Saturday, January 29, 2011

Kristof's Anti-Catholic Krap

A friend suggested I do a response on my blog to a typically nasty and ill-informed anti-Catholic NYT op-ed by Nicolas Kristof. Glad to see Carl Olson of Ignatius Press's Blog Insight Scoop did it for me. He has a bigger readership! I blogged about this situation twice in May but the Anti-Catholic Catholics of National "Catholic" Reporter and anti-Catholic ex-Catholics like Kristof and Anne Rice have decided this is a good story for bashing faithful Catholics and the Church.

Check out this link:
Insight Scoop | The Ignatius Press Blog: Nicholas Kristof is spouting Nasty Krap

Some calmer responses, less dripping with sarcasm, and so perhaps more persuasive to the unpersuaded, appear in the comments responding to Kristof's column. Like this one:

Mr. Kristof,

Your op-ed represents a gross misunderstanding of the situation at St. Joseph's and of the Catholic Church's teaching on the issue of troubled pregnancies.


To make a long story short, the Catholic Church does not forbid the death of an unborn child if the mother's life is in danger. The key standard for distinguishing what is permitted is whether actions taken by medical professionals are targeted towards saving the life of the mother or directly towards end the life of the unborn child. If medical treatments administered to the mother have the unfortunate effect of ending the unborn child's life, the Church does not condemn such actions - so, for example, if the mother has an illness that requires medication, and that medication is the only way to save the mother's life but is toxic to her unborn child, the Church would permit the medical professionals to administer the medicine.

In this case, however, the medical professionals performed a procedure with the express intent of killing the unborn child, despite the fact that the mother's life was not in imminent danger. Again, even if they had performed a different procedure that had the effect (but not the intent) of killing the unborn child, the Church would not have felt compelled to act they way it did. But, unfortunately, the medical staff (advised by the sister in question) chose the only morally impermissible course.

The medical professionals and religious staff at St. Joseph's are not nearly as deserving of sympathy as you make them out to be, nor is the Church nearly as strict or dogmatic as you make it out to be. Next time, try learning one iota about Catholic theology before making broad generalizations for political purposes, Mr. Kristof.

The Pain of Anonymous Parentage

A powerful trailer. Both adoptees and children of sperm donors experience the “pain of anonymous parentage,” as Michael Cook aptly calls it. (See his MercatorNet post for January 26, reposted below yesterday.)

But there is an important difference between adoption (closed or open) and conception by anonymous donor.

Adoption, in principle at least, provides a home for a child who needs one. Conception via anonymous donor makes a child for adults who want one, a child who is by design deprived from birth of at least one natural parent.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Before attacking autocratic regimes, the EU should glance in the mirror


Daniel Hannan is a writer and journalist, and has been Conservative MEP for South East England since 1999. He speaks French and Spanish and loves Europe, but believes that the European Union is making its constituent nations poorer, less democratic and less free.

See his blog at

On the Feast of St. Thomas Aquinas

This great 13th century Doctor of the Church remains a towering figure of Christianity and of Western civilization. Here Fr. Barron discusses two ways in which his work is of tremendous relevance for our times. One was Thomas's emphasis on the unicity of truth. He rejected the idea current in his day too of two parallel truths, religious and scientific, or of the possibility of an opposition between the two. The other was the understanding of the difference between the contingent universe of beings or things that do not explain themselves (us, our parents, atoms, the cosmos) - the proper realm of scientific inquiry - on one hand and, on the other the non-contingent ground of all contingent being. In short, he grasped the key question, why is there something rather than nothing?

I have packed nearly all of my books for an impending move. But a small stack of books on or about Thomas remains on my shelf because I consult them constantly and need them at hand.
Disputed Questions on the Virtues
Thomas Aquinas on Faith, Hope, and Love
Thomas Aquinas, Selected Writings
Edward Feser, Aquinas
Ralph McInerny, Ethica Thomistica
Aquinas, Shorter Summa
G.K. Chesterton, The Dumb Ox
Aquinas, Summa Theologica
Dauphinais & Levering, Knowing The Love Of Christ: An Introduction to the Theology of St. Thomas Aquinas

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Do Fathers and Mothers Matter?

Michael Cook | Wednesday, 26 January 2011

The pain of anonymous parentage

A new US forum gives voice to the grown children of anonymous donors.

Introduction from Anonymous Us on Vimeo.

It had to happen sooner or later: a forum for people born from reproductive technologies, especially donor eggs and sperm. There are many forums where IVF mums can swap stories about their pregnancies, but none about the mums’ children. Until now.

Alana S., a 24-year-old writer and musician from San Francisco, has launched a website She is the child of an anonymous sperm donor and she is inviting parents and children to contribute their stories, positive and negative.

In the US, she estimates that every year between 30,000 and 60,000 children are born with donated sperm. While the fertility industry makes US$3.3 billion annually from its services, little is known about the experiences of these children and what kind of adults they grow up to be. The pain and resentment unveiled in some of these stories are very unsettling.

The IVF industry in the US has resisted pressure to remove donor anonymity because it knows that its supply of donors would evaporate overnight. It would be a rare college student who would look forward to receiving a phone call 20 years later from a young man or woman who claims to be his offspring.

In the UK, donor anonymity was removed in 2005, making it possible for children to contact their genetic parent when they are 18. As a result, many IVF clinics now complain that they cannot get enough sperm for their clients. They are lobbying for the return of anonymous donation and the possibility of paying market rates for eggs and sperm. They argue that most parents of donor-conceived children never tell them the truth about their origins.

More and more films are dealing with the topic. There’s “The Switch”, with Jennifer Aniston and “The Back-Up Plan” with Jennifer Lopez, both of which treat sperm donation as a goofy joke. “The Kids Are All Right”, an unlikely hit last (northern) summer about a lesbian couple, was a bit more serious. But all of them glided over the pain of discovering that your parents are not really your parents.

"Not all the kids are doing all right," says Alana S. “Many of us want to speak about our pain, but we don’t want our faces on camera or to hurt our parents.”

She recognizes that many donor-conceived adults may wish to improve practices and policies, but they fear publicity or conflicts of loyalty with their families. Hopefully AnonymousUs will be a “tool for better decision-making so that parents and policy-makers aren’t relying solely on biased endorsements from clinics and vendors.”

The site only surfaced recently, but already a number of thought-provoking stories have appeared. Here are excerpts from several recent posts:

One young woman points out that knowing your genetic origins is an inescapable part of life:

I got asked on a date to see Jennifer Aniston's movie. Even this past weekend, a friend of mine, totally unknowing of my situation, started talking about sperm and egg donation. It's a hot topic and people have opinions on it. People also LOVE to ask the question ‘What are you?’ in reference to heritage. Coming up with an answer, a lie, on the spot, is never fun. Even worse is when you get caught in the lies. It's impossible to escape. The reminders are everywhere.

Another young woman resents the fact that she was not conceived in an act of love, but like a manufactured product:

I am a human being, yet I was conceived with a technique that had its origins in animal husbandry. Worst of all, farmers kept better records of their cattle's genealogy than assisted reproductive clinics had kept for the donor conceived people of my era. It also made me feel strange to think that my genes were spliced together from two people who were never in love, never danced together, had never even met one another.

One woman discovered that she was donor-conceived at 13. Much to her mother’s surprise, she found it distressing:

My desire to know who my biological father is has not really diminished in the years since I learned of his existence. I don't particularly like him since I feel he gave me the ultimate blow-off when he agreed to sire me in exchange for money and a promise never to find out who I am or even how many of us exist, and he accepted this arrangement as a good deal… I don't want his love or to call him "Dad" -- I already have a dad. I don't want to be on his family's Christmas cards or to take up an inordinate amount of his time. I just want to know who he is.

Even parents can’t imagine how much it can hurt, says another woman.

I'm 19 now, still in the process of registering with Donorlink UK. It still hurts to this day, not quite as much, but it still hurts. It makes me want to shout and scream at parents who are considering using donor conception - tell your children from a young age, answer all their questions, relate to them!!!! If my parents could see this website then maybe they'd get an insight on how it feels to be me. But I have to be so careful not to upset anyone about it, when really, it’s me that's upset!

