I’ve just posted on SSRN a version of my amicus brief, “Preliminary Injunctions in the Obamacare Religious-Objection Lawsuits: An Amicus Brief for Hobby Lobby v. Sebelius.” The analysis is about preliminary injunctions; I don’t say anything on the merits of Obamacare or religious freedom and corporations. I might post separately about that today too. Here’s the abstract: Read more…
Paul Cassell has a post discussing whether the killer of the abortionist Dr. Tiller can plead voluntary manslaughter because he believed he had to kill Dr. Tiller to save a baby’s life. Professor Cassell argues no, because he killed Dr. Tiller while Dr. Tiller was in church, so the danger to the baby was not imminent. That is persuasive.
Prof. Cassell also notes that the plea only works if Tiller’s baby-killing was unlawful, and says it is lawful because abortion is lawful.
I’m not so sure on this second point. Remember, Dr. Tiller performed unusual, late-term, abortions. Even the killing of a 9-month, viable, baby can be lawful if the umbilical cord isn’t cut yet (is that the dividing line? I seem to recall some recent case where it was). But it isn’t always lawful—there has to be danger to the mother’s mental health or something like that. Suppose the killer reasonably believed that Dr. Tiller was not following all the abortion rules, so some, if not all, of the babies he killed were being killed unlawfully. Putting the Imminence issue aside, could that prove voluntary manslaughter? What degree of certainty would the killer have to have that babies were being killed for voluntary manslaughter to be valid? And how sure would the jury have to be that this was his motive and that it was a reasonable motive?
Dr. Tiller’s unusual speciality is also, by the way, what made his killing have a special impact on abortion. Ordinarily, killing an abortionist would have little effect on the number of abortions performed, because there are substitute doctors. Tiller’s case is different because few doctors in America have the stomach to perform late-term abortions like he did, so killing him removed a major supplier from the market.
From the Baylyblog comes a story about demonstrators at the Planned Parenthood abortion clinic in Bloomington:
For the past year or so Ginger and I have been reading Scripture in an orderly fashion down at Planned Parenthood. Due to various constraints we end up reading Scripture mostly to the escorts and the pro-abortion sheriff who are there every week.
We always read Romans 1 & John 3, alternately. In addition, Ginger had the idea to start reading a different chapter each week so as to finish whole books. Our goal, of course, is to ensure that these people hear God’s Special Revelation each week but we hardly dared hope that our goal of forcing them to know Scripture would really work.
I wasn’t there today but as Ginger was reading Romans 1, she had to cough and during her pause the sheriff, Todd, finished her sentence with mockery, “and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error.” Then he realized what he did and looked annoyed with himself. Ginger smiled and thanked him for “hiding Scripture in his heart.”
Here’s Romans 1:
1 Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God, 2 (Which he had promised afore by his prophets in the holy scriptures,) 3 Concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh; 4 And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead: 5 By whom we have received grace and apostleship, for obedience to the faith among all nations, for his name: 6 Among whom are ye also the called of Jesus Christ: 7 To all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.
8 First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, that your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world. 9 For God is my witness, whom I serve with F3 my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers; 10 Making request, if by any means now at length I might have a prosperous journey by the will of God to come unto you. 11 For I long to see you, that I may impart unto you some spiritual gift, to the end ye may be established; 12 That is, that I may be comforted together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me. 13 Now I would not have you ignorant, brethren, that oftentimes I purposed to come unto you, (but was let hitherto,) that I might have some fruit among you also, even as among other Gentiles. 14 I am debtor both to the Greeks, and to the Barbarians; both to the wise, and to the unwise. 15 So, as much as in me is, I am ready to preach the gospel to you that are at Rome also.
16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. 17 For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith. 18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;
19 Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. 20 For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: 21 Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. 22 Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, 23 And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things. 24 Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: 25 Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen. 26 For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: 27 And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet. 28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; 29 Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, 30 Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, 31 Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful: 32 Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.
