by Carrie Russell
January 21, 2014
Pregnancy Resource Center volunteers make a real difference. Visit apassiontoserve.org.
Pregnancy Resource Center volunteers make a real difference. Visit apassiontoserve.org.
President Obama likes to think out-loud. His public comments often sound like the musings of a graduate student in a coffee shop conversation with his peers. Here are some of his recent ruminations:
On federalism: “You can be somebody who, for very legitimate reasons, worries about the power of the federal government — that it’s distant, that it’s bureaucratic, that it’s not accountable — and as a consequence you think that more power should reside in the hands of state governments … (but) that philosophy is wrapped up in the history of states’ rights in the context of the civil-rights movement and the Civil War and (South Carolina Sen. John C.) Calhoun. There’s a pretty long history there.”
On the reasonableness of the Left: “The more left-leaning media outlets recognize that compromise is not a dirty word. And I think at least leaders like myself — and I include Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi in this — are willing to buck the more absolutist-wing elements in our party to try to get stuff done.”
On the power of repetitive rhetoric: “I’ve been in Washington long enough now to know that if once a week I’m not talking about jobs, the economy, and the middle class, then all manner of distraction fills the void.”
On U.S. foreign policy: “We remain the one indispensable nation. There’s a reason why … everybody asks what the U.S. is doing. It’s because the United States continues to be the one country that people expect can do more than just simply protect their borders. But that does not mean that we have to get involved with everything immediately. We have to think through strategically what’s going to be in our long-term national interests, even as we work cooperatively internationally.”
And so it goes: continuous qualification, judgments tempered by counter-judgments. As a conservative, I disagree with most of them (including most of those above). I am also wary of their purpose; are his public contemplations merely a mask, something he uses to hide his dogmatic liberal opinions? And given that he governs from the Left so consistently, is it not fair to question whether such musings matter, or if his appearance of empathetic understanding is really a mere pose?
Nuance only matters so much. Understanding both sides, or suggesting that you do, might lower the political heat a bit, which can be beneficial. But at some point, anyone in leadership has to decide. He or she has to come down on one side or another. And Mr. Obama always governs to the Left.
We approach this week the forty-first anniversary of the infamous Roe v. Wade ruling of the Supreme Court. Some people are inclined to call that ruling “settled law,” but it has been a most unsettling law. What Roe did was to abort justice itself. This homicidal ruling said that human lives could be taken for any reason or no reason. It is a ruling against reason.
Many of the state laws against abortion were passed in the era of the Civil War, either immediately before or shortly afterward. Those laws were based on the advances in science that clearly showed that human life begins at conception, not, as previous centuries had thought, at quickening. The passage of protective laws on abortion was promoted by physicians, not by the Catholic Church, the Protestant churches, or any other religious bodies. Science had discovered the beginnings of human life. It was taken as a given that the law must protect innocent human life.
What changed in the century following the passage of those protective laws on abortion? Science didn’t change. Human life didn’t change. In fact, it was during the decade of the 1960s that LIFE magazine published the amazing photographs of Swedish photographer Lennart Nilsson. In a stunning full-color spread, America’s most popular magazine sent pictures of unborn children into millions of homes, doctors’ offices, libraries, churches, schools, even beauty shops and barber shops. No one looking at those photographs could deny the humanity of the unborn child. At a time when space travel was first opening new vistas to mankind, Nilsson showed the world these beautiful and compelling images from inner space.
What changed was the regard for truth. This was done deliberately and with malice of forethought. California Medicine, the pro-abortion journal of the state’s medical profession, let the cat out of the bag in this 1970 editorial.
…since the old ethic has not been fully displaced it has been necessary to separate the idea of abortion from the idea of killing, which continues to be socially abhorrent. The result has been a curious avoidance of the scientific fact, which everyone really knows, that human life begins at conception and is continuous whether intra- or extra-uterine until death. The very considerable semantic gymnastics which are required to rationalize abortion as anything but taking a human life would be ludicrous if they were not often put forth under socially impeccable auspices. It is suggested that this schizophrenic sort of subterfuge is necessary because while a new ethic is being accepted the old one has not yet been rejected.
