Monthly Archives: February 2011
A reader asked me to take a look at this study (abstract here) and see if it reaches a valid set of conclusions. The study was conducted in California among ~80,000 women who receive birth control pills paid for by the state as part of a program for low income women. Previously, women in the program have received a 1 or 3 months supply of birth control at a time, and then have to go in to the clinic in order to receive a refill. In the study, a portion of these women were given a full year’s supply instead of one or three months, and state medical records were then used to see if this resulted in a change in the rate of unplanned pregnancy and abortion among the women who received a full year supply of birth control.
Researchers observed a 30 percent reduction in the odds of pregnancy and a 46 percent decrease in the odds of an abortion in women given a one-year supply of birth control pills at a clinic versus women who received the standard prescriptions for one – or three-month supplies.
The researchers speculate that a larger supply of oral contraceptive pills may allow more consistent use, since women need to make fewer visits to a clinic or pharmacy for their next supply.
“Women need to have contraceptives on hand so that their use is as automatic as using safety devices in cars, ” said Diana Greene Foster, PhD, lead author and associate professor in the UCSF Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences. “Providing one cycle of oral contraceptives at a time is similar to asking people to visit a clinic or pharmacy to renew their seatbelts each month.”
Oral contraceptive pills are the most commonly used method of reversible contraception in the United States, the team states. While highly effective when used correctly (three pregnancies per 1,000 women in the first year of use), approximately half of women regularly miss one or more pills per cycle, a practice associated with a much higher pregnancy rate (80 pregnancies per 1,000 women in the first year of use), according to the team. [source]
The details of that decrease are as follows: Continue reading
But the session ended with a dramatic fight over the emotional issue of abortion rights, as Republicans maneuvered the Senate into an unwanted late vote on a bill that requires abortion clinics to be regulated as hospitals.
Democrats were unable to stop two of their conservative members from voting with all 18 Republicans to approve the bill, handing antiabortion activists a victory they had sought for two decades. The move, abortion providers said, could force some clinics to close if the new regulations prove too costly.
“Incredibly significant,” House Speaker William J. Howell (R-Stafford) said of the abortion measure, which he supported.
“A terrible tragedy,” countered Sen. R. Edward Houck (D-Spotsylvania), who voted against it.
I’m going to love to see the pro-aborts fight this one. Planned Parenthood loves to tout all of the marvelous things it does aside from killing unborn children, as this ad linked to at Creative Minority Report indicates. Gee, it almost sounds like they’re providing an array of services also provided at . . . hospitals.
From the only reliable source of news on the net, The Onion. Well, I guess I will not be posting that video of a pig playing the piano after all.
On the night of 26-27 March 1996, seven Trappist monks from the monastery of Tibhirine in Algeria — Dom Christian de Chergé, Brother Luc Dochier, Father Christophe Lebreton, Brother Michel Fleury, Father Bruno Lemarchand, Father Célestin Ringeard, and Brother Paul Favre-Miville — were kidnapped. They were held for two months, and were found dead on 21 May 1996.
The actual cause of their death remains in dispute. Their captors, the Armed Islamic Group, initially lay claim to the murders — but a French military attaché, retired General Francois Buchwalter, later reported that the deaths were accidental in a botched rescue attempt by the Algerian army. [Source: Wikipedia]
The fate of these monks was the subject of a book by John Kiser, The Monks of Tibhirine: Faith, Love, and Terror in Algeria (2003). A new film has been made — “Of Gods and Men” — recipient of many awards and glowing reviews. America‘s Fr. James Martin SJ has lauded it “the greatest film I’ve ever seen on faith.”
In 1996, First Things published an English translation of a letter by the superior of the monastery, Father Christian de Chergé, “to be opened in the event of my death”. In light of the movie it seems appropos to re-post it here, as food for thought: Continue reading
Except that today was his last day as Archbishop of the Los Angeles Archdiocese!
He’ll be remembered for closing down seminaries and convents and picking on little old nuns like Mother Angelica, building the Taj Mahony, but mostly for losing millions of nominal Catholics to indifferentism and agnosticism.
His many low points are too numerous to recount but his deconstruction of the Mass until it looked like nothing more than a campfire sing-a-long is quite shameful.
His promotion of syncretism and modernism has gained him the infamy he so richly earned among his peers.
