Tag: abortion

Pope Francis – Still Catholic, Still Pro-Life

  On Saturday, Pope Francis gave an address to the Association of Italian Catholic Doctors on the occasion of the organization’s 70th anniversary. For those who have been pondering whether…

 

Source: Google Images - Licensed for Reuse

Source: Google Images – Licensed for Reuse

On Saturday, Pope Francis gave an address to the Association of Italian Catholic Doctors on the occasion of the organization’s 70th anniversary.

For those who have been pondering whether the Pope is still Catholic, still pro-life, etc., I recommend it. And it’s a good read regardless. In particular, his emphasis that medical ethics is not about religion or philosophy. It’s about science:

The dominant thinking sometimes suggests a “false compassion”, that which believes that it is: helpful to women to promote abortion; an act of dignity to obtain euthanasia; a scientific breakthrough to “produce” a child and to consider it to be a right rather than a gift to welcome; or to use human lives as guinea pigs presumably to save others. Instead, the compassion of the Gospel is that which accompanies in times of need, that is, the compassion of the Good Samaritan, who “sees”, “has compassion”, approaches and provides concrete help (cf. Lk 10:33). Your mission as doctors puts you in daily contact with many forms of suffering. I encourage you to take them on as “Good Samaritans”, caring in a special way for the elderly, the infirm and the disabled. Fidelity to the Gospel of life and respect for life as a gift from God sometimes require choices that are courageous and go against the current, which in particular circumstances, may become points of conscientious objection. And this fidelity entails many social consequences. We are living in a time of experimentation with life. But a bad experiment. Making children rather than accepting them as a gift, as I said. Playing with life. Be careful, because this is a sin against the Creator: against God the Creator, who created things this way. When so many times in my life as a priest I have heard objections: “But tell me, why the Church is opposed to abortion, for example? Is it a religious problem?” No, no. It is not a religious problem. “Is it a philosophical problem?” No, it is not a philosophical problem. It’s a scientific problem, because there is a human life there, and it is not lawful to take out a human life to solve a problem. “But no, modern thought…” But, listen, in ancient thought and modern thought, the word “kill” means the same thing. The same evaluation applies to euthanasia: we all know that with so many old people, in this culture of waste, there is this hidden euthanasia. But there is also the other. And this is to say to God, “No, I will accomplish the end of life, as I will.” A sin against God the Creator! Think hard about this.

Remember, he was trained as a chemist, i.e. a scientist. You can find the entire text here. The original Italian text is here.

 

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The “War On Women” Is So…Yesterday

The other day, I wrote about a significant milestone at Heartbeat International’s Option Line, the world’s first and largest pregnancy help call center. Option Line has been open nonstop for…

The other day, I wrote about a significant milestone at Heartbeat International’s Option Line, the world’s first and largest pregnancy help call center. Option Line has been open nonstop for 100,000 hours since it’s inception in 2003. Over 2 million people, mostly women, have reached out to Option Line for help. Option Line connects callers to local resources for pregnant girls and women who might otherwise feel as if they have no choice but abortion.

A few days later, the National Journal published a piece explaining why the Democrats are ditching “the war on women”:

Democrats want to talk about “personhood” and reproductive freedom…. But what they don’t want to do is talk about a “war on women.”

Indeed, the party that so effectively deployed the “war” rhetoric to help defeat Mitt Romney in 2012 has now sworn off its catch phrase, dropping it almost completely from a campaign strategy that, in so many other ways, is still very much about women’s issues.

“[Saying] ‘Republicans are waging a war on women’ actually doesn’t test very well,” said Democratic pollster Celinda Lake. “Women find it divisive, political—they don’t like it.”

Here are some other thoughts on why the whole “war on women” angle doesn’t work.

