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Archive for the ‘Right to Life’ Category

My Colleague at HeadlineBistro and bother Knight of Columbus, Marc Nadeau, writes about the growing pro-life movement among our family in Canada. This is truly exciting stuff. Read on...

Last Thursday, a crowd of more than 10,000 – the majority of which were young people – gathered on Parliament Hill in Ottawa to express their stand for the culture of life. According to many observers, this year’s National March for Life was the biggest to date.

Two days later, on a beautiful Saturday afternoon, a packed room in a Quebec City hotel awaited different speakers, among whom was Cardinal Marc Ouellet, the leading spokesperson for the gospel of life in the Canadian Catholic hierarchy.

Addressing subjects like abortion, euthanasia, the sanctity of marriage between a man and a woman, family issues and the civilization of love – just to name a few – the archbishop of Quebec City called upon Catholics, along with men and women of good faith, to intensify their mobilization and actions for the culture of life, which is also the culture of respect for the unborn, the elderly and women.

Read the rest here.

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Dead bodies corrupt because it’s in their nature to do so. When life, the animating principle ceases to be, corruption follows. This holds true for corporate bodies as well, the MSM being a great example.

Truth and dispassionate objectivity are the animating principles of journalism. Reporting the news honestly and objectively, leaving the reader/viewer to discern its meaning and import is the job of the journalist.

Enter the parasites.

Partisan hacks invaded the journalistic body decades ago, driven by a vision of the world and a desperation that admits no truth-telling, no objectivity, no trust in the discernment of the information consumer. What ensued was the steady bastardization of journalism’s virtues, replaced by the ugliness of manipulative lies; both of commission and omission. Then came talk radio, cable TV, and the internet. The new media.

The new media are unfiltered and exist outside of the monopolies of TV’s Big Three and the newspapers. Stories are not only reported truthfully, but often without the constraints of rigid formats or time/length requirements. The result is the presentation of primary source material in support of the story’s assertions.

As bodies with severe parasitic infections are wont to do, they succumb to steady weakening by the ever growing parasitic pathology within. Newspapers are dying. For a time they extended their lives in the lifeboat of online publishing. But, as free online access widened, circulation of papers declined even further. Now, papers such as the New York Times plan to begin charging for online access.

It’s all over.

People will not pay for the privilege of being lied to and manipulated online any more than they paid for the privilege of being lied to and manipulated in print. It says something that Fox News on cable has eclipsed even CNN as America’s most trusted news source at the same time that the electorate lurched left in the past year.

Thanks to Julie C. of Concerned For Life for the following video which demonstrates the extent of media corruption in dealing with the truth of this year’s March for Life. The lies, the manipulation are all there. The decay is moving into the intermediate stage. Judge for yourself.

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If You weren’t able to be at the March in DC this year, this outstanding video by a contingent from Baylor University shows the sweeping grandeur, the fidelity, the overwhelming number of youth that characterized the March for Life 2010. Be sure to watch the video beyond the brief credits. God Bless you all for making this video!!
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This story from Fox News.

Seems that a planned postage stamp honoring 1979 Nobel Peace Prize Winner Mother Teresa has some atheists in a hissy fit. An excerpt from the Fox News article:

An atheist organization is blasting the U.S. Postal Service for its plan to honor Mother Teresa with a commemorative stamp, saying it violates postal regulations against honoring “individuals whose principal achievements are associated with religious undertakings.”

The Freedom from Religion Foundation is urging its supporters to boycott the stamp — and also to engage in a letter-writing campaign to spread the word about what it calls the “darker side” of Mother Teresa.

The stamp — set to be released on Aug. 26, which would have been Mother Teresa’s 100th birthday — will recognize the 1979 Nobel Peace Prize winner for her humanitarian work, the Postal Service announced last month.

“Noted for her compassion toward the poor and suffering, Mother Teresa, a diminutive Roman Catholic nun and honorary U.S. citizen, served the sick and destitute of India and the world for nearly 50 years,” the Postal Service said in a press release. “Her humility and compassion, as well as her respect for the innate worth and dignity of humankind, inspired people of all ages and backgrounds to work on behalf of the world’s poorest populations.”

But Freedom from Religion Foundation spokeswoman Annie Laurie Gaylor says issuing the stamp runs against Postal Service regulations.

“Mother Teresa is principally known as a religious figure who ran a religious institution. You can’t really separate her being a nun and being a Roman Catholic from everything she did,” Gaylor told FoxNews.com.

Postal Service spokesman Roy Betts expressed surprise at the protest, given the long list of previous honorees with strong religious backgrounds, including Malcolm X, the former chief spokesman for the Nation of Islam, and the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., a Baptist minister and co-founder of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

“In fact we honored Father Flanagan in 1986 for his humanitarian work. This has nothing to do with religion or faith,” Betts told FoxNews.com.

Gaylor said the atheist group opposed Father Flanagan’s stamp but not those for King and Malcolm X, because she said they were known for their civil rights activities, not for their religion.

Martin Luther King “just happened to be a minister,” and “Malcolm X was not principally known for being a religious figure,” she said.

“And he’s not called Father Malcolm X like Mother Teresa. I mean, even her name is a Roman Catholic honorific.”

Gaylor said Mother Teresa infused Catholicism into her secular honors — including an “anti-abortion rant” during her Nobel Prize acceptance speech — and that even her humanitarian work was controversial.

And there’s the real issue. Mother Teresa was pro-life, not just an Albanian social worker slumming in Calcutta. Her solid ethic of life infused her work at every level.

As for Mother Teresa’s title ‘Mother’ being uniquely Catholic, what of African-American Mother Hale of Harlem who opened an orphanage for babies?

Especially noteworthy in the article was the note that Martin Luther King Jr. was only incidentally a minister.

Really!?

Consider the following excerpts from King’s famous letter from the Birmingham jail:

“Letter from a Birmingham Jail [King, Jr.]“

16 April 1963
My Dear Fellow Clergymen:
While confined here in the Birmingham city jail, I came across your recent statement calling my present activities “unwise and untimely.” Seldom do I pause to answer criticism of my work and ideas. If I sought to answer all the criticisms that cross my desk, my secretaries would have little time for anything other than such correspondence in the course of the day, and I would have no time for constructive work. But since I feel that you are men of genuine good will and that your criticisms are sincerely set forth, I want to try to answer your statement in what I hope will be patient and reasonable terms.