Forty-four years have passed since that journal embraced “semantic gymnastics” and “schizophrenic subterfuge.” Today, this candid commitment to lying is the ruling orthodoxy of liberal elites in the media, academia, politics, and much of science and medicine. It is regarded as the necessary lie.
Abortion is the unjust taking of an innocent human life. It is wrong. No one has ever been able to demonstrate a single scientific advance that suggests that the unborn child is not fully human. In fact, in their importunate demand that we kill embryonic children to get their stem cells, pro-abortion liberals confirm the immutable truth that the child is fully human from the moment of conception.
Some things are forever right, forever wrong. Of course, there has been a tug-of-war to claim the allegiance of the Founding Fathers, Abraham Lincoln, and Martin Luther King for one side or another of our modern day cultural clashes. And former New York Gov. Mario Cuomo can be relied upon to embrace Father Abraham as a proto-liberal Democrat. Others liberals chime in.
I have never found a reference by Lincoln to the question of abortion. We know he favored women’s suffrage; he said as much. But the women’s suffrage leaders of his day were strongly pro-life. And Susan B. Anthony was most eloquently so. So we cannot infer that his support for the just claims of women would have included support for abortion.
Lincoln did speak about eternal verities of right and wrong. He offered a parable of the ant. Even the ant, Lincoln said, knows when he is wronged. Take away from the ant the crust of bread he has earned from his own labor, and he will resist you. Lincoln said this as a way of refuting the spurious arguments of pro-slavery politicians of his day. Slavery they argued, is a positive good, benefiting slaves as well as masters. Lincoln rebutted that lie most powerfully. Clearly referring to the massive attempt at justifying slavery as a “positive good” undertaken by such leaders as John C. Calhoun, Lincoln pointedly punctured their balloon. “Though volumes have been written to justify the good of slavery,” he said, “we never see the man who seeks the good of slavery by becoming a slave himself.”
What if Father Abraham could have seen the unborn child on ultrasound? I have seen Dr. Bernard Nathanson’s video of The Silent Scream. I held his monitor for him as Dr. Nathanson addressed a right to life audience with this powerful true record of the abortion of an unborn child at twelve weeks. Even at that early stage of pre-natal development, you can see the child struggling, resisting, trying to fend off the murderous probe that will take her young life. It is a soul-searing experience to see that killing on ultra-sound.
Such irrefutable evidence moved Dr. Nathanson, then an atheist who had presided over 60,000 abortions, to repent and, in time, to come to a saving faith. Dr. Nathanson related the campaign of lies, half-truths, and semantic gymnastics President Reagan authorized Dr. Nathanson to present that video to a White House audience. And Dr. Nathanson sent video copies of The Silent Scream to every Member of Congress.
I do not claim Father Abraham as a right-to-life advocate, but I do ask others what they make of this Lincoln quote from 1858:
Nothing stamped in the divine image was sent into the world to be trod upon.
Lincoln meant it to refer to the slave, of course. But we have a right to ask: Are not unborn children so stamped?
2.3 million people per year are helped by a Pregnancy Resource Center. Volunteers make a real difference. You can learn more about Pregnancy Resource Centers by visiting “A Passion to Serve.”
This year’s ProLifeCon promises to be another exciting time to unite pro-life activists from across the country to become active online and bring awareness to the sanctity of life. We have an exciting line-up of speakers, who will not only educate you on emerging technologies to help spread the message, but make you aware of the issues impacting the pro-life community in 2014.
We are grateful to have Ryan Bomberger, Chief Creative Officer of The Radiance Foundation as a speaker at this year’s ProLifeCon. Ryan will no doubt inspire you with his story, as well as with his vast knowledge on utilizing the internet to educate the community on adoption.
Ryan’s story is also inspiring. His biological mother was raped, but chose to continue her pregnancy and gave him life. He was adopted as a baby and grew up in a loving Christian family. Ryan has won an Emmy Award for his work. He founded The Radiance Foundation, along with his wife, Bethany, and has been active with the pro-life community with the TooManyAborted.com billboard/web campaigns, which advocates for adoption within the black community.
You don’t want to miss ProLifeCon, as there are many more exciting speakers who will be featured throughout the week. Click here to register today and learn how you can spread the pro-life message to others.
