, questions are now being raised about whether such practices along with infanticide attitudes are more prevalent in the abortion industry.
In recent weeks, we've learned about:
* Florida legislative testimony by a Planned Parenthood lobbyist in Florida responding to a question about a baby struggling for life after a botched abortion by saying that the decision should be left to the woman and her physician (here). (Planned Parenthood of Florida later walked back that answer, but remains opposed to legislation directing medical efforts to save the life of a baby born alive during an abortion procedure.)
* An undercover video inside a New York abortion clinic in which a staff member explained that if an aborted baby were still moving after a late-term abortion, the clinic would place "it" in a jar of "solution" and "the solution will make it stop" (here). (The full video shows that an abortion counselor in the clinic said that in the unlikely event the baby was breathing after the procedure, the physician would attempt to save it. The clinic has not explained why a long-time staff member had a very different answer -- and a very disturbing attitude. Nor has the clinc explained why the life of a viable unborn baby should turn on whether it was killed before, during, or after a late-term abortion.)
* A Washington, D.C. abortionist who was caught on tape saying that, in the unlikely event that a baby was born alive, "we would do nothing to help it" (here). (This abortionist also pulled back a little on his candid taped remarks to assure reporters that he would call 9-1-1 but take no extraordinary efforts to save the baby. He also provided no explanation for why death of the same baby outside the womb should be treated any differently than terminating it first inside the womb.)
A broader group of individuals is now asking questions about the culture of infanticide perpetuated by the abortion industry, including the efforts by Planned Parenthood and its allies, supported by its presidential patron Barack Obama, to vociferously oppose legislation prohibiting late-term abortion, to require medical efforts to save the lives of babies born alive in abortion clinics, or to ensure that full information about the development of the fetus is provided to women coming to abortion clinics.
Melinda Henneberg, writing in the Washington Post, is not opposed to all abortions and would not fall comfortably into the pro-life camp. But she too is asking tough questions about the abortion culture and wants to at least draw the line at infanticide. Here are a few excerpts (the full article is here):
While in campaign mode, Obama purported to respect diverse views on the abortion issue. But I detected no such sensitivity in his Friday remarks at Planned Parenthood, where he spoke of “those who want to turn back the clock to policies more suited to the 1950s than the 21st century. And they’ve been involved in an orchestrated and historic effort to roll back basic rights when it comes to women’s health.”
Abortion, he means, though that word wasn’t in his talk.
Though I do not support a “personhood” amendment, neither am I okay with the Orwellian dodge that it’s not a baby unless and until we say it’s a baby. And I continue to hope that someday, Americans will look back on the twin moral blind spots of infanticide and capital punishment – yes, even for terrorists – and wonder what we were thinking.
But part of the answer, surely, is that we’ve tried not to do a lot of thinking when doing so would prove uncomfortable. Part of the answer, I believe, is right there in what that Bronx clinic worker said to the undercover activist: “I don’t know why you want to know all this; just do it.”
April 17, 2013
Gosnell Abortion Trial: "Pulling Back the Curtain on This Procedure"
Overthe last month, I (here), Rick Garnett (here), and others on Mirror of Justice have protested the news media's virtual black-out in covering the trial of abortionist Kermit Gosnell, accused of murdering newborn babies who survived late-term abortions, as well as causing the death of women in his fraudulent medical practice.
Shamed into introspection, more or less candidly acknowledged, the news media have begun covering the horrific trial in Philadelphia. Now that attention finally is being paid, what will come of it?
Journalist Carl Cannon writes on realclearpolitics.com about "reproductive rights" as one of journalism's most "sacred cows," and then offers these thoughts on attention being drawn to the reality of abortion as a "procedure":
Gosnell’s actions pull back the curtain on this procedure and allow Americans to contemplate a disquieting prospect: that abortion itself is an inherently violent act, the grisly details of which remain hidden even from the patients in the operating room -- and that if those specifics were truly understood, public support for it would wane.