1. It doesn’t resonate with women in the US. “War on women” works when we’re talking about something like this:

 

time-magazine-afghan-girl-nosejpg-353a12e38f89803a_large

 

Regardless of what you think about the foreign policy issues that Time was addressing, this looks a lot more like a war on women than, say, this highly paid and accomplished actress –

ashley-judd-democratic-national-convention-2012

Ashley Judd

Or yet another highly paid and accomplished actress –

Eva Longoria

Eva Longoria

Or this Georgetown Law graduate –

Sandra Fluke

Sandra Fluke

All of whom have either earned or have the earning potential to more than offset the costs of any contraceptive device or abortion service they might choose to utilize.

2. When organizations like the thousands of pregnancy help centers around the country meet women in need, ask how can we help, and then deliver the services hassle free and free of charge, well that looks like a group of people helping women, not waging a “war on women.”

As I mentioned before, Option Line has had more than 2 million people reach them, 24/7, over the past 10+ years. That’s just contacts in the form of calls, emails, texts, and messaging. That doesn’t begin to take into account the women and girls who are served by pregnancy help centers affiliated with Heartbeat International or any of the other pregnancy networks.

The Daily Signal reports today on this very topic today:

Nationwide, there are at least 2,000 pregnancy resource centers. And that’s just counting the centers affiliated with the major U.S. networks—Care Net, Heartbeat International and the National Institute of Family and Life Advocates. The Family Research Center reports that, in 2010, these centers served more than 2.3 million women. This took the efforts of 71,000 volunteers, working for 5,705,000 uncompensated hours.

Again, so much for the “war on women.”

Ironically and tragically, it’s the push for abortion, one of the biggest battle fronts of the “war on women” that puts some girls and women in a situation where they are left without support and resources:

“We do not force our opinions on anyone,” says Durig, Capitol Hill Pregnancy Center’s director. “If they ask, we do tell them that we’re a faith-based organization, we do believe in life, but whatever their choices are, we just want to make sure they make an informed, educated decision.”

Some of their clients are teens whose mothers have thrown them out of the house for not having an abortion. “That happens more times than you can imagine,” Durig says, in between running up and down the stairs to answer the phone and direct clients to her staff.

The entire article highlights four women who have been helped by pregnancy help centers including, Borromeo House, a home which helps the women not only to have their babies, but to advance their education, work, and plan for a stable life. If you want to read about something that’s anything but a war on women, then do read the whole piece.

3. Abortion judges and shames women.

Women don’t feel supported when a major political party is sending a message that implicitly suggests they shouldn’t be supported in what is a very natural fertility outcome. Their circumstances may not be the greatest, but no one wants to be judged when they’re struggling. Abortion does exactly that – it judges the woman: “This should have never happened.” “Why weren’t you smarter about your life?” “Didn’t you know he was a jerk and would never be there for you?” And so on.

Abortion shames women. And those who advocate abortion as a solution end up sending a similar message. That’s why “the war on women” didn’t work. Too many women feel shamed by the very goal of those who claim to lobby on their behalf.

I’m not saying that the issues are going away. As the National Journal notes, only the language is changing.

The ongoing witness of the pregnancy centers will continue to spread the truth, in a quieter way. Namely, people who are pro-woman are those who help women in their choices, not those who make them feel as if they have no choice but the one they don’t want – abortion. And the millions of girls and women who have been helped by these centers also know the truth about who is or isn’t waging a war. They’ve experienced treatment in the field hospitals first hand.

 

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War on Women? Try 2 Million Contacts. 100,000 Hours. Countless Lives Transformed.

Heartbeat International, a global network of pregnancy centers, has been able to confirm that it received its 2 millionth caller to its 24/7 help center, OptionLine. For eleven years, Heartbeat…

Image courtesy of Heartbeat International.

Heartbeat International, a global network of pregnancy centers, has been able to confirm that it received its 2 millionth caller to its 24/7 help center, OptionLine.

For eleven years, Heartbeat has worked round the clock, literally. OptionLine is always open; there is always someone there to answer a call, text, email, or IM. Always.

Full disclosure – I’m on the board of Heartbeat. I’m honored to have been asked to serve.