I think I should indicate why I am here in Birmingham, since you have been influenced by the view which argues against “outsiders coming in.” I have the honor of serving as president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, an organization operating in every southern state, with headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia. We have some eighty five affiliated organizations across the South, and one of them is the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights. Frequently we share staff, educational and financial resources with our affiliates. Several months ago the affiliate here in Birmingham asked us to be on call to engage in a nonviolent direct action program if such were deemed necessary. We readily consented, and when the hour came we lived up to our promise. So I, along with several members of my staff, am here because I was invited here. I am here because I have organizational ties here.

But more basically, I am in Birmingham because injustice is here. Just as the prophets of the eighth century B.C. left their villages and carried their “thus saith the Lord” far beyond the boundaries of their home towns, and just as the Apostle Paul left his village of Tarsus and carried the gospel of Jesus Christ to the far corners of the Greco Roman world, so am I compelled to carry the gospel of freedom beyond my own home town. Like Paul, I must constantly respond to the Macedonian call for aid…

…I have heard numerous southern religious leaders admonish their worshipers to comply with a desegregation decision because it is the law, but I have longed to hear white ministers declare: “Follow this decree because integration is morally right and because the Negro is your brother.” In the midst of blatant injustices inflicted upon the Negro, I have watched white churchmen stand on the sideline and mouth pious irrelevancies and sanctimonious trivialities. In the midst of a mighty struggle to rid our nation of racial and economic injustice, I have heard many ministers say: “Those are social issues, with which the gospel has no real concern.” And I have watched many churches commit themselves to a completely other worldly religion which makes a strange, un-Biblical distinction between body and soul, between the sacred and the secular….

…There was a time when the church was very powerful–in the time when the early Christians rejoiced at being deemed worthy to suffer for what they believed. In those days the church was not merely a thermometer that recorded the ideas and principles of popular opinion; it was a thermostat that transformed the mores of society. Whenever the early Christians entered a town, the people in power became disturbed and immediately sought to convict the Christians for being “disturbers of the peace” and “outside agitators.”‘ But the Christians pressed on, in the conviction that they were “a colony of heaven,” called to obey God rather than man. Small in number, they were big in commitment. They were too God-intoxicated to be “astronomically intimidated.” By their effort and example they brought an end to such ancient evils as infanticide and gladiatorial contests. Things are different now. So often the contemporary church is a weak, ineffectual voice with an uncertain sound. So often it is an archdefender of the status quo. Far from being disturbed by the presence of the church, the power structure of the average community is consoled by the church’s silent–and often even vocal–sanction of things as they are.

But the judgment of God is upon the church as never before. If today’s church does not recapture the sacrificial spirit of the early church, it will lose its authenticity, forfeit the loyalty of millions, and be dismissed as an irrelevant social club with no meaning for the twentieth century. Every day I meet young people whose disappointment with the church has turned into outright disgust.

Perhaps I have once again been too optimistic. Is organized religion too inextricably bound to the status quo to save our nation and the world? Perhaps I must turn my faith to the inner spiritual church, the church within the church, as the true ekklesia and the hope of the world. But again I am thankful to God that some noble souls from the ranks of organized religion have broken loose from the paralyzing chains of conformity and joined us as active partners in the struggle for freedom. They have left their secure congregations and walked the streets of Albany, Georgia, with us. They have gone down the highways of the South on tortuous rides for freedom. Yes, they have gone to jail with us. Some have been dismissed from their churches, have lost the support of their bishops and fellow ministers. But they have acted in the faith that right defeated is stronger than evil triumphant. Their witness has been the spiritual salt that has preserved the true meaning of the gospel in these troubled times. They have carved a tunnel of hope through the dark mountain of disappointment. I hope the church as a whole will meet the challenge of this decisive hour. But even if the church does not come to the aid of justice, I have no despair about the future. I have no fear about the outcome of our struggle in Birmingham, even if our motives are at present misunderstood. We will reach the goal of freedom in Birmingham and all over the nation, because the goal of America is freedom. Abused and scorned though we may be, our destiny is tied up with America’s destiny. Before the pilgrims landed at Plymouth, we were here. Before the pen of Jefferson etched the majestic words of the Declaration of Independence across the pages of history, we were here. For more than two centuries our forebears labored in this country without wages; they made cotton king; they built the homes of their masters while suffering gross injustice and shameful humiliation -and yet out of a bottomless vitality they continued to thrive and develop. If the inexpressible cruelties of slavery could not stop us, the opposition we now face will surely fail. We will win our freedom because the sacred heritage of our nation and the eternal will of God are embodied in our echoing demands. Before closing I feel impelled to mention one other point in your statement that has troubled me profoundly. You warmly commended the Birmingham police force for keeping “order” and “preventing violence.” I doubt that you would have so warmly commended the police force if you had seen its dogs sinking their teeth into unarmed, nonviolent Negroes. I doubt that you would so quickly commend the policemen if you were to observe their ugly and inhumane treatment of Negroes here in the city jail; if you were to watch them push and curse old Negro women and young Negro girls; if you were to see them slap and kick old Negro men and young boys; if you were to observe them, as they did on two occasions, refuse to give us food because we wanted to sing our grace together. I cannot join you in your praise of the Birmingham police department…

It’s pretty evident that the real issue here is abortion.

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This will be my third March in as many years. I will be one of scores hundreds of thousands who have descended on the Nation’s Capital.

Why? Why do so very many come? What’s in it for them?

The women here repudiate their “right” to kill their unborn children.

The teenagers who literally have overrun the hotels here repudiate their right to the escape hatch available to them should they get pregnant. The youth are here in roughly equal numbers of young men and young women. I’ve been approaching them all day today and asking why they are here. They find abortion hateful. The boys feel that there is nothing more disrespectful of a girl than asking her to abort her baby.

These young people want that escape hatch welded shut, knowing their options should they fall.

Leading the line of march are the mothers and fathers who have had abortions. They can be seen in the photo with the black and white signs. Who better to lead us to the Supreme Court than those mothers who shake with anger, some with rage at the monstrous lies told them about the ‘blob of tissue’ to be removed from their wombs? They know.