March 21, 2013
The Philadelphia "House of Horrors" and the Silence of the "Pro-Choice" News Media
On the National Review blog, Mark Steyn in "The Unmourned" comments on the major news media blackout of ongoing developments in the trial of Philadelphia abortionist Kermit Gosnell and what that says about our society and especially about the unwillingness of the mainstream media to highlight any story that contravenes the pro-choice narrative.
Gosnell is one of those doctors willing to perform late-term abortions. And he also acted to guarantee the result would be a dead baby, even if he had to take additional steps toward that end. Viable babies aborted alive were regularly and callously terminated in Gosnell's "House of Horrors."
Thank goodness the Philadelphia district attorney finally acted to stop this ongoing atrocity. And thank goodness for Pennsylvania's law prohibiting abortions after the 24th week. Remember this episode the next time someone hyberbolically suggests that pro-life advocacy for changes in the law have produced nothing but "failure." If for nothing more than bringing an end to Gosnell's destruction of the innocents, a man who has aborted hundreds of unborn children and regularly practiced infanticide, Pennsylvania's law will have saved more lives than could any proposed national ban on assault weapons, however meritorious the latter proposal might be.
During the trial, Gosnell's medical assistant testified about the practice of killing at least ten babies after they survived the late-term abortion and how Gosnell joked about the gruesome practice.
Medical assistant Adrienne Moton admitted Tuesday that she had cut the necks of at least 10 babies after they were delivered, as Gosnell had instructed her. Gosnell and another employee regularly “snipped” the spines “to ensure fetal demise,” she said.
Moton sobbed as she recalled taking a cellphone photograph of one baby because he was bigger than any she had seen aborted before. She measured the fetus at nearly 30 weeks, and thought he could have survived, given his size and pinkish color. Gosnell later joked that the baby was so big he could have walked to the bus stop, she said.
Needless to say, if this were not an abortionist and if this hadn't occurred in an abortion clinic, this trial would be the lead story on every news channel and at the top of the fold in every newspaper. Instead of the agonizingly long soap opera trial of Jodi Arias in Arizona for killing her boyfriend, the slaughter of dozens of babies ought to be the story of the day -- no, the story of the year. Attention must be paid!
March 11, 2013
Novel Manuscript by Catholic Author Looking for a Good Home
Like many a law professor, writing a novel has long been an item on my bucket list. For most of us, that’s just where it stays -– a promise left unfulfilled. But finding myself at a point somewhat in between projects (with a major empirical study complete and article manuscripts in the editorial pipeline), I determined last year to bring my novel manuscript to completion, given that the story had been outlined ten years before, with various scenes sketched out over the ensuing decade.
The result, “Marital Privilege,” is a novel with distinctly Catholic sensibilities (focusing on devout Catholic mother who struggles to maintain her faith after the death of her child), with connections as well to the legal academy (the main character is, no surprise given the author, a law professor) and the world of law and lawyers (populated by police, prosecutors, defense lawyers, and judges and including courtroom scenes).
While I have no illusion that this novel will become a classic assigned in college literary classes in decades to come, I am pleased with the revised manuscript and encouraged by the enthusiastic responses from test readers. If and when “Marital Privilege” finds its way into print, I am hopeful it will have a special appeal to the faithful followers of “Mirror of Justice.”
But “finding its way into print” is much easier said than done. In terms of finding a publisher, I have been following the traditional approach of contacting literary agents, which may yet bear fruit. I recognize, however, the difficulty of making a connection with a traditional literary agent through cold contacts by a novice author of fiction. I am also considering regional publishers and other options.
Then I thought of this “Mirror of Justice” community, which has been so generous to me over the many years since its founding. So I appeal to you for thoughts and possibilities of publication that may not have occurred to me. If you have an idea of a good home for this manuscript, kindly send it my way at “email@example.com”.