Another woman is convinced that her mother tried to kill her when she was an infant:

Donor conception is not a cure for clinical infertility. It doesn't give parents the exact baby they had hoped for and consequently the replacement child may never live up to the happy-ever-after fantasy to which the parents had aspired. In the circumstances it is inevitable that some parents will direct their bitterness and resentment at the child who is a constant reminder of their reproductive disappointment, particularly if the balance of their minds has been disturbed either by their infertility, their choice of circumvention, or a combination of the two.

Not all of the stories are negative. The parents of donor-conceived children seem delighted that they have a chance to raise a child who loves them. But is making Mum and Dad happy enough to justify manufacturing a child?

Michael Cook is editor of MercatorNet.
Retrieved January 27, 2011 from

See Alana's introductory video at

Temporary Home - American Idol

Watching and crying with J-Lo

March for Life 2011

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Abduction, identity and donor babies

Carolyn Moynihan | 24 Jan 2011 |

The story of Carlina White, the American woman who was abducted as a baby and has only just found her mother and her own identity, has made world headlines. But how many journalists are drawing the obvious moral of the story: kids need to know who they are.

Right now, babies are being concocted in laboratories around the world from the ova and/or sperm of anonymous donors and in some cases carried to birth by surrogate mothers -- all to satisfy the desires of adults to have a child. Their successes will be written up with sentimental approval.

Twenty-three years ago a woman stole Carlina White from a hospital in Harlem for the same reason and named her Nejdra. She faces going to prison.

Nejdra/Carlina became pregnant at 16 and asked for her birth certificate. When her putative mother could not produce one, her long-held suspicions about her parentage were confirmed. AP reports:
Then, around Christmas time, she called a hotline at the National Center for Missing Children, saying simply: "I feel like I don't know who I am."

Investigators soon matched her to the unsolved 1987 case and, after a DNA test, she and her real family were reunited.

"I'm overwhelmed. I'm just happy. It's like a movie. It's all brand new to me," she told the News.

Already the children of donor dads are telling their sad stories to the public, but no-one seems to be in the wrong here and nothing looks like changing. Why?

Retrieved January 25, 2011 from

The Anonymous Us Project

Announcing "The Anonymous Us Project", First Ever Story-Collective for People Involved in Reproductive Technologies

"Not all the kids are doing all right," says Alana S., founder and curator of, "Anonymous Us is a place for all participants in the fertility industry to share their own truths in a way that retains dignity and privacy for our loved ones, while also sharing valuable perspectives and life experiences."

January 25, 2011- New York, NY – is a newly launched website that invites anyone and everyone involved in reproductive technologies, but especially persons born via these practices, to write about their experiences and opinions- anonymously.

In the US, it is estimated that every year 30,000-60,000 children are born through the use of sperm donation. While the fertility industry makes $3.3 billion annually, little is known about the experiences of these children and what kind of adults they grow up to be.

The Anonymous Us project aims to be a safety zone for real and honest opinions about reproductive technologies and family fragmentation. The mission of Anonymous Us is "to share the experiences of voluntary and involuntary participants in these technologies, while preserving the dignity and privacy of the story-tellers and their loved ones."
Alana S., a 24-year-old woman from San Francisco, herself donor-conceived, founded the site as a “tool for better decision-making so that parents and policy-makers aren’t relying solely on biased endorsements from clinics and vendors.” Alana recognizes that many donor-conceived adults may wish to improve practices and policies, but fear publicity or conflicts of loyalty with their families. They may have ugly family secrets. “Many of us want to speak about our pain, but we don’t want our faces on camera or to hurt our parents.”
If you are donor-conceived, a former or current sperm or egg donor, a surrogate, parent, adoptee, fertility industry professional, or just someone invested and involved in these practices, you are welcome to submit a story or share your opinion at Select stories are read aloud on the free podcast:

About The Anonymous Us Project & Alana S.:
The Anonymous Us Project was founded by Alana S., a writer and musician from San Francisco concerned with gender and family issues. She co-wrote the upcoming feature-length film Adam & Eva with filmmaker Michael Galinsky of Rumur Productions, a story about a girl who sells her own eggs to investigate her ancestry and the identity of her sperm donor father. Alana S. currently lives in Brooklyn, NY.

Alana S., Founder, The Anonymous Us Project

'A baby charnel house' Philadelphia

January 19, 2011, New York Times
Doctor Is Charged in Killing of Newborns

An abortion doctor who served minority and immigrant women in his clinic in Philadelphia was charged with multiple counts of murder on Wednesday in the deaths of a woman and seven newborn babies whose spinal cords had been cut with scissors, the district attorney’s office said.
Prosecutors charged Dr. Kermit Gosnell, 69, with eight counts of murder in the deaths of Karnamaya Mongar, 41, a refugee from Nepal, who received high doses of anesthetic for an illegal late-term abortion performed in 2009 and of seven infants who were born, killed and then disposed of in Dr. Gosnell’s West Philadelphia clinic, the Women’s Medical Society.

Prosecutors laid out their case in a 281-page grand jury document that read like a grisly script. Plastic bags and mineral water bottles holding aborted fetuses were found stashed in Dr. Gosnell’s clinic. Jars containing the severed feet of babies lined a shelf, the Philadelphia district attorney, Seth Williams, said in a statement.

Dr. Gosnell, a family practitioner who was not certified in obstetrics, performed late-term abortions, after 24 weeks, which are illegal, and employed staff members who were not trained medical professionals, including a teenage girl, prosecutors said. Nine of his employees were also charged.

“It is very important to remember that Dr. Gosnell is presumed innocent,” a lawyer for Dr. Gosnell, William J. Brennan, said. “I would hope there is not a rush to judgment and that he has an opportunity to review this very lengthy charging document.”

In the grand jury document, prosecutors called Dr. Gosnell’s clinic “a baby charnel house,” riddled with fetal remains and reeking of cat urine, with furniture and blankets stained with blood. Medical equipment was broken and supplies were reused.

“The real business of the ‘Women’s Medical Society’ was not health, it was profit,” the document stated. It detailed a practice of selling prescription painkillers during the day, and at night, performing abortions for cash for women who could not get them elsewhere because they were too pregnant.

When labor was induced and a baby was born, Dr. Gosnell would kill it by cutting into its neck and severing its spinal cord in a process he referred to as “snipping.” In one case involving a 17-year-old who was 30 weeks pregnant, prosecutors said that Dr. Gosnell induced labor, severed the baby’s spine and put the body in a shoe box. “The doctor joked that the baby was so big, ‘he could walk me to the bus stop,’ ” the document said.

Retrieved January 24, 2011 from


Michael Cook | Monday, 24 January 2011, MercatorNet

Oh well, people die
A horrifying report from Philadelphia’s district attorney ought to be abortion’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin.

First, sit down. If you are sitting down, take a deep breath. Because all this did not happen in a slum in Phnom Penh, or Sao Paulo, or Kinshasa. It happened in the United States, in Philadelphia, the birthplace of the nation. It happened only 100 miles from the guardian of the nation’s freedoms, the New York Times.

This is about a charnel house which doubled as an abortion clinic for 30 years while regulators looked the other way.

This is about politicians in one of America’s largest states who didn’t want to rock the boat.

This is about a cowardly bureaucracy in a city renowned for world-class doctors and hospitals.

This is about doctors who refused to report one of their own.

This is about the betrayal of poor, scared women, mostly young, mostly black or immigrant. At least two of them are dead. Many had their wombs and bowels perforated. Many were infected with venereal disease with unsterilized instruments.

This is about hundreds of infanticides in which live, viable, babies in the third trimester of pregnancy were delivered – and then murdered by snipping their spinal cords with scissors. One of them was so developed that the doctor joked, before snipping, “he could walk me to the bus stop”. It is about thousands of abortions.

"My comprehension of the English language doesn't and cannot adequately describe the barbaric nature of Dr Gosnell and the ghoulish manner in which he 'trained' the unlicensed, uneducated individuals who worked there," said the Philadelphia District Attorney, Seth Williams.

All this came to light on February 18 last year when the FBI and agents from the District Attorney’s office raided the Women’s Medical Society, on the corner of Lancaster and 38th Streets, in West Philadelphia. What they were seeking was evidence of illegal prescription drug activity by its director, Dr Kermit Gosnell. They found something far worse.