When they reach the summit, the steps of the Supreme Court, the mothers and fathers begin an hours-long series of witness stories. It is raw, brutal, and relentless; the brokenness, the agony, the loss. The terrible, irrevocable loss.

We stand with them. We pray them along. We weep with and for them. Most of all, we love them. Brave men and women sharing it all, begging for an end to the killing.

Though the killing continues, we’re winning this war. The mothers are the tip of the spear. They are backed by advances in imaging technology, by increasing numbers of MD’s and Ph.D.’s willing to tell the truth, by a blogosphere with over 1,000 pro-life blogs willing to disseminate the truth ignored by a completely partisan and corrupt mainstream media.

Increasingly our activism is infused by a deeper spirituality and sophisticated and integrated structure.

If the healthcare bill is derailed after the loss of Kennedy’s seat, we will have the pro-life community to thank, and Representative Bart Stupak and his coalition of pro-life democrats to thank for holding the line long enough for the loss of a supermajority in the Senate to occur.

It looks as though the most rabidly pro-abortion, anti-life President in history has been body-slammed by the American people.

We’re winning.

God Bless all of you post-abortive mothers and fathers who lead and inspire us by your faithful witness, aided by the prayers of your intercessors before the Father. You’re loved more than you’ll ever know.

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Saint Patrick's Cathedral

This morning I attended a three-hour prayer service and Mass in Our Lady’s Chapel of Saint Patrick’s Cathedral. The day was jointly sponsored by Lumina and the Sisters of Life.

Archbishop Dolan began the day by admonishing those in attendance to respond with love to those who have not yet come to the truth. He recounted a recent conversation with an abortionist who told him that the pro-life movement is winning because we are changing hearts. That’s true. But after the Archbishop spoke, we heard from several with broken hearts.

The older couple whose daughter was ashamed to say she was pregnant so many years ago and aborted. The husband was particularly poignant when he lamented that his daughter felt she needed to be perfect before she could be loved by them.

The husband who was the one to suggest abortion to his wife. The shared loss of dignity. He stated that there were no words to say “I’m sorry” in a manner that could encompass what he suggested and what they had done.

The friend who let her best friend go ahead with abortion for fear of sounding judgmental and losing a friendship.

The mother who spoke more to her baby than to us, telling her how very sorry she was, how the baby is never far from her thoughts so many years later.

The abortionist whose voice cracked as he recounted having to have talked himself into distancing emotionally from what he’d been doing. The obvious burden he bears, rejoicing in God’s mercy, but unable to shake off all of those deaths at his hands.

And so they came and went, a heart-wrenching procession of what some might derisively dismiss as ‘statistical noise’, which is to say an artifact in the numbers.

Unreality.

In truth, the sorrow was almost unbearable.

As I sat there, I silently asked for God’s forgiveness that I am so late to the table. I was also inspired by each presenter’s witness to God’s mercy; “An ocean of mercy,” as one presenter put it. That’s the beauty of Christianity in general, and Catholicism in particular. We never stop proclaiming the love and mercy of our Father in Heaven, who is Love and Mercy. As I listened to the doctor speaking, I was struck by the thought that indeed God’s Love is infinitely greater than the worst sins of those among us.

It’s simply there for the asking. I thought of the older man lamenting how his daughter felt that she needed to be perfect in order to be loved by him. Now, if that man with all of his sins doesn’t require perfection as a precondition for love, how much less does God the Father expect us to do it all on our own before coming to Him? It’s impossible and even futile to try.

That was Jesus’ point in Matthew when He said, “If you with all of your sins know how to give your children what is good, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to anyone who asks?”

Words to consider as we head into the anniversary of Roe v. Wade. We ought not yield to despair over our particular failings, but drown them in the ocean of God’s Love and Mercy.

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Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s Niece, Dr. Alveda King

If there is one African American woman in the United States who has drunk from the bitter cups of abortion and racism, whose life has been forever changed by both, it is Dr. Alveda King, niece of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Dr. King knows what it is like to be lied to by a Planned Parenthood physician. “It’s just a blob of tissue,” she was told before her second abortion.

In 1966, Martin Luther King accepted the Margaret Sanger award from Planned Parenthod. Hear Alveda King Describe why he did so in this brief interview.

At the time, Sanger’s private communications with Clarence Gamble about the Negro Project had not yet come to light. The issue is detailed here.

The legacy of the project is gruesome for African-Americans. Today, close to eighty percent of Planned Parenthood clinics operate in inner-city neighborhoods. The rationale is that the need is greatest there. Which need? The need to stop these people from proliferating “like weeds,” as Sanger opined, or the need for low-cost, government-funded services for those who occupy the lower rungs of the socio-economic ladder?

In the case of the latter, these citizens have broad access to welfare, medicaid, and a great many to social security disability money; financing streams not available to those with more means. So the financial imperative rationale is a lie.

While blacks constitute roughly eleven percent of the population, they have thirty-seven percent of the abortions, some eighteen million since 1973. Accidental? Consider the sting operation from two years ago where PP centers were accepting donations to underwrite the abortions of Black babies. At 1:30 into the following video, Autmn Kersey, PP Director of Fundraising for the State of Idaho says it all with enthusiasm.

The eighteen million were the babies who were killed. How many scores of millions did PP prevent from being conceived? Worse still has been the lesson taught to young men, that young girls’ bodies are mere playthings, that human sex can be had without consequences, that when contraception fails, PP stands ready and willing to murder the child. This has devastated the community. Close to seventy percent of African American births are to unwed mothers, the consequence of teaching teens that human relations are merely “sex play”, as PP does on its web page directed at teens entitled ‘The Truth About Virginity Pledges.”

In this pernicious document, youth are cut off from their elders’ influence by appealing to their natural desire for autonomy: “Choosing to have sex is a very personal decision, and so is choosing to take a virginity pledge.”

As always, the lie is one of omission. True, choosing to have sex is a personal decision, but it is also one with profound consequences for family and community stability, which is why marriage is a legal contract and not a private arrangement.

