Recently in Pro-Life Category

At the religious freedom rally in San Francisco on Friday, Fr. Jeffrey Keyes, C.PP.S., spoke as follows:

In every age Christians have been challenged to stand up for what they believe. I would like to share with you the story of a little-known Saint. His name is Gaspar del Bufalo. It was 1810. He was only 24 years old, and had been ordained a priest just a short time. But now he was under arrest. Napoleon had conquered Rome and had imprisoned the pope. His intention was to close the churches and to force all the priests to swear allegiance to him.

So there Gaspar stood in front of the prefect. The prefect was a kind old gentleman, who did everything to minimize the event, downplaying it and reducing everything to a mere formality. It was just a harmless bureaucratic exercise.

The important thing was that Gaspar be put at ease, that he should not realize the seriousness of the choice to which he was being called. After all, many priests had already acquiesced and signed the oath of allegiance.

But Gaspar was not listening to the prefect, he was thinking of the blood which Napoleon had already caused to be shed. He was thinking of the imprisonment of the Holy Father, and he was thinking of the violation of liberty and the suppression of independence for the church.

So his response to the prefect was clear and decisive:

I cannot, I must not, I will not!

Just 200 years later, It is a different country and it is a different government. This time it is an American President. He has taken it upon himself to determine what is and is not religious. He has taken it upon himself to determine how I should live my faith in this time and in this place. Should I acquiesce to his demands?

I cannot, I must not, I will not!

The world health organization classifies oral contraceptives as a class one carcinogen right up there with tobacco. And the government wants me to provide this free with healthcare.

I cannot, I must not, I will not!

Women who use oral contraceptives for four years prior to their first full-term pregnancy have a 52% increased risk of developing breast cancer. And the government calls this health care and wants me to provide this for free, well...

I cannot, I must not, I will not!

Oral contraceptives do horrific damage to a woman's body, and should we call this health-care? Abortion destroys human life and is it reasonable or intelligent for us to call that healthcare?

I cannot, I must not, I will not!

The president proposed a compromise that would allow insurance companies to pay for the contraceptives rather than the church institution. My question, what if I belong to a church institution that is self-insured? I would then be required to pay for this.

I cannot, I must not, I will not!

What if I'm a Catholic business person who is required by my government to provide insurance that violates my conscience?

I cannot, I must not, I will not!

What will it be next and who will it be next? The New Mexico Court of Appeals has ruled that it is illegal for a photography business owned by Christians to refuse to photograph a same-sex wedding ceremony even though New Mexico law does not permit same-sex marriage. What will they say next? Will they say that it is illegal for me to refuse to do a same-sex marriage. Would we as Catholics allow the state to change one of our sacraments.

I cannot, I must not, I will not!

Saint Gaspar del Bufalo spent four years in prison for his profession of faith. We must pray too, that we have the strength to be firm in our faith.

We are not imposing our values on anyone. The government has dictated that employees at Catholic institutions are provided with free contraception, and that is the imposition on our faith and on our conscience. The government doesn't want so much to advance the cause of women's health, but rather, they seek to demonize a faith group that has the "audacity of hope," that they might live their faith free from government interference and intrusion.

I know it is just a mere formality, just a harmless bureaucratic exercise. I know that the important thing is that we should not realize the seriousness of the choice to which we are being called. After all everybody else is doing it. But let me be perfectly clear:

I cannot, I must not, I will not!

Despite the inconsistent talk of Bishop Roger Morin at the USCCB session this week, CCHD has not screened grant applicants thoroughly enough yet, and some of the groups exposed by CCHD critics for abortion advocacy are still receiving CCHD grant money.

More info at American Life League.

I don't normally respond to anonymous commentators who leave false email addresses while engaging in whisper campaigns. However, Anonyman (aka "Nothanks@youdonotcare.atall") provides me with an opportunity to re-visit a piece Jacqui Rapp and I co-authored after the marriage breakdown of several celebrity Catholic couples. Anonyman writes, in response to my post asking whether LC/RC can repent, the following:

The adulterous "professional" never will have to repent. He can divorce his wife with the blessing of the Church, knock up his little baby girl and stay with her for the good of the children and even apply for nullity, which some canonist quack like Vere or his ilk can't wait to grant. [cut]

I know this to be true. I am living it. Pete knows this to be true as well, but I am sure has some lame excuse. All canonists do.

This story is stupid.

I'm on record several places as to why the surge of annulments among Catholics who did not practice Church teaching in Humanae Vitae: it's the consequences of theCulture of Death. For instance, see this Catholic Light post from 2003.

But what about the breakdown (or major strain) in marriages among Catholics who accept Church teaching in Humanae Vitae? What about the breakdown in marriages between couples who practice NFP and are active in pro-life and Catholic apostolate (Which I imagine describes most of you reading this blog)?

Some whisperers will find it lame, but here's my excuse: It's taken from my experiences watching the breakdown of such marriages... As married laypeople, some people lose sight of the fact God called them to the married state, and not the consecrated or clerical state.

It's that simple. It's also tempting to overlook when one believes oneself engaged in God's work. Yet it's the reason I've dropped off the Catholic circuit and slowed down my writing apostolate since God blessed us with child number four last year. It's the reason I will blog two or three times a day for a month, then stop for months at a time. As much as I love you, dear readers, my first duty is toward my wife and children.

A couple years ago, Jacqui Rapp - who often co-authors with me on issues concerning marriage, family life, and annulments - and I, noting the breakdown of marriages involving several people in high-profile Catholic and/or pro-life apostolates, wrote the following article: Family Before Apostolate: Pro-Life Activism Begins at Home.

The article was written (originally for Catholics United for the Faith) as a conversation between Jacqui and me. One of Jacqui's more important points is the following:

As our Lord teaches in the Gospels, "The harvest is bountiful but the workers are few." It is not unusual for the few to find themselves overworked. Given the persecution of marriage and family within modern society, we can become so committed to combating the culture of death that we lose sight of our own marriages and families. This is one of the reasons the Roman Church has traditionally required her clergy to remain celibate.

Now, this is not to say that the married state is incompatible with ministry or apostolate. Personally, having a family has helped me become more compassionate, while at the same time remaining faithful to the Church's teaching in my work as a lay canonist. Being married and having children often opens us to graces and personal discoveries not previously experienced. As lay judges, both Pete and I understand certain nuances of marriage and family life that can easily be overlooked by our peers in the world of canon law who are celibate priests..

To which I responded:

In contrast, as married laymen we cannot devote the same time and effort to spreading the Gospel as that devoted by our ordained colleagues. Spouses have needs, as do children. Each of us undertakes these responsibilities toward our respective spouses and future children when we get married. The legitimate needs of spouse and children must come before the needs of our apostolic work.

Coincidentally, given that it just arrived back from the printer yesterday and is being shipped out to bookstores this week, Jacqui and I expanded this essay into the last chapter of our new book on marriage and annulments, which you can order from publisher Saint Anthony Messenger Press here.