You see, I’m fully committed to women’s rights and the advancement of women. In my experience abortion doesn’t do much for women. Maybe it’s a band-aid solution to a particular crisis, but most women who have abortions feel as if they have no choice. Many go on to feel that their lives were not necessarily improved.

Now there are lots of ways to fight abortion. We absolutely need legal and legislative efforts. But we also need efforts to meet women who are faced with a crisis pregnancy right here. Right now. And that’s the work of Heartbeat, through OptionLine, through its network of about 1800 affiliates in 50 countries around the world and its service to over 2400 pregnancy help ministries.

Heartbeat’s efforts mean that a time when pro-abortion advocates are declaring that anyone disagreeing with them is waging a war on women there’s actually someone who has sidestepped the chaos of political theater to actually be there for real women.

Is there a war on women? I think so. Look at the currently proposed Senate Bill (S196), often called the Blumenthal Bill for the senator who sponsored it.

S1696, if passed, would, for example:

  • Do away with states laws banning abortions before 20 weeks.
  • Protect discriminatory abortions that are carried out on the basis of sex/gender or disability. (Tell me, how does that protect girl children? Or any child.)
  • Make it more difficult for states to stop telemedicine abortions and require a doctor to be physically present for any type of an abortion, including a medical abortion. In other words, a young girl, say 14, would be able to be diagnosed and advised by a doctor who’s 3000 miles away. Any woman could be. I don’t know about you, but especially when it comes to a significant medical procedure, I prefer a doctor who’s there in person. But women who are disadvantaged or in crisis might have to settle for a doctor 3000 miles away if S196 makes it all the easier for medicine to be practiced remotely.
  • Likely affect ultrasound requirements. Hmmmm…sounds rather paternalistic to me. It suggests that a woman is not capable of knowing what’s going on in her own body much less that she is able to make an informed decision. Oh, yes, because when women have full information, many of them choose to not have an abortion.

The bill would adversely impact women’s health in many other ways. These are just a few.

But the point remains. Where are the supporters of S196 when it comes to a woman who’s overwhelmed by her pregnancy because she lacks the resources – economic, emotional, medical, etc? They can’t be reached.

But Option Line, privately funded and responding to about 15,000 contacts a month, is there. Always.

Early a week ago Wednesday, just after midnight, at 12.08 a.m., an OptionLine consultant was there to take a call from a young woman facing the challenges and difficulties of an unplanned pregnancy. At a time when most of us are asleep, there was someone to listen and to help. That consultant was able to connect the young woman to a local pregnancy help center, a Heartbeat affiliate. We don’t yet know the outcome of this client’s visit; but someone was there for her.

Which makes me ask, just who is fighting the war on women?

 

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No Discussion, Please. We Want Diversity.

Oh that ignorant Catholic Church. Once again, it has a different view from those who preach “diversity.” The Catholic Church in Poland has come under attack for apparently challenging “gender…

Oh that ignorant Catholic Church. Once again, it has a different view from those who preach “diversity.”

The Catholic Church in Poland has come under attack for apparently challenging “gender workshops,” a type of sex-ed class in the schools that present children with “alternatives” to permanent monogamous heterosexual relations. According to an article in Our Sunday Visitor, the circumstances are not quite clear. Nevertheless, in a column for the theguardian.com, Agata Pyzik attacks the Church in a way that makes it seem that she, the Church, and other critics of the Church are at least agreed upon the subject of the dispute, namely the “gender workshops” and accompanying topics like abortion and contraception.

Think about it. The gender agenda, inclusive of same-sex marriage, is probably the largest social experiment in the history of humanity. And it’s being driven by anything but science. Gender is a fluid notion despite the scientific fact that the human person’s sex is determined at conception.

It’s interesting that at the same time that most European countries won’t stand for altering the integrity of food produce with genetically modified organisms [GMOs], the integrity of the human person is discounted insofar as one’s sex is considered to be arbitrary, changeable, even mistaken, not an integral and essential part of who we are even though…again…it’s determined at conception. That’s pure science. Not religion, not the Bishops, not the Pope. There is no human being created who is not male or female and yet the significance of that seems to count for very little in some circles.

