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: →']);" class="more-link">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.
The charge that the pro-life movement isn’t really pro-life, frequently leveled by proponents of unlimited government, can be frustrating. Ryan Anderson and company call it a lazy slander. I prefer canard, but both terms apply equally well. The facts about the pro-life movement’s support for life at all stages – from conception to natural death – speak for themselves. Mr. Anderson and friends recount a few of these facts HERE at The Public Discourse. After detailing some of the great work pro-life advocates regularly do, they ask the obvious question: why are pro-life advocates accused of being indifferent to life after birth? As they say, it’s probably the overwhelming conviction
“that “caring for the born” translates first and always into advocacy for government programs and funds. In other words, abortion advocates appear to conflate charitable works and civil society with government action. The pro-life movement does not. Rather, it takes up the work of assisting women and children and families, one fundraiser and hotline and billboard at a time. Still, the pro-life movement is not unsophisticated about the relationship between abortion rates and government policies in areas such as education, marriage, employment, housing, and taxation. The Catholic Church, for example, works with particular vigor to ensure that its social justice agenda integrates advocacy for various born, vulnerable groups, with incentives to choose life over abortion.
Yes – and there’s a simple reason the pro-life movement is not a movement for more government. If the pro-life movement would incorporate into its platform a decidedly pro-government stance, it would narrow itself. It would have mixed motives and would end up excluding more people. These are people who would support laws illegalizing abortion, but would not necessarily support the other policies of the movement. In other words, the pro-life movement leaves other political issues out of its explicit purpose to maintain focus and to be maximally inclusive. And as Ryan Anderson et al note, it couples this with real charity work done without any legislation or taxpayer dollars. AND IN FAIRNESS all of this is not to say that one cannot be a part of the movement and support policies that make the government omnipotent. But those policies cannot become a part of the larger pro-life movement itself.
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: →']);" class="more-link">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. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading
Stephen Hand recently interviewed me at blogtalkradio.
Judge it and verify what I say with your own experiences. I encourage folks to check out his archived audio interviews of Thomas Storck, John C. Medaille, E. Michael Jones, Robert Sungenis, and many other outstanding Catholic speakers and writers. Steve’s website is Time Out of Joint.
For those who desire some additional background on our discussion I would refer you to earlier post(s) of mine and others which are provided here – Alliance of Civilizations or Clash of Civilizations?
Stacy McCain writes about an incest case that is all over the conservative political blogosphere: Palin-Hating Columbia Professor, Huffington Post Blogger, Busted for Incest
This quote from an article at Salon on the matter caught my attention.
Most courts are concerned about parents preying on their children, [University of Akron law professor J. Dean Carro] said. “Regardless of the age of the child, there’s still a theory that a parent is always a parent, a child is always a child and, as a result, there truly can’t be a consensual sexual act.”
One might just as well say that a man is always a man and a woman is always a woman….right?
When two adults have an incestuous relationship, “consent” isn’t the issue. Natural Law is the issue here.
[T]he natural law is the rule of conduct which is prescribed to us by the Creator in the constitution of the nature with which He has endowed us.
In other words, God has put into all human beings a nature that is actually the reason for this quote from Stacy McCain in his article:
All together now: Eeeeewww! Yuck!
Yes, all of us together can say “Eeeeewww! Yuck!” because God has instilled in us a natural revulsion to such things. Deep down, we all know that incest is wrong, even if the two engaged in it are consenting adults. So, you see, ‘consent’ isn’t what makes something ‘moral’.
‘Natural Law’ is the basis for the claim that we have “inherent rights”. Any claim of validity for incest (or gay marriage, or other things contradictory to Natural Law) is a claim that Natural Law is invalid, hence it is a claim that the whole idea of “inherent rights” is invalid. (Watch Birth of Freedom for a better understanding of where the idea of “human rights” actually came from.)
Despite the fact that incest and homosexuality naturally cause most of us to say, “Eeeeewww”, there are a few holdouts who insist on engaging in behavior that is morally abhorrent. Some people do immoral things ‘because’ they are immoral. Also, Satan does exist and he does tempt us to do immoral things. He lies and tells us they are ‘okay’ or even that they are ‘good’. It has ever been so.
