Tag Archives: Dorinda C. Bordlee

The mission of man, the genius of woman

DORINDA C. BORDLEE writes that the ‘genius of women’ requires men . . .

Dorinda C. Bordlee

Dorinda C. Bordlee

What do women want? Any man trying to bring joy to the woman he loves knows full well that this question poses a deep mystery.

Men may never suspect that their special mission or “genius” holds a key to the answer.   Having come of age during the remarkable pontificate of Pope St. John Paul II, my professional endeavors to defend women and unborn children from the violent exploitation of abortion were informed and enriched by the Pope’s insightful apostolic letters and his big vision for women expressed in Evangelium Vitae: “In transforming the culture so that it supports life, women occupy a place, in thought and action, which is unique and decisive. It depends on women to promote a ‘new feminism’” (#99).

So after being invited to a woman’s symposium addressing Pope Francis’ recent call for an even deeper theology of woman, I did something that a modern woman might consider counter-cultural:  I asked my law partner — a man — for his thoughts on the subject.

While his response later proved to be consistent with the themes of the symposium scholars, I must admit that it wasn’t the answer I wanted to hear. Out of the mouth of Nikolas T. Nikas came the answer that a deeper theology of woman is incomplete without men understanding and being affirmed in their own authentic identity and mission as men — so that complementarity can be realized to the benefit of women, men, children and families.

His argument went along these lines: “The Church needs to develop and challenge men with a big vision of the ‘theology of man.’ Otherwise the ‘feminine genius’ might simply dissolve into a Catholic version of radical feminism — a false philosophy of woman against the world.”

This assessment brought home the reality that I and many of my Catholic sisters might not have paid much attention to John Paul’s call for a focus on the male-female relationship of “communion” and the “unity of the two.” I had to ask myself if I was sometimes thinking or acting like a radical feminist who happened to wear a crucifix.

And then came the abstracts setting forth the thoughts of brilliant scholars whose symposium papers are now in a book entitled Promise and Challenge: Catholic Women Reflect on Feminism, Complementarity and the Church (Our Sunday Visitor). The book’s essays include titles such as “The Genius of Man” by Deborah Savage, PhD, and “The Dignity and Vocation of Men: Why Masculinity and Fatherhood Matter to Women,” by Theresa Farnan, PhD.

Emboldened by my sisters’ affirmation of my law partner’s assessment about the need for a focus on men, I prepared a presentation delivered at a conference in Nashville, and later as a keynote address for the Diocese of Phoenix. Entitled “The Genius of Women and the Making of Men,” my presentation set forth my admittedly basic understanding of some of the characteristics of the “masculine genius.”

Looking to St. Joseph as a model of the masculine genius, I observed that men needed to be affirmed in a threefold vocation to be (1) protectors, (2) providers, and (3) prayerful leaders in service of their families, the Church, and their professions. But men have long ago been pushed away and told to mind their own business thanks to the rise of radical feminism and the legalization of abortion, which ironically facilitates the sexual exploitation of women.

I concluded with the basic acknowledgment that for women to fully attain human flourishing, we need to open our hearts and invite men to be men, and to allow men to be men.

Recognizing that my assessment as a policy lawyer was superficial at best, I suggested that perhaps this issue could be taken up in other symposia across the country and perhaps in pastoral letters from bishops. That last part was something that I had not expected to say, but the presence of Bishop Thomas Olmsted at the Phoenix event prompted the comment that ultimately resulted in the bishop holding a “mini-synod” on masculine identity and mission. Nik and I were honored to present along with experts who have thought deeply about this question in the fields of theology, philosophy, psychology, and masculine formation.

With Bishop Olmsted’s permission, I encourage everyone to be on the lookout for his upcoming pastoral letter, designed to teach and to inspire concrete initiatives. It’s time for us all to remember, as John Paul reminded us, that the Lord “assigns as a duty to every man the dignity of every woman; and simultaneously … assigns to every woman the dignity of every man.”

DORINDA C. BORDLEE is an attorney and co-founder of Bioethics Defense Fund, a pubic interest legal and educational organization whose mission is to put law in the service of life.

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.

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.

‘Signs of hope’ in abortion clinics

Louisiana’s new abortion clinic law protects woman and their unborn children . . .

Dorinda C. Bordlee

Every woman deserves love and commitment. But a tragic consequence of Roe v. Wade is that it creates a social environment where men can sexually objectify women and then subtly or overtly coerce abortion if pregnancy results. It’s often an employer, friend or parent who pressures the woman into an abortion clinic.

To help address this tragic state of affairs, the Bioethics Defense Fund drafted the innovative “Signs of Hope” legislation, which was recently put into effect by the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals. It requires 16 x 20 inch signs to be hung in abortion clinic waiting areas and patient rooms featuring information women deserve to know.

Despite the fact that the signs are straightforward — the headline is “Notice: Women’s Rights and Pregnancy Resources” — the Planned Parenthood rep described them in committee testimony as “condescending” and “offensive.” The signs highlight four key points:

• You can’t be forced. It is unlawful for anyone to make you have an abortion against your will.
• You and the father. The father must provide child support, even if he offered to pay for an abortion.
• You and adoption. The law allows adoptive parents to pay costs of prenatal care, childbirth and newborn care.
• You are not alone. Many agencies are willing to help you carry your child to term and to assist after your child’s birth.