Obviously people are going to have different thoughts and feelings about policies impacting society in such a profound way. At the very least, differing view points ought to be discussed, pondered, and explored. Instead, any suggestion that perhaps this experiment needs some rethinking or perhaps children  should not be the guinea pigs of a vast social experiment (an EXPERIMENT!), results in an attempt to shut down the dissenting voice[s]. Then again, this is Poland we’re talking about. Perhaps the decades of Communism have left a deeper impact than we thought, namely that a voice that challenges a questionable and potentially harmful idea should be shut down, especially if it’s the Catholic Church. After all, a 2,000 year-old institution has no experience to draw upon…

Pyzik discusses the issue assaults the Church for its actions to stop the “gender workshops.”[A quick internet search turned up this bio which describes her as a writer whose primary interest is “(post) Communist Eastern Europe.”] She refers to a recent comment by actress Meryl Streep to Polish politicians:

“I thought that after years of communism you’d caught up with the west in a social-cultural sense.”

Pyzik notes, however,

“… it was during the People’s Republic when women in Poland enjoyed civil and reproductive rights.

“Enjoyed”? Last I checked, the flow of traffic, had the borders been open, would have been out of Communist countries, not into them, precisely because human rights were not acknowledged and supported by law. The rates of abortion in Communist countries have been notoriously high, due to factors like population control, economic conditions, and a basic lack of hope for the future.

Let’s talk about contraception for a moment. Back in 2005, the World Health Organization repeated its 1999 finding that hormonal contraception is a Group 1 carcinogen for humans, in other words hormonal contraception creates a serious cancer risk for women who use it. Yet, Pyzik is not alone in mistakenly seeing it as a part of women’s “rights” or “health.” The current HHS mandate in the U.S. makes the same assertion, apparently without any thought to women’s health.

Given that we’re talking about a very serious drug with dangerous side effects, shouldn’t doctors and pharmacists be able to make the decision to refuse to expose a patient to the danger of a particular treatment? It’s not as if a patient has a right to any medication that she deems necessary. That’s left to the doctor’s discretion. Ethical doctors don’t automatically write prescriptions without first diagnosing the patient and then considering the effects (good and bad) of the treatment. Doctors who are driven by an agenda rather than the health of the patient, well they’re unethical.

But this abortion+contraception = women’s rights formula is all part of a tired, albeit all too successful trope. If something is repeated often enough, it seems true no matter how dubious it might actually be.

I’ve listened to women who have had abortions. Many women. I’ve only had one tell me years after that it was a good choice for her. I’ve met with and researched doctors who work in the developing countries who would like to provide safe maternal care. Instead they are provided with contraceptives…even though their patients want safe deliveries and healthy babies.

With regard to the gender issues, Pyzik complains:

Even scientists speak in one voice with the church: the Polish Academy of Sciences published a letter in which they called the gender workshops an attempt at “unseating children from their own sex”.

I dunno. When I question a scientist, it’s about methodology, not whether or not the scientist agrees with the Catholic Church.

How about measuring progress in terms other than abortion, contraception, and how one chooses to use one’s genitalia? And while we’re at it, it wouldn’t hurt to have an open discussion about a major, major, major social EXPERIMENT.

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There are Kermit Gosnells everywhere and they can be brought to justice.

This week brought us the conviction of Kermit Gosnell, a man whom I refuse to recognize as a medical doctor and whom the state of Pennsylvania should have shut down…

This week brought us the conviction of Kermit Gosnell, a man whom I refuse to recognize as a medical doctor and whom the state of Pennsylvania should have shut down long ago. Gosnell, apparently, didn’t do abortions very well; so he had his staff dope up his patients with various drugs so that they would deliver the fetus on their own (at which point, legally, it magically becomes a baby because she’s now outside of the mother) and then he or another staff member would kill the fetus-now-baby. Had the same been done to the fetus/baby inside the womb, it would have been just another routine abortion. Nonetheless, these late term atrocities make real what is abortion at any stage.

