Posts Tagged ‘abortion’

Pope Francis on abortion: It’s what the Nazis did, only with white gloves

June 17, 2018

Pope Francis denounced abortion on Saturday as the “white glove” equivalent of the Nazi-era eugenics program and urged families to accept the children that God gives them.

Pope Francis on abortion: It's what the Nazis did, only with white gloves

 

Pope Francis meets with the Forum of Family Associations in the Clementine Hall at the Vatican. (Vatican Media Handout/EPA-EFE/RE)
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Francis spoke off-the-cuff to a meeting of an Italian family association, ditching his prepared remarks to speak from the heart about families and the trials they undergo. He lamented how some couples choose not to have any children, while others resort to pre-natal testing to see if their baby has any malformations or genetic problems.
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“Last century, the whole world was scandalized by what the Nazis did to purify the race. Today, we do the same thing but with white gloves,” the agency quoted Francis as saying.

The pope urged families to accept children “as God gives them to us.”

Francis has repeated the strict anti-abortion stance of his predecessors and integrated it into his broader condemnation of what he calls today’s “throwaway culture.” He has frequently lamented how the sick, the poor, the elderly and the unborn are considered unworthy of protection and dignity by a society that prizes individual prowess.

He said women are often considered part of this throwaway culture and are forced to prostitute themselves.

“How many of you pray for these women who are thrown away, for these women who are used, for these girls who have to sell their own dignity to have a job?” Francis asked during his morning homily Friday.

Francis has dedicated much of his pontificate to preaching about families, marriage and the problems that families today encounter. He is expected to highlight the issues during a trip in August to Ireland, which recently voted to legalize abortion.

The Associated Press

Pope Francis in St. Peter’s Square last week. He urged families to accept children “as God gives them to us.” Credit Vincenzo Pinto/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

 

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The Northern Irish abortion issue could topple Theresa May

June 5, 2018
Image result for Arlene Foster, Theresa may

Arlene Foster and Theresa May’

The Northern Irish abortion issue could topple Theresa May once and for all – here’s why

Depending on which side of the Brexit debate you sit, it has been easy to blame obtuse EU bureaucrats or incompetent Westminster officials for the fragile state of negotiations. Behind the scenes, the DUP is the link in the chain that is increasingly likely to snap.

Soon after DUP leader Arlene Foster told Sky News that any Brexit deal that treated Northern Ireland differently to the rest of the UK would be her “only red line”, a cross-party coalition, including senior Tory MPs, announced that Foster could not have her cake and eat it. If she wanted equal application of Brexit in Northern Ireland, she would also have to accept same sex marriage and abortion.

The coalition is now calling for a vote in the Commons to repeal parts of a 19th century UK-wide law so that, instead of imposing a new law in Northern Ireland, the move would force the whole country to update its legislation. This strategy could work. As a minority government, she is vulnerable to a rebellion from just seven MPs from her own party. Theresa May granted Northern Irish women the right to free abortions on the NHS in England last year, but only because Labour MP Stella Creasy wanted to include an amendment on the issue in the Queen’s speech, and to prevent embarrassment, she allowed the change in law before being defeated by a vote.

Our prime minister would also be unwise to ignore this issue post-MeToo. Women’s rights have recently enjoyed a domino effect, from the exposure of other predators and faux feminists, to initiating new conversations on consent and abortion. Abortion campaigners have been working hard for decades, but the MeToo movement has allowed us to surf on such a strong wave that it caused Steve Bannon to worry that we would bring down the patriarchy.

Campaigners also know they have to act now, because the public conscience can be fickle. Ireland’s resounding clamour last month to repeal the eighth amendment, which only came into force in the 1980s, has kept this wheel of momentum turning. It’s ironic that Ireland, a once deeply Catholic country, is now looking like a bastion of progress compared to its northern neighbour and much of Europe that has become infected with nationalism.

But how to proceed? On Question Time last week, the panellists debated the Northern Irish abortion issue with two women, three men and nobody from Northern Ireland. Some of the panellists were keen to allow a referendum, claiming abortion was a “devolved issue”. Why would bodily autonomy be devolved rather than, say, Brexit?  As Labour MP Caroline Flint said on the show, abortion is a human rights issue.

Even if there was a referendum, it would need to be sanctioned by Westminster. And the DUP wouldn’t be keen on that either, given the latest polls show public opinion leans heavily towards decriminalisation in the case of rape and incest. A referendum result is not legally binding and there is no functioning government in Stormont to thrash out exactly what a new law would mean.

It is not enough to demand that Northern Ireland catch up with UK law. Abortion is still technically illegal in the UK. It requires permission from two doctors. Women in England are not allowed to take abortion pills at home – meaning that if they don’t live next door to a hospital, they could have their miscarriage in a taxi on the way home. They can only get an abortion until 24 weeks. At abortion clinics, women are often surrounded by protesters, holding placards with harrowing imagery of foetuses. There is no law preventing this harassment.

It is fair to say the deal Theresa May made with the DUP wasn’t thought through. It was a frantic, last ditch attempt by the Tories to claw back power after calling a snap election to capitalise on their high approval ratings, which then fell through the floor.

