Posts Tagged ‘Planned Parenthood’

A Textbook Case

Thursday, September 6th, 2012

In my last post, I argued for the need to protect the “pro-life” brand.  By that, I meant that we pro-lifers should be careful about how we use that term, in order to preserve the integrity and purity of our message, and to avoid confusing people about what it really means to be “pro-life”.

Yesterday, at the national convention of the Democratic Party, we saw a perfect example of why it is so important to protect our brand name.

One of the speakers from the main podium of the convention was Sr. Simone Campbell, a religious sister who is also the head of Network, a lobbying group.  She is also famous for being one of the so-called “nuns on the bus”, who conducted a media-friendly tour this summer to protest a budget proposal offered by Rep. Paul Ryan.

People can certainly differ in good faith about the prudential merits of Mr. Ryan’s budget proposal.  And people can certainly evaluate whether it is a good expression of Catholic Social Teaching or not.   People can also argue about the propriety of a vowed religious addressing a partisan political event.  That’s not my concern here.

What I care about is something that Sr. Simone said during her address and in a comment to a reporter — and, most importantly, what she did not say.

During her talk to the convention, Sr. Simone spoke of her support for the Affordable Care Act, and claimed that “This is part of my pro-life stance”.  When questioned by a reporter before the talk about whether it should be illegal to perform abortions, Sr. Simone said “That’s beyond my pay grade. I don’t know.”

These remarks are simply astonishing from a vowed Catholic religious.  Regardless of any benefits of the Affordable Care Act in expanding access to health care, it cannot be reasonably denied that it also expands public support for abortion, and enshrines abortion as a matter of ordinary health care.  It will force taxpayers to pay for elective abortions through subsidies to private insurance plans, it will coerce people to pay directly for elective abortions, it will force insurers to pay for elective abortions, and it will force religious individuals and organizations to pay for and promote abortion.  If that’s all “pro-life”, then the term means nothing.

It is also shocking that a vowed Catholic religious would say that she does not know if abortion should be made illegal, and to hide behind a reprehensible evasion by saying that it’s “beyond her pay grade”. To punt on such a fundamental moral issue is hardly a “pro-life stance”.

The teaching of the Catholic Church, as presented in the Catechism, is absolutely clear about this matter:

2273    The inalienable right to life of every innocent human individual is a constitutive element of a civil society and its legislation:

“The inalienable rights of the person must be recognized and respected by civil society and the political authority. These human rights depend neither on single individuals nor on parents; nor do they represent a concession made by society and the state; they belong to human nature and are inherent in the person by virtue of the creative act from which the person took his origin. Among such fundamental rights one should mention in this regard every human being’s right to life and physical integrity from the moment of conception until death.”

“The moment a positive law deprives a category of human beings of the protection which civil legislation ought to accord them, the state is denying the equality of all before the law. When the state does not place its power at the service of the rights of each citizen, and in particular of the more vulnerable, the very foundations of a state based on law are undermined…. As a consequence of the respect and protection which must be ensured for the unborn child from the moment of conception, the law must provide appropriate penal sanctions for every deliberate violation of the child’s rights.”

All of that is outrageous enough, but what’s even worse is what Sr. Simone did not say.  It is essential to recall that earlier in the same evening, the blood-soaked leader of Planned Parenthood — an organization that kills over a quarter of a million unborn children each year — took to the podium and extolled the 100% anti-life policies of the President and his Administration.

When it was her turn at the same podium, Sr. Simone had nothing to say about how the pro-abortion policies of the Administration (and their friends at Planned Parenthood) measured up against “her pro-life stance”.  The sister shared a stage with a representative of an evil organization that is the very epitome of the Culture of Death — and remained  silent about the most significant human rights violation of our time.

There is nothing “pro-life” about that.

 

A Response to Objections

Sunday, February 13th, 2011

In my last blog post, I discussed the morality of the undercover operations of Live Action, the pro-life group, directed against Planned Parenthood. In that post, I cited an article by philosopher Christopher Tollefsen, in which he concluded that the undercover initiative, since it involves lying to the Planned Parenthood staff, is immoral.