There was blood on the floor and urine was splattered on the walls. A flea-infested cat was prowling around, and there were cat faeces on the stairs. Semi-conscious women scheduled for abortions were moaning in the waiting room or the recovery room, where they sat on dirty recliners covered with blood-stained blankets.

The two surgical procedure rooms were filthy -- like “a bad gas station restroom”, said a policeman. Instruments were not sterile. Equipment was rusty and outdated. Oxygen equipment was covered with dust. Corroded suction tubing for abortion procedures doubled as a suction source for resuscitation. It stank.

Foetal remains were haphazardly stored throughout the clinic – in bags, milk jugs, orange juice cartons, and even in cat-food containers. Some were in a refrigerator, others were frozen. The investigators found a row of jars containing just the severed feet of foetuses, like voodoo fetishes. In the basement, they discovered medical waste piled high.

Ambulances were summoned to pick up the waiting patients, but no one had the keys to the padlocked emergency exit.

Finally, after 31 years of abortion, infanticide, abuse, horror and murder, the doors of Philadephia’s Women’s Medical Society closed.

A Grand Jury investigated the Women’s Medical Society last year. On January 19, its director, Dr Kermit Gosnell, and nine of his employees were indicted on various charges.The Grand Jury’s 281-page report concluded: “Gosnell’s ‘medical practice’ was not set up to treat or help patients. His aim was not to give women control over their bodies and their lives. He was not serving his community. Gosnell ran a criminal enterprise, motivated by greed.”

Dr Gosnell appears to have earned between US$10,000 and $15,000 every night for a few hours of abortion work -- on top of illegally dispensing prescription drugs during the day. He has been charged with murdering one woman and seven infants, solicitation to commit murder, abuse of a corpse, corruption of minors, drug offenses, hindering prosecution, and violations of abortion law. His staff have also been charged with various crimes.

Dr Gosnell is probably on the road to jail. The district attorney may even ask for the death penalty.

But the Grand Jury report did not stop at cataloguing the horrors of the Women’s Medical Society. It also pointed the finger at the supporting cast who chose to be silent while women were being butchered.

Two words sum this up. The Grand Jury cited a long list of moments stretching over decades when the state bureaucracy could have investigated complaints, could have intervened, could have inspected. A Nepalese immigrant, Karnamaya Mongar, even died after receiving too much anaesthetic at Gosnell’s clinic as late as 2009, but no one acted. Why not? The chief counsel for the Pennsylvania Department of Health explained: “People die”.

There was, says the Grand Jury report, a “complete regulatory collapse”.

The Women’s Medical Society was reviewed by state authorities when it opened in 1979. Ten years later it was reviewed again and numerous violations were found. Nothing was done. Reviews in 1992 and 1993 noted violations. Nothing was done. Then all reviews stopped. After the election of pro-choice Governor Tom Ridge (a Catholic, Republican, Harvard grad), “the Pennsylvania Department of Health abruptly decided, for political reasons, to stop inspecting abortion clinics at all”.

Despite complaints from women injured by Dr Gosnell, despite complaints from a doctor about venereal disease transmission, despite a notification of an abortion of a 30-week-old baby carried by a 14-year-old girl, despite the death of Karnamaya Mongar, the Department did nothing.

Until the police raid and the publicity. Then they did something, all right. They hired lawyers to cover their butts in the coming investigation.

That was just the Department of Health. The agency which registers doctors and the agency which regulates public health also ignored complaints about the Women’s Medical Society.

Then there were Dr Gosnell’s colleagues. The world-renowned Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania is 20 minutes’ walk away from the Women’s Medical Society. A patient died at HUP after a botched abortion in 2000 and the hospital filed a report. But many of Gosnell’s other victims were treated for abortion complications like perforated bowels and foetal parts in the uterus. Yet, says the Grand Jury report, “other than the one initial report, Penn could find not a single case in which it complied with its legal duty to alert authorities to the danger. Not even when a second woman turned up virtually dead.”

Did “legitimate” abortion providers ring alarm bells? No. Dr Gosnell tried to join theNational Abortion Federation in 2009. The evaluator rejected his application as the worst abortion clinic she had ever seen. But she told no one in authority.

The Grand Jury has summed up this conspiracy of silence in a single damning paragraph. “Bureaucratic inertia is not exactly news. We understand that. But we think this was something more. We think the reason no one acted is because the women in question were poor and of color, because the victims were infants without identities, and because the subject was the political football of abortion.”

There was “a blatant refusal to enforce the law” by the Department of Health. Why? The Department mentioned two reasons: the abortion providers might object and that abortion (which is legal in Pennsylvania up until 24 weeks) was “controversial”. Such justifications, says the Grand Jury report, “are barely worth comment”.

Are there other abortion mills like this in Pennsylvania? Its answer is dismaying: “We have no idea how many facilities like Gosnell’s have remained out of sight, out of mind of DOH for decades – since they were first ‘approved’.” How many are there in other big American cities where bureaucracies which regulate abortion clinics are asleep at the wheel? In Boston, in Chicago, in Washington, in Houston, in Los Angeles, in San Diego? In New York?

Murders, abuse, bureaucratic cover-ups and negligence, a code of omertà among professional colleagues: isn’t this red meat for crusading journalists? Apparently not. The New York Times – which crusaded so tenaciously last year about sex abuse -- yawned. A similar story in Bangkok received about the same amount of coverage last November: just a couple of stories buried in the back of the paper. What was displayed prominently was a revealing feature which appeared on January 21, the day after the abortion clinic story broke. It began: “Congratulations, New York City, did you hear the news? … This is officially the abortion capital of America.”

And two days after the story broke, President Obama re-affirmed his unconditional support for abortion: “today marks the 38th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision that protects women's health and reproductive freedom, and affirms a fundamental principle: that government should not intrude on private family matters.”

Isn’t this evidence of the same wilful blindness as the bureaucrats in Philadelphia? No matter how appalling the news, abortion rights must not be questioned. No matter how many poor and ignorant girls and women are abused, abortion rights must continue.

What this case shows is that supporters of abortion rights are far, far, more interested in defending an ideology than protecting women. If Pennsylvania bureaucrats had done their job and intruded on “private family matters”, a poor Nepalese refugee would be alive today.

As the Grand Jury Report put it, “We discovered that Pennsylvania’s Department of Health has deliberately chosen not to enforce laws that should afford patients at abortion clinics the same safeguards and assurances of quality health care as patients of other medical service providers. Even nail salons in Pennsylvania are monitored more closely for client safety.”

Abortion advocates contend that what women need is better regulation, not more restrictions. But what this horror demonstrates is that some regulators disdain their regulations. By shielding abortionists from the law, they have made the notion of safe and legal abortion a farce. In a just world, they should be charged with criminal irresponsibility.

In a final irony, America’s leading center for bioethics is located 10 minutes’ walk from the Women’s Medical Society at the University of Pennsylvania. Has the scandal on its doorstep rattled its bioethicists? Apparently not. The main article on its webpageadvertises a new project on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and intersex (LGBTQI) bioethics.

When will Americans wake up?

Michael Cook is editor of MercatorNet. The Grand Jury’s report is available on the District Attorney’s blog at

Retrieved January 24, 2011 from

Sanger's racist fantasy comes New York

Culture: Shocking Numbers out of New York

Father Barron responds to the recent statistical study demonstrating that approximately 41% of pregnancies in New York City end in abortion. Take a moment to read Father's commentary about "the most compelling moral issue of our time," and please spread the word.

A few months ago, I was in a cab with some of my Word on Fire colleagues, heading to the Baltimore airport. Our driver, an African American woman, enquired who we all were. When I responded that we were part of a team working for the Catholic Church, she launched into an anti-Catholic diatribe that lasted, pretty much without interruption, until we arrived at the airport. She complained about many of the usual subjects—birth control, women’s ordination, the sex abuse crisis, the Pope, etc.—but her strongest and most passionate words were directed against the church’s prohibition of abortion. “Don’t you realize,” she asked, “that women have a right to choose what to do with their own bodies?” I’ll confess that, probably out of fatigue or cowardice, I didn’t really engage this lady in debate, but she came back to my mind rather vividly last week when I read some shocking statistics that came out of New York. According to a recent study, 41% of pregnancies in New York City end in abortion. That figure, of course, is breathtaking enough, but consider this specification: among black women, the number rises to 60%! My cab driver friend was complaining bitterly about a Catholic church that opposes itself to abortion, when a genocide of the unborn among her own people—fully sanctioned and protected by the law of the land—is proceeding apace. This kind of confusion is all too typical, I’m afraid, among the adepts of the anti-anti-abortion position.