But in a bid to keep control, the Tory government hadn’t banked on the national conscience reaching a new level on LGBTQ+ and gender equality; they hadn’t foreseen the risk of jeopardising the Good Friday Agreement or the possibility of a hard border. And they should have known, surely, that giving Northern Ireland £1bn two years ago would not keep those DUP “red lines” at bay forever.

Two years after the Brexit referendum, this deal with the 10 DUP MPs could be about to crumble. And wouldn’t it be glorious if the catalyst was women’s rights catching up with the 21st century.

Trump to deny funds to clinics that refer for abortion

May 18, 2018

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Trump administration will resurrect a Reagan-era rule that would ban federally funded family planning clinics from referring women for abortions, or sharing space with abortion providers.

The Department of Health and Human Services will announce its proposal Friday, a senior White House official said Thursday, speaking on condition of anonymity because the official was not authorized to confirm the plans before the announcement.

The policy has been derided as a “gag rule” by abortion rights supporters and medical groups, and it is likely to trigger lawsuits that could keep it from taking effect. However, it’s guaranteed to galvanize activists on both sides of the abortion debate ahead of the congressional midterm elections.

The Reagan-era barred family planning clinics from discussing abortion with women. It never went into effect as written, although the Supreme Court ruled that it was an appropriate use of executive power. The policy was rescinded under President Bill Clinton, and a new rule went into effect that required “nondirective” counseling to include a range of options for women.

According to a Trump administration summary, the new proposal will roll back the Clinton requirement that abortion could be discussed as an option along with prenatal care and adoption.

Abortion is a legal medical procedure, but federal family planning funds cannot be used to pay for abortion procedures.

Abortion opponents say a taxpayer-funded family planning program should have no connection to abortion. Doctors’ groups and abortion rights supporters say a ban on counseling women trespasses on the doctor-patient relationship.

“The notion that you would withhold information from a patient does not uphold or preserve their dignity,” said Jessica Marcella of the National Family Planning & Reproductive Health Association, which represents family planning clinics. “I cannot imagine a scenario in which public health groups would allow this effort to go unchallenged.”

She said requiring family planning clinics to be physically separate from facilities in which abortion is provided would disrupt services for women across the country.

But Kristan Hawkins of Students for Life of America said, “Abortion is not health care or birth control and many women want natural health care choices, rather than hormone-induced changes.”

Abortion opponents allege the federal family planning program in effect cross-subsidizes abortion services provided by Planned Parenthood, whose clinics are also major recipients of grants for family planning and basic preventive care. Hawkins’ group is circulating a petition to urge lawmakers in Congress to support the Trump administration’s proposal.

Known as Title X, the nation’s family-planning program serves about 4 million women a year through clinics, at a cost to taxpayers of about $260 million.

Planned Parenthood clinics also qualify for Title X grants, but they must keep the family-planning money separate from funds used to pay for abortions. The Republican-led Congress has unsuccessfully tried to deny federal funds to Planned Parenthood, and the Trump administration has vowed to religious and social conservatives that it would keep up the effort.

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Associated Press writer David Crary in New York contributed to this report.

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Trump set to announce massive cuts to Planned Parenthood

May 18, 2018

The Trump administration on Friday will announce massive cuts to Planned Parenthood and other taxpayer-backed abortion providers, according to a published report.

Trump wants to cut $260 million in annual funding for women’s health operations like Planned Parenthood that have been political lightning rods for the pro-life, pro-choice battlefield, The Weekly Standard reported Thursday night, citing anonymous White House sources.

The administration is reviving a Reagan-era regulation — which has been derided by pro-choice activists as a “gag rule” — that would ban federally funded family planning clinics from discussing abortion with women or sharing space with abortion providers.

Technically, federal funding can’t go to abortions — but women’s health organizations worked around that provision since the 1970s by formally referring patients to abortionists, who are often located within the same clinic walls, the Weekly Standard reported.

The Reagan administration introduced regulations to end that blurred line, but it was tied up in court for years.

Even after courts sided with that Reagan mandate, ensuing Democratic and Republican administrations didn’t enforce it.

“This proposal does not necessarily defund Planned Parenthood, as long as they’re willing to disentangle taxpayer funds from abortion as a method of family planning,” the administration source said.

https://nypost.com/2018/05/17/trump-set-to-announce-massive-cuts-to-planned-parenthood/

The Easter Effect and How It Changed the World — Man’s Struggle to Understand the Resurrection — The great alternative way of life — The way they thought about time and history changed

March 30, 2018

The first Christians were baffled by what they called ‘the Resurrection.’ Their struggle to understand it brought about astonishing success for their faith.

They were witnesses to something inexplicable but nonetheless true. Something that gave a superabundance of meaning to life and that erased the fear of death. Something that had to be shared. Something with which to change the world.

‘Resurrection of Christ’ by Sodoma (Giovanni Antonio Bazzi). Photo: Bridgeman Images

By George Weigel
The Wall Street Journal

 

In the year 312, just before his victory at the Battle of the Milvian Bridge won him the undisputed leadership of the Roman Empire, Constantine the Great had a heavenly vision of Christian symbols. That augury led him, a year later, to end all legal sanctions on the public profession of Christianity.

Or so a pious tradition has it.

But there’s a more mundane explanation for Constantine’s decision: He was a politician who had shrewdly decided to join the winning side. By the early 4th century, Christians likely counted for between a quarter and a half of the population of the Roman Empire, and their exponential growth seemed likely to continue.

How did this happen? How did a ragtag band of nobodies from the far edges of the Mediterranean world become such a dominant force in just two and a half centuries? The historical sociology of this extraordinary phenomenon has been explored by Rodney Stark of Baylor University, who argues that Christianity modeled a nobler way of life than what was on offer elsewhere in the rather brutal society of the day. In Christianity, women were respected as they weren’t in classical culture and played a critical role in bringing men to the faith and attracting converts. In an age of plagues, the readiness of Christians to care for all the sick, not just their own, was a factor, as was the impressive witness to faith of countless martyrs. Christianity also grew from within because Christians had larger families, a byproduct of their faith’s prohibition of contraception, abortion and infanticide.

For theologians who like to think that arguments won the day for the Christian faith, this sort of historical reconstruction is not particularly gratifying, but it makes a lot of human sense. Prof. Stark’s analysis still leaves us with a question, though: How did all that modeling of a compelling, alternative way of life get started? And that, in turn, brings us back to that gaggle of nobodies in the early first century A.D. and what happened to them.

What happened to them was the Easter Effect.

There is no accounting for the rise of Christianity without weighing the revolutionary effect on those nobodies of what they called “the Resurrection”: their encounter with the one whom they embraced as the Risen Lord, whom they first knew as the itinerant Jewish rabbi, Jesus of Nazareth, and who died an agonizing and shameful death on a Roman cross outside Jerusalem. As N.T. Wright, one of the Anglosphere’s pre-eminent biblical scholars, makes clear, that first generation answered the question of why they were Christians with a straightforward answer: because Jesus was raised from the dead.

Now that, as some disgruntled listeners once complained about Jesus’ preaching, is “a hard saying.” It was no less challenging two millennia ago than it is today. And one of the most striking things about the New Testament accounts of Easter, and what followed in the days immediately after Easter, is that the Gospel writers and editors carefully preserved the memory of the first Christians’ bafflement, skepticism and even fright about what had happened to their former teacher and what was happening to them.

‘The Incredulity of St. Thomas’ by Caravaggio. Photo: Bridgeman Images

In Mark’s gospel, Mary Magdalene and other women in Jesus’ entourage find his tomb empty and a young man sitting nearby telling them that “Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified…has risen; he is not here.” But they had no idea what that was all about, “and went out and fled from the tomb…[and] said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.”

Two disciples walking to Emmaus from Jerusalem on Easter afternoon haven’t a clue as to who’s talking with them along their way, interpreting the scriptures and explaining Jesus’ suffering as part of his messianic mission. They don’t even recognize who it is that sits down to supper with them until he breaks bread and asks a blessing: “…and their eyes were opened and they recognized him.” They high-tail it back to Jerusalem to tell the other friends of Jesus, who report that Peter has had a similarly strange experience, but when “Jesus himself stood among them…they were startled and frightened, and supposed that they saw a ghost.”

Some time later, Peter, John and others in Jesus’ core group are fishing on the Sea of Tiberias. “Jesus stood on the beach,” we are told, “yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus.” At the very end of these post-Easter accounts, those whom we might expect to have been the first to grasp what was afoot are still skeptical. When that core group of Jesus’ followers goes back to Galilee, they see him, “but some doubted.”

This remarkable and deliberate recording of the first Christians’ incomprehension of what they insisted was the irreducible bottom line of their faith teaches us two things. First, it tells us that the early Christians were confident enough about what they called the Resurrection that (to borrow from Prof. Wright) they were prepared to say something like, “I know this sounds ridiculous, but it’s what happened.” And the second thing it tells us is that it took time for the first Christians to figure out what the events of Easter meant—not only for Jesus but for themselves. As they worked that out, their thinking about a lot of things changed profoundly, as Prof. Wright and Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI help us to understand in their biblical commentaries.

‘The Easter Effect impelled them to bring a new standard of equality into the world.’

The way they thought about time and history changed. During Jesus’ public ministry, many of his followers shared in the Jewish messianic expectations of the time: God would soon work something grand for his people in Israel, liberating them from their oppressors and bringing about a new age in which (as Isaiah had prophesied) the nations would stream to the mountain of the Lord and history would end. The early Christians came to understand that the cataclysmic, world-redeeming act that God had promised had taken place at Easter. God’s Kingdom had come not at the end of time but within time—and that had changed the texture of both time and history. History continued, but those shaped by the Easter Effect became the people who knew how history was going to turn out. Because of that, they could live differently. The Easter Effect impelled them to bring a new standard of equality into the world and to embrace death as martyrs if necessary—because they knew, now, that death did not have the final word in the human story.