Then there is the matter of African-American girls having twice the sexually transmitted disease rate of other girls their age. Full forty-eight percent of African-American girls will be diagnosed with at least one STD by age nineteen. Many of these will cause pelvic inflammatory disease and leave these young women sterile, which comports well with Sanger’s vision.

When Sanger began her “Negro Project”, Blacks might have been poor, but they had much more solid families and church communities. Seventy years later, the deplorable state of the Black inner-city is in no mall measure the result of Planned Parenthood’s machinations. The last word goes to these Black Pastors who want PP defunded. Nobody knows more than these good people what PP has done to their community.

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Building on the quotes from medical and biological texts posted below yesterday, there is a need to answer some common mischaracterizations of exactly what a human embryo and fetus is, and what it is not. Some fundamental biology will clear up the confusion.

A commenter on the post No Handicapped Allowed has this to say,

“If I were married, and my wife were pregnant, I would want to get the amnio test, but ultimately I would have to respect her choice if she declined. I would fully support her decision to abort if there were clear (not maybe 1%) evidence of Down’s syndrome, or particularly of anancephaly. I don’t think of that as killing a baby. I think of it as removing tissue that will grow into a baby with severe disabilities, or even with no brain at all. Again, if she declined, I would have to respect her decision. The body often spontaneous miscarries such tissue — I have no problem with human intervention if the body doesn’t recognize the problem in time.”

It’s an understandable position until one sees the developmental stages.

The commenter mentions amniocentesis and the baby at that stage being mere tissue that has potential to become a baby in the future.

Typically, amniocentesis is performed between 16-20 weeks of development. By then the baby has developed substantially with all of its organ systems in place. When the term ’tissue’ is tossed around, it is almost universally used incorrectly.

16 Weeks Photo: MedicineNet.com

A Primer On the Hierarchy of the Human Body’s Organizational Levels:

Cells. There are approximately 200 distinctly different types of cells that comprise the human body.

Tissues. Different types of cells aggregate to form specialized functions and are called tissues. The human body is comprised of four main tissue types: Epithelial, Connective, Muscle, Nerve.

Organs. These are composed of two or more tissue types to perform special functions. Examples: Stomach, intestines, pancreas, liver, heart, etc.

Organ Systems. These are two or more organs that act in a coordinated fashion to perform a common function. For example the digestive system is composed of several organs, including the stomach, pancreas, sall and large intestines, etc., whose coordinate function is the digestion and absorption of nutrients.

Organism. This is the whole and complete animal, made up of all the organ systems functioning as a coordinated whole.

See these video and 4-D ultrasounds of developing embryos and fetuses at The Endowment for Human Development.

20 Weeks Photo: MedicineNet.com

It must be stressed, however, that even in the single-celled stage of development, the zygotic stage, there exists a brand new human organism, whole and complete in form and function for that developmental stage.

The same holds true for every stage thereafter. That’s because even at the single-celled stage, the zygote is intrinsically ordered toward mature organismal development and is proceeding along that trajectory. At birth, the baby lacks full maturational development, and will not attain such until adulthood. This developmental reality renders all argument to the contrary an expression of whim, of personal desire, with no bearing on the biological reality of organismal development.

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Compliments of Princeton Pro-Life

“Development of the embryo begins at Stage 1 when a sperm fertilizes an oocyte and together they form a zygote.”
[England, Marjorie A. Life Before Birth. 2nd ed. England: Mosby-Wolfe, 1996, p.31]

“Human development begins after the union of male and female gametes or germ cells during a process known as fertilization (conception).
“Fertilization is a sequence of events that begins with the contact of a sperm (spermatozoon) with a secondary oocyte (ovum) and ends with the fusion of their pronuclei (the haploid nuclei of the sperm and ovum) and the mingling of their chromosomes to form a new cell. This fertilized ovum, known as a zygote, is a large diploid cell that is the beginning, or primordium, of a human being.”
[Moore, Keith L. Essentials of Human Embryology. Toronto: B.C. Decker Inc, 1988, p.2]

“Embryo: the developing organism from the time of fertilization until significant differentiation has occurred, when the organism becomes known as a fetus.”
[Cloning Human Beings. Report and Recommendations of the National Bioethics Advisory Commission. Rockville, MD: GPO, 1997, Appendix-2.]

“Embryo: An organism in the earliest stage of development; in a man, from the time of conception to the end of the second month in the uterus.”
[Dox, Ida G. et al. The Harper Collins Illustrated Medical Dictionary. New York: Harper Perennial, 1993, p. 146

“Embryo: The early developing fertilized egg that is growing into another individual of the species. In man the term ‘embryo’ is usually restricted to the period of development from fertilization until the end of the eighth week of pregnancy.”
[Walters, William and Singer, Peter (eds.). Test-Tube Babies. Melbourne: Oxford University Press, 1982, p. 160]

“The development of a human being begins with fertilization, a process by which two highly specialized cells, the spermatozoon from the male and the oocyte from the female, unite to give rise to a new organism, the zygote.”
[Langman, Jan. Medical Embryology. 3rd edition. Baltimore: Williams and Wilkins, 1975, p. 3]

“Embryo: The developing individual between the union of the germ cells and the completion of the organs which characterize its body when it becomes a separate organism…. At the moment the sperm cell of the human male meets the ovum of the female and the union results in a fertilized ovum (zygote), a new life has begun…. The term embryo covers the several stages of early development from conception to the ninth or tenth week of life.”
[Considine, Douglas (ed.). Van Nostrand's Scientific Encyclopedia. 5th edition. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold Company, 1976, p. 943]

“I would say that among most scientists, the word ‘embryo’ includes the time from after fertilization…”
[Dr. John Eppig, Senior Staff Scientist, Jackson Laboratory (Bar Harbor, Maine) and Member of the NIH Human Embryo Research Panel -- Panel Transcript, February 2, 1994, p. 31]

“The development of a human begins with fertilization, a process by which the spermatozoon from the male and the oocyte from the female unite to give rise to a new organism, the zygote.”
[Sadler, T.W. Langman's Medical Embryology. 7th edition. Baltimore: Williams & Wilkins 1995, p. 3]