When the Philadelphia Grand Jury submitted its report on Gosnell’s clinic, most pro-life activists and leaders thought that there were less than five doctors nationwide who performed late-term abortions, i.e. abortions done after the fetus is viable. (If the mother wanted that same baby and delivered her prematurely, that baby would be taken to the NICU.)

Gosnell made it clear that there was at least one more doctor who terminated the lives of very developed fetuses. (Fetus, incidentally, is a Latin word that can be used to describe both the born and unborn child; so the truth comes forth even as people would try to obfuscate the humanity of the unborn.) My response to his conviction? There are many more such doctors. This week of Gosnell’s conviction also brought news of another so-called doctor who appears to be just like him. This time it’s Douglas Karpen who runs three abortion clinics in Texas. Former employees from one of his clinics in Houston have come forth with testimony and evidence. It’s disturbing beyond words. But I firmly believe that it should be shown on all of our media outlets so that we can have an honest debate about abortion. Sanitizing it or ignoring it doesn’t give us an honest discussion.

Since Gosnell went to trial, there have been a lot of questions from pro-lifers. We don’t want another woman or her child to go through the same horror as the patients of Gosnell, now Karpen, and quite possibly many other abortionists. After all, legalizing abortion was supposed to eliminate the horrors of “back alley abortions.” Instead legalization has just given these criminals the cover that they need to do irreparable harm to thousands of women and fetuses/babies.

So what do we do? My suggestion: Take the Philadelphia Grand Jury Report and use it as a playbook. Sure, you might get legislation passed, but these doctors don’t bend their practices to the law. They act regardless of the law which ironically gives them cover…for a while.

The Grand Jury Report lists numerous instances where local and state government agencies failed to follow through on reports received. Want to find out who’s the Gosnell in your community? Start asking around. Just recently, I learned of a Planned Parenthood abortion clinic that shut down. In that same neighborhood there were, as in every neighborhood, other people who saw the comings and goings of the clinic, including four ambulances in recent months on the days that the clinic did abortions. Surely, PP isn’t calling an ambulance because they ran into a crisis while handing out condoms or some other form of contraception. And, guess what? Those ambulances took patients somewhere, presumably to a hospital. And most states have some sort of reporting requirement when a patient shows up with a botched procedure done outside the hospital. Who makes and gets those reports? Ultimately, they have to end up at a local or state agency, probably an office of the Department of Health. What happens to those reports? This is the sleuth work that needs to be done by pro-life activists on the ground everywhere. Additionally, there are those who work with post-abortive women. Without compromising the privacy of any woman, they can indicate where many of these atrocities took place. And some women are at the point in their own recovery where they might want to help bring their assailant to justice.

Listen to the testimony of the three informants in Texas. How did Karpen treat his patients?

“He would never tell the woman [of complications, like a ripped cervix].”

“If she asked too many questions, he would ask for her to be put to sleep.”

The informants, by the way, filed reports with the Texas Medical Board which concluded that there was no evidence that he broke the law or acted inappropriately. (At least one member of Gosnell’s staff also filed a report.) But there’s a record of reports and now the District Attorney can go forward with an investigation. Pro-life activists can help collect that documentation, as was done in Texas, and get the process moving so that the work of these criminals can be exposed, the criminals themselves can be brought to justice, and the whole truth about abortion can be exposed. As long as the truth is hidden, we won’t be able to stop abortion. Abortion, like slavery did, persists because a lot of lies are believed and too many people would rather not talk about the truth.