The way they thought about “resurrection” changed. Pious Jews taught by the reforming Pharisees of Jesus’ time believed in the resurrection of the dead. Easter taught the first Christians, who were all pious Jews, that this resurrection was not the resuscitation of a corpse, nor did it involve the decomposition of a corpse. Jesus’ tomb was empty, but the Risen Lord appeared to his disciples in a transformed body. Those who first experienced the Easter Effect would not have put it in these terms, but as their understanding of what had happened to Jesus and to themselves grew, they grasped that (as Benedict XVI put it in “Jesus of Nazareth–Holy Week”) there had been an “evolutionary leap” in the human condition. A new way of being had been encountered in the manifestly human but utterly different life of the one they met as the Risen Lord. That insight radically changed all those who embraced it.

Which brings us to the next manifestation of the Easter Effect among the first Christians: The way they thought about their responsibilities changed. What had happened to Jesus, they slowly began to grasp, was not just about their former teacher and friend; it was about all of them. His destiny was their destiny. So not only could they face opposition, scorn and even death with confidence; they could offer to others the truth and the fellowship they had been given. Indeed, they had to do so, to be faithful to what they had experienced. Christian mission is inconceivable without Easter. And that mission would eventually lead these sons and daughters of Abraham to the conviction that the promise that God had made to the People of Israel had been extended to those who were not sons and daughters of Abraham. Because of Easter, the gentiles, too, could be embraced in a relationship—a covenant—with the one God, which was embodied in righteous living.

Pakistani Christian worshipers during an Easter Mass in Lahore, 2015. Photo: LightRocket/Getty Images

The way they thought about worship and its temporal rhythms changed. For the Jews who were the first members of the Jesus movement, nothing was more sacrosanct than the Sabbath, the seventh day of rest and worship. The Sabbath was enshrined in creation, for God himself had rested on the seventh day. The Sabbath’s importance as a key behavioral marker of the People of God had been reaffirmed in the Ten Commandments. Yet these first Christians, all Jews, quickly fixed Sunday as the “Lord’s Day,” because Easter had been a Sunday. Benedict XVI draws out the crucial point here:

“Only an event that marked souls indelibly could bring about such a profound realignment of the religious culture of the week. Mere theological speculations could not have achieved this… [The] celebration of the Lord’s day, which was characteristic of the Christian community from the outset, is one of the most convincing proofs that something extraordinary happened [at Easter]—the discovery of the empty tomb and the encounter with the Risen Lord.”

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Without the Easter Effect, there is really no explaining why there was a winning side—the Christian side—for Constantine the Great to choose. That effect, as Prof. Wright puts it, begins with, and is incomprehensible without, the first Christians’ conviction that “Jesus of Nazareth was raised bodily to a new sort of life, three days after his execution.” Recognizing that does not, of course, convince everyone. Nor does it end the mystery of Easter. The first Christians, like Christians today, cannot fully comprehend resurrected life: the life depicted in the Gospels of a transphysical body that can eat, drink and be touched but that also appears and disappears, unbothered by obstacles like doors and distance.

Nor does Easter mean that everything is always going to turn out just fine, for there is still work to be done in history. As Benedict XVI put it in his 2010 Easter message: “Easter does not work magic. Just as the Israelites found the desert awaiting them on the far side of the Red Sea, so the Church, after the Resurrection, always finds history filled with joy and hope, grief and anguish. And yet this history is changed…it is truly open to the future.”

More Saturday Essays

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  • Truth Isn’t the Problem—We Are March 15, 2018
  • The Truth About the SAT and ACT March 8, 2018
  • The New Arms Race in AI March 2, 2018
  • How to Raise More Grateful Children February 23, 2018

Which perhaps offers one final insight into the question with which we began: How did the Jesus movement, beginning on the margins of civilization and led by people of seeming inconsequence, end up being what Constantine regarded as the winning side? However important the role of sociological factors in explaining why Christianity carried the day, there also was that curious and inexplicable joy that marked the early Christians, even as they were being marched off to execution. Was that joy simply delusion? Denial?

Perhaps it was the Easter Effect: the joy of people who had become convinced that they were witnesses to something inexplicable but nonetheless true. Something that gave a superabundance of meaning to life and that erased the fear of death. Something that had to be shared. Something with which to change the world.

Mr. Weigel is distinguished senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, where he holds the William E. Simon Chair in Catholic Studies.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-easter-effect-and-how-it-changed-the-world-1522418701

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Photo by Tek Pham

The Democrats Abandon Catholics

March 23, 2018

If you value religious education or life’s sanctity, you’re not welcome in the party.

A couple of events over the past few weeks brought to mind two towering people who had a tremendous effect on the Archdiocese of New York and the U.S. more broadly. Their witness is worth remembering, especially in this political moment.

Last Saturday’s feast of St. Patrick, the patron saint of our cathedral and archdiocese, reminded me of Archbishop John Hughes. As the first archbishop of New York (1842-64), “Dagger John” displayed dramatic reverence for the dignity of Irish immigrants. Thousands arrived daily in New York—penniless, starving and sometimes ill—only to be met with hostility, bigotry and injustice.

Portrait of Archbishop John Hughes, c. 1840s.
Portrait of Archbishop John Hughes, c. 1840s.PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES

An immigrant himself, Hughes prophetically and vigorously defended their dignity. Because the schools at the time were hostile to these immigrants, he initiated Catholic schools to provide children with a good education sensitive to their religion and to prepare them as responsible, patriotic citizens. The schools worked. Many remain open to this day, their mission unchanged.

