FRC Blog

Even Liberal Feminists Can’t Resist Committed Love and Marriage

by Chris Gacek

June 5, 2017

Caitlin Flanagan is an insightful contributing editor and writer for The Atlantic.  She values the place of hearth and home in all our lives and defends housewifery while not being a social conservative in today’s parlance. For example, in 2006 she published a book, To Hell with All That: Loving and Loathing Our Inner Housewife.  Flanagan is a contrarian who draws the ire of many feminists and is clearly not considered part of the group. Even though she announced her inability to vote for Hillary Clinton because she believed the Bill Clinton rape victim stories, she is not a Republican.

Now, a hard-core feminist attorney and well-known writer, Jill Filipovic, has written a new book, The H-Spot: The Feminist Pursuit of Happiness, and Flanagan has written a review of it in The Washington Post.

Apparently, Filipovic had hewed the standard feminist disdain for traditional male-female relationship dynamics. Flanagan gives her a little grief after revealing a big change in Filipovic’s life—she found a man: 

But reader: There’s a plot twist. It turns out that Jill Fil[i]povic — feminist, badass, rejecter of all that is conventional — is . . . engaged! “I had never been so immediately drawn to someone or felt myself so eager to talk to someone,” she tells us of her new love, and she embarked upon “a love affair unlike anything I had experienced.” It turns out that he has a big, important job in Africa, and — screw feminism! — she packed her bags and followed him. It’s bliss: “He is sometimes the only person I talk to in the course of a day” — and she loves it. “There is a long list of reasons I would marry him,” she confides chattily, queen bee at the Tri Delt pajama party. “As far as individual days go,” she hopes her wedding will be “one of the happiest.” She even starts firing off some of the most socially conservative facts this side of CPAC: “Women report higher levels of sexual satisfaction when they’re in monogamous relationships,” and couples “have more sex than their unmarried counterparts.” Whose side is she on, anyway?

Flanagan further observes, “The truth is that there is great value in what she is doing.” That is, risking one’s career path to follow and be with the person one loves, then “making a lifelong commitment to him or her, establishing a home together that protects you both from the buffeting and heartless forces of the marketplace—those are sustaining and nourishing choices.”

Flanagan concludes with this:

The author spent two years criss-crossing the country in search of the key to female happiness, but it turns out she was wearing the ruby slippers all along. It’s like Jim Dobson and Ted Cruz teamed up to write a movie. What are you gonna do? There’s no place like home.

I also recommend this review of Filipovic’s book at National Review by Alexandra DeSanctis. She summarizes the strengths and weaknesses in H-Spot this way: “What’s perhaps most interesting about the book is Filipovic’s ability to correctly identify issues that prey uniquely on modern women—single motherhood, sexual assault and domestic violence, eating disorders, the hyper-sexualization of advertisements and the resulting objectification of women—and yet to so completely miss the mark on the causes of and solutions to these ailments.”

At the end of the day, Flanagan provides, in her examination of Filipovic’s present life, that the modern Left’s feminist worldview doesn’t comport with male and female reality. It often presents a self-defeating ethic that seeks a lowest common denominator existence by spurning “patriarchal” institutions like marriage and family. Filipovich previously rejected the norms of marriage, but she seems to have her ideological predilections subverted, at least temporarily, by a nobler vision of life. She has stumbled into a deeper truth: that we human beings were created for deep and loving relationships. First in the union of male and female in marriage, and then in our eternal relationship with God.

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Giving to Caesar and to God

by Peter Sprigg

June 2, 2017

The following are remarks by Peter Sprigg, Senior Fellow for Policy Studies at Family Research Council, to the congregation of Faith Church in Budapest, Hungary (following the conclusion of the World Congress of Families and Budapest Family Summit) on May 27, 2017.

Good evening.

Family Research Council is a Christian organization that seeks to influence public policy. Our office is in Washington, D.C., halfway between the White House and the Capitol building—a very strategic location.

