Tag Archives: abortion

ObamaCare and the truth of abortion funding

Dorinda Bordlee: SBA List challenges an Ohio statute criminalizing political speech . . .

Dorinda C. Bordlee

Dorinda C. Bordlee

The U.S. Supreme Court is reviewing a challenge that involves abortion, lies and ObamaCare. The case, Susan B. Anthony v. Driehaus, involves a free speech challenge to an Ohio law that criminalizes “false statements” about a candidate’s voting record.

The case raises important questions about the rights of citizens and advocacy groups to criticize elected officials’ votes without fearing criminal prosecution by partisans who claim that truth is false.

“Congressman Steve Driehaus voted for taxpayer funding of abortion when he cast a vote for the health care reform bill.” Those words, communicated by the Susan B. Anthony List to Ohio voters in the midst of the 2010 mid-term elections, are true. Yet the Susan B. Anthony List (SBA List), a pro-life advocacy group under the leadership of Legate Marjorie Dannenfelser, was soon haled before Ohio’s elections commission, which — by a 2-1 vote along partisan lines — found “probable cause” to believe that such speech violated Ohio’s false-statement law. Another group wanted to communicate the same message, but refrained from doing so for fear of criminal prosecution, demonstrating how the Ohio law chills political speech.

The election complaint was brought by now-former Rep. Driehaus, a “Blue Dog Democrat” who was a member of the infamous Stupak 10. Like many in that group, Driehaus abandoned his resolve to vote against any health care bill that did not include a Hyde-like amendment expressly prohibiting abortion funding across the entire act. As you may recall, then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi refused to allow a vote on the Stupak Amendment that would have done just that.

Despite the lack of any abortion-limiting language in the bill, Driehaus justified his “yes” vote on ObamaCare on the hollow executive order provided as cover by the President. Planned Parenthood’s president even called the order “a symbolic gesture.” Driehaus’ vote cost him his seat in Congress, but it hasn’t stopped litigation over both the truthfulness of the claim and the constitutionality of a state law that chills the speech of citizens who dare to say that the Emperor has no clothes.

This spring, the Supreme Court will address the question of whether the Sixth Circuit erred by holding, in direct conflict with the Eighth Circuit, that state laws which punish “false” political speech are not subject to pre-enforcement First Amendment review so long as the speaker maintains that its speech is true, even if others who enforce the law manifestly disagree.

SBA List attorneys argue that the Sixth Circuit holding flies in the face of the Supreme Court’s case law and undermines the most basic First Amendment values. In support, Bioethics Defense Fund filed a key amicus brief to aid the Court in answering the underlying question that started the controversy: namely, whether the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) authorizes taxpayer funding of abortion.

The answer is “yes.” Yet the federal district court concluded otherwise, reasoning that “the express language of the ACA does not provide for tax-payer funded abortion. That is a fact and it is clear on its face.” But, as our brief explains, this conclusion is superficial, and therefore erroneous. The court’s conclusion ignores both the jurisprudential context in which the ACA was enacted (showing that courts compel abortion coverage unless expressly excluded), and it ignores the Act’s drafting history that shows the repeated rejection and thwarting of House-adopted abortion-limiting language on the ACA’s billions of dollars of independent appropriations.

Our brief explains that the final ACA did not — and still does not — contain an amendment limiting abortion funding across the entire Act. In fact, the President issued a veto threat of a 2011 House-passed bill that would have added that language. This has resulted in concrete examples of how implementation has authorized funding of elective abortion in federal programs, as well as the use of taxpayer dollars to subsidize exchange plans that cover surgical abortion and the abortion-inducing drugs required by the HHS mandate.

In short, SBA List seeks to challenge an Ohio statute that criminalizes core political speech that Bioethics Defense Fund demonstrates to be truthful. Yet the Sixth Circuit decision has concluded that the challenge is not ripe given that the election is over, ignoring the fact that their political speech has been erroneously labeled false and concretely constrained by an elections commission that has the statutory power to act as a truth-squad. If free speech is to be protected, the Supreme Court must reverse the decision and allow the statute’s constitutionality to be challenged.

DORINDA C. BORDLEE is co-founder of Bioethics Defense Fund, a non-profit legal organization that advocates for the dignity of human life through litigation, legislation and public education.

Gimme Shelter

Vanessa Hudgens delivers a stirring performance in one of the best pro-life films ever . . .

gimme-shelterGimme Shelter
Starring Vanessa Hudgens, Brendan Fraser, James Earl Jones
In theaters: Jan. 24
Rated PG-13

Run time: 110 min

There are so many reasons for pro-lifers to celebrate: Abortion rates are dropping every year, more people than ever are calling themselves pro-life, and ultrasound technology has put to rest the old lie that an unborn child is nothing more than a “clump of cells.”

Another reason to rejoice is that filmmakers and even big-name Hollywood stars are making films that affirm the humanity of the unborn. We’ve seen a bevy of blockbusters over the past 10 years — from Bella to October Baby. Next up is Gimme Shelter, certainly the best film on teen pregnancy ever made.

James Earl Jones (Father McCarthy) shares a scene with Vanessa Hudgens (Apple Baily) in Gimme Shelter

James Earl Jones (Father McCarthy) shares a scene with Vanessa Hudgens (Apple Baily) in Gimme Shelter

Apple Bailey (Hudgens) runs away from her abusive mother, June (Rosario Dawson) — an addict and prostitute who is grooming her daughter to follow in her footsteps. Apple tracks down her father, Tom Fitzpatrick (Fraser), whom she has never known, and begs him to take her in. A few days later, she finds out she’s pregnant.

