There is a poignant aspect to today’s opinion. Its length, and what might be called its epic tone, suggest that its authors believe they are bringing to an end a troublesome era in the history of our Nation and of our Court. “It is the dimension” of authority, they say, to “cal[l] the contending sides of national controversy to end their national division by accepting a common mandate rooted in the Constitution.” Ante, at 24.
There comes vividly to mind a portrait by Emanuel Leutze that hangs in the Harvard Law School: Roger Brooke Taney, painted in 1859, the 82d year of his life, the 24th of his Chief Justiceship, the second after his opinion in Dred Scott. He is all in black, sitting in a shadowed red armchair, left hand resting upon a pad of paper in his lap, right hand hanging limply, almost lifelessly, beside the inner arm of the chair. He sits facing the viewer, and staring straight out. There seems to be on his face, and in his deep-set eyes, an expression of profound sadness and disillusionment. Perhaps he always looked that way, even when dwelling upon the happiest of thoughts. But those of us who know how the lustre of his great Chief Justiceship came to be eclipsed by Dred Scott cannot help believing that he had that case–its already apparent consequences for the Court, and its soon-to-be-played-out consequences for the Nation–burning on his mind. I expect that two years earlier he, too, had thought himself “call[ing] the contending sides of national controversy to end their national division by accepting a common mandate rooted in the Constitution.”
It is no more realistic for us in this case, than it was for him in that, to think that an issue of the sort they both involved–an issue involving life and death, freedom and subjugation–can be “speedily and finally settled” by the Supreme Court, as President James Buchanan in his inaugural address said the issue of slavery in the territories would be. See Inaugural Addresses of the Presidents of the United States, S. Doc. No. 101-10, p. 126 (1989). Quite to the contrary, by foreclosing all democratic outlet for the deep passions this issue arouses, by banishing the issue from the political forum that gives all participants, even the losers, the satisfaction of a fair hearing and an honest fight, by continuing the imposition of a rigid national rule instead of allowing for regional differences, the Court merely prolongs and intensifies the anguish.
We should get out of this area, where we have no right to be, and where we do neither ourselves nor the country any good by remaining.
Justice Antonin Scalia, dissent, Planned Parenthood v. Casey (conclusion)
Herod ordered this massacre in a futile attempt to stop the Light of the World from completing His mission of salvation. In our day Holy Innocents are slaughtered each and every day in an ultimately futile attempt to deny what Christ taught: that we are all brothers and sisters and that we must love God and love one another. Some day this modern Herod emulation that goes by the name of legal abortion will cease, and the feast day of the Holy Innocents is a very good day for us to resolve to work unceasingly to bring that day closer.
Steve Skojec at One Peter Five reminds us that the Pope has his priorities and that the unborn are apparently far down on his list:
Did you see Pope Francis’s remarks about the protection of the unborn at the White House this morning?
Mr. President, I want to take this opportunity to encourage you to foster a culture of life in this great nation. Accepting the urgency, it seems clear to me also that this unconscionable taking of innocent human life is a problem which can no longer be left to a future generation. When it comes to the care of our own children, we are living at a critical moment of history. We still have time to make the changes needed, but we must act. We must understand — as we’ve been forced to confront in a recent series of investigative videos seen around the world — that those involved in the abortion industry “justify even infanticide, following the same arguments used to justify the right to abortion. In this way, we revert to a state of barbarism which one hoped had been left behind forever.” (Evangelium Vitae, 14). Such change demands on our part a serious and responsible recognition not only of the kind of world we have created where we can so cruelly destroy our own children, but also of the millions of people who have already fallen victim to this barbarism. Our common humanity should motivate us to end, once and for all, the legalized eradication of this voiceless group which suffers the most brutal form of exclusion, and in so suffering cries out to heaven, the results of which today powerfully strikes our homes, our cities and our societies. To use a telling phrase of the Reverend Martin Luther King, we cannot win if we are willing to sacrifice the futures of our children for immediate personal comfort and safety. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.