The terrible New York numbers reveal corruption, stupidity, and failure at a variety of levels. First, for years now, pro-choice organizations and politicians have lectured us that better sex education and the availability of contraceptives would dramatically reduce abortions, making them, to use a favorite phrase, “safe, legal, and rare.” Well, in New York City, sex education is offered at all levels of the school system, and condoms are handed out like lollipops. (Indeed, as Archbishop Timothy Dolan observed last week, condoms can often be found in public places in those large glass bowls formerly reserved for candy). And yet, abortions in the “capital of the world” are pretty much the opposite of rare. There is an interesting parallel here to the AIDS situation in Africa. Again, it is commonly asserted that condom distribution will prevent the spread of AIDS. Yet, in South Africa, where the latex contraceptive is as available as it is in New York City, the number of new AIDS cases is spiking, while in Uganda, where the government has instituted a strong abstinence program, the disease is on the decline.

Secondly, many pro-choice advocates have for years complained that pro-lifers are insensitive to the awful struggle undergone by those who opt, only in the most extreme circumstances, to terminate their pregnancies. Now, I know that there are many mothers who do agonize over the decision to abort and who find themselves caught in the vice of desperate circumstances. Without for a moment sanctioning their choice, I can at least begin to understand the anguish of it. But here is my point: when we are talking about 41% of pregnancies ending in abortion, we are talking about an awful lot of people who are treating abortion as simply another form of birth control or family planning. And this indicates a gross coarsening of our moral sensibility. The ancient Greek political philosophers taught us long ago that law not only orders society but also educates a community morally. What is allowed and what is forbidden by law forms the minds and directs the wills of those who are subject to the law. Should we then be surprised that a country which allows abortion on demand, which has sanctioned the killing of over 50,000,000 unborn children since 1973, exhibits a profound ethical dysfunction?

Thirdly, the New York figures disclose a terrible truth that we would rather not mention in polite society, namely, that abortion is disproportionately harming minorities and those on the margins. The founder of Planned Parenthood, Margaret Sanger, was an unapologetic advocate of eugenics, which is to say, the cleansing or purifying of the race. She felt that people of low quality—and for her this meant non-whites—were reproducing at far too high a rate and that these unpromising types should be prevented, if need be forcibly—from passing on their genes. One might be forgiven for thinking that this sort of attitude is a relic of the distant past, but consider this. In 2009, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg granted an interview with The New York Times Magazine. In the course of the conversation, she turned to a consideration of the Hyde Amendment which blocks Medicaid from funding abortions, and she said, “Frankly I had thought that at the time Roe was decided, there was concern about population growth and particularly growth in populations that we don’t want to have too many of…” One wonders just who Justice Ginsburg thinks these undesirables might be. If nearly two-thirds of black womens’ pregnancies are ending in abortion, are we not justified in concluding that Margaret Sanger’s racist fantasy has come true?

My fondest hope is that, at the very least, these startling statistics out of New York might prompt all of us to wake up and consider with requisite seriousness this most compelling moral issue of our time.

Father Robert Barron is the Director of Word on Fire Catholic Ministries.
Retrieved January 24, 2011 from

Retrieved January 24, 2011 from

Sunday, January 23, 2011

This Sad – and Glorious – Day


By Robert Royal

This is a sad day in America.

Even the muddled minds who combined bad science and poor legal reasoning to give us Roe v. Wade in 1973 probably would not have imagined that by 2011 almost 50 million babies would have been aborted in the United States. Or that, as we learned last week, over 40 percent of the pregnancies in New York City end in feticide.

If these numbers do not shock you, let me offer a friendly suggestion: you are suffering from a numbness so great that you don’t even know how to react any longer. And I confess to suffering from the same syndrome.

The days are long past when such mayhem could be justified as necessary for “women’s lives” or “reproductive freedom.” When nearly half of all children on the way to being born are summarily killed in a city like New York, you’re not talking about hard cases anymore. You’re looking at a strange and lethal blindness by people who think it’s the rest of the country that is violent and a prey to dangerous beliefs.

I’ve been looking at reports about the lucrative butchery at abortion clinics since 1980, but I was still shocked this past week at the story coming out of Philadelphia. I’ll spare you the details, but you can read about them at

if you have the stomach for it. Some have tried to play this down as just unusual abuse by a clinic in a poor area. But even the medically “proper” abortion clinics are revolting, and stories of mangled fetal bodies thrown in garbage pails and callously disposed of in dumpsters have been known, and routinely ignored, by the mainstream press for decades.

This week, a former Planned Parenthood clinic director, told the moving story of what turned her towards pro-life beliefs and Catholicism (see The last straw was when she watched on ultrasound as a thirteen-week-old fetus squirmed away from the cannula that a doctor positioned in order to suck it out of the mother’s womb. Which he did, as she looked on in horror, joking to the nurse he ordered to turn on the suction, “Beam me up, Scotty.”


That’s the kind of coarseness that thirty-eight years of an abortion regime has produced, paradoxically most often among defenders of “choice,” who consider themselves compassionate and civilized.

But today around noon, something quite different will take place, as it has since these horrors were legalized. Tens of thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands of pro-lifers will march in the freezing January cold on the National Mall in Washington. The numbers are always debated and do not much matter. As usual, The Washington Post will probably tuck it back in the Metro section. Several years ago, asked why pro-abortion events appeared on the front page and pro-life events, when they were even covered, in inconspicuous places, thePost ombudsman commented that reporters tended not to know any pro-lifers.

No matter. I was inoculated in the 1960s against political demonstrations. When I saw, after very little acquaintance, what they are usually about, I stayed away. They almost always embody egotism, self-seeking, and self-righteousness – not to mention self-deception – writ large, and cast as a kind of entertainment with low production values.

But not the pro-life march. The people who take the trouble to come every year – young and old, men and women, Catholics and other Christians, Jews, Muslims, and even a few atheists for life – get nothing personally out of it except, perhaps someday, to live in a less spoiled and murderous culture. Standing in the freezing cold for several hours, often with rain or snow falling, is no fun. And the people who do it don’t expect it to be.
Yet I come away from it every year, humbled and inspired by people who actually do care, disinterestedly, about others.

Pro-lifers continue to be criticized, of course, for their alleged “love affair with the fetus and lack of concern for women and babies after they are born.” This is the rankest nonsense. To take just the example of the Catholic Church, we are the clearest pro-life voice in this country and the whole world, and we also administer the most extensive network of relief agencies and healthcare facilities of any private organization anywhere.

It’s true that Catholics put life questions and other matters on different planes, but that’s because it’s where they belong. There is simply no just reason to take innocent human life anywhere, including in the womb. By contrast, there are multiple and sometimes conflicting opinions about policies to care for women, children, and the poor. And concerned people may reasonably pursue one or the other – and, imagine, even change their minds as circumstances dictate, about what may be most effective.

The popes have made this clear, and our American bishops have followed suit to a degree. The bishops’ document, Faithful Citizenship, states the differing moral status of such questions, which is settled Catholic principle. But then blurs the distinction with far too much confusing detail about social justice obligations, a holdover from a time when matters had not been thoroughly thought through. Serious work needs to be done about this, even among Catholics, who have shown a tendency to take the lack of clarity as an opportunity to misunderstand what our bishops have said.

But over and above these theoretical considerations, today there will be yet another moving testament to the fact that the will to defend innocent human life is far from dead in America. A slim majority of Americans now describe themselves as pro-life, the result of many years of argument and witness. No other nation on earth has had so long and dedicated a pro-life movement, and if abortion is ever seen for the outrage it is in world opinion, our people will deserve no little credit for having kept the flame alive.
This is a glorious day in America.

Robert Royal is editor-in-chief of The Catholic Thing, and president of the Faith & Reason Institute in Washington, D.C. His most recent book is The God That Did Not Fail: How Religion Built and Sustains the West, now available in paperback from Encounter Books.

