Month Archives: March 2012

Daily Telegraph: Sex-Selection Abortions May Be Widespread in the U.K.

by Chris Gacek

March 14, 2012

In late February, several important articles were published in the Daily Telegraph (London) exposing the strong possibility that sex-selection abortions are widespread in Britain. The articles grew out of an investigative reporting series the paper conducted. Go here for some video of a provider ignoring the law this would be illegal in the U.K. Here for commentary by Allison Pearson (In the Third World, Unwanted Baby Girls Disappear. Its Called Gendercide. And Its Happening in this Country, Too). And, in another article a former medical director of the countrys largest abortion opined that it is well known that sex-selection abortions are fairly widespread.

Mutual Funds, Internet “Cookies,” and the Right to Life

by Rob Schwarzwalder

March 12, 2012

So, I own a small amount of a Latin American stock fund. I track it periodically and generally have been pleased with its performance.

Imagine my surprise when, while looking for a news story today, there appeared on the side of my computer screen a small panel called “Recent Quotes” that contained only two stocks, one of which just happened to be the Latin American mutual fund in which I’m invested.

This is unnerving. How did a massive news aggregator get information about a minor mutual fund holding such that they could zap me with a stock quote notice?

Americans have always valued their privacy. That’s one of the reasons there are locks on doors and shades on windows. Our lives are not common property; they belong to those who live them and those with whom they choose to share them. My money is mine, not yours (although this is not altogether obvious to our friends on the Left, sadly). If I want to know how much a stock I own is worth, I’ll find out with no help from some invisible, Web-crawling fact-finder.

Proponents of abortion-on-demand claim that it’s really about a “right to privacy.” It’s the woman’s body, after all, and if she elects to have a surgical procedure of a certain kind, who is the government or anyone else to stop her?

This argument would make perfect sense if abortion were merely about the excision of a tumor or an infected organ, cosmetic surgery or a gastric bypass procedure. It is not. The salient, insistent question that haunts the national conscience is this: Does the unborn child have moral value independent of his or her mother?

Yes. From the moment of fertilization, the same quantity of DNA material possessed by each person reading this is present in the embryonic human. What changes at time of birth is not the personhood or humanness of the child but the place of his or her residence: For nine months, the child is within a womb, and for the balance of his or her life, the child is outside of it.

My colleague Cathy Ruse and I raise some of these issues in a booklet we wrote called, “The Best Pro-Life Arguments for Secular Audiences.” Cathy deserves the lion’s share of the credit for this publication, which demonstrates that apart from theological beliefs, intellectual honesty demands concession to the fact that the unborn child is a person endowed with the same rights as those who would treat it as nothing more than an inconvenient collection of tissue and fluid.

A “cookie” that determines who owns what stock is discomfiting. It’s tantamount to an invasion of privacy.

But abortion is no more about privacy than skydiving is about sharecropping. It’s about two people, a woman and a baby yet to be born, and the society in which they, and we, live. That’s not just a private matter, but a public one as well.

The Monitor and the Merrimack: March 9, 1862

by Robert Morrison

March 9, 2012

I was researching a history book when my author asked me a perfectly sensible question: Whats the difference between First Bull Run and First Manassas? Confederates named their battles for nearby towns and the Union army named theirs for the closest streams, I replied. Its the same battle. Determined not to confuse readers, he decreed: Ill use only one name for each battle. That raised the next obvious question: Which name to use, Union or Confederate? Not wanting to show bias, he further decreed: Let the winner of the battle name it.

King Solomon: Call your office! I liked that decision. Its fair and sportsmanlike. And it gives all sides an added incentive to win their battles.

Applying that sensible rule, I always refer to the great sea battle that took place on this dateone hundred fifty years agoas the Monitor and the Merrimack. These two ironclad vessels fought for hours on March 9, 1862. Their climactic clash made every other navy on earth obsolete.

The Confederates had seized and overhauled the USS Merrimack the year before when Union forces evacuated the great naval shipyard at Gosport, Virginia. Re-naming the ship CSS Virginia, they converted it into a deadly ram.