So yes, changing diapers and plunging a toilet after my three-year-old flushed his rubber dolphin is rather lame when compared to the cloak-and-dagger excitement of taking on a codename and engaging in whisper campaigns for the Kingdom of God. But as lame as it is, it's my vocation as one called to the married state.

[Scroll down for the update]

Some sad news about Bob Schindler, one of the most decent Catholic gentlemen my family and I have even been blessed to call our friend. He passed away of a heart attack this past week. Most of you know Bob as a loving father who for years fought to save the life of his daughter Terri Schindler-Schiavo. When the state permitted the man to whom Terri was still legally married (despite the fact he was engaged to another woman) to take Terri's life, Bob became a leading activist within the pro-life movement for people with disabilities.

Here is what Bobby Schindler, Jr., Bob's son who is also a pro-life leader, shared about the passing of his father:

Statement from Bobby Schindler Regarding the Death of His Father, Robert Schindler

I am heartbroken over the loss of my father and yet I know at this moment he is rejoicing with my sister, Terri. My dad was a man of integrity, character and compassion who was blessed with a close and loving family. He taught all three of his children to respect and value life and to love our fellow man.

Even at the height of the battle to save my sister Terri's life, when his patience and temperance was near exhaustion, he managed to display a gentleness of spirit. Yet it was his unfathomable strength that allowed him to shoulder up his own heartache and lead us through our darkest hour.

What greater legacy could a man leave behind?

I can understand your heartbreak, Bobby. Your father was a good man, as Sonya and I learned quickly when we joined your family on the picket line down in Florida. I will never forget Day 6 of the 2003 protest when, with Terri about to pass the point of no return, your father came over to offer us some cold drinks and Sonya a more comfortable seat.

Sonya was nine months pregnant with our second child, but she insisted we keep making the 90 minute trip each day. We asked him how he and Mary were doing.

"Worried," he replied.

Sonya and I expressed our understanding and sympathy, that it might be too late for Terri.

"Yes, we're worried about Terri," Bob said. "But we're worried about you, Sonya and the new baby too. Her due date is tomorrow, isn't it? We will be praying for a safe delivery. Let us know if there is anything we can do for you, and make sure you let us as soon as the baby comes."

I looked into his eyes. He was sincere. I was flabbergasted. His daughter was perilously close to being taken from him, he hadn't slept in months, fifteen video cameras were stalking him at every second, and he was expressing concern for our little family who had come to support him.

As I struggled to make sense of this, he began to tell me about the birth of each of his children. It was then that I understood. He was a man who practiced what he preached, who was fighting not only for his daughter Terri, but for my daughter who would be born in coming days, for your daughter, for all of our children. I had known that he was sincere, that he wasn't just show, but until that moment I had not realized the depth of his sincerity and love.

Sorry, the tears won't allow me to go on much longer.

You're a good man, Bob. You taught us all what a father's love for his family really means. I pray you go strait to Heaven because you've done your Purgatory here on earth. And when you see Terri, please give her a hug from us.

Rest in the peace of Our Lord Jesus Christ, my friend.

***
UPDATE: Here is the original 2003 CL blog entry, written near the "hospice", shortly after this discussion took place with Bob (Terri is doing fine, her parents are good people). For newer readers, Catholic Light was the main Catholic blog providing hospice-side updates in 2003 when the Florida judiciary ordered Terri Schindler-Schiavo's feeding tube pulled. Here's how I described our conversation then. I'm trying to read it myself but can't get past the tears. It's too much of a reminder of what a decent and loving father he was:

Terri's parents are among the kindest and most decent people I have ever met. Before we left to return home, Terri's father took us aside and asked if he could speak with us because he had heard from some of the nurses and paramedics at the vigil (the ones on our side) that Sonya looked like she was only a few days away from labor. He was concerned we might try and sneak up to the vigil between now and then.

To be honest, this wasn't an unreal possibility since the hospital is about half-way between where we live and the hospice where Terri is staying. Nevertheless, Mr. Schindler said: "As a father, I'm here for my baby. We really appreciate your prayers and support, but you two need to be there for your baby now. We know you're with us in prayer. But please come back with the baby as soon as you're rested and able to travel." I mention this because it is typical of the wisdom and compassion one finds with Terri's parents. Even as they undergo such a tremendous cross, they show great consideration in generosity in wanting to make sure we weren't neglecting our own family needs for the sake of theirs. Needless to say, we were stunned. "How could they even worry about us at a time like this?" Sonya asked. For my own part, I don't think I could be this self-less if that was my daughter in the hospice. However, this is just one example that reveals the character of Terri's family.

Thank-you, Bob.

An escape - to where?

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This article shows the depths of the assisted suicide obsession.

The Swiss "clinic," serving mostly "patients" from Britain, now plans the assisted suicide of a perfectly healthy woman. Why? Because her partner is terminally ill - and if he goes, she wants to go at the same time.

It seems like the stuff of romance novels and epic stories - the suicide pact. I'm sure there are people who are so without hope that they feel their life is already over, or could end at any time.

Still the "clinic" operators return to the same point when explaining their reason for being.

...anyone who has "mental capacity" should be allowed to have an assisted suicide, claiming that it would save money for the National Health Service.
...Mr Minelli said that failed suicide attempts caused problems and extra costs for the British health service.
..."For 50 suicide attempts you have one suicide and the odds of failing with heavy costs for the National Health Service," he said."In many, many cases they are terribly hurt afterwards, sometimes you have to put them into institutions for 50 years, very costly."
Let's look on the bright side, they tell us:
"We should have a nicer attitude to suicide, saying suicide is a very good possibility to escape."
So there you have it. The "patient" has no hope. The clinic has the secular reason for making it happen: cut costs.

As we approach Holy Week, we are about to relive the story of hopelessness turned to hope through the death and resurrection of Jesus. May those who are contemplating their escape find hope in Jesus' sacrifice.

The Caritas debacle, part 2

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To pick up where I left off a few days ago: Cardinal O'Malley is having the National Catholic Bioethics Center review a deal that the Catholic hospital system Caritas Christi has made with the state government here in Massachusetts.

On the face of it, the plan is a scandal. Still, I'm hoping the immoral aspects of the deal can be corrected, so that for the sake of everyone involved, Caritas could participate in the state program on a legitimate basis.

I'm figuring that the moral problems with the situation are in these areas:

(1) Did Caritas solicit Centene (the company joining them in the project) to set up an abortion-providing insurance plan? If so, that appears to be plainly wrong. Would it be a personal fault by Caritas officials or would it vitiate the plan totally, so that it would remain morally tainted even if other aspects are "corrected"?

(2) Caritas is willingly a part-owner of the new CFHP (joint venture with Centene's subsidiary Celtic Insurance), which will administer the plan and provide abortion coverage as the state contract requires. I doubt that this ownership can be justified under any circumstances. Can Caritas "correct" this aspect by divesting itself of its share in CFHP?