After Tom’s wife takes her to an abortion clinic, Apple bolts again. She is taken under the wing of Fr. McCarthy (James Earl Jones), the chaplain of the local hospital, after almost getting herself killed. He introduces Apple to a shelter for pregnant young women where she meets girls who are in the same predicament. The film is based on the life and ministry of Kathy DiFiore, who founded Several Sources Shelters in 1984.

In addition to the stirring performance from Hudgens (High School Musical), which draws attention to the plight of pregnant teens, Fraser (The Mummy) delivers his best work in years. His character left Apple’s mother before she was even born so that he could attend a prestigious college. While his hard work paid off, he had lived for years with the pain of abandoning his daughter.

Brendan Fraser plays Vanessa Hudgens' father in Gimme Shelter

Brendan Fraser plays Vanessa Hudgens’ father in Gimme Shelter

Gimme Shelter is everything a film about crisis pregnancy should be — gritty, challenging, tragic and real. Beyond that, the film is filled with hope and redemption, healing and grace. It’s no wonder that Bishop Ignacio Carrasco de Paula, president of the Pontifical Academy for Life, gave the film his highest recommendation: “Gimme Shelter [explores] the hard questions regarding the meaning of life, family, love and suffering.

“Apple fights against all odds and finds hope in the kindness of some key people,” he continued, “including a hospital chaplain who expresses the true nature of a priestly soul of service, guidance, and the deep love of God.”

PATRICK NOVECOSKY is Legatus magazine’s editor-in-chief.

Official film website (with trailer)

Saving lives one ad at a time

Legate Brian Follett has mounted a fight for mothers and their babies using the media . . .

Brian and Bernice with their two children

Brian and Bernice with their two children

Sometimes the right pro-life ad really can make all the difference.

Heroic Media founder Brian Follett has seen it happen time and again. His pro-life media company targets geographical markets with a multimedia approach: billboard, TV and Internet ads. The result is, invariably, that the number of women contacting pregnancy help centers skyrockets.

Heroic Media has made a name for itself for both the quality and quantity of its ads. When the company ran a media campaign in Ohio two years ago, they saw the numbers of abortions plummet with 3,000 fewer abortions in the state that year.

Three-fold mission

A member of Legatus’ Orange County Chapter, Follett spent the majority of his professional life running Anchor Foods, which his family sold in 2001. The break from leading a large company led Follett to ponder ways he could “give back.”

“I went on a spiritual retreat and began to think about a construction boycott that I had taken part in against a huge Planned Parenthood facility being built in Austin, Texas,” he said. “I realized then that pro-life media wasn’t being done in Austin.”

Follett, who has a marketing background, slowly discerned God calling him to pro-life media. He founded Majella Cares in 2004. For four years, the organization focused on Texas, spending $2 million on ads — including 7,000 TV commercials and 128 billboards, in addition to Internet ads and radio spots. Abortions dropped 20% in Austin.

After changing the company’s name to Heroic Media, Follett decided to go national in 2008. In the last three years, Heroic has conducted 10 nationwide media campaigns and more than 160 campaigns in 32 states. Heroic is running 24 regional campaigns this fall.

“As a non-profit, we run on a faith-based process,” Follett explained. “We gather as a team every morning at 8 am and pray. The number one thing for us is to place our trust in God.”

Heroic Media has a three-fold mission: “Call for Help” ads connecting women to pregnancy help centers, “Attitude Change” ads getting women to rethink abortion, and ads promoting adoption. When Heroic conducts a campaign in a specific region, the first thing it does is partner with local pro-life groups.

Rev. Joe Young

Rev. Joe Young

“We are all about partners,” said Rev. Joe Young, an evangelical pastor who serves as Heroic’s executive director. “No one group can do it all. It’s biblical for us to work together. When we team our resources, we can do exponential work in any area.”

When Heroic partners with a pregnancy help center, it does client marketing plus promotional TV, Internet, billboard, and mass transit ads for the center.

Heroic’s marketing staff travels the country, conducting market research and focus groups. “Before and after any media campaign, they get very serious statistical numbers,” said Alejandro Bermudez, a Heroic Media board member and president of Catholic News Agency.

For example, Heroic Media conducted a campaign in Pittsburgh from Dec. 1, 2012, to June 23, 2013. The campaign generated 6,849 responses. People responded by web visits, emails, phone calls and direct contacts. Heroic created Google ads, TV ads, transit ads and posters. They discovered that their Google ads produced 73% of all responses.

Young tracks the national response to Heroic’s campaigns, noting that each market responds in a unique way.

“Last year, over 178,000 women responded to our media ads,” he said. “They connected with us through our 24/7 helpline, Option Line. It’s humbling when you think that we are only a staff of 10 people,” Young said.

Adoption option

When Heroic staff began to research the issue of adoption, they discovered that the concept frightened many women.

“Our effectiveness is measured by how these ads speak to target audiences,” Follett explained. “Everything we do is researched. We did a focus group and found that historically, the marketing of adoption scared women into having abortions. But then we discovered that if the ads had language that said, ‘I can choose who will raise my child,’ the attitude towards adoption changed for the better.”

“Our partnership with Heroic has been 100% positive,” said Marc Andreas, vice president of marketing for Bethany Christian Services. “They did the leg work through national TV ad campaigns, and we’ve shared our adoption expertise.”

Andreas recalls the first night they aired a commercial on the Oxygen cable channel last November.