Like other organizations involved in the World Congress of Families:

We believe in defending the right to life from the moment of conception to the moment of natural death;

We believe in marriage being defined as the union of one man and one woman;

We believe that such a marriage is the only appropriate context for sexual relations;

We believe that such a marriage is the ideal environment for raising children;

And we believe in religious liberty for all.

Now, those of us who speak out as Christians on public policy issues are sometimes accused of violating a principle known as “the separation of church and state.” This actual phrase does not appear in our national constitution, but it is a traditional American principle if it’s correctly understood and correctly defined.

The separation of church and state means a separation of the institutions and offices of the church from the institutions and offices of the state. It means a person who becomes a pastor or a bishop does not automatically get power in the government, and a person who takes an office in the government does not gain any power over the church.

But it does not mean a complete separation of God and government, and it does not mean we must completely separate our faith from public policy.

The classic biblical text on this subject is the story of when Jesus was asked if people should pay taxes to the Roman government (Matthew 22:15-22). He replied, “Give to Caesar [the emperor] what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.”

This was a very clever answer by Jesus. He showed respect for the government by saying people should pay their taxes. But he showed respect for God by saying there are some things we owe to God which government cannot touch.

I heard a sermon once that suggested another way to view this story, though. The preacher pointed out that Jesus held up the coin that was used to pay the tax, and he said to give it to Caesar because it had Caesar’s image on it.

However, this pastor asked, whose image is on Caesar? Caesar, like every human being, was created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27). So while we have a responsibility to government, each of us—and everyone in the government—has a higher responsibility to God, because we bear his image.

Sometimes, we are accused of not respecting the human rights or human dignity of those with whom we disagree. But the very concept of human rights and human dignity is rooted in the fact that we are created in the image of God.

And sometimes we are accused of hating our opponents. We must guard against this. The Bible tells us to love our neighbors, and that includes all our neighbors.

But love does not require that we affirm or celebrate every behavior people choose to engage in. Love requires that we call people to live their very best life. For most people, that means to save sex until marriage; to marry a person of the opposite sex; to build a family based on that marriage; and to remain married for a lifetime. And of course, it means calling them to accept the good news of Jesus Christ.

This is not hate, this is love.

I add my thanks to the people of Hungary, of Budapest, to the Hungarian government, and to Pastor Sandor and Faith Church for all your hospitality.

May God bless you, and your country, and may God bless all of our marriages and our families.

Thank you. 

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Social Conservative Review - June 1, 2017

by Daniel Hart

June 1, 2017

Dear Friends,

Self-professed atheists like Bill Maher and Richard Dawkins often say that Christianity is an absurd religion that believes in things like “talking snakes.” While it’s lamentable that Maher and Dawkins feel the need to take Scripture passages out of context to prop up straw man arguments, I often wonder what they would say in response to profound Christian witness that gets to the heart of why our faith is the Truth.

I came across an example of this kind of witness recently from Fr. Peter John Cameron, O.P., who makes this penetrating insight about the nature of our God and how He conforms to the natural desires of our hearts:

If you look into your heart and consider the kind of god you deem ideal, what you come up with is Jesus. Given the chance to custom order the divinity who best satisfies the desires of our heart, we would design a deity tender and compassionate, whose joy was to accompany us as a friend in our earthly travails. We would want a god infinitely wise, eager to teach us the things we need to know in order for life to be filled with meaning and joy. We would insist on a god who was merciful and ever swift to forgive our sins… one with a special preference for the poor and the needy. We would want a god of perfect peace, promising happiness, blessing us with hope… one who was extravagantly generous and totally giving of self. We would want a god who was in love with us.

But, in fact, when we meet such a man in Jesus Christ, we can’t help but to respond the way people in the Gospel do: Where did this man get all this? Don’t we know his father and mother? Isn’t this the son of the carpenter? Which means that the automatic impulse when we meet Jesus Christ is to presume that what makes him so unique and exceptional—unlike anyone else we have ever met—is his Father.