I've pasted below a brief “query” description of the novel, in the style commonly used for initial contacts with literary agents:
Nothing could be worse for a mother than to witness the death of her young child -- and then to be used by a politically-ambitious prosecutor who seeks to pin the crime on the woman's own husband.
Candace Klein, a young law professor in the Twin Cities, is one of the lucky ones in her professional life, finding genuine meaning in her work. But her personal life is troubled by a growing distance from her husband, Bill, who languishes in a dead-end job working for her father. Then suffering the horrific loss of her child, Candace grieves and seeks solace in her faith, while the criminal investigation proceeds under the direction of a politically-climbing prosecutor, Robby Sherburne, who pledges to secure the death penalty for a child-killer. Lt. Ed Burton, a suburban cop, works diligently to follow the evidence where it leads. As the evidence accumulates and her husband becomes a target of the investigation, Candace resists becoming the instrument of her husband's condemnation. She relies on the uncertain legal protection of the "marital privilege" to refuse to testify, which ultimately provokes a crisis of identity between her professional commitment to the justice system and her resolute loyalty to her husband.
While offering elements of a mystery, episodes of courtroom drama, and an underlying theme of a woman's struggle to keep faith in the face of tragedy, MARITAL PRIVILEGE may perhaps best be categorized as falling on the line between literary and mainstream fiction. Although this manuscript was completed before recent tragic events in New England, the story of a mother finding her way after the loss of an innocent may resonate with a wider audience today. The manuscript is complete at 79,000 words.
MARITAL PRIVILEGE is my first foray into law-related fiction. As a law professor holding an endowed university chair, I have published three non-fiction law books with such leading legal publishers as Thomson-West and Foundation Press. I have also published dozens of scholarly articles and other periodical pieces, including many placements in top ten legal journals and reception of the annual Law & Society Best Article Prize.
February 27, 2013
Against Calling on Government to Shape Souls
My colleague, Professor Charles J. Reid, Jr., a master wordsmith and prominent scholar of medieval history, has been reborn of late as a vigorous advocate for what he calls “a robust American government.” In a blog post previously appearing on Huffington Post and now re-published in the winter edition of the St. Thomas Lawyer, Professor Reid calls for a much enlarged federal government with an even larger agenda.
More pointedly, Professor Reid accuses those of us who resist government encroachment of singing a “sickening refrain.” He labels the Reaganesqe question about the wisdom of reliance on the State as the answer to societal ills as producing “toxic words” that “inject poisons into the American body politic.”
And because Professor Reid advocates an über-activist vision of national government that he would task for “the betterment of men’s hearts,” I issue a warning about the perils of over-zealous faith in the State.Professor Reid begins with a greatest hits of America’s national government in the modern era — the Marshall Plan, the interstate highway system, the space race, all of which originated in substantial part as national defense initiatives in the wake of America’s military victories in World War II. This litany is well-stated — as far as it goes. Under the right circumstances and for compelling reasons, government can accomplish good works. And remember that the federal government of that period was exponentially smaller and the reach of law far shorter, leaving more room for non-governmental initiatives, intermediary groups, economic growth, and individual freedom.
Then Professor Reid takes his faith in the State to another level by advancing the use of government — not to invest in good works or even to promote good behavior — but to bring about right thinking in its citizens. And the government would accomplish this shaping of hearts and minds, not by the warm persuasion of human relationships, but through the cold coercive force of the law.
To support this vision of paternalistic government, Professor Reid adduces the example of the civil rights acts of the 1960s. To achieve “the betterment of men’s hearts,” he claims that the civil rights acts “required something that no prior legislative enactment had dared to seek — the banishment of hatred from the precincts of the human mind.”
As a matter of both law and history, Professor Reid greatly overstates the precedent. Title II and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 do not enjoin enlightened racial thinking on the boss or the inn keeper. These statutes by their direct terms prohibit specific acts of discrimination in the particular categories of employment and accommodation. As one of the leading drafters of Title VII emphasized, “The man must do or fail to do something in regard to employment. There must be some specific external act, more than a mental act. Only if he does the act because of the grounds stated in the bill would there be any legal consequences.”