Though we are all full of holes, God will fill the holes with Himself if we will allow Him to. We are all connected to the past, to the future, to God, and to each other. Natural Law is a part of that connection…but the full truth is far bigger and far more beautiful than anyone (even myself) can imagine. I’ve decided to learn all I can about it and to grow into a better understanding of these Truths on my journey. I hope everyone will at least take a moment to consider “the big picture”…and not merely what makes us say “Eeeeewww”. It’s a lot deeper (and more important) than you might think.
Here’s an example of what I’m talking about.
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). →']);" class="more-link">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. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading
In a January 31 press briefing, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs offered the first acknowledgement from the Obama Administration that the White House wants the Muslim Brotherhood, which spawned both Hamas and Al Qaeda, to have a place at the table as Egypt seeks to form a new government. Meanwhile, there has been continued silence on whether or not the Christians in Egypt should have any voice. Never before has this silence been so deafening as now.
As the Egyptian military launches RPGs against Christian monasteries, there remains no word from President Obama on the basic human rights of Christians. So, too, there remains no reporting in the Western “mainstream media” about these attacks even as Christians have marched to Tahrir Square to request religious freedom. Further, this morning comes news that Al-Qaeda leader Ayman Muhammad Rabaie al-Zawahiri has called for violence against Christians in Egypt. Why does the Obama Administration acknowledge the voice of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt but ignore the voices of Christians, in the midst of this brutal assault? Is it due to incompentence? Or is the Obama Administration more sympathetic to Islamists than to Christians? It’s a question that deserves to be answered clearly.
Nina Shea reports this morning about a letter from an Egyptian friend stating that Al-Qaeda leaderAyman Muhammad Rabaie al-Zawahiri has decided to take a strong leadership role, if you will, regarding Christians in Egyptian society.
Al-Qa’ida’s number two leader . . . Egyptian born Ayman al-Zawahiri has issued (actually yet to be released!!!!) a three-part message commenting on events in Egypt. In his second part of the message series, Zawahiri spends considerable time inciting violence against Coptic Christians and the Coptic Church. Zawahiri stated that Copts were one of the main problems leading to the situation facing Egypt today.
The Washington Post reports that the Egyptian military cabinet, which many who are concerned about radical Islam had hoped would maintain power when Mubarak stepped down, has “reshuffled” its membership. While two of these new members are Coptic Christians, the situation remains fluid as “tens of thousands” of protesters in Tahrir Square are demanding continued “reform” of the military cabinet. Clearly, it is no longer reasonable to give any kind of blanket approval to Egypt’s military cabinet as it is unknown what loyalties will be in the hearts of those who ultimately populate it. Meanwhile, as noted, troops on the ground are wreaking havoc on the Christian community in Egypt. The future of Christians in Egypt appears painfully hopeless in the face of these changes.
It is important to consider that al-Zawahiri is an Egyptian who was trained from his youth in the Muslim Brotherhood. He is the grandson of Rabi’a al-Zawahri, the former grand imam at Cairo’s Al-Azhar University which has been described as the “world’s leading center of Sunni Islamic thought“. Just prior to the Egyptian uprising, the top scholars at Al-Azhar University broke off dialogue with the Vatican in protest of Pope Benedict XVI’s protest of the massacre at Our Lady of Deliverance Church in Alexandria.
In specifically supporting a Muslim Brotherhood presence in Egypt’s government, President Obama has effectively aligned himself with Ayman al-Zawahiri and Al-Qaeda against the Christians of Egypt who are today under continued attack even in the Coptic monasteries. Considering, too, the presence of Muslim Brotherhood front groups right here in America, whose representatives can be found rubbing elbows with the President, making a joint statement for “tolerance” with some of our American Catholic bishops, and continually defended by the President’s leftist political base, how can we not be alarmed?
On January 7, 2010, President Obama said, “We are at war; we are at war with al Qaeda.” Americans certainly understand that we are at war with al Qaeda, but with his offering of support for the Muslim Brotherhood, an ally of Ayman Muhammad Rabaie al-Zawahiri who calls for the murder of Christians, we must ask, does President Obama prefer Al Qaeda to the Christians of Egypt?
We deserve a clear answer to that question.
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: →']);" class="more-link">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. →']);" class="more-link">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. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading