Obama and FOCA. We can only hope that after years of wringing their hands, the Bishops might react strongly ...
IF President-elect Barack Obama goes through with his campaign pledge to sign into law the Freedom of Choice Act, holy hell is going to break loose.
FOCA may be the most radical social legislation in decades. It seeks to strip every last restraint from abortion - outlawing states' requirements for waiting periods, informed consent or parental consent; preventing health and safety regulation of abortion clinics and abortionists - and even ending restrictions on partial-birth abortion.
The Catholic Church, for one, won't stand for it. The ranking American prelate to the Holy See, James Cardinal Stafford, denounced Obama's vision as "aggressive, disruptive and apocalyptic."
FOCA means war.
The US bishops have always been united in their moral condemnation of abortion. But they have stopped short of flexing political muscle, evading a head-on confrontation. That may now change.
Obama's commitment to FOCA dominated their discussionsat their annual convention in Baltimore last month. Their president, Francis Cardinal George, warned that FOCA would destroy the freedom of conscience of doctors, nurses and health-care workers. "It would threaten Catholic healthcare institutions and Catholic Charities. It would be an evil law that would divide our country and the church should be intent on opposing evil."
Chicago's Auxiliary Bishop Thomas Paprocki went further. He said flatly that if the Obama administration attempted to force Catholic hospitals to provide abortions, they'd shut them down rather than comply.
"There are grave consequences," he said. "It would not be sufficient to sell them to someone who would perform abortions. That would be a morally unacceptable cooperation in evil."
We all know that governor Sarah Palin is Public Enemy #1 for the pro-abortion movement. Here's a fine feature article by Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B Anthony list, and co-founder of Team Sarah.
It looks like Sarah Palin won't be fading away. Not if Saxby Chambliss has anything to say about it. "I can't overstate the impact she had down here," said Chambliss shortly after his surprisingly solid 15-point victory in the December 2 Georgia Senate runoff. Chambliss, who went from a 49.8-46.8 percent lead on November 4 to a 57-43 victory over Democrat Jim Martin in the runoff (Georgia law requires an absolute majority), credited Palin with helping his campaign "peak" with four hugely attended election-eve rallies.
"All these folks did a great job coming in," he said, referring to an all-star cast of Republicans who made appearances on his behalf. "But when she walks in a room, folks just explode."
Despite the best efforts of the media, left-of-center feminists, and a brigade of political elites, including more than a few Beltway Republicans, to write obituaries for Palin's national political career, she continues to be the second biggest phenomenon of the 2008 election cycle, behind only the president-elect.
"I am not going to Washington to seek their good opinion," she said in her convention acceptance speech, referring to the media. And gain it, she did not. But their disdain--like that of the abovementioned elites--seems only to fan the firestorm of support for her. Witness the independent "Team Sarah" website, started September 15 by the Susan B. Anthony List, the pro-life group I head. Every time Palin is hammered by the media, this stable of online supporters grows. Our Facebook-style political networking site has grown from
50 members to 60,000 in less than two months, the biggest surges coming when Palin-bashing crests.
Under media attack and scrutiny, Palin and her family became a kind of microcosm of America's "crisis" abortion debates. Her Down Syndrome baby Trig and her pregnant teenage daughter are witnesses to the life-affirming attitudes the early feminists held.
And Palin operates in a grievance-free environment. She likes being a woman. It is apparent, attractive, and typical of what most American women feel, or would like to. She gives every appearance of loving her role as a wife and mother of a bunch of kids. She lives as if she believes in the natural complementarity of men and women, rather than the supposed enmity and competition of the sexes depicted as universal by left feminism.
She is feminine and she is confident. This confidence is what gets under the skin of the old-guard feminists the most. How could she? She takes her femininity and pro-life position and strides confidently right through those doors they feel they opened. And it drives them to distraction that millions of American women either love it or are intrigued by it. Finally, after all these years, we see a confident, successful, feminine woman no more afraid of barriers than the hardest-core liberal feminist.
Put another way, her attractiveness is her authenticity.
Judie Brown, of course, is the President of American Life League. This is her full column in today's (Dec. 8th) ALL email newsletter -
By Judie Brown
Recently, during a visit to Boise, I had the honor of speaking at a Christmas banquet hosted by Idaho Chooses Life. My theme was "Obamaism versus Truth," and I segued into the president-elect's "above my pay grade" statement at the Saddleback Church presidential candidates' forum to make a salient point that must be addressed repeatedly.
You will recall that Obama's "above my pay grade" statement was made in this context:
Asked at what point a baby gets "human rights," Obama, who strongly supports abortion rights, said: "… whether you're looking at it from a theological perspective or a scientific perspective, answering that question with specificity … is above my pay grade."
He tried to clarify that silliness a few days later on ABC's This Week:
What I intended to say is that, as a Christian, I have a lot of humility about understanding when does the soul enter into … It's a pretty tough question. And so, all I meant to communicate was that I don't presume to be able to answer these kinds of theological questions.
Obama's statement rings as false today as it did when Supreme Court Justice Blackmun wrote, in Roe v. Wade,
We need not resolve the difficult question of when life begins. When those trained in the respective disciplines of medicine, philosophy, and theologies are unable to arrive at any consensus, the judiciary, at this point in the development of man's knowledge, is not in a position to speculate as to the answer.
My point in Boise, which American Life League has been making for 30 years now, is that scientists do know when a human being begins, philosophers do know when a person begins and theologies based on the Word of God support what is undeniable according to science: A human being begins at his beginning. This is why the personhood effort is gaining ground, and this is why, at the end of the day, those who make flippant statements similar to the above-cited "Obamaism" are people who will say or do anything to deny that abortion kills an innocent human being.
But it is these sophisms of denial that place the personhood goal directly in the headlights of the careening pro-abortion machine. Just a couple of days ago, pro-abortion blogger Wendy Norris wrote,
Despite a crushing 3-to-1 loss of a pioneering, but controversial, state constitutional amendment to confer civil rights on fertilized human eggs, an American Life League spokesperson made a curious slip of the tongue in a weird silver-lining statement about the organization's future plans to ban abortion.
Norris apparently thinks that American Life League communications director Katie Walker's brilliant comment during an interview was actually an admission of defeat. Walker is quoted as saying,
The idea of personhood in this movement is really the only thing, the only option left to us [emphasis in original], and it's one of the best options and one of the most beautiful concepts I've heard in a long time… We're very excited about it.
But let me clue you in on why Norris is really nearly apoplectic about Walker's accurate assessment and the future of the personhood movement. Norris, like Obama, has the strange perspective that when pro-life America speaks of personhood, we are attempting to assign human dignity to a "fertilized egg." Norris is in denial, and she chooses to avoid being honest enough to tell her readers that the human being whose life begins at the union of sperm and egg is immediately a human being. By using the term "fertilized egg," Norris attempts to dehumanize the baby, thus giving her the opportunity to deny that scientific fact has anything whatsoever to do with the personhood of individual human beings.
She may think she is clever by making such a statement, but in fact, she is as dishonest at her "pay grade" as Obama is at his. But that is the way sophisms grow and flourish. We all know this and have taken great care because of it.
When American Life League developed the language of the Federal Personhood Amendment, we worked with astute scientists and attorneys in order to carve out language that could not be misinterpreted by the likes of Obama and Norris. This is why the FPA clearly defines a "human being" as
any organism, including the single-cell human embryo, irrespective of the method of reproduction, who possesses a genome specific for and consistent with an individual member of the human species.
It goes on to define "personhood" as
the legal recognition of a human being's full status as a human person that applies to all human beings; irrespective of age, health, function, physical dependency or method of reproduction; including their unborn offspring; at every stage of their biological development.