We know by faith that our Creator has said, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you…” (Jer. 1:5). As Christians inspired by this certainty, we wish to commit ourselves to the conscious and responsible care and protection of our most vulnerable, our future generations.
You didn’t? Me neither. The answer to the question posed by the title of this post is, unfortunately: nothing. He didn’t make any comments about the unborn at the White House. What you just read is what I wished was in his speech instead of what I found there.
Mr. President, I find it encouraging that you are proposing an initiative for reducing air pollution. Accepting the urgency, it seems clear to me also that climate change is a problem which can no longer be left to a future generation. When it comes to the care of our “common home”, we are living at a critical moment of history. We still have time to make the changes needed to bring about “a sustainable and integral development, for we know that things can change” (Laudato Si’, 13). Such change demands on our part a serious and responsible recognition not only of the kind of world we may be leaving to our children, but also to the millions of people living under a system which has overlooked them. Our common home has been part of this group of the excluded which cries out to heaven and which today powerfully strikes our homes, our cities and our societies. To use a telling phrase of the Reverend Martin Luther King, we can say that we have defaulted on a promissory note and now is the time to honor it.
We know by faith that “the Creator does not abandon us; he never forsakes his loving plan or repents of having created us. Humanity still has the ability to work together in building our common home” (Laudato Si’, 13). As Christians inspired by this certainty, we wish to commit ourselves to the conscious and responsible care of our common home.
There was also something about being “committed to building a society which is truly tolerant and inclusive, to safeguarding the rights of individuals and communities, and to rejecting every form of unjust discrimination”. A brief mention of religious liberty made it in, too. But a statement about protecting the unborn in the presence of the most pro-abortion president in US history — especially as Congress is attempting to defund Planned Parenthood — didn’t make the cut.
Sarah Palin of course walks the walk on this issue. For an alternative view from a pro-abort fanatic who has a Down Syndrome child, claims to love her, and still opposes laws banning abortion for Down Syndrome children, go here. Oh yes, she also says that if she knew her child, that she claims to now love, had Down Syndrome, she would not have hesitated to abort.
Bishop Elect Barron has a post at Catholic News Report that rubs me the wrong way. Here is the beginning:
Just last week, Stephen Colbert gave an interview in which the depth of his Catholic faith was on pretty clear display. Discussing the trauma that he experienced as a young man-the deaths of his father and two of his brothers in a plane crash – he told the interviewer how, through the ministrations of his mother, he had learned not only to accept what had happened but actually to rejoice in it: “Boy, did I have a bomb when I was ten; that was quite an explosion…It’s that I love the thing that I wish most had not happened.”
Flummoxed, his interlocutor asked him to elaborate on the paradox. Without missing a beat, Colbert cited J.R.R. Tolkien: “What punishments of God are not gifts?” What a wonderful sermon on the salvific quality of suffering! And it was delivered, not by a priest or bishop or evangelist, but by a comedian about to take over one of the most popular television programs on late night.
Go here to read the rest. The problem that I have with this is that the Bishop-Elect fails to note that on a crucial issue, abortion, Colbert is in opposition to the Faith. Go here to see a video in which Colbert ridicules the efforts in 2011 to defund Planned ParenthoodWorse Than Murder, Inc. on the grounds that abortions make up only three percent of the business of Worse Than Murder, Inc. There are two problems with this line of argument. First, because it is morally obtuse: “Look at all the good things that Hitler did! Murdering millions of people in death camps was only a very small percentage of what the Third Reich accomplished!” The fact that Planned Parenthood is engaged in killing innocent children in utero should be repugnant to any “good Catholic”, or, indeed, any man or woman of conscience. Second, because it is a lie. Colbert got the three percent figure from Planned Parenthood talking points. The figure is ludicrous. Planned Parenthood performs thirty percent of all abortions in this country. Abortions are a major revenue generator for them. Even the pro-abort Washington Post a few weeks ago, admitted that the three percent figure is deceitful:
The Church has been against abortion since the time of Christ. Stephen Colbert defends the organization that promotes the ongoing murder of the most innocent among us. Go here to watch a video of his drinking game, with a drink being taken whenever Rick Santorum mentioned partial birth abortion.
