Monday, January 31, 2011
Friday, January 28, 2011
Wednesday, January 26, 2011
The tone that we take in the public square is a legitimate topic of discussion. Yet in the debate on abortion and healthcare, some pundits and politicians have long overlooked the prerequisite condition of authentic civil discourse; namely, honesty about the terms of the debate.
President Obama recently noted that “only a more civil and honest public discourse can help us face up to our challenges as a nation.”
Civil and honest – the two are indeed related. Civility in our public discourse is undermined if citizens have reason to believe that they are being misled. The most recent “Newspeak” rose out of the various health care mega-bills in the last Congress. While most citizens at town hall meetings were respectful in their tone, the scream-at-your-Congressperson approach taken by a few aptly expressed the hair-pulling frustration experienced by the vast majority of citizens across the political spectrum.
The indignation witnessed at town hall meetings was not only attributable to the sweeping scope of the bills that ballooned the deficit and blew past constitutional boundaries of federal power. Rather, the tone became intensified because the American people could not seem to get a straight answer on the life and death issues impacted by the massive legislation.
“Is public money going to subsidize coverage for elective abortion?” “Will there be politically appointed panels who will make life and death coverage decisions for seniors?” “Will I get to keep my current health plan?” (Yes, yes, probably not).
Without rehashing these issues, it is enough to say that the conflict between the bill language and the Administration’s rhetoric resulted in a level of intense emotional outbursts usually reserved for Italian-American dinner tables.
Now we begin again. The newly elected Congress is once again faced with a debate about tax-subsidized abortion coverage in the federal health care law. And State legislatures continue to debate “opt-out” bills that prohibit abortion coverage in any future state health insurance exchanges.
Those who peacefully march renew their call for elected officials to debate these critical issues with honesty. If we were truly honest, everyone would know about the empirical medical studies showing that abortion is not health care. It’s the opposite of care for the physical and psychological health of the woman, and it destroys the life of a unique and unrepeatable unborn child.
Those who nonetheless support tax-subsidized abortion coverage are required by that honesty so essential to civility to clearly state their goal and to make their case. No more outright denials of what is buried in the bill. No more hiding behind accounting schemes drafted behind closed doors in the middle of the night.
If a pro-life bill to prohibit abortion funding and protect health care provider rights of conscience makes its way to the President’s desk, honesty requires that he either sign it or veto it. No more empty and unenforceable executive orders.
It’s well past time for the honest terms of the abortion debate to be put on the table. Not only about who pays for it, but more importantly about the humanity of the unborn child and the coercive impact that it places on pregnant women.
The bottom line is that civil discourse does not preclude our duty to vigorously expose dishonesty in public policy. And it certainly does not require that we quietly look the other way as the culture of death marches on.
Note: Dorinda Bordlee and Nikolas Nikas are attorneys and co-founders of Bioethics Defense Fund. Contact us atinfo@BDFund.org to request model legislation addressing abortion coercion, ultrasound mandates, Obamacare abortion opt-out legislation, health care rights of conscience and the full range of bioethics issues.
Recently, Rick Santorum and Al Sharpton squared off in a fiery debate on race and abortion on the Hannity Show (FOX).
Black pro-life leaders weighed in:
"Al Sharpton, for the sake of Al Sharpton, railed against Rick Santorum for calling attention to the horrific impact abortion is having on the black community," said Rev. Dr. Johnny Hunter of Life Education and Resource Network. "It is inconceivable that blacks today continue in that same spirit of division as we saw on the Hannity Show," he said.
"I cannot believe that Sharpton called the taking of innocent life in the womb a civil right," said Alveda King, Founder of King for America and Director of African American Outreach for Priests for Life. "This is not the right my father and my uncle gave their lives for. Civil rights protect individual freedoms, not deny them. The right to life is the 21st century civil right that will protect all human beings from conception to natural death and we must all fight for it," she said.
"As in the Dred Scott case, the Supreme Court, in 1973, denied protection to a class of citizens," said Walter Hoye of Personhood USA. "Justice Blackmun and the core of eugenicists he collaborated with cloaked their racial intent in the garment of abortion and Al Sharpton has happily agreed to be one of the faces of the Negro Project authored by Planned Parenthood Founder Margaret Sanger" he said.