The Merrimack now had ten huge naval guns, four on each side of sloping, fortress-like superstructure, and one gun each emplaced at the bow and stern. The Confederates had applied iron railroad rails to the exterior, greatly increasing the vessels weight and reducing her speed and maneuverability.

Nonetheless, Merrimack was a terror of the seas. She steamed out of Norfolk on March 8, 1862 and headed for two federal ships, USS Congress and USS Cumberland. Capt. Franklin Buchanan was her skipper. He had been superintendent of the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis, but chose to fight for the South.1

When word of the unexpected rebel attack reached Washington by telegraph, there was panic in the capital. People actually feared that the Merrimack would steam up the Potomac and shell federal buildings.

That was never a possibility. But the Merrimack nonetheless wreaked havoc on the Union blockade. At the onset of hostilities, in April, 1861, President Lincoln had ordered the United States Navy to blockade Southern ports. If the Confederates could break the Union stranglehold, they could receive war materiel from Britain and France. And there was a real chance that Britain and France might actually recognize the Confederate States of America as a sovereign nation.

The stakes in March, 1862, could not have been higher. The very life of the Union was at risk. The story of battle is well-told by historian Spencer C. Tucker.2

Union shore batteries and Union warships were soon blasting away at Merrimack, but to little effect. Most of their cannon balls simply bounced off the ships sloping ironclad hull. She rammed the Cumberland, which soon began to sink. Soon USS Congress was in flames and the Union flagship, USS Minnesota, was run aground.

By sundown on March 8, the U.S. Navy had suffered the worst day in its history. There would be no more disastrous defeat for the navy until the sneak attack on Pearl Harbor.

Then, on the morning of March 9th, the most improbable craft edged out from the shelter of the Minnesota. Much smaller than Merrimack was the revolutionary new USS Monitor. Designed and built in a hurry by the ingenious Swedish immigrant, John Ericsson, little Monitor mounted only two guns. But these were housed in a turret, which made it possible to fire in any direction, as rapidly as the turret could swing. Some old salts sneered at Monitor, saying she looked like a cheese box on a raft.

How could this little ship face the mighty Merrimack? But face her she did. For hours in a sea battle off Hampton Roads, Virginia, Monitor and Merrimack blasted away, often with their gun muzzles almost touching. Lieutenant John Worden held command of the Monitor. He had only recently been released from captivity by the rebels.3

Sometimes at point blank range, the two ironclads pounded each other furiously until they finally broke off their action. Both sides claimed victory, understandably. But the day truly belonged to the Union. It was the South that so desperately needed to break the Union blockade. It was the South that needed to sink the federal ships that were strangling her commerce. And it was the South that saw her hopes of diplomatic recognition by Britain and France delayed once again.

Capt. Buchanan reported to his superiors in Richmond the fact that Cumberland fired her guns valiantly and sank with her colors flying. He did not add that on board USS Congress his own brother was serving.

Why at this distance of a century and a half study this naval engagement? The Civil War had one cause, and many causes, but no one put the real cause more eloquently than Mrs. Mary Chesnut. In her famous diary, this intelligent and perceptive Southern lady said the Northerners and Southerners were willing at last to shed each others blood because we hated each other so.

As we see the cultural clashes of today, the hateful words and sometimes violent responses, its perhaps good to re-read Lincolns words from his first Inaugural:

We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.

 


1 The Superintendents stately quarters at the Naval Academy is named for this brave officer, Buchanan House.

2 A Short History of the Civil War at Sea, by Spencer C. Tucker

3 John Wordens name is memorialized, too, at the U.S. Naval Academy. Midshipmen muster for weekly parades in season on Worden Field.

This Ones for the Girls: A different take on International Womens Day

by Krystle Gabele

March 8, 2012

Today is International Womens Day, a time of celebrating womens achievements. As a woman, I am particularly celebrating the strength of the female role models in my life, as well as those who have shaped my overall philosophical views.

I am celebrating the strength of someone who influenced me to shoot for the stars. My great-grandmother, who was a pillar of strength and faith during her time on Earth, always told me, You can do anything with hard work and trust in God. She was born in 1903 and lived until the age of 97. Growing up, I would always hear stories of how she taught in a one room schoolhouse in Floyd County, Va. and being mesmerized about how awesome it would have been to be transported back in time. I am certain she was a dynamic teacher, and her love of history has been passed down for me to share with future generations of our family.