“The question came up of what is an embryo, when does an embryo exist, when does it occur. I think, as you know, that in development, life is a continuum…. But I think one of the useful definitions that has come out, especially from Germany, has been the stage at which these two nuclei [from sperm and egg] come together and the membranes between the two break down.”
[Jonathan Van Blerkom of University of Colorado, expert witness on human embryology before the NIH Human Embryo Research Panel -- Panel Transcript, February 2, 1994, p. 63]

“Zygote. This cell, formed by the union of an ovum and a sperm (Gr. zyg tos, yoked together), represents the beginning of a human being. The common expression ‘fertilized ovum’ refers to the zygote.”
[Moore, Keith L. and Persaud, T.V.N. Before We Are Born: Essentials of Embryology and Birth Defects. 4th edition. Philadelphia: W.B. Saunders Company, 1993, p. 1]

“The chromosomes of the oocyte and sperm are…respectively enclosed within female and male pronuclei. These pronuclei fuse with each other to produce the single, diploid, 2N nucleus of the fertilized zygote. This moment of zygote formation may be taken as the beginning or zero time point of embryonic development.”
[Larsen, William J. Human Embryology. 2nd edition. New York: Churchill Livingstone, 1997, p. 17]

“Although life is a continuous process, fertilization is a critical landmark because, under ordinary circumstances, a new, genetically distinct human organism is thereby formed…. The combination of 23 chromosomes present in each pronucleus results in 46 chromosomes in the zygote. Thus the diploid number is restored and the embryonic genome is formed. The embryo now exists as a genetic unity.”
[O'Rahilly, Ronan and Müller, Fabiola. Human Embryology & Teratology. 2nd edition. New York: Wiley-Liss, 1996, pp. 8, 29. This textbook lists "pre-embryo" among "discarded and replaced terms" in modern embryology, describing it as "ill-defined and inaccurate" (p. 12}]

“Almost all higher animals start their lives from a single cell, the fertilized ovum (zygote)… The time of fertilization represents the starting point in the life history, or ontogeny, of the individual.”
[Carlson, Bruce M. Patten's Foundations of Embryology. 6th edition. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1996, p. 3]

“[A]nimal biologists use the term embryo to describe the single cell stage, the two-cell stage, and all subsequent stages up until a time when recognizable humanlike limbs and facial features begin to appear between six to eight weeks after fertilization….
“[A] number of specialists working in the field of human reproduction have suggested that we stop using the word embryo to describe the developing entity that exists for the first two weeks after fertilization. In its place, they proposed the term pre-embryo….
“I’ll let you in on a secret. The term pre-embryo has been embraced wholeheartedly by IVF practitioners for reasons that are political, not scientific. The new term is used to provide the illusion that there is something profoundly different between what we nonmedical biologists still call a six-day-old embryo and what we and everyone else call a sixteen-day-old embryo.
“The term pre-embryo is useful in the political arena — where decisions are made about whether to allow early embryo (now called pre-embryo) experimentation — as well as in the confines of a doctor’s office, where it can be used to allay moral concerns that might be expressed by IVF patients. ‘Don’t worry,’ a doctor might say, ‘it’s only pre-embryos that we’re manipulating or freezing. They won’t turn into real human embryos until after we’ve put them back into your body.'”
[Silver, Lee M. Remaking Eden: Cloning and Beyond in a Brave New World. New York: Avon Books, 1997, p. 39]

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Pregnancy was a rude awakening for me. No matter how many guys told me that life changes forever with a positive EPT, there’s just no teacher like life herself. The cravings were the best. I’ll never forget going out into a snowstorm because Regina was dying for Haagen-Dazs chocolate ice cream. (I think it was really one of those, “just how far would you go for me” moments.) Either way, how exactly does a guy say “no”, especially when she says it’s the baby’s favorite? Having tried unsuccessfully for four years and resigning ourselves to not having a child who would be the product of our love, we were surprised a month later. No snow drift too deep! That was fun stuff. So were the sonograms, talking to the baby every day when I came home from the lab, poking at Regina’s side and having the baby kick back. It was all magical and glorious.

The rude awakening came in people’s line of questioning, well-intentioned as it was. It started when we declined to have the alpha-fetoprotein test. Our OB, a solid Catholic physician was somewhat surprised. “Don’t you want to know if there are any abnormalities?” He wasn’t the only one. Others, when asking how the AFP results were, seemed incredulous that we would decline the test. Our answer to all was a simple “No”. AFP’s have notorious false positive results. Then what? Eat our hearts out for the remainder of the pregnancy? Fill our souls with grief and dread? Do an amniocentesis which causes spontaneous abortion in 1/200 babies?

It didn’t matter. “Handicapped babies need more love, not less,” Regina and I would tell people. “If God has a set number of handicapped children who need to enter the world, then He can send one our way.”

He did.

Right away. More on that in a moment.

At least our doctor understood. This was our baby, not something we felt we needed to accessorize our lives with, but the product of our shared love for one another. It didn’t need to be perfect. We’re not. That’s a good place to get parenting off on the right foot. Don’t burden the children with two parents vicariously reliving their lives through the child. The baby just needed to be. Not, needs to be (fill in the blank…) The baby just needed to be.

I still cannot get over the number of people who were really put off by the fact that we would welcome a handicapped child, regardless of the severity of the handicap. Paranthetically, these are the same people who accuse pro-lifers of only loving the fetus and not giving a damn about the conditions of the child (poverty, handicap, education…) once the child is born. We were called selfish. One person even said such a sentiment was ghoulish. Evidently it isn’t ghoulish for a couple married six years aborting a less-than-perfect product of their love.

The conversation would end with people saying, “As long as it’s healthy…”

Then came Joseph. We almost lost him on his due date. After emergency c-section, he was fine. Then came the moderately severe regressive autism, and a host of other neurological diagnoses, not diagnosed as such for three critical years. It wasn’t until he was turning five that we got the correct diagnosis at University of Michigan’s Autism Center and Columbia Presbyterian’s Pediatric Neurology. We changed course in both of our careers in order to have maximum time with Joseph and his two younger sisters. At age five, his speech equivalent was 2.1 years, his IQ tests, low-average to borderline. We arranged for massive amounts of speech therapy each week with one of the most gifted therapists in New York, a saint by the name of Robert Marinello. In six years, Bob has Joseph functioning very close to where he needs to be. Likewise his occupational therapist, private special ed teacher at our home, his teachers in school from pre-K to second grade, all worked wonders.

