Month Archives: April 2019

Christian, Female, and Addicted to Porn

by Patrina Mosley

April 29, 2019

The accessibility of pornography in our hypersexualized culture is trapping not only men but women into its poisonous clutches, as we’ve written about in our Women and Pornography publication. Only after being trapped in addiction is our generation realizing the devastating effects that it has on their mind, body, and soul.

And for Gracelyn Sorrell, 19, that’s exactly what pornography was like to her—a drug. “I couldn’t live without it.”

This female teen opened up to Fox News recently about conquering her pornography addiction.

Sorrell’s first exposure to pornography was at 14 years old (which is around the typical age tweens/teens first get exposure to pornographic material), “when an explicit picture on social media triggered her ‘impure desires’ and prompted her to delve further into X-rated websites.”

Porn sites get more visitors each month than Netflix, Amazon, and Twitter combined. Even social media sites such as Twitter are home to an estimated 10 million porn accounts.  

Gracelyn said pornography became a way to comfort herself and escape from the grief of losing her father and being sexually assaulted by women.

My phone was the easiest way I could access porn,” she said. “I could sneak around and do it in the afternoon when I got home from school, and my mom was at work…I was watching about four hours of porn every day.” She even began to have trouble focusing and keeping her grades up in school and found herself distracted when she was with family and friends.

Her story is not uncommon. Current statistics show that 61 percent of all pornography is now consumed on mobile devices. Three percent of all women say they either thought they might be addicted or are unsure if they are addicted to pornography—this equates to three million women. According to one report, “76 percent of 18 to 30-year-old American women report that they watch porn at least once a month.”

As a Christian, Sorrell felt like she was leading a double life. She eventually admitted to her mother that she had a porn addiction and began journaling as a way of praying to God. She also started deleting apps on her phone that could tempt her “self-control.” 

I felt like that transparency helped me get back on track,” she says. Today, Sorrell spends her time ministering to others about purity and freedom in Christ.

If you or someone you know is struggling with this, there is help. As Sorrell has found, freedom and forgiveness abound in fullness at the foot of the Cross, but the first step is confessing it. Sin festers in the darkness and tricks its victims into believing that they are safer in the dark than they are in the light. Who better to lead a generation out of the clutches of pornography than the ones who have already fought and won? In the darkness you are a victim, in the light you are a warrior. In the darkness is defeat, and in the light, there is victory.

As God is transforming hearts, we have a duty to do everything we can to help increase the cultural atmosphere’s freedom to thrive. FRC and other advocates such as the National Center on Sexual Exploitation and state representatives have joined the #fixappratings campaign to hold tech companies accountable for the damage they are doing to young minds. As the campaign website states, “Many apps popular with youth are incorrectly self-rated and include dishonest and generic app descriptions that deceive parents about the dangers kids face on these platforms.”

The images Sorrell were exposed to were, in her own words, “dehumanizing especially to women. It’s not healthy to watch. I wish it could all just be taken off the Internet for good.” Typical scenes of pornography depict violence towards women, and we must stop and think about what type of impact this has on healthy sexual development and attitudes towards women, as I testified here.

Because apps such as Instagram and Twitter are so popular among youth and our generation, they provide the easiest access to explicit pornographic content. This should be a public concern.

Join child advocates around the country who are calling for accurate app ratings and descriptions due to the rise of online grooming, sex trafficking, pornography, and sexual exploitation.

Montana Becomes 13th State to Declare Porn a Public Health Crisis

by Patrina Mosley

April 26, 2019

The Montana legislature has joined a growing list of states that have resolved that pornography contributes to a public health crisis because of its harmful effects on society, including its role in normalizing violence and abuse of women and its contribution to unhealthy sexual development.

As reported by The Christian Post, “The Montana resolution notes that porn contributes to the hyper-sexualization of teens and prepubescent children, that what was once known as ‘hard core’ content is now considered mainstream, and that early exposure is leading to low self-esteem and body image disorders in young people. It also explains that porn treats women as objects and products for consumers’ use and that girls are taught to be used and boys taught to be the users.”

