Gosnell and the Hypocrisy of Everything

[This appeared first at The Jagged Word on October 26.]

Halloween is almost upon us, and some people like to watch scary movies. But don’t see the new Halloween or Predator or The Nun. If you want a real horror show—because it’s true—go see Gosnell: The Trial of America’s Biggest Serial Killer.

I saw it a couple Fridays ago and, while it’s not going to win any acting or cinematography awards, none of the cinematic shortcomings distract significantly from the story being told. This is one case where the story is so unbelievable, so horrific, so heart-rending, that everything else comes in second.

That’s not to say the acting is bad. Some scenes might seem more television’s Law and Order than award-winning film, but there are definite highlights. In particular, Sarah Jane Morris (as ADA Lexy McGuire) and Earl Billings (as Kermit Gosnell) are compelling and believable. Billings, especially, is convincing in his half-naive, half-psychopath portrayal. Nick Searcy does his thing (one of my favorites in every scene of Justified in which he appeared), though he goes a little over-the-top, big-time defense attorney at moments. But the best actors in this film are those who play the employees and patients of Gosnell’s clinic. These women are impressive in every sense. If they gave out awards for such short appearances on screen, they would deserve to win.

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Abolitionism and the Presidential Election

I am an abolitionist.  I want all induced abortion abolished.  I do not think there should be “exceptions” for rape or incest, as if we could “except” those little humans’ lives because they were conceived in a horrible situation.  Punish the rapist, punish the child molester, but don’t punish the child.  That makes no logical sense.  In the limited number of cases where the death of the child results from trying to save the life of the mother (e.g., tubal pregnancy), I pray Kyrie eleison.  The parents have a heart-rending decision to make, and they need God’s mercy in Jesus Christ, especially if they feel guilty about the choice they make.  That’s where I stand, because I believe the Son of God entered His mother’s womb as a fertilized egg, a zygote, an embryo, a fetus.  What He assumed, He has redeemed.  And our callous disregard of human life, our discussion of it as “the rule” and “the exceptions,” is foolish and destructive.  It becomes even more ridiculous when those (especially politicians) who claim to be pro-life are subjected to continual questioning about what “exceptions” they would allow to their positions, when the pro-abortion lobby wants no exceptions whatsoever to its unlimited abortion license, and is never questioned by the media about this hypocrisy.  When was the last time President Obama was asked whether he believed there should be any exceptions to his parroting of Cecile Richards’ position that abortion is a fundamental human right?

So I want abortion abolished.  Even the difficult decision that has to be made when the doctor says it’s your life or the baby’s is a result of sin corrupting and poisoning God’s good creation.  One day, this will happen, when all things are made new, when every tear shed for lost children will be wiped away by the finger of the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.  But this is not that day, and I highly doubt that the day will will come in these United States when abortion will once again be either illegal or socially condemned (although I will vote and pray and work within my vocation for that day).  The fact is, if pro-life candidates for the presidency do not play the silly little exception game, and if they do not say they will allow, at least, exceptions for rape, incest, and the life of the mother (as the litany goes), they will not be elected.  Politics, for better or worse, is compromise.  No compromise, nothing gets done.  A truly pro-life candidate being elected president is about as likely as a pro-life Democrat securing his or her party’s nomination.

So what’s an abolitionist to do?  There are essentially two positions (especially as I survey my pro-life friends’ Facebook posts): 1) make the best of a bad situation and vote for the candidate who will defeat the most pro-abortion president in our nation’s history; or 2) vote for a third-party candidate who is truly pro-life.  At this point I am in the first group.  I do not trust Gov. Romney to do much substantial work in turning back the culture of death, but I also do not think he will hasten it on.  If this were a truly open election, and the Constitution Party (read their excellent platform here) had even a slim chance of having its candidates elected, I would vote Goode.  But since that’s not going to happen, I can’t help but think that those who vote for a third-party candidate are simply trying to salve their own consciences.  They can say, no matter who is elected, especially if things get worse, I had no hand in that.  But if they take their votes from the support of the less immoral (and politics always has a twinge of the immoral about it) position to support what they view as a wholly moral position, they do, in fact, end up supporting the status quo.  I know the electoral college enters in here, but if enough people vote one way, the electors almost always vote the way the people of that state vote.  So votes do matter practically, even if they wouldn’t have to theoretically.  And that means that practically those who vote for a conservative third-party candidate are essentially voting for the liberal or progressive main party candidate (usually the Democrat).  And those who vote for a liberal or progressive third-party candidate are essentially voting for the conservative main party candidate (usually the Republican).  If you want to deceive yourself that your vote is clean because you didn’t vote for the “lesser of two evils,” go ahead, but I’m not convinced.  This is the system we have, good or bad, and we really only have a single choice when it comes to the presidential election.  When it comes to local elections, we have much more control, and we are also much more likely to have truly pro-life candidates to support.  In NW Minnesota, we even have a pro-life Democrat!

