Recently in Life Issues Category

None of the above

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I should know better than to start an election series so close to election day. Due to being out of time, I'll have to condense my thoughts.

For the sake of brevity (ha!), I'm going to set aside a whole host of issues and look narrowly at issues related to respect for human life. This is in a sense unsatisfying because both candidates have a whole host of stances that are destructive of society and culture, both here and abroad, but I think it works out because they in a sense cancel each other out.

While I think a vote for Barack Obama is morally indefensible for anybody who believes that an embryo is a human being deserving of legal protection, we should not be too quick to support John McCain. For starters, McCain supports embryonic stem cell research, which, last I checked, involves the direct killing of innocent human beings. Of course, Obama supports the direct killing of more innocent humans by his support for abortion, but this is not how the debate has been portrayed by Catholics. We're hearing that Obama supports an intrinsic evil and must be opposed, without reference to McCain's similar problem. I think that is a grave disservice to embryonic human life and is hurting the prolife witness. Analogize this to any other issue -- "McCain supports exterminating Hispanics, but Obame wants to get rid of Hispanics andJews, so obviously we have to support McCain." To the extent that Catholics are not speaking out against McCain's support for ESC research, they are injuring the prolife movement.

Furthermore, although McCain has a decent voting record when it comes to abortion, Rick Santorum, who fought honorably for the unborn when he was a senator, publicly stated last year that John McCain, behind closed Senate doors, opposed prioritizing prolife bills and amendments. Again, that's not nearly as bad as Barack Obama -- who couldn't even bring himself to support medical treatment for babies who accidentally get born because he didn't want to undermine Roe v. Wade -- but it's hardly cause for cheer.

Finally, the dream of most prolifers, myself included, is getting those five votes on the Supreme Court. "We're just one vote away!" That's true, and while the prospect of having Roe v. Wade finally overturned is tantalizing, it's hard to imagine that McCain would have a better record than, say, Ronald Reagan, who, if you count Bork, was only 50% on his Supreme Court picks in terms of their votes on abortion. Once again, we have to believe that McCain's picks are more likely to be pro-life than Obama's, but we're dealing with contingencies here, not facts, and similar contingencies have historically not worked out in our favor.

If you're going to credibly defend a vote for John McCain, it can't be on broad philosophical grounds, because there's just not much there. I think it has to be on very narrow political grounds: the Mexico City policy and the Freedom of Choice Act. Nobody doubts that President Obama, like Clinton before him, would overturn the Mexico City policy, which prohibits government agencies from making abortion one of America's few remaining exports. And he has already stated he would sign the Freedom of Choice Act, which would strip away even more legal protection from the unborn. Those two policies are, I think, decisive in making McCain "better" than Obama on abortion. But is this impact enough to justify voting for McCain, a man who supports the direct killing of human embryos?

Archbishop Charles Chaput put it wonderfully a few months back in a piece on the primacy of abortion. He said something to the effect that if we are going to vote for a candidate that supports legal abortion, we have to have a reason good enough to tell the unborn to their face on Judgment Day. Again, while it's clear that this rules out voting for Obama, I have a hard time envisioning meeting not the victims of abortion, but the victims of embryo destructive research and saying, "I supported a man who favored your death in order to stop a few abortions. Besides, the other guy had no value for your life either. I could have fought and denounced both candidates, but I decided to downplay your plight to serve other noble ends." It's not that I don't think I'd be in a sense justifiable, I just don't think I'd have taken the highest road.

I have trouble with the fact that if I want to vote for one of the major party candidates, I have to perform the grimmest of calculations: take x amount of unjust wars McCain is likely to start, subtract out the 1.5 million abortions per year that he oppposes (but can't really do much about except appoint the right judges, which is at best a 50% shot -- Souter! Kennedy! O'Connor! Stevens!) but add back in all of the frozen embryonic humans he wants to cannibalize for research. And where does that get us? Are we Catholics really transforming society by thinking like that?

I am truly thankful that I don't have to perform that calculation. Living in Illinois, which will go for Obama by about 60%, I'm happy to "waste" my vote on a third party candidate. Chuck Baldwin of the Constitution Party opposes abortion and embryonic stem research and invading harmless countries. He has some policies I dislike, but none that, as far as I can tell, lead to the direct killing of the innocent.

For those of you who live in a state that matters, I pray for you and ask you to pray for wisdom, prudence and discernment.

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Culture of Death? What Culture of Death?!


Shorter Peter Singer: Saving very premature babies only makes future retards. Let them die!

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Jill Stanek, Michael Corleone and abortion

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Jill Stanek is a tenacious blogger. She was a nurse at Christ hospital in the Chicago area who witnessed babies who survived attempted abortions being left to die. She has nobly fought for the rights of unborn child and for the rights of families since. Her blogging (both at her own blog and at the Illinois Review blog) is often an excellent source of news and commentary about the pro-life movement in Illinois and the shameful shananigans of our state legislature. For instance, here, she shows that if we really wanted to mandate vaccines that would save lives, we would go after the flu, not cervical cancer.

But sometimes, she can be a little crazy. And by a little crazy, I mean insane.

You know the scene at the end of Godfather II, where Kay tells Michael that she aborted their baby and he slaps her? It's pretty much the most depressing scene in movie history. First, there's Kay. Terrified of her husband the murderer, she kills her unborn child. Then we have Michael. This scene marks the bottom of his downward spiral. Faced with the reality that even his own wife, the woman he professes to live, is abhorred by him, he lashes out at her.