Other Catholic theologians have responded to this, seeking ways to justify what Live Action has done.  This has generally fallen into several kinds of approaches.

One response has involved defining “lying” in a way so that Live Action does not fall under the prohibition.   So, for example, they will argue that it is not a lie to speak falsely to someone who does not have a right to the truth.  The example of this might include refusing to reveal to the Nazis at the door that you are hiding Jews inside.  Of course, this is a false comparison in any event, since the person confronted with such a demand is hardly free to act.  Any response they give would be coerced, and thus not a genuine moral act — quite unlike Live Action’s free choice to engage in their undercover activities.

Still, this kind of point can be a valid argument under the Church’s teaching.  There are indeed times when I may not speak the truth.  So, for example, the Catechism (2489) says:

Charity and respect for the truth should dictate the response to every request for information or communication. The good and safety of others, respect for privacy, and the common good are sufficient reasons for being silent about what ought not be known or for making use of a discreet language. The duty to avoid scandal often commands strict discretion. No one is bound to reveal the truth to someone who does not have the right to know it.

There is a problem, however, in relying on this passage.  The section of the Catechism in which this appears relates to situations in which a person has information they are under some obligation to protect as confidential — such as information that would endanger the privacy, reputation or safety of another, a professional secret, or the seal of the confessional.   This passage, on its very terms and seen in the larger context, clearly does not apply to the situation in which the Live Action people placed themselves, since they deliberately set out to deceive the Planned Parenthood workers, and they neither were silent nor used discrete language — they made clear and repeated false representations  about their identity and activities.

A second response is to compare Live Action’s operation to a “ruse de guerre”, such as an ambush or the use of a feint in military operations.  But these actions are actually permissible under the Catechism section cited above, and those that follow it (see CCC 2491), which require that officers maintain military secrets — such as the true objectives of their movements — in order to preserve the lives of their soldiers.  However, Live Action is not at war, and their ruse was not necessary to preserve the lives of anyone.

Another response to Tollefsen’s argument, however, is less legitimate under Catholic teaching, and is actually quite dangerous.  This claims that Live Action’s tactics are necessary to serve a higher purpose — exposing the evil of Planned Parenthood.  These proponents cite the analogy to the need to lie in order to effectively engage in activities like undercover police work or in spying.

While this argument is superficially compelling, there are several problems with it.  Live Action is not a government agency, acting under color of authority to enforce the law or defend the nation — they are private parties, acting on their own initiative.   In addition, undercover agents and spies are actually who they claim to be — they actually are drug buyers, for example — but they justifiably protect a professional secret (i.e., their actual identity and profession), in order to preserve their own safety and that of others (see the Catechism sections cited above).

But the most significant problem, is that this argument is openly consequentialist (“end justifies the means”) and proportionalist (“the good outweighs the evil”) — neither of which is an acceptable Christian position.  Indeed, both of these approaches have been specifically condemned by the Church, most clearly in Pope John Paul II’s encyclical on moral doctrine, Veritatis Splendor.

The danger of this line of argumentation is in what it leads to.  There seems to be a fear that the moral law will preclude us from doing things that we really want to do.  But “I really want to do it, so it must be morally permissible” is a terrible and dangerous reason to carve out very subtle exceptions to a very, very clear moral law.  This argument frequently boils down to a sentiment that “living in the real world” requires actions like this, regardless of what thinkers in academia might believe in their abstract world.  Thus argues the torturer, and the apologist for carpet bombing civilians.  That’s not where a Christian disciple should be going.

In many ways, that’s what this whole argument comes down to.  Am I a disciple of Christ, or am I relying on “worldly wisdom”?  In this context, it would be worthwhile reminding ourselves of St. Paul’s admonition:

Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may prove what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.  (Rom. 12:2)

Is it Wrong to Lie to Planned Parenthood?

Sunday, February 13th, 2011

The past few weeks have seen the release of a series of undercover videos, created by a group called Live Action, which styles itself as “a new media movement for life”.  The videos were taken as part of an undercover “sting” — they sent actors, pretending to be pimps who were prostituting minors,  into Planned Parenthood clinics to see what advice they would be given.

The results of these videos is horrifying.  Time after time, the Planned Parenthood workers, without any apparent qualms, conspire with the “pimp” to facilitate his sex abuse of young girls, and even coach him on how he can continue to exploit them.  These disgusting scenes are no surprise, of course, to anyone who is familiar with the activities of Planned Parenthood.  That evil organization is part of the sex industry — it corrupts the morals of minors through “sex education”, it facilitates immorality by disseminating contraceptives to minors, and it helps to eliminate the consequences of irresponsible sexual behavior by aborting over 300,000 babies a year.

In a certain respect, this is old news.  But what is new is a discussion among pro-lifers, particularly among Catholics, about whether the tactics of Live Action are morally acceptable.

The debate was kicked off by Christopher Tollefsen, a moral philosopher, with a very tightly reasoned article.  He based his argument on a Thomistic definition of what a lie is — an assertion that is contrary to a truth that is believed by the speaker.  So, for example, the military ruse or the bluff in poker is not a lie, in that it does not represent a denial of a truth believed by the actor.  But in the case of the Live Action tactic, the actor plainly asserted “I am a pimp”, knowing that he is not — hence, he was lying.

Tollefsen is certainly right that the Church has always unequivocally condemned lying.  The modern Catechism is very clear on this (see CCC 2482-86).  The Catechism of the Council of Trent — which was seen as authoritative in the Church for four centuries — is absolutely unequivocal and rigorous about this issue, and specifically condemns the idea that one may lie to one’s enemies or in order to gain some kind of advantage.  Pope  Pius X’s Catechism, issued at the beginning of the last century, was equally unambiguous in its condemnation of all kinds of lying.

Indeed, how could we think otherwise?  The Gospel for today, from the Sermon on the Mount, shows Our Lord exhorting us to reject angry words, lustful thoughts, and lack of charity to our brethren.  Can we imagine Jesus approving lying to anyone, even to abortionists — He who commanded us to love our enemies?

To me, the worst problem with lying to anyone, even one’s enemies, is the effect on my own soul and my character.  Here’s what Pope John Paul said about this in Veritatis Splendor:

“Human acts are moral acts because they express and determine the goodness or evil of the individual who performs them. They do not produce a change merely in the state of affairs outside of man but, to the extent that they are deliberate choices, they give moral definition to the very person who performs them, determining his profound spiritual traits. This was perceptively noted by Saint Gregory of Nyssa: “… we are in a certain way our own parents, creating ourselves as we will, by our decisions”. (71)

So, by lying to the Planned Parenthood clerk, what am I creating myself into?  A disciple of Christ, or something else?

Answering Planned Parenthood

Tuesday, February 8th, 2011

Bills are pending before Congress to cut federal funding through for elective abortions (both through Medicaid and the new health care reform law), and for those organizations that perform abortions. The most prominent organization that will be affected by this effort is the one I like to call the “Temple of Moloch”, for its fanatical devotion to the modern sacrifice of children — Planned Parenthood, which single-handedly aborts over 300,000 children a year.

Planned Parenthood and their allies, of course, are not taking this lying down, and has enlisted their media friends to shore up public support. Over the weekend, the New York Times published an op-ed piece that summarized the abortion advocates’ talking points — if these bills are passed, the women who now go to Planned Parenthood clinics and receive care like cancer screenings will be left with no health care at all.

I was contacted by a friend, who was trying to formulate a compelling, practical and loving response to this argument. To me, the answer is two-fold. First, we should trust women to be smart and resourceful enough to make sensible decisions about their health care. Second, we need better public health policies to address the serious health issues facing urban low-income people.

The Times’ and Planned Parenthood’s argument fundamentally denies the competence of women. It is based on the false assumption that women have no alternatives to Planned Parenthood for their health care. That’s absurd — what, women aren’t smart enough to Google “Gynecologists” or “General Practitioners” in their area? That’s no way to sustain an argument, much less a coherent set of public policies.