The second event was the recent funeral of a great African-American woman, Dolores Grier. A convert to Catholicism, she was named vice chancellor of the archdiocese three decades ago by Cardinal John O’Connor; she was the first layperson and first woman to hold the prestigious position. Grier was passionate about civil rights, especially the right to life of babies in the womb. She never missed an opportunity to defend, lovingly but forcefully, their right to life.

Grier attributed her pro-life sensitivity to the Rev. Jesse Jackson, who preached that abortion was an act of genocide against minorities. No wonder, she often observed, abortuaries were clustered in poor black and brown neighborhoods. The statistics today confirm her observation: In 2013 there were more black babies aborted in New York City (29,007) than were born here (24,758), according to a report from the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

The values Archbishop Hughes and Dolores Grier cherished—the dignity and sanctity of human life, the importance of Catholic schools, the defense of a baby’s civil rights—were, and still are, widely embraced by Catholics. This often led Catholics to become loyal Democrats. I remember my own grandmother whispering to me, “We Catholics don’t trust those Republicans.”

Such is no longer the case, a cause of sadness to many Catholics, me included. The two causes so vigorously promoted by Hughes and Grier—the needs of poor and middle-class children in Catholic schools, and the right to life of the baby in the womb—largely have been rejected by the party of our youth. An esteemed pro-life Democrat in Illinois, Rep. Dan Lipinski, effectively was blacklisted by his own party. Last year, Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez insisted that pro-life candidates have no place in the modern Democratic Party.

It is particularly chilly for us here in the state Hughes and Grier proudly called their earthly home. In recent years, some Democrats in the New York state Assembly repeatedly blocked education tax credit legislation, which would have helped middle-class and low-income families make the choice to select Catholic or other nonpublic schools for their children. Opposing the bill reduces the ability of fine Catholic schools across the state to continue their mission of serving the poor, many of them immigrants.

More sobering, what is already the most radical abortion license in the country may soon be even more morbidly expanded. For instance, under the proposed Reproductive Health Act, doctors would not be required to care for a baby who survives an abortion. The newborn simply would be allowed to die without any legal implications. And abortions would be legal up to the moment of birth.

The “big tent” of the Democratic Party now seems a pup tent. Annafi Wahed, a former staffer to Hillary Clinton, recently wrote in this newspaper about her experience attending the Conservative Political Action Conference. She complimented the conservative attendees, pointing out that most made her feel welcome at their meeting. They listened attentively to her views—a courtesy, she had to admit, that would not be given to them at a meeting of political liberals.

I’m a pastor, not a politician, and I’ve certainly had spats and disappointments with politicians from both of America’s leading parties. But it saddens me, and weakens the democracy millions of Americans cherish, when the party that once embraced Catholics now slams the door on us.

To Archbishop Hughes, Dolores Grier, and Grandma Dolan, I’m sorry to have to write this. But not as sad as you are to know it is true.

Cardinal Dolan is archbishop of New York.

Appeared in the March 23, 2018, print edition.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-democrats-abandon-catholics-1521761348

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The Parkland Massacre and the Air We Breathe

February 16, 2018

What’s gone wrong with our culture that produces such atrocities? It’s a very long list.

A teacher hugs a student at a police checkpoint Thursday.
A teacher hugs a student at a police checkpoint Thursday. PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES
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We discuss motives, but isn’t it always the same motive? “I have murder in my heart.” Why do so many Americans have murder in their hearts?

That is my question after the St. Valentine’s Day shootings at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. We all know it is part of a continuing cultural catastrophe. A terrible aspect of the catastrophe is that so many central thoughts about it, and questions, have been flattened by time into clichés. People stop hearing when you mention them. “We talked about that during Columbine, didn’t we? That couldn’t be it.”

So we immediately revert to discussions of gun law, and only gun law. There is much to be improved in that area—I offer a suggestion at the end—but it is not the only part of the story. The story is also who we are now and what shape we’re in.

A way to look at the question is: What has happened the past 40 years or so to produce a society so ill at ease with itself, so prone to violence?

We know. We all say it privately, but it’s so obvious it’s hardly worth saying. We have been swept by social, technological and cultural revolution. The family blew up—divorce, unwed childbearing. Fatherless sons. Fatherless daughters, too. Poor children with no one to love them. The internet flourished. Porn proliferated. Drugs, legal and illegal. Violent videogames, in which nameless people are eliminated and spattered all over the screen. (The Columbine shooters loved and might have been addicted to “Doom.”) The abortion regime settled in, with its fierce, endless yet somehow casual talk about the right to end a life. An increasingly violent entertainment culture—low, hypersexualized, full of anomie and weirdness, allergic to meaning and depth. The old longing for integration gave way to a culture of accusation—you are a supremacist, a misogynist, you are guilty of privilege and defined by your color and class, we don’t let your sort speak here.

So much change, so much of it un-gentle. Throughout, was anyone looking to children and what they need? That wasn’t really a salient aim or feature of all the revolutions, was it? The adults were seeing to what they believed were their rights. Kids were a side thought.