 

 

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Gosnell’s Mother’s Day Massacre

The news of the horrors committed by abortionist Kermit Gosnell is finally getting some visibility. Many pro-life advocates wrote about it when the Philadelphia Grand Jury issued a report on…

The news of the horrors committed by abortionist Kermit Gosnell is finally getting some visibility. Many pro-life advocates wrote about it when the Philadelphia Grand Jury issued a report on Gosnell and his clinics back in January 2011. I blogged about it here. My first take on the lack of coverage was that, on some level, everyone knows it’s horribly true and, hence, no one wants to hear it. Too disturbing.

Kermit Gosnell

Today’s column by James Taranto in The Wall Street Journal might be the best piece I’ve read on the topic even though Taranto supports abortion in some cases. He includes a story about Gosnell’s early abortion activities:

One of the strongest practical arguments in favor of the Roe regime is that abortion has been around since time immemorial and outlawing it only drove it underground, leading women to endanger themselves by seeking out the services of back-alley quacks. The Philadelphia grand jurors recounted a powerful example from their own city’s history.

It was called the Mother’s Day Massacre. A young Philadelphia doctor “offered to perform abortions on 15 poor women who were bused to his clinic from Chicago on Mother’s Day 1972, in their second trimester of pregnancy.” The women didn’t know that the doctor “planned to use an experimental device called a ‘super coil’ developed by a California man named Harvey Karman.”

A colleague of Karman’s Philadelphia collaborator described the contraption as “basically plastic razors that were formed into a ball. . . . They were coated into a gel, so that they would remain closed. These would be inserted into the woman’s uterus. And after several hours of body temperature, . . . the gel would melt and these . . . things would spring open, supposedly cutting up the fetus.”

Nine of the 15 Chicago women suffered serious complications. One of them needed a hysterectomy. The following year, the Supreme Court decided Roe v. Wade. It would be 37 more years before the Philadelphia doctor who carried out the Mother’s Day Massacre would go out of business. His name is Kermit Gosnell.

Back-alley abortions were indisputably a problem before 1973. That’s no defense of the Roe regime, which failed to solve it.

Mother’s Day. If that doesn’t suggest a sick and twisted mind, I don’t know what does.

The Grand Jury Report discusses the Mother’s Day Massacre on pages 96-97. Dave Andrusko wrote about it last month. The accounts surrounding Gosnell’s more recent abortion activities are bad enough; but when one stops to realize that Roe only enabled him to legally engage in butchery, one can’t help but wonder (again) just how abortion, legalized or not, helps women. Instead we are faced with another story of a man who clearly didn’t care about women and may have even hated them. (Mother’s Day!) Given the Grand Jury’s findings, he didn’t like minority women.

We come full circle. Why isn’t there more media coverage of the Gosnell case? Because on some level most people know it’s true. Regardless of their beliefs about abortion, people know it’s not a great thing for women and many would rather pretend the whole mess didn’t exist. Incidentally,  the creator of the super coil, Harvey Karman, is remembered for his “safe” abortion techniques, as if the women from the Mother’s Day Massacre didn’t count or simply never existed.

 

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Pro-Choice Women Defeat Washington Abortion Mandate

Yep, you read that correctly. But I don’t mean “pro-choice” as in women who don’t think you’re responsible enough to decide whether you can buy a big gulp and yet…

Yep, you read that correctly. But I don’t mean “pro-choice” as in women who don’t think you’re responsible enough to decide whether you can buy a big gulp and yet think you should be able to decide to murder your unborn child. It’s pro-choice in the sense of “we think people can make up their own minds about whether or not they buy health insurance that includes abortion coverage.”

Mandate opponents at a briefing after the hearing.

This year, the Washington State legislature reintroduced legislation that would create a mandate for all insurance plans that cover maternity to also cover abortion. No other state has such a mandate. As a practical matter, all insurance plans already offer abortion coverage in our state. And, speaking from experience, small businesses are having a very difficult time finding plans that don’t include it. Yet, in one of the most pro-abortion states in the US (Washington approved abortion before Roe and at least one more time after Roe, just for the heck of it, I guess.), the mandate was proposed to further entrench the abortion culture. Last year, the bill did not make it to the Senate floor for a final vote and it looks like it won’t this year either.

