Life News explained what was at stake in the “Little Sisters of the Poor” case decided yesterday by the Supreme Court:
The Little Sisters of the Poor are asking the nation’s highest court to ensure they do not have to comply with Obamacare’s abortion mandate. The mandate compels religious groups to pay for birth control and drugs that may cause abortions.
Without relief, the Little Sisters would face millions of dollars in IRS fines because they cannot comply with the government’s mandate that they give their employees free access to contraception, sterilization, and abortion-inducing drugs.
Religious liberty champion David French writes about the decision in National Review.
First, the Supreme Court vacated the lower court ruling holding that the Little Sisters had to facilitate access to contraceptives and denied that the mandate substantially burdened their religion. Speaking as a person who’s argued a few cases in courts of appeal — when the court vacates the ruling you’re challenging, that’s a win.
Second, the Supreme Court provided a roadmap for an excellent resolution to the case…
[…]the Court suggested an accommodation that was far more respectful of the Little Sisters’ religious liberty than the challenged Obamacare regulations, and the government will now have extreme difficulty credibly arguing in lower courts that the Supreme Court’s own suggested compromise should be set aside.
Third, this ruling was unanimous. That means the DOJ should be far from confident that it can simply wait out the new presidential election and pursue its original claims with the same hope for success — especially if it spent the intervening years rejecting a compromise that it already seemed to accept.
Fourth, we can’t forget the context. This the second time a unanimous Supreme Court has turned back the Obama administration’s regulatory efforts to restrict religious freedom (Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church and School v. EEOC was the first), and it represents yet another setback for the administration’s contraception/abortifacient mandate. The Obama administration has pushed hard against religious liberty — on occasion too hard even for the Supreme Court’s more liberal justices.
The case will now go back to the lower courts again, but SCOTUS was clear on what they expect the ruling to be – a compromise that protects religious liberty and achieves the administration’s goal of providing contraception and abortifacient drugs. Unfortunately, that’s what a Democrat administration thinks is a priority.
It’s not a complete victory, but an 8-0 decision should be solid until Trump or Hillary packs the court with pro-abortion liberals. I expect either candidate will do that, since both candidates are “very pro-choice”, and both favor partial-birth abortion.
Bound 4 Life reports on a recent pro-life event at Harvard University, of all places.
On Tuesday, Ryan Bomberger of The Radiance Foundation addressed a student forum at Harvard University, a 90-minute discussion on abortion in the black community that turned hostile when students began shouting and walking out during the Q & A portion.
In an event co-sponsored by Law Students for Life and Harvard Black Law Students Association, Bomberger spoke opposite Professor Diane Rosenfeld, lecturer and director of the Gender Violence Program at Harvard Law School. As students filed in, the auditorium at the historic Austin Hall neared capacity.
This is pretty cool:
A black man who recently won a lawsuit brought against him and his wife by the NAACP, Bomberger explains that abortion in the black community is a personal issue for him. “I was once considered black and unwanted. It was very hard, at the time I was born, to place black children for adoption; so few families were available, because they used same-race criteria.”
He continues, “Today, abortion has a hugely disproportionate impact on the black community. Part of addressing this is dispelling the myth that black children are less than others. Regardless of pigmentation or any other traits, injustice should be a concern to everyone.”
To be clear: being pro-abortion means being in favor of aborting children who have an unwanted race, or an unwanted sex. And don’t kid yourself, pro-abortion people – that happens a lot, according to a recent study. Every pro-abortion student who attended the event was in favor of aborting babies who are the “wrong color” or the “wrong sex”. Abortion means a woman’s right to choose to abort her offspring, through all 9 months of pregnancy, for any reason, or for no reason at all. The pro-abortion position ignores the rights of the innocent baby, who did nothing wrong to be put in this position.
Ryan faced a lot of opposition from pro-abortion students:
Multiple sources confirm that, once the forum opened for questions following opening remarks, students repeatedly addressed Bomberger using profanity. The New Boston Post noted the event shifted to a “confrontational tone.”
Chrystal Benedict, who attended the event after a friend invited her, was disappointed many students refused to hear differing opinions. “I was surprised that what was meant to be a ‘safe space for students to hear different perspectives’ wasn’t that at all. If you disagreed with the pro-choice opinion, you had to prepare for a verbal attack of outrage.”