This debate over abortion funding actually gives us an opportunity to talk about a serious public health issue that is of very grave concern to the Church, and that needs a serious public policy response. In many urban areas where Planned Parenthood clinics are located, the reality is that there are not enough health professionals to serve low-income people. The better public policy response to that is not to keep throwing money to organizations that do abortions, hand out contraceptives, and do some other health care services on the side. Instead, we need to take pragmatic steps to address the actual problem of medically under-served populations and areas. Steps like giving doctors incentives to be more accessible to Medicaid patients (e.g., realistic reimbursement rates), or to taking the money saved by these bills and enhance direct public health services (e.g., free cancer screenings), or using it to train professionals like Physician Assistants and Nurse Practitioners from the community who can give health care at lower cost than doctors. We will also have to change laws so that poor immigrants can qualify for Medicaid and other government health insurance programs. Given the chronic health problems of poor people, these would be much more sensible way to spend public money than to continue to subsidize abortionists.

Also, we have to help the private sector to respond. Many, many urban hospitals and medical schools are already doing outreach to underserved populations (in both urban and rural areas). There are surely ways to encourage more of that through sensible public programs (e.g., grants and other incentives). For example, some hospitals in New York City have walk-in clinics in convenient locations that are accessible to low-income people, and, because they accept Medicaid, CHIP, etc. they can provide good health care to underserved areas. We need more of these clinics.

In fact, one way to respond is to imitate Planned Parenthood’s own business model (without the abortions). Surely there are altruistic medical people (and maybe some new religious communities?) who would be willing to start up non-profit organizations to provide good basic health care to poor people in the inner city, perhaps with help from start-up grants from the government, and reasonable reimbursement rates from government health insurance programs.

The reality is that Planned Parenthood is able to succeed in winning public approval because there really is a dire public health problem in urban areas, and the private sector and the government are not adequately responding right now. It’s great to de-fund abortionists, but we still need to address the underlying problem.

Catholic social teaching actually has the right answers to the underlying problem — a combination of private and public sector responses, building up community and intermediary organizations, and helping individuals to become part of the solution. And of course, Catholic teaching also has the ultimate answer to the Planned Parenthoods of the world — respect life, don’t destroy it, and work to build a culture of life and civilization of love.

Here’s How a Miracle Happens

Monday, December 13th, 2010

In my previous post, I described how some of the men at the Witness for Life were used as an instrument by God to stand with a man who was trying to bring his niece out of the abortion clinic.

Here are some of the details of how that actually happened, from an email that was sent to me by one of my brother Knights of Columbus, who was one of the sidewalk counselors:

I asked him to try to get his niece to come out and talk to us and the Sisters.  I told him that I would kneel in prayer on the street until she came out.  She did come out but went back inside quickly.  He mentioned this to the Sisters later in the morning that this had impacted him – he actually took the kneeling as a sacrifice for him personally and a sign of commitment, that we were doing something for him personally.  He said this strengthened him.

I told him that every man praying on that street was ready to lay down their lives (a la St. John’s Gospel) for his niece (I guess I should check in with you guys about that next time!).

We talked about how true love always involves sacrifice and I told him (what I try to say to every mom walking in a clinic) that his niece and her baby would change the world — maybe in a big way and maybe in a small way but that their lives would impact someone just like his life has impacted so many.

Sr. Joan talked about the Visitation Mission and how they actually would walk hand in hand with his niece.  I also mentioned that we would be delivering formula to a mom in need later that morning — I wanted him to know that we were here for the duration and that we would do what is necessary.  He stepped back and got misty eyed.

The real work in getting this young lady to choose life was done by her uncle.  It was he who put the Holy Rosary around his neck for strength.  It was he who spoke to his mother, who had taken the young lady into the clinic, and turned her around by asking her if she would have chosen to abort him.  It was he who kept calling his niece until her heart softened and she came back out.  It was he who was confident that he and his wife — who had been hoping to have more children in their marriage — would be able to help raise this new baby.  It took hours for all this to happen, and his perseverance was heroic.

But this miracle was a team effort.  Guardian angels and patron saints were all doing their part on the spiritual plane.  The Holy Spirit was working in overdrive.  The sidewalk counselors, the prayer warriors, and the Sisters were all there to help one solitary man prove to a scared young woman that life was the right choice, that hope and love were stronger than fear.