Someone should write comparing the “torture memos” to abortion. A question in each is whether a painful technique is justified by some other good. The liberal position is that it is torture to slap a terrorist to stop a nuclear bomb, but okay to slowly dismember a baby to improve a woman’s mood.
The Tiller case is an interesting one. He has gotten off, amazingly, with a jury acquittal, from his prosecution on charges of aborting viable babies without an independent second opinion that the mother’s health requires it. I’ve collected links here. First see
2007-06-25 Expert McHugh Backs up Charges Against Tiller
Info in Kline charges edited (for length) and emphasis added by
Mary Kay Culp, Kansans for Life.
Kansas law KSA 65-6703 requires that if an abortionist suspects an unborn child is around 22 weeks along, he must determine if the baby is viable, that is, capable of living outside the womb with or without medical help (22-23 weeks is generally regarded as when a baby could live outside the womb). If the abortionist determines that the baby is “viable”, then the abortion can only be performed if a second doctor who is NOT financially or legally affiliated with the abortionist agrees with the abortionist that it is necessary because the mother is going to die (no such cases in Kansas since records started being kept in 1998), or she will suffer a substantial and irreversible impairment of a major “bodily” function. (Former Attorney General Carla Stovall issued an opinion in 2000 that “major bodily function” includes risks to mental health as long as such risk is “substantial and irreversible.” ) ... Kline Charges Against George Tiller, December, 2006 Note: 15 abortions; 2 counts each Count 1: Unlawful Late Term...14 year old pregnant child when the fetus was viable…26 week…wrongfully relied on a diagnosis of Anxiety Disorder NOS or Adjustment Disorder with mixed anxiety and depressed mood. Count 2: Failure to Report Justifications for Late Term Abortion…29 weeks of age, did report that the fetus was not viable... Count 3: Unlawful Late Term Abortion 10 year old pregnant child when the fetus was viable...28 weeks...wrongfully relied on a diagnosis of Major Depressive Disorder, Single Episode... Count 4: Failure to Report Justifications for Late Term Abortion…28 weeks of age... did report that the fetus was not viable... Count 5: Unlawful Late Term Abortion...15 year old pregnant child when the fetus was viable... 28 weeks... wrongfully relied on a diagnosis of Major Depressive Disorder, Single Episode... Count 6: Failure to Report Justifications for Late Term Abortion...28 weeks of age...did fail to report the basis for the determination... Count 7: Unlawful Late Term Abortion...16-year old pregnant child when the fetus was viable...29 weeks...wrongfully relied on a diagnosis of Major Depressive Disorder, Single Episode... Count 8: Failure to Report Justifications for Late Term Abortion...29 weeks of age...did fail to report the basis for the determination... Count 9: Unlawful Late Term Abortion...19 year old pregnant woman when the fetus was viable...27 weeks, wrongfully relied on a diagnosis of Major Depressive Disorder, Single Episode... Count 10: Failure to Report Justifications for Late Term Abortion... 27 weeks of age...did report that the fetus was not viable and therefore did not report the actual determination of fetus viability... Count 11: Unlawful Late Term Abortion...22 year old pregnant woman when the fetus was viable 31 weeks...wrongfully relied on a diagnosis of Major Depressive Disorder, Single Episode... Count 12: Failure to Report Justifications for Late Term Abortion...31 weeks of age...did fail to report the basis for the determination... Count 13: Unlawful Late Term...15 year old pregnant child when the fetus was viable...26 weeks...wrongfully relied on a diagnosis of Major Depressive Disorder, Single Episode... Count 14: Failure to Report Justifications for Late Term Abortion... 26 weeks of age...did fail to report the basis for the determination... Count 15: Unlawful Late Term 15 year old pregnant child when the fetus was viable...28 weeks...wrongfully relied on a diagnosis of Acute Stress Disorder... Count 16: Failure to Report Justifications for Late Term Abortion... 