“A woman in Jacksonville, Fla., had four children and was due in a few days with her fifth child. She didn’t have a good family situation and was planning to leave the baby at the hospital,” Andreas said. “When she saw the commercial, her 11-year old son said, ‘You should call that number.’”

The woman called and within two hours someone from Bethany met with her to discuss adoption. They found a pastor in Orlando trying to adopt and facilitated the adoption. Today, the woman is in touch with the pastor’s family because it was an open adoption.

“We have gotten hundreds of phone calls from airing those ads,” Andreas said. “We’ve been able to help so many women dealing with an unplanned pregnancy who had never considered adoption. It’s enabled us to walk them through.”

Legatus connection

Follett’s family has long been connected with Legatus — especially in Green Bay where his brother Mark is a member of the Northeast Wisconsin Chapter.

“Legatus has been an inspiration in so many ways because the work we do is so hard,” Brian Follett said. “It is really helpful when we come together with Legatus members to share our struggles. They have been very supportive.”

While Legatus has helped him keep his passion alive for helping women in crisis pregnancies, Follett says it is stoked from years of cultivating his faith in Jesus Christ and His Church.

“A lot of my passion comes from a trip I took to Medjugorje in 1991,” he explained. “My dad had gone there in 1990 and came back crying whenever he spoke about it. Before that trip, I had only been a Sunday-Mass kind of Catholic, but my heart wasn’t into it. Now, I’m still waiting for my head to catch up.”

That passion has also inspired Follett to take Heroic Media international. In 2011, the company opened operations in Ecuador, Colombia, Chile, Costa Rica, Peru and Mexico as Opciones Heróicas. In Costa Rica, Heroic runs a pregnancy help center. In Ecuador, Heroic is cohosting an international pro-life Congress which uses a “tunnel of love” van, allowing students and adults to walk through and look at interactive videos about fetal development.

“Abortion is still not legal in the majority of Latin American countries,” Bermudez explained. “However, this is exactly why pregnancy help centers are needed. Without them, people will say that women really have no options.”

Giving women and their babies life-affirming options is what Heroic Media is all about, he said, and their ads are quietly making a difference in hundreds of lives every day.

SABRINA ARENA FERRISI is Legatus magazine’s senior staff writer.

Learn more:

HeroicMedia.org

OptionLine.org

Bethany.org

ImPregnant.org

Implementing the plan for victory

Fr. Frank Pavone says pro-life gains are adding up quickly and victory is near . . .

Fr. Frank Pavone celebrates Mass with Fr. Rob Schenck during the annual Legatus Pro-Life Conference

Fr. Frank Pavone celebrates Mass with Fr. Rob Schenck during Legatus’ annual Legatus Pro-Life Conference

When I became director of Priests for Life 20 years ago, I began visiting national pro-life leaders to learn what they were doing and to offer our help.

This led us to develop a specific plan to end abortion, which marshals the strengths of the pro-life movement against the weaknesses of the abortion industry. We update and implement that plan through networking with leaders, not only through strategic summits but also through spiritual retreats.

I am more convinced than ever that we are winning the fight against abortion. I’d like to explore one of the key reasons why the plan is bearing fruit, and how we can build on this momentum. Two key issues for pro-lifers today are the battles for marriage and religious liberty. Priests for Life was among the first to file a lawsuit over the HHS mandate, and we are confident of victory. But the battle for the defense of life itself will always remain the most fundamental moral struggle, because one can neither be married, religious, or free unless one is first born. Murder, including abortion and euthanasia, takes away these other rights and goods as well.

In the fight against abortion, the words of St. Paul are playing out: “Have nothing to do with the fruitless works of darkness; rather, expose them” (Eph 5:11).

Philadelphia abortionist Kermit Gosnell’s trial and conviction exposed abortion to national debate. It opened many people’s eyes to three things: what is done to the child; what is done to the woman, who is often injured and even killed; and the unsafe, unscrupulous environment of the abortion industry, which doesn’t even measure up to the standards in place at veterinary clinics.

As various members of our Priests for Life team attended Gosnell’s trial, reporters would ask us if we thought Gosnell was “crazy.” I responded, “Not necessarily. He is simply following the logic of the abortion industry.”

Roe v. Wade did not deny that unborn children are living human beings, but it did remove their protection under the law. “We need not resolve the difficult question of when life begins” [410 U.S. 113, 159], the decision said, and at the same time, “the word ‘person,’ as used in the Fourteenth Amendment, does not include the unborn” [410 U.S. 113, 158].

This leads to what Gosnell did — namely, killing the same babies even after birth. The Journal of Medical Ethics published an article entitled, “After-birth abortion: Why should the baby live?” (Feb. 23, 2012). The authors state, “The moral status of an infant is equivalent to that of a fetus in the sense that both lack those properties that justify the attribution of a right to life to an individual.”

Controversial ethicist Peter Singer once said that the “location of the baby inside or outside the womb cannot make such a crucial moral difference,” and that to be consistent, there are “only two possibilities” — “oppose abortion or allow infanticide.”

My recent public letter to House minority leader Nancy Pelosi (LetterToNancy.com) caught such national attention because it demanded that she answer a question that we must all answer: What is the difference between killing a baby by legal abortion in the final months of pregnancy and killing the same baby outside the mother’s womb (for which Gosnell is serving life sentences)?

Raising this question has helped legislators to pass legislation that protects children after birth and in the later stages of pregnancy. Some 10 states — as well as the U.S. House of Representatives — have voted to prohibit abortion starting at 20 weeks of fetal age. This is monumental. Pro-lifers are also working with legislators to strengthen state laws that regulate abortion facilities, causing many of them to close. At least 58 U.S. abortion mills — almost 1 in 10 — have shut or stopped killing children since 2011.

