Author archives: Chris Gacek

The L.A. Times eulogizes an abortionist

by Chris Gacek

May 20, 2008

The Los Angeles Times could barely control its praise for abortionist Harvey Karman whose May 6th death was announced by the paper this past weekend.  Unfortunately for The Times, the truth cannot be smothered in the internet age, and it had to grudgingly give up some facts about Karman.

The obituary writer, Elaine Woo, revealed that “[w]hile training in psychology at UCLA, [Karman] started an underground abortion referral service and eventually performed abortions himself, for which he was convicted and sent to state prison for 2 1/2 years.”  I don’t think psychologists are “trained” to perform surgery - or am I missing something?  In truth, Karman was practicing medicine as a surgeon without training, a license, or facility privileges.  His criminality actually involved killing Joyce Johnson in April 1956 after he botched her abortion.

Well, Karman gained early release from prison and went on to butcher more women - once again, here is Ms. Woo:

Karman also had many detractors, particularly because of his attempt to revolutionize second-trimester abortions with a device called the super coil, which was inserted into the uterus and expanded when exposed to moisture, causing a miscarriage. It caused serious complications, including hemorrhaging and infection, when it was used on about a dozen women in Philadelphia on Mother’s Day in 1972.”

One of the activists, Carol Downer, who co-founded feminist women’s health clinics in SoCal in the 1970’s told the Times, “Harvey engaged in some very irresponsible experimentation on women’s bodies.”  “Irresponsible experimentation” - that is very charitable.  But, Downer had to offer praise because Harvey was “a real change agent.”  And, if a change agent wants to make an omelet, he may have to break a few eggs.

If you want to read a very different bio of Karman - read all three pages of this web post written some time before Karman’s death; and then this on the death of Joyce Johnson.  The account rendered here of the carnage Karman wrought on Mother’s Day 1972 in Philly is somewhat more detailed:

Keeping sloppy records, working well into the night, the abortion team managed to pack the 15 patients selected for ‘super coil’ abortions by the early morning hours. One woman ended up hospitalized in Pennsylvania due to lacerations. Others needed to be hospitalized upon return to Chicago. Local health authorities contacted the Centers for Disease Control, which investigated and found that two of the patients had been lost to follow-up, one required a hysterectomy, one was hospitalized for twenty days with infection, and one continued to bleed until she became anemic. In total, nine of the 13 patients who could be tracked down had suffered complications.”

What a guy!!!  For more details on Harvey Karman’s career as a butcher, see Bernard N. Nathanson, M.D., and Richard N. Ostling, Aborting America (New York: Pinnacle Books, 1979): pp. 85-93 (Nathanson, a distinguished ob/gyn, provides excellent medical-scientific insights into Karman’s medical activities and inventions.)

Gossip Girl and Cable Choice

by Chris Gacek

May 6, 2008

On April 25th, I wrote here about Quin Hilyer’s terrific column describing some vile television programming he encountered.  Well, I don’t think even Quin could have dreamed up one TV network’s recent ad campaign.  This vile promotional campaign was created and distributed for The Gossip Girl, a national broadcast from the CW network.

Gossip Girl is a relatively new sleazy teen and young adult-centric show that glorifies sex, drugs, and drinking in a group of Manhattan college prep students.  After a spring hiatus, the show returned with new episodes on April 21st preceded by a blasphemous and soft porn ad campaign.  As one website put it: “The desperate ad campaign clearly shows that the producers want Gossip Girl‘s viewer to know that there will be a whole lot of sex scenes in the coming episodes.”

The attack on decency was multi-pronged.

First, a once-respected magazine, New York, sold its soul to carry the most vacuous review of anything ever written or broadcast.  The piece came complete with a cover featuring the program’s stars lying in bed together pretty well undressed in orgiastic poses.  In the center of this cover photo, one finds “Best Show Ever*” imposed, and, as is befitting of such art, the cover story was duly titled, “The Genius of Gossip Girl.”

Second, the new season is supported by raunchy still photo and video ads.  Both promotions are focused on the phrase “OMFG” - which is probably not a phrase you are familiar with.  “OMG” is an abbreviation for “Oh, My G-“, the ubiquitous disrespectful exclamation of the popular culture.  Well, “OMFG” is a spin-off of this phrase whose etymology is not certain but seems to come from the teen internet subculture.  Yes, the “F” stands for what you think it does.

When I say that the still life ads are sleazy, I mean they are SLEAZY.  Now that you are familiar with the lingo, take a look at those posters that are appearing on standard street-size and sidewalk billboards:

The OMFG theme isn’t exactly hidden, and neither is the sexually explicit content.  There is also at least one offensive OMFG video ad for Gossip Girl that is available on the CW website, YouTube, and on television.  Of course, a CW honcho denied in an interview with CNN’s Brooke Anderson that OMFG means what it clearly means.  Anderson was incredulous, so she conducted “man on the street” interviews to prove her point.  Only two women over 60 were not able to define OMFGSee the CNN interview featuring Melissa Henson of the Parents Television Council.  Kudos to Anderson.