I’m an abolitionist, but this year I’m forced to vote for a presidential candidate who is not.  Because I will take a little promised progress (and maybe even a surprise SCOTUS nomination!) over a guarantee of Planned Parenthood’s political arm running the country.  And I take solace in the fact that Cecile Richards and her NARAL and NOW counterparts are scared witless by the thought of a Romney/Ryan Executive Branch.  No compromise on my abolitionist principles; compromise to gain any available political advances.  That’s the way it goes in the civic realm.  But also no compromise within the Church’s proclamation of the Law of God against taking blameless human life, along with the Gospel of God in Christ that all sin is forgiven and there is mercy for all at the font and altar.  Politics are one thing; the Gospel is another.  They intersect, but they are not the same, and they are not run the same way.  Vote for Romney/Ryan, and don’t give the enemies of life and religious freedom another four years to carry out their designs–all the while recognizing that politicians will never accomplish all (or even the majority) of their promises.  (Of course I’m hedging my bets; how could I not?  Trust not in princes.)  I’m voting for the devil I may not see, against the devil I can clearly see.  I welcome your attempts to convince me otherwise.


Pelosi On Contraception & Faith: “I Do My Religion On Sundays, In Church”

Pelosi On Contraception & Faith: “I Do My Religion On Sundays, In Church”.

Because it’s “private,” obviously.  It has nothing whatsoever to do with how she goes about her job.  But, really, then: why bother?  If what you believe and what you do have nothing to do with each other, one of them is a sham.  At least since the first Roman Catholic was elected as president, this issue has been at the center of politics.  If you look at how thoroughly what Washington and Lincoln, even Jefferson, believed suffused the way they governed, it is a serious deficit when people think that what they believe does not affect how they go about their vocations.  This is not necessarily about Christianity.  I expect atheists to govern as if there is no higher authority to which they owe obedience; therefore, the State or the good of the nation (however that might be defined by an atheist) will determine what he does.  (However, the work of the atheist politician may still, by his recognizing of some order in nature, align with what the Christian thinks the government should do.)   Likewise, if I serve in the government, and I believe human life is not mine to give, take, or manipulate–even for what I think are good ends–then I will work for laws that support that.  If I believe that it is necessary to, first of all, protect all human life by virtue of its being human, then all other goods will be ordered by the standard of that good, whether that be foreign policy, health care, the economy, etc.  What comes first in the order of goods determines how other goods will be ordered.

The fact is, Nancy Pelosi does govern by what she believes (it is literally impossible not to do so), but what she believes is not the same as what the Roman Catholic Church teaches.  She is, in fact, not separating out her Sundays and the days when she is at the Capitol; she just hasn’t recognized the conflict between what she really believes and what her Church teaches.  Actually, she probably does recognize the conflict, but she thinks her Church is wrong.  That’s why she wouldn’t answer the question about the teaching of the RCC on contraception.  She knows she’s on the wrong side of the Church on that question.  Further, her highest good must be something other than a Creator of human life, if she can, in any way, support the intentional taking of that life.  I don’t know what she would say is her highest good, but it’s clearly something different than the highest good of what she does on Sundays, in church.  In other words, she is deceiving either herself or her constituents about what she really believes.

How much simpler it would be if politicians would simply state their highest Good, so we could evaluate how that Good might work itself out in their particular policy decisions.  They all have one, and it unites their political positions into a whole (although, I admit, politicians may still hold contradictory positions because they haven’t thoroughly worked through what their primary goods mean for what they want to do).  For those, like Pelosi, who support the unlimited abortion license, their highest Good clearly is not the same as those whose religion on Sunday proclaims a Redeemer who was conceived, born, lived, died, and resurrected for every member of the human race.


Words, Words, Words

Do you ever get the feeling that people think they can use words however they want?  I fully understand the plasticity of words: they change; languages are not static, etc.  But in order for meanings of words to shift, they have to actually mean something in the first place.  Otherwise, it’s not a shift, but a bare, neological assertion, and who’s to say that one meaning should be privileged over another?

Take this, for example.

Can we have the term “pro-life” back, if everyone else is just going to misuse it?

I’m pro-life because I value all human life. I value the lives of every person living in my country. I value the lives of children living in poverty, and victims of AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria in the Third World. I value the lives of criminals on death row, homeless living in the streets, and soldiers serving our country abroad.

I also value the nascent human life of the unborn.

In this case, it’s not an assertion that “pro-life” means nothing, but that it means everything.  The author’s title is “I’m pro-life and I support Planned Parenthood.”  Which apparently is supposed to follow from his claims about contraception.  He seems to believe, along with many (most?) Americans that Planned Parenthood [sic] is basically a “women’s health” organization that mostly educates and distributes contraception to poor women who couldn’t otherwise get such “basic health care.”  Sure, it does a few abortions, but that’s a necessary evil, considering all the “good” they do.  (It would take hours to detail how wrong that is.  But if you’re interested, you might visit here.)  Even if he did buy this line of reasoning–that contraception and sex ed. are unqualified goods, and that PP does everyone a service by providing them–he could still support contraception and even sex ed., and still not support Planned Parenthood.  But PP has done a great job of convincing nearly everyone that it alone can make sure that every woman has a “right to choose.”  Only PP can give out contraception.  Only PP can educate your children (if I ever hear that PP is involved in “educating” my children, my house will be turned into a home-school so fast…).  Why, then, does PP support no restriction–not a single one–on abortion?  You want to make abortion rare?  The last organization that would have an interest in doing that would be one that makes millions of dollars from abortion.  And, whose abortion numbers have increased by over 67,000 in the last five years.  And, who does 340 abortions for every one adoption referral.  Yeah, I’m sure they want to see those numbers go way, way down.

But back to the Salon piece.  Sorry, but if you put “nascent” in front of “human life of the unborn,” I automatically do not trust you.  There is nothing “nascent” about unborn human life.  It is fully human life, and there is simply no disagreement on this point.  It never was, is not, and never will be anything but human life.  It’s legal to kill it, and you can pretend that it doesn’t matter because it’s small, or because it’s still inside the mother’s womb, but don’t be an idiot.

So why aren’t I trying to defund Planned Parenthood, calling abortion doctors “murderers,” and petitioning the federal government to overturn Roe vs. Wade?

For that matter, why haven’t I emptied my bank account – and demanded that the government do the same – to send meals and vaccines to every person on the planet? Why don’t I spring for motel rooms for every homeless person I meet, unlock the cells in every prison, and demand our country surrender every war?

These would be ridiculous actions because they completely miss the point. They substitute ideologies for solutions, and favor short-term irrational emotion rather than long-term pragmatic decisions.

Sound familiar?

Huh?  All you have to do is apply these “arguments” to Nazi Germany, and you’ll see how stupid they are.  I can’t even count the non sequiturs in that excerpt.  There may be some pro-lifers who want all or nothing: illegal to have an abortion, or nothing at all.  I’ve never personally met any.  I am fully in favor of abolishing human abortion but that doesn’t mean that I’m not for “long-term pragmatic decisions.”  I want waiting periods; I want declarations that extend human rights to babies from conception; I want full information given to women considering abortion; I want sonograms.  What are those?  “Short-term irrational emotion”?  Hardly.  But if you can consider abortion with open eyes and you never have a little “short-term irrational [or rational] emotion,” you are not pro-life, you are a heartless ba…well, let’s just leave it there.

But how, again, does homelessness = prisoners = war = abortion?  Besides, that’s not the problem at all.  It is not the case that no one cares for or helps or gives to put an end to homelessness, hunger, crime, and war.  But there are those who think that abortion is not only not a problem, but a good–and a necessary one at that.  When was the last time you saw Planned Parenthood fighting for more homelessness, more hunger, more crime, more war?  Ah, but they do and will fight–tooth, claw, and legislative action–for more abortion.  Planned Parenthood will happily use Mr. Saveland’s piece to promote themselves; but they do not want fewer abortions, and they certainly do not want abortion numbers to plummet. They would go out of business.

That seems like a very pragmatic solution to the evil of abortion.  But Saveland doesn’t want to defund Planned Parenthood because he’s bought their ideology.  This is a very common problem, as illustrated by the Komen fiasco: those who support Planned Parenthood are not driven by ideology or politics, but those who oppose them are ideological zealots and political wing-nuts.  That could be true only if all you’ve done is listen to Cecile Richards, and never actually looked at Planned Parenthood’s website and their policies.

He closes with a one-liner he was clearly longing to use:

If the only thing that matters is righteous ideology without concern for results, then we want the term “pro-life” back. You’re using it wrong.

I’m not particularly interested in defending the term, but, if it means anything, “pro-life” must mean not supporting Planned Parenthood.  If there’s any group with “a righteous ideology without concern for results,” it’s Planned Parenthood.  Their zealotry on behalf of the unlimited abortion license knows no bounds.  And if you try to convince me that supporting Planned Parenthood and not wanting to end abortion on demand makes you pro-life, I simply cannot believe you.  If you think abortion in the United States is simply a “problem” to be “lessened,” you are ignorant of the facts, or you simply don’t want to face what legal abortion has meant for my generation–both in terms of lives taken and the moral, emotional, physical, and psychological toll it has taken on so many mothers and fathers.

I simply do not want Planned Parenthood’s foxes guarding the hen-house of “women’s health care.”  Call it what you want, but if that’s using “pro-life” “wrong,” I don’t want to be right.


Does Planned Parenthood Do More Good Than Harm?

That seems to be the argument by seemingly otherwise pro-life people when discussions such as this come up.  It is irrelevant to me what the rabid abortion lobby thinks about this, since they are apparently unaware of any sort of rational discourse on the subject of abortion.  (E.g., simply scroll through some of the ad hominems and absolutely ridiculous claims by PP supporters on the Susan G. Komen Facebook page–click “Everyone (Most Recent)” at the top right of the Wall–my favorite is that “Planned Parenthood doesn’t preform [sic] abortions”).

The important question is how people who are against abortion can think that Planned Parenthood is not all about abortion?  Do they do some things that are not abortion-related?  Sure.  But who is naive enough to think that money that goes to an organization, even if those specific dollars are not used for abortion, does not allow that organization to do the thing for which it primarily exists: abortions and pro-abortion propaganda?  Say I have some money in an account that I use for microbrew, and I am spending the money in that account only on microbrew; if I run short in my microbrew fund, I might use some money from my book fund instead.  Well, if the federal government decides to subsidize my book fund, but not my microbrew fund, then if I stop using book money for microbrew, then technically I can say that I have not spent any federal money on microbrew.  Now stay with me, this might get complicated: if people give me money and they say use it for either books or microbrew, but the federal government is already subsidizing my book fund, then I can use all of that money on microbrew.  It hardly matters that I haven’t spent earmarked book money on microbrew: I still have more microbrew money.  Really, it’s not that hard to figure out.  So when Susan G. Komen decides not to give money to Planned Parenthood (which, for the fiftieth time, does NOT do mammograms), sure, they can say that the money does not go to abortions, but all that means is that more of their other money can.

Think I’m exaggerating Planned Parenthood’s emphasis on abortion?  Take a look at their webpage.  All you really have to do is plug in “abortion” for the euphemism “reproductive rights” and I think you’ll get a sense of it.  PP is not in favor of a single restriction on abortion.  Not one.  Not parental notification, not a waiting period, not full information, nothing.

Nevertheless, maybe you’re convinced that while abortion is wrong, Planned Parenthood does a lot of good in low-income areas.  Maybe you think they’re primarily there to provide “health care.”  Why, then, are African-Americans and other minorities the ones who have the highest abortion rates?  Why are there more abortions than births among African-Americans in New York City?  How many of those were done by Planned Parenthood affiliates?  I would like at least a few people to verifiably point out a single low-income area in the United States where Planned Parenthood is the only provider of basic women’s health care.

I don’t really care if Planned Parenthood has ever done some good for some people.  That sort of argument is like saying that Hitler was pro-family (which he was, as long as you were “Aryan”–not to be confused with “Arians”).  And maybe the similarities don’t end there.

You can decide for yourself if PP’s good outweighs its bad, but you actually have to examine the evidence, not just accept their talking-points and hysterics.  And you should watch this movie.


No Country for Old Men (or Women)

Here a year or two back me and Loretta went to a conference in Corpus Christi and I got set next to this woman, she was the wife of somebody or other.  And she kept talkin about the right wing this and the right wing that.  I aint even sure what she meant by it.  The people I know are mostly just common people.  Common as dirt, as the sayin goes.  I told her that and she looked at me funny.  She thought I was sayin somethin bad about em, but of course that’s a high compliment in my part of the world.  She kept on, kept on.  Finally told me, said, I dont like the way this country is headed.  I want my granddaughter to be able to have an abortion.  And I said well mam I dont think you got any worries about the way this country is headed.  The way I see it goin I dont have much doubt but what she’ll be able to have an abortion.  I’m goin to say that not only will she be able to have an abortion, she’ll be able to have you put to sleep.  Which pretty much ended the conversation.  [Sheriff Ed Tom Bell, No Country for Old Men, 196-197]


How Long Until Children Become a Liability?