These measures don’t represent the final goal; they represent the next logical step. Every abortion is equal in its moral violation, but not in its psychological impact. And regulating an abortion clinic doesn’t make the abortions right. But pedagogically, we take the public and our legislators from the more obvious to the less obvious, and real progress is being made. Just exposing abortion is enough to bring most people to reject it.

As our executive director Janet Morana points out in her new book Recall Abortion, the testimonies of those who have had the experience (and the studies of the damage it does) make the case for the government to protect these women — and ultimately to recall the procedure as harmful to the public. We are closer to that day than ever before!

FR. FRANK PAVONE is the national director of Priests for Life.

Who lives, who dies, who decides?

Marie Hilliard: People who want a ‘perfect life’ will even kill children . . .

Marie T. Hilliard

Marie T. Hilliard

We live in a culture that perpetuates the myth that we can have a perfect life. Baby Boomers embraced the fable that they can control everything, including life and death. After all, technology has provided such great advances that children can be engendered on demand.

If less than perfect offspring are identified before birth, they can be eliminated. In the Netherlands, parents have the option of “after birth abortion” — also known as murder or infanticide. This has evolved into a cultural mindset that deems less-than-“perfect” persons — such as those with disabilities and the elderly with dementia — as unfit to live, or at least unworthy to have equitable access to health care resources.

As we witness the generation that embraced abortion-on-demand advancing in age, will this generation now be the subject of the next generation’s similar approach to the frail or disabled elderly?

As faith is being driven out of the public square, the concept that suffering can have meaning is increasingly alien to our culture. Many of us remember being formed by faithful nuns. They showed us how suffering can have meaning when united to the cross. How often did we hear, “Offer it up” — especially for the poor souls in Purgatory?

We live in a culture that only accepts the redemption that is falsely depicted as a perfect life in this world. Public policy makers, including elected officials, are merely products of our culture whom we’ve empowered to represent us in the public square; and as these polices unfold, there is growing evidence that the only acceptable way to deal with suffering is to abandon or eradicate the sufferer.

The evidence is everywhere. Studies demonstrate that in vitro fertilization (IVF) is being used by some parents to accomplish preimplantation genetic diagnosis on their very own offspring. A recent study indicates that 42% of the centers that engage in such lethal procedures will do so for sex selection. This move toward designer babies is a clear indication of a eugenic mentality, where only the flawless are allowed to live. No one can ignore the changing attitudes on how we treat the frail elderly and persons with disabilities.

Three states have legalized physician-assisted suicide (PAS): Oregon, Washington and Vermont. Montana decriminalized it through court order. The frightening fact is that there is a trend progressing toward active euthanasia, which is the case in the Netherlands. And if one looks at the statistics from Oregon, the data give great pause. Despite the fact that Oregon law mandates that a physician require a psychological evaluation of a patient if there is any question of whether a mental health condition may be causing the person to want to die, of the 673 persons assisted to die, only 42 were referred for such an evaluation.

What person wanting to end their life is not experiencing a treatable depression that could be alleviated if someone merely accompanied them in their suffering? Furthermore, Oregon law will not allow family members to be told of the request without explicit consent, nor allow the death certificate to list anything other than the underlying pathology as the cause of death. Thus, the frail elderly and disabled may easily be convinced by an exhausted or greedy family member that to kill oneself might be in everyone’s best interests.

Then enter the government with its own eugenic version of health care reform. The Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare) supports programs that provide abortion-on-demand and requires employers to provide employees with contraceptive and abortifacient drugs. It also penalizes health care providers who, in caring for the elderly and disabled, are costing the government too much money. There are penalties for hospital readmissions for the same diagnosis within a 30-day period. There is a 15-member Medicare Advisory Panel which will determine reimbursement polices on cost effectiveness.

The evidence is clear: Social policy is dictating who is worthy to be accompanied in their suffering and who is to be eliminated as too great a burden to our society. This is heralding a whole new approach to the sufferer and with it the denigration of our humanity. As Pope Benedict XVI wrote in Spe Salvi : “The true measure of humanity is essentially determined in relationship to suffering and to the sufferer. This holds true both for the individual and for society. A society unable to accept its suffering members and incapable of helping to share their suffering and to bear it inwardly through compassion is a cruel and inhuman society” (II, 38).

If we do not accompany the sufferer, and even worse, if we eliminate him from our midst, we have become a cruel and inhumane society.

MARIE T. HILLIARD, JCL, PhD, RN, is a staff ethicist at the National Catholic Bioethics Center.

ObamaCare at the bottom of the ninth

Dorinda Bordlee & Nikolas Nikas say efforts to overturn ObamaCare are ongoing . . .

Nikolas T. Nikas

Nikolas T. Nikas

In July of 1973, Yogi Berra’s New York Mets trailed the Chicago Cubs by nine games in the National League East. That’s when he uttered his most famous phrase: “It ain’t over till it’s over.” The Mets rallied to win the division title on the final day of the season.

Most are aware that the Health and Human Services “contraceptive mandate” cases are proceeding, but the legal challenges to ObamaCare as a whole are over, right? Not according to the U.S. Supreme Court. We’re writing this article to summarize the revived ObamaCare challenge — and to invite Legates to join a “friend of the court” amicus brief.