(3) Caritas is, according to its statements in the press, already complying with state rules in a related matter: they give out "Department of Public Health information" on "emergency contraception" to rape victims, as required by law. Does that distinction reflect a difference that makes it morally tolerable?

(4) Can Caritas hospitals and physicians, as a subcontractor to CFHP, comply with the state-imposed contractual requirement to give abortion info? Do their contracts with other insurance companies have the same requirement? Are the hospitals already complying? Can the compliance be fulfilled in some minimalistic way that doesn't violate moral norms? If all the insurance contracts require it, and there is no morally licit way to fulfill the requirement, then I don't see how Caritas can continue to operate.

[Note: I know this is a hot-button topic, so commenters should be on notice. Comments that in my opinion cross the line will be removed. --RC]

The Caritas debacle, part 1

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Lately here in Boston we've had an uproar over the Catholic hospital system Caritas Christi. It's trying to set up an organization to provide health care for low-income people on the state's subsidized insurance plan, Commonwealth Care. At present, there are four relatively small HMOs offering services for Commonwealth Care subscribers, and Caritas' would be a fifth.

There's a serious ethical problem involved, though, because the state requires all the insurance companies administering the Commonwealth Care program to include abortion and contraception coverage.

Understandably pro-life Catholics are -- shall we say -- concerned and want to make sure that Caritas doesn't compromise on medical ethics, or come under state pressure to cooperate with abortions: for example, by referring patients to abortion providers, since it was plain that Caritas would not do them itself.

Caritas teamed up with a for-profit health company called Centene and is forming a joint venture company for the project. When the plan was briefed to state regulators, though, the Centene rep told them that yes, abortions would be provided. The plan would even provide transportation.

Did Caritas think that this would absolve it of responsibility? The arrangement -- at least as it has been reported in the press and in the state government website -- would seem to make Caritas part-owner of a company that provides abortion coverage.

To put it mildly, this didn't give lay pro-lifers much confidence in the ethical competence of the decision makers here in Boston.

It's especially shocking, since the board of directors of Caritas includes several appointees from the Archdiocese, and the priest J. Bryan Hehir, known formerly as a prominent USCC foreign-policy official in the 1980s, is the Archdiocesan liaison to Caritas Christi. Did these worthies know and approve of this disturbing arrangement? Maybe some knew, but apparently some important people didn't know: CWNews.com cited an "informed source" that claimed that the whole deal was a surprise to Cardinal O'Malley.

Well, thanks be to God, good pro-life folks sounded off at the Mass. Citizens for Life and the Mass. Catholic League; and Cardinal O'Malley stepped up to say that the Archdiocese was going to exercise its right to supervise medical ethics issues for Caritas and would veto the deal if it doesn't stay within ethical limits. To assist in making his decision, he'd get the proposal reviewed by the National Catholic Bioethics Center, an organization well trusted among pro-lifers for its strong commitment to Catholic medical ethics.

On Thursday, the state, for their part, approved the deal, and the Cardinal reiterated that unless and until he approved it, it would not go into effect.

And I figured that's about the best one can expect.

But that hasn't been enough for everybody. Some grossly exaggerated rumors have been flying about this case: that within weeks hospital employees would soon be pressured into cooperating with abortions; that the Archdiocese was selling out the Catholic hospital system; that the Cardinal wasn't pro-life even!

Oh, man! More later....

Qualifications for a Bishop

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Scranton's bishop Joseph Martino has been doing a great job lately of communicating the Catholic faith in public in spite of opposition, instructing Catholic institutions and public officials, and through them, the faithful at large. He's shown a commitment to prevent Church events from being used to honor reprehensible politicians. He's reminded a Catholic college to show its commitment to Catholic moral teaching and distance itself from any endorsement of immorality. He's taught politicians publicly about such as the injustice of government tolerance for abortion, let alone subsidy of it, and

When I read the Bishop's letter to the misguided Senator Bob Casey Jr., whose voting record is not worthy of the Casey name, I noticed that Bp. Martino is the holder of an earned doctorate in Church history. Now that's not a common accomplishment among bishops. The most prominent bishop I know of with a similar background is the estimable George Cardinal Pell, the Archbishop of Sydney, who made his studies at Oxford.

We certainly need more such bishops like these: able to stand against the fashions of the moment and teach Christian doctrine. Perhaps we can start looking for bishops among other priests with a background in Church history, and with reason: men with enough interest in Church history to study it in depth are likely to have particular qualities of temperament that the Church needs, such as an admiration for sacred tradition. That is an important quality in this time, when Pope Benedict wants to promote a correct understanding of the Second Vatican Council as a development in continuity with the preceding 1962 years of Church life, and not a breach from it.

Furthermore, bishops with a knowledge of past relations between society, the state, and the teaching Church can have a realistic understanding about what is possible and what is not: that pleasing everyone and leaving problems unattended is not the pathway to peace.

So Mr. Obama is going to take the oath of office while holding the same Bible that Abraham Lincoln used when he took the oath. Our Sunday Visitor mentions that there is a "Catholic connection" to that historical event: that Lincoln took the oath before Chief Justice Roger Taney, the first Catholic to hold that office.

Alas, Taney is not a figure in whom we could take pride. He was a firm supporter of slavery, and wrote in the Dred Scott decision that

blacks "had no rights which the white man was bound to respect; and that the negro might justly and lawfully be reduced to slavery for his benefit. He was bought and sold and treated as an ordinary article of merchandise and traffic, whenever profit could be made by it."
Referring to the language in the Declaration of Independence that includes the phrase, "all men are created equal," Taney reasoned that "it is too clear for dispute, that the enslaved African race were not intended to be included, and formed no part of the people who framed and adopted this declaration. . . ."

Which is more or less the way some contemporary public officials consider preborn children: that they can be created or destroyed at will, treated as objects to be placed in cold storage, flushed down a sewer when unwanted, destroyed in laboratory experiments for utilitarian purposes, and not treated as members of the human community or subjects of rights.

With so many bad Catholic politicians collaborating in this injustice, it is only appropriate to associate Taney with the inauguration of the most pro-abortion administration yet in the US.

Thanks to Bp. Robert McManus of Worcester, Massachusetts! His Excellency has publicly warned a college in his diocese against renting facilities to a conference on teen pregnancy with speakers from Planned Parenthood and NARAL.

This is not the first rebuke from a Worcester bishop to the Jesuit-run school: in 2003, the previous ordinary, Bp. Daniel Reilly, boycotted the college's graduation ceremonies because of honors given to pro-abortion journalist Chris Matthews.

Not hesitating to name the problem, Bp. McManus explicitly cites "the perception that the administration of the College of the Holy Cross supports positions contrary to the fundamental moral teaching of the Church" and warns that the College's right to call itself Catholic is at stake.

Ad multos annos, your Excellency! Let's hope and pray that the management of the college will take the opportunity to do the right thing and show stronger support for the right to life.

