Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Viva Verastegui!

In this powerful video, actor and producer Eduardo Verastegui, of "Bella" fame, speaks the truth about the tragedy of abortion and Obama's promotion of it. This edited version from CNA does not contain the brief graphic images of the original video, which you can find at Dura Realidad (Hard Truth).

More on his conversion and pro-life work here.

Prenatal Testing for Down Syndrome Dangerous for All Babies

Prenatal Testing for Down Syndrome Dangerous for All Babies:
A study published by Down Syndrome Education International, a British charity organization, reports that invasive prenatal testing kills 400 healthy babies a year who had been identified as having the condition by false-positive blood tests, The Telegraph reported.

The testing also results in annual abortions of 660 British babies with Down syndrome who would have survived until birth if the pregnancies were allowed to progress, Frank Buckley and Sue Buckley wrote in the online version of Down Syndrome Research and Practice.

'When widespread prenatal whole genome screening becomes a possibility, many of the troubling issues raised by our experiences of screening for Down syndrome will be brought into sharper focus,' the Buckleys continued.

That's putting it mildly.

The NRLC article also cites another study showing that a shocking 92% of English and Welsh infants whose Down syndrome is identified in utero are aborted.

Obama and Intrinsic Evils

An intrinsic evil is something that can never be justified under any circumstances. On some issues, there is only one right position because they involve intrinsic evils.

The Bishops' document Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship identifies several such issues. Foremost among them are the life issues: abortion and infanticide, euthanasia, embryonic stem-cell research, human cloning. Another is the protection of marriage as the union of one man and one woman.

We must evaluate every candidate's positions on these issues. Frankly, I find Obama's record and positions on life issues, marriage, and parental rights disturbing. His stances on these issues are extreme, to put it simply. For example:

I. Abortion

Obama is a firm supporter of legal abortion, consistently earning 100% scores from NARAL. He has reiterated his support for abortion many times, including in his statement to NARAL: "I have consistently advocated for reproductive choice and will make preserving women's rights under Roe v. Wade a priority as President. I oppose any constitutional amendment to overturn the Supreme Court's ruling in this case."

In line with his beliefs, he is a co-sponsor of FOCA, the "Freedom of Choice Act," which goes even beyond the Roe and Doe decisions to nullify virtually all federal and state limitations on abortion. It would make taxpayer-funded abortion on demand throughout all nine months of pregnancy into a fundamental right. Nearly all the pro-life achievements in legislation at both the state and federal levels, such as women's right to know laws (informed consent), parental notification, and even the ban on partial birth abortions would be reversed. Even the right of medical personnel and hospitals (such as Catholic hospitals) to decline to provide abortions due to conscientious objections would be denied by this law.

When the Supreme Court upheld the ban on partial-birth abortions, Obama opposed that decision.

Planned Parenthood's political action arm has endorsed him based on his record and his pledge that "the first thing I'd do as president is sign the Freedom of Choice Act."

(Update: also see What's at stake in this election, in Barack Obama's own words)

II. Embryonic stem cell research

Obama has consistently voted in favor of embryonic stem cell research, even saying that, "Embryonic stem cells can be obtained from a number of sources including in vitro fertilization. ... We should expand and accelerate research using these embryos."

III. Human cloning. Actually, this contains two intrinsic evils - the first in the creation of the clone for research, and the second in the destruction of the new human life once it has served its purpose.

He co-sponsored a bill that would allow the cloning of human embryos for research purposes, but require that they then be killed.

IV. Euthanasia

When Tim Russert asked Obama and Clinton if “there are any words or votes that you’d like to take back ... in your careers in public service,” Obama answered that it was a "mistake" to have joined the Senate in the unanimous consent on the Terri Schindler-Schiavo case. This consent provided her family with a last opportunity to try to save her. In other words, Obama singled out his agreement in a last-ditch attempt to prevent the starvation death of a severely disabled woman as the mistake of his public career.

Just to clarify, a lot has been reported in the media about Terri's case. There were many claims that she was in a "persistent vegetative" state as well as counter-claims that she was responsive to people and things around her. Yet this was irrelevant. She was not dying from any underlying condition. She was not on any life-support machines. It is a little-known fact that 29 disability-rights organizations filed legal briefs and lobbied Congress to make them understand that this was not about a "right to die" but about protecting her right to continue living. All she needed was food and water, just like the rest of us.