© 2011 The Catholic Thing. All rights reserved. For reprint rights, write to:

The Catholic Thing is a forum for intelligent Catholic commentary. Opinions expressed by writers are solely their own.
Retrieved January 23, 2011 from

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Ave Maria University: A Challenge Among Friends


By Hadley Arkes

Ave Maria, Florida. I’m in this pioneer town, about fifty minutes from Naples, Florida, to do two talks on natural law at Ave Maria University. The place is exotic because it is so different from academic towns in the Northeast, and not merely in the weather, forever spring. But it is also “familiar” to some of us because it suddenly transports us into a world we used to know in the forties and fifties: a neighborhood with a virtual society of children, roaming freely at large because the community is filled with “catchers-in-the rye”– an ample supply of grownups always looking out, ready to pluck spirited kids from the occasional hazard. A community has been taking hold for about eight years, built around this new university, designed to be thoroughly and militantly Catholic.

It seems improbable, to mark off an undeveloped tract of land and build a new institution literally from the ground up. But in the days I’m here, the new façade by the sculptor Marton Varo is being hoisted in place in the Oratory in the town square, and the square itself, filled with shops and an English Pub, is a lovely place brought to life by students and faculty gathering in the evenings. Yes, students and faculty – drawn to this curious place in a reclaimed swamp, with hawks flying overhead, alligators at times walking through, and the bipeds, old and young, drawn precisely by the sense of a Catholic mission. The only thing to explain it is the uncomprehending insistence of Tom Monaghan, the founder, who refused to understand why it couldn’t be done. And with the academic guidance of Michael Novak, steady in counsel and support and, now, a venerable presence.

As with every enterprise laboring through a start-up, there are shortfalls and disappointments. The endowment was supposed to be fed by the boom in real estate. But the end of the boom brought a grim tightening of the budget, felt all around. There is grumbling over a dumbing down of the student population, the same grumbling we hear today at Amherst College and other places. But at the same time, every faculty member I meet remarks that he loves his students – that the best are comparable to the best they’ve seen at more established schools. And all about me I see students who are upbeat, smart, quick, respectful of things that merit respect, and faculty who are gifted and devoted.

But a collision of worlds – and a serious challenge – came out at dinner with a dear friend, an accomplished professor, a graduate of Harvard transplanted from the Northeast. He has two daughters at Ave Maria and he said, when I pressed him, that he wouldn’t send any of his children to Harvard. The new sexual ethic, whether on pornography, promiscuity, abortion, homoeroticism, is so pervasive, touching every aspect of life, that there is little room for those who will not pay homage to that reigning ethic. I do think that it is mainly the schools with a religious character that can offer now real academic freedom and a course of study in the humanities not warped by ideology.

But what of some us teaching at places like Amherst and Princeton? My friend insisted that we were pursuing a strategy of “infiltration,” bound to fail. The Catholic students at these places were likely to have their faith eroded and even lost. The evidence already suggests that students at schools like Ave Maria or Thomas Aquinas were more likely to come out with their faith sustained, and even fortified. I couldn’t say he was wrong, for I’ve seen the trend among some of the Catholic students at Amherst: a falling away from Mass, and a willingness to make one’s peace with a campus ethic that proclaims every other day its contempt for what Catholicism teaches.

And yet, Robert George and I have seen the cases, at Princeton and Amherst: students who say it made a turning in their lives when they heard “the arguments.” Some of them astonished themselves when they become “pro-lifers”; some returned to the Church, and others came into the Church through conversion. My friend insisted that these were gains made at retail. A far more dramatic prospect came with a real Catholic institution bringing forth every year a flock of graduates, firmed up in their faith, ready to take on the world.

He may indeed be right. But I think of Fr. Benedict Ashley, a central figure in teaching on the theology of the body. Ben Ashley, in the 1930s at the University of Chicago, was a flaming atheist and perhaps a Communist – until he met Mortimer Adler, who confronted him with Aquinas and natural law, and flipped him. That flipping produced a writer who has educated several generations of Catholics.

But what of my friend himself? He met his late wife when they were undergraduates at Harvard, both strikingly smart – and atheist. They made their way to Catholicism together, raised six children, as savvy, committed Catholics, and now he has six more, bound to impart their character in turn to every life they touch. And then we add to the ledger his own brilliance and force as a teacher of hundreds of students now. Not a bad result, altogether. And it may show the wonders that have been done for the Church and world in touching those rare souls, still to be found among the heathens in places like Harvard.

Hadley Arkes is the Ney Professor of Jurisprudence at Amherst College. His most recent book is Constitutional Illusions & Anchoring Truths: The Touchstone of the Natural Law.
Retrieved January 22, 2011 from

*** Don't miss the interesting range of comments that follows this post on The Catholic Thing.

A nice counterpoint to this post and discussion is another at the Cardinal Newman Society blog about a promotional video from Georgetown University in which Jesuit administrators seem (to me and others) to apologize for (in the sense of be embarrassed by) the school's traditional Catholic identity. Most commenters express their dismay at the video and at what has happened to Jesuit higher education at Georgetown and elsewhere.

This parent's description of her visit to a Jesuit college in Boston seems all too typical:
Last summer my son and I visited a Jesuit college in Boston. The student “ambassadors” apologized that most people thought it was primarily a Catholic college, and urged the students in the visiting center not to let the fact that it was Catholic sway their decision. Hmm, that comment certainly swayed my decision. The same is clearly true of Georgetown. As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.
The discussion is enlivened by the efforts of one Jesuit priest to explain and justify the state of affairs that the rest of us deplore. See


Sheila Liaugminas | Monday, 17 January 2011

Unplanned: The Dramatic True Story of a Former Planned Parenthood Leader's Eye-Opening Journey across the Life Line

An American woman has just released a harrowing book about her experiences as head of a Planned Parenthood clinic.

"I know there are many people here tonight sitting in on this webcast from Planned Parenthood, and I want you to know, I was one of you, I sat in on these calls, too."

Abby Johnson was speaking to over 21,000 people across the nation and beyond, on a webcast widely promoted and globally available. It was the eve of the launch of her book UnPlanned and anticipation was intense. It’s the fascinating story of her journey from gullible college student raised in a pro-life Christian home to her recruitment into the abortion industry to the day her work there changed her life forever. The book was never intended to be an expose of Planned Parenthood. But her tale runs straight through it.

The abortion industry relies on controlling the message. It has from the beginning of legalized abortion in America. Over the decades, it has had few high-profile defections to blow the cover. One of the original founders of NARAL Pro-Choice America, the group largely responsible for the passage of Roe v. Wade, eventually converted and took this confession to YouTube: “We made it all up. One of our strategies to export abortion across the land was to deny what we knew to be true, that abortion kills an existing human being.” They also made up numbers and distorted facts to sway judges, he said. Dr Bernard Nathanson, a powerful witness to the inside story behind the success of abortion activism, witnessed the powerful truth of what abortion is when he saw it on ultrasound.

In September 2009, that’s exactly what turned Abby Johnson’s life around, in about ten minutes. On an otherwise normal day at work as the director of a Texas Planned Parenthood abortion clinic, Johnson was startled to be called into one of the rooms to assist in an ultrasound abortion.

She never assisted, and they never did ultrasounds. “I felt a moment’s reluctance outside the room. I never liked entering this room during an abortion procedure.”

That denial, both visceral and calculated, is central to the story of abortion in America in general, and Planned Parenthood’s role in particular.

Johnson was raised pro-life, but “if you’d put me up to a debate, I would’ve lost, because it’s something we didn’t discuss a lot.” When facts are fuzzy, they are easily manipulated. Johnson was recruited on her college campus by a nice woman in a hot pink booth” convincing her that “Planned Parenthood’s goal is to make abortion rare, except for women in dire need.” Johnson was finessed on the spot by the slick marketing job. “Her compassion really captured me..We both cared about people… I really wanted to help hurting people. I was glad I’d met this woman.”