Here is Bp. McManus' statement:

A controversy has arisen at the College of the Holy Cross that has resulted from the College’s renting space for a conference sponsored by the Massachusetts Alliance on Teen Pregnancy. The conference involves workshops presented by members of Planned Parenthood and NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts. Both organizations promote positions on artificial contraception and abortion that are contrary to the moral teachings of the Catholic Church.

I have received numerous complaints from people who are shocked and outraged that a Catholic institution like Holy Cross would have anything to do with such groups. They have appealed to me to ask Father Michael McFarland, president of the College of the Holy Cross, to revoke the College’s agreement to rent space to the Massachusetts Teen Alliance. I have done so.

As Bishop of Worcester, it is my pastoral and canonical responsibility to determine what institutions can properly call themselves “Catholic.” This is a duty that I do not take lightly since to be a Catholic institution means that such an institution conducts its mission and ministry in accord with Catholic Church teaching, especially in cases of faith and morals.

The moral teaching of the Catholic Church on respect for life at all stages of its development is manifestly clear. Life is a fundamental good that must be protected and respected from the moment of fertilization to natural death. This teaching is so basic and important that it provides the foundation upon which much of the Church’s moral and social doctrine rests. It is beyond modification and compromise.

Both Planned Parenthood and NARAL Pro-Choice are notorious for their policies and practices that directly reject the Church’s teaching on artificial contraception and abortion. The College of the Holy Cross should recognize that any association with these groups can create the situation of offering scandal understood in its proper theological sense, i.e., an attitude or behavior which leads another to do evil. Certainly it is understandable how people of good will could interpret the college’s allowing presentations to be made by such groups as truly scandalous.

I strongly contend that the confusion and upset to the Catholic faithful and others that flow from the perception that the administration of the College of the Holy Cross supports positions contrary to the fundamental moral teaching of the Church must be avoided. To deny Planned Parenthood and NARAL Pro-Choice a forum in which to present their morally unacceptable positions is not an infringement of the exercise of academic freedom but a defensible attempt to make unambiguously clear the Catholic identity and mission of the College of the Holy Cross.

It is my fervent wish that the administration of the College of the Holy Cross will unequivocally disassociate itself from the upcoming conference sponsored by the Massachusetts Alliance on Teen Pregnancy so that the college can continue to be recognized as a Catholic institution committed to promoting the moral teaching of the Roman Catholic church.

(HT to Amy and Jeff.)

The Mass. Alliance on Teen Pregnancy is scheduled to hold a conference on the campus of Jesuit-run Holy Cross College in Worcester.

Not everything in the conference is bad: there's apparently going to be a "critical look" at Depo-Provera, for example. But is this enough to justify bringing this event on campus, with several Planned Parenthood representatives and other pro-contraception, pro-abortion speakers -- in the middle of the week, when students are likeliest to be on-campus? Does the pro-abortion Governor of this immoral Commonwealth deserve to be getting an award on Holy Cross' campus? [The conference brochure has more details, if you're not outraged enough yet.]

The Holy Cross Cardinal Newman Society has the college's double-talk public statement on the issue: the PR spokesman denies the college's responsibility for hosting the event, but does acknowledge that Holy Cross “evaluates all requests by individuals and organizations to the College to rent facilities."

In a turnaround being called an "incredible victory", pro-life voters in Vermont persuaded the legislature to reject an "assisted-suicide" bill patterned after Oregon's. Calls to legislators ran 10-to-1 against the bill, and a state House member warned colleagues that such a bill would "tell our old citizens, our dying citizens, that we regard them as a burden."

Organ "donation" in Singapore

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Singapore's "organ donor policy ... assumes that all citizens are willing donors, unless they have registered with the government that they wish to opt out."

But when the criterion is "brain death", and the medics want those organs, they sometimes tend to hurry the family along:

Sim's family had no objection to his organs being used for transplants but wanted doctors to wait one more day before turning off the life support machine.

But as Sim's 68-year-old mother and about 20 other relatives knelt weeping before the doctors, begging them to wait, nine police officers entered the ward and restrained the distraught family while Sim's body was quickly whisked away.

"The hospital staff were running as they wheeled him out of the back door of the room. They were behaving like robbers," said Sim Chew Hiah, one of Sim's elder sisters. [...]

His parents were offered five years of subsidized hospital fees -- and his family received a thank-you letter from the ministry for their "generous organ donation."

I wish I could be assured that current practice is proper, because I'm not convinced yet that (a) "brain death" is a sound definition of bodily death, or (b) the medical profession can be trusted to make sound ethical decisions. Sad to say, I have opted out in Massachusetts.

God forgives, but Nature doesn't

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Flip Benham with Operation Save America appears as enthusiastic as [Judie] Brown about the legislation. "[W]ithout a doubt, [this is] the very best bill that any state has brought before its legislative body yet," he says in a press release. "It is truly an all-out declaration that human life begins at conception and therefore is due protection under [...] law."

One less cruelty in the world

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A biotech start-up went out of business this fall, and it's good news:

The company was launched by billionaire and University of Phoenix founder John Sperling, who had hoped to have his hunting dog, Missy, cloned — a feat that was never accomplished.

I don't mean to be unsympathetic to a fellow missing his dear old dog, but trying to manufacture life really sounds too much like the mission of a comic-book villain. There's already a stereotype that self-made billionaires are arrogant (cf. Turner, Soros; Gates sometimes); don't these people have any self-awareness?

It's not villainy in itself to clone cats and dogs, but the animal welfare people know that the effort is a cruel process:

"we're very pleased that Genetics Savings & Clone's attempt to run a cloning pet store was a spectacular flop," said Wayne Pacelle, head of the Humane Society of the United States. "It's not just a bad business venture, but also an operation grounded on the misuse of animals."

Pacelle and other groups argue that cloning is still primitive and fails more often than it succeeds.

"For every successful clone, dozens fail and die prematurely, have physical abnormalities, and face chronic pain and suffering," Pacelle said. "Cloning is at odds with basic animal welfare considerations."

Treacherously, commercial success at cloning mammals would have given a boost to the fringe types who fantasize of cloning babies. Thank Heavens the message is getting across: even if it ended up working, the cruelty of the experiments to get there would be unimaginable.

Not very Advanced morality

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actc.gif Invest in us! Our stock price has been sagging, but we've got a new way to get into federally funded re$earch! We'll be willing to use our new technique in the future and avoid killing any embryonic people. At least on federally funded projects.

Oh, sorry: was there some confusion? We haven't really stopped killing embryonic human beings yet; not while we were trying out our new method, but we could! If there's money in it! And we think it'll be far less deadly than what we do now!

Oh, and: sorry if anyone lost money over that false impression people got from our publicity article. Oops!

Uncharitable charity

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The press has been buzzing for a few days over hyper-billionaire Warren Buffett's arrangement to merge most of his money with Bill Gates' foundation. To the extent that they do something good that benefits people, this is laudable.