American Life League's goal is to help Americans of every "pay grade" understand the basic science of the human being and, from there, recognize why restoring personhood is, as Walker said, the only option left to us. In fact, personhood is the only option that pro-lifers should have been pressing for during the past 35 years.
We cannot go back and undo history, but we can begin now to make history. Pro-life Americans have a golden opportunity to take each and every sophism that we encounter, and shed the light of truth on it for all to see and understand. There is absolutely nothing that would do the babies more good than for each of us committed to this struggle to address personhood whenever there is an opportunity to speak about the reasons why we are pro-life.
One of my favorite examples of doing precisely this is sidewalk counselors, who never pass up an opportunity to share the truth with an expectant mother who is about to permit the killing of one person and the devastation of another in ways she cannot possibly imagine. Sidewalk counselors know the truth, and that is why they plead with expectant mothers to keep their babies. It is also why each they offer to help the expectant mother in whatever way is necessary so that the baby need not die and the mother therefore need not suffer the loss of her baby by such a tragic decision.
While I know very well that sidewalk counselors certainly do not have a "pay grade," I know they possess the truth. Let us hope that people like President-elect Obama and Wendy Norris take a moment to think about the simple facts of the matter, rather than run away from them and hide behind statements that only expose their ignorance.
Judie Brown is president of American Life League and a member of the Pontifical Academy for Life.
The following homily was delivered by Fr. Thomas Berg, L.C., on the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ the King on Sunday, November 23, 2008 at Villa Maria Guadalupe Retreat Center in Stamford, CT.
News flash: Vatican City, Sunday, November 23, 2008. “His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI announced today that the Catholic Church is formally drawing an end to evangelization efforts in the world and shelving plans for the establishment of the Kingdom of Christ in the world. A high-ranking Vatican official who asked to remain anonymous, was quoted as saying: “The attitude here is that ‘if it hasn’t happened in 2000 years, it ain’t gonna happen’.” The Pope was unavailable for further comment.
* * *
Can’t imagine such a scenario, right?
Of course not.
That news flash just ‘ain’t gonna happen.’ Never.
There are folks out there, however, who say—and who thought—that the pro-life movement (by the time this year’s presidential campaign rolled around) had failed. And they consequently cast their vote for the man who will arguably be the most pro-abortion president in the history of the United States. The logic—or illogic—seems to have been: if we haven’t been able to stop abortion in 35 years, then ‘it ain’t gonna happen.’
Well, about a dose of reality. The 35-year struggle against federal court-imposed abortion on demand is still a relatively young one. As my friend Nik Nikas has pointed out, the lessons of the long struggle for black civil rights are instructive:
· 246 years from the advent of American slavery to the end of the Civil War;
· 100 years from the ratification of the 13th Amendment abolishing slavery to the passage of the Civil Rights Act;
· 58 years from the announcement by the Supreme Court in Plessy v. Ferguson that "separate but equal" public accommodations for blacks and whites was constitutional to the reversal of that decision by the Supreme Court in Brown v. Board of Education.
So, after only 35 years, it would seem that the pro-life movement is only at the beginning of its battle, not at the (failed) end of it. (It might be good for someone to remind Mr. Obama, by the way, that change—‘change we can believe in’—takes lots of time!)
How then does today’s celebration of the Kingdom and of Christ our King have to do with all of this?
Well, it’s quite simple really: The Kingdom—the establishment of Christ’s Kingdom…takes time.
It’s been two-thousand years! And we’re still going at it!
And our efforts to build a culture in which the life of every human being from conception to natural death is respected and cherished…takes time.
So, it’s going to take more time to overturn Roe. And it will take more time to hit critical mass in the culture and get to that tipping point of effectively and definitively turning public opinion against abortion-on-demand, although some polls would indicate that we’re actually already pretty close to that point.
