Posted tagged ‘pro-life’

Religious Freedom

April 22, 2017

In a recent issue of the New Yorker, there is an article on Leonard Leo. Mr Leo is not a household name although maybe he should be. Mr Leo’s most recent claim to fame is his successful “shepherding” of Judge Neil Gorsuch through the Senate approval process. Mr. Leo, however, is not one to thirst for the spot light, preferring instead to operate at the periphery of public discussion.

And operate Mr. Leo does.

As the Executive Director of the Federalist Society, Mr Leo has spearheaded conservative interests in most matters of government but with a clear focus upon the courts, especially the Supreme Court. As an “originalist”, Mr Leo supports Constitutional interpretations which purport to represent the “founding fathers” views. Hmmm.

The Federalists speak, not for wild and crazy people, but for reasoned, conservative, traditionalists. Within these ranks, however, hide moneyed interests who see “originalist” views as conducive to their personal business and financial well being. Nothing like the braggadocio associated with a high minded principle which conveniently puts money in your pocket too.

From the New Yorker article, Mr Leo’s hands appear clean although someone must be paying his lawyering bills. Rather Mr. Leo is presented as a congenial, non-confrontational person who seeks and befriends up and coming conservative legal minds. The article claim Mr. Leo was a close friend of the late Justice Antonin Scalia.

So where is this post going?

Mr. Leo is also a conservative Catholic who is strongly pro-life. Mr. Leo was an early supporter of Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Alito, both pro-life advocates. The prospect of over turning Roe v Wade (long established law) suddenly does not seem that impossible.

Mr. Leo says that the Constitution was silent over specific rights to abortion and therefore to his reasoning, the US Supreme Court has no rightful place making a woman’s right to an abortion the law of the land.

At this point, one could argue contrarily that in fact the freedoms expressed in the Constitution as well as the Amendments recognize the rights of a woman to make her own reproductive decisions.

Within the thought, why not point out what seems even more obvious. The first Amendment speaks to “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”, and that should be enough.

Mr. Leo, Chief Justice Roberts, and Justice Alito are more than free to hold sincere “pro-life” religious beliefs. They are all free to practice such views in their own lives but the Constitution does not provide them the right to foist their personal religious views on anyone else. (Admittedly, someone who is against all forms of life ending acts, including the death penalty, wars, and suicides has a moral argument which rises above religion dogma but in the end, addresses only their own behavior.

Justice Kennedy is thought to be the deciding Justice should the current John Roberts Court consider another Roe v Wade challenge. If Justice Kennedy should decide to retire while a Republican President is in office, another Gorsuch/Alito/Roberts Justice is almost assured. In such a situation, the true color of these jurists will be seen.

Will these Jurists over turn Roe v Wade in favor of States self determination, or will they become religious zealots and side with some future Congressional law which outlaws all abortions and denies States the right to decide?

The irony of this Roe v Wade debate is that the real “federalists” were extremely concerned about the excesses of organized religion. The closest most of the founding fathers came to religion was some recognition of a higher spirit. Consequently, if the Supreme Court should overturn Roe v Wade, we should recognize the “originalist” principle is purely a crutch designed to deny some Americans individual freedom.

A Woman’s Right

October 7, 2016

If ever there was a universal “right” to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, a woman’s right to choose must be it. Only women can become pregnant and give birth. Since pregnancy involves a woman’s body, it would seem reasonable that carrying a pregnancy full term should be a choice a woman makes freely.

Listening to the Vice Presidential debate, you would be forgiven if you thought otherwise. Describing abortion as murder, as some pro-lifers do, is to use hyperbole as  a tool to obscure a difficult moral choice. But when the speakers are men, or even worse members of the clergy, hypocrisy rules.

If one goes back in history, even just back to the birth of our country, full term pregnancies were the expected outcome simply because “society” said so. Pregnancy out of wedlock did present some complexity and back alley abortions of course occurred. Society saw babies as helpful in growing the population and minimizing the detrimental impact of mortality due to early childhood diseases and birth complications.