Regina and I have been diligent in doing the carry-over work ’round the clock at home. It’s been a six-year intensive team effort, and we have been graced with some exceptional therapists and a community of parent-activists for their autistic children. At age 11, Joseph still has a way to go, but I believe that he has a decent shot at a normal life. With his sisters who adore him, he’s all set.

There was a time, not too long ago, when children who were as bad off as Joseph were simply institutionalized. For some, with Down Syndrome, we’ve learned to use diagnostic medicine to identify and abort 93% of them. God help us if we find genetic markers for autism. For the time being, the autistic children are safe. So why the success in treating them over the past decade?

Not everyone is given to cynical abandonment, which is what abortion is all about. We live in an age of unprecedented enlightenment and innovation. Collectively the various therapeutic communities, in partnership with autism activist parents, have worked up an approach to autistic children that works. It’s getting better by the year. What has happened with Joseph is nothing short of miraculous, and is happening with tens of thousands of autistic children daily. The miracles are being performed by ordinary people who are putting in one more average day at the office. There’s a great lesson in that.

We don’t perfect ourselves as humans by dealing with perfect people. There are none. We perfect ourselves by the manner in which we encounter those with imperfections. As Thomas Jefferson said it best in a letter to his daughter,

“Every human being must be viewed according to what it is good for; for none of us, no, not one, is perfect; and were we to love none who had imperfections, this world would be a desert for our love.”

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Six week old human embryo. Photo:Getty

Chris, a commenter in the embryonic stem cell post passes along these great quotes from medical texts. Many thanks Chris!

“Zygote. This cell, formed by the union of an ovum and a sperm (Gr. zyg tos, yoked together), represents the beginning of a human being. The common expression ‘fertilized ovum’ refers to the zygote.”
– Before We Are Born: Essentials of Embryology and Birth Defects. 4th ed. 1993, p. 1

“The chromosomes of the oocyte and sperm are…respectively enclosed within female and male pronuclei. These pronuclei fuse with each other to produce the single, diploid, 2N nucleus of the fertilized zygote. This moment of zygote formation may be taken as the beginning or zero time point of embryonic development.”
– Human Embryology. 2nd edition. 1997, p. 17

“Although life is a continuous process, fertilization is a critical landmark because, under ordinary circumstances, a new, genetically distinct human organism is thereby formed…. The combination of 23 chromosomes present in each pronucleus results in 46 chromosomes in the zygote. Thus the diploid number is restored and the embryonic genome is formed. The embryo now exists as a genetic unity.”
Human Embryology & Teratology. 2nd edition. 1996, pp. 8, 29.

“In this text, we begin our description of the developing human with the formation and differentiation of the male and female sex cells or gametes, which will unite at fertilization to initiate the embryonic development of a new individual. … Fertilization takes place in the oviduct … resulting in the formation of a zygote containing a single diploid nucleus. Embryonic development is considered to begin at this point… This moment of zygote formation may be taken as the beginning or zero time point of embryonic development.”
Essentials of Human Embryology 1998 1-17.

“[The Zygote] results from the union of an oocyte and a sperm. A zygote is the beginning of a new human being. Human development begins at fertilization, the process during which a male gamete or sperm … unites with a female gamete or oocyte … to form a single cell called a zygote. This highly specialized, totipotent cell marks the beginning of each of us as a unique individual.”
The Developing Human: Clinically Oriented Embryology, 6th ed. 1998, pg. 2-18.

“Fertilization is an important landmark because, under ordinary circumstances, a new, genetically distinct human organism is thereby formed… Fertilization is the procession of events that begins when a spermatozoon makes contact with a secondary oocyte or its investments… The zygote … is a unicellular embryo…”
Human Embryology & Teratology 1996 pg. 5-55.

To these I add this one:

Developmental Biology by Scott Gilbert is arguably the leading text in the field. Gilbert is on faculty at Swarthmore College.

“Traditional ways of classifying catalog animals according to their adult structure. But, as J. T. Bonner (1965) pointed out, this is a very artificial method, because what we consider an individual is usually just a brief slice of its life cycle. When we consider a dog, for instance, we usually picture an adult. But the dog is a “dog” from the moment of fertilization of a dog egg by a dog sperm. It remains a dog even as a senescent dying hound. Therefore, the dog is actually the entire life cycle of the animal, from fertilization through death.”

If that can be said with such certainty of one vertebrate, it can be said of all vertebrates.

Hope these are helpful. We’ll be building on them in the future.

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Above is a photocopy of Margaret Sanger’s Magazine, The Birth Control Review. Note the stated purpose of birth control below the date;

Birth Control: To create a race of thoroughbreds.

Sanger’s disciples would later deny attribution of that statement to her, but there it is. In previous posts we have seen repeatedly, and in context, the disdain Sanger had for the lower classes, from whom idiots, imbeciles, and morons arose (bear in mind those were the medical diagnostic terms of her day). Sanger opened her first birth control clinic in Brownsville, Brooklyn. At the time, Brownsville was populated by Sanger’s favorite people: Slavs, Jews, southern Europeans, and those large Catholic families she had grown (through her own family experience) to disdain with a vengeance. Nine days after opening, her illegal clinic was raided and Sanger was sent to jail for 30 days.

Returning to Grant’s well-documented biography, Killer Angel, available in the link as a PDF:

“The Birth Control Review Margaret’s magazine and the immediate predecessor to the Planned Parenthood Review regularly and openly published the racist articles of Malthusian Eugenicists. In October of 1920, for instance, it published a favorable review of Lothrop Stoddard’s frightening book of Fascist diatribe, The Rising Tide of Color Against White World Supremacy. In September of 1923, the Review editorialized in favor of restricting immigration on a racial basis. In April of 1932, it outlined Margaret’s ‘Plan for peace,’ which called for coercive sterilization, mandatory segregation, and rehabilitative concentration camps for all ‘dysgenic stocks.’ In April of 1933, the Review published a shocking article entitled ‘Eugenic Sterilization: An Urgent Need.’ It was written by Margaret’s close friend and advisor, Ernst Rudin, who was then serving as Hitler’s director of genetic sterilization and had earlier taken a prominent role in the establishment of the Nazi Society for Racial Hygiene. Later, in June of that same year, it published an article by Leon Whitney entitled, ‘Selective Sterilization,‘ which adamantly praised and defended the Third Reich’s pre-holocaust ‘race purification’ programs.