And let’s remember that our hope in the pro-life movement is based on. It’s certainly not based on candidates X, Y or Z.
Our hope has to be based on the Trinity:
-- on the patience of the Father, who is always the Father waiting for the return of the prodigal son;
-- on the infinite mercy of the heart of Christ… always waiting for more and more souls to be brought into his embrace…
-- on the fecundity of the Holy Spirit… always raising up new children in the Church…
So let’s peacefully accept that we are in this for the long hall. All of our efforts are going to take a long time.
Dear, Sisters of Life: your mission is going to be a long one. We wish you could maybe run out of clients; no more pregnant single women struggling to keep their children, no more abortion counseling to do… Would be nice if you could just dedicate yourselves to the contemplative life—and maybe to producing and selling jams from your monastery like the Trappists at Spencer, Mass. do… But I don’t think that’s in the cards. Your mission is going to be a long and vital one.
And it is will be a long and vital mission for all of us, and we have to gear up to endure. We have to be ready to endure…
Because we are called in the pro-life movement to embody that enduring love of the Trinity. Our mission is—not unlike that of St. Therese of Liseux—to ‘be love in the heart of the Church.’ Our first weapon in continued offensive to protect human life, and to build a culture of life has to be that: love.
When we love, we can be sure, that we are not failing.
And let’s remember today too that our efforts ride on the prayers of that throng of millions of souls whose lives were terminated in the womb or in the laboratory…
Their prayers go up constantly for those who were responsible: “Father forgive them, for they knew not what they were doing…” And: “Father, forgive them, even when they did know what they were doing… Father, forgive them… and bring us all into your Kingdom.”
We ride on their prayers. They too are love in the heart of the Church. And we must continue to be love in the heart of the Church. We must fight our battles with the weapons of love, mercy, forgiveness, endurance and above all, by speaking the truth in love… and by being the voice of reason in the face of culture which more and more loses touch with reason.
To conclude, then, a word of encouragement—especially for those still feeling like they just got mugged by life… struggling with discouragement… feeling like you lack the strength to continue. Take to heart these words of encouragement from, no one less than, Teddy Roosevelt:
It is not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled, or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena;
whose face is marred by the dust and sweat and blood;
who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again;
who knows the great enthusiasms,
the great devotions and spends himself in a worthy course;
who at the best, knows in the end the triumph of high achievement,
and who, at worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly;
so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls
who know neither victory or defeat.
That’s where we want to be: in the battle, bloodied, enduring, loving, using the weapons of love, charity, forgiveness, mercy, drawing our strength from Faith, Hope and Love, trusting without limits in the that Good Shepherd who reminds us today:
I myself will look after and tend my sheep.
As a shepherd tends his flock
when he finds himself among his scattered sheep,
so will I tend my sheep.
I will rescue them from every place where they were scattered
when it was cloudy and dark.
I myself will pasture my sheep;
I myself will give them rest, says the Lord GOD.
The lost I will seek out,
the strayed I will bring back,
the injured I will bind up,
the sick I will heal.
In him, in Christ the King of the Universe, we have placed our hope, and we look forward with joy to that Kingdom, where every tear will be wiped away, the hope of which must give shape to all we do, and sustain us in the battle for a culture of life.
God bless now.
Father Berg a priest of the Legionaries of Christ in Thornwood, NY, and Executive Director of the Westchester Institute for Ethics and the Human Person.
 Taken from Nikolas T. Nikas, “The Young Battle for Life” available at http://article.nationalreview.com/?q=MjRiMjE2OGJhYzQ4ZWJkMjg5ZDQ2MTljNTBmZjIwMzE=
 Cited from Dordina Bordlee and Nik Nikas, “Witness” available at http://article.nationalreview.com/print/?q=MjQ1NmYxMjBhMmJkN2I2ZTAxNTYzZGYzNDc1NmFkYmM=
 From the first reading at mass, Ezekiel 34:11-12, 15-17.