While having role models to inspire you is something to celebrate, the sad truth is that there are far fewer of these role models today than there would have been had it not been for the devastating practice of abortion. As we commemorate International Womens Day, we have to question why those who celebrate womens rights would advocate for such a practice. Feminists, represented by groups such as National Organization for Women, often argue for a womans right to choose, so you would think the feminists would want to promote life to allow more women the chance to experience the opportunities of leadership.

Unfortunately, abortion continues, and internationally, sex-selective abortions are being performed every day. According to research reported by Nicholas Eberstadt in The New Atlantis, sex-selective abortions are contributing to a loss of baby girls, not just inChina, but in other countries around the world. This trend is skewing the population balance to have an inordinately larger number of males than females.

Estimates by the United Nations Population Division (UNPD) and the U.S. Census Bureaus International Programs Center (IPC) the two major organizations charged with tracking and projecting global population trends make the point. According to estimates based on IPC data, a total of 21 countries or territories (including a number of European and Pacific Island areas) had SRBs of 107 or higher in the year 2010; the total population of the regions beset by unnaturally high SRBs amounted to 2.7 billion, or about 40 percent of the worlds total population. For its part, UNPD estimates that 24 countries and territories (a slightly different roster from IPCs, including some additional European, South American, Middle Eastern, Asian, and Pacific settings) had SRBs of 107 or higher for the 2005-2010 period, for a total population similar to the IPC figure.

The article goes one step further to illustrate the negative social impact of sex-selective abortions. In countries likeChina, this practice will only contribute to a higher rate of unmarried men, and in addition to women being scarce, it will lead towards increasing prostitution rates and a rise in human trafficking.

Women should be outraged, and should step up to speak about this injustice. We are witnessing the possibility of increased crimes against women through this horrid practice, not to mention the loss of life. Who will pave the way for women in the future if this practice continues?

 

International Womens Day: An Endangered Sex

by Robert Morrison

March 8, 2012

I love women. That should be obvious. If I dont get to talk to my sister at least once a week, Im blue. Im forever pestering my wife to let me talk to our daughter when she checks in, almost daily. And dont ask about my infant twin granddaughters.

When my wife was named as the commanding officer of the Naval Academy Clinic, she refused to let the public affairs office announce the first female, CO; (she was like Margaret Thatcher in that respect). Still, I was bursting with pride for her achievement.

I shouldnt need to say these things. It should be assumed that a gentleman of mature years will take a courtly interest in the fairer sex. But I do need to say them because Im being daily accused of waging war against women.

You see, the Left thinks that because I dont approve of a womans right to choose abortion, Im a domineering, patriarchal, male chauvinist pig. Hogwash. They say if I dont accede to their demands for legalizing unmarriage and agree to pay for elective surgery to change ones sex, then Im a knuckle-dragging Neanderthal.

Today is International Womens Day. Google has a special logo. And the Washington Post has a full-page article explaining in depth the importance of this 101st anniversary.

I called our daughter to congratulate her. She was fretting over not voting in her states primary. She agrees with a young friend who said women have a duty to vote here because so many women around the world are denied that right.

Generally, I agree. But in the case of that primary, when there is no other question on the ballot, you have no duty to vote when you disapprove of both candidates and of the questionable means of restricting voter choices.

Sec. of State Hillary Clinton knows more about elections and primaries than I do. And she will doubtless be observing International Womens Day. She has made promoting womens issues central to her tenure at State.

Madame Secretary once said that abortion is wrong (Newsweek, October 31, 1994). Only once. Before that single statement, and ever after, she has done all in her power to promote abortion around the world. Kenya, a mostly Christian country, was pressured into legalizing abortion in its new constitution by Madame Secretarys State Department and by not very subtle pressures from Joe Biden. And Madame Secretary gave our Canadian good neighbors a public tongue-lashingin Ottawa!for not pushing abortion in Africa. The only place the administration in which Mrs. Clinton serves has actually made abortion rare is on the Moon.