Yesterday, the Senate Health Committee held a hearing on the legislation. I testified on one of the panels, after Archbishop Sartain who gave excellent testimony, in particular:

We Catholic bishops want to be very clear. The Catholic Church in Washington State and its affiliated organizations do not now, nor will we in the future, offer coverage for abortion in our health care plans. [emphasis mine]

And, as quoted at the end of the local news segment last night:

The Catholic Church’s support for the dignity of the human person and its opposition to abortion are well known and well documented. Deeply rooted in our Catholic faith is the belief that life is sacred from the moment of conception until natural death. We cannot equivocate about that belief.

Speaking of the news last night, we couldn’t have asked for a better segment. You can watch it here (I’m even in a few frames). The segment started with testimony about her own abortion from panelist Shelly Cook, a post abortion outreach specialist at CareNet of Puget Sound, and it ended with the Archbishop’s quote above. Perfect.

Even better: all of the pro-lifers [the new pro-choicers] who turned out. About 140 opponents of the bill signed in while only 103 supporters did. That means that in an overwhelmingly pro-abortion state, with a pro-abortion governor and a majority of pro-abortion legislators, we had about 30% more people attending in support of life than in support of abortion. As I said on EWTN’s radio program “At Home With Jim & Joy” today, if we can do this in Washington, there’s no reason why it can’t happen in just about every other state.

It was simple, but it worked. We showed up and we said something. Local leaders, mostly Catholic, worked to spread the word and find the panelists. (I was not an organizer; just showed up.) It was so powerful to witness the public testimony that took place after the formal testimony. Panel after panel. We were not outnumbered. Full video is here. Our first panel, headed by the Archbishop, starts around 25:30.

By close of day, the Chair of the committee, Sen. Randi Becker, announced that the bill would not be moving out of committee.

While I’m at it, Sen. Becker did an amazing job of running the hearing. I’ve sat through a lot of hearings and the deeply controversial ones can be very difficult to keep in control. If she hadn’t done such excellent work, there’s no way we would have heard from so many different voices. (She had to cut me off to keep our panel to its tight 10 minutes, and she was absolutely right to do so. My timing was only slightly off as I had just one sentence left, “I urge the committee to reject…”)

Sadly, another member of the committee, Sen. Karen Keiser said of the hearing:

It was just for show. It was simply a way to provoke a circus in the sense of having a lot of people show up and wave their ideological persuasions in front of us.

Says a lot about her view of the democratic process, one that many have suffered and given much (everything) so that we may all participate in the legislative process. Maybe it’s time for a better candidate from her district to step up…

This was the second hearing on this legislation. Yet, for all that, not once did even one woman say that she was denied access to an abortion because her insurance would not cover it. Not once. Clearly, there is no need for this legislation.

Just today, someone pointed out to me that the Alan Guttmacher Institute reports that only 12% of the women obtaining abortions use insurance. It’s not so much a question of whether the women have insurance, but whether they want anyone, including their insurance company, to know that they’ve had an abortion.

The New York Times had a piece on the hearing here and included a good quote from Angela Connelly one of the founders of the newly organized Washington Women’s Network:

This is also a bullying bill that forces people who oppose abortion to be part of a system that permits abortions. We cannot insist on one agenda oppressing another.

One of my favorite quotes came from Peggy O’Ban from Human Life of Washington:

You all have the second amendment right to bear arms, to own a gun. But does that mean I have to buy it for you?

And incidentally, for those who also aren’t big fans of funding contraception, next time you want information on contraceptive failure, go to anything where abortion is being advocated. It’s one story of contraceptive failure after another. Which makes sense since Guttmacher reports that 46% of all women seeking abortion were not using contraception when they got pregnant, meaning that 54% were…

All in all, yesterday was a great day. I’ve been in Seattle for more than three years. Everyone warned me what a spiritual wasteland it is (least churched state, etc), but my experience has been just the opposite. I’ve met really interesting people of faith, lots of them. They We just aren’t weren’t as well organized as people of faith/goodwill in other parts of the country. But yesterday is a sign that things are changing. Yesterday, we were the ones fighting for the right to choose…whether our health insurance plans cover abortion or not. And as one citizen panelist said yesterday, “How can you have a right to choose when there’s a mandate?”