The sign then boldly features a website that can be accessed even in the abortion clinic by a woman using a smart phone or laptop. The Signs of Hope legislation is thus designed to complement the printed booklets required by existing Women’s Right to Know laws so that women can digitally access photos and videos of the unborn child, information about abortion risks and listings of adoption services, pregnancy resource centers that provide free ultrasound, prenatal care and a variety of health services.

The law also requires that abortion clinics put the new website on their home pages. Clinics must also provide the site to anyone scheduling an appointment for an abortion. Cindy Collins, the director of a center that counsels post-abortive women, dubbed the bill the “Signs of Hope Act,” explaining that the signs will bring hope to women who often feel hopeless and coerced due to a perceived lack of alternatives.

But the reality is that the words on this sign were born from the tragic car accident that took the life of Violet Nikas, the mother of Bioethics Defense Fund co-founder and president Nikolas T. Nikas. Right after the funeral, I was asked to draft a bill that would require an “abortion coercion” warning sign. With the faces of my friends who had been robbed and beaten by the abortion industry in the front of my mind, I placed myself in their shoes as they sat in the waiting room of an abortion clinic. What would they want to see on that sign?

That’s when I started writing a love letter to these women as if they were the final words I could tack to the wall. I wanted women to know that there are many selfless people in the pro-life movement who are there for them. I wanted them to know that they could give their children the support of an adoptive family. I wanted Violet to know that her death might result in signs of life.

We encourage policy leaders to contact us for a copy of the model bill and complementary legal support. The U.S. Supreme Court has repeatedly held that states have a strong interest in promoting childbirth over abortion, and the Signs of Hope Act does just that.

Dorinda C. Bordlee is senior counsel of Bioethics Defense Fund, a non-profi t legal organization that advocates for the dignity of human life through litigation, legislation and public education. For more information: bdfund.org/signsofhope

Laws embrace windows on the womb

More abortion-minded women are being given the option to see their child via ultrasound . . .

Dorinda Bordlee

Science tells us when life begins. The real question is when love begins. For many abortion-minded women, love began when they had the opportunity to see their unborn child on an ultrasound screen.

The good news is that the opportunities to open this window on the womb are increasing with more and more state laws requiring ultrasounds before an abortion can be performed.

Testimony given by women in legislative hearings confirms that ultrasound images help a woman in an unexpected pregnancy to realize she’s not alone in this seeming crisis — that it’s not all about her, and that there’s another person right there with her in the most profound and physical way.

That person is her unborn child, who is joined by many other people such as those who operate pro-life pregnancy care centers that provide free hands-on resources like ultrasound and medical services, parenting and marriage counseling, diapers and formula, and even food for the new mom’s pantry before and after her baby’s birth.

The Knights of Columbus have taken the lead in getting ultrasound machines donated to pro-life pregnancy centers. This ultrasound donation outreach, together with the legislative efforts (promoted by my public-interest law firm Bioethics Defense Fund) is a powerful tool for building a culture of life. It gives each of us in the pro-life movement the opportunity to do what Supreme Knight Carl Anderson speaks of as “living as Christ lives, [as] we reveal to others who they are: beings made by love, and for love.”

It’s true that laws cannot mandate love. But by legally requiring that an ultrasound be performed before abortion with the express option for the woman to view the screen, this type of legislation can indeed create an environment for the light of love to overcome the darkness of fear. The ultrasound option allows an abortion-minded woman the freedom to replace her natural tendency to self-absorption with the ultimate opportunity for self-giving. It gives her a chance to realize that she can be a hero for one of the least amongst us.

This positive approach to building a culture of life is garnering national secular attention. A recent Washington Post opinion column was entitled “Women Should be Informed Before They Abort.” In the piece, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Kathleen Parker describes herself as “both pro-life and pro-choice.” Yet she writes that ultrasound legislation is a worthy approach which recognizes that “abortion truthfully presented would eliminate itself or vastly reduce its numbers.”

The column features a Louisiana law, drafted by Bioethics Defense Fund, that gives every woman seeking abortion two chances to choose life:

1. At least 24 hours before an abortion, the abortion provider must provide the woman with a list of places that offer free ultrasound services. This list will be compiled by the state’s Department of Health and will include pro-life pregnancy centers that offer free ultrasound.

2. If the woman returns for an abortion after a 24-hour reflection period, the abortion provider must perform an ultrasound at least two hours before the abortion to determine fetal viability and issues related to the woman’s health. At that ultrasound, the woman must be read a script that gives her three options: The option to view the ultrasound screen, the option to hear an explanation of the images, and the option to get a print-out of her unborn child’s image.

These options are offered by a script that the ultrasound technician must read to the woman in the examination room prior to the beginning of the ultrasound examination. The BDF model legislation includes the text of the script so that the abortionist cannot negatively influence the woman by saying things such as, “You don’t want to see this, do you?”

Because the ultrasound provisions are added to a currently existing “Woman’s Right to Know” law, the abortionist will be subject to civil and criminal penalties if the woman is denied these options.

Laws requiring ultrasound before abortion give women the gift of sight. What they see is the beauty of their unborn child — the kind of beauty referred to by Russian writer Fyodor Dostoevsky when he wrote his famous phrase, “Beauty will save the world.” In this case, beauty can save a life.

Dorinda C. Bordlee is senior counsel of Bioethics Defense Fund, a non-profit pro-life legal organization with the mission to advocate for the dignity of human life through litigation, legislation and public education. An abridged version of this article appeared in the September 2010 issue of Legatus Magazine.