When Bomberger began to respond to a question but was continually interrupted, he asked, “Do you want to hear my answer?” The interrupting student replied, “No! No, I don’t want to hear your answer.”
Caleb Wolanek, Harvard J.D. candidate and Vice President of Law Students for Life, noted that Bomberger addressed students with respect despite not always being given the same courtesy. “Even when asked difficult questions, Ryan gave thoughtful, well-researched responses.”
[…][A] visibly angry student representing Reproductive Justice confronted the guest speaker. “The language you use is so offensive—for instance, we are not pro-abortion,” she said. “So you’re not for abortion?” Bomberger asked.
The student retorted: “That’s not what pro-abortion means; it implies we want everyone to have an abortion, when in fact we are pro-choice.” Bomberger replied, “Language matters. It defines situations and brings clarity. Pro-choice doesn’t bring any clarity to what you’re talking about, while pro-abortion does because you are advocating for the legal right to abortion.”
“It’s about as ridiculous as saying, those who were pro-slavery were pro-jobs,” Bomberger continued, as his detractors responded with outrage. He raised his voice to be heard above the uproar: “I’m applying your same logic! Pro-jobs is nebulous and it doesn’t mean anything. How is it any different?” The student walked out of the forum with two other Reproductive Justice activists.
Bomberger commented later on the incident, “They couldn’t say anything. These Harvard Law School students couldn’t respond at all.”
That’s what students are taught at Harvard University, and nearly every university – the pro-abortion view, and how to scream insults and walk out if the pro-life view is presented. And where do they learn this intolerance? Why, from their pro-abortion professors, of course.
The Washington Times noted that the white feminist professor dismissed his concerns about abortion disproportionately affecting black children, and even suggested that Bomberger himself should have been aborted because he was conceived in rape:
One might think an invocation of Martin Luther King Jr. commonplace at an event titled “Abortion in Black Communities,” but not Harvard Law School professor Diane L. Rosenfeld, who is white.
The gender-violence professor mocked her debate adversary, pro-life leader Ryan Bomberger, who is black, when he showed video clips of the civil rights leader and cited statistics showing disproportionate rates of abortions in black communities.
[…]When Mr. Bomberger, who was conceived by rape, shared his personal story, he said Ms. Rosenfeld continued to harp on the rape scenario to defend abortion rights.
“What happens if one of his victims, after she got raped, got pregnant?” Ms. Rosenfeld said at the event. “First, there’s the lack of choice of who has access to your body — and then what to do about that horrible consequence.”
According to her, Bomberger should just be killed, because he is not a person, he’s just a “horrible consequence”. To say that to a person – that they should have been aborted… you would have to be some sort of sociopath, I guess. Her attitude towards the black victims of abortion seems to be very similar to what white slaver owners must have thought of their slaves. And indeed, the same arguments that were used by whites to justify slavery are now brought forth to justify abortion: “They’re not persons, they have no rights, they’re just my property”.
People need to realize that sexual autonomy has to be voluntarily controlled and restrained, because of the harm that it can potentially do to unborn children. I’m sure that people who have recreational sex have just as much fun doing it as people who get drunk and then drive, but someone has to make laws based on the rights of the victims. Not every choice is moral. We can do better than selfishness. We can do better than abortion.
Pro-life debater Scott Klusendorf summarizes a recent debate between a pro-life incrementalist and a pro-life abolitionist. An incrementalist is a pro-lifer who wants to pass laws that save lives right now, while still working for a full ban on abortion. An abolitionist is a pro-lifer who does not want to pass laws that solve part of the problem, preferring to hold off on laws that save lives until they can get all abortions banned.
So there was a debate, and Scott watched it, and here is his review.
First, the intro:
T. Russell Hunter issued a very public challenge calling for any pro-life leader to debate him on incrementalism. Gregg Cunningham, a former member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives and Executive Director of the Center for Bioethical Reform, accepted. The formal debate structure was as follows: 20-minute opening statements, 15-minute rebuttals, 15-minute cross-examination, 5-minute closing statements. An informal audience Q&A followed the formal debate.