Through her eight years with Planned Parenthood, after two abortions of her own, Johnson counseled women about contraception and the ultimate choice of abortion. But she lived in a numbed denial, and never knew the facts about conception, pregnancy and what its termination meant. Until ‘The Ultrasound,’ the account that constitutes the very brief but breathtaking first chapter of her book. She wanted to “help hurting women,” but she recoiled from the procedure room, telling herself “I don’t want to be here. I don’t want to take part in an abortion.” Her instincts were keenly alert to realities she never learned but somehow knew on a deeper level.

Her job in this instance was to apply lubricant and manoeuvre the ultrasound probe over the patient’s belly “to capture the image of the foetus.” In the countless ultrasound images she’d seen, Johnson admits, “this time the image was complete. I could see the entire, perfect profile of a baby.”

She wasn’t prepared. “Just like Grace at twelve weeks, I thought, remembering my very first peek at my daughter, three weeks before, snuggled securely inside my womb. The image now before me looked the same, only clearer, sharper. The detail startled me. I could clearly see the profile of the head, both arms, legs, and even tiny fingers and toes. Perfect.”

She was seized with anxiety. “What am I about to see? My stomach tightened. I don’t want to watch what is about to happen.” What she saw was a suction tube as the abortionist inserted it into the woman’s uterus and maneuvered it closer to the baby. “The foetus doesn’t feel pain. I had reassured countless women of this as I’d been taught by Planned Parenthood. The foetal tissue feels nothing as it is removed.”

She watched the screen with horror, as the baby instinctively recoiled from the invader. “This child knew its life was in danger,” Johnson said. And what she describes next is horrible, the abortion she witnessed in real time. “Before this, I never knew the child in the womb felt pain or felt anything. I believed this in order to justify abortion. I really felt betrayed.”

“What was in this woman’s womb just moments ago was alive,” she says in the book. “It wasn’t just tissue, just cells. That was a human baby—fighting for life! A battle that was lost in the blink of an eye. What I have told people for years, what I’ve believed and taught and defended, is a lie.”

If so fundamental a message as that is false, what else does the abortion industry falsify in order to profit as a business and attract new clients? It’s extremely rare to get this firsthand account from someone inside Planned Parenthood. Telling it is important to Abby Johnson’s conversion.

Among its revelations are several key clarifications. One recurring distortion is that contraception prevents pregnancy and therefore, the need for abortion. Johnson was using contraception both times she became pregnant and aborted. “When I started to work for Planned Parenthood counselling women, they were almost all contracepting,” she explained. “It didn’t make sense…”

But contraception is small change. In management level meetings, Planned Parenthood revealed their goal of increasing their number of surgical abortions with monthly quotas. They also used a map targeting specific facilities using non-affiliated abortionists, with the goal of “turning every one of them into a Planned Parenthood provider.”

Another myth they use is that the compassionate people are inside the clinic, while the people outside are scary, judgmental, hostile and angry. The Planned Parenthood recruiter told Abby “that some pretty aggressive anti-choice protesters came to the clinic to use scare tactics to keep women from getting the help they needed… and shame them.” Once she crossed the fence, she learned the truth about “those people praying outside my window” who constantly offered help. “I was a mess,” she writes. “I was a total disaster... I was completely broken, and I needed somebody to fix me, and that’s what they started to do.”

Though Planned Parenthood slapped her with a lawsuit and restraining order, Johnson was fortified. “I was telling the truth,” she says. “They were trying to silence me. Planned Parenthood says this is about the freedom to make choices. But this was them not respecting my freedom of choice, my freedom to be pro-life… But one of the reasons they did this was to make an example, and show other employees that ‘this could be you, if you cross that fence, this could be you defending yourself against us. They wanted to instil fear in their employees. They do that often and they do it well.”

So her message at the end of the webcast, as she was about to release UnPlanned and be released from its implications, Johnson had this message:

“If you are pro-life, have a plan of action when somebody like me comes to you and says ‘I want to get out of this industry.’ When somebody like me walks into your office, you’d better be ready to help them.

“For people who are pro-choice advocates or in Planned Parenthood on this call, I want you to know that there is a peace and a joy that you don’t even know…You’re probably embarrassed to say where you work. You don’t have to be in that shameful environment anymore. It’s filled with pain and grief, but on the other side of the fence, there’s compassion and healing…

“I want you to critique this book and try to criticize it, find something that is not true in it. I bet you’ll have a hard time.”

Everyone will, in more ways than one. But it’s a dis-ease we all need to confront.

Sheila Liaugminas is an Emmy Award winning journalist. She blogs on American politics atSheilaReports. UnPlanned is available at
Retrieved January 21, 2011 from

Friday, January 21, 2011

Sperm Donor Kids Speak Out: Our Biological Dads Matter to Us

Elizabeth Marquardt
Posted: January 19, 2011 05:20 PM

" ... I don't want to be on his family's Christmas cards or to take up an inordinate amount of his time. I just want to know who he is."

"I feel like half a person."

"I wish he simply knew I exist."

If you are a man who gets a woman pregnant after meeting her in a bar, you cannot legally hide your identity from your child, nor walk away from at least minimal responsibility as a father. Yet if you wish anonymously to sell your sperm to a sperm bank, you can remain hidden from your child forever.

No one knows how many persons are conceived each year in the U.S. through anonymous sperm donation. Experts estimate it could be somewhere between 30,000 and 60,000 annually, but the numbers are only a guess because the U.S. government does not require reporting or tracking of such pregnancies. For the fertility industry, anonymity is the grease that keeps the machinery going. It allows men (and women) in exchange for money to conceive offspring they never have to meet or acknowledge. It allows parents who wish to purchase sperm or eggs not to have to tell their child the truth about how the child was conceived. And, it has allowed our society to avoid the uncomfortable fact that we are creating two classes of persons, those who have the legal right to know their origins and those who are legally forbidden to learn the same thing.

Now, anonymity is being turned on its head. This week saw the launch of the first-ever online story collective for donor conceived persons and others involved in reproductive allows persons conceived through sperm donation and similar practices to tell their stories anonymously, without fear of hurting their parents, getting flamed on the Internet, or having to go on record about intimate details of their lives. The brainchild of donor-conceived activist Alana S. (who is also a blogger at the site I edit,, is already filled with powerful stories from donor conceived persons, donors, legal parents, adoptees, and others whose lives have intersected with these technologies, with new stories being added daily.

The stories echo and affirm research that colleagues and I published last year in a report, My Daddy's Name Is Donor. They tell us that bodies matter. That to be deliberately denied knowledge of where you come from is painful and bewildering, at any age. That the human longing to know where you fit in the human family extends also to donor conceived persons. That the fertility industry is rife with contradictions, praising donations and altruism when in fact cold cash fuels each transaction, minimizing the significance of biological connections for children even as the biological connections desired by would-be parents are served, and undermining the importance of ancestry even as other aspects of U.S. and international law and great swaths of culture devoted to genealogical and ethnic studies affirm just the opposite.

The stories at tell us what it's like to grow up in a world where almost no one -- including the parents who raise you -- understands what it's like to be conceived deliberately denied knowledge of or a relationship with one of your biological parents. In a story called "Jaws of Life" one young person asks:

"How could my own parents decide to deliberately separate me from my kin, to grow up half blinded to my own identity? If they couldn't face telling me the truth about what they had done, why did they do it?"
"How could the doctors, sworn to 'first do no harm' create the system where I now face the pain and loss of my own identity and heritage?"

"How could the government, charged with protecting the most vulnerable members of the community, its children, legislate to make it illegal for me to know the identity of my biological father? How can its institutions subject me to the psychological torture of knowing that records exist, but I am forbidden to know the contents?"

"How could my donor help create me, and then abandon me without even leaving his name?"

In a story titled "Missing Pieces," one 19-year-old writes of struggling to protect the feelings of his or her mother and social father, even while coming to terms with painful personal losses. The storyteller writes, "I have to be so careful not to upset anyone about it, when really, it's me that's upset!"

Others, like those quoted at the beginning of this post, plead that all they are looking for are simple realities that most of us take for granted. They want to know who their father is. They want their father to know who they are. They want to feel whole. The titles of their stories say it all: "Alone." "Silence." "Beginnings and Ends." "Filling Out the Story." "I Have a Right to Know."