“The bottom line is that Margaret self-consciously organized the Birth Control League–and its progeny, Planned Parenthood—in part, to promote and enforce the scientifically elitist notions of White Supremacy. Like the Ku Klux Klan, the Nazi Party, and the Mensheviks, Margaret’s enterprise was from its inception implicitly and explicitly racist. And this racist orientation was all too evident in its various programs and initiatives: government control over family decisions, non-medicinal health care experimentations, the rabid abortion crusade, and the coercive sterilization initiatives…

“As her organization grew in power and prestige, she began to target several other ‘ill-favored’ and ‘dysgenic races,’ including ‘Blacks, Hispnics, Amerinds, Fundamentalists, and Catholics.’

“In 1939, Margaret designed a ‘Negro Project’ in response to requests from ‘southern state public health officials’ not generally known for their racial equanimity. ‘The mass of Negroes,’ her project proposal asserted, ‘particularly in the South, still breed carelessly and disastrously, with the result that the increase among Negroes, even more than among Whites, is from that portion of the population least intelligent and fit.’ The proposal went on to say that ‘Public Health statistics merely hint at the primitive state of civilization in which most Negroes in the South live.’

In order to remedy this ‘dysgenic horror story,’ her project aimed to hire three or four ‘Colored Ministers, preferably with social service backgrounds, and with engaging personalities’ to travel to various Black enclaves and propagandize for birth control. Her intention was as insidious as it was obvious: ‘The most successful educational approach to the Negro is through a religious appeal. We do not want word to go out that we want to exterminate the Negro population and the Minister is the man who can straighten out that idea if it ever occurs to any of their more rebellious members.’

Of course, those Black ministers were to be carefully controlled—mere figureheads. ‘There is a great danger that we will fail,’ one of the project directors wrote, ‘because the Negroes think it a plan for extermination. Hence, let’s appear to let the colored run it.’

Another project director lamented: ‘I wonder if Southern Darkies can ever be entrusted with . . . a clinic. Our experience
causes us to doubt their ability to work except under White supervision.’
The entire operation then was a ruse-a manipulative attempt to get Blacks to cooperate in their own elimination.”

Of course, all of this invites the question, why did Sanger focus her efforts on the lower classes? Did the upper classes not have their share of developmentally disabled children? Sanger would go on to secure considerable grant money from such industrialists as Henry Ford, who was himself a rabid anti-Semite.

In Two Days, Sanger’s Ascendancy: The Political Leaders and Philanthropists Who Shared Her Views and Swallowed Her Lies.

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In light of our ongoing treatment of Sanger and the Eugenics Movement, it’s fair to ask if the eugenists have any merit to their argument.

No, they don’t.

From a Christian anthropological perspective, the least among us is made in the image and likeness of God. Jesus tells us in Matthew 25 that He will judge us by our treatment of them, as He identifies with, “the least of these my brothers”.

As for the genetic basis of their argument: genetics or environment?, the safe answer is probably both. We can train a chimp to play golf and even fly a spacecraft, but that doesn’t make it human. Aping (pardon the pun) human behavior does not change genetic and simian reality for the chimp. For humans whose genetic defects render their function as less than optimal, sub-par performance does not make them less human, or less worthy of human dignity. An individual need not exhibit or realize all of their potential functions at all times in order to be a member of the human family.

We know that certain traits are hereditary, having identified what genes on what chromosomes are responsible. Down Syndrome is the most famous and easily recognizable based on physical (phenotypic) characteristics. Certain psychiatric conditions such as the Schizophrenias appear to have a genetic etiology. Autism may well prove to be genetic as well. I’m currently involved in a research project that points in that direction.

To make matters murkier, to what extent do environmental (physical or psychosocial) factors influence, or exacerbate underlying genetic predispositions? Then there is the issue of the extent to which environmental factors influence and ameliorate the physiological and psychological effects of a genetic disorder.

Take autism as an example. Children with horrific deficits in communication, with a broad spectrum of associated developmental delays, would easily fit in to the eugenist’s list of targeted individuals. It’s my considered opinion that there is indeed a genetic, developmental defect at the root. With a prevalence in the population that is increasing, a moral and ethical decision needs to be made. What do we do with these children?

Having one myself, the answer is simple. Treat them.

The last decade has witnessed a revolution in the treatment in children with autism. Better speech therapeutic regimens, as well as social skills, special education, physical and occupational therapy, play groups, have all shown dramatic effects in children whose function was less than half their chronological age.

Unlike our chimpanzee friends here, these children are humans, being taught human skills. The environmental stimuli effect neural development to bring the child’s behavior and cognitions more in line with optimal human function. That’s environment being used to overcome genetic defect.

We’ve had great success after six years of daily work, several hours per day. We’ve also learned more about love in the process than we ever dreamed imaginable.

That doesn’t happen with sterilization and abortion. Eugenics proclaims that life has a monolithic standard of acceptability, that individuals not meeting its arbitrary and capricious standard ought never to have existed. Unable to murder the adult, eugenists will prevent the child. Such a standard says nothing about the targeted individual and everything about the sickness and evil of the ones who crafted it.

Genetics doesn’t describe our difficulties so much as it invites us to engage in growth as individuals, as civilizations.

That requires courage, imagination, and an appetite for innovation.

Most of all, it requires love.

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The most of Thomas Malthus that many of us ever hear is in connection with Charles Darwin’s formulation of his Evolutionary Theory. Malthus believed that populations double over time, while food and materials increase only arithmetically. This in turn creates shortages in food and goods, leading to famine and war, so the thinking went. Darwin picked up on this and postulated that a Malthusian system created competition between members of the species, and that only those with unique traits, or differences, would be able to best compete for those resources if the environment favored those traits; what would come to be known as Survival of the Fittest.

Less well known is what Malthus postulated, using his calculus.