[…]Gregg Cunningham won the formal exchange handily and he did so early by pointing out a fundamental flaw in Hunter’s argument—namely, the mistaken claim that pro-lifers have the power to end abortion immediately but won’t. Again and again, he exposed Hunter’s fallacious either/or reasoning by demonstrating that pro-lifers don’t have to choose between incremental legislation that saves some children right now or total abolition that saves all at a later time. Rather, they can advance both strategies simultaneously and save many lives in the process. Cunningham also demonstrated a superior grasp of social reform history, noting that while Wilberforce, Lincoln, and Martin-Luther King were in principle moral absolutists, in practice they functioned as strategic and tactical incrementalists—as do pro-lifers today. During cross-examination, Hunter stumbled badly when asked if those babies saved through incremental legislation should have been left to die. When he refused to give a clear answer—despite being repeatedly pressed to do so—the debate was effectively over. In short, Hunter could not preach his way to victory, even when invoking his understanding of Scripture. His claim that incrementalism is not found in the Bible was decisively refuted when Gregg cited three examples from Scripture where God dealt incrementally with His people.
I watched this video clip to get a feel for how it went down:
In the clip, Cunningham asks if the babies who are saved by incremental legislation should be allowed to die instead. He has some evidence from a law professor saying that incremental laws do save some lives, and he is asking the AHA person should we not enact these incremental laws that save the lives of unborn children.
Scott has the transcript:
GC: I’d like to return to the question with which I began, which Russ hasn’t answered. Should we allow these babies to die rather than enact incremental legislation?
GC: I’m sorry?
TRH: Like, should we allow – should we allow babies to die?
GC: Should we allow these – because…
TRH: The charade is – the charade is not even what we’re talking about – the incrementalism/immediatism debate. Focusing the ax at the tree, getting all the people who follow incrementalism to become immediatists and help put that ax to the branch – to the root…
GC: Would you answer this question?
TRH & GC: [unintelligible]
Moderator: That was the last question. Russ, go ahead and answer that, and then we’re gonna end this.
GC: Just for the record, Russ didn’t answer the question: Should we have allowed these babies to die, which this university professor says would have died had that legislation not been enacted. Should we have allowed them to die rather than enact the incremental legislation?
Moderator: Okay, Russ, answer that question, then we’ll change.
TRH: Um, well, I firmly believe that abortion is evil, and it is one of these things that the powers and principalities of darkness and high places are very in to. It’s the crown jewel of darkness, and I actually believe that if they can keep abortion going by deceiving people into becoming gradualists, they will do it. And if to deceive them they have to give them empty, illusory victories, and law professors may claim that babies were saved, they’ll do it. But I – if someone goes to an abortion mill and shoots a doctor, a baby might be saved that day, but that’s not going towards abolishing abortion. It’s not establishing justice that day [unintelligible] a baby that day.
GC: May I ask for clarification for your answer? You’re saying this guy’s making this up?
TRH: Uh, no, I have to read it. But I’m just saying that convincing people to be gradualists by saying, “Hey look, we saved some,” while they’re still being – I’m pretty sure that you can convince people to be gradualists for the next 40 years…
GC: Hey Russell, let’s do both. Let’s do both. Let’s do both.
Honestly, I am not sure why anyone pays these AHA people any mind. Just judging from that one clip, I don’t think that Hunter has anything of value to say in this debate. His group seems to be more concerned with attacking other pro-lifers who actually are getting the job done than doing anything. In the real world, incremental pro-life laws save lives. To be persuasive on those incremental laws, you have to talk about the logic and science that supports the pro-life view. That will be persuasive to Christians as well as non-Christians. Building consensus for incremental pro-life laws by appealing to a bigger audience that includes non-Christians makes sense – it solves the actual problem.
Scott Klusendorf linked to this article from the Public Discourse. The article talks about the need to augment logical arguments in other ways in order to awaken the moral sense of the public so that they will support the pro-life cause and vote to repeal pro-abortion laws.
In a manner similar to the case of slavery as outlined by Douglass, there are two simple points that, once admitted, join to condemn clearly the practice of abortion: (1) the embryo is a human being from the moment of conception, and (2) all human beings have a natural right to life.