Going back even further, families, tribes, and countries with large populations usually won wars. So if one did not want to end up a slave, staffing a large army was considered a good outcome. Authority figures reinforced superstitions around the need and duty of women to produce as many babies as possible.

In the modern world, these conditions no longer exist. Therefore, it is no longer necessary for clergy to spread superstitions around the woman’s duty to give birth often. Yet, many religion still do.

The abortion debate is very simple at its extremes and excruciatingly complex in the middle. Those who hold a woman has the right to end a pregnancy for any reason, and those who hold a woman must go full term, even when her life is at risk, are easy to understand. Their positions are absolutes.

But what about a young woman who has an unwanted pregnancy? This person has a full life ahead and plenty of time to have a family. What about a person who may have wanted the pregnancy but experiences a life event, like unemployment, disease, and serious injury, and decides the timing is not appropriate for giving birth. It is possible this woman already has children and feels economically or emotionally it is not wise to go full term.

For the absolutist, these situations are cut and dry. Yes or No.

In the real world, however, there are also some who exercise no personal responsibility. In this day and age there is little if any excuse for a woman unwillingly becoming pregnant. Family planning and birth control measure are readily available. Never the less, the spur of the moment (or plain disregard for ones reproductive health) leads too many women to unwanted pregnancies.

For the absolutists, this is again a black and white situation, yes or no to ending the pregnancy.

In Pennsylvania, the US Senate race could help determine the Senate leadership control. If Democrat challenger Katie McGinty beats incumbent Republican Pat Toomey, Democrats may regain Senate control. Toomey is quoted as opposed to Planned Parenthood and abortion, and has said he would support jail for medical persons who perform abortions.  This sounds pretty “absolutist” to me.

With Senate control, and/or a Hillary Clinton victory, Roe v Wade will be safe for probably enough time that the nation’s demographics makes its reversal impossible.

The abortion absolutists (both yes and no’s) do in their own ways, all women a disservice.

Medical experts have advanced the science of determining when it is medically safe to end a pregnancy and what would be the consequences if the pregnancy went full term. Making the subject a litmus test with innuendos of “murder”, removes the discussion of the middle ground where morality and ethics meet.

It is time for pro-lifers to expand their definition of life and include some notion of quality of life as well as the woman’s right to choose.

By the same token, it is time for pro-choice supporters to advocate for responsible sexual behaviors and emphasize the responsibility a woman incurs if she becomes pregnant.

And its high time that both sides of this divide to recognize that a woman who ends her pregnancy because of rape, incest, and medical health of the pregnant woman are exempt from any condemnation.

Costly Free Media Attention

March 31, 2016

MSNBC broadcasted a “town hall” meeting yesterday with the Republican candidates, timed to occur just before the Wisconsin primary. The public service billed event was nothing more than a public cry by MSNBC “just watch this station and buy our sponsors’ products”. And what an event they suddenly had.

MSNBC’s Chris Mathews asked Donald Trump about his position of Pro-Life and then pulled the trigger after Trump confirmed abortion should be against the law. Mathews asked, should the woman be punished? After a few hems and haws, Trump said yes, there should be some form of punishment for the woman.

Compared to most things Trump has said, this situation was totally logical. If there is a law against abortion and abortion is likened to murder, shouldn’t someone who initiates an abortion face punishment?

The pro-life, pro-choice worlds seemed to stop and then both exploded in denouncing Trump.

Pro-lifers were the most indignant. Appearing to beat their chests, the pro-life supporters affirmed that they never intended that the woman would be punished (punishing the person performing the abortion was enough). Hmmm.

Where’s the logic. Abortion is either wrong or it is not. At the present time, the right to an abortion is the law of the land so this is an hypothetical discussion of what might happen if Roe v Wade was overturned. But women and men of good conscious ought to take notice.

Pro-lifers do not see a continuum (conception to viability to birth) and once conception has taken place, pro-lifers believe it becomes the woman’s responsibility to see the pregnancy through to birth.

There is no morning after pill, or medical procedures to end unwanted pregnancies. Once pregnant, its full term or bust. (Some anti-abortion supporters do allow exceptions for rape, incest, and risk to the woman’s health.)