And leaders of the civil rights movement, while appreciating government as one important tool in ending oppression and opening opportunity, harbored no grand illusion about the salvific power of law and politics. The central goal of the civil rights movement was to remove the burden of segregationist laws and to obtain the targeted intervention of government to generate economic and educational opportunities.
To be sure, a civil rights act, like law in general can have a positive (or negative) educational effect. And the law certainly can improve the common good by directing actions and controlling behavior to better promote human thriving. Most importantly, law can ensure the framework that creates the civil space for people of good will to seek a better life and learn to live together in harmony.
But civil rights leaders made clear that they never trusted law to bring people to think right, as contrasted from using law strategically to prevent people from doing wrong. As Martin Luther King wisely observed, “It may be true that the law cannot make a man love me, but it can keep him from lynching me, and I think that’s pretty important.”
More importantly, I fear that Professor Reid’s endorsement of government “as a force for good — and greatness — in the world” and as an instrument to reconstruct “the precincts of the human mind” poses grave dangers, both secular and spiritual.
First, by overreaching and asking government to act beyond its capability, we set the stage for disappointment and cynicism. When we aspire for government to bring brotherhood and goodness and love — what Professor Reid calls “the betterment of men’s hearts” — we set up government for inevitable failure.
What Professor Reid calls the “sickening refrain” of those who are skeptical of government has been generated by decades of disappointed experiences from unimaginative reliance on government. As but one example, we are now near the end of the fifth decade of the War on Poverty — and poverty is still winning. Even after welfare reform during the Clinton years, spending on means-tested social welfare programs has risen by 50 percent over the past decade. One need not be “petty, crankish, and small-minded” to be discouraged by the powerful evidence of governmental failure.
And we will be disappointed yet again if we heel to a government-centric lead. Instead, we should be looking for more effective partnerships between government and private sector entities, moving government restrictions out of the way to allow charitable works to flourish, and working to allow greater freedom of choice in education that includes private and religious schools, while maintaining a government-funded safety net.
In sum, what we need is imagination, a rethinking of possibilities and creativity in methods. And imagination, although bountiful in people, is always in short supply in the impersonal bureaucracies of government.
Second, the genius of the American system lies not in the power of government but in its opposite — liberty. And yet the words “liberty” and “freedom” are not to be found in Professor Reid’s several posts about government and politics. Nearly every law enacted and every government act initiated constricts freedom. For a good cause, the cost to freedom may be justly borne. And people of good faith will disagree about the appropriate balance and justifiable tradeoffs — and those in both political parties do not deserve contempt for reaching different conclusions.
But government knows no bounds and freedom is in grave jeopardy when the power of the State is unleashed in a crusade for the “betterment of men’s hearts.”
Finally, promoting statecraft as soulcraft delivers us into the great temptation of idolatry. I earnestly urge great caution here. Whenever anyone proposes empowering government through the force of law to enjoin the right way to think or to shape the right way to feel, we should be nervous. This disquiet should remain even when — no, especially when — we are convinced that we know what the right way is.We must insist that the “precincts of the human mind” belong to God — not to government. And we must be ever so careful not to confuse the two.
February 22, 2013
Planned Parenthood Lawyer Describing the Weakening of Roe v. Wade as Supreme Court Doctrine
Speaking of Supreme Court precedent and the cause of human life in the courts, the meaningful success of the Pro-Life movement since the darkest days of Roe v. Wade is now confirmed out of the mouth of one of its strongest adversaries. In a January issue of The National Law Journal, Roger Evans who has been lead counsel or co-counsel for Planned Parenthood in many of the leading Supreme Court cases explains how much the jurisprudential landscape has changed –- against the abortion provider position -– in the decades since Roe v. Wade:
I think it clear that the courts have weakened the doctrinal protections of this right. Indeed, outside the political context, I think we can no longer refer just to Roe, but must refer to Roe/Casey, recognizing that Planned Parenthood v. Casey changed significantly the judicial analysis applicable to this area of the law. Roe/Casey is characterized by increasing deference to so-called state interests at the expense both of the woman's individual liberty interests and of the sanctity of the doctor-patient relationship at least in the context of abortion care.