I don’t mean the money you pay to have them or raise them; I don’t mean the time and energy you expend to give them what they need, especially when it goes against your own desires or dreams; I mean, very literally, when will it be a tax liability to have the children whom God gives?  Read this article at Salvo by Robin Phillips. 

Dr. Barry Walters, a professor of obstetrics at the University of Western Australia, argued a few years ago that those who refuse to use contraception should be levied with a climate-change tax. In a 2007 article in the Medical Journal of Australia, Dr. Walters proposed that such a tax be assessed on all couples having more than two children. He suggested an initial fine of $5,000 for each “extra” child when born, with another $800 assessed every year thereafter. However, parents could redeem themselves by using contraceptives or undergoing sterilization procedures, for which they would receive carbon credits.

Okay, that’s Australia.  But you have to know there are people pushing for similar things in the United States.  People who admire China’s one-child policy, though China has the most carbon dioxide emissions in the world. 

Inverting the Christian redemption story, the new religion of science sees mankind as the curse, and scientists as the prophets pointing out the path of redemption. Like the prophets of old, the modern scientist-prophets know that salvation can never occur without sacrifice. The sacrifice they are calling for is simple: We must become fewer and poorer. Only then will the world will be saved from the environmental Armageddon that is fast approaching as a result of “reckless breeding” (a term employed by Planned Parenthood’s founder, Margaret Sanger).

As Chesterton said,

The Birth-Controller does not bother about all these things, for the perfectly simple reason that it is not such people that he wants to control. What he wants to control is the populace, and he practically says so. He always insists that a workman has no right to have so many children, or that a slum is perilous because it is producing so many children. The question he dreads is “Why has not the workman a better wage? Why has not the slum family a better house?” His way of escaping from it is to suggest, not a larger house but a smaller family. The landlord or the employer says in his hearty and handsome fashion: “You really cannot expect me to deprive myself of my money. But I will make a sacrifice, I will deprive myself of your children.” [“Social Reform versus Birth Control,” http://www.cse.dmu.ac.uk/~mward/gkc/books/Social_Reform_B.C.html]

When, in “The Christmas Carol,” Scrooge refers to the surplus population, the Spirit tells him, very justly, not to speak till he knows what the surplus is and where it is. The implication is severe but sound. When a group of superciliously benevolent economists look down into the abyss for the surplus population, assuredly there is only one answer that should be given to them; and that is to say, “If there is a surplus, you are a surplus.” And if anyone were ever cut off, they would be. If the barricades went up in our streets and the poor became masters, I think the priests would escape, I fear the gentlemen would; but I believe the gutters would be simply running with the blood of philanthropists. [Charles Dickens, Part II, chapter VII http://www.cse.dmu.ac.uk/~mward/gkc/books/CD-2.html]


Slap Down Some of That Spiritual Veneer

There.  Doesn’t that make it look better?  At least he’ll only “bless” the aborted fetus; “baptisms” are only for still-born fetuses.  (Or is that feti?)

I’d like to rip off that collar and slap him in the face with it.  (Only in my mind, of course.  I’m personally opposed to violence against abortuary chaplains; but who am I to keep others from exercising their right to choose collar-violence?)


On Murdering Abortion Doctors

Dr. George Tiller, the infamous abortionist from Wichita, KS, was killed in the lobby of his church today.  I cannot believe that anyone who is against abortion still thinks it’s okay to use vigilante methods as a means to the end of fewer abortions.  Murder is murder is murder, whether of a baby in the womb or of one who murders them.  The person who did this should receive a sentence commensurate with his/her crime (which, incidentally, is what Tiller should have gotten).

Also, idiots who murder people for being murderers bring out the crazy Left:

“Dr. Tiller was a fearless, passionate defender of women’s reproductive health and rights,” said Nancy Northup, president of the Center for Reproductive Rights, based in New York, which had worked on a legal case related to Dr. Tiller. “It’s time that this nation stop demonizing these doctors, and start honoring them.”

The “nation” is not demonizing abortion doctors.  Only the lunatic fringe views a legal practice as being demonized.  And I believe Dr. Tiller was already honored with a reception in the Kansas governor’s mansion (the same governor whom Pres. Obama tapped for Director of Health and Human Services).

God says, “Vengeance is mine; I will repay”; hence, no vigilante justice.

On a side note, you get one guess as to which variety of Lutheran Tiller was.