On the other hand, I can't get all sanguine about it, since Buffett, like Gates, has been a population-control zealot for years and, as Mary Meehan wrote in 2001, a big donor to abortionists in the US and overseas. He even bankrolled the liars of (well, really they're ex-)Catholics for a Free Choice.

One commentator in the business press has the nerve to point out that this supposed Mr. Philanthropy earned his money the old-fashioned way: with ruthless amorality.

But that's not a surprise, considering he wants to "help" the poor by seeing that fewer of them make it to birth.

When Planned Parenthood resorts to scare tactics against pro-life pregnancy aid services and tries to get their advertising banned by law, you know the good guys are having an effect!

By the way, notice the rhetoric in the piece: for PP, terms like "pregnancy help" don't appear, but "crisis pregnancy" is the lede. When you hate birth, every pregnancy is a crisis.

Making a total of four recent deaths from the RU-B52 drug. Of course there were four other victims too.

The patriarchs shall inherit the Earth

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In Foreign Policy, of all places, there's a long article by Phillip Longman called "The Return of Patriarchy." The thesis paragraph is near the end:

Advanced societies are growing more patriarchal, whether they like it or not. In addition to the greater fertility of conservative segments of society, the rollback of the welfare state forced by population aging and decline will give these elements an additional survival advantage, and therefore spur even higher fertility. As governments hand back functions they once appropriated from the family, notably support in old age, people will find that they need more children to insure their golden years, and they will seek to bind their children to them through inculcating traditional religious values akin to the Bible’s injunction to honor thy mother and father.
I find this encouraging, particularly since I've been more than a little frustrated by money lately. The Washington area is a tough place to raise kids for a variety of reasons, not least financially. But if my four children are going to promote a patriarchal way of life in America, it's worth it!

Is abortion good for society?

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It's a question that rarely gets asked, since it's almost always framed in terms of "rights," either the baby's or the mothers. The wisest columnist in the world, Mark Steyn, takes on that question:

...So, whether or not her remarks were "outrageous" (the Democrats' Lyn Allison), "insensitive" (the Greens' Rachel Siewert), "offensively discriminatory" (Sydney's Daily Telegraph) and "bigoted" (this newspaper), I salute Danna Vale. You don't have to agree with her argument that Australia's aborting itself out of recognition and that therefore Islam will inherit by default to think it's worth asking a couple of questions:

* Is abortion in society's interest?

* Can a society become more Muslim in its demographic character without also becoming more Muslim in its political and civil character?

The first one's easy: One can understand that 17-year-old Glenys working the late shift at Burger King and knocked up by some bloke who scrammed 10 minutes after conception may believe it's in her interest to exercise "a woman's right to choose", but the state has absolutely no interest in encouraging women in general to exercise that choice.

Quite the opposite: given that today's wee bairns are tomorrow's funders of otherwise unsustainable social programs, all responsible governments should be seriously natalist. The reason Europe, Russia and Japan are doomed boils down to a big lack of babies. Abortion isn't solely responsible for that but it's certainly part of the problem.

Dear Mr. Vice President

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Generally, I don't mind seeing some politician going hunting with his buddies. Not that I'm for it: I think hunting animals with firearms is a rather unequal contest, and really not in accord with a Gospel way of life. Still, I can't demand that everyone live to that standard. I'm willing to tolerate sport hunting.

However, I think it's a bad idea for Mr. Cheney for a couple of practical reasons.

First, I think it's bad politics: hunting has the image of being generally a rich men's sport. This isn't something that the Veep, with his WASP-businessman image, should seek out.

Second, it's not prudent: the risk, small as it is, of being injured oneself or, God forbid, injuring someone else is not acceptable for a sitting President or Vice-President. When you go into the top two jobs, you simply should put hunting on hold for eight years.

Now that Mr. Cheney's had an accident serious enough to put a friend in the hospital, he should admit his blunder and do an act of penance for it: take a stand for hunting safety by giving up the sport. For him to persist in hunting at his age, after having made this somewhat dangerous mistake, creates an argument for banning hunting generally: probably not something he wants.

From a Catholic point of view, of course, safety -- protecting human life -- is more important than sport.

Could you spare a prayer?

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In Delaware, a bill to legalize human cloning for scientific purposes is up for a vote in the legislature Thursday, January 19. It's been postponed a couple of times and modified a little, in the wake of the campaign opposing it.

Rae Stabosz writes:

On January 12, the proponents of Senate Bill 80 (SB80) postponed what was to have been the final vote on this bill in the wake of our Rose and a Prayer campaign. Through this campaign, made up of Catholic and non-Catholic Christians throughout the state, 1000+ Delawareans committed to one hour of prayer each during the eight days preceding the vote. The prayer was intercessory, to ask the Lord to keep destructive embryonic research from Delaware. This campaign also sent a rose to the representative of each of the citizens who took part in that prayer commitment, asking them to vote against the bill.

The bill has been modified to make it more palatable to those representatives who are on the fence or who changed their votes to "No" after our campaign. It still authorizes destruction of human embryos for research. This Thursday, January 19, the bill is to come to a vote finally.

We would like to go beyond the state of Delaware to ask folks throughout the Christian blogosphere to join us in prayer between now and Thursday. Pray that almighty God would hear His people and not allow destructive embryonic research to come to Delaware. Pray that He strengthen and purify those who fight against this legislation. Pray that He enlighten the minds and change the hearts of those who support the bill but are open to truth. And pray that He confound the Powers that deceive people and work to unleash yet another horrendous attack on the dignity and value of human life, this time in the name of scientific good.

Our plea is for prayers. This is our strength, this is our power, as disciples of Christ. If, in addition, anyone would like to contribute money to help us run radio and newspaper ads between now and Thursday, see http://www.aroseandaprayer.org.

Bravo!

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Missouri priests and deacons stand up for life, opposing embryo farming.

UK: babies surviving abortion attempts

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Some people seem to regard this as a problem, but a report in Britain has found about 50 babies per year surviving attempts to abort them.

The investigation, by the Confidential Enquiry into Maternal and Child Health (CEMACH), comes amid growing unease among clinicians over a legal ambiguity that could see them being charged with infanticide.

Think of that: abortionists accused of killing babies! Of all things!

Still, I guess it's worth pointing out that Europe, for all its reputation of social libertinism, has abortion laws that give more protection to children than do US laws [some is better than none], and there are proposals to bring down the time limits in the UK:

The number of terminations carried out in the 18th week of pregnancy or later has risen from 5,166 in 1994 to 7,432 last year. Prenatal diagnosis for conditions such as Down’s syndrome is increasing and foetuses with the condition are routinely aborted, even though many might be capable of leading fulfilling lives. In the past decade, doctors’ skill in saving the lives of premature babies has improved radically: at least 70%-80% of babies in their 23rd or 24th week of gestation now survive long-term.

Abortion on demand is allowed in Britain up to 24 weeks — more than halfway through a normal pregnancy and the highest legal limit for such terminations in Europe. France and Germany permit “social” abortions only up to the 10th and 12th weeks respectively.