The Son of God exposes our presumption: You know me and also know where I am from. Yet I did not come on my own, but the one who sent me, whom you do not know, is true (Jn 7:28). The more we gaze upon Jesus Christ in all his ineffable goodness, the more we are compelled to cry with Philip, Show us the Father (Jn 14:8). (Excerpted from Magnificat, Vol. 19, No. 4 / June 2017, p. 3-4)

May we be forever grateful to our amazing God, who consummately fulfills our truest human desire for a perfect Father.

Thank you for your prayers and for your continued support of FRC and the family.

Sincerely,

Dan Hart
Managing Editor for Publications
Family Research Council

  

FRC Articles

Secretary Mattis: Focus on War-Fighting, Ditch the Social EngineeringLt. Gen. Jerry Boykin

Maxine Waters: The Left’s Best Against Donald Trump?Ken Blackwell

Rolling Thunder, ‘Missing Man’ tables and the BibleLt. Gen. Jerry Boykin

Democrat Outreach to Pro-Lifers Will Take More Than TalkTony Perkins

New Research Shows “Adult-Like” Nerves in Very Young Embryos: Affirming the Likelihood of Fetal PainArina Grossu

Hungarian Megachurch a Model of Salt and Light in Europe – Peter Sprigg

Budapest Family Summit Explores Ways to Revitalize the Family – Peter Sprigg

A Fitting Tribute to Memorial Day – Chris Gacek

FRC’s Arina Grossu Speaks at New D.C. Abortion Business Operated by Controversial Abortionist – Arina Grossu

Blasphemy Laws” Violate Religious Liberty – Travis Weber

Emotionally Manipulative Videos Can’t Save Planned Parenthood – Dan Hart

                                                       

Religious Liberty

Religious Liberty in the Public Square

VICTORY: Court affirms Christian’s right to refuse in good faith to make ‘LGBT Pride’ shirtsPeter LaBarbera, LifeSiteNews

Rage at Rubio’s Bible Tweets: More Evidence of Troubling Bias Against ChristiansJohn Zmirak, The Stream

Sheriff Ordered to Remove ‘Blessed are the Peacemakers’ DecalsTodd Starnes, The Stream

Undercover Planned Parenthood Video Removed from YouTube at Judge’s OrderAlexandra DeSanctis, National Review

Parents Sue San Diego School District Over ‘Initiative to Combat Islamophobia’Heather Clark, Christian News

White House Acts to Roll Back Birth-Control Mandate for Religious EmployersRobert Pear, The New York Times

International Religious Freedom

The continuing tragedy of Egypt’s Coptic Christians – Samuel Tadros, The Washington Post

Trump Should Adopt an International Religious-Freedom Policy with Teeth – Tina Ramirez, National Review

Wives of Chinese torture victims beg Congress for helpJune Cheng, WORLD

5 Ways to give persecuted Christians help beyond the hashtagDavid Mills, Aleteia

India Arrests Christians for Taking Kids to Bible CampSamuel Smith, The Christian Post

 

Life

Abortion

Why The Latest Planned Parenthood Video Is A BreakthroughBecky Visosky, The Federalist

Planned Parenthood’s Main Abortion Clinic Has Injured 4 Women in Botched Abortions Already This YearCheryl Sullenger, Life News

Planned Parenthood to Close Three Abortion Clinics in California – Micaiah Bilger, LifeNews

New law may force pro-life groups to hire abortion activistsFr. Mark Hodges, LifeSiteNews

Undercover Video Exposes Deep Contradiction at the Heart of Planned ParenthoodJay Hobbs, The Daily Signal

Planned Parenthood’s newly released annual report shows abortions have increased – againSusan Michelle-Hanson, Live Action

Adoption

Why women aren’t choosing adoption – and how pro-lifers can change thatMatt Hadro, Crux

Texas Adoption Law Could Jumpstart Christian Agencies AgainKate Shellnutt, Christianity Today

Illinois Purges Social Workers and Foster Families Who Don’t ‘Facilitate Transgenderism’ – Mary Hasson, The Federalist

