Hawaii is a politically liberal state, but it was one of the first in the nation to grapple with a pro-homosexual judicial ruling upsetting the man-woman character of marriage. When Hawaii courts first ruled on the matter roughly a decade ago, voters amended the state constitution to require that any changes in state law on the nature of marriage could only be made by the elected branches of government, not judges.
This stands in sharp contrast to the judicially-driven outcomes in Vermont, Massachusetts, and now New Jersey. It also has the virtue of being more honest: elected officials must account for themselves, and not point to another branch of government and say, “They made me do it.” Whatever your position is on this issue, or any other controversial matter, voters should expect their elected officials to stand on the courage of their convictions, not the convenience of coercion.
Over the past few days, both The Washington Times and the Washington Post have run stories on HPV and the new HPV vaccine, Gardasil. The Times articles on the subject may have underplayed the risks from HPV to young women and girls. Today’s Post article, on the other hand, seems to overplay it.
The headline (“Millions In U.S. Infected With HPV: Study Finds Virus Strikes a Third of Women by Age 24”) is about the large number of women who are infected with HPV—which would seem calculated to build support for making the vaccine mandatory. But those figures refer to at least 27 strains of genital HPV. Only in paragraph four do you learn that “only 2.2% of women were carrying one of the two virus strains most likely to lead to cervical cancer”—in other words, the two cancer-related strains targeted by the vaccine.
To put this another way—vaccinating the entire population with Gardasil would not eliminate a virus that infects one quarter to one third of American women, as the headline might lead you to believe. Instead, it would only eliminate the strains that infect 2.2% of women.
Now, that 2.2% will account for 70% of cervical cancer cases, so the vaccine’s impact is very significant in relation to that disease. But the vaccine will not help the millions of other women infected with other, less deadly strains of HPV. Only abstinence will help them all.
The religious impulse is a fundamental and basic human yearning. Yet, governments and societies sometimes deny religious freedom, particularly to those whom they view as a threat to their own ideology. Within the past ten years, the question of international religious freedom has become an important part of U.S. foreign policy. How did this happen? What does it portend for the future of religious freedom around the world? In this lecture, Bill Saunders will examine these and related questions.
Bill Saunders is Senior Fellow and Human Rights Counsel at the Family Research Council. A graduate of the Harvard Law School, he has been active in the cause of international religious freedom for more than a decade, first at the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights, then at the Family Research Council. He was involved from the beginning in the movement to make this part of U.S. foreign policy. In 1999, he founded an organization to provide relief to persecuted Christians and others in Sudan. He has written on this topic frequently, in a variety of journals.
According to a study by the Alabaman Policy Institute, the longer couples cohabited before marrying, the more likely they were to resort to heated arguments, hitting, and throwing objects when conflicts arose in their subsequent marriage. A longer length of cohabitation was linked to a greater frequency of heated arguments, even when controlling for spouses’ age.
Source: “Effects of Cohabitation Length on Personal and Relational Well Being” Hill, John R. Evans, Sharon G. Alabama Policy Institute Vol. API Study, Number . August, 2006. Page(s) 1-13.
Amanda Marcotte, the blogger who worked for John Edwards campaign before she fell victim to the “right wing noise machine”, has an interesting take on abortion:
To see that abortion is moral, you just need to look at women as human beings with lives that have value. When a woman chooses abortion, shes not indulging some guilty pleasure, like sneaking in a round of adultery at lunch, to bring up a genuinely immoral action that should not be criminal. She is probably thinking about her familys well-being and yes, her own well-being. Taking your own well-being into consideration is called selfish by anti-choicers, but I think valuing yourself is a moral good, even if you are female. In fact, especially if you are female, since you live in a world where having self-esteem can be an act of moral courage that requires some defiance. If I got pregnant, I wouldnt even have to suffer much mental strain to realize that abortion would be the best choice for myself, my family, and my relationship. Abortion, not just the right to abortion but the actual procedure, is a moral good that helps women and families and should be honored as such. Women who get abortions should be recognized as people who can accurately weigh their choices and make the most moral one.
In fairness, most abortion advocates are not as morally deranged as Marcotte. Some even consider abortion to be “morally questionable”, a position Marcotte claims is a “huge insult”:
The penultimate question with regard to issues of life is “what does it mean to be human?” Courts have effectively sidestepped that question in cases like Roe v. Wade, opting to address questions of privacy instead.
Sarah Elizabeth Leighton was only a 14-week-old fetus when a toilet at a Brooklyn public school collapsed, injuring her schoolteacher mom.
The fall in January 1999 ruptured Esther Portalatin-Leighton’s placenta, and Sarah was born prematurely, less than four months later, the family contends.
Sarah’s learning disabilities and asthmatic symptoms are the direct result of her early birth, which was caused by the ruptured placenta, her parents argue.
City lawyers tried to get the case dismissed before trial by arguing that the child had to have been able to survive outside the womb at the time the injuries occurred in order for her to recover damages.
Well, Sarah has survived outside the womb, and she can now claim the injuries sustained when she was a 14-week old fetus. Whatever the merits of the case, the fact that court now recognizes “fetus Sarah” as the “girl Sarah” is a step toward justice.
The court, of course, made sure not to draw parity with abortion issues:
“Abortion cases are genuinely distinguishable from the [Leighton] case since fetuses which are aborted are not born alive,” Brooklyn Appeals Court Justice Gloria Goldstein wrote.
However, the panel did offer conception as a line of demarcation, saying that “as long as the injuries occurred after conception and the child was born alive, she could make a claim.” It almost sounds absurd (after all, what injuries can one sustain before conception?), but it does lend considerable recognition to the notion that personhood begins at conception.
According to a 2005 study by the National Center of Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University, frequent family dinners were associated with lower rates of teen smoking, drinking, and drug use. Compared with teens who frequently had dinner with their families, (five nights or more per week), those who had dinner with their families only two nights per week or less were twice as likely to be involved in substance abuse. They were 2.5 times as likely to smoke cigarettes, more than 1.5 times as likely to drink alcohol, and nearly three times as likely to try marijuana.
Source: The National Center of Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University, The Importance of Family Dinners II, (: September 2005)
Anthony Esolen of Touchstone magazine reminds us of the unnoticed gift of trickle-down decadence:
The rich can afford their vices, for a time anyway; the poor have no such margin for comfort. They are, in fact, endangered by the vices of the rich. I dont simply mean that the rich man can extort his will from the poor, or wield the law as a club to keep the poor man in his place. He can do worse: He can infect the poor man with his vice, and that may be the quicker way to destroy him.