You’re going from dealing with people to dealing with what most people here at the Center consider a real hurdle, to do sterile room, because you have to deal with the actual abortion tissue. And for some people that’s really hard. They can be abstractly in favor of abortion rights, but they sure don’t want to see what an eighteen-week abortion looks like.
Anonymous clinic worker Abortion at Work: Ideology and Practice in a Feminist Clinic Wendy Simonds (Rutgers University Press: New Brunswick) 1996 p 69.
Today I will be driving by Galesburg, on my way to take my daughter back to college. In the Lincoln-Douglas debate held at Galesburg on October 7, 1858, Lincoln got to the heart of the difference between him and Stephen Douglas regarding slavery:
Rush Limbaugh tends to take a lot of grief from Catholic commenters. Some of it is deserved, but much of it is not. When it comes to abortion, he has been one of the major media voices opposing it relentlessly for over a quarter of a century. When he dies he will have his sins to answer for as we all will. He will also have tens of millions, who never got to speak in this Vale of Tears, eloquently pleading his case before the Most High. Here is Limbaugh on the current Planned Parenthood Worse Than Murder, Inc. atrocity:
Well, now we know why the advocates for the right to choose have been so advocating. Always try to follow the money. Here are these leftists that want everybody to believe that they don’t care about money, that everything they do is charitable because they’re nice people and they are compassionate and they’re understanding and they’re all for protecting the little people who get trampled on by the big people, and look who is doing the trampling.
The greatest example of the essence of innocence that I can conjure, a baby in the womb. I mean, it hasn’t done anything to anybody. It represents and is new life. It is the essence of innocence. It cannot speak for itself. It cannot protect itself. It cannot defend itself. While being the essence of innocence, it is the most vulnerable it will ever be. And here come the people promising and telling and guaranteeing that they are protecting the rights of the little people, that they protecting the vulnerable, they’re making sure that the little guy, the vulnerable, the powerful, don’t get trampled on by who? The rich, the powerful. Usually this means Republicans.
And yet in another case study of reality, exposing fraud, who actually is trampling over the defenseless, the innocent, the vulnerable? The very damn people who claim to be their protectors, the protectors of liberty, individual rights, the right to choose, what have you. The same people who want these body parts for stem cells that have yet to prove worthy of research, worthwhile, any of that. It is just sick and it is completely and totally unremarked upon in the Drive-By Media.
Carly Fiorina this morning on her Facebook released a new video responding to this second and latest Planned Parenthood secretly recorded video.
Somebody just asked me, “Rush, how can these people do this? How can they not know what they’re doing to a baby?” Ladies and gentlemen, I wish I could answer that for you. I mean, these are the people that are extracting what they hope are workable, usable body parts. They’re taking great, great care not to crunch, not to crush, so what they extract are actual what they hope usable baby body organs they can sell.
Now, how a person or the people doing this can then turn around and say that what they’re dealing with is an “unviable tissue mass,” I can only the guess. I think you have to have the concept of evil. You have to understand it, and you have to acknowledge that it exists. It’s a real thing. It’s the same people that say “unviable tissue mass” or it’s actually an illness, pregnancy leads to an illness and so forth.
Every crazy justification they’ve offered for abortion, the very same people doing that are now extracting usable body parts and selling them for profit. I mean, what are they telling themselves about what they’re doing? They’re probably lying to themselves about medical research and saving lives. They probably come up with “one life to save millions.” It’s probably not hard to imagine the contortions they undergo to justify this. But the clearly think they’re doing a service.
They clearly believe they are serving mankind and medical research.