Bioethics

Creating babies from skin cells turns procreation into transaction: scientistMaggie Maslak, CAN/EWTN News

Time for a “Populist” Bioethics Commission – Wesley J. Smith, First Things

The Dangerous Advance on Assisted Suicide You Probably Haven’t Heard About – Bobby Schindler, NewsBusters

Pope Francis Cautions Against Dangers of Genetic Manipulation That Can Create ‘Super Humans’ – Felix N. Codilla, The Christian Post

Obamacare

McConnell steps into Obamacare firing lineBurgess Everett and Jennifer Haberkorn, Politico

McConnell faces a challenge passing health care in SenateAlan Fram, Associated Press

 

Family

Economics/Education

Deliver Us from iPads – Heather Wilhelm, National Review

What Exactly Are Christian Schools Selling (or Marketing)? – Robert F. Davis, The Christian Post

Many Women Want Careers That Are Compatible with Raising Children – Naomi Schaefer Riley, Family Studies

The Closing of the American Mind Thirty Years Later: A Symposium – Nathan Schlueter, Public Discourse

Do-It-Yourself Biology – Deacon James H. Toner, Crisis

Obama’s regulations in 2016 to drain economy by $2 trillion – David Sherfinski, The Washington Times

Marriage

Delaying Marriage and ParenthoodJohn Stonestreet and Roberto Rivera, BreakPoint

Study: Growing Number of Millennials Believe in Traditional Gender Roles

The Surprising Link Between Broken Families And America’s Opioid CrisisTamás Ungar, The Federalist

What The New York Times Gets Wrong About Marriage, Health, and Well-BeingTyler J. VanderWeele, Family Studies

Faith/Character/Culture

To Repair Our Fractured Republic, Get To Know Your NeighborsGracy Olmstead, The Federalist

The Kids Are Not Okay—and Neither Is AmericaCollin Hansen, The Gospel Coalition

Anne With an E Trades Realism for ‘Realism’Esther O’Reilly, The Stream

Video: On Pride, Humility, and Social MediaBp. Robert Barron, Word On Fire

America’s Social Fabric Is Eroding. Government Must Avoid Feeding the Problem.Sen. Mike Lee, The Daily Signal

Human Sexuality

Nevada governor signs bill to ban conversion therapy, with exemption for religious organizationsChandrika Narayan, Fox 13

What’s at Stake in the Left’s Effort to Redefine ‘Sex’ in Pennsylvania LawMichael Geer, The Daily Signal

Men and Women Are Not the SameAlastair Roberts, The Gospel Coalition

What’s in a Name? Why Christians Should Be Wary of the Word “Transgender”Andrew T. Walker, Public Discourse

Why the New York Times Now Favors AdulteryAustin Ruse, Crisis

Human Trafficking

New Human Trafficking Foundation May Support Abortion and ProstitutionAustin Ruse, C-Fam

A vulnerable approach to ending human traffickingRaleigh Sadler, Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission

Pornography

5 Steps for Finding Freedom From Porn and Masturbation – Alice Neaves, The Christian Post

5 Reasons Satan loves pornography – Tom Hoopes, Aleteia

Chris Rock Gets Real About ‘Damaging Affects’ of Porn – Jeannie Law, The Christian Post

Why Fighting Sex Trafficking Absolutely Involves Fighting Pornography – Karen Countryman-Roswurm, Fight the New Drug

Fighting the New Drug: Pornography – Sue Haggerty, Catholic Digest

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Hungarian Megachurch a Model of Salt and Light in Europe

by Peter Sprigg

May 31, 2017

FRC’s Director of the Center for Religious Liberty Travis Weber and I attended several events of the Budapest Family Summit in the Hungarian capital last week, including the Budapest Demographic Forum, the 11th World Congress of Families, and a Family Festival. We have already reported here on the address given on the opening day by Hungary’s conservative Prime Minister Viktor Orban.