The CDC has already acknowledged that “Pornography can be connected to other public health issues like sexual violence and occupational HIV transmission.” This is confirmed by an analysis of the 50 most popular pornographic videos in the United States, which found that 88 percent of scenes contained physical violence, and 49 percent contained verbal aggression. Moreover, 87 percent of aggressive acts were perpetrated against women, and 95 percent of their responses were either neutral or expressions of pleasure. With this normalization of sexual violence, it is easy to see why such deranged treatment of women could be viewed by males as “okay,” especially when such acts are misleadingly welcomed by women with fake pleasure.

When you have 79 percent of males ages 18-30 admitting that they are viewing pornography at least on a monthly basis, and 63 percent doing so on a weekly basis, how can we not stop to think about how this is impacting their sexual attitudes towards women?

As I testified before a Maryland House Joint committee on a similar resolution, pornography has been dubbed the “The Largest Unregulated Social Experiment In History,” and it has no doubt contributed to the need for the #MeToo movement. Pornography consumers may be unaware that the “entertainment” they are consuming may be of victims of sex trafficking. What viewers may be watching is someone’s humiliation being viewed and distributed over and over again.

From the rise of STDs to the unhealthy development of sexual attitudes and behavior and its connection to sex trafficking, pornography is no small issue.

The National Center on Sexual Exploitation has created a Research Summary highlighting findings from over 90 peer-reviewed studies on the harms of pornography.

As pornography has become increasingly mainstream and as the number of studies on the harm of pornography expands, declaring it a public health crisis is a significant step in giving this issue the attention it deserves.

Texas and Arizona are also currently considering similar resolutions, and we look forward to a favorable outcome from these two states.

9-Year-Old Reminds Us All of the Power of Prayer

by Daniel Hart

April 24, 2019

Love one another.” (John 13:34)

This pivotal verse from the 13th chapter of John’s gospel is the theme for this year’s National Day of Prayer on Thursday, May 2nd. It is an especially fitting theme at this moment in time in our nation, when our political differences threaten to tear our country apart at the seams. It’s a theme that is the very heart of Christianity, the central commandment that Christ gave to his disciples and followers—to love.

But what is love? In these days of confusion, when many feel entitled to their own truths, it is critical to define our terms. The Christian definition of love is to will the good of the other. This often means that we uphold beliefs that are not only deeply unpopular, but are even considered “hateful” and “bigoted”. Nevertheless, we sincerely believe that true love requires that we uphold them for the ultimate good of everyone. Simply put, if we believe that our beliefs are the Truth, then they are not merely true just for Christians but for all people.

While Christians must be unwavering in our belief of the Truth, we also must be pragmatic and reasonable in our relationships with non-believers and our political opponents. How do we even begin to go about convincing the world of the Truth? The beautiful thing about Christianity is that convincing people through our words and actions is only one tool we have in our arsenal. In the faith life, it quickly becomes clear that successfully evangelizing others is far beyond our own power. In reality, the most effective tool of evangelization is prayer (1 John 5:14). But too often, we Christians de-emphasize prayer in favor of what seems like more direct action, like shouting from the rooftops of social media.

Sometimes it takes the wisdom of children to remind us of the fundamental importance of prayer. Take Jack, a 9-year-old boy from New York. After Governor Andrew Cuomo enacted the most extreme state abortion expansion bill in the country in his home state, Jack decided he wanted to do something about it. With the help of his father, he started the website ConvertCuomo, which asks believers to commit to pray for Gov. Cuomo’s conversion by submitting a prayer pledge on the site.

For Jack, who comes from a strong Catholic upbringing, the “ConvertCuomo” project was an especially personal one. Gov. Cuomo, who is himself Catholic, went so far as to order One World Trade Center and other landmarks to be lit up in pink in order to celebrate his signing into law of the most radical state abortion expansion bill ever to be enacted in the U.S.“My mom and dad told me that he passed this bill and other things and it made me really upset,” Jack said. “So I wanted to think of something to do to stop abortion.”

As Jack recognizes, it is especially important to pray for those in authority like Gov. Cuomo who claim to be Catholic yet strongly support policies that his own faith teaches is a “grave offense” against moral law.

I pray two Our Fathers for Governor Cuomo every day,” Jack says, “sometimes three.”

Jack is keying in on an important truth for believers. If we want our political opponents and non-believers to have personal conversions of heart, praying for their conversion is the most loving thing we can do for them.

Let us join Jack’s prayer initiative and take up the vital task of loving one another through prayer.