Rep. Vicky Hartzler from Missouri will also be joining ProLifeCon as a featured speaker. Rep. Hartzler was elected to serve the Fourth District of Missouri in 2010, and she has been a tireless advocate for pro-life issues. She is the sponsor of H.R. 3549, the Protecting Adoption Act, co-sponsor of H.R. 7, No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act, and H.R. 217, the Title X Abortion Provider Prohibition Act. Rep. Hartzler is also a member of the Congressional Pro-Life Caucus and Congressional Caucus on Human Trafficking.
Rep. Andy Harris (R-Md.) is also speaking at ProLifeCon. Rep. Harris was first elected to represent Maryland’s First Congressional District in 2011, and he previously served in the Maryland State Senate. Rep. Harris is a member of the Congressional GOP Doctors Caucus, which is composed of medical providers in Congress who work to develop patient centered, patient driven healthcare reforms focused on quality, access, affordability, portability, and choice. Rep. Harris served as an Obstetric Anesthesiologist at Johns Hopkins University Hospital and Memorial Hospital in Easton, Md.
Religious persecution around the world is growing. Consider two recent studies from respected sources, Pew Research and Open Doors USA, and a summary analysis by The Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs at Georgetown University. Here are excerpts and links to each of these moving reports:
Pew Research: “The share of countries with a high or very high level of social hostilities involving religion reached a six-year peak in 2012, according to a new study by the Pew Research Center. A third (33%) of the 198 countries and territories included in the study had high religious hostilities in 2012, up from 29% in 2011 and 20% as of mid-2007. Religious hostilities increased in every major region of the world except the Americas.”
Open Doors USA: “For the 12th consecutive year the hermit communist country of North Korea remains the world’s most restrictive nation in which to practice Christianity, according to the Open Doors 2014 World Watch List (WWL). However, a major trend which the WWL tracked in 2013 was a marked increase in persecution for Christian communities in states that are commonly regarded as ‘failed.’ A failed country is defined ‘as a weak state where social and political structures have collapsed to the point where government has little or no control’.”
Berkley Center: “A common myth is that it is just fear-mongering to imagine that Christians and other religious groups could suffer serious restrictions in Western countries. Of course, Western countries have been free of the kinds of violent attacks on Christians and other religious groups that have occurred in countries such as Egypt and Syria in recent years. But the trend lines are not encouraging.”
We do not experience physical attacks or imprisonment in the U.S. We do experience a growing tide of anti-religious bias, not just from our culture but from the current administration (as FRC has documented at length).
Loss of liberty is seldom, if ever, sudden. Almost invariably, it occurs incrementally. The Obama mandate that even explicitly Christian-based businesses, religious colleges and universities, and faith-based hospitals must provide their employees access to at least one health insurance plan that includes coverage of drugs that can produce abortions is a troubling sign that the incremental erosion of our “first freedom” is real.
FRC continues to lead the battle to oppose the mandate and is active with the conservative legal community to fight this disturbing Obama Administration proposal. We also continue to stand with people of Christian faith who are killed, tortured, and expelled from their homes and schools simply because of their profession of faith. If you already haven’t, please join us.
Advocates for changing the fundamental definition of marriage as the union of a man and a woman in order to include homosexual relationships have been encouraged by two recent decisions by federal district court judges.
On December 20, Judge Robert J. Shelby ruled that Utah’s state constitutional amendment defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman violates the U.S. Constitution. On January 14, Judge Terence C. Kern said the same thing about the Oklahoma marriage amendment.
However, one odd aspect of both rulings is their failure to cite one of the most relevant precedents regarding the constitutionality of state definitions of marriage as a male-female union.
Only two federal appellate courts have ever ruled on the constitutionality of a state law defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman. One was the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, which in 2012 ruled (on narrow grounds specific to California) that California’s marriage amendment “Proposition 8” was unconstitutional.
However, in one of two major decisions on marriage in 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court vacated the Ninth Circuit ruling, on grounds that the proponents of Proposition 8 had lacked proper standing to appeal a district court decision. (Liberal state officials had refused to defend their own constitution at all.)