As Pope John Paul said:
Just because the chances of recovery are judged small and waning, when the ‘vegetative’ state lasts more than a year, does not justify withdrawing minimal care for the patient, including nutrition and hydration. Death by starvation or thirst is, in fact, the only possible outcome of such a withdrawal. If done knowingly and willingly, this ends up being euthanasia by omission.

The sick person in a ‘vegetative’ state, awaiting recovery or a natural end, still has the right to basic health care (nutrition, hydration, cleanliness, warmth, etc), and to the prevention of complications related to his confinement to bed. He also has the right to appropriate rehabilitative care and to be monitored for clinical signs of eventual recovery.

I want particularly to emphasize that the administration of water and food, even when provided by artificial means, always represents a natural means of preserving life, not a medical act. Its use should be considered, in principle, ordinary and proportionate, and thus morally obligatory, insofar as and until it attains its proper goal of nourishing the patient and alleviating his suffering." (John Paul II, Address on Life-Sustaining Treatment and the ‘Vegetative’ State §4)
This teaching has since been confirmed by the CDF with Pope Benedict's approval.

V. Marriage. Not a direct life issue, but equating homosexual unions to marriage is again intrinsically evil.

"Society owes its continued survival to the family, founded on marriage. The inevitable consequence of legal recognition of homosexual unions would be the redefinition of marriage, which would become, in its legal status, an institution devoid of essential reference to factors linked to heterosexuality; for example, procreation and raising children. If, from the legal standpoint, marriage between a man and a woman were to be considered just one possible form of marriage, the concept of marriage would undergo a radical transformation, with grave detriment to the common good. ... all Catholics are obliged to oppose the legal recognition of homosexual unions." (Considerations Regarding Proposals to Give Legal Recognition to Unions Between Homosexual Persons, CDF, approved by Pope John Paul II)

Obama has pledged to repeal the federal Defense of Marriage Act.

VI. Infanticide.

OK, so we are all used to pro-abortion politicians but this one shocked me. Are you familiar with the "Born Alive Infants Protection Act" (BAIPA) that was passed by Congress and signed into law by President Bush in 2002? This very simple law states that once a baby is born alive, even if it happens "accidentally" during an abortion, that baby is legally entitled to all the normal care than any baby is legally entitled to have. In other words, once born, the baby cannot be discriminated against, killed, or left to die in a utility closet simply because he or she is unwanted.

Initially, NARAL opposed the measure, but later dropped its opposition to avoid the political fallout. Indeed, this is such a common-sense measure that the US House passed it 380-15 and the Senate 98-0.

Obama was not a member of the US Senate at that time. But, when the Illinois senate considered a very similar measure, then-state senator Obama tried to prevent it's reaching the floor for a vote, argued against it on the Senate floor, and voted against its passage three times. You can read the text of the measure yourself, at the Illinois General Assembly website. It's very short and clear.

His position on this issue is nothing short of approving murder. Obvious and cold-blooded murder of the weakest, the most innocent, and the most defenseless.

Is that not disturbing?

Many people say that you cannot rule out a candidate on the basis of a single issue. Generally, I think they are right, but here's what our bishops said: "As Catholics we are not single-issue voters. A candidate’s position on a single issue is not sufficient to guarantee a voter’s support. Yet a candidate’s position on a single issue that involves an intrinsic evil, such as support for legal abortion or the promotion of racism, may legitimately lead a voter to disqualify a candidate from receiving support." (Faithful Citizenship, my emphasis)

If that is the case, then what about the candidate who supports a half-dozen intrinsic evils?

But what about this other issue?

Some issues involve intrinsic evils, that is, actions that are never right under any circumstances. Others involve prudential judgments: in these cases, we must agree on the principles, but may disagree on how best to achieve them. For example, we may all agree that something needs to be done about the quality of public education in our nation, but while some think the answer is vouchers to give parents a choice about their children's education, others insist the solution is more funding for schools. Issues involving intrinsic evils are always more serious than those involving prudential judgments because we can be certain of the right answer. We can never deliberately choose to do wrong, even so that good may result. Further, not all intrinsic evils are equally serious: murder is much more grave than cheating on a test.