28 weeks of age...did fail to report the basis for the determination... Count 17: Unlawful Late Term Abortion...15 year old pregnant child when the fetus was viable...25 weeks...wrongfully relied on a diagnosis of Major Depressive Disorder, Single Episode... Count 18: Failure to Report Justifications for Late Term Abortion...25 weeks of age...did fail to report the basis for the determination… Count 19: Unlawful Late Term Abortion...15 year old pregnant child when the fetus was viable...wrongfully relied on a diagnosis of Acute Stress Disorder... Count 20: Failure to Report Justifications for Late Term Abortion...26 weeks of age...did fail to report the basis for the determination... Count 21: Unlawful Late Term Abortion...15 year old pregnant child...when the fetus was viable... 25 weeks...wrongfully relied on a diagnosis of Major Depressive Disorder, Single Episode... Count 22: Failure to Report Justifications for Late Term Abortion...25 weeks of age...did fail to report the basis for the determination... Count 23: Unlawful Late Term Abortion...14 year old pregnant child when the fetus was viable... 25 weeks...wrongfully relied on a diagnosis of Acute Stress Disorder... Count 24: Failure to Report Justifications for Late Term Abortion...25 weeks of age...did fail to report the basis for the determination... Count 25: Unlawful Late Term Abortion...15 year old pregnant child when the fetus was viable...25 weeks...wrongfully relied on a diagnosis of Major Depressive Disorder, Single Episode... Count 26: Failure to Report Justifications for Late Term Abortion...25 weeks of age...did fail to report the basis for the determination... Count 27: Unlawful Late Term Abortion...18 year old pregnant woman when the fetus was viable...25 weeks...defendant wrongfully relied on a diagnosis of Anxiety Disorder NOS or Acute Stress Disorder... Count 28: Failure to Report Justifications for Late Term Abortion...25 weeks of age...did fail to report the basis for the determination... Count 29: Unlawful Late Term Abortion...13 year old pregnant woman when the fetus was viable...25 weeks...wrongfully relied on NO established diagnosis… Count 30: Failure to Report Justifications for Late Term Abortion...25 weeks of age...did report that the fetus was not viable and therefore did not report the actual determination… Witnesses: Thomas Williams, Jared Reed, Dr. Ann Kristin Neuhaus, Steve Cavanaugh, Clerk of the District Court—3rd Judicial District, Dr. Paul McHugh (Psychiatrist-Johns Hopkins), Dr. Lome Phillips (Head of statistics, state of KS), Lorna Jansen, Gina Bowes Sealed documents attached in support include an affidavit of Dr. Paul R. McHugh, M.D., Johns Hopkins Medical Center, transcript of sworn statement by Dr. Ann Kristin Neuhaus, M.D., copies of 15 KDHE report forms, and copies of 15 medical files with patient identification REDACTED!
Dr. Paul McHugh, a nationally known psychiatrist, received a warning
on June 12 from Kansas Attorney General Paul Morrison who threatened
to take legal action if McHugh didn’t stop making public statements
regarding the medical records involved in the investigation of late-
term abortionist George Tiller “the Killer.”…
On the evening of June 12, however, Attorney General Morrison did
contact Dr. McHugh at a panel discussion with the intent of preventing
him from speaking. A man claiming to be a criminal investigator for
Morrison stood outside and asked every older man that approached if he
were a doctor. Morrison’s cease-and-desist letter threatened the
doctor with legal action and claimed that his office did contact the
psychiatrist. “Again, we hereby demand that you cease and desist from
all public comment about your work in this case,” said Morrison in the
Morrison also argued that McHugh was violating the privacy of the
patients involved, even though McHugh never mentioned the name of a
single woman in the interview.
A major use of such prosecutions is to point out what goes on,
whether it is deemed legal or illegal in the end. I think more use
might be made of this case. What is most shocking is not the illegal
activity— that Tiller improperly used a non-independent doctor as
his second opinion— but the legal part— that a viable baby can be
killed if a casual non-expert opinion claims mild mental harm to the
mother from the baby’s survival.
I don’t think the public realizes this goes on. It is, indeed,
incredible. And this is one of those cases where the de facto law
and the de jure law are different. The de jure law– well, the
written law, let us say, since judge-made law is probably different—
requires something like major medical harm. The de facto law requires
the desire of at least two doctors in the United States that the
abortion be performed. So pro-abortion people can pretend that
nothing bad is happening.