When Men Stand by the Lord at Calvary

Saturday, December 11th, 2010

We all remember how the original story went.  All the men, save one, abandoned our Lord at Calvary.  Only St. John, and the few loyal women, stood by Him in that place of death.

Sadly, the same story is re-enacted on a regular basis at the modern-day Calvary, the places of death we know as abortion clinics.

Every month, there is a Witness for Life at the Temple of Moloch in lower Manhattan, er, I mean the Planned Parenthood abortion clinic.  It is very sad to watch the young women enter that place of death.  And it is heartbreaking to see men drop them off and walk away, leaving them alone at Calvary.

We typically hear from the pro-choice crowd that abortion is a women’s issue and that men should butt out.  This is the script that’s being fed to them by the Evil One.  In reality, abortion is a man’s issue, because in many ways it is the consequence of the abdication of male responsibility.  If only men would be who they are called to be, and reject sexual irresponsibility, parental irresponsibility, and fraternal irresponsibility, abortion would be unthinkable — a pregnant woman could be certain that the men in her life would stand behind her, no matter how difficult the circumstances.

This is why a strong male presence at the Witness for Life is so important.  When men stand by the Lord at that little Calvary, they give an example of authentic masculinity to the frightened women who come there.

They also can be the catalyst for miracles.  Today, we saw one.

The Witness was difficult this Saturday.  It was very cold, and we were heckled in a very nasty way by several passers-by.  But the prayers continued to rise to heaven.

Our sidewalk counselors were all male today — the men of the Pro-Bikers for Life, and one of my brother Knights of Columbus.  As time went by, they noticed one man who was in a parked car, and who was visibly upset.  They approached him, and it turned out that his 16-year-old niece was in the clinic and was about to have an abortion.  He didn’t want it to happen, and he kept on calling her to convince her to come out.

The prayer warriors kicked into high gear, and the men stood with the girl’s uncle, supporting him and giving him strength.  A powerful spiritual struggle was taking place.

At the conclusion of the Witness, we processed back to Old St. Patrick’s for Benediction, but the sidewalk counselors and a few of the Sisters of Life remained behind at Calvary, standing watch and praying for that young woman to come out of the place of death.

Eventually she emerged, having decided not to have the abortion.  God is truly great — all glory to His Holy Name.

Her struggle is not over, of course, and she will need a great deal of support.  The Sisters will be there to help her, and I’m sure that her uncle will be there too.

We were privileged to see a great miracle today, and we stand in awe of God’s goodness.  Truly, wonderful things can happen when men stand by the Lord at Calvary.

A Graph is Worth a Thousand Words

Saturday, September 11th, 2010

The indispensable Catholic blogger Tom Peters has posted on his website two graphs that tell a compelling story about the Temple of Moloch, er, I mean the death cult known as Planned Parenthood.

Planned Parenthood spends a great deal of time and money trying to convince people that they’re really all about women’s health, that they are there to provide women with a “choice”, and they they are not really just an abortion mill.  They go to great lengths to present themselves as just a mainstream “women’s health” concern.

Well, Tom took some statistics put out by Planned Parenthood themselves, and put them into graphic form, to tell the real truth behind the propaganda.

Here’s the first graph, which shows the numbers of abortions, adoptions, and pre-natal services performed by Planned Parenthood over the last decade.  The graph tells the whole story:

Just in case that’s not clear enough, he also put the statistics from 2008, the  most recent year available, into a pie chart.  The result is equally striking:

Of course, Planned Parenthood provides other services to women — mostly using taxpayer money to give out contraceptives that damage their health and fertility, and demean their sexuality.

But when a pregnant women presents herself to Planned Parenthood, all those other services are irrelevant.  In that case, they’re really all about one thing, and one thing only.

Death.

The “Morality” of Planned Parenthood

Thursday, August 12th, 2010

Every so often a news piece appears that serves as a reminder of the face of evil at the heart of the abortion industry.  This time, it was a piece about an abortion clinic in California that lost it’s affiliation with Planned Parenthood, and it offers a good opportunity to reflect on the moral values of the organization that I prefer to call the Temple of Moloch, after the ancient death cult in which parents sacrificed their children to a demon.