Unwanted pregnancies are regrettably part of life. Further complicating pregnancies are changes to the mother’s health, her economic ability to raise a child, and medical changes to the condition of the fetus itself.

The pro-life group simply has the wrong objective. Rather than outlawing abortion (where punishing the woman is the logical outcome), a better goal is eliminating unwanted pregnancies. In such a world, the decision to abort or not could be based upon medical reasons.

Chris Mathews grilling of Donald Trump accomplished two outcomes.

  • First, it displayed how shallow Trumps understanding is when presented complex social issues.
  • Second, it gratuitously put into focus how hypocritical the pro-life movement is.

The unbelievable aspect of this kerfuffle is Trump supporters do not care about whether Trump is pro-life or pro-choice. They support Trump for economic reasons and a belief (maybe mistakenly) that Trump can make life better.

Trump did not see the curve ball coming from Mathews and missed it completely.  Thanks Donald.

Understanding Arkansas

March 8, 2013

Former President Bill Clinton is not the only gift Arkansas has given the Country.  While some may dispute Bill was any kind of gift, the Arkansas State legislature wants to be in the running for the 2013 gift award.  Bill liked women, but the legislature is trying to out love Bill.  it appears, however, the legislature’s love is far more conditional.  What a strange way to compete.

Arkansas has just passed legislation outlawing abortions after the 12th week of pregnancy.  This passage comes with knowledge of Roe v Wade’s 24 week guidance.  So why would Arkansas divert its time, energy, and resources to a divisive social issue which has clearly been decided by the US Supreme Court?

The conditional nature of Arkansas’s legislature comes into focus when you examine the new law.  Up to 10 weeks, anyone can obtain an abortion, just as with Roe v Wade.  But after 10 weeks, abortions are possible only when the woman’s health is at risk or there are severe health issue with the fetus.

Here’s the question.  Does pro-choice end at 10 weeks and pro-life begin at week 10 plus one day?

In this social debate women find themselves in a nuanced spot.  Do the Arkansas law makers only love them up to 10 weeks or not at all?  Is it possibly these elected officials are, instead, trying to elicit a court challenge so the Roe v Wade decision can be re-litigated, and all rights to an abortion taken away?

In this regard, Bill Clinton’s love for women was unconditionally.  Pretty special when “Slick Willy” is the only Arkansas gift a woman can trust.

Outrages But Fully Expected

January 25, 2012

The first Amendment assures a separation of church and State, many say.  It actually says:

“Congress shall make no law repecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free practice thereof…”

The Catholic Church and soon to be elevate Cardinal Timothy Dolan think other wise.

Dolan introduced the notion that the Obama Administration was “at war” with religion.  He contended that there was a coordinated effort to take away protections accorded by the first Amendment.  Serious charges to be sure, but what exactly is the evidence?

I recall cases where family members of certain sects refused to seek medical attention (including transfusions) for a sick children on religious grounds.  They maintained god would heal.  Sadly in too many cases, god must have been tending to more pressing matters.   In some situation local medical officials stepped in with court orders and saved the child.  In others, help arrived too late and the child died.   In those cases, the parents were brought before civilian courts on the basis of child endangerment.

Consider also this modern day divisive issue; pro-choice versus pro-life.  Supporter of choice strongly hold that a woman has a inalienable right to choose paths concerning her reproductive health.  Opponents offer a range in opposing rationale, but in one way or another, all base their opposition on the belief that the unborn has an inalienable right to life.  I will not try to critique each side’s case at this time.

Rather the point worth making is that those seeking an abortion do so because for some reason their pregnancy is unwanted.  There are many reasons given.  Too young, unprepared to be a mother, not willing to marry, victim of incest, and unable to raise the child alone, fetus indicates child will be a special needs baby and unable to handle the situation, and mother’s medical condition puts her at risk if she goes through child birth.  There are many reasons offered.