Supreme Court Will Determine Whether “Sex” Means “Sex”

by Peter Sprigg

April 23, 2019

LGBT activists want “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” (“SOGI”) to be protected categories in federal non-discrimination laws. They have been using a two-pronged attack to try to achieve this goal—working through both Congress and the courts.

In Congress, they are pushing a sweeping bill that would add sexual orientation and gender identity to virtually every federal civil rights law. But in the courts (and some quasi-independent agencies like the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission), they have promoted the idea that federal law already outlaws SOGI employment discrimination. The theory is that discrimination based on “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” is actually a form of discrimination based on “sex”—which was outlawed in the Civil Rights Act of 1964. (Note that these two approaches are in some ways contradictory—if the judicial theory is correct, then the Equality Act is largely superfluous.)

The latter of these two approaches has now taken a huge step closer to resolution. On April 22, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to take up three cases addressing the SOGI issue (these cases will be heard in fall of 2019).

In two of the cases (Bostock v. Clayton County and Altitude Express v. Zarda), the Court will decide the “SO” question—whether discrimination against an employee due to “sexual orientation” is included in the prohibition on discrimination “because of … sex” contained in the Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

In a third case, R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Home v. EEOC, the Court will decide the “GI” question—whether Title VII’s prohibition on discrimination “because of … sex” includes a prohibition on discrimination against transgender people based on (1) their status as transgender or (2) the “sex stereotyping” theory derived from Price Waterhouse v. Hopkins (“sex stereotyping” initially meant one couldn’t discriminate against, for instance, a man for wearing pants that looked feminine—but has now been used to claim one could not discriminate against a man for wanting to identify as a woman).

When Congress prohibited employment discrimination based on “sex” in the Civil Rights Act of 1964, both their intention and the plain meaning of the word indicated that they were prohibiting discrimination against an individual because the person is biologically male or biologically female. The Supreme Court should decline the invitation to radically re-write the statute by expanding its meaning to cover “sexual orientation” and “gender identity.” Even Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, writing years ago about sex nondiscrimination protections in the Equal Rights Amendment, refused to countenance the idea that they would do away with simple male/female distinctions in the context of bathrooms.

The failure of LGBT activists to achieve their goals through the democratic process is no excuse to simply bypass that process and obtain their goal by judicial fiat instead.

FRC believes that SOGI laws are unjustified in principle, because these characteristics are not inborn, involuntary, immutable, innocuous (like race and sex), or in the U.S. Constitution (like religion). We also believe such laws pose a threat to religious liberty in many situations, as was an issue in the Harris case that the Court will hear.

At the end of the day, the core issue before the Court in these cases is whether it is within the legitimate power of judges to suddenly rewrite a 55-year-old statute. The answer is no.

Personal Responsibility and Public Service Bring Glory to God

by Alyson Gritter

April 22, 2019

Frequently as an intern in Washington, D.C., I have had a few moments to stand in awe of the towering figure of the Washington Monument. On any given day, gazing up at such a remarkable sight, I am reminded of a fact that not many in D.C., let alone America, know. What exactly is at the top of the monument and why is it so significant to America today?

According to the National Park Service (NPS), the Washington Monument stands 555-feet high, making it the tallest structure in the area. In 1884, when the monument was finished, the Latin words Laus Deo, which mean “Praise be to God” or “God be praised,” were engraved on the east face of the aluminum cap at the top of the monument. Thus, every morning, when the sun rose, the first ray of light to touch D.C. landed on this engraving. The original builders wanted this to symbolize God being given the glory as the first thing to occur every morning. It is a beautiful piece of history and an even more powerful testament to what God has done for this nation. Unfortunately, the story of this gorgeous engraving doesn’t end here.

In 1885, a lightning protection system (or collar) was installed over the top part of the original cap. Though it protected the monument, it rubbed off the original engraving, rendering the Latin words illegible. In 1934, the collar was restored, but the original engravings were not included in the restoration project. Instead, a new engraving was added to the cap. The top of the monument now reads: “Repaired, 1934, National Park Service, Department of the Interior.” This wording was placed directly on top of the original east side engraving Laus Deo.