As Time magazine has recently reported (here), “abortion-rights activists” have been slowly and steadily but almost always losing ever since their victory in Roe v. Wade some forty years ago. Now is not the time for Pro-Life advocates to lose heart, heed the nay-sayers, and withdraw from the battle, lest we snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.
February 18, 2013
Pro-Life Progressivism: A Look Back
It is a sign of maturity that the Mirror of Justice has reached a point in its history in which we are circling back to earlier discussions from several yearas ago. In reading recent posts about the Pro-Life movement and whether it is too strongly connected to conservative or Republican politics and should instead become more affiliated with liberal or Democratic politics, I was reminded of earlier discussions along these lines. Way back in May of 2005, shortly after attending a Pro-Life Progressive symposium here at the University of St. Thomas School of Law, I posted my thoughts along with those of several others.
In the hope that what I said then may have some continuing relevance for today's discussion, I share a few excerpts from my 2005 post titled "Pro-Life Progressivism: Avoiding the Pitfalls" (the whole post is available here):
As an observer of the Pro-Life Progressive discussion, I was a sympathetic outsider looking in with great interest. I am sympathetic in that I too yearn for a pro-life witness from the political left. I remain an outsider in that I do not agree with every element of the progressive agenda, at least on the means to the ends * * *. I look inside with great interest because of my fervent wish for an ever-larger and diverse witness for life; indeed, because of the powerful message for life that would be sent thereby, I’d be tempted to vote for a genuinely pro-life liberal candidate for public office—even over a conservative of comparable pro-life credentials—despite my doubts about other elements of the progressive platform.
Having thus acknowledged my perspective, and having listened carefully to (most of) the presentations at the symposium, I thought I identified three potential dangers that could undermine Pro-Life Progressivism as an authentic pro-life movement.
First, a few participants exhibited an unseemly tendency to depreciate the value of electing pro-life candidates to office and to denigrate pro-life accomplishments. The argument that pro-life candidates (at least of the Republican variety) abandon the anti-abortion cause once elected to office is overstated, objectively false, begs the question of why offering progressive pro-life candidates would serve any practical purpose, and often appears to be a thinly-veiled excuse for ignoring even the most egregious of pro-abortion records of liberal candidates so as to justify casting votes for them.
One of course can and should criticize Republican leaders who sometimes fail to place pro-life issues on the front-burner and fully exercise the bully pulpit of public office to speak against the culture of death. But one legitimately can urge even more attention to the scourge of abortion without denigrating hard-fought victories for the pro-life movement. We must recognize that the battle for life will be won mostly through small successes that build upon each other.
At the federal level, pro-life members of Congress have been able to enact a prohibition on the grisly practice of partial birth abortion and continue to fend off the persistent efforts of the pro-choice left to subsidize abortion-on-demand through federal spending. * * * At the state level, pro-life legislative successes continue to multiply, from ensuring greater information to women in trouble, protecting the rights of parents, and providing easier access to alternatives to abortion. While these pro-life successes are not yet the bountiful harvest for which we all pray, the basket is by no means empty.
If those who claim to be building a pro-life progressive movement belittle the hard work of those who for many long years have labored hard in the political vineyard and reaped many victories over the concerted opposition of the party that claims to speak for progressives, this newly-formed progressive voice simply will not be in solidarity with the pro-life movement as a whole.