With the Ninth Circuit’s ruling having been effectively wiped off the books, the only remaining federal appeals court precedent involves a challenge to Nebraska’s marriage amendment. In that case, too, a district court judge, Joseph F. Bataillon, ruled in 2005 that the amendment was unconstitutional.
However, a year later, a unanimous three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit overturned Judge Bataillon’s decision and upheld the Nebraska amendment. This 2006 decision thus remains the highest federal court ruling with a written opinion on state definitions of marriage as one man and one woman.
Yet oddly, neither Judge Shelby in Utah nor Judge Kern in Oklahoma saw fit to even mention this decision. Neither judge’s district is in the Eighth Circuit (both are in the Tenth), so the Bruning case is not binding upon them — but given the relative dearth of such cases that have reached the federal appellate level, it seems odd that it not be mentioned at all.
Below are some excerpts from the opinion, written by Chief Judge James B. Loken:
Citizens for Equal Protection v. Bruning, 455 F.3d 859 (8th Cir. 2006)
. . .
The State argues that the many laws defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman and extending a variety of benefits to married couples are rationally related to the government interest in “steering procreation into marriage.” By affording legal recognition and a basket of rights and benefits to married heterosexual couples, such laws “encourage procreation to take place within the socially recognized unit that is best situated for raising children.” The State and its supporting amici cite a host of judicial decisions and secondary authorities recognizing and upholding this rationale. The argument is based in part on the traditional notion that two committed heterosexuals are the optimal partnership for raising children, which modern-day homosexual parents understandably decry. But it is also based on a “responsible procreation” theory that justifies conferring the inducements of marital recognition and benefits on opposite-sex couples, who can otherwise produce children by accident, but not on same-sex couples, who cannot. See Hernandez v. Robles [New York, 2006]; Morrison v. Sadler, [Indiana, 2005]. Whatever our personal views regarding this political and sociological debate, we cannot conclude that the State’s justification “lacks a rational relationship to legitimate state interests.” Romer, 517 U.S. at 632.3
The district court rejected the State’s justification as being “at once too broad and too narrow.” But under rational-basis review, “Even if the classification … is to some extent both underinclusive and overinclusive, and hence the line drawn … imperfect, it is nevertheless the rule that … perfection is by no means required.” Vance v. Bradley (1979). Legislatures are permitted to use generalizations so long as “the question is at least debatable.” The package of government benefits and restrictions that accompany the institution of formal marriage serve a variety of other purposes. The legislature — or the people through the initiative process — may rationally choose not to expand in wholesale fashion the groups entitled to those benefits. “We accept such imperfection because it is in turn rationally related to the secondary objective of legislative convenience.” [Vance].
. . .
Appellees argue that § 29 [the marriage amendment] does not rationally advance this purported state interest because “prohibiting protection for gay people’s relationships” does not steer procreation into marriage. This demonstrates, Appellees argue, that § 29’s only purpose is to disadvantage gay people. But the argument disregards the expressed intent of traditional marriage laws — to encourage heterosexual couples to bear and raise children in committed marriage relationships.
. . .
In the nearly one hundred and fifty years since the Fourteenth Amendment was adopted, to our knowledge no Justice of the Supreme Court has suggested that a state statute or constitutional provision codifying the traditional definition of marriage violates the Equal Protection Clause or any other provision of the United States Constitution. Indeed, in Baker v. Nelson (1972), when faced with a Fourteenth Amendment challenge to a decision by the Supreme Court of Minnesota denying a marriage license to a same-sex couple, the United States Supreme Court dismissed “for want of a substantial federal question.” (Emphasis added.)
. . .
We hold that § 29 and other laws limiting the state-recognized institution of marriage to heterosexual couples are rationally related to legitimate state interests and therefore do not violate the Constitution of the United States.
Last night, the House of Representatives held special order speeches to commemorate the 41st Anniversary of Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion in the United States. Below are the speeches from the floor of the House:
Today’s commemoration of Religious Freedom Day is important because of what a state legislature did in the early republic. This day in 1786 saw the final passage of the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom. The bill had worldwide influence. From that time to this, it represents the height of Enlightenment thinking on the crucial role of religious liberty as the solid foundation of a free state.