But to anybody with common decency, it’s just sick. And it’s something that I dare say the vast majority of people in this country would never, ever dream would happen here. We went to war to stop people like this before!
My favorite liberal, Kirsten Powers, has a first rate column on the Planned Parenthood Worse Than Murder, Inc. videos:
Planned Parenthood head Cecile Richards apologized last week for the uncompassionate tone her senior director of medical research, Deborah Nucatola, used to explain the process by which she harvests aborted body parts to be provided for medical research.
Nucatola had been caught on an undercover video talking to anti-abortion activists posing as representatives of a biological tissue procurement company. The abortion doctor said, “I’d say a lot of people want liver,” and “a lot of people want intact hearts these days.” Explaining how she could perform later-term abortions to aid the harvesting of such intact organs, she said, “We’ve been very good at getting heart, lung, liver, because we know that, so I’m not gonna crush that part, I’m gonna basically crush below, I’m gonna crush above, and I’m gonna see if I can get it all intact.”
A second undercover video released Tuesday shows another Planned Parenthood official talking about using a “less crunchy” way to perform abortions while preserving salable fetal tissue.
This is stomach-turning stuff. But the problem here is not one of tone. It’s the crushing. It’s the organ harvesting of fetuses that abortion-rights activists want us to believe have no more moral value than a fingernail. It’s the lie that these are not human beings worthy of protection. There is no nice way to talk about this. As my friend and former Obama White House staffer Michael Wear tweeted, “It should bother us as a society that we have use for aborted human organs, but not the baby that provides them.”
Richards worked to discredit the video by complaining it was “heavily edited.” But the nearly three-hour unedited video — a nauseating journey through the inner workings of the abortion industry — was posted at the same time as the edited video. Richards intoned menacingly that the video was “secretly recorded.” So what? When Mitt Romney was caught by “secret video” making his 47% remarks, the means of attaining the information was not the focus of the story.
“Political language… is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.”
George Orwell, Politics and the English Language (1946)
Whatever comes of the revelations about Planned Parenthood and its participation in the traffic in fetal body parts, those revelations will have achieved one thing: they have parted the veil of antiseptic tidiness behind which the abortion industry has for so long operated. The sight of a senior Planned Parenthood official, and a doctor to boot, discussing the market for fetal body parts in between bites of salad and sips of wine was stomach-turning.
That’s because it laid bare the essentially brutal nature of abortion. Let’s be blunt: abortion involves the extraction and killing of a human life, which within a couple of weeks of pregnancy has a beating heart. Five weeks in, its hands and legs begin to grow. It is these tiny creatures, and too often ones that are far more developed, that are pulled from a mother’s womb and crushed with forceps.
Oh, but oh-so-carefully, lest body parts that can be sold are preserved. This gruesome procedure shows the extent to which we, as a people, have been anesthetized by the estimated 55 million—fifty-five million—abortions performed since the Supreme Court discovered a constitutional right to that procedure 42 years ago.
Will we as a nation not someday look upon that decision and what it has done to us, not to mention the 55 million, with horror and regret? One can only hope we will.
If any pro-lifers ever get tired or discouraged, please remember that the fate of “Baby Francis”, tossed away at the dawn of life like so much used garbage, is what we are fighting against:
In a simple, but dignified ceremony this morning in a section of Gate of Heaven Cemetery set aside for the repose of babies, Bishop Thomas J. Tobin presided over a Christian burial service for the unborn child he named “Francis,” fulfilling a commitment he made to officials five months ago after a fetus was found floating amid the sewage at a nearby wastewater treatment facility.
A tiny white casket, with “Baby Francis 2015” inscribed on a gold plaque affixed to one end, and flanked by flowers and a small teddy bear, rested upon a portable pine altar as the burial service was conducted under a brilliant blue sky.
“Now, we must entrust the soul of Baby Francis to the abundant mercy of God so that this beloved child may find finally a home in his kingdom,” Bishop Tobin prayed before a gathering of about 20 individuals representing the diocese and its active Respect Life Office and Human Life Guild.