Second, while some participants persuasively argued that Pro-Life Progressives are better situated to seek common ground with skeptics on the question of life, including those on the pro-choice side, such fora for dialogue must be entered with caution lest they be abused by abortion advocates who disguise themselves or their agenda. The dialogue must be conducted with integrity and always with fidelity to the cause of life. * * *
More than one participant in the symposium emphasized that, while constituting a welcome beginning, changes in the rhetoric on abortion by certain liberal political figures must be accompanied by meaningful action. While the action that should be expected was not made concrete (which brings me to my third concern below), it at least indicated that more than one member of the Pro-Life Progressive movement is attuned to the risk I describe above.
Third, the Pro-Life Progressive movement, while presenting itself both as a sincere opponent of abortion and broadly progressive on economic and international matters, seemed rather short on specifics about how to advance the pro-life cause beyond words. Indeed, more than one speaker raised doubts about whether anti-abortion legislation—with the eventual goal of prohibiting any violent taking of unborn human life—ought to be pursued.
All of us agree that the culture must be changed if we are to realize our hope of one day placing abortion alongside slavery and genocide as universally-acknowledged intrinsic evils. Moreover, some of us will be called to devote our time and talents to reaching hearts and minds, rather than to engaging with politicians and judges. But the pro-life movement as a whole cannot stand by and fail to take such action as is possible now. We must save as many lives as we can today, even if limited restrictions on abortion and enhancement of alternatives are all that can be legislatively achieved at present.
Interestingly, the same symposium participants who were quick to dismiss pro-life Republicans as inconsequential based upon a supposedly inadequate legislative agenda were also the ones who seemed most reluctant to forthrightly endorse legal constraints on abortion as part of the new movement’s platform. If this cognitive dissonance is rooted in an underlying timidity about pro-life politics or an unwillingness to unite with other pro-life activists across the political spectrum in seeking always to accomplish whatever is politically possible, then it will be difficult for this new movement to sustain itself as truly pro-life as well as progressive. * * *
I do not mean to suggest that any one of the three dangers mentioned above, much less all three in concert, were manifested in a dominating way at the Pro-Life Progressivism symposium. But each emerged from time to time. Nor do I think it inevitable that the Pro-Life Progressive movement will succumb to these temptations. Any nascent political movement will be less than fully formed and internally coherent at its birth. Mapping the pitfalls, so that they may be avoided, ought to be welcomed as advancing the cause.* * *
If Pro-Life Progressivism is truly to be a fourth political alternative in the country (along with conservatism, libertarianism, and secular liberalism), then it must be authentically pro-life as well as genuinely progressive. Should it succeed in becoming a viable part of the political landscape, while remaining true to its pro-life soul, we all would have great cause to rejoice.Greg Sisk
February 08, 2013
The Diversity, Dynamism, and Wide Open Heart of the Pro-Life Movement
Pro-Lifers can chew gum and walk at the same time. Honestly!The wonderful men, women, and increasing numbers of teenagers involved in the Pro-Life movement witness to the sanctity of human life at all its stages in an amazing diversity of ways.
They rally together to provide a public witness of solidarity with the unborn.
They provide educational opportunities to draw attention to the scandal of hundreds of thousands of unborn children being snuffed out before birth.
They create, support, and volunteer with crisis pregnancy centers to provide services to women in difficult situations to bring their unborn child into the world and then to carry mother and child forward to thrive in our society.
And, yes, some participate in political campaigns of pro-life candidates (of both political parties) at the national and state level. Or they may work with organizations to endorse and support pro-life candidates for elective office. Those who have been in the “political trenches” of this battle well know the challenges, the difficult calls, and the nuances involved when anyone, especially people of faith, turn to the democratic process to promote a particular cause.
Still others focus on the legislative process, at both the national and the state level. They draft, debate, and lobby for legislative initiatives —
* to ensure that those faced with a difficult situation are informed about the options for bringing an unborn child to birth and about the development of the child in the womb,
* to reverse the exclusion of parents from interactions between their pregnant daughters and those affiliated with abortion clinics and the abortion industry,
* to prevent late-term abortions (the modern American form of infanticide), or
* to carve out adequate space in our society for individuals and mediating institutions to uphold their values without being required to follow conflicting government mandates.
And some Pro-Lifers advocate in the courts to uphold legislation that protects unborn life and upholds informed consent. Or they defend the rights of citizens, churches, and organizations to stand up on behalf of life and not be forced to subsidize abortion.
From time to time, someone may lose heart and advise that Pro-Lifers involved with the electoral process, with legislative bodies across the nation, or with the judicial process should surrender that calling and withdraw from the political or the legislative or the legal arena. But, thank God, that’s not going to happen.
Those directly involved in the Pro-Life movement well understand that they cannot in good conscience abandon the field the political and legal field to those who advocate —
* public funding of abortions,
* removal of all restrictions on even late-term abortions,
* requiring even Catholic medical schools to provide instruction in performing abortions as a condition of accreditation,
* demanding that even Catholic hospitals open facilities to performing abortions as a condition of state or local approval, and
* demanding that religious-based institutions offer abortion pills through their insurance coverage of employees.
Some of these frightening proposals are being pursued aggressively right now by "Reproductive Rights" advocates, although Pro-Life lawyers, officials, and activists through tireless efforts hold back the tide (to a greater or lesser extent). Some of these options may seem unlikely, but the abortion industry and its supporters are pressing hard at every turn, laying the foundation for these initiatives, and would gladly fill the policy vacuum if Pro-Lifers deserted their posts.
Importantly, these legal, legislative, or political efforts hardly come at the expense of the Pro-Life movement’s consistent witness to the culture, educational efforts to respect human life, and volunteer work with pro-life charitable organizations could have displayed a rich tapestry of changing hearts and transformed lives. Pro-Lifers can multi-task.
In our own St. Paul-Minneapolis archdiocese, the “Respect Life Outreach works to promote respect for human life from conception to natural death, to bring about a conversion of heart and mind to be open to God’s special gift of life.” Through this and related programs in the Catholic community in the Twin Cities, there is a vibrant Pro-Life effort, reaching out to and involving young people, especially in the Catholic high schools, who in turn are spending time working with those in need in crisis pregnancy centers and elsewhere. Public policy advocacy is but a small part of that overall effort — and none of it involves political election campaigning.
In sum, our colleagues in law schools and the legal profession, our students, our families, and our friends who give sacrificially of their time, energy, talents, and money to advance the cause of human life have wonderful and inspiring stories to tell us of legal obstacles to protection of life being brought down, both hearts and minds being changed, people served with compassion, and unborn lives saved — through the work of every sector of a multi-dimensional movement.
Those who have given their hearts to the Pro-Life movement reflect the great strength and diversity — both in political perspectives and operational mission — within that movement. Take the time today to thank someone you know who is working tirelessly in this mission for life.
January 25, 2013
Our Nation’s Crushing Debt as a Moral Hazard
For most of us as Catholics, we probably associate “stewardship” with that time of the year when the priest or parish council ask us to commit to making contributions to the parish for the coming year.
Stewardship is not only about giving money away, but about making wise use of the resources to which we are entrusted. And an essential part of that stewardship is to preserve resources for use by the next generation. As a nation, we are failing that responsibility — and failing miserably.
If nothing is changed — indeed if there is not dramatic change — the next generation will drown beneath a sea of the debt.
Simply put, America faces no greater danger today than the crushing national debt. No greater threat to a secure safety net for all Americans exists than the uncontrolled growth in entitlements, which eventually will crowd out all other discretionary spending and, in any event, is itself unsustainable. No greater obstacle to prosperity for the next generation of Americans is before us than leaving them with the bill for out-of-control federal spending.
But you wouldn’t know it from hearing President Obama’s inaugural speech this week. He could barely spare a word for the deficit, other than to argue against any meaningful spending cuts and apparently pledging his vociferous opposition to any reform of Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.