The Catholic blogosphere has been ablaze recently with discussions revolving around the actions of Lila Rose and Live Action and their sting operation against Worse Than Murder, Inc, with some bloggers like our own Joe Hargrave condemning these tactics since they involved lying, and other bloggers such as myself holding that there is nothing morally wrong with the tactics used in the sting. I certainly do not wish to raise from the dead this well flogged horse, but I thought our readers might find interesting a fascinating overview of lying, equivocation and morality in Note G of Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman’s Apologia Pro Vita Sua. It is a typical tour de force by Newman where he demonstrates his knowledge of the history, reasoning and practical application of a Church teaching on morality. Here is the note:
ALMOST all authors, Catholic and Protestant, admit, that when a just cause is present, there is some kind or other of verbal misleading, which is not sin. Even silence is in certain cases virtually such a misleading, according to the Proverb, “Silence gives consent.” Again, silence is absolutely forbidden to a Catholic, as a mortal sin, under certain circumstances, e.g. to keep silence, when it is a duty to make a profession of faith.
Another mode of verbal misleading, and the most direct, is actually saying the thing that is not; and it is defended on the principle that such words are not a lie, when there is a “justa causa,” as killing is not murder in the case of an executioner.
Another ground of certain authors for saying that an untruth is not a lie where there is a just cause, is, that veracity is a kind of justice, and therefore, when we have no duty of justice to tell truth to another, it is no sin not to do so. Hence we may say the thing that is not, to children, to madmen, to men who ask impertinent questions, to those whom we hope to benefit by misleading.
Another ground, taken in defending certain untruths, ex justâ causâ, as if not lies, is, that veracity is for the sake of society, and that, if in no case whatever we might lawfully mislead others, we should actually be doing society great harm.
Another mode of verbal misleading is equivocation or a play upon words; and it is defended on the theory that to lie is to use words in a sense which they will not bear. But an equivocator uses them in a received sense, though there is another received sense, and therefore, according to this definition, he does not lie.
Others say that all equivocations are, after all, a kind of lying,—faint lies or awkward lies, but still lies; and some of these disputants infer, that therefore we must not equivocate, and others that equivocation is but a half-measure, and that it is better to say at once that in certain cases untruths are not lies.
Others will try to distinguish between evasions and equivocations; but though there are evasions which are clearly not equivocations, yet it is very difficult scientifically to draw the line between the one and the other.
To these must be added the unscientific way of dealing with lies,—viz. that on a great or cruel occasion a man cannot help telling a lie, and he would not be a man, did he not tell it, but still it is very wrong, and he ought not to do it, and he must trust that the sin will be forgiven him, though he goes about to commit it ever so deliberately, and is sure to commit it again under similar circumstances. It is a necessary frailty, and had better not be thought about before it is incurred, and not thought of again, after it is well over. This view cannot for a moment be defended, but, I suppose, it is very common.
I think the historical course of thought upon the matter has been this: the Greek Fathers thought that, when there was a justa causa, an untruth need not be a lie. St. Augustine took another view, though with great misgiving; and, whether he is rightly interpreted or not, is the doctor of the great and common view that all untruths are lies, and that there can be no just cause of untruth. In these later times, this doctrine has been found difficult to work, and it has been largely taught that, though all untruths are lies, yet that certain equivocations, when there is a just cause, are not untruths. Continue reading
First up, Matt Yglesias on How to Run America Like a Business:
If you’re trying to look at America from a balance-sheet perspective the problem is very clear. It’s not “entitlements” and it’s not “Social Security” and it’s not “Medicare” and it’s not “health care costs” it’s the existence of old people. Old people, generally speaking, don’t produce anything of economic value. They sit around, retired, consuming goods and services and produce nothing but the occasional turn at babysitting. The optimal economic growth policy isn’t to slash Social Security or Medicare benefits, it’s to euthanize 70 year-olds and harvest their organs for auction. With that in place, you could cut taxes and massively ramp-up investments in physical infrastructure, early childhood education, and be on easy street.
There’s an element of satire involved here, of course. But in my view the growing entitlement crisis is one of the reasons I worry about the eventual acceptance of euthenasia throughout the United States (the other being the temptation the children of baby boomers will have to euthanize their parents as a kind of revenge for killing off their brothers and sisters via abortion). Continue reading
Something for the weekend. The theme song from the movie El Cid (1961). The theme and the etchings at the beginning of the film I find very evocative of Spain and Spanish history.