Despite a five-month investigation into the case, not much is known about the circumstances in which the unborn child ended up at the Bucklin Wastewater Treatment Facility on January 12, when a worker saw what at first appeared to be a doll floating amid the slurry in a collection area of the plant’s Screen and Grit Building, according to the East Providence Police Department.
At the time, the Bishop offered a “decent and proper burial” for the unborn child, also offering prayers for his parents and the situation that led them to dispose of a child in such a tragic way. The State Medical Examiner’s Office indicated the child was a male, about 19-20 weeks gestation, but could not release the body while its investigation was ongoing.
This has been on my mind of late because of the kerfluffle about common core and fact vs opinion, so republishing it from Catholic Stand.
“Be nice.” “That’s not nice.” “Wouldn’t it be nice if people would just get along?”
Nice is almost as hard to define as the notoriously subjective “fair,” but I’m starting to think it’s far more dangerous. ‘Nice’ is applied to a standard of behavior that does not raise objection among those who are around to be offended; ‘nice’ is a sort of vague version of ‘polite,’ centered around everyone feeling good.
Most obviously, I’m sure anybody that’s stumbled on to this site has at least heard someone say “I’m not very religious, but I try to be a nice person– and that’s what’s really important, isn’t it?” Those of us who have argued theology have almost surely heard “Well, we disagree about that– but we agree that people should just be nice to each other, and that’s the important thing.”
Belying the great progress being made at the state level, the pro-life movement had a bad week on the national level.
The GOP leadership pulled a bill banning abortion after 20 weeks, a piece of legislation that has two-one support in polls, because some House members were nervous about the requirement of the rape exception that the rape be reported to the police. (Really? A woman twenty weeks pregnant who claims to be raped hasn’t yet reported the rape to the police?) Bizarre and cowardly. The House did pass a bill banning abortion funding and credits for abortion, with the usual regrettable exceptions for rape, incest and the life of the mother.
Then we have Catholic prelates attempting to turn the pro-life cause into a giant rally for the welfare state. Frank Walker at Pewsitter has their number:
As we observe the sad forty-second anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision that overturned all state laws banning abortions and effectively served as a judicial death warrant for tens of millions of innocents, I think it is appropriate to pay tribute to the two dissenting Justices, Byron White, a Democrat, and William Rehnquist, a Republican. Here are the texts of their dissents:
MR. JUSTICE WHITE, with whom MR. JUSTICE REHNQUIST joins, dissenting.
At the heart of the controversy in these cases are those recurring pregnancies that pose no danger whatsoever to the life or health of the mother but are, nevertheless, unwanted for any one or more of a variety of reasons — convenience, family planning, economics, dislike of children, the embarrassment of illegitimacy, etc. The common claim before us is that, for any one of such reasons, or for no reason at all, and without asserting or claiming any threat to life or health, any woman is entitled to an abortion at her request if she is able to find a medical adviser willing to undertake the procedure.
The Court, for the most part, sustains this position: during the period prior to the time the fetus becomes viable, the Constitution of the United States values the convenience, whim, or caprice of the putative mother more than the life or potential life of the fetus; the Constitution, therefore, guarantees the right to an abortion as against any state law or policy seeking to protect the fetus from an abortion not prompted by more compelling reasons of the mother.
With all due respect, I dissent. I find nothing in the language or history of the Constitution to support the Court’s judgment. The Court simply fashions and announces a new constitutional right for pregnant mothers [410 U.S. 222] and, with scarcely any reason or authority for its action, invests that right with sufficient substance to override most existing state abortion statutes. The upshot is that the people and the legislatures of the 50 States are constitutionally dissentitled to weigh the relative importance of the continued existence and development of the fetus, on the one hand, against a spectrum of possible impacts on the mother, on the other hand. As an exercise of raw judicial power, the Court perhaps has authority to do what it does today; but, in my view, its judgment is an improvident and extravagant exercise of the power of judicial review that the Constitution extends to this Court.