However, another highlight of the trip for Travis and I was getting two opportunities to speak at Faith Church, a charismatic mega-church in Budapest which also assisted in organizing several events in connection with the Budapest Family Summit.

Faith Church was founded in 1979, when Hungary was still under Communist rule, by Sandor Nemeth, who remains its pastor to this day. He and his wife began a small Bible study, which has grown to the point that Faith Church is now the center of a network of other congregations in multiple countries.

The pastor and several of his associates visited Family Research Council on a trip to Washington several years ago. As a result of that contact, Travis and I reached out to the church to let them know that we would be in Budapest. Leaders at Faith Church invited us not only to visit the church, but to speak to a youth gathering on Friday night.

This “youth group” turned out to be an audience of at least four hundred young people, including many students at the college and seminary run by the church, known as St. Paul Academy. I addressed the group about my work on the issues of marriage, family, and human sexuality, and Travis spoke about his field of religious liberty. They then fielded questions from the audience—all while a translator translated their remarks line by line into Hungarian. The entire meeting lasted three hours.

Travis and I were then invited back on Saturday to speak again—this time to the church’s main weekly worship service, which regularly draws between eight and ten thousand attendees. In addition to us, three other Americans from the World Congress of Families were invited to address the church—Larry Jacobs, Managing Director of the WCF, long-time pro-family leader Janice Crouse, and Ted Baehr of Movieguide.

Faith Church also now operates a TV network, a radio station (for which Travis and I were also interviewed), and a news magazine. The church also maintains close ties with the nation of Israel and has worked against anti-Semitism. Faith Church is modeling in Hungary the kind of cultural impact that Christians can have when they serve as salt and light in their community.

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Budapest Family Summit Explores Ways to Revitalize the Family

by Peter Sprigg

May 30, 2017

On Thursday, May 25th, pro-family leaders from around the world gathered in the capital of Hungary for what local organizers have dubbed the “Budapest Family Summit.” Day One of the event was the second “Budapest Demographic Forum”—a focus on the demographic issues of declining birth and fertility rates which are plaguing virtually all of the world’s developed countries, including Europe. Despite long-discredited theories about the dangers of over-population, the real crisis of the West is declining population—especially as other countries (including the Muslim world) continue to grow. The event continued Friday and Saturday with the latest World Congress of Families. Family Research Council is being represented by myself and Senior Fellow Travis Weber.

One unique aspect of the Budapest summit, in comparison with other World Congress of Families events, is that the Hungarian government itself is a principal sponsor. Katalin Novak, Hungary’s Minister of State for Family, Youth, and International Affairs, is the event’s chief organizer and host.

Furthermore, the highlight of Thursday’s kickoff session was an address by the Prime Minister of Hungary, Viktor Orban, who returned to Budapest from the NATO leaders summit in Brussels in time to address the Forum. Orban is the dynamic and sometimes controversial leader of Hungary’s governing center-right coalition (he was the subject of a major profile in Politico last year). In 2015, he closed Hungary’s southern border to a flood of illegal immigrants from the south. Orban is also unashamedly pro-family—when his coalition was large enough to amend the country’s constitution, one provision they added was to define marriage as the union of one man and one woman.

In his address to the Demographic Summit today, Orban did not hesitate to link the issues of immigration and family in the context of the “competition of civilizations.” He bluntly warned that Europe, with its declining population, is “old, rich, and weak,” while the growing countries around it are “young, poor, and strong”—making the likely direction of population flows obvious.

Yet while some people suggest that the West should welcome immigrants precisely as a solution to its population woes, Orban bluntly rejected that option, saying that the countries of Central Europe, including Hungary, prefer the “renewal of our own resources.”

Toward that end, he declared that 2018 will be “the Year of Families” in Hungary, and announced a goal of raising Hungary’s fertility rate (the average number of children borne by a woman in her lifetime) to 2.1 (considered the “replacement” level necessary to maintain a stable population) by 2030.