On a second level, we may compare issues of similar moral seriousness in terms of the number of victims and the gravity of the injury they suffer.

Abortion is, of course, an intrinsic evil. But the sheer magnitude of abortions is also stunning. For example, in 2005 (the latest year for which full figures are available), according to CDC statistics, the total number of deaths of American children under 15 from all causes except abortions was 39,798. This compares with deaths from abortion of 1.2 million, or more than 30 times as many. Nearly 3,300 babies are killed by abortion every day. Nothing else even comes close.

No wonder our Bishops have written that "Abortion and euthanasia have become pre-eminent threats to human life and dignity because they directly attack life itself, the most fundamental good and the condition for all others." (Living the Gospel of Life)

It may be true that a pro-abortion candidate (such as Obama) has appealing positions on other issues, perhaps on health care, for example. However, let us bring to mind what Pope John Paul II said on this matter:
The inviolability of the person which is a reflection of the absolute inviolability of God, fĂ­nds its primary and fundamental expression in the inviolability of human life. Above all, the common outcry, which is justly made on behalf of human rights - for example, the right to health, to home, to work, to family, to culture - is false and illusory if the right to life, the most basic and fundamental right and the condition for all other personal rights, is not defended with maximum determination. (Christifideles Laici, n. 38, emphasis in original)
False and illusory. Those are powerful words, indeed.

The Church affirms that some issues are more important than others. The right to life of an innocent person, which is under attack in a number of ways, takes precedence for several reasons.

1. All other rights depend on life. Without life, a person cannot exercise any other rights.

2. When abortion, cloning, embryonic stem-cell research, etc. are made legal, then the clear implication is that some persons have less value than others. Hence all are not equal under the law.

3. The view that supports the right to life and the one that instead affirms a "right" to abortion, euthanasia, etc. are based on two irreconcilable views of human rights and dignity:
  1. That all our rights come from God and the government has the duty to protect those rights.
  2. That our rights are granted us by the state (in the form of legislation, or the Constitution, etc.)
The former is the traditional Judeo-Christian view and is still the view of people of faith. The second view is extremely dangerous to human freedom; if the state is the source of our rights, then clearly the state can limit or even revoke them.

These are some of the reasons for the Pope's description of the "outcry .. on behalf of human rights" as being false and illusory if the right to life is not defended as part of the program; defending the right to life is not any part of Obama's program.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

"We'll pay for you to die, but not for you to live"

The Culture of Death is alive and well in Oregon, where both doctor-assisted suicide and health-care rationing are practiced.

Oregon health plan covers assisted suicide, not drugs, for cancer patient:
An Oregon woman suffering from lung cancer was notified by the state-run Oregon Health Plan that their policy would not cover her life-extending cancer drug, telling her the health plan would cover doctor-assisted suicide instead.

Barbara Wagener discovered her lung cancer had recurred last month, the Register-Guard said. Her oncologist prescribed a drug called Tarceva, which could slow the cancer growth and extend her life.

The Oregon Health Plan notified Wagner that it would not cover the drug, but it would cover palliative care, which it said included assisted suicide.

“Treatment of advanced cancer that is meant to prolong life, or change the course of this disease, is not a covered benefit of the Oregon Health Plan,” said the letter Wagner received from LIPA, the Eugene company that administers the Oregon Health Plan in Lane County.

“I think it’s messed up,” Wagner said. She said she was particularly upset because the letter said doctor-assisted suicide would be covered.

“To say to someone, we’ll pay for you to die, but not pay for you to live, it’s cruel,” she said. “I get angry. Who do they think they are?”

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Beat Planned Parenthood and protect conscience

If you believe that doctors and nurses should never be forced into doing abortions, please contact the Department of Health and Human Services with your comments. They have proposed regulations that will give more protection to health care workers, so that they won't be forced to do unethical procedures. We want the regulations to go into effect. Pro-abortion forces are contacting them in great number to object to the regulations, and there are only a few more days during which the HHS is accepting more comments. Click here for more details on how to express your support of these regulations.

Another option if you are short on time is to click here for a pre-written letter. This option literally takes only a minute. It will also subscribe you to future alerts from the Family Research Council, which you can unsubscribe from at any time.