"For more than thirty eight years, abortion has cut into the birthrate of the black community" said Dean Nelson, Vice President, CareNet's Urban Outreach. "The black community must recognize that Roe v. Wade is the modern answer to the lynching and killing fields of the south. It must be stopped," he said.
"More black children have died by abortion than the seven leading causes of death in the African American community combined," said Catherine Davis of the Network of Politically Active Christians. "Since the days of Margaret Sanger, Planned Parenthood has targeted the black community in order to control the growth of our population."
Day Gardner, President of the National Black Pro-Life Union, states; "First of all, Al Sharpton is not my leader. Mr. Sharpton's head is buried so deep in the silk pockets of Planned Parenthood he can't see the light of day. In the early 70s, we were told pre-born children were blobs of tissue. We were ignorant to the truth and didn't know any better. But now with modern technology and the advances in 3D and 4D ultra sounds--we know the truth. Abortion is the greatest civil rights issue of our time! So, when we hear old cronies like Al Sharpton harping on protecting the civil rights of a woman to kill her child--I have to ask: What about the civil rights of the younger woman she's carrying? That baby girl is 'fully human' and her rights need to be protected, too--especially the most basic right, which is the right to life."
The National Black Pro-Life Union is an organization founded to serve as a clearing house to coordinate the flow of communications among all African American pro-life organizations and individuals in order to better network and combine resources. Day Gardner, President, 202-834-0844,www.nationalblackprolifeunion.com, dgardner@NBPLU.com
During this morning's general audience, celebrated in the Paul VI Hall in the presence of 3,000 people, Holy Father dedicated his catechesis to St. Joan of Arc (1412-1431), whom he described as "one of the 'strong women' who, at the end of the Middle Ages, fearlessly brought the splendid light of the Gospel into the complex events of history".
The life of Joan of Arc, who was born into a prosperous peasant family, took place in the context of the conflict between
She made a vow of virginity and redoubled her prayers, participating in sacramental life with renewed energy. "This young French peasant girl's compassion and commitment in the face of her people's suffering were made even more intense through her mystical relationship with God. One of the most original aspects of her sanctity was this bond between mystical experience and political mission". said Benedict XVI.
Joan's activities began in early 1429 when, overcoming all obstacles, she managed to meet with the French Dauphin, the future King Charles VII. He had her examined by theologians of the
On 22 March of that year Joan dictated a letter to the King of England and his men, who were laying siege to the city of
Joan's passion began on 23 May 1430 when she fell into the hands of her enemies at
The trial was presided by two ecclesiastical judges, Bishop Pierre Cauchon and the inquisitor Jean le Maistre, but in fact it was conducted by a group of theologians from the
"Unlike the saintly theologians who illuminated the
Joan died at the stake on 30 May 1431, holding a crucifix in her hands and invoking the name of Jesus. Twenty-five years later a trial of nullification, instituted by Pope Callixtus III, "concluded with a solemn sentence nullifying the condemnation and ... highlighting Joan of Arc's innocence and perfect faithfulness to the Church. Much later, in 1920, she was canonised by Pope Benedict XV".
"The Name of Jesus invoked by this saint in the last instants of her earthly life was as the continual breath of her soul, ... the centre of her entire life", the Holy Father explained. "This saint understood that Love embraces all things of God and man, of heaven and earth, of the Church and the world. ... Liberating her people was an act of human justice, which Joan performed in charity, for love of Jesus, hers is a beautiful example of sanctity for lay people involved in political life, especially in the most difficult situations".
"Joan saw in Jesus all the reality of the Church, the 'Church triumphant' in heaven and the 'Church militant' on earth. In her own words, 'Our Lord and the Church are one'. This affirmation ... takes on a truly heroic aspect in the context of the trial, in the face of her judges, men of the Church who persecuted and condemned her".