Let’s be clear: this is an ad campaign and television program promoted by a major American broadcast network and targeted at teenagers and young adults.  Parents who are concerned about this might wish to contact one or two of the Gossip Girl sponsors and complain about the blasphemy, the decadence, and the cruel indifference to the moral lives of the young revealed by the network and its advertisers.

At times like this I think:  wouldn’t it be nice to have the power to tell my cable provider that I don’t ever want the CW network to be seen in my house again?  It sure would.  It’s definitely time for cable choice and time to find out how the presidential candidates feel about consumer empowerment over the media content that comes into our homes.

The Mighty Quin

by Chris Gacek

April 25, 2008

Now and again a great writer comes along and hits the nail on the head by vividly describing a particular problem or social ill. Well, Quin Hillyer, associate editor for the Washington Examiner and a senior editor of The American Spectator, has written a terrific article illustrating how bad broadcast TV programs have become: the level of indecency, vulgarity, and nastiness on TV just seems to grow more intense daily with no abatement in sight. Combined with a Vesuvius-like eruption of indignation, Hillyer gives a stunning description of one show he saw while waiting to catch a basketball game. Hillyer then launches the equivalent of an anti-p.c. nuclear bomb: a call for all decent Americans to proudly demand censorship of the public television airwaves.

His battlecry made me wonder whether censorship is even the correct word for taking adolescent trash like the show he describes off the air. Isnt there some minimal qualitative level to which a piece of art must attain or pretend to attain before a grandiose term like censorship can be applied to said programs eradication ?

Quin, excellent analysis with a terrific bonus rant thrown in. I salute you and hope the game was worth the wait.

Iran, Nuclear Deterrence, and Senator Clinton

by Chris Gacek

April 24, 2008

Senator Hillary Clinton made news during a recent TV interview when she was asked what her reaction would be if Iran attacked Israel with nuclear weapons. She left little ambiguity:

I want the Iranians to know that if Im the president we will attack Iran, Clinton said. In the next 10 years, during which they might foolishly consider launching an attack on Israel, we would be able to totally obliterate them.

As a friend of Israel, I am glad to see strong support expressed for that nation. Hopefully, this will clarify the thinking of the radical clerics who control Iran. That being said, Senator Clintons remarks address only part of the problem.

It is true that Iran might someday lob several of its new missiles at Israels cities after they have been armed with nuclear warheads. That would devastate Israel and might kill tens or hundreds of thousands depending on the size of the devices exploded. But missiles can be traced back to their launch points within seconds, and devastating Israeli not American retaliatory attacks would be launched against Iran within hours. Thus, Iran might effectively destroy Israel, but Persian civilization would almost certainly come to an end that day.

Given the assured devastation that would follow is it likely that Iran would go down that path? The real problem lies in the possibility that the Iranians or North Koreans or Pakistanis might allow a non-state terrorist organization to have a nuclear device that would be smuggled into Israel or downtown Manhattan with no trace-back being possible.

When a smuggled bomb goes off against whom do you retaliate? Should there be an announced policy of deterrence simultaneously directed at all rogue regimes? Something like: Alright, Iran, North Korea, Pakistan if an American city is attacked with nuclear weapons, there will be swift retaliation against all of you.

It was in light of this problem that the eradication of Saddams Iraq regime was so important, for the United States eliminated one of the more significant states that had a long track record of working with and harboring international terrorist organizations. Things have been difficult in Iraq since 2003, but we clearly have one fewer terror accomplice state to worry about now.

Mrs. Clinton has started an important public discussion, but it is astounding that in the six years since 9/11 very little has been done by the United States government to advance our thinking about multi-level deterrence in an age of jihadist and state-sponsored terror. This is especially surprising if one can remember the prodigious body of work that grew out of the Cold War addressing the problem of deterring nuclear war. Entire institutions like the Rand Corporation were created to examine those dire threats. Deterring Soviet nuclear attack was taken seriously.

Unless I have missed something, there has been no similar effort since 9/11. Perhaps, the three presidential candidates can follow-up on Senator Clintons remark by telling us how they plan to deter the use of nuclear weapons against Israel, Europe, or the United States by an alliance, coalition, or temporary partnership of jihadists and nuclear capable states.

Censorship Google-style

by Chris Gacek

April 15, 2008

In the last week a story from England has gained considerable notoriety due to the troubling questions it raises about the political neutrality of searches conducted by Google, the internet search behemoth. In March 2008, Englands Christian Institute (the Institute) informed Google U.K. that it wished to place this ad (see below) to promote its pro-life papers when Google visitors searched for abortion service websites:


In an e-mail dated March 19, 2008, Google U.K. denied the Institutes request to place the advertisement on pages producing abortion-related search results. Google stated that it denied placement because Google policy does not permit the advertisement of websites that contain abortion and religion-related content. Additionally, Google noted that it retained the right to exercise editorial discretion when it comes to the advertising we accept on our site.

No further explanation was given until April 10th, when Google U.K.s media office issued the following comment: We only allow ads that have factual information about abortion.

Googles insulting comment speaks volumes about the companys prejudices. My quick review of papers posted on the Institutes website found studies that thoughtfully combined Christian Biblical teaching, Christian ethical analysis, accurate discussion of scientific facts, and reasonable public policy conclusions. For example, the 76-page study on the Morning-After-Pill is very well reasoned even if does not come to the same conclusions Googles staff would reach about the ethics of using emergency contraception.

Well, this story will continue to develop because the Institutes attorneys wrote to Google informing them that the companys actions violate the U.K.s Equality Act of 2006. Apparently, that law prohibits religious discrimination in the provision of a good, facility or service, and the Institutes attorneys believe its actions fall within protections afforded by the law. If courts in the United Kingdom interpret such laws in a manner similar to the way an American court would, the Institute probably has a good case.

This will be an important legal contest for the United Kingdom should it go to court. If Christian organizations can be banned from advertising on pages produced by specific search terms then freedom of speech on the internet is in grave danger. If push comes to shove, Google may find that millions upon millions of Christian web users can take their searches elsewhere, and Googles stock price has already lost around $300 from its 52-week high.

Terri Schiavo Remembered

by Chris Gacek

March 31, 2008

March 31st marks the third anniversary of the death of Terri Schindler Schiavo. I would feel remiss in not alerting our readers to the excellent Washington Times op-ed on her case by Nat Hentoff published today. As Mr. Hentoff points out:

The reason Congress asked the federal courts to review the Schiavo case was that the 41-year-old woman about to be dehydrated and starved to death was breathing normally on her own and was not terminal.

This was not a right-to-die case, as the author notes. Rather, it was about the right to continue living.

To those of us who favored Congressional action on her behalf, we believed that this disabled woman was not receiving the level of constitutional procedural protection that even common criminals receive. In fact, Professor Carter O. Snead (Notre Dame School of Law) has written an important paper (The (Surprising) Truth about Schiavo: A Defeat for the Cause of Autonomy) describing the ways the Florida courts misinterpreted state law in reaching their decisions to end Terris life. I discussed some of this in an article published on the Weekly Standards website one year ago.

The “Disturbing Realities” of Planned Parenthood

by Chris Gacek

March 26, 2008

Today’s Washington Times contains a “must read” op-ed. Professors Gerald R. McDermott (Roanoke College) and Carol M. Swain (Vanderbilt) give a well-developed argument for defunding Planned Parenthood based on “disturbing realities” about the way that organization conducts its business.

Here is their concluding paragraph: “One must wonder, then, whether taxpayers should continue to support an organization that is flush with money, has been willing to skirt or ignore laws intended to protect the people it claims to serve and may be targeting minorities with a practice many Americans believe immoral.”

Also, much praise to the Washington Times editorial page for publishing this excellent piece.

Sec. Leavitt Protects Doctors

by Chris Gacek

March 18, 2008

On Friday, March 14th, Secretary Michael Leavitt (Dep’t of Health & Human Services) issued an important press release announcing his letter to Dr. Norman F. Grant, the Executive Director of the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ABOG). In his letter, Secretary Leavitt stated his justifiable concern that ABOG’s Bulletin for 2008 Maintenance of Certification could require physicians to refer patients for abortions against the dictates of conscience. Such outcomes might arise from the “interaction” of that ABOG Bulletin and a “report” of the ethics committee of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) (dated Nov. 7, 2007) entitled “The Limits of Conscience Refusal in Reproductive Medicine.

Secretary Leavitt took note of federal laws intended to “protect the rights, including conscience rights, of health care professionals in programs or facilities conducted or supported by federal funds.” He asked ABOG to clarify its position “[i]n the hope that compliance of entities with the obligations that accompany certain federal funds will not be jeopardized….”

As Secretary Leavitt and the public await ABOG’s answer, the Secretary should be commended greatly for his efforts on behalf of those health care professionals who do not wish to refer patients for abortions or act in other ways that would undermine their commitment to the ethical provision of medical services. In case it is not clear, implementation of the projected ABOG-ACOG policy denying licensing or re-licensing to doctors unwilling to refer for abortions could eliminate pro-life obstetricians and gynecologists from the practice of medicine in the United States. This is unacceptable.

More on the California Homeschooling Decision

by Chris Gacek

March 11, 2008

A great deal has happened since my Friday posting on the California home school decision — In re Rachel L. First, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger issued a press release on Friday striking out at the court decision:

Every California child deserves a quality education and parents should have the right to decide whats best for their children. Parents should not be penalized for acting in the best interests of their childrens education. This outrageous ruling must be overturned by the courts and if the courts dont protect parents rights then, as elected officials, we will.”

This opens the possibility that political action, in addition to legal appeals, may lie ahead. However, proponents of home schooling in California are wary of a legislative option because a new law might codify a set of parent-school relationships that are less friendly than those in place before the court decision. Given the liberal composition of the California legislature, that is a justifiable concern.

Second, the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) has taken a step to nullify the decision. While the Rachel L. family and its California counsel plan to appeal the decision to the California Supreme Court, HSLDA has also posted a petition online collecting the signatures of those who would like the Court to “depublish” the opinion. HSLDA plans to formally ask the Court to depublish the Rachel L. opinion which would render it unusable “by other California courts” and eliminate the decision as a threat to other homeschoolers. By gathering signatures, HSLDA would like to demonstrate to the Court “that many other people, both in California and across the country, care deeply about homeschool freedom in California.” Depublishing would be a simple way to alleviate this crisis.

Third, Eugene Volokh, a libertarian/conservative UCLA law professor and blogger wrote about the home schooling case on March 6th — as edited by Alliance Defense Fund:

Its pretty well-settled that the parental rights cases — such as Pierce v. Society of Sisters (1925) — dont secure a right to home-school … .

Religious homeschooling is a different matter. Wisconsin v. Yoder held that the Amish could pull children out of school at age 14, and then vocationally train the children at home, notwithstanding a compulsory education law that generally required school attendance until 16. And Yoder survives the Courts decision in Employment Division v. Smith (which mostly holds that the Free Exercise Clause doesnt require religious exemptions from generally applicable laws, but which expressly preserves such claims in parental rights cases like Yoder).

What appears to be the crucial California case, People v. Turner (1953), has some difficult language for the proposition that there is a constitutional right to homeschool:

…, we have been unable to find a single case in which it has been held that so-called compulsory attendance statutes are rendered unconstitutional and void merely by reason of a failure to recognize home instruction as an alternative to attendance in the public schools.

Well, only one thing is certain — we are destined to hear a great deal more about this case and the related legal arguments. A great deal has changed in California since 1953, and the Court would be wise to accommodate the educational arrangements that now exist for something like 200,000 students.

California Decision Highlights Judicial Trend against Parental Rights in Education

by Chris Gacek

March 7, 2008

On February 28, 2006, a three-judge panel of the California Court of Appeal handed down a ruling that may threaten the continued viability of home school arrangements in California. In this case, In re Rachel L., a lower court decision holding that parents have a constitutional right to home school their children was reversed. The appellate court held that parents do not have such rights. Furthermore, the decision appears to have rendered the vast majority of California home schooling arrangements violative of state law.

According to the Los Angeles Times, California law does not address home schooling in its statutes unlike thirty states that do. Apparently, the California Department of Education and local school districts have had a somewhat relaxed approach to home schooling. This has allowed the number of home schoolers to grow considerably. Estimates are that 166,000 children in California are taught at home, so the impact of this decision will be significant.

This case and two others of recent vintage, Fields v. Palmdale School District (U.S. 9th Cir. 2005) and Parker v. Hurley (U.S. 1st Cir. 2008), remind us of the fact that powerful elements within our society believe that parents have few, if any, rights over the educational content of their children. Once the state has spoken parents have to fall in line. In Palmdale, the Ninth Circuit used a dispute over psychological surveys that included questions about sex to assert that parents have no constitutional right … to prevent a public school from providing its students with whatever information it wishes to provide, sexual or otherwise…. (The parents were not told about the sex-related questions when their consent for participation was sought by the school.)

In Parker, a Christian parent objected to his young child being given educational materials promoting homosexual parenting and marriage. Here again, the appellate court affirmed the district courts ruling which stated that the constitutional right of parents to raise their children does not include the right to restrict what a public school may teach their children.

At bottom, the current case in California (Rachel L.), Palmdale, and Parker indicate that parents, pro-family groups, and friendly politicians will have to fight for the right to protect their children. They will need to aggressively pursue legislatively corrections. That may be possible in California regarding the status of home schooling, but it will not always be possible. Barring a legislative fix, it becomes clear how important it is to have judges on the bench who understand that the rights of parents are not derived from the state. Rather, parents have inalienable rights that supersede those of government — particularly when the moral education of their children is at stake.