Month Archives: June 2011

The Fetus and Federal Regulations

by Rob Schwarzwalder

June 21, 2011

The Code of Federal Regulations is an almost sure-fire antidote to insomnia. If boredom were a commodity, the Code would be its biggest resource.

The arcane and involved language of the Code is one reason why so few people read it. Yet within its myriad pages are the rules that govern government itself - how laws are applied, how legislation is to be understood, and even how words used in federal regulations are to be interpreted.

Some of those words are more important than others, and those that deal with the very nature of human personhood are, perhaps, the most important of all.

In the October 1, 2009 edition of the Code, we read that Fetus means the product of conception from implantation until delivery.

There we have it: an unborn child is merely the product of conception, conception itself evidently needing no interpretation (that it takes place through the sexual union of two image-bearers of God is, apparently, irrelevant).

What are we to make of this product? This collection of cells and blood and tissue stored within the veil of human flesh? Heres what David said of this product, this fetus, this creature:

When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers,

The moon and the stars, which You have ordained;

What is man that You take thought of him,

And the son of man that You care for him?

Yet You have made him a little lower than God,

And You crown him with glory and majesty! (Psalm 8:3-5)

From conception onward, this fetus has all the same DNA as every reader of this piece. What are the criteria for its humanness?

Is it less human because of its size? If so, then anyone shorter than someone else is less human, as well.

Is it less human because of its development? If so, then anyone with a physical or mental disability is less human than those more physically or mentally advanced.

Is it less human because it is dependent? If so, then any child is less human than the parents on whose support she depends for food, clothing, shelter, etc.

And so it goes through whatever other comparisons can be summoned: Intelligence, appearance, etc. What changes at time of delivery, per the Federal Registry, is not the personhood of the child but his place of residence. He lives nine months within his mothers womb, and the remainder of his life outside it.

Even the term fetus, used as a medical euphemism by those unwilling to confront the unborn childs humanness, is telling if rendered honestly. Fetus is Latin for offspring or young while still in the womb. Those who persist in its usage for the purpose of dehumanizing that to which they refer cannot avoid the potency of language itself.

Sometimes euphemisms have their place. Saying that someone is all foam, no root beer is a pleasing way of conveying that the individual referenced is full of talk but has no substance or seriousness. Yet language, however we might use it to obscure, can never fully hide that which it described.

To this point, the German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer, in his landmark work Ethics, wrote,

Destruction of the embryo in the mother’s womb is a violation of the right to live which God has bestowed upon this nascent life. To raise the question whether we are here concerned already with a human being or not is merely to confuse the issue. The simple fact is that God certainly intended to create a human being and that this nascent human being has been deliberately deprived of his life.

The language of the Code of Federal Regulations is tedious. Its impact on American public life is profound. But its artful obfuscation of that which is most compelling of all what it means to be human is unsuccessful.

A fetus is a baby is a person is a human being. No euphemism can hide that truth and you can take that to the bank.

The Antithesis of Love and Mercy: Physician Assisted Suicide

by Family Research Council

June 20, 2011

Regardless of your denomination or faith tradition, anyone engaged in the battle to protect life will greatly appreciate the most recent statement from the U.S. Catholic Conference of Bishops on Physician Assisted Suicide, titled “To Live Each Day With Dignity”. I highly recommend reading the short (5 1/2 pages) document.

Here are some excerpts:

When people are tempted to see their own lives as diminished in value or meaning, they most need the love and assistance of others to assure them of their inherent worth.”

With expanded funding from wealthy donors, assisted suicide proponents have renewed their aggressive nationwide campaign through legislation, litigation, and public advertising, targeting states they see as most susceptible to their message. If they succeed, society will undergo a radical change. Jewish and Christian moral traditions have long rejected the idea of assisting in anothers suicide.”

Most people, regardless of religious affiliation, know that suicide is a terrible tragedy, one that a compassionate society should work to prevent. They realize that allowing doctors to prescribe the means for their patients to kill

themselves is a corruption of the healing art. It even violates the Hippocratic Oath that has guided physicians for millennia: I will not give a lethal drug to anyone if I am asked, nor will I advise such a plan. Proponents know these facts, so they avoid terms such as assisting suicide and instead use euphemisms such as aid in dying. The organization leading this campaign has even concealed its agenda by changing its name. The Hemlock Society, whose very name reminded people of the harsh reality of death by poison, has become Compassion and Choices. Plain speaking is needed to strip away this veneer and uncover what is at stake, for this agenda promotes neither free choice nor compassion.”

[T]he line between assisted suicide and homicide becomes blurred. People who request death are vulnerable. They need care and protection. To offer them lethal drugs is a victory not for freedom but for the worst form of neglect.”