At this moment we are in the middle of a reckoning about how disturbed our sexual landscape has become. This past week we turned to violence within marriages. We recently looked at the international sex trade, a phrase that sounds so 18th-century but refers to a real and profitable business.

All this change, compressed into 40 years, has produced some good things, even miraculous ones. But it does not feel accidental that America is experiencing what appears to be a mental-health crisis, especially among the young. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently reported as many as 20% of children 3 to 17 have, in any given year, a mental or emotional illness. There is research indicating depression among teenagers is worsening. National Public Radio recently quoted a 2005 report asserting the percentage of prison inmates with serious mental illness rose from less than 1% in 1880 to 21% in 2005. Deinstitutionalization swept health care and the psychiatric profession starting in the 1960s, and has continued since. The sick now go to the emergency room or stay among us untreated. In the society we have created the past 40 years, you know we are not making fewer emotionally ill young people, but more.

And here, to me, is the problem. A nation has an atmosphere. It has air it breathes in each day. China has a famous pollution problem: You can see the dirt in the air. America’s air looks clean but there are toxins in it, and they’re making the least defended and protected of us sick.

Here is one breath of the air:

Two weeks ago the U.S. Senate blocked a bill that would have banned most abortions after 20 weeks. Exceptions were made—the life of the mother, incest and rape. Twenty weeks—right up to the start of the sixth month—seemed reasonable. But Democrats said it was an assault on women’s rights. So as far as the Senate is concerned, you can end the life of a 6- to 9-month-old baby that can live outside the womb, that is not only human but recognizably and obviously human.

And even if you are 100% for full-term abortion—even if you think this right must be protected lest we go on a slippery slope and next thing you know they’ll outlaw contraceptives—your own language might have alerted you along the way to your radicalism.

Imagine you are pregnant, in the last trimester, and suddenly feel movement in your belly, a shift from here to there. You say, “Oh my God, feel,” and you take the hand of the father, or of another intimate, and you place it on your stomach. You don’t say, “The fetus lurched,” or “A conglomeration of cells is making itself manifest.” You say, “The baby moved. The baby’s moving.” You say this because it is a baby, and you know it. You say it because in your wonder at it, and at life, you tell the truth.

I should add who used that example with me. A great liberal journalist who sees right through his party’s dishonesty on this issue.

The failure to ban late-term abortion is one of those central things we rarely talk about.

And I’ll tell you what I think a teenager absorbs about it, unconsciously, in America. He sees a headline online, he passes a television in an airport, he hears the quick story and he thinks: “If the baby we don’t let live is unimportant, then I guess I am unimportant. And you’re unimportant too.” They don’t even know they’re breathing that in. But it’s there, in the atmosphere, and they’re breathing it in. And it doesn’t make you healthier.

The National Rifle Association too fears their slippery slope, and their fear means nothing common-sensical can be done regarding gun law. Concede anything and it will mean they’re coming for your hunting rifle.

Congress has been talking, at least recently and to some extent, of a trade on immigration. New protections for Dreamers on one hand versus increased border security on the other. This would be a good deal. Dreamers are integrated into American life, and a good many work in education and health care. And America is a great sovereign nation with not only a right but a responsibility to control its own borders.

Compromise is often good.

On gun law, Republicans oppose banning assault weapons such as the AR-15, the one the Parkland shooter used, because of the numbers, power and contributions of gun owners and the NRA. Democrats oppose banning late-term abortion because of the numbers, power and contributions of the rising left, feminists and Planned Parenthood.

The idea: Trade banning assault weapons for banning late-term abortion. Make illegal a killing machine and a killing procedure.

In both cases the lives of children would be saved.

Wouldn’t this clean some of the air? Wouldn’t we all breathe a little easier?

 https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-parkland-massacre-and-the-air-we-breathe-1518739880

Roy Moore’s Liberal Enablers

December 5, 2017

If he wins, he can thank Al Franken and Jimmy Kimmel among others.

Bill Clinton and Al Franken during a rally at the University of Minnesota, Oct. 10, 2014.
Bill Clinton and Al Franken during a rally at the University of Minnesota, Oct. 10, 2014. PHOTO: JEAN PIERI/ASSOCIATED PRESS

When Alabamans go to the polls a week from now in a special election to choose their next senator, not even Mrs. Roy Moore will be rooting as hard for her Republican husband as the junior senator from Minnesota, Al Franken.

The reason is simple. Mr. Franken knows that if Mr. Moore takes his Senate seat, it becomes less likely the former “Saturday Night Live” comic will have to relinquish his. And therein lies a larger tale about how the liberal opposition to Mr. Moore may be backfiring.

Until this race, plausible accusations that a candidate had engaged in sexual conduct with girls as young as 14 would be enough to sink most any man. Coming as these charges do amid a national sexual reckoning that has already brought down many powerful men hitherto thought untouchable, they ought to be even more potent.

But Mr. Moore is not sinking. To the contrary, at last check the Real Clear Politics polling average gives him a 2.6-point lead. A CBS News poll released this past weekend has him up by 6 points.

If Mr. Moore does win, it will be despite calls by Republicans and conservatives for him to step aside. The calls have come from Republican leaders such as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan, among others.