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‘Roe’ + 40

Today marks 40 years since the Supreme Court decisions Roe and Doe which allowed for abortion at any time during gestation for any reason. I’ll be on CNN “Newsroom”  just…

Today marks 40 years since the Supreme Court decisions Roe and Doe which allowed for abortion at any time during gestation for any reason.

I’ll be on CNN “Newsroom”  just after 9 a.m. ET to discuss some follow up ideas to my piece from last week. No, I don’t agree with Time magazine. I don’t think abortion advocates are losing. Witness the most recent elections and the annual report for Planned Parenthood. As long as there are more than a million abortions a year, more than 4,000 every day, I cannot say that pro-lifers are winning.

However, the pro-life movement in the US has done an exceptional job of keeping the fight alive. Nowhere else has abortion remained the issue that it is here. In fact, pro-life activists in other countries look to the U.S. for inspiration. Some of them will be here for our national March for Life on the 25th. The pro-life movement here is a global inspiration, particularly because of the heroic efforts of many unknown heroes.

So here are a few of my thoughts for moving forward in the next phase[s] of our work here in the U.S.

1. As we move forward, we need to rethink our political alliances. By this, I don’t mean that people should jump ship from a particular political party. I think we need to start being more strategic. We are an important demographic. But for too long, we have been considered a given and we’ve been told to keep quiet so as to gain political candidates who will support our policies. Well, the past two presidential elections have shown us how that doesn’t work. Instead of being a given, we need to make candidates work to show that they support our interests. This includes knowing how to speak about pro-life issues without looking like a Neanderthal.

2. After 40 years, it’s time to broaden our agenda to include more of the social justice issues. The dignity of the human person has to be the principle that guides all of our activities. If we truly believe this, then we can also be pro-life activists in any of our day to day activities. This doesn’t necessarily mean that we have to support every social justice government program. But if we’re pro-life, then we do care about how people are treated and we want them to be able to live good lives, with their basic needs met.

3. Communicate and develop more empathy. I don’t know of a single pro-lifer who is motivated because of mean spiritedness. But sometimes this is not well conveyed in our work. We don’t have to approve of specific lifestyle choices in order to love and serve those individuals. People on both sides of the abortion debate tend to see ideologies instead of people. By the very principles of our beliefs, we see the person, not the policy. We have to tell that story and allow it to be told. This is what happens every day in pregnancy help centers across the nation and around the world.

4. Speaking of communication, our movement is 40 and we need to enter a new phase, maybe become a little more sophisticated. Perhaps ironically, I think it’s the younger leaders who will be able to lead us in this direction. I hear it from young leaders on both sides of the abortion debate: things are different now. It’s not just the development of social media. There’s a whole different social environment in which people are living and making decisions, particularly those for whom abortion is an extremely relevant decision.

5. Build communities. Abortion is a symptom that communities have failed, whether we’re talking about the family or broader context. I sincerely believe that the first pro-abortion messages that people hear are not from Planned Parenthood and the like, but from those closest to them who communicate in one way or another that they have no time for them, that a particular person is a bother and a drain. You don’t have to join a pro-life group to be an activist. Just live the principle that every human life has dignity. People need to feel as if they belong and are loved for who they are, as they are. If we build and strengthen our communities, there won’t be a “need” for abortion because there will be a place for every human life regardless of how it came to be and its socio economic status. [If you want a quirky example of this, check out the TV series “Raising Hope.” Just be sure to start at the very beginning.]

The pro-life movement is holding its ground, probably even gaining in some areas. We’re a long way away from a culture in which abortion is unthinkable. But if we hold strong and smart, I think we could see some significant advances in the near future.

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