More info, from the Bishops:
USCCB Applauds Proposed Conscience Regulations From HHS

Please make your voice heard to protect doctors and nurses from being forced to participate in abortions.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Palin misquoted on Iraq War

I just ran across this info unexpectedly yesterday.

Many mainstream media reports claim Palin said that the Iraq War was "God's task". I am really disgusted with their selective quoting -- which really amounts to misquoting -- by omitting the beginning "Pray ... that".

Here are Palin's actual words -- as quoted by NPR, no less:
"Pray our military men and women who are striving to do what is right also for this country - that our national leaders are sending them out on a task that is from God. That's what we have to make sure that we're praying for, that there is a plan and that plan is God's plan."
The full quote makes it quite clear that she was really saying we should make sure we pray that there is a plan, that it is God's plan, and that the task our troops are going out on is from God. IOW, we have to always be sure to seek to do God's will and when things aren't in our direct control, we should still pray that our nation & its leaders act according to His will.

Isn't that a very good thing?

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Pope Benedict on Catholic focus in public arena

On Mar 30, 2006, Pope Benedict gave an address to a congress promoted by the European Popular Party.

The Holy Father spoke of the importance of Europe's Christian roots and of the correct relationship between Church and State. He then singled out the following as the primary concerns the Church focusses on in relation to law and politics:
As far as the Catholic Church is concerned, the principal focus of her interventions in the public arena is the protection and promotion of the dignity of the person, and she is thereby consciously drawing particular attention to principles which are not negotiable. Among these the following emerge clearly today:

-- protection of life in all its stages, from the first moment of conception until natural death;

-- recognition and promotion of the natural structure of the family -- as a union between a man and a woman based on marriage -- and its defense from attempts to make it juridically equivalent to radically different forms of union which in reality harm it and contribute to its destabilization, obscuring its particular character and its irreplaceable social role;

-- the protection of the right of parents to educate their children.

These principles are not truths of faith, even though they receive further light and confirmation from faith; they are inscribed in human nature itself and therefore they are common to all humanity. The Church's action in promoting them is therefore not confessional in character, but is addressed to all people, prescinding from any religious affiliation they may have. On the contrary, such action is all the more necessary the more these principles are denied or misunderstood, because this constitutes an offense against the truth of the human person, a grave wound inflicted onto justice itself.

Monday, September 15, 2008

The first right of the human person is his life

The first right of the human person is his life . . . It does not belong to society, nor does it belong to public authority in any form to recognize this right for some and not for others; all discrimination is evil. . . Any discrimination based on the various stages of life is no more justified any other discrimination. . . . In reality, respect for human life is called for from the time that the process of generation begins. From the time that the ovum is fertilized, a life is begun which is neither that of the father nor of the mother; it is rather the life of a new human being with his own growth.

Declaration on Procured Abortion, Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (1974), paragraphs 11-12.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Bishops reply to Biden: abortion is a human rights issue

I'm sure you've heard about Biden defending his "pro-choice" record on the grounds that the beginning of human life is a “personal and private” matter of religious faith, which cannot be “imposed” on others. This, say the Bishops, "does not reflect the truth of the matter".
The Church recognizes that the obligation to protect unborn human life rests on the answer to two questions, neither of which is private or specifically religious.

The first is a biological question: When does a new human life begin? When is there a new living organism of the human species, distinct from mother and father and ready to develop and mature if given a nurturing environment? While ancient thinkers had little verifiable knowledge to help them answer this question, today embryology textbooks confirm that a new human life begins at conception (see www.usccb.org/prolife/issues/bioethic/fact298.shtml). The Catholic Church does not teach this as a matter of faith; it acknowledges it as a matter of objective fact.

The second is a moral question, with legal and political consequences: Which living members of the human species should be seen as having fundamental human rights, such as a right not to be killed? The Catholic Church’s answer is: Everybody. No human being should be treated as lacking human rights, and we have no business dividing humanity into those who are valuable enough to warrant protection and those who are not. This is not solely a Catholic teaching, but a principle of natural law accessible to all people of good will. .... Those who hold a narrower and more exclusionary view have the burden of explaining why we should divide humanity into those who have moral value and those who do not and why their particular choice of where to draw that line can be sustained in a pluralistic society. Such views pose a serious threat to the dignity and rights of other poor and vulnerable members of the human family who need and deserve our respect and protection.