I am waiting for Madame Secretary to speak out against sex selection abortions. Can she at least stand against forced abortion in China? Surely, with her well-advertised concern for women, she can argue that forcing tens of millions of women to have abortions is against their freedom to choose. Her silence is deafening.

Dr. Nick Eberstadt is not silent. This scholar at the American Enterprise Institute published a powerful study of the worldwide war against baby girls. This widely respected demographer, writing in The New Atlantis, shows how in many cultures, the preference for boys is having a drastic effect on the sex ratio at birth (SRB). Hundreds of millions of women are being killed as unborn baby girls because pre-natal testing has determined they are female. This is genocide.

This is the lethal cultural contradiction of radical feminism. They say a woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle. They say if men could get pregnant then abortion would be a sacrament. To these unfeminine feminists, abortion is a sacrament. So how do these radicals respond to the incontrovertible evidence that what they view as a fundamental human right is being deployed daily to bring about an historic human wrong?

Abortion is a global danger to women. No one understood this better than the late Pope John Paul II. He issued an encyclical titled On the Dignity and Vocation of Women.

The formal title of the document is Dignitatis Mulieribus. That has a certain ring to it. Im not Catholic and I dont speak Latin, but that phrase, the dignity of women, has to touch the hardest of male hearts.

And heres what John Paul the Great wrote to the UN Womens Conference that met in 1995 in Beijing, of all places:

As most women themselves point out, equality of dignity does not mean “sameness with men”. This would only impoverish women and all of society, by deforming or losing the unique richness and the inherent value of femininity. In the Churchs outlook, women and men have been called by the Creator to live in profound communion with one another, with reciprocal knowledge and giving of self, acting together for the common good with the complementary characteristics of that which is feminine and masculine.

We have just gone through a wrenching and ugly episode in our national life. Rush Limbaugh has apologized for saying a word about a woman he should never have said.

Bill Maher will soon apologize for calling a conservative woman a word I cannot even print. (Mr. Maher will apologize, wont he?)

Both of these prominent men should read Dignitatis Mulieribus. We should send a copy to Madame Secretary. Perhaps by the next International Womens Day, we can all do more for endangered unborn women. We need to do more to defend the dignity of women. That dignity is, after all, endowed by God.

What is Marriage, and Why Does it Matter?

by Family Research Council

March 8, 2012

What is marriage? Many arguments are proffered as to why traditional marriage (between a man and a woman) needs to be defended. In the end, all arguments come down to the question, what is marriage, and does it matter? Do intact marriages have any different positive benefits for those involved (whether it is the individuals in the relationship or the children)? The Marriage and Religion Research Institute seeks to answer these questions by using the social sciences to show that there is clearly a difference between intact families and non-intact families.

There is overwhelming evidence supporting the numerous benefits that an intact married family provides. Children from intact families perform better in school, engage in less crime, and earn better incomes. For more on the benefits of marriage, see the “Does Family Structure Make a Difference?”

Undermining Energy Production

by Chris Gacek

March 6, 2012

As the summer approaches families are facing greatly escalating gasoline prices. Summer estimates of prices reaching $5.00 per gallon are common. Time will only tell. The Obama Administrations hostility to domestic petroleum and coal production has been pretty clearly established, but that isnt the whole story.

Natural gas is one American energy bright spot. It is efficient and clean. More to the point: natural gas is very cheap due to the tremendous increases in production the nation has seen in recent years. America possesses huge natural gas reserves that are now producing usable product with the help of new technologies.

A worrying article by Ben Wolfgang points to dangers for natural gas also (Washington Times March 3, 2012 at p. A6). The headline tells much of the story: Natural Gas Producers Fear Rules Blitz: Scrutiny by EPA, CDC, Interior, Others Unprecedented. It appears that the Obama Administration is waging a multi-front war against natural gas:

At least 10 federal departments and agencies are investigating or crafting new rules to govern fracking, the popular gas-extraction technique that has led directly to the creation of thousands of jobs in Pennsylvania, North Dakota, Wyoming and other states.