This story is a fitting illustration of how many leaders in our government operate today—how they work to obscure the Framers’ original intent to honor and glorify God. Similar to how the words Laus Deo were covered over on the top of the Washington Monument, forces are at work in our government to erode, destroy, and erase the Christian heritage of our nation. So many of us today, instead of first giving the glory to God for everything we have, lean on our own “power” and “authority.”

We have done this in two ways. First, we as citizens are overly relying on the government for assistance and guidance to prosper. Former Senator Jim DeMint said it best: “Over the last 50 years, American attitudes have shifted from cherishing self-sufficiency and personal responsibility to craving cradle-to-grave security ‘guaranteed’ by government.” We are increasingly looking to the government to provide all our needs and even our desires, like free college for all. According to Heritage’s Index of Dependence on Government, in 2013, 70 percent of government spending went to dependency programs.

Too many millennials are buying into a narrative of a socialist utopia where the government can and should supply all our needs. In contrast, Paul writes in Philippians 4:19, “And my God will meet your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.”

Secondly, many of our leaders first seek power instead of surrender. Many lawmakers are wanting to be the solution to our problems instead of pointing us to the only One who can solve our problems. It seems that their desire to be a “functional savior” is fueling their actions so that citizens increasingly rely on them in order to bolster their own image in the culture. Many of our political leaders seem to desire power and glory over truly effective public service.

A few recent examples of this include former President Obama trying to take the credit for economic gains that happened after he left office, and Senator Cory Booker using his infamous, self-anointed “Spartacus moment” to launch momentum for his 2020 presidential campaign. It is a common theme in today’s politics—“How can I further my image and my mission?” instead of “How can I get on board with God’s mission?”

What America needs today is citizens who strive for personal responsibility and service to others and leaders who are looking first to serve, to imbibe the spirit expressed in the faded, worn out words of the Washington Monument—Laus Deo. We need leaders who serve God (Joshua 22:5; 1 Samuel 12:24; Hebrews 9:14) and their fellow citizens (Luke 6:38; Galatians 5:13; 1 Peter 4:10). Jesus himself said, “The greatest among you will be your servant” (Matthew 23:11). We as citizens need to renew our commitment to being responsible for ourselves but also to serve those in need, and our government officials need to rediscover their true vocation: to be public servants.

Alyson Gritter served as an intern at Family Research Council.

Women Continue to Die After Taking the Abortion Pill

by Patrina Mosley

April 18, 2019

The FDA has updated their adverse events reports on Mifeprex, also known as “the abortion pill,” with two additional deaths since December 2018.

The previous report released last year on adverse events of the abortion regimen from 2000-2017 showed 22 deaths. Now, an update to the FDA’s Questions and Answers on Mifeprex states that “As of December 31, 2018, there were reports of 24 deaths of women associated with Mifeprex since the product was approved in September 2000, including two cases of ectopic pregnancy resulting in death; and several cases of severe systemic infection (also called sepsis), including some that were fatal.” To date, the report now documents nearly 4,200 adverse events, including deaths, hospitalizations and other serious complications.

Just between the years 2012 to 2017, the FDA released a report detailing 1,445 more adverse events from Mifeprex. In total, the number of adverse events from 2000 to 2018 is now 24 deaths, 97 ectopic pregnancies, 1,042 hospitalizations, 599 blood transfusions, and 412 infections (including 69 severe infections), with a total of 4,195 adverse events reported.

It is unbelievable that Planned Parenthood and the rest of the abortion industry would still market something as lethal as the abortion pill as “safe.” It certainly is not safe for the babies that are destroyed by its use and the women who are physically and emotionally harmed.

In a chemical abortion, it is common for a woman to experience severe cramping, contractions, and bleeding to expel the baby. According to the Mifeprex medication guide, this is expected and shows that the “treatment is working.” How pleasant.

These symptoms can last from several hours to several days, and they can be very intense and painful. Many women also experience nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and headache.

And these are the pills California wants to freely dispense on college campuses!

What makes chemical abortions unique from surgical abortions is that the mother will have to see and dispose of the remains of her aborted child.

A 2011 peer-reviewed synthesis on the mental health effects of abortion included a survey of 22 published studies combining data on 877,181 participants, showing that abortion increases the likelihood of depression, anxiety, and reckless behavior such as alcoholism, drug use, and sadly, suicide.