One notable characteristic at international gatherings like this is that in Europe, even conservative governments are more likely to see government intervention and incentives as a solution to family issues, while in the United States, most pro-family conservatives are also supporters of a free market and limited government, and therefore are more skeptical of government intervention. Orban, for example, proposed to write off student loans and offer subsidies for mortgage payments for families with three or more children. He also proposed building more child-care facilities for the benefit of working parents—although American pro-family activists generally prefer policies that might make it easier for parents to care for their own children at home.

It should be noted that several speakers made clear that the intention is not for government to dictate how many children people should have or to punish those who choose not to become parents. However, surveys regarding how many children people would like to have consistently show that the number is higher than the number they actually have. So the goal of pro-natal policy is not to make people have children they don’t want, but to clear away obstacles that may prevent them from having as many children as they do want.

In addition to Orban and several other government officials from Hungary and other European countries, speakers at the Forum included former FRC staffers like Pat Fagan of MARRI and Allan Carlson.

Stay tuned for further updates from Budapest.

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A Fitting Tribute to Memorial Day

by Chris Gacek

May 26, 2017

If you want to do something on Memorial Day Weekend to honor those fallen and missing in our wars, I suggest that you watch a magnificent PBS documentary entitled, “These Hallowed Grounds.” PBS describes the film this way:

Hallowed Grounds visits 22 of America’s overseas military cemeteries, and tells the story of these remarkable places with historical sequences about the wars and battles that created them, and moving vignettes and interviews about the men and women who rest in them. Created after World War I and World War II, these cemeteries are some of America’s great national treasures.

There are a number of different ways to watch it. PBS provides this site that allows it to be watched online. It can also be watched here on YouTube. Finally, there is an embedded player in this review of the film by Warner Todd Huston (May 29, 2016) on Breitbart.

Even though the documentary describes only the graves of those lost and missing in World War I and World War II, one’s thoughts of those who fell, were wounded, or lost in previous and later wars are not far from one’s mind.

These Hallowed Grounds” is a powerful antidote to the narratives often taught to the young that America has not been a force for good in the world. The story of the fallen and the foreign friends of Americans who visit the cemeteries tell a far different story.

Please watch and remember with your children, grandchildren, nieces, and nephews. They deserve to know the truth about America and its hundreds of thousands of heroes.

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FRC’s Arina Grossu Speaks at New D.C. Abortion Business Operated by Controversial Abortionist

by Arina Grossu

May 26, 2017

Yesterday, Arina Grossu, Family Research Council’s Director of the Center for Human Dignity, along with other pro-life leaders held a press conference outside of a new D.C. abortion business that Steven Brigham, one of the most infamous abortionists in America, opened up. The following is a transcript of her speech:

It is incredibly unfortunate that we must be here today. It is an outrage and a shame that Steven Brigham, an incredibly dangerous and unscrupulous abortionist, has opened up a new abortion business in our nation’s capital. Brigham runs sham, Gosnell-like abortion operations wherever he sets up shop. Brigham has had his medical licenses revoked in six states because he practices illegal scams and gross negligence such as starting abortions in one state, then crossing state lines to complete them in order to skirt the rule of law. Brigham commits abortions, even late-term abortions, although he has never completed his residency in either obstetrics or gynecology.  

He was caught illegally committing abortions in Maryland although he was never licensed there.  He has operated at least two illegal late-term abortion businesses. Brigham was arrested in 2010 and even faced multiple counts of murder charges involving late-term abortions. 

He has lost at least $6.5 million in malpractice lawsuits and has injured many women including an 18-year-old woman who had such severe injuries that she had to be transported via helicopter to Johns Hopkins Medical Center in Baltimore. She was rushed into an emergency surgery where doctors removed the remains of her partially aborted baby, removed and repaired part of her injured small intestine, and repaired her ruptured uterus.

He has lied to previous landlords about the nature of his business and has been evicted from various offices, owing $37,000 in back rent to one Delaware landlord. He did not even tell this landlord about his abortion business until pro-life leaders told him. He also has a history of fraudulent billing practices.

This man is a danger to women and to society, trespassing the rule of law time and time again. 