On Nov. 26, 2012, just three weeks after the presidential election, the U.S. Supreme Court issued an order reviving a 2010 lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of vital ObamaCare provisions — provisions that if struck down could prove to be fatal to the entire ObamaCare scheme.

In this revived case — Liberty University v. Geithner (No. 11-438) — the Supreme Court granted the Christian university’s petition for rehearing and “remanded to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit for further consideration in light of National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius.NFIB v. Sebelius is the case issued by the Supreme Court this past summer that upheld ObamaCare’s individual mandate under Justice Roberts’ strained reasoning that the penalty on individuals could be viewed as a “tax.”

Dorinda C. Bordlee

Dorinda C. Bordlee

The NFIB case did not raise or address many issues that will now be the subject of federal court scrutiny, including provisions regarding the employer mandate and its crippling penalties, the individual mandate in light of possible constitutional infirmities that arise from the Supreme Court’s interpretation of the penalty as a “tax,” and — as raised in our original amicus brief — conscience issues and Free Exercise violations posed by ObamaCare’s hidden “abortion premium mandate.”

The Liberty case will be briefed and argued by Liberty Counsel lawyers before a federal appeals court in Richmond, Va., this spring and might end up before the U.S. Supreme Court on the merits before the 2014 effective date of the ObamaCare state exchanges.

Bioethics Defense Fund — the non-profit legal organization that we founded to put law in the service of life in accord with the natural law teachings of the Catholic Church — will be counsel of record on the amicus (friend-of-the-court) brief designed to support Liberty University by fully addressing issues of religious liberty and pro-life conscience.

Several Legatus members have already agreed to be named as “amici” (friends) in the brief to be presented to the U.S. Fourth Circuit — and later to the U.S. Supreme Court. We are looking to add as many Legatus members as possible. As amici, you would be on record as a Catholic businessperson who has an interest in educating the federal judges about provisions that raise serious conscience objections for Catholics. Amici are not parties to the lawsuit, and they are free from any legal obligations.

All that would be required to join the brief as a friend-of-the-court is your name (and that of your spouse if desired) and the location of your Legatus chapter. We will list you in your individual capacity as a Legatus member, but you may list your position and the name of your company for purposes of identification only.

Our brief will address the “abortion premium mandate,” a section that allows health plans in the state exchanges to carry abortion coverage but not to disclose it until enrollment. ObamaCare then requires that every enrollee who ends up in a health plan with abortion coverage must pay a separate itemized abortion premium of a minimum $1 per month, with no exceptions. That separate premium, directly paid from the pockets of individual enrollees, is required to be placed by the insurer into a fund designated solely to pay claims for other people’s elective abortions.

As counsel on amicus briefs in nearly a dozen HHS mandate cases, we know that the Obama Department of Justice has its hands full defending religious liberty lawsuits across the country. But the rights of conscience lawsuits are set to explode exponentially once millions of Americans find themselves in plans that require a government-compelled abortion premium mandate in 2014 — unless ObamaCare is fatally undermined by this revived legal challenge.

Action Item: To join the BDF ObamaCare amicus brief in the Fourth Circuit on behalf of individual Legatus members who have an interest in educating the judges about the abortion premium mandate, contact us at info@bdfund.org or (504) 231-7234. Click here to join us in this effort.

DORINDA C. BORDLEE and NIKOLAS T. NIKAS are attorneys and founders of Bioethics Defense Fund, a national legal and educational organization whose mission is to put law in the service of life.

The Irish fight for life

Michael Sullivan writes that Irish politicians will soon unveil abortion legislation . . .

Michael C.X. Sullivan

Michael C.X. Sullivan

Ireland is key to the global pro-life movement for one reason: The Emerald Isle is a model nation for women’s health, and abortion is banned in all circumstances.

In 2007, the U.N. reported Ireland as the world’s safest place for a woman to have a baby; the maternal mortality is the world’s lowest In the U.K. and U.S., where abortion is legal, maternal mortality is two times higher and 3.5 times higher, respectively, than in Ireland. The nation’s ethos has made it a model for the world in terms of maternal health. This threatens the abortion industry.

The international abortion lobby depends on the big lie that abortion is a women’s health issue and that abortion bans lead to women dying from “illegal, unsafe, backstreet abortions.” As a result, Ireland is at the top of the international abortion lobby’s hit list because model nations’ policies are studied and often adopted by other countries. Ireland shows the world that the best abortion policy for women is no abortion at all.

George Soros and Chuck Feeney, a wealthy Irish-American entrepreneur, have given millions to the Irish abortion lobby. They have influenced the media and elite opinion with the lie that Irish women are dying from the country’s “backward” ban on abortion.

Last November, The Irish Times reported on the death of Dr. Savita Halappanavar and her 17-week-old unborn baby. They died due to E. coli-related blood poisoning, yet her death was exploited by the claim that it was due to her being “denied a termination” of pregnancy in “Catholic” Ireland. Three days before the story broke, abortion activists began preparing a public relations strategy and then pushed the story global. Headlines blasted around the world condemning Ireland for its religious culture and its “medieval ban on abortion” that “murders” women, sparking protest vigils to change Ireland’s laws.

Two weeks after the damage, the reporter who broke the story, Kitty Holland, admitted that the details of the story were “muddled” and that she was “not satisfied” that Savita or her husband ever requested a termination. Holland happens to be the daughter of two prominent abortion advocates.

The stage is now set. Later this year, Irish politicians will unveil legislation permitting abortion in cases where the mother is allegedly suicidal. This is the culmination of the abortion lobby’s decades-long legal strategy. This exception will supposedly limit “social abortions” taken for personal reasons unrelated to a medical condition.