The New York Times hilariously believes that by agreeing to take up the question of gay marriage, the Court will resolve the issue, the Times assuming, as I do, that the Court is likely to strike down all laws against gay marriage and impose it by judicial fiat.
Such judicial interventions in the governance of this country in regard to hotly contested questions tend to be the starting of debates and not the ending of them. This week on January 22, we will be observing the 42 anniversary of the decision of Roe v. Wade which sought to resolved the abortion issue. The fight about abortion continues unabated, the Court’s pro-abortion rulings notwithstanding. In a democracy, attempts by nine unelected lawyers in black robes to resolve questions of great moment tend not to work in the absence of political power and consensus to support the decision. Mollie Hemingway at The Federalist reminds us that the Court has a long history of inflaming, rather than ending, debates in this nation:
In “Abuse of Discretion,” Clark Forsythe’s comprehensive look at how Roe v. Wade came to be, he notes that advocates of legalized abortion polled a very general question about whether abortion “should be between a woman and her physician.” Four months before the first arguments in Roe v. Wade were made, such a question got 64 percent affirming it in a Gallup poll, perhaps because the wording was so vague. (This is a bit of an aside, but Forsythe notes that abortion is almost never between a woman and her physician. Fewer than 5 percent of abortions are performed by a woman’s regular OB-GYN and almost all are performed by a stranger.)
You’d have to be living in a New York Times bubble to think that Roe v. Wade was either a limited decision or would end debate. In many ways, that decision is what led to many more people thinking deeply about abortion for the first time. And when they did begin thinking deeply about the topic, it frequently benefited the pro-life movement.
In another abortion decision years later, some justices signed onto some serious wishful thinking about court decisions settling the question of whether there is a right to kill an unborn child. Scalia’s dissent in Casey speaks to this and offers yet another example when the court thought it was settling another contentious issue (and that one’s a doozie):
There comes vividly to mind a portrait by Emanuel Leutze that hangs in the Harvard Law School: Roger Brooke Taney, painted in 1859, the 82d year of his life, the 24th of his Chief Justiceship, the second after his opinion in Dred Scott. He is all in black, sitting in a shadowed red armchair, left hand resting upon a pad of paper in his lap, right hand hanging limply, almost lifelessly, beside the inner arm of the chair. He sits facing the viewer, and staring straight out. There seems to be on his face, and in his deep-set eyes, an expression of profound sadness and disillusionment. Perhaps he always looked that way, even when dwelling upon the happiest of thoughts. But those of us who know how the lustre of his great Chief Justiceship came to be eclipsed by Dred Scott cannot help believing that he had that case–its already apparent consequences for the Court, and its soon-to-be-played-out consequences for the Nation–burning on his mind. I expect that two years earlier he, too, had thought himself “call[ing] the contending sides of national controversy to end their national division by accepting a common mandate rooted in the Constitution.” It is no more realistic for us in this case, than it was for him in that, to think that an issue of the sort they both involved–an issue involving life and death, freedom and subjugation–can be “speedily and finally settled” by the Supreme Court, as President James Buchanan in his inaugural address said the issue of slavery in the territories would be. See Inaugural Addresses of the Presidents of the United States, S. Doc. No. 101-10, p. 126 (1989). Quite to the contrary, by foreclosing all democratic outlet for the deep passions this issue arouses, by banishing the issue from the political forum that gives all participants, even the losers, the satisfaction of a fair hearing and an honest fight, by continuing the imposition of a rigid national rule instead of allowing for regional differences, the Court merely prolongs and intensifies the anguish.
I’ll give the New York Times this much: Whatever the Supreme Court decides on same-sex marriage, I bet it will end the debate at least as much as Dred Scott ended the debate about slavery, Roe ended the debate about abortion, and Casey ended the debate about abortion.