While in past centuries biological knowledge was often inaccurate, modern science leaves no excuse for anyone to deny the humanity of the unborn child. Protection of innocent human life is not an imposition of personal religious conviction but a demand of justice.

Hurray! No more "personally opposed, but ...."

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Big Government vs. Subsidiarity

I honestly think that "Big Government" as we see today is in opposition to the principle of subsidiarity. From the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

1883 Socialization also presents dangers. Excessive intervention by the state can threaten personal freedom and initiative. The teaching of the Church has elaborated the principle of subsidiarity, according to which "a community of a higher order should not interfere in the internal life of a community of a lower order, depriving the latter of its functions, but rather should support it in case of need and help to co- ordinate its activity with the activities of the rest of society, always with a view to the common good."7

1884 God has not willed to reserve to himself all exercise of power. He entrusts to every creature the functions it is capable of performing, according to the capacities of its own nature. This mode of governance ought to be followed in social life. The way God acts in governing the world, which bears witness to such great regard for human freedom, should inspire the wisdom of those who govern human communities. They should behave as ministers of divine providence.

1885 The principle of subsidiarity is opposed to all forms of collectivism. It sets limits for state intervention. It aims at harmonizing the relationships between individuals and societies. ...

The family is actually prior to and in the moral order above the state (i.e. the state should serve the family, and not the other way around), but I think that big government tends to "interfere in the life of" the family, as the CCC puts it. Within the US, some examples are:
  1. lack of school choice -- in most regions, parents cannot choose to send their children even to a different public school of their choice.
  2. parents have been denied the right to know what their children are being taught in the public schools (the Church considers parents' right to control their kids' education to be "primary and inalienable"). When parents have sued, courts have ruled that by putting their kids in the public schools, parents are handing over blanket authority to the school system; those who don't like this can either put their kids in private schools or homeschool them.
  3. Instead of supporting marriage and families, the welfare system has tended to work against stable marriages and hence eroded family stability, which is not only a moral evil, but generally leads to economic problems as well. (A family headed by the single mother is vastly more likely to live in poverty.)

With respect to the Church, too, we've already seen government intrusions into its internal life, such as:
  1. forcing Catholic hospitals to give out "Plan B", which can act as an abortifacient (CT)
  2. forcing Catholic agencies to place children with "gay" couples (MA)
  3. forcing Catholic organizations to cover contraceptives in their health insurance plans (CA)

The federal government has also taken over way too much from the states. This is not only unconstitutional, but also opposed to the principle of subsidiarity.

As government grows, the tendency is for it to head toward socialism (aka collectivism). With government funding there are always strings attached. And the bigger government it, the more it encroaches on true freedom. It's these aspects of "big government" that trouble me most.

It's even worse in Europe, as my sister and her husband found out. There, several countries forbid homeschooling altogether. There have been many cases in Germany of parents being jailed or having their children taken away for the "crime" of homeschooling. Even the European Court ruled against the parents. My sister's family actually moved to Turkey and later to Syria to find more freedom. (!)

This may be why Pope Benedict has said that the principal focus of the Catholic Church's interventions in public life are the protection of life, marriage, and parental rights.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Respect for Unborn Life - the Church's Constant Teaching

Great new resource from the USCCB: Respect for Unborn Life - the Church's Constant Teaching is a summary of the Church's constant, unchanging and unchangeable teaching on the grave sin of procured abortion. Here's a little sample.
Given the scientific fact that a human life begins at conception, the only moral norm needed to understand the Church’s opposition to abortion is the principle that each and every human life has inherent dignity, and thus must be treated with the respect due to a human person. This is the foundation for the Church’s social doctrine, including its teachings on war, the use of capital punishment, euthanasia, health care, poverty and immigration. Conversely, to claim that some live human beings do not deserve respect or should not be treated as “persons” (based on changeable factors such as age, condition, location, or lack of mental or physical abilities) is to deny the very idea of inherent human rights. Such a claim undermines respect for the lives of many vulnerable people before and after birth.

Thank you, USCCB Pro-life Secratariat! This resource is also available in Spanish.