Thomas Jefferson had first introduced the bill in the Virginia General Assembly in 1779. But the Commonwealth of Virginia was then in the throes of the War of Independence, and British invaders were threatening the state. Action was delayed on this measure until 1785 when Jefferson’s friend and closest political ally, James Madison, skillfully moved the measure through the legislature.
Reporting by letter to Mr. Jefferson, who was by this time America’s Minister to France, Madison said — in his quaint eighteenth century spelling — that it would “add to the lustre of our country.” Jefferson fully agreed and delightedly had the Statute translated into French for full distribution on the continent of Europe. The influence of this document spread far and wide.
Jefferson had offered this bill as a way of establishing religious freedom. We need better to appreciate what was meant by that word. In every civilized country during the time of Jefferson and Madison, parliaments and royal courts established the country’s religion. The “established” Church of England was the only church legally recognized throughout the British Empire and the only one supported by taxes. The best that dissenter Protestants, Catholics, and Jews could hope for in England was toleration.
Toleration meant that you could practice your religion, mostly in private, without harassment from royal authorities. Public celebration of the Catholic Mass was illegal in England. Catholics, Jews, and dissenting Protestants were ineligible to vote, to hold office, or even to serve as a commissioned officer in the Army or the Royal Navy. A religious test was required. Those who were unwilling to pledge even a nominal allegiance to the King’s Church of England were disqualified.
France, our ally in the Revolution, was no better. There, the Catholic Church was established and Protestants and Jews had no civil rights. Holland was perhaps the most enlightened country in Europe, but even for the liberal Dutch, toleration was the guiding principle.
When the great patriot George Mason drafted Virginia’s Declaration of Rights during the Revolution, he first included in it language supporting the broadest “toleration” for all religions. Young James Madison, in his modest and self-effacing way, had persuaded Mason instead to use the phrase “free exercise of religion.” It was Mason’s document that Jefferson used as a reference in writing the American Declaration of Independence.
Madison had no stronger ally in the fight for the Virginia Statute of Religious Freedom than Elder John Leland, a leader of the Old Dominion’s Baptists. These evangelical Protestants had been brutally mistreated under the colonial government of Virginia. Their refusal to tell Church of England clerics where they would preach and to whom they would preach landed a number of Baptist preachers in jail.
In establishing religious freedom for the first time anywhere in the world, the Virginia Statute said that our worship of our Creator was a matter between us and our God. It said we had a duty to worship but the manner and means of that worship were a recognized right of conscience. It freed citizens from paying taxes to support churches they did not attend and doctrines they did not believe. None of the peoples’ rights as citizens would be infringed because of their membership in a particular church body, synagogue, or other “religious society.”
Finally, the Virginia Statute stated in emphatic terms that it recognized the power of succeeding legislatures to amend or repeal portions of the Statute. The authors nonetheless asserted that should any part of the Virginia Statute be diluted or repealed, it would be a violation of a fundamental human right.
The importance of the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom cannot be overestimated. Its spirit breathes in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution — also a handiwork of James Madison. In the nineteenth century, millions of European immigrants would be drawn to our shores in the knowledge that in America, their faith would be respected and their right to free exercise of religion protected.
“Here lies Thomas Jefferson, author of the American Declaration of Independence and the Virginia Statute of Religious Freedom, and father of the University of Virginia,” reads the epitaph on the Founder’s grave marker. He wrote it himself. Modestly, he added no word about two terms as president, or a long string of offices and titles conferred upon him. Those were gifts of the people to me, he explained, but these were my gifts to them.
Today, America’s religious freedom is in the gravest danger since 1786. The HHS Mandate will force millions of us to aid in the destruction of the inalienable right to life. It violates our consciences and threatens our free exercise of religion.
Our own State Department, forgetting the legacy of two of our ablest Secretaries of State — Jefferson and Madison — has pressured constitution writers in Iraq and Afghanistan to establish Islamist states in which the rights of religious minorities are nowhere respected nor are their lives secure. No wonder our efforts in those strife-torn countries have come to naught.
“There’s nothing new under the sun,” said President Harry Truman, “just history we haven’t learned yet.” His words should serve as a warning and a spur to his successor in the White House and the diplomats at State. Even if they have not learned our history, we must remember it.