Doctors are increasingly uneasy about aborting babies who could be born alive. “If viability is the basis on which they set the 24-week limit for abortion, then the simplest answer is to change the law and reduce the upper limit to 18 weeks,” said Campbell, who last year published a book showing images of foetuses’ facial expressions and “walking” movements taken with a form of 3-D ultrasound.

Michael Schiavo is honored for serving his master well.

While Drudge reports that NARAL is planning to falsely accuse Judge Roberts of supporting abortion-mill bombers....

Planned Parenthood's SF branch has been presenting on its web site a cartoon in which a "superhero" blows up pro-lifers. Today the item disappeared, but here's a screenshot of the site from yesterday. Dawn Eden has the details, including stills from the eight-minute (!) cartoon.

(Thanks to Rae Stabosz.)

The Torres family keeps on

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Jason and Susan Torres continue a life-saving effort to sustain their unborn child until at least July 11 and maybe longer. This week doctors said the baby is probably a girl; and Jason was welcomed for an interview on Larry King Live, together with his brother Justin and Paul Schenck of Faith and Action. A transcript is on the site.

Keep kicking, baby!

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John Mallon of Inside the Vatican sent this appeal the other day:

As Father's Day is celebrated today, "Inside the Vatican" brings you a way to help a young Catholic father save the life of his unborn child by keeping alive his wife, who lies in a permanently brain dead state after collapsing 6 weeks ago.

On May 7th, 2005, the day before Mothers' Day, Susan M. (Rollins) Torres, 26, a pregnant mother with a two-year-old son, Peter, collapsed in her home. She was rushed to the Virginia Hospital Center in Arlington, VA, where she has been diagnosed with stage four melanoma and is brain dead with no hope of recovery.

Susan was 17 weeks pregnant at the time, and although the doctors have given her no hope of survival, they are fighting to keep her unborn child alive until at least July 11 where he or she will have a viable chance at life.

Her husband Jason, a devout Catholic, has quit his job and divides his time between Susan, sleeping at the hospital room every night, and his young son.

Mr. Torres faces a crushing debt because of his decision to keep his wife alive in order to save the life of his child. Susan's medical insurance leaves $1,500 a day to be paid by him out of pocket, not to mention the expensive care that the baby most likely will need in the neonatal ward if he is born.

The plight of the Torres' family has recently received wide media coverage, following an op-ed piece written by Jason's brother Justin for the Dallas Morning News, in which he discusses the way the abortion culture has negatively affected even his devoutly Catholic family, causing them and the doctors to wonder for a moment if they were doing the right thing in sacrificing so much for the life of an unborn child.

However, both the Torres and Rollins family are determined to do what it takes to try to save Susan's unborn baby's life, which they are convinced would be Susan's desire as well. Jason says his decision to try to save his unborn child's life at enormous financial cost is also very much based on his Catholic faith. The Torres family, which has seven children, are devout Catholics, and Susan converted while she was a student at the University of Dallas, where she and Jason met.

In an effort to escalate the awareness of their situation, and to help raise additional funds, friends of the Torres family have established The Susan M. Torres Fund to help defray the $1,500 a day ICU medical costs that insurance does not cover.

Please help this family by sending a donation. Any amount is appreciated and it is tax deductible. Donations can be made online through PayPal at http://www.susantorresfund.org, or sent to:

The Susan M. Torres Fund
c/o Faith and Action
P.O. Box 34105
Washington, D.C. 20043-0105

For more information, please visit http://www.susantorresfund.org

This case reminds us of the limitations of the concept of "brain death"; there are three main systems in the body, and it seems arbitrary to make one of them the sole criterion of life and death. In spite of what legal definitions may provide, it's arguable that a human being is not dead until all three of the body's main systems (brain, lung, heart) have stopped.

Would you take a moment to do what you can for the Torreses?

There's good news today: the baby kicked!

Their hearts were darkened

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What else but the blindness caused by sin could lead officials of the University of Western Ontario to offer this man an honorary degree? They want to give the title "Doctor of Laws" to an illegal abortionist, a man who scoffed at laws, a doctor of death who survived the Holocaust in Europe only to add to another one in North America.

What is the University's attempt to make this acceptable? Officials offer to give the same title to the president of the University of Notre Dame at the same event: to put a Catholic priest on par with a mass-production abortionist. News (and an on-line petition form) can be found on-line. Also, the Catholics for Life site has more information: scroll way down to the "Background Information".

This notice comes from a reader -- we're not endorsing it, but the event sounds like something we would like to attend:

TWENTIETH ANNUAL BALL FOR LIFE

Benefiting Good Counsel Homes which serves women and their children in crisis pregnancy situations.

HONORING
Peggy Noonan and Ambassador Faith Whittlesey

Honorary Co-chairmen Larry Kudlow & Sean Hannity

Black tie

Friday, June 3, 2005
8:00 pm - 12 midnight

New York Athletic Club
180 Central Park South
New York City

Order tickets here NOW - limited space!

www.ballforlife.org

Two public deaths

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Father James Poumade, priest of Christ, godfather of my younger son, and a Catholic Light reader, gave this homily today at our church. Read past the continuation — it's worth your while.

I assume that almost everyone by now has heard of the passing of our Holy Father Pope John Paul II. Most likely, among other things, the Holy Father will be remembered for his dedication to the sanctity of life and his insistence upon the beauty of the truth, whether it was popular to do so or not in a world that questions, like Pontius Pilate, if truth even exists.

One of the Holy Father's last appeals to the world was for the life of Terri Schiavo, an appeal that seemed to have been as much shown by the way the Holy Father carried out his last days as by his words. Like her, he was fitted with a feeding tube, although of a less serious type; like her, he asked for no extraordinary medical treatment. It was the Pope himself who declared that although one can legitimately choose not to use ventilators, heart-lung machines, CPR, and so on (although once one begins to use them, they cannot be lightly removed) food and water are not medicine and are not optional, no matter if they are delivered by a fork and cup or by a tube, and it was the Pope, true to form, that showed the world that he could practice what he preached.

Blessed are you

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...when you get arrested for taking a crippled woman a bottle of water. Reader Julianne Wiley writes:

I know this brave, gutsy lady Lana Jacobs. She is indeed a grandmother, also the mother of two disabled daughters. She and her husband and kids are from the St. Francis Catholic Worker house in Columbia, MO, a place where they try to LIVE what Jesus said in Matthew 25: you know, you encounter the person who is hungry, thirst, naked, sick, in prison, and you do--- what? And then Jesus says, "Whatsoever you do to the least of my brethren, you do unto Me."

Let's send her a bit of support (she'll have legal expenses):

Lana Jacobs
St. Francis Catholic Worker
901 Rangeline Street
Columbia, MO 65201

BTW, she'll face charges of trespass or whatever, I dispute the idea that what she did is illegal. Every state makes provision for what is called a "necessity" defense, based on the fact that you were doing something urgent to save somebody's life (or even to save a valuable piece of property, or a pet, by the way!)