By rescinding legal protection for the lives of one group of people, the government implicitly communicates the messagebefore anyone signs a form to accept this alleged benefitthat they may be better off dead. Thus the bias of too many able-bodied people against the value of life for someone with an illness or disability is embodied in official policy.”

In short, the assisted suicide agenda promotes a narrow and distorted notion of freedom, by creating an expectation that certain people, unlike others, will be served by being helped to choose death. Many people with illnesses and disabilities who struggle against great odds for their genuine rightsthe right to adequate health care and housing, opportunities for work and mobility, and so onare deservedly suspicious when the freedom society most eagerly offers them is the freedom to take their lives.”

True compassion alleviates suffering while maintaining solidarity with those who suffer. It does not put lethal drugs in their hands and abandon them to their suicidal impulses, or to the self-serving motives of others who may want them dead. It helps vulnerable people with their problems instead of treating them as the problem.”

New Yorks Last Father’s Day?

by Robert Morrison

June 17, 2011

So David slept with his fathers, and was buried in the city of David. 1 Kings 2:10

I was not a believer and certainly not schooled in the Bible when I first encountered that poetic phrase. As a graduate history student, poring over the writings of President George Washington, I noted the Father of our Country wrote when he passed the age of sixty, the time is not far distant when I must sleep with my fathers.

It referred, the text explained, to Washingtons belief that he, like most of his male ancestors, would not live much longer. How can they say Washington is not eloquent, I asked myself. Thats a beautiful phrase, a memorable image.

Washingtons phrase reminded me of my own father. My dad was a carpenter and he left the house every morning before dawn. The good part of that is that he would often return in the late afternoon. I can remember as a little boy of nine or ten wrestling with Pop on the TV room floor when he came home. He was still sweaty and often had sawdust in his hair and on his clothes. Many a time, after such a hard days work, he and I would fall asleep following our wrestling match. Soon, my mother would come in and yell: Les! Go take your bath; its almost time for dinner! Sweaty as he was, that was a sweet smell. Honest sweat, pungent sawdust. He was proud of his work and there was a lot to be proud of.

One day, Pop came home to find me pale and shaken. I had just gotten back from the fields near our house. My friend Shane and I had been playing forts, running free through the woods and hills. But something bad had happened. Soon, Pop got the story out of me. A man with a shotgun had confronted Shane and me. This was his land, he said. We were illegal trespassers. If he ever caught us on his property again, he said, aiming the gun at us, he would shoot us. Pop sent Shane away but took me in tow. He wanted me to identify the man with the shotgun. I was terrified. That man had said he would shoot me. Would he now shoot Pop, too?

The owner of the vast undeveloped property was well-known in the community. The newspapers referred to him as the Sixteenth Lord of the Manor. In truth, his family had owned that land since King Charles II gave it to them in the 1660s.

Pop wasnt afraid. He held my hand tight and took me right up to the front door of the manor house. Is this the man, he asked? Yes, I answered, with a quavering voice. Pop confronted the Sixteenth Lord. Ill keep my son and his friends off your property, he said, but if I ever hear of you pointing a gun at a little boy, Ill break it over your head.

I thought my father the strongest, bravest man in the world. Still, I breathed easier once we crossed over the Sixteenth Lords property line. Only then did I notice the old, almost unreadable sign on the tree. It said: POSTED.

Much later, I learned that that meant the same thing as No Trespassing. And very much later, I learned what it meant to sleep with your fathers. I read this wonderful phrase in the Bible.

There is a lot of talk about bullying these days. We have a massive outlay in federal funds to address the issue of bullying. Growing up on Long Island, I had a sure defense against bullying my Pop. So did most of the boys I knew. Divorce was rare then and out-of-wedlock birth rarer still. Abortion was against the law.

We kids grew up feeling safe, protected in our tender years. One of George Washingtons great contemporaries, Edmund Burke, wrote of something called the cheap defense of nations. Fathers in the home were surely a part of that cheap defense. Without fathers in the home, there wont be enough money in the U.S. treasury or all the treasuries in the world to guard the young against bullying.

New York State, my home state, is on the verge of abolishing fathers in the home. They say they are only re-defining marriage. Theyre not. They are ending it. And with the end of marriage, will come the dissolution of the state. Gone will be the cheap defense of nations. And no one will know what it means to sleep with my fathers.