Anonymity has fueled the practice of deliberately denying children and young people the identity of their fathers. Now, it is allowing those very young people to tell their own stories, in their own way. A new generation of would-be parents, doctors and policy makers would be wise to listen. These young people are voicing a truth at once utterly simple yet breathtakingly profound: Fathers matter. For everyone.

BIO: Elizabeth Marquardt is editor of and coauthor of "My Daddy's Name is Donor: A New Study of Young Adults Conceived Through Sperm Donation."

Retrieved January 21, 2011 from

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Or Murder?

A son who decided dad’s time was up

by Michael Cook | 20 Jan 2011 |

The number of Alzheimer’s and dementia patients will probably double in the United States over the next 20 years. Here’s a real life example from Connecticut of what may happen to them.

In September, an elderly lawyer with Alzheimer’s, George Brodigan, died at home. Beside his bed was a half-empty bottle of rum and a copy of Derek Humphry's "Final Exit," a suicide manual. Yellow pills were found beneath his body.

Someone had obviously helped Mr Brodigan to kill himself. Police arrested his 46-year-old son Bruce, a teacher, who lives in the neighbouring state of Massachusetts. During the investigation the son lied repeatedly, police said. He denied that he was present when his father died; he denied helping in preparing the suicide; he was misleading about the use of medications. He helped his father write a suicide note and did not discourage him from acting. He intentionally waited until he was sure that his father was dead before notifying anyone. Several copies of the father’s do-not-resuscitate orders, his obituary and his insurance policy were laid out.

Doesn’t this show clearly how easy it would be to persuade confused elderly people that their time was up? How do you distinguish between assisted suicide and elder abuse? ~ Hartford Courant, Jan 7

Retrieved January 19, 2011 from

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

It Started with Infants with Disabilities

Euthanasia Mass Grave Grim Reminder That Human Exceptionalism Necessary For “Never Again”
Posted on January 17, 2011 by The CBC
By Wesley J. Smith, J.D., Special Consultant to the CBC

The opening movement of the Holocaust targeted infants with disabilities first, and then adults in the notorious T-4 program. Between 1939-1945, German doctors and other health care professionals willingly killed hundreds of thousands of people with disabilities — not because they were ordered to by Nazis, but because they believed in eugenics and considered their work a “healing treatment” for the killed patient, the family, and society.

Now, a grim reminder of that carnage has been found near a mental hospital where such killings may have taken place. From the story:

A hospital graveyard in Austria has been found to contain the remains of what are believed to be Nazi euthanasia victims, authorities said today. Preliminary building work on the site in Hall, the Tyrol province in western Austria, was halted as a search began to trace the identities of the victims and their families. Oliver Seifert, a historian who recently found documents relating to the graveyard, in which around 220 patients of the psychiatric institute in Hall are believed to have been buried between 1942 and 1945, told a press conference today that many questions remained unanswered. “At this stage we can’t say that all 220 people were victims of the Nazi euthanasia programme but one of the central questions we will be looking into is how they died,” he said.

He added that his discovery of the documents, during a reorganisation of the hospital archives, showed the death rate of patients at Hall went up considerably towards the end of the war, despite the fact that the institution was not officially part of the Nazis’ euthanasia programme, under which tens of thousands of people with disabilities were killed. The graves may throw light on the way in which euthanasia as a policy was decentralised and, even without orders from on high, became systematic in many psychiatric institutions across the Third Reich whose head doctors bought into the Nazi belief that people with mental disorders were unworthy of life.

Note the quote, “even without orders.” No doctor was forced to commit euthanasia under Nazi Germany (although doctors and midwives were required to report the birth of babies with disabilities). The killers were eager to do so, and indeed, the euthanasia rampage continued for a time even after the war was over.

The key lesson here lies in the overriding importance of human exceptionalism. Once we decide that some human beings have lesser value than other human beings, it ceases to become a question so much of whether we will oppress, discriminate, or even, kill them, but what form the invidiousness will take.

That was certainly the big lesson that the Nuremberg Medical Trials taught us. In 1949, Dr. Leo Alexander, the chief medical investigator wrote in the New England Journal of Medicine words prophetic words that we must never forget. From “Medical Science Under Dictatorship:”

Whatever proportions these crimes finally assumed, it became evident to all who investigated them that they had started from small beginnings. The beginnings at first were merely a subtle shift in emphasis in the basic attitudes of the physicians. It started with the acceptance of the attitude, basic to the euthanasia movement, that there is such a thing as a life not worthy to be lived. This attitude in its early stages concerned itself merely with the severely and chronically sick. Gradually the sphere of those to be included in this category was enlarged to encompass the socially unproductive, the ideologically unwanted, the racially unwanted and finally all non-Germans.

Looking at the state of the 1949 culture of American medicine, Dr. Alexander then warned:

In an increasingly utilitarian society these patients [with chronic diseases] are being looked down upon with increasing definiteness as unwanted ballast. A certain amount of rather open contempt for the people who cannot be rehabilitated with present knowledge has developed. This is probably due to a good deal of unconscious hostility, because these people for whom there seem to be no effective remedies, have become a threat to newly acquired delusions of omnipotence . . . At this point, Americans should remember that the enormity of the euthanasia movement is present in their own midst.

That is now coming true. We see renewed advocacy for the ethical propriety of infanticide — and disabled babies are being killed today in the Netherlands. Eugenic abortion abounds. Euthansia of the sick and disabled is happening — mostly “voluntary,” but also non voluntary.

Dr. Alexander warned us. Death camps and authoritarianism are not necessary to open the door to evil — as the USA eugenics movement showed. Human exceptionalism is the padlock on that dark door. Never again.

A hospital graveyard in Austria has been found to contain the remains of what are believed to be Nazi euthanasia victims, authorities said today.

Preliminary building work on the site in Hall, the Tyrol province in western Austria, was halted as a search began to trace the identities of the victims and their families.

Oliver Seifert, a historian who recently found documents relating to the graveyard, in which around 220 patients of the psychiatric institute in Hall are believed to have been buried between 1942 and 1945, told a press conference today that many questions remained unanswered.
“At this stage we can’t say that all 220 people were victims of the Nazi euthanasia programme but one of the central questions we will be looking into is how they died,” he said.

He added that his discovery of the documents, during a reorganisation of the hospital archives, showed the death rate of patients at Hall went up considerably towards the end of the war, despite the fact that the institution was not officially part of the Nazis’ euthanasia programme, under which tens of thousands of people with disabilities were killed. The graves may throw light on the way in which euthanasia as a policy was decentralised and, even without orders from on high, became systematic in many psychiatric institutions across the Third Reich whose head doctors bought into the Nazi belief that people with mental disorders were unworthy of life.

Retrieved January 17, 2011 from

Monday, January 17, 2011


Can you really kill out of mercy?
by Michael Cook | 16 Jan 2011 |

After reading about an 84-year-old man in Taipei who helped his wife to die, I thought that the concept of "mercy killing" needs to be examined more carefully. The wife of Wang Ching-hsi had Parkinson’s disease and was bed-ridden with two broken legs. They were a lonely, but financially comfortable couple. Mr Wang wrote at least two blog entries about euthanasia and suicide on November 27 and December 5.

On December 26 he acted. He drugged his wife with sleeping pills and then took a screwdriver and hammered it into his wife’s skull. There was very little bleeding. Then he rang the police and told them: “I killed my wife. Please send someone here to take care of the rest.” He also rang his pastor and asked him to come to pray over his wife’s body.

Mr Wang later told police that he and his wife had agreed years ago to end each other's lives if one of them were to suffer from a severe illness. The couple’s two sons are living in the US. One of them flew back for the court appearance but quickly returned. The other did not come at all.

The trouble with mercy killing is that it is indistinguishable from murder, the intentional killing of another human being with premeditated malice. How does one distinguish between a husband who kills an invalid wife to end her suffering and a husband who kills an invalid wife to end her snoring?

There seems to be an increase in the invocation of mercy killing as an excuse for murder. Also in December, a Brooklyn man smothered his 86-year-old mother with a pillow. Yefim Tsirinsky rang the police and told them: "My mother asked me to kill her.”

We must not minimize the stress of caring for invalids, especially without help from family members or governments. It can exhaust and demoralise even a loving spouse. It is an indictment of a society that allows people to bear a burden like this without help. But making a plan to kill a sick relative is still murder. What else could it be?