Terri's voice

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If you're having trouble downloading the new audio of Terri Schiavo from last Friday, there's a copy on my PC.

Update: According to Drudge, the family says the audio's not recent, but from 2004. Meanwhile, Dom's relaying a report that Terri made a more intelligible utterance at her lawyer's urging.

I found the news disturbing. Fr. Rob Johansen had just gotten off the phone with Bob and Mary Schindler, who most of us know as the parents of Terri Schiavo. The culture of death can hardly wait. Come March 18th, the Florida woman must be executed! And she will not be comforted by the Holy Eucharist known as Viaticum when shared with the dying as she faces a slow and horrible death by starvation and dehydration.

continue

Why not kill Terri now?

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Last post of the afternoon: I can understand a judge deciding to let Terri Schiavo live. In our fallen world, I can understand a judge deciding that Terri's husband can get the medical establishment to kill her. But what I can't understand is why a judge would give permission to kill her in three weeks. If I understand the ruling correctly (and I haven't read the text), the judge is conceding that Terri is medically dead already, so why wait three weeks? Not only is the decision wrong, it doesn't even make logical sense.

I'm trying to think of some way to introduce this article, but words are failing me. Just read the first few paragraphs and you'll see why.

Wife details family gathering with Thompson dead in chair

By Jeff Kass, 2005, Rocky Mountain News
February 25, 2005

ASPEN Hunter S. Thompson heard the ice clinking.

The literary champ was sitting in his command post kitchen chair, a piece of blank paper in his favorite typewriter, dead of a self-inflicted gunshot through the mouth hours earlier.

But a small circle of family and friends gathered around with stories, as he wished, with glasses full of his favored elixir Chivas Regal on ice.

"It was very loving. It was not a panic, or ugly, or freaky," Thompson's wife, Anita Thompson, said Thursday night in her first spoken comments since the icon's death Sunday. "It was just like Hunter wanted. He was in control here."

Anita Thompson also echoes the comments that have been made by Hunter Thompson's son and daughter-in-law: That her husband's suicide did not come from the bottom of the well, but was a gesture of strength and ultimate control made as his life was at a high-water mark....

I sincerely hope Thompson isn't undergoing eternal torment, but how does one begin to unpack how sick these people are? God help them — send somebody quickly.

I love you. Now die, already.

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I am not the resident expert on the Terri Schiavo case (that would be Pete), but I had to comment on the following little nugget from this story:

Michael Schiavo says his wife had expressed wishes not to be kept alive artificially, although she left no written directive. He said he is determined to carry on in the case out of love for his wife.

"This case is about Terri Schiavo's wishes," Felos said. "It's about her wishes not to be forced-fed, her wishes not to be kept alive artificially."

Aww. Such a trooper — fighting an endless court battle to judicially kill his wife by starvation.

Somebody remind me: Michael stands to gain something when Terri dies, right? I mean, beyond the ability to marry his shack-up floozy who gave birth to their bastard children? Or does he give up the right to her malpractice settlement money?

No babies in containers

This label appears on a plastic container in which, ironically, we were storing toddler clothes. Gotta love trial lawyers for forcing these things on us. (I love that the kid is hovering in mid-air inside the container.)

CL reader Mike wants everyone to know that Christopher West, noted author and speaker on marriage and sexuality, will be coming to Laurel, Maryland soon.

I thought I recognized the name, then I remembered that at one time he was in my living room frequently. When I was a batchelor, one of my roommates was a grad student at the John Paul II Institute, and so was Chris West. Chris hung out with my roommate sometimes, and also he came to several of our house parties. (Let me tell you, there's nothing quite like partying with theology students! They party like it's 1399!)

But as always, I digress. Chris is a bright guy and has many valuable things to say. Full details are here. Here's a short description:

Christopher West, best-selling author and dynamic speaker, will visit St. Vincent Pallotti High School in Laurel, Maryland on Saturday, March 12 to conduct a workshop on Pope John Paul II's revolutionary work, the "Theology of the Body."

The workshop will run from 8:45 am-4pm (Mass at 8:00
a.m. at St. Mary of the Mills across the street from
the high school) and the cost is $20, which includes
workshop materials.

Say hello to Baby Johnson

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new Johnson baby

This is the latest member of the Johnson family. Ain't he or she cute?

We haven't decided whether to find out what the sex is yet. But the baby is healthy, and that's all that really matters.

An Illinois judge has ruled that a frozen embryo in vitro is a human being, and therefore the parents of the pre-born can sue over his or her wrongful death in a fertility lab mixup.

The practice of artificial procreation is on an ethical collision course with itself. If the would-be parents get to sue the lab for the wrongful death of one, who's to be held responsible for the wrongful deaths of the equally human siblings: the eight rejected for implantation and discarded with the couple's consent?

Catholic Light reader David B. says there is no reference to abortion in the Constitution. I don't think he's looking closely enough. You see...

...the Third Amendment to the Constitution forbids the quartering of soldiers in private homes...

...that right was used to legalize contraception in Griswold vs. Connecticut...

...and Griswold was a major precedent for finding the right to an abortion.

From no quartering soldiers, to allowing baby repellants, to killing eight-months-gestated babies while they're still in the birth canal. What part about that can't you follow, David? Don't tell me you're not getting it. Maybe you could read this class summary and it will make it clearer.

See you at the March for Life

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I'm on the way to DC for the March for Life. I hope to see all of you there!

TheFactIs.org

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Austin Ruse, the energetic voice of Catholic social policy at the UN, has launched a new web site on culture-of-life issues. Bringing together news from C-FAM with opinions from a stable of spunky columnists, TheFactIs.org looks to be worth a regular visit.

Holy Innocents, pray for us

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Good news for the Defense of Life:

3 abortuaries close in Massachusetts: $150,000 in reported Federal and Commonwealth tax liens might have something to do with it.

Pro-life laws making a difference in Mississippi: Informed consent laws and other provisions have helped half the abortion rate in this pro-life state.

(Via OR: Boston.)

Hentoff and the death penalty

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Personally, I am fairly ambivalent about the death penalty. It would not bother me terribly if the death penalty were suspended in all the states, but I would not consider it a civilizational advance, nor do I think the culture-of-death-loving European governments are morally superior for having abolished it. On balance, I do believe it is a deterrent for dedicated criminals, as most criminals calibrate their actions based on very rational risk/reward criteria.

Nat Hentoff is a man of the Left for whom I have the utmost respect. An atheist, he is nonetheless pro-life, and outspokenly so. Being a civil-liberties fetishist, he is wrong about many things, yet his manner is never anything other than courtly and reasoned. When he speaks on an issue, I pay much greater attention to him than nasty-tongued liberals such as Michael Kinsley or Maureen Dowd.