What is effective in refuting them is not the vague claim that late-
term abortions occur without medical justification. Rather, we need
specific cases with objective documentation.
is a good start. It paraphrases the sealed medical records in the
Tiller case briefly.
What would be much better would be to open up the sealed records
themselves. Or, even to open up ONE sealed record to be an example.
Can any more details be publicized?
Can a successful motion be made to unseal the records? Such a motion
would be vigorously opposed by Tiller. But unsealing those records
would be more important to fighting abortion than even a successful
conviction of Tiller, wouldn’t it? The scandal is what is legal, not
what is illegal.
I imagine that the case for unsealing the records would be stronger if
Tiller had lost, or after he is disciplined by whatever boards are
relevant. The argument would then be that these sealed records are
records of illegal (if not quite criminal) activities of the doctor
and patient jointly, and so the doctor and patient should forfeit
their right to privacy.
Suppose you think abortion is wrong. Suppose, further, you think it is evil. What should you do?
Clearly, you should speak out against it, and act to stop it. If you think an abortion is as bad as killing adults, it is not unreasonable to expect you to blow up abortion clinics. After all, if abortion clinics were gas chambers for Jews, that would be your moral duty.
Most people actually wouldn’t have the guts or be willing to take the trouble to blow up gas chamber clinics, I think. But also I think most people, even those strongly against abortion, don’t think it is as bad as killing adults, whatever they may say. So let’s suppose you just think abortion is evil.
If you think abortion is evil, you shouldn’t keep quiet about it. You should want your church and your political organizations to say it is evil, and to condemn people who do it– the mothers and the clinics both. Abortion is very common, so we can’t say it is a minor evil, either. So it is just cowardly for a church to say it won’t take a public position because that would offend people and keep them from coming to church.
Baylyblog has a 2008 post on the issue of whether the morning-after pill is okay even if RU-486 is not. The difference is that the morning-after pill (like birth control pills, but with higher probability, since birth control pills mainly prevent fertilization) prevents implantation, whereas RU-486 causes the fetus to detach from the uterus. The post quotes Jerry Frederick, a Bloomington pharmacist, who will sell the morning-after pill but not RU-486.
A lot of people aren’t sure about whether a typical abortion at,
say 6 weeks, is murder. But who, except Barack Obama and NOW, would
disagree about the case described in
Florida Clinic Botched Abortion, Threw Out Live Baby”:
Eighteen and pregnant, Sycloria Williams went to an abortion clinic
outside Miami and paid $1,200 for Dr. Pierre Jean-Jacque Renelique to
terminate her 23-week pregnancy….
Only Renelique didn’t arrive in time. According to Williams and the
Florida Department of Health, she went into labor and delivered a live
What Williams and the Health Department say happened next has shocked
people on both sides of the abortion debate: One of the clinic’s
owners, who has no medical license, cut the infant’s umbilical cord.
Williams says the woman placed the baby in a plastic biohazard bag and
threw it out….
Police recovered the decomposing remains in a cardboard box a week
later after getting anonymous tips.
Here’s more detail:
The complaint says one of the clinic owners, Belkis Gonzalez came in
and cut the umbilical cord with scissors, then placed the baby in a
plastic bag, and the bag in a trash can.
Williams’ lawsuit offers a cruder account: She says Gonzalez knocked
the baby off the recliner chair where she had given birth, onto the
floor. The baby’s umbilical cord was not clamped, allowing her to
bleed out. Gonzalez scooped the baby, placenta and afterbirth into a
red plastic biohazard bag and threw it out….
At 23 weeks, an otherwise healthy fetus would have a slim but
legitimate chance of survival. Quadruplets born at 23 weeks last year
at The Nebraska Medical Center survived.