According to the Guttmacher Institute, medication abortions accounted for 31 percent of all nonhospital abortions in 2014, and for 45 percent of abortions before nine weeks’ gestation. The abortion pill can be used up until the 10th week of pregnancy.

How many more women will have to die before the abortion pill is banned?

Under the “Equality Act,” A Woman’s Place is in the Bleachers

by Cathy Ruse

April 15, 2019

Last week, the Heritage Foundation presented another compelling panel on the impact of the transgender movement on women and girls, and its chief legislative vehicle: Nancy Pelosi’s so-called “Equality Act.”

Featuring women leaders like Beth Stelzer of Save Women’s Sports and Jennifer Bryson of Let All Play, the panel examined the devastating impact that this political movement is having in the lives of real women and girls, and women’s sports in general.

The panel included Bianca Stanescu, mother of Selina Soule, the Glastonbury High School Track and Field athlete who had to compete against two large, biological males who identify as girls. Surprise! The males came in first and second place, and Selina was knocked out of the New England regionals for which she otherwise would have qualified.

Not long ago, men dominated sports in this country. That was before Congress passed Title IX to give women an equal opportunity to participate in sports.

There’s nothing “equal” about forcing women to compete against biological men.

Yet that’s what the so-called “Equality Act” will require, a bill being pushed now by transgender activists and their allies.

The Equality Act will not only make men’s sports dominate again—it will relegate women and girls to the bleachers.

But not to worry, there’ll still be two divisions on the playing field: Men competing against men, and men who identify as women competing against each other.

California Is Trying to Turn College Health Centers Into Abortion Clinics with Taxpayer Dollars (Again)

by Patrina Mosley

April 12, 2019

Last week, the California State Senate Health Committee approved in a 7-3 vote Senate Bill 24, known as the “College Student Right to Access Act.” This bill would amend the state’s public health code to require student health care clinics at all 34 California public colleges and universities to “offer abortion by medication techniques”—a.k.a “the abortion pill”—starting on January 1, 2023.

You may remember a similar bill (SB 320) that went forward last year, sponsored by the same senator, Connie Leyva (D-Chino). Thankfully, this was vetoed by then Democrat Governor Jerry Brown, who saw the mandate as “unnecessary” since “the services required by this bill are widely available off-campus.” In his veto statement he says that “according to a study sponsored by supporters of this legislation, the average distance to abortion providers in campus communities varies from five to seven miles, not an unreasonable distance.”

The report he is referring to was commissioned by the University of California San Francisco (UCSF), which is advocating in favor of the campus abortion mandate! But thankfully, a distance of five to seven miles was too short even for Governor Brown, and only showed how college campuses are targeted by the abortion industry.

SB 24 and last year’s SB 320 are virtually identical, with some changes in grant amounts and deadlines for implementation; other than that, they are the same in function. This means Sen. Leyva and other sponsors of the bill made no effort to fix the serious flaws with this type of mandate raised by both sides of the debate. Yes, even the universities themselves are apprehensive!

To bring this bill up for a second time without addressing its many serious flaws shows a reckless disregard for the 400,000 young women on these 34 public campuses.

In a previous blog, you can see what potential risks and liabilities would come with forcing colleges to dispense the abortion pill. Just two concerns (among many) about SB 24 are that this type of mandate once again has vague funding language and has no mention of support for women who choose not to abort and instead choose to parent the child.

Like the previously failed mandate, SB 24 claims it would only take effect after $10.2 million in private funds have been raised for the costs of equipment and “readiness” as the legislation states, but the language of the bill leaves open the possibility of taxpayer-funded abortion after 2023. It provides no safeguards to prohibit state funds or student fees from paying for the ongoing support of the program. Public funding of abortion is something we already know that a majority of Americans strongly oppose, yet SB 24 takes no precautions to prevent that.

In addition, this legislation offers no maternal assistance for women who choose not to abort! It just supports abortions. The Institute for Women’s Policy Research found that over a quarter of all undergraduate students are raising dependent children—yet no assistance is offered for them. Parenthood and education are compatible, and there are plenty of women who can prove that. To have a bill that purposefully goes out of its way to take away women’s children rather than help them raise their babies and continue their education is a slap in the face to “women’s empowerment” and grossly disregards the human dignity of the unborn.