The second point, as in the case of the natural right to liberty, doesn’t require serious argument on the level of ordinary judgment, even though many pro-choice philosophers have tried to argue that only persons have a right to life, and the unborn, in their view, aren’t persons. To make such arguments, however, requires choosing an arbitrary cut-off point for personhood, as pro-life philosophers such as George, Tollefsen, and Lee have shown.
The first point is more often chosen as promising ground for challenges, but it too is plainly obvious to the unbiased mind.
Once conception occurs, the embryo is something other than the woman who carries it. The fact that the embryo requires the mother’s body to live is no argument against this—dependence does not exclude otherness, otherwise none of us would be distinguishable from everyone and everything else in the world upon which we depend in innumerable ways. The embryo is obviously something other than a part of the mother, but what is it?
This is where it gets easy, despite the messy, abstract philosophical arguments. The more appropriate version of the question is the following: What else could it be besides a human being? Is there a single example in natural history of sexual intercourse between two individuals of the same species resulting in something other than another individual of that species? Is it plausible to guess that sexual intercourse between two human beings might result in a fish, at least initially? Or maybe a frog? Such speculation is entirely fanciful and runs directly contrary to our experience of the world since the beginning of recorded history.
It should be obvious to anyone that the two points hold, and that the embryo is a human being possessing a natural right to life from the moment of its conception. The problem is that the younger and less developed the embryo is, the less it excites what some have called our “moral sense,” our sympathy with it as another human being like us. And as Hume correctly notes, human beings tend to be moved more by their passions and feelings, including the so-called “moral sense,” than by their intellectual understanding of the world when determining their actions. Even if our reason and common sense tell us clearly—as they undoubtedly do—that the embryo is a human being with the right to life, our moral sense or sympathy lets us off the hook.
So where does this leave pro-life advocates? How can we bridge the Humean—and human—gap between intellectual understanding and actual practice in our nation? The answer lies in the parallel between the issue of abortion and those of slavery and subsequent civil rights. The pro-life movement needs to model more closely in its organization and practices the antebellum abolition movement and the civil rights movement in order to achieve similar success in ending the evil of abortion. It needs to take up the mantle of these causes in a manner beyond rhetorical parallel or intellectual analogy and be prepared to undergo similar hardships before achieving its goals.
Both of these historical movements ultimately succeeded not by winning arguments, but by awakening the moral sense or conscience of a majority of the nation. Legislation relating to the provision of an ultrasound prior to an abortion, currently in place in some form in more than twenty states, is very well suited to this purpose. The dissemination of graphic images relating to abortion procedures, though controversial in pro-life circles, is also highly appropriate to this purpose.
The civil rights movement was driven forward significantly by television and photographic coverage of the inhuman treatment of protestors, as well as the publication of vivid written reports of racially motivated cruelties. Moral senses or sympathies are sparked most effectively by distasteful, unsettling, and shocking information; and when intellectual argument has had its day in trying to awaken consciences and has shown itself insufficient, recourse must be had to the level of moral sense and feeling.
There can be no doubt that pro-lifers are the abolitionists of this generation, urging the powerful not to take advantage of the powerless.
Many pro-lifers have heard about Emmett Till, the fourteen-year-old black boy from Chicago who, while visiting relatives in Mississippi, was tortured to death, allegedly for whistling at a white woman (or bidding her farewell with a flippant “bye baby” – accounts vary). But this tragic civil rights story offers more lessons for effective pro-life activism than is generally understood.
BlackPressUSA.com, August 27, 2001, reported in a story entitled “1955 – Emmett Till Killed in Mississippi” that Emmett’s mother “had insisted that the casket be opened when it arrived in Chicago, although it had been sealed when it left Mississippi.” There was a reason that authorities in Mississippi did not want the world to see the body of Emmett Till.
The Washington Post, August 28, 2005, published a story on the legacy of Emmett Till entitled “Dead End,” with a subhead which read “On the Trail of a Civil Rights Icon, Starting Where He Did”:
…Ahmed A. Rayner Sr., … prepared Emmett’s body for services after it was pulled from the Tallahatchie River – with a cotton-gin fan tied around his neck with barbed wire. Tortured and bruised, with most of his teeth missing, his remains were returned in a sealed box on a train to Chicago.