Then again, the remaining GOP support, including that of Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey and now President Donald Trump, may carry more pull. Mr. Moore further benefits from the backing of the evangelical community, many of whose pastors have stuck with him.

But there’s another potent force in this race, which gets little media attention. These are the liberals who are enabling him. Let’s run through a short list:

• Bill Clinton . Remember the argument “It was only sex”? Or reporter Nina Burleigh saying she’d be happy to give then-President Clinton oral sex “just to thank him for keeping abortion legal”?

Some who backed Mr. Clinton now recognize that their unqualified support through all his lies and bad behavior leaves them in a poor position to lecture others about how to treat women, or why policy should not trump character. Now they are throwing Mr. Clinton under the bus to try to regain the moral high ground. How persuasive must Alabamans find this?

• Doug Jones. He is the Democrat in the race. When your rival is credibly accused of sexual misbehavior with underage girls, the race is yours to lose. And yet Mr. Jones is doing his best to do just that, over a classic Democratic blind spot: abortion.

Alabama is one of America’s most pro-life states. Mr. Jones might have expanded his appeal by opting for the Bill Clinton formula of “safe, legal and rare,” or supporting popular restrictions such as the ban after 20 weeks. Instead, Mr. Jones has opted for the Hillary Clinton view that abortion must be sacrosanct. If he ends up losing, abortion will be a big reason.

• Al Franken. On the hypocrisy front there’s plenty on all sides to go around. Still, it has to be hard for Alabama Republicans not to notice that they are being called on to reject their guy at a time when Democrats are keeping theirs.

• Jimmy Kimmel. Mr. Kimmel recently dispatched a comedian to heckle Mr. Moore at a rally at the Magnolia Springs Baptist Church. He succeeded in disrupting the event. Mr. Kimmel and Mr. Moore then got into a Twitter tiff after Mr. Moore suggested Mr. Kimmel put up his dukes, and Mr. Kimmel accepted.

Mr. Kimmel and his audience have had some good yucks at the expense of the local yokels. But again, just a guess that this may not be playing as well in Alabama.

• The national press corps. When Donald Trump tweets about “fake news,” the smart set groans. But just this weekend, ABC News suspended Brian Ross for reporting, falsely, that retired general Mike Flynn would testify Mr. Trump asked him to reach out to the Russians during the campaign, when it was in fact after he’d been elected president. At nearly the same time America learned that the top FBI agent on Robert Mueller’s team investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election had exchanged pro-Hillary/anti-Trump texts with an FBI lawyer with whom he was having an extramarital affair.

And then liberals wonder at a CBS poll finding that 71% of Alabama Republicans don’t believe the allegations against their candidate. They may well be wrong about Mr. Moore and his accusers, but is their skepticism really that difficult to understand?

Now we are entering the final week of the race. Perhaps sensing a Moore victory, President Trump Monday morning offered an unconditional endorsement, tweeting that “we need Roy Moore to win.” But Mr. Trump’s endorsement hasn’t always been dispositive: Remember, Mr. Moore is the GOP’s candidate because Alabama Republicans in the primaries rejected the man the president endorsed.

So if Mr. Moore does find himself Alabama’s newest senator next Tuesday night, it may be as much the fault of those who opposed him as those who supported him.

Write to mcgurn@wsj.com.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/roy-moores-liberal-enablers-1512433255

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The abortion lobby is delighted with Twitter’s censorship of Marsha Blackburn

October 11, 2017
According to the abortion lobby, the right to choose and the right to free speech are mutually exclusive. The National Abortion and Reproductive Rights League made that clear Tuesday when they cheered Twitter’s censorship of Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn.The Tennessee Republican ran afoul of Twitter with a campaign video promoting her fight against “the sale of baby body parts.”
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That claim refers to the Stem Express scandal and the subsequent congressional investigation which found that Planned Parenthood was making money by either hustling the remains of unborn children or serving as the Amazon Prime for the little arms and legs of aborted babies.
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Instead of questioning the veracity of Blackburn’s statement, Twitter attacked its “inflammatory” sentiment, pulling the video from its website and, in the process, siding with the abortion lobby. This makes absolutely no sense.

Twitter feeds are veritable tinderboxes when it comes to unpopular and fiery opinions. Numerous writers have already noted what’s immediately apparent when opening up the website: Twitter gives the same voice to white supremacists as humanitarian organizations, equal footing to the reprehensible and the commendable. Until now, the relative flammability of any sentiment was entirely subjective.

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Since creating their account in 2008, NARAL has posted hundreds of tweets and photos that some would find not only false but also extremely inflammatory. The social media goliath never pulled their posts, but has suddenly decided to start policing the other side of the debate.

Worse than the censor, Twitter has embraced the role of a nanny. They’re not bothering to evaluate facts. They’re judging posts based on feelings. And all of this is just fine with the abortion lobby, so long as democracy’s digital forum continues to elevate the right to abort babies over the right to free speech.

Philip Wegmann is a commentary writer for the Washington Examiner.

Killing of the Innocents — Many have lost sight of “moral obligations”

October 5, 2017

By Charles Gardner

Israel Today

As the earth is ravaged by an unprecedented series of natural disasters, accompanied with threats of war and terror, world leaders have been presented with a heavenly vision.