One way to avoid unneeded pregnancies is through sex education and planned parenthood training including the use of birth control and contraceptive methods.  If there is no conception, there can be no pregnancy.  (Abstinence from sexual intercourse, of course, will also work.  The “do without” route is a fully personal choice but worldwide is rarely successful in practice over time.)

So back to Cardinal Dolan.

The Obama Administration has made it a requirement for employers who offer health care coverage which includes free birth control and contraceptive methods.  Common sense would scream out that this is such a logical method to aid families with family planning and to reduce significantly the occurrences of unwanted pregnancies.

That is not how the Catholic Church and Cardinal Dolan see it.  This requirements is an assault on the first Amendment says Dolan.  Say again?

The requirements to make birth control and contraceptive methods part of health care plans in no way requires anyone to use them.  People are free still to not use contraception, get pregnant, and then be forced to agonizingly decide whether to seek a early termination to the pregnancy.  Is that what the good Cardinal seeks?

Catholic doctrine unfortunately also shuns the use of any birth control technique other than abstinence.  So the Cardinal’s perfect world would remove birth control and contraceptives from drug store shelves.  I wonder whether he would consider that an assault on non-catholics?

The “outrages” part of Cardinal Dolan’s objections is that there are no requirements for anyone to use birth control or contraceptives.  This is a secular choice.  It is also wrong headed because birth control and contraceptives clearly can play an important role in reducing the number of unwanted pregnancies.  But for a church that still holds that sex should be performed only for the purpose of procreating, this type of position should be “fully expected”.

I guess I am really glad the Constitution does say

“Congress shall make no law repecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free practice thereof…”

It tells me that Catholics are fully free to not use birth control or contraceptives even though these methods are part of their health care plans.  It also tells me that non-catholic employees of Catholic organizations can receive these benefits and elect to use them if their religious belief allow.

Believe what you want, do as you believe, but don’t force your beliefs on others.

Social Conservatives Pander

April 9, 2011

Surprise, surprise.  Social Conservatives are winning the contest of who can be America’s greatest panderer.  This time god is not involved directly.  He is close by however.

Social conservatives are demanding that any extension of the national debt level come with reductions in spending.  This is not unreasonable since there is plenty of spending to cut.  What is unreasonable is demanding this or that.

The “this” Social Conservatives” are demanding is an end to funding for Planned Parenthood.

They justify their demands by the fact that Planned Parenthood is the largest supplier of abortions in America.  Planned Parenthood, however, does receive funds from other sources and claims no Government money is used to pay for abortions.  But why worry about that technicality.

The absurdity of the Social Conservatives’ position is that their apparent ignorance of the cycle of abortion.

Abortions overwhelmingly stem from unwanted pregnancies.  Unwanted pregnancies result mostly from lack of contraceptive use.  Lack of contraceptive use comes directly form lack of education and lack of contraceptive availability.  Planned Parenthood provides both.

Now if eliminating Planned Parenthood does not sound like the dumbest thing someone opposed to abortion (for whatever reasons) might do, I am not sure what does.  But then who said Social Conservatives were smart.


Kansas Too

March 24, 2011

Not wanting to be outdone by South Dakota, the Kansas State legislature is preparing a bill that would place intrusive restriction on the performance of an abortion after 22 weeks.  Here we go again, down the slippery slope.

The compromise ground in the pro-choice, pro-life debate has been in front of us for a long time.  This compromise concedes that a woman has sole right to keep or end a pregnancy in the first trimester.  In the second trimester, there could/should be some reasonable restriction or conditions, and in the third trimester, there should be rigorous restriction.

This compromise recognizes the dignity and rights of a woman and also demands certain responsibilities of her too.  In cases of rare illnesses or genetic conditions that can not be determined until later in pregnancy, a woman could be excused for delaying her decision to abort.  Otherwise, without a definite risk to the woman’s life, it is a reasonable expectation of society that a woman carry full term.

Religious zealots who wish to foist their personal beliefs on others combined with political panderers are stirring the pot again with no interest in finding any compromise.  South Dakota and Kansas are just the first out of the box.  Moderates better hurry and reclaim the center ground.

Moderates had best include both parties, and both pro-lifers and pro-choicers.