An autopsy determined Williams’ baby — she named her Shanice — had
filled her lungs with air, meaning she had been born alive, according
to the Department of Health. The cause of death was listed as extreme
Reader, whatever you think about abortion in general, wouldn’t you
be shocked if a state made Gonzalez’s actions legal? Should he be able
to say, “Sure I dumped a live baby in the trash can, let it die, and
let it rot. That’s legal. It’s none of your business, or of the woman
who had the abortion. She should know that that’s what happens after
an abortion. Didn’t she notice there was no coffin or burial plot
charge in the bill?” [He did *not* say that– but should he be able to?]
What would you think about someone who agrees with that? Well, Barack Obama does. He voted several times against proposals to make baby killing illegal in Illinois, including against the one that eventually passed and which was almost identical to the federal law passed 98-0 in the U.S. Senate.
(b) Subsequent to the abortion, if a child is born 19 alive, the physician required by Section 6(2)(a) to be in 20 attendance shall exercise the same degree of professional 21 skill, care and diligence to preserve the life and health of 22 the child as would be required of a physician providing 23 immediate medical care to a child born alive in the course of 24 a pregnancy termination which was not an abortion. Any such 25 physician who intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly 26 violates Section 6(2)(b) commits a Class 3 felony.
Here is a defense of Obama. It is
confusing enough that I deduce it is trying to confuse the issue. The
argument seems to be that Obama was really against infanticide but in
some unspecified way the bills would have restricted abortions more
generally. Obama seems to have changed his story a number of times.
One of them was the peculiar claim that the bill would have overriden
Roe v. Wade, which is stupid since a state statute can’t override a
Supreme Court decision based on the U.S. Constitution.
Obama opposed the 2001 and 2002 “born alive” bills as backdoor attacks
on a woman’s legal right to abortion, but he says he would have been
“fully in support” of a similar federal bill that President Bush had
signed in 2002, because it contained protections for Roe v. Wade.
We find that, as the NRLC said in a recent statement, Obama voted in
committee against the 2003 state bill that was nearly identical to the
federal act he says he would have supported. …
… It is worth noting that Illinois law already provided that
physicians must protect the life of a fetus when there is “a
reasonable likelihood of sustained survival of the fetus outside the
womb, with or without artificial support.”
This last paragraph is important to the Gonzalez case. Would it
have made Gonzalez’s action illegal? Or would it be interpreted to
let Gonzalez, and nobody else, decide whether the baby had a
“reasonable likelihood of sustained survival” without any second-
guessing by the courts no matter how bad his decision was? The courts
usually let doctors get away with a lot– get away with murder, I was
going to write.
In any case, it is clear that Obama thinks that if a doctor were sure that a baby would only live for two days after being born, the doctor should be able to throw the baby into a garbage can to die.
Baylyblog found out that even a very conservative Presbyterian denomination’s college has many liberal faculty. (For those of you who say, “So what?”, keep in mind that there are far more Democrats at this college, which explicitly has a religion requirement for faculty, than there are Republicans at any Big Ten university.)
… thirty-five percent of Covenant’s faculty members say they’re
likely to vote for Senator Obama. That’s one third of the faculty
supporting the presidential candidacy of the most radically pro-baby
slaughter politician in Washington D.C.
… Covenant’s faculty was asked to rate “issues for their importance
in selecting a (presidential) candidate,” and among those listed were
“campaign finance reform,” “education,” “global warming,” “health
care,” and “social justice.” And yes, “abortion” was there, but no
mention of sodomy or sodomite marriage.
Interestingly, only half the faculty members considered “abortion” to
be “Very important” in their selection in their anticipated vote for a
presidential candidate. This means half of the faculty members made a
conscious decision to respond that abortion was not “Very important.”
What got a higher rating than abortion?
“Social justice.” Abortion had a rating average of 3.23 whereas
“Social justice” won with 3.40. (Ten faculty members responded that
abortion was either “Not important” (2) or only “Somewhat important”
(8), but only one faculty member responded that social justice was
“Not important” and just two that it was only “Somewhat important.”
For the top rating, “Very important,” three issues tied in the
faculty’s vote: “Abortion,” “Health care,” and “Social justice,” with
“Social justice” taking the honors.