Ahmed Rayner is dead and the family-owned funeral home is run by his granddaughter [Pamela Rayner].
[…]‘I remember him saying that he had to do something because the way that he [Emmett] was brought up here, he looked so bad that it would probably scare most of the people,’ says Rayner. There was the eye that her grandfather had to put back into Till’s head and the fixing of his swollen tongue that hung out of his mouth – the stitching and patchwork to make the boy presentable in a glass-covered casket.
There was also a reason that Emmett’s mother demanded the unsealing of the crate in which the condition of her son’s body had been hidden:
‘After the body arrived I knew I had to look and see and make sure it was Emmett. That was when I decided that I wanted the whole world to see what I had seen. There was no way I could describe what was in that box. No way. And I just wanted the world to see.’ (BlackPressUSA.com, February 21, 2001, ‘A Disturbing Picture’)
Sounds a lot like abortion: no way it can be described; vital that we show the world how horrifying it looks.
I think the right approach is to give the arguments and the evidence first, and then to show the ultrasound images or the graphical images second (warning people to look away if they are squeamish, first). This is the way that moral people have always argued against injustices. If it worked to change minds then, then it will probably work to change minds now, too. For my own part, I’ve chose not to engage in sexual behavior at all until I am in a position where I can welcome a child into the world. I want to give my future children a safe environment with a committed mother and father. And if I have to give up short-term recreation in order to avoid putting myself in a situation where abortion might be a temptation, then that’s what I’m going to do. It’s called acting responsibly.
Recently I came across a reading of the Didache. “The what?” you may ask. The Didache is a book written somewhere in the first or second century. For a long time it was up for consideration as Scripture. It was believed to be the Teaching of the Twelve Apostles. Eventually it was agreed that the book was an excellent book, but not inspired Scripture. So I was pleased to be able to download this admirable book containing good teachings from the early Church fathers.
The book seemed to be largely a lot of quotes from Scripture. You’ll learn the basic rules of Christianity — “First, you shall love God who made you; second, love your neighbor as yourself.” You’ll learn that “grave sins” are forbidden, like adultery, murder, fornication, and so on. (They specifically include pederasty in the list.) There are instructions regarding teachers, prophets, Christian assembly, and so on. Lots of the normal, good stuff. But, since this was written sometime prior to 200 AD, I was somewhat surprised at this instruction: “You shall not murder a child by abortion” (Didache, Ch 2).
I got curious about what babies look like when they are just a few weeks old, so I went looking for pictures of them.
This post from Life News has ten excellent pictures of life inside the womb.
Here’s my favorite from 10 weeks:
This is a first trimester baby!
I decided to go hunting to see what is developed at this time, and found this list:
From this week until birth, the developing organism is called a fetus.
The fetus is now the size of a small strawberry.
The feet are 2mm long (one tenth of an inch).
The neck is beginning to take shape.
The body muscles are almost developed. Baby has begun movement.
While still too small for you to feel, your little one is wriggling and shifting.
The jaws are in place. The mouth cavity and the nose are joined.
The ears and nose can now be seen clearly.
Fingerprints are already evident in the skin.
Nipples and hair follicles begin to form.
The unborn baby is now called a fetus. Though the fetus is constantly moving, you will not be able to actually feel fetal movement for several more weeks. All of the organs, muscles, and nerves are in place and beginning to function. As the hands and feet develop fingers and toes, they have lost their paddle like look. The touch pads on the fingers form and already have fingerprints.
During this week of pregnancy the crown to rump length of the fetus is 0.9 inch to 1.2 inches (22 to 30mm), weight 0.07 ounce (2gm). They are now on the way to forming their testicles or ovaries, getting ready for the next generation. Until the ninth week of fetus development, the fetal reproductive apparatus is the same one for the both sexes. The head is still large and curves into chest.
Each week your uterus grows larger with the baby growing inside it. You may begin to see your waistline growing thicker by this time. A pelvic exam will detect that your uterus has grown from it’s normal, size of your fist, to a little bigger than a grapefruit.