Where is the outrage from Planned Parenthood or feminists who purport to care about women’s health and safety? We are deeply concerned about women’s health and safety at the hands of Brigham. His practice reveals to us the horrific and shocking reality of the abortion industry.

D.C. must immediately stop Brigham from bringing his horrific, shoddy abortion practice to our nation’s capital. We call on officials to close this business immediately. How has Brigham been able to hop around states, bringing with him his horrific abortion practices? Shouldn’t abortion facilities have more oversight than veterinary clinics, dentists’ offices, tanning salons, and tattoo parlors? All of our states and the District must pass abortion facility regulations to protect the health and safety of women from dangerous abortionists like Brigham.

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Blasphemy Laws” Violate Religious Liberty

by Travis Weber

May 24, 2017

Yesterday, the Christian governor of Jakarta, Indonesia – Basuki Tjahaja Purnama – decided to drop the appeal of his blasphemy conviction, for which he will now serve two years in jail. The reason? Fears of the possibility that the sentence may be lengthened, and concerns about continued violent clashes between factions on different sides of the case. Whatever the precise reason (and criminal defendants often have several reasons factoring into their decision), allowing outside social pressure to affect the continued incarceration of Mr. Basuki is an absolute tragedy.

Blasphemy laws – aside from being a violation of the human right of freedom of religion – are notoriously abused to target political and social opponents. In the past, Indonesia hasn’t been at the center of such misuse – as has Pakistan – and for this reason such developments are all the more concerning. While Mr. Basuki is obviously entitled to make his own decision regarding his case, the circumstances surrounding it are a bad omen for the future of Indonesian democracy and rule of law in that country, and do not set a good precedent for standing up to hardline Islamists favoring such laws.

The application of the laws themselves to people like Mr. Basuki – who though not Muslim was charged and convicted (and sentenced beyond what the prosecutor even asked for!) of the religious crime after he cited a Quranic verse in public debate (and after radical Muslims protested) – is bad enough. This is a human rights problem. It compounds the problem when such laws are abused and taken advantage of to eliminate political opponents – which is a rule of law problem. Both issues need to be corrected in Indonesia (and other places) going forward.

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Emotionally Manipulative Videos Can’t Save Planned Parenthood

by Daniel Hart

May 19, 2017

First, it was Star Wars director J.J. Abrams. Now, Avengers director Joss Whedon has joined the Planned Parenthood bandwagon. A Whedon-directed video entitled “UNLOCKED” was recently released portraying Planned Parenthood as the savior of women by providing cancer screenings, STD prevention classes, and birth control.

It’s a video that is long on emotional, slow-motion tracking shots accompanied by heart-rending orchestration, but short on factual reality. The first myth of “UNLOCKED” is that without Planned Parenthood, countless women would be robbed of vital cancer screenings. But this is simply not the case. According to Planned Parenthood’s own numbers, they provide a fraction of care nationwide:

Planned Parenthood performed 271,539 Pap tests in fiscal year 2014-15, out of 28.1 million tests nationwide. That’s less than 1% of the nation’s Pap tests.

Planned Parenthood performed 363,803 clinical breast exams (these are not mammograms) in fiscal year 2014-15, out of 20 million exams nationwide. Planned Parenthood’s U.S. market share for clinical breast exams is 1.8%.

Planned Parenthood’s market share in the nation’s mammograms is 0.0%. Meaning, no, they do not provide any mammograms… at all.

It’s clear from these numbers that the 13,540 health care centers in the U.S. would have no problem picking up an additional 1-2% of cancer screenings, showing that Planned Parenthood is in no way “vital” to women’s health care.

Another myth propagated by the video is that women need birth control pills in order to save them from a life of uneducated misery in servitude to a baby. This is dramatized by showing a pregnant young woman crumpling up a college scholarship, while her mother wails in agony. But if “female empowerment” is the goal, why portray an unplanned pregnancy as a hopeless void? Can’t a situation that millions of women have experienced instead be an opportunity for new beginnings and the pursuit of new dreams? The answer is a resounding “yes.” Here is another example. And here is a direct response to Whedon’s video from a woman who experienced an unplanned pregnancy herself: “Unlike the video, I had scholarships and I used them and I kept them because that’s obviously an option. And I succeeded.”