Any abortion, no matter what stage of pregnancy it occurs at, is a life-changing experience. Even an early-stage chemical abortion can be quite traumatic. What makes chemical abortions unique from surgical abortions is that the mother will have to see and dispose of the remains of her aborted child. It is more than obvious that mental trauma would occur to a young woman who sees her abortion take place in her college dorm room or in a student health center bathroom. Is this really a good thing for a young college woman? I think not.

All in all, this type of bill could care less for women—it only cares about expanding the business of abortion.

Abortion proponents consider this mandate as model legislation for other states to follow, and California is vying to be the first state to implement it.

The California State Senate Health Committee passed the bill. It will now be referred to the State Senate’s Education Committee before going before the full Senate for a vote.

Sitting California governor Gavin Newsom has already insinuated his support for the bill, and this has given activists for SB 24 more optimism. However, it is still unknown how much support will actually come from the public universities themselves who remain apprehensive of the considerable liability that they would have to take on.

To take action on this reckless bill, you can contact California legislators on our action page.

Medieval” Times in Verona - A Report from the World Congress of Families

by Peter Sprigg

April 12, 2019

[Note: Quotations in the following piece from speakers at the World Congress of Families may be paraphrased. They are based upon my own notes taken at the time, and in the case of speeches not given in English, based on the simultaneous translations provided by the Congress.]

I was privileged to attend and speak at the most recent World Congress of Families (WCF), held in Verona, Italy from March 29-31. Only after hearing what the Italian speakers at the Congress had to say did I realize that this may have been the most controversial of these events—in its own country—held so far.

The most frequently cited (and refuted) criticism of the WCF was that its views are “medieval.” After two days of hearing references from the podium to the attacks upon the Verona Congress, I finally went online to find Italian news in English to document what had gone on.

The source of the “medieval” charge was an Italian politician named Luigi Di Maio. He is the leader of a relatively young political party in Italy known as the “Five Star Movement” (abbreviated M5S), and is a co-deputy prime minister. He also asserted that the WCF was for “right-wing losers.”

Some Americans may not realize the extent to which a parliamentary system creates strange bedfellows. The Five Star Movement—described by Wikipedia as a populist party taking a “big tent” political position—won the most seats in the Italian Parliament in the 2018 elections, but not a majority. Therefore, it had to form a coalition with The League, a more conservative party centered in Northern Italy (where Verona is). Several League politicians were stronger supporters of the World Congress of Families—meaning that Di Maio’s attack was directed at his own coalition partners. Di Maio had said, “The League in Verona celebrates the Middle Ages, we do not.”

When a criticism is repeatedly cited by those who were the target of it, it has probably backfired (think of Hillary Clinton and the “basket of deplorables”). That may well have been the case with the “medieval” charge, which speaker after speaker at the WCF seized upon.

This is an open community.”

For example, Luca Zaia, President of the Veneto Region where Verona is located (roughly the equivalent of a governor in the U.S.), told the opening session of the Congress, “You must thank those who attacked you—you have become well known!”

Part of the reason defenders of the World Congress were able to take the high ground from critics was because of the heavy-handed efforts not only to stigmatize the event, but to prevent it from taking place at all. This had the effect of turning defenders of free speech into defenders of the World Congress, and vice versa.

Zaia reported, “I’ve been attacked a lot—people said we should not have this event in Verona.” However, he declared, “This is an open community as long as I am here. There is freedom for everyone to talk. The fundamental rule is to have respect for everybody … I do not consider this the middle ages.”

Everyone has a right to express their own ideas.”

Federico Sboarina, the Mayor of Verona, struck a similar note. “In my city, everyone has a right to express their own ideas—no one has a right to intimidate them. Verona is being depicted as a ‘medieval’ city. It’s those who stop people from speaking freely who are ‘medieval.’”

The worst thing you can do is prohibit [an] idea.”

This theme of free speech even led to an unscheduled appearance by Italian radio host Giuseppe Cruciani. He said bluntly, “I’m not one of you,” as far as pro-family and pro-life policy is concerned. However, he noted that “for weeks now, there has been a campaign against this event.” He said he had learned from his experience in radical politics, “If you want to fight an idea, the worst thing you can do is prohibit that idea.” Therefore, Cruciani pledged, “Every time they want to stop you from expressing your opinion, I will be with you, even though I do not agree with you.”