Of course the reality is that a mental health exception is simply a political ploy to place apparent restrictions on abortion where none will exist in practice. It’s a deceptive strategy for achieving legalized abortion on demand. The proposed Irish legislation parallels the scheme used in California in 1967 to open the floodgates there before Roe v. Wade.

The California Therapeutic Abortion Act of 1967 permitted abortions in cases of mental illness when three physicians agreed that the exception applied. In one year, 61,572 babies were aborted in California and 98.2% of them were under the mental health exception. The California Supreme Court noted, “Serious doubt must exist that such a considerable number of pregnant women could have been [involuntarily] committed to a mental institution [the medical standard to permit an abortion].”

This is why the elites are pushing this deceptive strategy, despite the fact that abortion is never a treatment for suicidality — and the evidence indicates that abortion actually contributes to elevated suicide ideation. Over the last 30 years, only 79 mothers died in Ireland, and only two were suicides of women with a long history of mental health issues unrelated to pregnancy. Using the California strategy, abortion on demand will be a practical reality in Ireland.

Throughout history the Irish have risen up and overcome. But this fight is different. Pro-life forces are outfunded, and the opposition has the media and the elite in their pocket. The Church and pro-life advocates have the truth and the majority of the Irish people with them. However, they need to reach the people directly through ads (billboard, bus, train), social media, and direct mail campaigns to communicate the facts ignored by the biased news media. This is obviously an expensive undertaking and Ireland can’t do it alone — especially since their financial crisis. They need our help.

We Americans know the high cost of losing this battle, and Life House Ireland is in the thick of it. Its special report — The Crisis in Ireland — was prepared especially for Legates who traveled to Ireland on pilgrimage last fall. You can get your free report at IrishFightforLife.org. Join us in the fight for life!

MICHAEL C.X. SULLIVAN is a Chicago-based attorney. He is special counsel to Life House Ireland and the Thomas More Society. He is also an allied attorney to the Alliance Defending Freedom.

Faithful citizens

Catholic voters must consider many issues on election day, including 5 non-negotiables . . .

When Catholics go to the polls on Nov. 6, they bring the power of a massive block of voters. Nearly a quarter of registered U.S. voters self-identity as Catholic. They may be registered as Democrats or Republicans, but once inside the voting booth, it will be time for Catholics to set aside party politics in favor of their faith.

Conscience

Some Catholics have become confused in recent years in thinking that as long as they follow their “consciences,” they can vote as they please. Resources like the “Catholic Answers Voter’s Guide for Serious Catholics,” however, make it clear that one’s conscience in itself does not determine right and wrong.

“For your conscience to work properly,” the guide says, “it must be properly informed — that is, you must inform yourself about what is right and what is wrong. Only then will your conscience be a trusted guide.”

A well-formed conscience, the guide says, will never contradict Church teaching. Catholics who are uncertain about what their consciences are saying concerning specific issues and candidates are advised to place their trust in the Church’s moral teachings as spelled out in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

In “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship,” the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops warns against “misguided appeals to ‘conscience’ to ignore fundamental moral claims, to reduce Catholic moral concerns to one or two matters, or to justify choices simply to advance partisan, ideological or personal interests.”

Non-negotiables

When choosing candidates and deciding issues, Catholics are bound to consider non-negotiable moral principles and, as much as possible, avoid voting for candidates and issues that promote intrinsically evil actions like abortion. Intrinsic evils are acts that are in conflict with moral law and thus can never be performed, endorsed, or promoted without sinful consequences.

The Catholic Answers guide states that five issues are non-negotiable when it comes to voting on a candidate or ballot question. Besides abortion, they include the intentional and direct killing of a developing human being, including assisted suicide and euthanasia (often miscast as “mercy killing”); embryonic stem-cell research, which destroys embryonic human beings; human cloning, which separates procreation from the marital union; and homosexual “marriage,” a distortion of true marriage, which can only take place between one man and one woman.

To the greatest extent possible, Catholics are to avoid voting for candidates who endorse or promote policies that provide for any of these acts and to vote instead for those who promote policies in keeping with moral law.

This year, Catholics will face some of these questions as specific ballot issues in states like Massachusetts, where a measure providing for “assisted suicide” will be put to a vote, and in Maine, Maryland, Minnesota and Washington, where measures either allowing same-sex “marriage” or defining marriage are on the ballot.

Religious liberty

In addition, Catholics must examine the positions of individual candidates and party platforms on these important non-negotiables. For example, in the current presidential race, the Democratic candidate supports abortion on demand and same-sex “marriage,” as does his party platform.

Bishop Thomas Paprocki

Bishop Thomas Paprocki of Springfield, Ill., recently called attention to the Democratic Party platform, warning that it endorses intrinsic evils. “My job is not to tell you for whom you should vote,” he wrote in his Sept. 23 column in the Catholic Times, his diocesan newspaper. “But I do have a duty to speak out on moral issues. I would be abdicating this duty if I remained silent out of fear of sounding ‘political’ and didn’t say anything about the morality of these issues.”

Bishop Paprocki went on to caution that voting for a candidate who promotes actions or behaviors that are intrinsically evil makes a voter “morally complicit” and even places his or her eternal salvation in jeopardy.

The bishop said the Republican Party platform contains nothing that supports or promotes intrinsic evil.

Another issue facing Catholics as they go to the polls this year will be the question of religious liberty in the wake of the Obama administration’s Health and Human Services mandate requiring all health insurance plans, even those of church-based organizations and institutions, to provide coverage for contraception, including abortion-inducing drugs and sterilization.