"With her shining witness St. Joan of Arc invites us to the highest degree of Christian life, making prayer the motif of our days, having complete trust in achieving the will of God whatever it may be, living in charity without favouritisms or limitations, and finding in the Love of Jesus, as she did, a profound love for His Church".
He pointed to the transportation and construction projects of the last two years and proposed "we redouble these efforts." He coupled this with a call to "freeze annual domestic spending for the next five years."
But Obama offered far more examples of where he would spend than where he would cut, and some of the areas he identified for savings are not certain to yield much if anything.
For example, he said he wants to eliminate "billions in taxpayer dollars we currently give to oil companies." Yet he made a similar proposal last year that went nowhere. He sought $36.5 billion in tax increases on oil and gas companies over the next decade, but Congress largely ignored the request, even though Democrats were then in charge of both houses of Congress.
A look at some of Obama's statements Tuesday night and how they compare with the facts:
OBAMA: Tackling the deficit "means further reducing health care costs, including programs like Medicare and Medicaid, which are the single biggest contributor to our long-term deficit. Health insurance reform will slow these rising costs, which is part of why nonpartisan economists have said that repealing the health care law would add a quarter of a trillion dollars to our deficit."
THE FACTS: The idea that Obama's health care law saves money for the government is based on assumptions that are arguable, at best.
To be sure, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has estimated the law will slightly reduce red ink over 10 years. But the office's analysis assumes that steep cuts in Medicare spending, as called for in the law, will actually take place. Others in the government have concluded it is unrealistic to expect such savings from Medicare.
In recent years, for example, Congress has repeatedly overridden a law that would save the treasury billions by cutting deeply into Medicare pay for doctors. Just last month, the government once again put off the scheduled cuts for another year, at a cost of $19 billion. That money is being taken out of the health care overhaul. Congress has shown itself sensitive to pressure from seniors and their doctors, and there's little reason to think that will change.
OBAMA: Vowed to veto any bills sent to him that include "earmarks," pet spending provisions pushed by individual lawmakers. "Both parties in Congress should know this: If a bill comes to my desk with earmarks inside, I will veto it."
THE FACTS: House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, has promised that no bill with earmarks will be sent to Obama in the first place. Republicans have taken the lead in battling earmarks while Obama signed plenty of earmark-laden spending bills when Democrats controlled both houses.
It's a turnabout for the president; in early 2009, Obama sounded like an apologist for the practice: "Done right, earmarks have given legislators the opportunity to direct federal money to worthy projects that benefit people in their districts, and that's why I've opposed their outright elimination," he said then.
OBAMA: "I'm willing to look at other ideas to bring down costs, including one that Republicans suggested last year: medical malpractice reform to rein in frivolous lawsuits."
THE FACTS: Republicans may be forgiven if this offer makes them feel like Charlie Brown running up to kick the football, only to have it pulled away, again.
Obama has expressed openness before to this prominent Republican proposal, but it has not come to much. It was one of several GOP ideas that were dropped or diminished in the health care law after Obama endorsed them in a televised bipartisan meeting at the height of the debate.
Republicans want federal action to limit jury awards in medical malpractice cases; what Obama appears to be offering, by supporting state efforts, falls short of that. The president has said he agrees that fear of being sued leads to unnecessary tests and procedures that drive up health care costs. So far the administration has only wanted to study the issue.
Trial lawyers, major political donors to Democratic candidates, are strongly opposed to caps on jury awards. But the administration has been reluctant to support other approaches, such as the creation of specialized courts where expert judges, not juries, would decide malpractice cases.
OBAMA: As testament to the fruits of his administration's diplomatic efforts to control the spread of nuclear weapons, he said the Iranian government "faces tougher and tighter sanctions than ever before."
THE FACTS: That is true, and it reflects Obama's promise one year ago that Iran would face "growing consequences" if it failed to heed international demands to constrain its nuclear program. But what Obama didn't say was that U.S. diplomacy has failed to persuade Tehran to negotiate over U.N. demands that it take steps to prove it is not on the path toward a bomb. Preliminary talks with Iran earlier this month broke off after the Iranians demanded U.S. sanctions be lifted.