The media … want to suppress freedom of expression.”

Writer Maria Giovanna Maglie said, “The controversy actually attracted me; but I didn’t think the attack would be so violent. If you read the papers, you would think we were here to create an outrageous scandal, to celebrate the funerals of freedom and liberty.”

Actually, she said, “Freedom is of fundamental importance—but much of the media is here to stop it. They want to suppress freedom of expression.”

Does the World Congress of Families promote hatred?” she asked. “No, it promotes the family” (and “so does the Italian constitution,” she noted. Article 29 of that document says, “The Republic recognizes the rights of the family as a natural society founded on marriage.”).

If you are pro-life, why should you be called ‘medieval?’” asked Maglie. She referred to political correctness as “a new authoritarianism,” and drew prolonged applause when she concluded by calling on all to resist its “tyranny.”

This event has become a symbol of freedom.”

Sandro Oliveri, President of the Federation of Italian Pentecostal Churches, praised the organizers of the Congress, saying that they “have been very brave in light of what you have faced in the last few days,” including “aggressiveness and violence.”

This event has become a symbol of freedom,” he declared—although not the kind promoted by those who “think that freedom is [only] to say what they agree with.”

Why should people be afraid of talking about family?” Oliveri wondered. “This is about protecting the weakest people, the children.”

Saying no” to practices that harm women and children “does not limit anyone’s freedom,” he insisted. “It does not mean to be ‘medieval.’”

So much hatred”—but toward the World Congress of Families, not from it

For Lorenzo Fontana, Italy’s Minister for the Family and Disabilities, the attacks on the WCF had a personal cost. “I saw so much hatred in the polemics of the last few days,” he said. “I had to be accompanied by twice as many police as usual in my own city. Many people suffered: my wife was ill-treated at work because of the polemics. My child has been discriminated against at kindergarten because she is the daughter of Minister Fontana.”

Fontana addressed another stereotype about the Congress. “I was told that those at that Congress are against women who work,” he said. “I was told I wanted to keep women at home.” In reality, he insisted the opposite is true—“All the women in my life work!” Instead, what he wants to do is to aid female employment by facilitating “work-life balance.”

Having a child is positive for business,” Fontana declared, citing research showing “an increase in productivity” with mothers in the workplace. “Unfortunately,” he lamented, “some people in Italy still have a ‘medieval’ view and don’t understand these things!”

The real “backward thinkers”

The fieriest speech at the Congress came from Giorgia Meloni, a member of the Chamber of Deputies (the lower house of the Italian parliament) and president of a conservative political party known as the Brothers of Italy. One article describes Meloni as the “leading lady of Italy’s right.”

They said we are medieval, depressives, losers,” Meloni said. “I reject these [charges] and send them back to those who formulated them.” They are the real “backward thinkers,” she insisted. “A loser comes to insult us when we talk about families,” she declared. “Losers are those who accept abortion at the ninth month!”

The fascists are gone.”

The highest-ranking government official to address the Congress was Matteo Salvini, who serves as both Interior Minister and Deputy Prime Minister in the current Italian government, and who was described last year by Time magazine as “the most feared man in Europe.” Salvini said that the criticism of the World Congress of Families had been “surreal,” with people asking him, “Are you sure you want to go to Verona? It’s the middle ages, losers, right-wing people.”

Several of the officials who spoke at the Congress are referred to in the media as “far right” or even “neo-fascist”—but it is hard to know how seriously to take those characterizations, coming from outlets that unquestioningly accept the Southern Poverty Law Center’s designation of mainstream conservative organizations like the World Congress of Families and Family Research Council as “hate groups.” Responding to such attacks, Salvini said wearily, “The fascists are gone;” but then added wryly, “There are still communists, though.” Salvini also declared, “Racism and excessive religious beliefs are not here in this room—it is others who are [wrongly] judging us.”

Grazie, Italia!

Given the ferocity of the attacks, the organizers of the World Congress of Families (especially Chairman Antonio Brandi) deserve tremendous credit for persevering. And the speakers who braved the criticism to address and/or actively support the Congress deserve the thanks of all those of us who attended. Special kudos to those not even part of the pro-family movement who nevertheless stood for the principal of free speech. To all of these, I say—Grazie, Italia!