Here is a list of Bible verses relevant to abortion. br>
Genesis 2:7, And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the
and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a
If men strive, and hurt a woman with child, so that her fruit
depart from her, and yet no mischief follow: he shall be surely
punished, according as the woman’s husband will lay upon him; and he
shall pay as the judges determine.
And if any mischief follow, then thou shalt give life for life,
Eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot,
Burning for burning, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.
Leviticus 17:11. For the life of the flesh is in the blood:
have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your
souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the
Psalm 22: 10. I was cast upon thee from the womb: thou art my
from my mother’s belly.
Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother
For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my
mother’s womb. 14 I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and
wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth
right well. 15 My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made
in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. 16
Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book
all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned,
when as yet there was none of them.
Psalms 147:13. For he hath strengthened the bars of thy
hath blessed thy children within thee.
Job 31:15. Did not he that made me in the womb make him? and
one fashion us in the womb?
Isaiah 44:2. Thus saith the LORD that made thee, and formed
from the womb, which will help thee; Fear not, O Jacob, my servant;
and thou, Jesurun, whom I have chosen.
Isaiah 46:3. Hearken unto me, O house of Jacob, and all the
of the house of Israel, which are borne by me from the belly, which
are carried from the womb:
Isaiah 49:5. And now, saith the LORD that formed me from the
be his servant, to bring Jacob again to him, Though Israel be not
gathered, yet shall I be glorious in the eyes of the LORD, and my God
shall be my strength.
Jeremiah 1:5. Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee;
before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I
ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.
41. And it came to pass, that, when Elisabeth heard the salutation
Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elisabeth was filled with the
From the IDS:
The Indiana Department of Child Services will take no legal action against the employee who was suspended from Bloomington’s Planned Parenthood on Wednesday.
The employee was suspended without pay after an online video was released of her advising a woman posing as a 13-year-old girl to cross state lines to get an abortion without parental consent. When the woman posing as a 13-year-old girl said the man who got her pregnant was 31 years old, she agreed not to report what would, if it were true, be statutory rape.
Steve Vaughn, director of the Indiana Department of Child Services, said child services does not plan to do anything to the employee because there was not an actual minor involved in the incident.
…The county prosecutor’s office could also file charges, but no one from the office could be reached for comment by press time.
Maybe this is just jurisdictional. I am wondering whether this case is different from, say, a pedophile who is caught by someone posing to be a 13-year-old on the Internet.
Slate had an exchange between Douglas Kmiec and Ross Douhat that shows very well the approach of the feminized male to political thinking and discussion, the European social philosophy leftism of even conservative Roman Catholics, the gullible bandwagon-jumping of so many Christians, and, perhaps, the “emergent church” attitude.
To summarize: Professor Kmiec (a devout Catholic and a former high Reagan official, remarkably) argued that anti-abortion people should really vote for Barack Obama, because he would spend more on anti-poverty programs that would reduce abortion, appointing anti-Roe judges reduces the quality of the judiciary, and regulating abortion makes Republicans the party of hate, not love. Mr. Douhat responded by attacking these claims and calling Kmiec a fool and a shill for liberals. Kmiec responded by saying how cruel Douhat was, forgiving him, and offering to pray for him. Carlson responded by saying that Kmiec should act like a man, and Douhat was right anyway.
Here are excerpts. Kmiec II and Carlson are the most fun to read.
Republicans have been trying to sell themselves for so long on the basis of judicial appointments and the supposed “fifth vote” to overturn Roe, sometimes you wonder if they realize how selecting judges on that basis disserves the rule of law. …
The Democrats had a brilliant strategy on abortion this year: Don’t play the futile court speculation game. Instead, Obama’s team promoted life in ways that don’t depend upon a Supreme Court vacancy and cooperating nominee. Specifically, Obama had the Dems commit to promote life with enhanced social and economic assistance. This idea had traction—the Catholic vote literally switched from Republican to Democrat, going (in preliminary numbers) 55-45 for Obama nationwide, which is amazing given the amount of outright lies and falsehoods the GOP was purveying about the president-elect on this issue. (Not to mention the co-conspiring clergy the Republicans captured, who were literally preaching that voters would go to hell for voting for Barack.) The Republicans became the party of fear and damnation rather than solution or respect for life. As a consequence, Pennsylvania, Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, and Virginia are in the Democratic, not the Republican, column.