Retrieved January 17, 2011 from

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Fr. Barron Comments on 'True Grit' (SPOILERS)

Coming Home: Former Anglican Bishops Ordained to Catholic Priesthood

Priests ordained to the world’s first ordinariate
By ANNA ARCO on Saturday, 15 January 2011

Three former Anglican bishops were ordained to the Catholic priesthood today as the founding members of the world’s first ordinariate.

Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster ordained the three men this morning at a packed Westminster Cathedral.

Keith Newton, the former Bishop of Richborough, Andrew Burnham, the former Bishop of Ebbsfleet, and John Broadhurst, the former Bishop of Fulham, were ordained Catholic priests just two days after their ordination to the diaconate and only two weeks after they were received into the Catholic Church.

The three men become the first clergy members of the world’s first personal ordinariate, established by a papal decree and known as the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, under the protection of Blessed John Henry Newman. The Ordinary, or head, of the ordinariate will be Fr Newton.

Fr Newton, Fr Burnham and Fr Broadhurst were three of five Anglican bishops in England and Wales who publicly announced that they would take up the offer made in the Pope’s November 2009 decree Anglicanorum coetibus.

All three were flying bishops in the Church of England, ministering to Anglo-Catholics who were not able in good conscience to accept the ordination of women priests. Their flocks are preparing to enter into the new ordinariate during Holy Week.

At the start of the Mass, Archbishop Nichols read the Bull establishing the ordinariate. In it, Cardinal William Levada, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, said the ordinariate “marks a unique and historic moment in the life of the Catholic community in this country”.

The three men were presented for ordination by Westminster auxiliary Bishop Alan Hopes, himself a former Anglican.

In his homily, Archbishop Nichols thanked the Church of England, especially the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams.

Archbishop Nichols said: “I want in particular to recognise your dedication as priests and bishops of the Church of England and affirm the fruitfulness of your ministry.

“I thank so many in the Church of England who have recognised your sincerity and integrity in making this journey and who have assured you of their prayers and good wishes. First among these is Rowan, Archbishop of Canterbury, with his characteristic insight and generosity of heart and spirit. This journey of course involves some sad parting of friends. This too we recognise and it strengthens the warmth of our welcome.”

He added: “We thank our Holy Father Pope Benedict for not only placing this ordinariate under the protection of Our Lady of Walsingham but also for givuing it Bl John Henry Newman as its patron.”

Referring the Pope’s December 20 speech, Archbishop Nichols spoke about Blessed John Henry Newman’s idea of conscience.

He continued: “Today we thank the Holy Father for the courageous leadership he gives in establishing the first personal ordinariate. His intentions are clear. It is as he said, ‘a prophetic gesture’. It is to contribute to the wider goal of visible unity between our two Churches by helping us to know in practice how our patrimonies of faith and living can strengthen each other in our mission today.”

Archbishop Nichols said the Pope’s ministry was central to the visible unity of the Church.

He said: “It is central to the faith of those who enter into full communion in this ordinariat. It is central to the werlcome, encouragement and support the Catholic community in England and Wales gives to this development and to allk who seek to be part of it.”

He entrusted the ordinariate to the intercession of Our Lady of Walsingham.

After the laying on of hands and the prayer of ordination, Mrs Broadhurst, Mrs Burnham and Mrs Newton brought their husbands the symbols of the priesthood, the vestments.

The three former Anglican Sisters at Walsingham, who were received into the Catholic Church with the former bishops, brought up the gifts to Archbishop Nichols.

The music at the Mass was sung by Westminster Cathedral choir. The Mass was Missa O quam gloriosum. There was music by Elgar and Stanford. The closing hymn was Newman’s “Praise to the Holiest in the Height”.

More than 60 priests from across England and Wales concelebrated at the Mass of Ordination and laid their hands on the ordinands. Archbishop Bernard Longley of Birmingham, Auxiliary Bishop William Kenny of Birmingham, Bishop Hopes and Bishop Thomas McMahon of Brentwood were among the bishops concelebrating at the Mass.

At Communion, many people came up to receive blessings from the new priests.

Fifty priests and 35 groups of Anglican lay people are expected to go through the Evangelium course and be received into the Catholic Church at Easter. The former Anglican clergy entering into the ordinariate will then be ordained priests at Pentecost.

There were at least three Anglican bishops from the Catholic wing of the Church of England in the congregation, the Rt Rev Lindsay Urwin, the administrator of the Anglican shrine at Walsingham, the Rt Rev Robert Ladds, former Bishop of Whitby, and Rt Rev Tony Robinson, Bishop of Pontefract.

Edwin Barnes, the retired Bishop of Richborough, David Silk, the retired bishop of Ballarat, and Robert Mercer, the former Bishop of Matabeleland, of the Traditional Anglican Communion, were in the congregation. So was Dr Robin Ward, the principal of St Stephen’s House, Oxford.

Edwin Barnes will be received into the Catholic Church at the church of Our Lady and St Joseph, Lymington, at the end of January and will become a priest just before Lent begins, on March 5.
David Silk has already been received into the Catholic Church and will be ordained a priest of the ordinariate on February 18.

After the Mass, one young woman in the congregation who hopes to be in the first wave of the ordinariate, said: “I thought it was tremendous and very moving and utterly joyful and historic. I feel so proud and thankful to the Pope. It’s just beyond our wildest dreams.

“I want to say it’s like coming home. I know that’s a cliché, but that’s what it feels like.”

Retrieved January 15, 2011 from

Tucson Witch Hunt

January 14, 2011
'Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not to his own facts.' So said Daniel Patrick Moynihan, late senator from New York and one of the great social policy thinkers of the 20th century. I find NYT columnist (with a statistical bent) Charles Blow's opinions usually a matter for deep disagreement, but his facts are always interesting and informative.

Here I accept his facts, as usual, and also agree with his opinion.

The Tucson Witch Hunt
Tragedy in Tucson. Six Dead. Democratic congresswoman shot in the head at rally.

Immediately after the news broke, the air became thick with conjecture, speculation and innuendo. There was a giddy, almost punch-drunk excitement on the left. The prophecy had been fulfilled: “words have consequences.” And now, the right’s rhetorical chickens had finally come home to roost.

The dots were too close and the temptation to connect them too strong. The target was a Democratic congresswoman. There was the map of her district in the cross hairs. There were her own prescient worries about overheated rhetoric.

Within hours of the shooting, there was a full-fledged witch hunt to link the shooter to the right.

“I saw Goody Proctor with the devil! Oh, I mean Jared Lee Loughner! Yes him. With the devil!”
The only problem is that there was no evidence then, and even now, that overheated rhetoric from the right had anything to do with the shooting. (In fact, a couple of people who said they knew him have described him as either apolitical or “quite liberal.”) The picture emerging is of a sad and lonely soul slowly, and publicly, slipping into insanity.

I have written about violent rhetoric before, and I’m convinced that it’s poisonous to our politics, that the preponderance of it comes from the right, and that it has the potential to manifest in massacres like the one in Tucson.

But I also know that potential, possibility and even plausibility are not proof.

The American people know it, too. According to a USA Today/Gallup poll released Wednesday, 42 percent of those asked said that political rhetoric was not a factor at all in the shooting, 22 percent said that it was a minor factor and 20 percent said that it was a major factor.

Furthermore, most agreed that focusing on conservative rhetoric as a link in the shooting was “not a legitimate point but mostly an attempt to use the tragedy to make conservatives look bad.” And nearly an equal number of people said that Republicans, the Tea Party and Democrats had all “gone too far in using inflammatory language” to criticize their opponents.

Great. So the left overreacts and overreaches and it only accomplishes two things: fostering sympathy for its opponents and nurturing a false equivalence within the body politic. Well done, Democrats.

Now we’ve settled into the by-any-means-necessary argument: anything that gets us to focus on the rhetoric and tamp it down is a good thing. But a wrong in the service of righteousness is no less wrong, no less corrosive, no less a menace to the very righteousness it’s meant to support.
You can’t claim the higher ground in a pit of quicksand.

Concocting connections to advance an argument actually weakens it. The argument for tonal moderation has been done a tremendous disservice by those who sought to score political points in the absence of proof.

Retrieved January 15, 2011 from