EPA is leading the charge. The Department of the Interior has proposed raising royalty rates by 50 percent for oil and gas on public lands. The Centers for Disease Control has called for a wide study into potential health problems associated with gas drilling. Agriculture, Commerce, and Transportation are also getting into the act.

According to the American Petroleum Institute, since the 2008 the number of oil and gas wells on public lands in Western states Colorado, Montana, New Mexico, North Dakota, Utah and Wyoming has dropped by at least 39 percent. Why is this not surprising?

March 5, 1770: Remembering the Boston Massacre

by Robert Morrison

March 5, 2012

A mob of colonists surrounded a small detachment of British soldiers in Boston on this day in 1770. Regular troops had been sent to the restive colonial city in 1768 to give force to Parliaments extraction of taxes from the people of Massachusetts. The young American men in the crowd taunted the jittery redcoats, calling them lobsterbacks, and provoking them. Soon, snowballs were lobbed. Some of these may have contained stones. Even without stones, however, hard-packed ice can be lethal.

In minutes, the embattled soldiers fired into the crowd. Several of the participants in the riot were killed on the spot. One of these was Crispus Attucks, a free Negro, who has long been recognized as one of the first martyrs to the cause of Liberty. Others, wounded, lingered for weeks. A line had been crossed: American blood had been shed on an American street.

Samuel Adams was quick to take advantage of this bloody outrage. He called for trials for the British soldiers. He agitated for citizen resistance to the taxes on tea and other goods. Adams regarded the actions of the British ministrythe parliamentary leadership that supported King George IIIs increasing demands upon American colonistsas unconstitutional.

Unconstitutional? Before the Constitution? Yes. Harvard graduate Sam Adams knew his English history and he was keenly aware of his rights. Englishmen claimed that their unwritten constitution had come down to them from the time of Magna Carta (1215) and that specific rights were recognized during Englands Glorious Revolution of 1688-89. Modern scholars often look to that Glorious Revolution as the precursor of our own American Revolution. Author Michael Barone has written perhaps the best popular study of that event with a keen eye to its import for Americans.

Family Research Council last week heard a fine lecture by author Ira Stoll on the role and influence of Samuel Adams, revolutionary. Stolls book, Samuel Adams: A Life, is careful to show how his faith was central in the life of a man who could justly be called Father of the American Revolution.

Sam Adams knew the part that memorial services played in the communal life of the Massachusetts colony, so he used the anniversary of the Boston Massacre to keep the spirit of liberty alive. Five years after the shootings, in 1775, Sam Adams presided over a gathering in Old South Meetinghouse. Dr. Joseph Warren gave the address as British officers entered. From the chair, Sam Adams invited them to take convenient seats. He wanted to give them no pretext for saying they had been ill treated by the colonists. When Dr. Warren finished his address, the British began to hiss.

Within months of that event, Dr. Warren would be killed at the Battle of Bunker Hill, and some of those British officers would desecrate the body by taking his head and presenting it to Gen. Gage as a war trophy. Such savagery kept many Americans from even considering reconciliation with the British Crown. And Sam Adams would be the first to remind them why they needed to be an independent republic.

Sam Adams brought his country cousin, John, into the Patriot cause, as well as the rich, young dandy, John Hancock. John Adams leaves a funny memoir of teaching his elder cousin to ride a horse. Townsman Sam, in his fifties, had never before mounted a horse. Soon, John noticed that Sam could not sit upright at dinner after a long days ride.

On Sunday Evening at Mrs. Dexters, where we drank Coffee & Spent an agreeable Evening, I persuaded him to purchase two yards of flannel which we carried to our Landlady, who with the assistance of a Taylor Woman in the house, made up Pair of Drawers, which the next morning were put on, and not only defended the Secretary from further Injury, but entirely healed the little Breach which had been beguna.

Nothing, at this point, could heal the Great Breach that was opening up between Great Britain and her American colonies.

Sam Adams worked with John in the Continental Congress. Delegates from the Middle and Southern states were amazed and pleased when Sam, famous as an old Puritan, moved to invite a local Anglican priest to open sessions of Congress in prayer. I am no bigot, Sam assured his fellow congressmen, saying he would willingly pray with any man who defended his countrys liberties. This move made a huge impression on the others. Because of his strong faith, and his conviction that the rights of man come not from the generosity of the state but from the hand of God, Samuel Adams could join with others in signing the Declaration of Independence in 1776.