It’s admittedly hard to untie the abortion knot, but here’s a thought: Republicans could have moved a constitutional amendment that would presume life to begin at conception, while further providing that no government, federal or state, is competent to legislate on the question absent a supermajority. The effect? Taking the Supreme Court’s “activist” thumb off the scale against life while at the same time avoiding the criminalization of a woman’s freedom. This is not the ideal Catholic position, but it’s closer, and the Catholic Church has less standing to complain about a grant of freedom that could then be fairly influenced by the moral instruction associated with a woman’s religious choice….
Finally, beyond these somewhat wonkish ideas for policy innovation, Republicans ought to remember occasionally that they are—or at least were—the party of Lincoln, and ought to promote civil and human rights. That is better than dragging one’s feet on reasonable ways to break up the systematic racism or gender stereotypes that still inhabit much of our culture.
The trouble with seeking common ground on abortion is that the legal regime enacted by Roe and reaffirmed in Casey permits only the most minimal regulation of the practice, which means that any plausible “compromise” that leaves Roe in place will offer almost nothing to pro-lifers. Even the modest restrictions that prevail in many European countries (and that, not coincidentally, coincide with lower abortion rates) are out of the question under the current legal dispensation. This, in turn, explains why the national debate inevitably revolves around the composition of the Supreme Court and the either/or question of whether a president will appoint justices likely to chip away the Roe-Casey regime or justices likely to uphold it. …
…to my mind any pro-choice American who sincerely seeks a national consensus on the subject of abortion should support overturning Roe and returning the issue to the democratic process—a position that I would have liked to see the pro-choice Rudy Giuliani experiment with, for instance, in his quest to become the GOP nominee. But I certainly understand why pro-choicers don’t see things quite that way.
What I don’t understand at all is Kmiec’s position, which seems to be that the contemporary Democratic Party, and particularly the candidacy of Barack Obama, offered nearly as much to pro-lifers as the Republican Party does. I am sure that Kmiec is weary of being called a fool by opponents of abortion for his tireless pro-Obama advocacy during this election cycle, but if so, then the thing for him to do is to cease acting like the sort of person for whom the term “useful idiot” was coined, rather than persisting in his folly. …
…what he calls “outright lies and falsehoods” about Obama’s views were, in fact, more or less the truth: The Democratic nominee ran on a record that can only be described as “very, very pro-choice,” and his stated positions on abortion would involve rolling back nearly all the modest—but also modestly effective—restrictions that pro-lifers have placed upon the practice and/or appointing judges who would do the same. There may have been reasons for anti-abortion Americans to vote for Barack Obama in spite of his position that abortion should be essentially unregulated and funded by taxpayer dollars. But Kmiec’s suggestion that Obama took the Democrats in anything like a pro-life direction on the issue doesn’t pass the laugh test. (And nor, I might add, does his bizarre argument that because the goal of placing a fifth anti-Roe justice on the court is somehow unrealistic, the pro-life movement should pursue a far more implausible constitutional amendment instead.)…
I can’t begin to fathom why the GOP should consider taking any advice whatsoever from a “pro-lifer” who has spent the past year serving as an increasingly embarrassing shill for the opposition party’s objectively pro-abortion nominee.
I am stunned by the coarseness of your writing, Ross. While we have not met, so little of what you have written is in any way respectful or acknowledges that you are addressing not some abstraction but a fellow human that I can only pray that if any of your family or closest friends come into contact with this commentary that they reach out to you in the most gentle and understanding way, without precondition, to calm an anger that is harmful to the soul.