An additional glaring hypocrisy presented in “UNLOCKED” is that it positively portrays STD prevention classes and birth control pills side by side as if both are vital services to promote young women’s health. But if preventing STDs is the goal, birth control pills certainly aren’t going to help. They will in fact heighten the problem if used by young, unmarried women because of the lifestyle they inherently promote: consequence-free sex with whoever you want.

All of this is mere window dressing to what Planned Parenthood’s business is really all about: abortion. It’s by far the most massive irony in “UNLOCKED”—the biggest “service” that Planned Parenthood provides isn’t given even a passing mention in the video. One third of all abortions committed in the U.S. are done at Planned Parenthood, and the resulting baby body parts are sold for profit. It’s no surprise that Joss Whedon decided not to include that scene in the final cut.

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New Research Shows “Adult-Like” Nerves in Very Young Embryos: Affirming the Likelihood of Fetal Pain

by Arina Grossu

May 16, 2017

This article first appeared at CareNet.


This new research shows that the nervous system of an embryo is quite complex by the time most women find out they are pregnant.

A study published in March 2017 reveals “adult-like” pattern of nerves established before the end of the first trimester. This new dose of science and technology should inform our fetal pain debate.

The study generated 3D images at the cellular level of actual human embryos ranging from 6 to 14 weeks gestation (4 to 12 weeks post-fertilization), as never before seen. These images show nerve, muscular, cardiovascular, and other organ system development. The results are incredible. For example, below is an image of the complex peripheral nerves of an embryo at 7 to 8 weeks gestation (5-6 weeks post-fertilization):

fetal pain.png

The second image shows the nerves on the right hand of embryos from 7-11 weeks gestation (5-9 weeks post-fertilization). Even at 7 weeks gestation, the development is quite advanced—even more so at 11 weeks. All of this is happening in the first trimester!

fetal pain 2.png

What this new research shows is that the nervous system of an embryo is quite complex even by 5 weeks post-fertilization when quite often, the mom is only finding out that she is pregnant after missing her first period. We already know that “pain receptors appear around the mouth at 4 to 5 weeks post-fertilization, followed by the development of nerve fibers, which carry stimuli to the brain. Around 6 weeks post-fertilization, the unborn child first responds to touch. By 18 weeks post-fertilization, pain receptors have appeared throughout the body.”

We also know that there is no question, biologically speaking, about whether an unborn child can feel pain by 20 weeks post-fertilization at the very latest, since by then they have the full anatomy to process pain and also the neurobiology to transmit painful sensations to the brain and to perceive pain. Studies show that babies can feel pain by their increased hormonal stress response and by wincing when they are exposed to painful stimuli.

It should come as no surprise that it is common practice for doctors to administer anesthesia before performing in-utero surgeries on preborn babies. When administered, anesthesia decreases the stress response in preborn babies when compared to their hormone levels when painful stimuli are applied without any anesthesia. Twenty states have already passed laws banning abortions after 18 or 20 weeks post-fertilization because of the capacity for unborn children to experience pain, with Iowa being the latest to pass such legislation.

A few weeks ago, people gathered for the March for Science. If we are to be honest, science shows us the clear-cut reality and complexity of embryonic development in the earliest weeks of the first trimester. This is an inconvenient reality for those who rely on ideology instead of science to deny the humanity of preborn children and their capacity to feel pain.

In our culture, there are those who will have more compassion for animals than for babies who are given a death sentence because of their age and location. We will continue to fight until every one of these vulnerable preborn babies are protected — by our laws and our culture. It is not enough to recognize that these children feel pain when aborted; we must empower those around us to make life-affirming choices. Only then will our nation become one where it is safe to be in the womb.

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