Jill Stanek looks at this scene and... well, this is what she sees:

That spontaneous slap was the reaction of a real man who a woman had just told she aborted his baby. Compare that to the modern day cowardly male response, "It's your choice. Whatever you decide, I'll support you." Or worse, his threat to abandon her if she does not abort.

It was this fierce devotion to family that strangely endeared us to the Corleone men despite their otherwise heinous behavior.

We love him because he smacks his wife. You see, it shows how much he loves his family.


The Godfather trilogy is the story of the train wreck that is Michael Corleone's life. When we first meet him, he's a war hero, a true Italian-American success story, complete with the WASPy girlfriend. The world is his oyster. As he gets mixed up in the family business. things start falling apart. We start to see it in part 1, where he grows cold dealing with Kay, even refusing to tell her he loves her on the phone. ("Hey Michael! Why don't you tell that nice girl that you love her?") When he flees to Sicily, he marries another woman, who becomes the first casualty of his involvement in the family business when an attempt to kill Michael takes her out instead. He returns to America, reconnects with Kay and marries her. So is he finding redemption? Well, the movie ends with him going on a murder spree (one victim being his sister's husband), lying to Kay about it and in the final scene, we see the actual and metaphorical door being closed on Kay's face, shutting her out of that part of his life.

Part 2 starts with his son's First Communion. The party is a ridiculous event complete with brass band and politicians who don't know his son's name. The event is ostensibly about young Anthony, but it's really about Michael's power and connections and ends with an attempt on Michael's life. The rest of the film documents Michael's descent, culminating in Kay aborting their child and leaving him and then the murder of Fredo.

In part 3, we see Michael is repentant, sort of. He wants out of the crime business, but he still lusts for power, attempting a takeover of the Vatican Bank. Mildly repentant though he may be, and despite his best attempts to reconcile with his estranged family members, the wrecking ball keeps swinging, and by the end of the movie, it claims his daughter - the one person left in the world who still loves him. He dies alone with his corpse being sniffed by the dog.

Back to the actual scene where Kay confesses the abortion. Her whole point is that she had the abortion because he's a villain. The war hero she fell in love with and married and who promised to legitimize the family has become a man whose primary business is violence. So how does he respond? Pow! He turns his ruthlessness towards her.

Contrast this: in part 1, Sonny, who is pretty much a stupid sociopath, comes to the aid his sister when he finds out her husband is beating her. Michael, however, is the wife beater. Along with the murder of Fredo, this scene marks the point where he loses all of our sympathy, as we see that the one virtue he professes, loyalty to family, is not always binding.

In fact, there simply is no virtue in the scene. If we were to look for any pro-life lessons to be drawn, the best we could do would be to say that it points to abortion as a crisis of fatherhoood. Kay is horrified by Michael; she thinks the child inside of her could be another Michael, and she can't stand it. If he loved her, if he treasured her and took care of her, above all by being an honorable man himself, the abortion would never have happened.

I understand what Jill is trying to say. Men should stand up for their children, they should be good men and take care of their families, but how she thinks the pro-life cause is served by using an example like this is beyond me. I'd say that she didn't think before using this example, but even after I called attention to her craziness in the comments of her post, she sticks to her guns. What else can one say? This kind of thing makes every pro-lifer look bad.

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Welcoming Life


Living City - a magazine associated with the Catholic Focolare movement - has a brief, but inspiring message from a Chilean woman who gave birth to a little girl with Down's syndrome:

From one point of view we were frightened by the suffering and difficulties that awaited us. On the other hand a well of love had been opened up in us, as though that innocent being had opened a spring right in the heart of God. The reality that we experienced at that moment has been with us ever since.

Check it out.

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Ramesh on On Point


Ramesh Ponnuru was on Tom Ashbrook's On Point radio show last week discussing his book The Party of Death, a book which I will be checking out from the library as soon as I can. The host enlisted two guests to gang up on him and Ponnuru performed marvelously.

The audio link can be found here. It's instructive to hear Ashbrook harp on the book's title for the whole hour, and when Ponnuru calls him on it, the host (with no sense of his own irony) compares the title to an incitement to genocide.

Towards the end of the show, the complete unseriousness of his opponents is revealed. First, bio"ethicist" George Annas, when asked for a perspective from bioethics, proceeds to talk about Roe v. Wade and opinion polls. Then, Neera Tanden, former Hillary Clinton staffer, professes bewilderment that Ponnuru opposes abortion but doesn't want millions of women thrown in prison.

Regardless, Ramesh holds his ground well while fighting off the triple team.

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Marriage and stem-cells


Another two-fer of good reads. Today's selection comes from NRO.

Stanley Kurtz, who deserves some kind of award for the work he does, shows how European sociologists are much more honest about gay marriage undermining traditional marriage than their American counterparts.

Eric Cohen debunks arguments for more federally funded stem-cell research.

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Way to Go, Joe!


Today, the Supreme Court pulled it's head out from down under (if there's one thing W has delivered on, etc. etc.) and declared that pro-life activists are not akin to the mafia. Deo Gratias! Congratulations to Joe Schiedler, the Pro-Life Action network and all others who came out victorious today!

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Pumping your body full of hormones is a bad idea

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It turns out the birth control path is killing women three times faster than the pill.

Citing federal death and injury reports, the AP also found that about a dozen women, most in their late teens and early 20s, died in 2004 from blood clots believed to be related to the birth-control patch, and dozens more survived strokes and other clot-related problems.

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Mama-Lu's Etsy Shop

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