What if Abortion Laws Reflected the Actual Views of Americans?

by Cathy Ruse

April 11, 2019

On Saturday I led a panel discussion on “Abortion Until Birth: What Happened in New York, What Almost Happened in Virginia, and What Lies Ahead in the Federal Courts.”

I was joined by Ed Whelan of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, Greg Schleppenbach of the U.S. Council of Catholic Bishops’ Pro-Life Secretariat, and Jeff Caruso of the Virginia Catholic Conference.

The following are excerpts of my introductory remarks.

***

One of the most celebrated phony arguments for a right to abortion is the Famous Violinist.

It’s a thought experiment, by a supposed moral philosopher (Judith Jarvis Thomson), and it goes like this:

Imagine you wake up in a hospital bed, and discover that your circulatory system has been connected up to the circulatory system of an unconscious famous violinist, lying beside you.

The violinist has a serious kidney infection, and a rare blood type—and you are the only match.

The hospital director comes in and says:

  • It was wrong for the Society of Music Lovers to kidnap you and place you in this difficult position.
  • But without the use of your kidneys, this man will die.
  • And, well, it’ll take 9 months for him to get well.

Are you morally obliged to make your kidneys available to this violinist for 9 months?

You’re supposed to conclude: no, you have the right to choose what happens in, and to, your body. You’re not obligated to put your body in service of another’s life, even that of a famous violinist.

The argument fails, of course. For many reasons. Chief among them is that mothers and children are natural allies, not enemies—not strangers on a hospital bed. 

But this is what modern abortion politics has done to our thinking.

The first American feminists never saw the child as the enemy. Elizabeth Cady Stanton said women had been treated as property; how degrading that we should treat our own children as property to be disposed of as we see fit.

What would they say about our abortion culture today?

According to the Guttmacher Institute, founded by Planned Parenthood, approximately 4 percent of abortions are done for the mother’s health. And 3 percent for “possible problems affecting the health of the [baby].”

Taken together, that’s 7 percent.

That means 93 percent of abortions are done on healthy women with healthy babies.

What are the reasons for these abortions?

Well, the women told Guttmacher they couldn’t afford a baby, they didn’t feel ready, they were having relationship problems. Or their husbands, or boyfriends, or parents wanted them to have the abortion.

There’s a pattern here, if you look for it. Of women who needed financial help, but no one gave it to them. Who needed emotional support, but no one provided it.

Of women who may have wanted the baby, but were surrounded by people who wanted the baby gone.

Feminists for Life says abortion is a reflection that we have failed to meet the needs of women—that: Women Deserve Better Than Abortion.  

They say the slogan “It’s my body, it’s my choice” has really become “it’s her problem.” The rest of us are off the hook.

The truth is, they know it’s a baby. And they’ve known it for a long time.

Even the Famous Violinist argument concedes there’s another person in the equation.

Planned Parenthood activist Amy Richards wrote an essay in the New York Times Magazine about being pregnant with triplets, and having two of her babies aborted.

After reciting a list of ways her life would change if she were to have triplets, she concluded, with a final lament, that she would have to “start shopping only at Costco and buying big jars of mayonnaise.”

She recounted how Peter, her boyfriend, stared at the sonogram screen and said, “There are three heartbeats, and we’re about to make two disappear.”

If you’re a Planned Parenthood activist, why tell your story this way? Why the heartbeats? Why the mayonnaise?

Very clearly, she’s telling us that she knows they’re really babies.

But she’s also clearly telling us that she doesn’t have to have a good reason to abort them—she can, just because she wants to.

And legally speaking, she’s quite right.

Forty-six years ago, the Supreme Court took abortion policy-making out of the hands of the people, and made abortion-until-birth a constitutional right.

Roe v. Wade made abortion legal before but also after viability, until birth, for “health” reasons.

And then Doe v. Bolton, defined “health” as “all factors”—“physical, emotional, psychological, familial, [or] the woman’s age.”

That’s why pro-lifers speak of “abortion on demand.” That’s why Amy Richards speaks of big jars of mayonnaise.

Most people have no idea how extreme U.S. abortion law is.

If American law on abortion reflected Americans’ views on abortion, the law would look very different.

And that’s exactly what politicians in New York were afraid of: That the people would get to have a say, again, on abortion policy.

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