So, let’s do an inventory of the moral standards of Planned Parenthood.:

  • Kill babies?  Yes — they do over 300,000 abortions each year.
  • Harm mothers physically and psychologically?  Yes — they even deny the reality of post-abortion syndrome.
  • Kill a woman with an abortion drug?  Yes — there are many documented cases, including one at the clinic in California.
  • Hand out the same dangerous abortion drugs after a telephone conference, and no physical exam by a doctor?  Yes — that’s their newest innovation, virtual killing by a virtual doctor.
  • Give dangerous hormone pills and injections to kids without their parents knowing?  Yes — “family planning” is their bread-and-butter, well financed with millions of our tax dollars.
  • Encourage violence against pro-life protesters?  Yes — the clinic in California put out a comic book glorifying killing pro-lifers.
  • Corrupt morals with pornographic “sex education”?  Yes — they do this regularly in school districts all over the nation, supported by our tax dollars.
  • Lie to women about fetal development?  Yes — they have been captured on video multiple times doing this, giving the lie to any rhetoric about “empowering women”.
  • Cover up the rape of children?  Yes — undercover journalists have made it clear that Planned Parenthood clinics evade state reporting laws, and encourage pregnant girls to lie to cover up the identity and age of their rapist.
  • All these represent the “morality” of Planned Parenthood.  It truly is a cult of lies and death.

    So, here’ s the question of the day:  what did the clinic in California do that led to them being cast out of Planned Parenthood?

    They didn’t make enough money.  That was the only sin that was sufficient to have them thrown out of the Temple of Moloch.

    So I stand corrected.  Planned Parenthood — and, indeed, the entire abortion industry — is a cult of lies and death and greed.

    All this evil, supported richly by every level of government, by private foundations, and by “charitable” groups (like many local chapters of the United Way).

    Some “morality”.

    More Lies from the Cult of Death

    Thursday, June 10th, 2010

    One of the consistent lies that we hear from the defenders of abortion, and particularly from the abortion industry, is that they are deeply concerned about the health of women.  Never mind that they ignore the long-term psychological and physical health effects of abortion, or that they also promote hormonal contraceptives that damage women’s fertility and, on occasion, kill them.  Or that at least half of the unborn children who are killed by abortion are, in fact, women.

    Still, they continue to say that it’s all about women’s health.

    Which brings us to the latest development.  As reported the other day in the newsletter for the abortion industry, er, I mean the New York Times, Planned Parenthood has a new initiative to dispense abortion drugs after a brief video conference over the internet with a doctor.  That’s right, the doctor never personally sees the woman or conducts a physical examination (that’s done by a nurse at another location).  Instead, he just talks to her for a couple of minutes and then dispenses a powerful regimen of drugs that will kill her child, and that has potentially dangerous side-effects.

    This, despite a specific FDA warning against buying the abortion drug over the internet, and clear instructions from the FDA about the need for follow-up visits and careful medical screening to avoid dangerous complications.
    What are those potential complications?  Listen to the FDA:

    Since the approval of Mifeprex in September 2000, FDA has been informed of eight deaths in the United States due to serious infections following medical abortion with mifepristone and misoprostol that FDA has concluded may possibly be related to the use of these drugs.  These women died from sepsis (serious infection involving the bloodstream).  Seven cases were found to involve infection with bacteria known as Clostridium sordellii and one case involved infection with Clostridium perfringens.  Sepsis is a known risk related to any type of abortion.  The symptoms in all of these cases of serious infection were not the usual symptoms of sepsis.  We do not know whether using Mifeprex and misoprostol caused these deaths.   (emphasis added)

    I frequently call Planned Parenthood “the Cult of Moloch”, a reference to the ancient demon-god to whom parents would sacrifice their children.  I do this because, in my view, the fanaticism of abortion supporters has all the characteristics of a religious cult, committed to the killing of children to placate their inner demons.

    The bottom line is this.  Everything they say about protecting women’s health is a lie.  In the end it’s all about the death of unborn children.   All else will be sacrificed to serve that evil end.