More than 100 plaintiffs — including Legatus and many of its members — have filed suit against the federal government over the HHS contraception mandate.

In “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship,” U.S. bishops express concern about efforts to force Catholic employers to either violate their consciences or stop serving those in need.

Despite requests for conscience-protection provisions, the government’s exemption has been limited to groups and institutions that employ and serve only people of their own faith.

Besides abortion, euthanasia and efforts to redefine marriage, the bishops also have cited as concerns the current economic crisis, increasing deficits, failure to repair a broken immigration system, and the problems of war, terror and violence.

However, they make clear that although some of the issues raise serious moral questions, not all involve intrinsic evil.

Judy Roberts is Legatus magazine’s staff— writer.

Five non-negotiables

These five current issues concern actions that are intrinsically evil and must never be promoted by the law.

1. Abortion
2. Euthanasia
3. Embryonic stem-cell research
4. Human cloning
5. Homosexual “marriage”

Resources

usccb.org/issues-and-action/faithful-citizenship

politicalresponsibility.com

catholicvote.org

Abortion and women’s equality

Patrick Lee attempts to make sense of the legal and ethical arguments for abortion . . .

Dr. Patrick Lee

In the last decade or so there has been a shift in the kind of argument usually advanced by abortion advocates. The new approach is to argue that laws against abortion violate the Equal Protection clause of the 14th Amendment (“nor shall any state deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws”).

The basic argument was expressed by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in a dissenting opinion in a 2006 case: “Women, it is now acknowledged, have the talent, capacity, and right to participate equally in the economic and social life of the Nation. Their ability to realize their full potential … is intimately connected to their ability to control their reproductive lives. Thus, legal challenges to undue restrictions on abortion procedures do not seek to vindicate some generalized notion of privacy; rather, they center on a woman’s autonomy to determine her life’s course, and thus to enjoy equal citizenship stature.”

In other words, without access to abortion (they argue) sexually active women will be subject to the burdens of pregnancy and the immediate responsibility for child care in a way that men will not, and will therefore be less able to compete in society — and less in control of their destiny. So, they conclude, laws against abortion deny women the equal protection of the law and are unconstitutional.

President Obama made this argument his own — and has consistently acted on it. Speaking in January to a crowd at a Planned Parenthood celebration of Roe v. Wade, the President said: “We must also continue our efforts to ensure that our daughters have the same rights, freedoms and opportunities as our sons to fulfill their dreams” — in other words, not having access to abortion, or even difficulties in that access, would impede women from “fulfilling their dreams.”

Given this understanding, the state must not only make abortion legal, it must ensure that abortion is widely and easily accessible — and even actively encourage it. The argument’s central premise is that women cannot be equal to men unless they are unencumbered by (at least) unplanned pregnancies. (And in fact, if women can reach full citizenship stature only in the workplace, then any pregnancy tends to be an obstacle.) It becomes a requirement on the part of the state to ensure that women are not thus impeded. Moreover, they say, leveling the playing field in the workplace and political arena will not been achieved until the state encourages abortion — and contraceptive “services” as well.

Again, since the goal is actual abortions and not just the liberty to procure them, it follows that teaching that abortion (or contraception) is wrong presents an obstacle in the path toward women’s equality. Indeed, since even the thought that abortion is immoral makes women less likely to resort to them, the state must strive to create a culture in which the acceptance of abortion is the public orthodoxy and those who disagree are viewed as extremists and intolerant bigots. (Thus the recent attack on religious freedom is not a historical accident.)

This equal protection argument is radically unsound. It’s true that laws against abortion have a different impact on women than they do on men. However, from the fact that a law might have a different impact on different groups, it does not follow that the law is treating these groups differently. In the 19th century, laws against slavery impacted southern plantation owners differently than others, but they were not for that reason unconstitutional or unjust.

Second, in reality men have just as much a moral responsibility as women to care for and support their children. True, because women carry and give birth to children, men can escape their real responsibilities much more easily than can women. But it’s no solution to this situation to encourage women to kill their children as a means of making them just as able — or at least more able — to walk away from a pregnancy, as their male partners. The fact that only women gestate and give birth to babies is an important fact. There may be many things we should do to ensure that women are not disadvantaged by this fact of nature — but encouraging the killing of unborn human beings is not one of them.

Finally, the equal protection argument against laws protecting unborn human life falsely supposes that pregnancy is a disability, a condition that impedes women from participating fully in the workplace or political arena — and that these are the only places where full “citizenship stature” is attained. Ironically, the equal protection argument for abortion, and the attitudes it generates, actually denigrate women and help to create a culture where they are viewed as mere objects instead of recognizing their true dignity.

Patrick Lee, Ph.D., is the John N. and Jamie D. McAleer Professor of Bioethics and the director of the Institute of Bioethics at Franciscan University of Steubenville.

Fighting the abortion giant

Legate Kathleen Eaton goes toe-to-toe with abortion giant Planned Parenthood . . .

Kathleen Eaton remembers everything about that day in 1980.

She was 28, going through a divorce, and pregnant with another man’s baby. Unwilling to face her parents, Eaton opted for an abortion. The Planned Parenthood clinic she visited didn’t do an ultrasound. They said she had a “blob of tissue” inside her. The abortion itself, performed at another clinic, was the worst experience of her life.

“I had no medication and felt horrible pain,” Eaton said. “I went out the back door afterwards, sat down on a curb and cried. Part of it was the pain, and part of it was thinking, ‘What have I done?’ I began to pray to God to allow me to stop other women from doing this.”