And you wouldn’t know it from President Obama’s concerted actions since the election, as he has steered away from the balanced approach that he promised during the campaign. Yes, President Obama campaigned for higher taxes on higher-income individuals. But he promised to combine tax increases with spending reductions. When the fiscal cliff approached, however, President Obama demanded only tax increases while refusing to agree to any limits on spending.
Immediately following the election, I was optimistic that President Obama would seize this opportunity to move toward meaningful reform of entitlements and to arrest runaway deficits. As I wrote here on Mirror of Justice, I thought that he would want to be remembered as a President who got the nation’s fiscal house in order, rather than the President who bankrupted the country. The President appears determined to prove me wrong.
Commenting on the inaugural address, Peter Wehner at Commentary writes:
He is fully at peace with running trillion dollar deficits as far as the eye can see. He not only won’t lift a finger to avoid America’s coming debt crisis; he will lacerate those who do.
In the end, though, President Obama’s concern for the less fortunate is at war with his insouciance about trillion dollar deficits:
* The greatest opportunity for those of lower-income and the strongest hope for a secure safety net is a growing national economy. The huge national debt is a constant downward pressure on the economy, suppressing growth below what it otherwise would be and leaving more Americans unemployed (and underemployed) and incomes stagnant. A weaker economy also means greater demands on social services with fewer resources available to meet those demands.
* This year, the United States is projected to spend $224 billion of taxpayer money for interest on the national debt. With President Obama’s deficit spending, the interest due will more than double to $524 billion in a decade. That’s more money than the federal government spends on education, transportation, veterans affairs, etc. And that’s money not available to help anyone or strengthen any social welfare program. Think of what we could accomplish today if we could use that money, instead of transferring it to China and other holders of American debt beyond our shores.
* The Obama trillion-dollar deficits are simply not sustainable. Unless entitlements are reformed, and President Obama has signaled retreat from his earlier acknowledgment that such reform is essential, we will reach a point in which the government has no money left to spend on any programs other than Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. The current projection is that we’re only about twenty years away from a situation where all federal revenues are consumed by these three programs, as they are further extended by Obamacare.
* When the day of reckoning arrives on the national debt, the poor will be in the most vulnerable position. When the desperate scramble comes over the shrinking revenues available for anything other than entitlements and interest on the national deficit, the poor and disabled and otherwise disadvantaged are likely to end up on the short end.
President Obama hopes to be remembered for enhancing social justice and equality. I have no doubt that he is sincere in that hope. But unless he faces fiscal reality and becomes an energetic advocate for entitlement reform and deficit reduction, he instead will be remembered for his out-of-control spending and doubling the national debt during his time in office. This period in American history will be held up as an object lesson for reckless spending and economic delusion, likely followed by an era of severe economic and fiscal retrenchment that maydepress the American dream for a generation.There is still time for President Obama to show leadership and secure his social justice vision by meaningful entitlement reform and reduction of deficit spending. Based on the President’s words and actions since election day, I am no longer sanguine about the prospects.
January 08, 2013
Planned Parenthood: A Record Year
Requests for contraceptive services apparently are in decline at Planned Parenthood. And Planned Parenthood has decreased its cancer screening services by nearly a third. But public funding for Planned Parenthood continues to go up. As do abortions.
While Planned Parenthood set a record for the last fiscal year in pulling in half-a-billion dollars from the taxpayers -- amounting to nearly half of its funding -- it has been downsizing services other than termination of pregnancies (here). During the past three years alone, the nation's largest abortion provider has snuffed out the lives of a million unborn babies.
The Pro-Life movement may be winning hearts and minds (here). And praise God for His mercy in drawing the young people to Him.
In the meantime, we must not forget the grim reality that daily "terminates" innocent lives in abortion clinics around this country -- nearly a thousand littles ones destroyed each day in Planned Parenthood clinics, as that organization draws in hundreds of millions in taxpayer funds with the support of its primary patron in the White House. The Obama years are proving to be the most lucrative for the abortion industry.
Mary, Mother of God, pray for us.