In challenging the “fake history” of those who deny Jewish links with Israel’s holiest sites, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin ‘Bibi’ Netanyahu has sounded a clarion call for the United Nations to acknowledge the divine authority of the world’s greatest book – the Bible.

Three times he referenced the Bible in a powerful speech to the UN in which he claimed that Israel’s right to exist and prosper as a nation rooted in God’s Word.

Referring to July’s declaration of Hebron’s Tomb of the Patriarchs as a Palestinian World Heritage site, he said you won’t read the true facts of its history in the latest UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) report.

“But you can read about it in a somewhat weightier publication – it’s called the Bible,” he mocked, adding that it was “a great read”, that he read it every week, and that they could purchase it from Amazon.

How refreshing that at least one nation’s leader takes his stand on the Bible, though it is entirely appropriate as Bibi leads the people who gave it to us! As well as a sacred book written by divine authority, it is also an historical record which validates Israel’s claim to the Promised Land they now occupy.

But in making such a divine claim for the territory, Bibi must also seek to apply the Law – that is, the Lord’s teaching on ethical matters – to his domain.

He is right in saying that the words of the prophet Isaiah – that God called Israel to be a light to the nations – is being fulfilled as the tiny Jewish state becomes a rising power. But their call “to bring salvation to the ends of the earth” (Isaiah 49.6) must mean more than hi-tech innovation and being good neighbours through their search-and-rescue teams sent to disaster areas and medics tending to wounded Syrians on their northern border, though we praise God for all that.

Israel is nevertheless rife with immorality – and I am thinking particularly about abortion, a killing of innocents that echoes previous turning points in Israel’s (and the world’s) history at the time of Moses and of Jesus. I appreciate that its practice in modern Israel is less prevalent than in most parts of the West, but some 650,000 children have nevertheless been denied life in a country that gave God’s law to the world, including the commandment ‘Thou shall not kill’.

In the UK, shockingly, nine million babies have been murdered in the 50 years since the passing of the Abortion Act, originally designed to prevent backstreet abortions and meant to apply only where a mother’s life was threatened. Now it is virtually a case of abortion on demand as further calls are made for relaxing the law. Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists president Lesley Regan believes terminations should be the same as any other medical procedure, requiring consent from only one doctor, just as if they were having a bunion removed. But the fact that 650 doctors have signed a petition against it is very encouraging.

Paradoxically, the killing of innocents has accompanied the greatest rescues mankind has witnessed. Moses survived the edict of the Egyptian Pharaoh calling for the slaughter of all Hebrew babies to lead his people out of slavery to the Promised Land. Yeshua, the Jewish Messiah, survived King Herod’s massacre of infants – ironically by fleeing with his family to Egypt in response to God’s warning – to bring salvation to the world through his sacrificial death on a Roman cross outside Jerusalem.

Moses also received the Law of God; now Jesus writes the Law on our hearts (Ezekiel 36.26, Jeremiah 31.33). Moses was hidden among the bulrushes of the Nile and became the saviour of his people; Jesus was raised in the backwaters of Nazareth but became the Saviour of the world as he brought true freedom to all who would trust in his redeeming blood (John 8.36).

My colleague, Clifford Denton, tells me of a conference held in Israel in 1996 at which Messianic leaders gathered to discuss the Jewish roots of Christianity. “Unknown to me until afterwards,” he said, “it turned out that the Knesset (Israel’s parliament) was voting on an abortion law at the very same time that we were discussing Torah (the Law of Moses). In fact the Knesset was struck by lightning at that very time.”

With innocents around the world being butchered as never before, the Messiah is about to be revealed to the nations. Jesus indicated that his coming again would be as in the days of Noah (Luke 17.26) when the world was full of violence (Genesis 6.13). Terrorism stalks the planet as unbelievable cruelty mars even supposedly enlightened societies while nuclear holocausts have become a distinct possibility, with both North Korea and Iran making ominous noises. And all this while nations reel under the ferocious effects of earthquakes and hurricanes – also spoken of as signs of the Messiah’s imminent return (Luke 21.25-28), especially when they follow in rapid succession and increasing severity, as on a woman with labour pains. (Matthew 24.8)

Of the three major Jewish feasts, Jesus has fulfilled both Passover and Shavuot (Pentecost). Many Bible commentators believe he will soon fulfill the Feast of Tabernacles (shortly to be celebrated throughout the Jewish world) when he returns to reign from Jerusalem. The One who protects his people, and provides for them, as he did in the wilderness so long ago, will finally bring in the harvest of those who believe in him as he comes to ‘tabernacle’ (or live/make his dwelling) among us. (See John 1.14)

The day is coming – very soon, it seems – when the killing of the innocents will give way to the glorious return of the Son of Man “coming in a cloud with power and great glory” (Luke 21.27) to avenge every wrong as he passes judgment on a cruel world.

Israel – you are truly called to be a light to the nations, and indeed you have impressed so far with many marvellous inventions. But the brightest light is the fulfillment of the Law through Yeshua HaMashiach, who brings hope, not despair; and life, not death.

http://www.israeltoday.co.il/NewsItem/tabid/178/nid/32475/Default.aspx