I have always loved this film for many reasons: the acting is of a high level (in spite of, or perhaps because, Sophia Loren and Charlton Heston cordially detested each other); I find medieval Spain and the Reconquista inherently fascinating; the film has scenes of compelling beauty, as if painted sequences from a medieval manuscript have been brought to life; and, of course, it is simply a rattling good retelling of the legend of El Cid. However, the background story of the film is just as fascinating as the film itself.
Filmed on location in Spain, the film had the enthusiastic support of dictator Francisco Franco, including the use of thousands of Spanish troops in the battle scenes. Franco fancied himself as a modern El Cid, and the film fit right in with his belief that Spain was a great nation that had saved Christendom from the threat of expansionist Islam in the days of El Cid and Communism and Arnarchism in the time of Franco.
Even the scenes of El Cid fighting with muslims as allies in the film would have been congenial to Franco as he had used North African Morrocan Regulares during the Spanish Civil War. (Republican propaganda blasted Franco for bringing the Moors back to Spain.) The film portrayed El Cid as the hero who saved Spain from a foreign menace and unified Spaniards. That is precisely how Franco viewed himself.
The reality was somewhat different for both men. Continue reading
I agree with you Klavan on the Culture, prayer over time tends to build belief. I have had several people tell me that the force of habit of prayer has gotten them through rough spots in their religious life. One fellow I know promised his mom that every night he would say a Hail Mary before he went to sleep. He spent several years as a stone cold atheist, but every night he would heed his promise to his mom and say the Hail Mary, even though he thought it ridiculous. Faith returned ultimately, and he thinks he might have been lost forever without that nightly prayer for the intercession of the Blessed Mother.
CS Lewis understood this well, judging from this passage of The Screwtape Letters: Continue reading
There’s been some dispute in Catholic circles of late whether the Wisconsin bishops have come out on the side of the public sector unions in the current union dispute in Wisconsin. Bishop Morlino of the Diocese of Madison has effectively answered that question himself in a column today entitled “Clarifying the Fairness Issue”:
Believe it or not, I frequently try to avoid weighing in-on certain situations. However, the recent happenings in our state capital with regard to legislation about labor union practices beg for a comment. In this column, I simply want to point out how a well-informed conscience might work through the dilemma which the situation poses.
Should one support or oppose the legislation which regulates union procedures? The Wisconsin Catholic Conference (WCC) has chosen a neutral stance because the present dilemma comes down to either a choice for the common good, of sacrifice on the part of all, at times that pose immense economic threats, both present and future on the one hand, and on the other hand, a choice for the rights of workers to a just compensation for services rendered, and to the upholding of contracts legally made. As Catholics, we see both of these horns of the dilemma as good, and yet the current situation calls many of us to choose between these two goods. Thus the WCC has taken a neutral stance, and this is the point of Archbishop Listecki’s recent statement, which I have echoed. Continue reading
At the risk of losing some of my libertarian street cred, I have to say that I feel a lot of sympathy for the public employee members in Wisconsin. Even if you think that their salaries and benefits are excessive, those benefits and wages were contractually agreed to by their employers, and I’m sure that in many cases people have planned their retirements on the assumption that these contracts would be honored.
On the other hand, if having public employee unions leads to workers receiving promises of future pensions and benefits that can’t or won’t be met, then that could be a reason to reconsider whether public employee unions are such a great idea going forward. The Church recognizes the right of workers to unionize, but this right is fundamentally based not on any the supposedly good consequences that unions have for workers, but rather as an application of the right of private association. As John Paul II noted in Centesimus Annus, (“the Church’s defence and approval of the establishment of what are commonly called trade unions [is] certainly not because of ideological prejudices or in order to surrender to a class mentality, but because the right of association is a natural right of the human being, which therefore precedes his or her incorporation into political society.”
I’m willing to accept correction on this, but it seems to me that if the right to unionization is based in the right to association, then it would seem that the union relationship ought to be voluntary for all the parties involved. Forcing workers to join a union or forcing an employer to deal with a union on certain terms strikes me as being contrary to people’s association rights, not a fulfillment of them. In the case of public employee unions, the government is the employer, and so should have a wide latitude to decide to what extent it is willing to bargain with unions and to what extent it isn’t.