The Real War Against Women: Sex Selection Abortion

by Family Research Council

June 17, 2011

Earlier this week the American Enterprise Institute held a fascinating panel discussion titled, A Worldwide War against Baby Girls: Sex-Selective Abortion Goes Global. Speakers included Mara Hvistendahl, a writer for Science magazine, and author of recently released book on sex selection abortion, Unnatural Selection. AEI scholar and demographics expert Nicholas Eberstadt also addressed the current data on sex selection abortion as well as potential solutions to this severe demographic problem.

I recommend watching the panel discussion, however here are a few interesting points:

—- Three factors countries with a high sex-selection abortion rate have in common include:

1) birth rates have fallen

2) availability of new technology, including ultrasound, etc.

3) pervasive abortion

—- Americans (and in particular, U.S. government funds) have played a significant role in the situation as it currently stands.

—- There is a link between sex selection abortion and the population control movement.

—- The most educated classes have the most gender-related abortions.

—- Due to the preference for male children, there are approximately 160 million “missing women” in Asia. For perspective, this number is larger than the entire female population of the United States.

—- Sex-selection abortion is occurring here in the United States in Asian-American communities.

—- The only country that has recovered from such an imbalance of the sexes is S. Korea.

The full one-hour panel discussion, is viewable from AEI’s website.

 

ACT Picks First Human Subjects for Embryonic Stem Cell Eye Experiment

by David Prentice

June 16, 2011

Reuters is reporting that Advanced Cell Technology has enrolled the first two patients for its experiments on human eyes using injected embryonic stem cells. The report says that one patient each has been signed up for its two experimental trials that were approved within the past seven months by the FDA; the patients were recruited at the Jules Stein Eye Institute, UCLA.

Information on the experimental patient trials for Stargardt’s macular dystrophy and for age related macular degeneration says that each experiment is approved to enroll 12 patients, successively, with different doses of embryonic stem cell derivatives being given to groups of three patients each. These safety trials are scheduled to go through July 2013, but there is no other information about how long the patients will be monitored for potential tumor formation caused by the injected embryonic stem cell derivatives. Beyond the ethical problems associated with embryonic stem cells—requiring destruction of young human life to derive the cells—there is significant concern about the practical problem of controlling the cells’ growth. Embryonic stem cells have a disturbing tendency to grow and form tumors, even in instances when the cells had supposedly stopped growing, and in animal studies injection of as few as two growing embryonic stem cells was sufficient to cause problems.

A competing company, Geron, has so far injected two patients with derivatives of embryonic stem cells in its own human experiments, the first approved in the world. Because embryonic stem cells are difficult to impossible to control, safety is a significant and non-trivial, concern for the patients, and Geron has committed to follow the injected patients for 15 years.

Meanwhile, over 2,100 adult stem cell clinical trials are ongoing or completed. Adult stem cells are used to treat over 50,000 patients around the globe each year, and have shown published success for patients with dozens of different diseases and injuries, including for spinal cord injury, for corneal blindness, for juvenile diabetes, for heart damage, and for multiple sclerosis, just to name a few. Check out just a few of the adult stem cell success stories.

California Bankruptcy Court Strikes Down DoMA

by Chris Gacek

June 14, 2011

On June 13, 2011, the federal bankruptcy court for Central District of California struck down the definition of marriage in the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DoMA). The court held that DoMA could not be used to prevent a homosexual married couple from filing a joint bankruptcy petition. The decision was signed by twenty judges who started with this observation: This case is about equality, regardless of gender or sexual orientation…. Good grief.

Ed Whelan, NRO and Ethics and Public Policy Center, had this to say about the decision:

I know very little about bankruptcy-court procedure, so I dont know if there is any good reason why the decision was signed by twenty bankruptcy judges. Update: A bankruptcy-law expert tells me that there is no good legal reason for the multiple signatories and that in the ordinary course the decision would have been signed only by the single judge handling the case.

The decision rests heavily on the badly confused as-applied heightened-scrutiny standard adopted by the Ninth Circuit in Witt v. Department of Air Forcea ruling that the Obama administration (and then-Solicitor General Elena Kagan, in particular) irresponsibly failed to challenge in the Supreme Court. It also invokes Attorney General Holders (shoddy) reasoning explaining the Obama administrations decision not to defend DOMA. So the bankruptcy courts decision is very much a direct product of the Obama administrations sabotage of the laws that it is obligated to defend.

So, the beat goes on as we await activity on DoMA in the First Circuit. I suppose there is a possibility that Paul Clements group working for the House of Representatives may appeal this bankruptcy decision. It is not yet clear how many DoMA cases they will take on.