Thomas Jefferson was a close friend and ally to that brace of Adamses in Congress. Years after the Revolution, President Jefferson wrote to the older Adams, saying that his Inaugural Address of 1801 had been written with Samuel Adams in mind. It is the only presidential inaugural so dedicated to a single Patriot. Mr. Jefferson in 1824 told Daniel Webster: For depth of purpose, zeal & sagacity, no man in Congress exceeded, if any equalled Samuel Adams; & none did more than he, to originate & sustain revolutionary measures…

Much of Sam Adamss career is little known because he worked constantly and tirelessly, behind the scenes. Unlike Cousin John, whose correspondence with Abigail runs to five miles on microfiche, he left few written records of his vital work. Why? The stone carvers of the Cathedral at Chartres who left their work unsigned might give us a clue. They believed that God knew their works. Like them, for Sam Adams that was enough.


a John Adams to James Warren, Philadelphia, September 17, 1775, quoted in The Founders on the Founders, edited by John P. Kaminski, University of Virginia Press, 2008, p. 63

Are Moms and Dads Really Important?

by Rob Schwarzwalder

March 2, 2012

Dr. Michael Brown, who spoke at FRC in January, has just published an op-ed titled “The Kids Are Not Always Alright.” It is about the trauma experienced by many children who are the product of anonymous sperm donation.

This is a deeply troubling new phenomenon: one that is becoming ever more common as in-vitro technology becomes both more accessible and affordable. Yet, as Elizabeth Marquardt wrote recently in a gripping article titled, “Do Mothers Matter” in The Atlantic, “surrogacy and egg donation … are bringing into the world a class of children beset by confusion, depression, and loss.”

Children need a mom and a dad, not just two people, regardless of gender. Men and women are inherently complementary - that’s why God made two genders, and entrusted children to a representative of each.

Of course, marriage itself is in trouble only 46 percent of young people reach the age of 17 with both their biological parents married (since before or around the time of their birth). Next week, FRC will host Freddie Scott II, founder and president of “Unlock the Champion,” an organization dedicated to “empowering families and the teaching of fundamental life skills essential to character development for people who are raised in broken homes.” His presentation will be based on his book, The Dad I Wish I Had and will be held at noon on Thursday, March 8 at FRC headquarters in Washington, DC. It can also be viewed live online. Register now by clicking here.

FRCs Marriage and Religion Research Institute recently issued a synthesis research paper entitled, 162 Reasons to Marry. Especially in light of the pain experienced by so many of todays children, it makes for encouraging reading.

Advocating Infanticide? Not surprisingly, some do.

by David Christensen

March 2, 2012

You might think medical ethicists contemplate the principles for medical decision making in the tough cases. Surely, killing newborns is not even debatable. Well, some do. In an piece titled in Orwellian fashion, After-Birth Abortion: why should the baby live?, 2 scholars associated with prestigious institutes in Italy, Australia and the UK argue in a recent journal article that if abortion is morally permissible, so too is killing newborns.

You may think this line of thinking is crazy. And it is. Yet this is the logic of the pro-choice position. The claim that killing an unborn baby (if a woman so chooses) is morally permissible leads one to ask, why not kill a partially born baby? And if that is permissible, as a number of pro-abortion Senators think, then why not admit that killing newborns is morally permissible?

This played out in the U.S. Congress in the 90s and then later in 2003 in a debate over banning partial-birth abortion. Those who opposed the partial-birth abortion ban were adamant that this was different than killing a fully born baby. But as those debates revealed —- especially in the debate between Senator Santorum and Senator Barbara Boxer over the ban in 1999 —- if one could abort a partially born baby, why not let a baby be born and then kill her?

Senator Boxer refused to answer Senator Santorums questions directly. Why? Because the logic is rather compelling that location is not a criteria for moral worth. If you can kill a fully developed human baby inside a womans womb, then why not once its born?

Read Wesley Smiths compelling response to this honest if not horrific ethics paper.

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