The news is currently filled with reports of Democrat state senators from Wisconsin on the lam in my home state of Illinois in an attempt to prevent a quorum in the Wisconsin state senate and stall action on Governor Scott Walker’s public employees union bill. Fleeing from a legislative chamber to prevent a quorum from being formed and stall legislation is a tactic probably as old as legislative chambers. In 1841 Illinois Representative Abraham Lincoln was involved in such an attempt. Continue reading
A sad day for Dr. Who fans everywhere. Nicholas Courtney, who brilliantly portrayed the Brigadier in over 100 Dr. Who episodes, has died at age 81 of cancer:
Nicholas Courtney (born William Nicholas Stone Courtney on 16th December 1929) played first Colonel and then Brigadier Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart, beginning in “The Web of Fear” and finally in “Battlefield”. He reprised the role for the fan video “Downtime” (later adapted into one of the Virgin Missing Adventures), and for several audio dramas for the BBC and Big Finish Productions.
He was born in Cairo, Egypt, the son of a British diplomat and educated in France, Kenya and Egypt. He served his National Service in the British Army, leaving after 18 months as a private, not wanting to pursue a military career. He next joined the Webber Douglas drama school, and after two years began doing repertory theatre in Northampton, and from there moved to London.
His first appearance in Doctor Who was in the 1965 serial The Daleks’ Master Plan, where he played Space Security Agent Bret Vyon opposite William Hartnell as the Doctor. The director Douglas Camfield liked Courtney’s performance, and when Camfield was assigned the 1968 serial The Web of Fear, he cast Courtney as Captain Knight. However, David Langton, who was to play the character of Colonel Lethbridge-Stewart, gave up the role to work elsewhere, so Camfield recast Captain Knight and gave the Colonel’s part to Courtney instead.
Lethbridge-Stewart reappeared later that year in The Invasion, promoted to Brigadier and in charge of the British contingent of UNIT, an organization that protected the Earth from alien invasion. It was in that recurring role that he became most famous, appearing semi-regularly from 1970 to 1975. Courtney made return appearances in the series in 1983 and his last Doctor Who television appearance was in 1989 (in the serial Battlefield). Continue reading
Over at the Corner, Michael New draws attention to a recent op-ed by Frances Kissling of the oxymoronic group Catholics for a Free Choice:
In a column that appeared in last Friday’s Washington Post, Frances Kissling, who served as president of Catholics for a Free Choice, offers some advice for supporters of legal abortion. Kissling acknowledges that recent pro-life efforts — specifically our focus on fetal development and our efforts to pass incremental laws — have been effective in shifting public opinion in a pro-life direction. She acknowledges that supporters of legal abortion are now losing, and that the pro-choice arguments that were persuasive in the 1970s are no longer working today.
As a result, Kissling suggests a shift in strategy. Specifically, she urges her pro-choice allies to support some restrictions on late-term abortions. She states that supporters of abortion rights need to “firmly and clearly reject post-viability abortions, except in extreme cases.” She even says that abortions in the second trimester “need to be considered differently.” Kissling encourages an approach that would mandate counseling for women seeking abortion in these circumstances.
RealCatholicTV has created controversy among dissident Catholics for it’s orthodoxy and frankl fidelity to the Magisterium. For some unfathomable reason even some faithful Catholics are put off by this blunt and direct approach.
I for one don’t agree with some of those faithful Catholics because what may seem blunt and direct is actually honest and refreshing.
Souls are at stake and no amount of hang-wringing causes me any lost sleep because Michael Voris states only the Truth.
Those that are uncomfortable with the Truth being spoken should only go back to the Holy Bible and what Jesus says about watering down the Truth:
but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened round his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.
— the Holy Gospel of Saint Matthew 18:6
A Democratic Congressman from Massachusetts is raising the stakes in the nation’s fight over the future of public employee unions, saying emails aren’t enough to show support and that it is time to “get a little bloody.”
“I’m proud to be here with people who understand that it’s more than just sending an email to get you going. Every once and awhile you need to get out on the streets and get a little bloody when necessary,” Rep. Mike Capuano (D-Ma.) told a crowd in Boston on Tuesday rallying in solidarity for Wisconsin union members.
Am I shocked?