Articles of Faith

by Rob Schwarzwalder

June 14, 2011

Barack Obama and his colleagues in the enterprise to manage the American free enterprise system believe that government knows better than the private sector how to create jobs. This is an article of faith with the Left. As the President said in an interview on “The Today Show:”

What we have to do now, what this Jobs Council is all about, is identifying where the jobs of the future are going to be. How do we make sure there’s a match between what people are getting trained for and the jobs that exist, how do we make sure that capital is flowing into those places with the greatest opportunity? We are on the right track. The key is figuring out how do we accelerate it.

No: Government doesn’t have to figure this out —- those who create jobs do. Government needs to remove itself substantially from the equation and allow open markets to determine whom to hire, for how much compensation and benefits, and what kinds of goods and services to produce. This is the very essence of the American economic experiment, one that has led to greater benefits for more people than any other system of finance, production, and income in history.

Mr. Obama also spoke of technological changes that have cost jobs, e.g., the replacement by airport check-in kiosks of counter assistants. Does he not realize that if those kiosks are made in the U.S., they create better paying jobs for well-trained shop-floor workers than a counter job ever could? Creative destruction, ala Joseph Shumpeter, is what makes capitalism vibrant. It is endlessly discomfiting but also continuously productive and financially rewarding.

During the same interview, Mr. Obama was asked about the debt ceiling and Republican demands that any increase in the ceiling be accompanied by significant federal spending reductions. “There is a way of solving this problem,” he said, “that doesn’t require any big, radical changes. What it does require is everybody makes some sacrifices.”

This is false and, in fairness to Mr. Obama, is a classic politician’s answer: We can solve the problem without any noticeable costs or losses to those affected by them. This is silliness. In the context of the federal budget, this is sort of like saying one can perform open heart surgery without cutting the skin. Of course “solving the problem” requires radical change —- change that can be meted-out in such a way that the pain is modest, such as a graduated change to private investment accounts in the Social Security system, but if we are to remedy our serious fiscal crisis in anything resembling a serious manner, we must act boldly —- even radically —- to transform the size, scope, and costs of the federal government. This will involve a disruption in the federal welfare state many have come to know and, if not love, rely on heavily.

Mr. Obama, while in North Carolina yesterday, also acknowledged that there were far fewer “shovel ready” infrastructure projects than he had thought. This is really quite remarkable: He was a U.S. Senator for four years, and surely during the annual appropriations processes, as he tried to get funding for state projects, he must have realized how difficult getting EPA approval for construction is. Or perhaps not —- he must have been so removed from this system that he was oblivious to it.

We increase job growth by shrinking the public sector and its vast costs, comprehensive entitlement program reform, tax simplification and reduction, and streamlining and downsizing the federal regulatory process. This is common sense.

What it is not is consistent with Mr. Obama’s vision of an expansive federal state, one that can do everything from demand the firing of an auto company executive to requiring every American to purchase a health insurance plan (one approved by Uncle Sam, of course). Having an invasive, insistent, and comprehensive tax and regulatory structure is a matter of faith for Mr. Obama. He does not believe in the wisdom of private choices made in a marketplace characterized by ordered liberty, but in the genius of benign bureaucratic management from on high. This is, perhaps, grounded in his profound and even hostile skepticism of the private sector, which he seems to see as intrinsically greedy and avaricious. Such perspectives are rooted in the belief that a massive government is needed to protect against the oppression of poor and middle-income by the ignoble rich. This, too, is an article of liberal faith.

Under the just laws envisioned by our Founders (e.g., theft and deception should be punishable by law), free enterprise can thrive in an ethical manner without government intervention or attempts at, in Mr. Obama’s term, “acceleration.” The irony is that such thriving can only happen if Mr. Obama abandons his economic philosophy, which ultimately grows out of a particular kind of view of human nature and the role of government. That this is unlikely is essentially axiomatic and also bodes poorly for the economic future of our country.

O Say Can You See?

by Robert Morrison

June 14, 2011

Admiral Matt Nathan is commanding officer of the Naval Hospital at Bethesda. Its an important position, but no more important to him than his role as husband and father. He got a chance to demonstrate his devotion to his country and his family recently when he spoke at his wifes retirement from the Navy.

The admiral looked out at his wife, Captain Tammy Nathan, and their 13-year old daughter. And he surveyed the hundreds of guests who flocked to this event. My wife, a retired Navy captain, had helped Tammy make her decision to stay in the Navy nearly twenty years ago.

Matt Nathan began by recalling the memorial inscription to Sir Christopher Wren that he and his family had seen outside of St. Pauls Cathedral. It says of the great 17th century English architect: If you seek his monument, look around you. The hundreds of family members and guests at Tammys retirement were indeed a fitting monument to her and to her selfless work.