Healing and reconciliation

Fast forward to 2012. Eaton is now the president of seven Birth Choice Health Clinics in California with another in the works. Founded in 1981 (Eaton took over in 1986), these pro-life community care clinics provide medical consultations, pregnancy tests, STD and HIV/AIDS testing, and prenatal care.

Eaton’s journey from the curb outside an abortion clinic to pro-life activist is packed with grace-filled coincidences — or as she calls them “God-instances.”

“There were many things that my abortion was supposed to save, including my job and my marriage,” she explained. “My husband saw the paperwork on the abortion and the marriage was over. I ended up walking away from my job and my parents found out.”

The year after the abortion, Eaton hit rock-bottom.

“I didn’t go back to church that whole year,” she said. “I was stumbling along, numb, all out of focus. Nothing connected. I was depressed and I drank.”

Eaton got married within that year and moved to Oklahoma. She spent the entire first night looking out the kitchen window and crying. She finally decided to pray. She looked up a Catholic Church in the phonebook and went to Mass the next morning.

“The moment I walked in, I realized this was God’s house. I felt I didn’t belong,” she said.

Eaton found herself sitting between two old ladies who refused to move throughout the Mass, not even for Communion. She couldn’t leave even if she wanted to — the first of many “God-instances.”

“At the end of the Mass, the priest announced that there was a speaker,” Eaton explained. “I was still stuck between the two ladies when a woman went up and said, ‘My name is Barbara. I work for a pregnancy care center,’ and she described her work.”

After the Mass, Eaton instinctively knew she had to meet Barbara.

“She saw my eyes and told me later that she knew. She just knew. Barbara invited me to a meeting. So two days later, I found myself at a meeting with 25 women. Pretty soon they were all praying over me, and this was my introduction to the Catholic charismatic movement,” she said.

Eaton’s healing began immediately. During the next four years, she returned to the Church and studied her faith. She had her first marriage annulled, and her second husband entered the Church. She counseled women at a local crisis pregnancy care center and prayed outside abortion mills — specifically Dr. George Tiller’s clinic in Wichita, which performed third-trimester abortions.

Passion for the unborn

Kathleen Eaton

When Eaton moved back to California with three children in 1986, she decided to start a packaging and labeling business for medical manufacturing companies. She loved the pro-life movement, but needed to provide for her family since her husband had been injured.

One day, Eaton found boxes on her doorstep. A woman, who had met Eaton briefly outside of Tiller’s clinic years earlier, left an envelope which explained that she was moving to St. Louis and had left Birth Choice to Eaton’s care. All calls had been forwarded to her. All the files were in the boxes.

Eaton was furious, but then she recalled that she had just returned from a Cursillo retreat which stressed that sometimes the Lord doesn’t give you options. Another “God-instance.”

Suddenly the phone rang, and a crying woman begged Eaton to help her friend’s daughter who was on her way to Tiller’s clinic for an abortion. Eaton tried to call the young girl countless times, but to no avail. She quickly rallied friends from her retreat to pray for the baby about to be aborted. They named her Mary.

“We prayed the rosary for those two children — Mary and the son I had aborted years before, Toby. They are up in heaven and they started Birth Choice. Mother Teresa once said that every child has an impact. These two children started this ministry,” Eaton said.

After her husband’s death six years ago, Eaton dropped her packaging business and dedicated herself to Birth Choice full time. The clinics are now the envy of pregnancy care centers across the country. They have 40 paid staff and over 150 volunteers.

“I’ve known her for a long time,” said Ralph Linzmeier, a member of Legatus’ Orange Coast Chapter, where Eaton is also a member. “She has this heart for the unborn, and her Birth Choice Clinics have touched so many lives. She is very well organized and has good business sense. But what she really has is vision.”

Oonagh Linzmeier, Ralph’s wife, is a member of the Birth Choice board.

“I have been involved with pregnancy care centers for 20 years,” Oonagh said. “But three years ago when I met Kathleen, I was very impressed with her vision. Of all her gifts, the most impressive is her ability to communicate her passion.”

This is no idle praise. Though Eaton isn’t a trained fundraiser, she singlehandedly raises $3 million every year for Birth Choice. Last year’s Birth Choice Clinics Gala garnered $1.7 million in a single night. And in 2009, Eaton joined President George W. Bush as a recipient of Legatus’ Cardinal John J. O’Connor Pro-Life Award.

Unlike most crisis pregnancy care centers, Birth Choice goes toe-to-toe with Planned Parenthood by opening clinics nearby and employing doctors and nurses at every location. While some states try to close crisis pregnancy centers because of the lack of medical personnel, Birth Choice is ahead of the curve.

“I can’t overturn Roe v. Wade, but I can go after Planned Parenthood’s client base and do stronger work within each community,” Eaton said. “Our vision is to reach abortion-minded couples. It’s very hard. We do it through word of mouth and social media.”

Eaton is concerned about how people use their sexuality to ruin their own lives.

“Millions of these young couples go to Planned Parenthood, who feed them drugs and teach them how to be sexually active. We have to teach them how beautifully they are made,” she said.

When she looks back on her life and the success of Birth Choice Clinics, Eaton knows why her operations thrive.

“When you put yourself out there, God will honor your faith walk. If you build it in His honor, God will honor it. God will listen. He will bless you.”

Eaton’s life is a profound testament to what can happen when you take “God-instances” seriously.

Sabrina Arena Ferrisi is Legatus magazine’s senior staff writer.