Hentoff's article on Alberto Gonzalez, the incoming attorney general, made me stop and think about how the death penalty is applied. Gonzalez, as the legal counsel to President Bush when he was governor of Texas, wrote 57 briefings about death-row inmates facing the imposition of their sentences. Hentoff relies on an Atlantic Monthly article about Gonzalez, which criticizes him for relying on the Texas appeals courts' decisions:

As I and other journalists reported during Bush's governorship, the Texas appeals courts notoriously championed, as they still do, the death penalty....Gonzales, by his mechanical reliance on lethal decisions by those courts, ignored, as [Atlantic writer] Alan Berlow notes, "one of the most basic reasons for clemency: the fact that the justice system makes mistakes."
No anti-death-penalty article is complete without The Questionable Execution Story, and here is Hentoff's:
One of the cases in the article was that of "Terry Washington, a mentally retarded thirty-three-year-old man with the communication skills of a seven-year-old." In his three-page report on Terry Washington, Gonzales never mentioned that Washington, as a child, along with his 10 siblings, was "regularly beaten with whips, water hoses, extension cords, wire hangers, and fan belts." And this was "never made known to the jury, although both the district attorney and Washington's trial lawyer knew of this potentially mitigating evidence." Just hours after Gonzales's brief report to Bush, Washington was executed.
From Berlow saying "the justice system makes mistakes," to the facts about Terry Washington's upbringing, you might conclude that Washington was unjustly executed.

You might conclude that — if you believe that all executions are wrong. That would be defensible, because then we're getting down to the real issue, which has nothing to do with whether Terry Washington was innocent or not.

This being the age of the Internet, I wondered if I could find more facts about this case. Google, when I searched for "Terry Washington" murder execution, returned results for articles that sounded very much like Hentoff's, with the implicit message that Washington was not responsible for his crimes because he was retarded. Then I found the actual ruling of the circuit court that denied his appeal, and you can read for yourself to see if he's guilty:

Beatrice Huling and Terry Washington worked at Julie's Place, a restaurant in College Station, Texas. Huling was the restaurant's night manager, and Washington worked as a dishwasher. As part of her duties, Huling would count the night's receipts at the close of business, place cash in the register for the next day, deposit the surplus cash in the office safe, wait for the dishwasher to finish cleaning, set the security alarm, and lock the restaurant....

At 2:30 a.m. that same morning, Michael Jennings was in the parking lot next to Julie's Place. He heard an object hit the ground and went to investigate. Jennings found a purse and immediately called the police. The police arrived shortly thereafter and found Beatrice Huling's name and address in the purse and her car in the parking lot. The restaurant was closed and locked. The police ultimately entered the restaurant and discovered Huling's dead body ten to fifteen feet from the back door, lying in a pool of blood, with her head next to the base of the office safe. She had multiple stab wounds.

The investigation of the crime scene and the autopsy showed that Huling's hands had been tied with apron strings and that she had suffered eighty-five stab wounds, seven of which were fatal. The medical examiner testified at trial that the murder weapon had a five-and-a-half inch blade and that he believed it took Huling ten to fifteen minutes to die. The investigation further found no signs of forced entry into the restaurant, and that $628.00 had been stolen.

The evidence at trial overwhelmingly implicated Washington as the murderer. The State produced evidence linking Washington's boots to an impression made in a pool of Huling's blood. Willie Hemphill, Washington's neighbor, testified that on January 15 he went with Washington to buy some beer and noticed Washington had a lot of money. Additionally, Hemphill saw Washington with a hunting knife which had a blade consistent with the type of wounds inflicted upon Huling. Maud Swanson also saw Washington on January 15 and testified that he had a lot of money in his billfold when he took it out, and that when she asked him about the murder at the restaurant, Washington said "to hell with Bea, or something like that." Scott Milton, the manager of the restaurant, testified that when Washington picked up his paycheck on the day of the murder he told Milton, "The police are hassling me about this, but I'm too smart for them." Billy and Mary Sandles testified that they heard Washington say, "I killed the b---." A teller at a local bank testified that sometime within a week of the murder, Washington changed $450.00 of small bills and coins for larger bills. An employee of J&J Bail Bond testified that shortly after the murder, Washington paid $468.00 in cash for a bond relating to traffic citations, paying with three hundred dollar bills and the rest in twenties and change.

If first-degree murderers deserve death, then Terry Washington deserved death, because there is little question that he plotted the intentional killing of his co-worker. Look, if you oppose the death penalty, just oppose it. Don't get into this stuff about bad defense lawyers and hard childhoods, etc. — that's an argument for reforming the death-penalty process, not abolishing it. I might be convinced, and so might other people. But you're not going to do it by insinuating that vile murderers aren't really vile murderers because their trials weren't absolutely perfect.

Groningen Academic Hospital in the Netherlands has taken up a brave new policy of murdering defenseless, sick babies.

AMSTERDAM, Netherlands (AP) - A hospital in the Netherlands - the first nation to permit euthanasia - recently proposed guidelines for mercy killings of terminally ill newborns, and then made a startling revelation: It has already begun carrying out such procedures, which include administering a lethal dose of sedatives.

The announcement by the Groningen Academic Hospital came amid a growing discussion in Holland on whether to legalize euthanasia on people incapable of deciding for themselves whether they want to end their lives - a prospect viewed with horror by euthanasia opponents and as a natural evolution by advocates.

Pro-lifers can take grim satisfaction that the "slippery slope" has, as Wesley Smith says later, "descended already into a vertical cliff": in the 1960s, the death lobby argued that we should destroy unborn babies who were going to die anyway, or whose continued existence threatened the life of the mother. Eventually, the death lobby ended up arguing that babies are fair game no matter what the circumstance.

When pro-lifers pointed out that the West was on that "slippery slope" toward child murder, they were dismissed by most people, including far too many political conservatives. "Nonsense," they said. "Abortion is about removing cell blobs. It's a stretch to say we'd go from that to murdering an infant."

Behold, the masterpiece of the Culture of Death: using men with advanced medical degrees and years of experience to kill the most vulnerable members of our society. If some toothless redneck smothered his baby daughter because she cried too much, we would rightly call him a monster. But if parents can't stand to have a "defective" baby for any longer, even if the baby's pain could be medicated until the end of his short life, and they get well-dressed, well-paid, well-groomed men with serious expressions to murder their child -- well, that's medicine, isn't it?

May God have mercy on the blackened, shriveled souls who would even conceive of such a thing.

I finally got around to installing smoke detectors in the kids' rooms on Saturday, and I read something I didn't know: smoke detectors are only good for 10 years. After that, you should throw them out. As we have a 40-year-old house and the previous owner was something of a penny-pincher, I'm assuming ours are at least that old.

Also, you can now buy lithium-powered sealed detectors whose batteries will last 10 years, and then you throw them out. They're $20 at Home Depot, and they're one less thing I have to worry about. Just one more thing to worry about during the holidays, yes, but you might want to take a few minutes to replace your detectors. At worst, you'll lose less than an hour of your time, and at best, you will have prevented someone's premature death. Maybe even your own!

What? Who?

On life and living in communion with the Catholic Church.

Richard Chonak

John Schultz


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