This petite and feisty lady had grown up in a trailer in a small town in West Virginia with her mother and sister. They had no phone, no TV. She joined the army first to get money for college. Then, she transferred to the Navy. In her most recent assignments, Tammy Nathan has made helping wounded warriors her mission. She does it with great dedication. Many of the wounded were among the crowd celebrating her career.

Matt Nathan told the assembled guests about one special evening with Tammy and her boys. It was a special outing for some of those hard-hit by wars cruel edge. Everything went well for the first hour or so. But as the evening wore on, one young Marine in his dress blues had a few beers. It may have been his first time out of the hospital setting. He had lost both his legs to an I.E.D. in Afghanistan. Generals and admirals noticed the young Marine sobbing. Everyone froze. No one knew quite what to do.

Tammy knew. She walked over and knelt down next to the Marine and embraced him. You are the best looking young man in the room tonight, she said soothingly. He sat up and smiled.

Tammy has that effect on many. Matt would go on to tell the folks why theirs was such a happy marriage. Tammy, of course, believes that hers is the family God wanted her to have and she publicly acknowledges her gratitude to Him for it.

And, too, Tammy knows everybody. The admiral spoke of copying down messages from their phone one night. Tammys manicurist had left a voice mail. Yes, she could give Tammy a manicure the following week. Thanks, Tammy, Lorena.

Whos this Lorena, Matt asked Tammy when she got home. Oh, thats my friend, Lorena Bobbitt. The crowd stirred as they remembered the world-wide notice Mrs. Bobbitt got some years back. She had separated her unfaithful husband from his unfaithful part as he slept. You see, she really does know everybody, Matt said.

The ceremony concluded, as so many of these military retirements do, with the folding of the American flag. Its an elaborate ritual, with each fold given meaning. The Blue Star Mothers of Northern Virginia website tells us about this ritual and why it means so much to us.

In Captain Tammy Nathans case, there was something special in this ritual. Her flag had been flown in her honor over the post office in her little mountain town and over the state capitol of West Virginia in Charleston.

Normally, the flag is folded by succeeding ranks of officers, starting with an ensign or second lieutenant, and going all the way up to captain or admiral. Then, the last, highest ranking officer hands the folded flag to the retiree or, in the case of a military funeral, to the next of kin. But this time, the American flag was handed to Tammy Nathan by a wounded warrior, an army Captain whom she had consoled and cared for. This young officer had been blinded by a terrorist.

His act of devotion should remind all of us who are gifted with sight of the honor due our flag, the symbol of our country. It represents their sacrifices. Lets remember this scene today, on Flag Day, and the next time we sing: O Say Can you See?

Who social conservatives want for 2012

by FRC Media Office

June 11, 2011

Today, CNN.com posted an online guest editorial by Family Research Council President Tony Perkins with his analysis of what social conservatives want in a presidential candidate:

They are looking for that credible leader who can cast a coherent and compelling vision — a vision that unites the three powerful cords of conservatism and draws them snugly together. They want a candidate who realizes our nation and its economy will be no stronger than the core building block called the family. In the meantime, expect the passion of conservatives to grow as they search for a suitor who can rescue a nation that is in distress internationally, economically and morally.

Read the whole thing at CNN.com.

The Social Conservative Review: The Insider’s Guide to Pro-Family News—June 9, 2011

by Krystle Gabele

June 9, 2011

Click here to subscribe to The Social Conservative Review.


Dear Friends,

As fiscal pressures mean the public sector must contract, organized religious groups are stepping into the void.” So argues Lewis M. Andrews in “Religious Alternatives to the Public Sector” in The American: The Journal of the American Enterprise Institute.

Andrews notes that “congregations of all faiths” are helping in many ways, ranging from initiatives to help young women who have been sexually trafficked to providing food to needy families. Churches provide homeless shelters, job training programs, free clothing and household goods, marital counseling, palliative care for the sick and dying, and a host of other expressions of Christ’s compassion.

This goes on throughout the country, in communities large and small. But it is not new: from its earliest days, Christians have sought to help those in need, whether those needing assistance are themselves Christian or not. The early church leader Tertullian, writing in 197 AD, wrote that he and his fellow Christians gave “to support and bury poor people, to supply the wants of boys and girls destitute of means and parents, and of old persons confined now to the house.”

In addition to serving in your own local church, visit FRC’s www.RealCompassion.org for links to ministries that are addressing the great needs of our time, at home and abroad. The early Christians reshaped their culture through persistent, effective ministries to those society had rejected. Let’s all follow their example.

Sincerely,

Rob Schwarzwalder

Senior Vice President

Family Research Council

P.S. Today, Dr. Carol M. Swain came to FRC to speak about her book, “Be the People: A Call to Reclaim America’s Faith and Promise.” Click here to watch her remarks.


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