Genuine love and affection do not reside on the Internet, so I cannot extend it to you, but in my heart, I forgive your great unkindness. I do hope you can free yourself from its enslavement. Realize that your meaning is bound up in the occasions in your life to be of service. Ross, once you allow yourself to see your dependence upon others, and their need for you, I am certain you will appreciate the cruelty of what you have written…. One could sense that anger in the mobs riled by Mrs. Palin’s tirades about Obama being in a conspiracy of some sort with Bill Ayers. It was frightening to see on tape, and it is even uglier to see it rear its head here.
Ross, you are not ordinary in God’s eyes; nor are the women facing abortion as a tragic answer to a dismal, impoverished, and near-hopeless existence. Ross, you and she are brother and sister made in God’s image and are expected to be of help to one another. That is a lesson for the Republicans.
If it be useful idiocy to save even one child from death by lifting up the economic or social prospects of the mother, I accept the title as an honor among men. It is pro-life. If it is hypocritical not to want to treat as criminal the woman abandoned by the selfishness of an abusive spouse, I embrace the hypocrisy. It, too, is pro-life. …
…in the reminder from Benedict XVI, St. Paul admonished Christians to be reconciled with their brothers before receiving Holy Communion; and Pope Benedict echoes his words: “Each time you come to the altar for the celebration of the Eucharist, may your souls open to forgiveness and fraternal reconciliation, ready to accept the excuses of those who have hurt you and ready, in your turn, to forgive.”
Carlson (in full):
Hey, Doug. Toughen up. Seriously. I’ve read suicide notes that were less passive-aggressive than this. Let’s review what actually happened: You argued that Obama is not a pro-choice extremist. Ross disagreed. Rather than respond with a counterpoint, you got hysterical, dismissing Ross as a hater, even fretting about the future of his soul.
Come on. Get some perspective. And for God’s sake, stop whining. For a moment there, you reminded me of the McCain campaign, bitching about “sexism” when people started to ask tough questions of Sarah Palin. Republicans didn’t used to talk this way. Let’s stop the trend now, starting with you.
I understand it must have hurt when Ross accused you of shilling for Obama. On the other hand, he’s right. You did shill for Obama. That’s not Ross’ fault. Don’t blame him.
But if you are going to blame him, do it directly, like a man, without all the encounter-group talk and Pope quotes. People often attack the religious right, sometimes with justification. But as you just reminded us, there is nothing in the world more annoying than the religious left.
Douglas, Tucker, Jim, Kathleen, and Christine,
I don’t want to hijack this entire discussion, so let me just say that I appreciate Douglas Kmiec’s prayers and leave it at that.
I do, however, want to second Tucker’s earlier point about the importance of finding candidates who can actually communicate. Going back to Bush the elder,…
November 24. There’s been speculation as to why Prof. Kmiec would make such a weak case for Obama. Could it be that he’s so serious about ending abortion that he’s hoping Obama will appoint him to the Supreme Court, so he himself can be the “Fifth Vote” and reverse Roe?
A hard puzzle in abortion policy is when “human life begins”. Is a one-celled embryo a human? Is an 8-month fetus a human? Is a 2-year-old a human?
How about if we approach the question from the other end. When does human life end? When is someone dead? It could be when his heart stops, but people do get revived often from that state and we don’t call it resurrection. It could be when his brain activity stops, and I think that is the common criterion.
If the criterion for lack of life is lack of brain activity, then the one-celled embryo is not alive. Rather, we need to ask when a brain begins, and when it becomes active. A pro-abortion blog that discusses the brain criterion says that brain activity starts much later than the brain itself is formed, at 21 weeks, which is 5 months. The same blog says anti-abortion people claim the time is 10 weeks (which sounds more plausible to me, and even rather late).
November 18. Another approach would be to ask when an embryo has blood. Blood has special significance in the Bible. This webpage doesn’t mention blood specifically, but it implies the embryo has blood somewhere in the 8 to 21 day range. There is a brain at 29-35 days, and brain waves at 40 days. In Arizona, at least, in 2007 of 10,486 abortions, 3,032 were at 6 weeks (42 days) or less. 102 were at 21 weeks or more.