In An Essay on the Principle of Population, Malthus writes:

“All children born, beyond what would be required to keep up the population to a desired level, must necessarily perish, unless room be made for them by the deaths of grown persons. . . . Therefore . . . we should facilitate, instead of foolishly and vainly endeavoring to impede, the operations of nature in producing this mortality; and if we
dread the too frequent visitation of the horrid form of famine, we should sedulously encourage the other forms of destruction, which we compel nature to use. Instead of recommending cleanliness to the poor, we should encourage contrary habits. In our towns we should make the streets narrower,
crowd more people into the houses, and court the return of the plague, In the country, we should build our villages near stagnant pools, and particularly encourage settlements in all marshy and unwholesome situations. But above all, we should reprobate specific remedies for ravaging diseases; and restrain those benevolent, but much
mistaken men, who have thought they were doing a service to mankind by projecting schemes for the total extirpation of particular disorders.”

In his biography of Sanger, Killer Angel, (available as a PDF) George Grant describes Margaret’s year in England and her falling in with the Malthusians and neo-Malthusians:

“Not surprisingly, Margaret immediately got on the Malthusian bandwagon. She was not philosophically inclined, nor was she particularly adept at political, social, or economic theory, but she did recognize in the Malthusians a kindred spirit and a tremendous opportunity. She was also shrewd enough to realize that her notions of radical socialism and sexual liberation would never have the popular support necessary to usher in the revolution without some appeal to
altruism and intellectualism. She needed somehow to capture the moral and academic “high ground.”

“Malthusianism, she thought, just might be the key to that ethical and intellectual posture. If she could argue for birth control using the scientifically verified threat of poverty, sickness, racial tension, and overpopulation as its backdrop, then she would have a much better chance of making her case. So she began to absorb as much of the Malthusian dogma as she could.

“Margaret also immersed herself in the teachings of each of the Malthusian offshoots. If a little bit of something is a good thing, then a lot is even better. There was phrenology, Binetism, and Craniometri-
cism. There was Oneidianism, Polygenesis, Recapitulationism, Lambrosianism, Hereditarianism, Freudianism, and Neotenism. From each group she picked Up a few popular slogans and concepts that would permanently shape her crusade.

“But Eugenics left the most lasting impression on the malleable mold of her nascent worldview of radicalism. Eugenics was perhaps the most revolutionary of the pseudo-sciences spawned by Malthusianism. Having convinced an entire generation of scientists, intellectuals, and social reformers that the world was facing an imminent economic crisis caused by unchecked human fertility, Malthusian thought quickly turned to practical programs and social policies.

“Some of these managerial Malthusians believed that the solution to the imminent crisis was political: restrict immigration, reform social welfare, and tighten citizenship requirements. Others thought the solution was technological: increase agricultural production, improve medical proficiency, and promote industrial efficiency. But many of the rest felt that the solution was genetic: restrict or eliminate “bad racial stocks” and gradually “help to engineer the evolutionary ascent of man.”

“This last group became the adherents of a malevoent new voodoo-science called Eugenics. They quickly became the most influential and powerful of all the insurgent ideologists striving to rule the affairs of men and nations. In fact, for the rest of the twentieth century they would unleash one plague after another+ whole plethora of designer disasters—upon the unsuspecting human race.

“The Eugenicists unashamedly espoused an elitist white Supremacy. Or to be more precise, they espoused an elitist Northern and Western European white Supremacy. It was not a supremacy based on the crass ethnic racism of the past but upon a new kind of “scientific” elitism deemed necessary to preserve “the best of the human race” in the face of impending doom. It was a very refined sort of supremacy that prided itself on rationalism, intellectualism, and progressivism.”

Ideas have origins. Ideas also have consequences. It is impossible to consider Sanger’s life’s work absent the inspiration for, and philosophical context of that life’s work.

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This week continues with a series of posts examining the anthropological assumptions and philosophical underpinnings of Margaret Sanger’s world view. It is every bit as unrelenting and unsparing as her Planned Parenthood.

One of the commenters in the comboxes challenged Sanger’s treatment here, suggesting that the scholarship being done at NYU ought to merit serious consideration. The reader went on to challenge another reader for not being an ‘expert’ in matters pertaining to Sanger.

One need not be expert in order to see Sanger for the wretched creature that she was. One need only consider her words in context. Her famous book, The Pivot of Civilization is available as a PDF online.

Margaret Sanger in her own words:


Page 28

Even if we accept organized charity at its own valuation, and grant that it does the best it can, it is exposed to a more profound criticism. It reveals a fundamental and irremediable defect. Its very success, its very efficiency, its very necessity to the social order, are themselves the most unanswerable indictment. Organized charity itself is the symptom of a malignant social disease.

Those vast, complex, interrelated organizations aiming to control and to diminish the spread of misery and destitution and all the menacing evils that spring out of this sinisterly fertile soil, are the surest sign that our civilization has bred, is breeding and is perpetuating constantly increasing numbers of defectives, delinquents and dependents. My criticism, therefore, is not directed at the «failure» of philanthropy, but rather at its success.

Page 29
Statistics now available also inform us that more than a million dollars are spent annually to support the public and private institutions in the state of New York for the segregation of the feeble−minded and the epileptic. A million and a half is spent for the up−keep of state prisons, those homes of the «defective delinquent.» Insanity, which, we should remember, is to a great extent hereditary, annually drains from the state treasury no less than $11,985,695.55, and from private sources and endowments another twenty millions. When we learn further that the total number of inmates in public and private institutions in the State of New York−− in alms−houses, reformatories, schools for the blind, deaf and mute, in insane asylums, in homes for the feeble−minded and epileptic−− amounts practically to less than sixty−five thousand, an insignificant number compared to the total population, our eyes should be opened to the terrific cost to the community of this dead weight of human waste.

Organized charity is thus confronted with the problem of feeble− mindedness and mental defect. But just as the State has so far neglected the problem of mental defect until this takes the form of criminal delinquency, so the tendency of our philanthropic and charitable agencies has been to pay no attention to the problem until it has expressed itself in terms of pauperism and delinquency. Such «benevolence» is not merely ineffectual; it is positively injurious to the community and the future of the race.

Page 31
This rapid survey is enough, I hope, to indicate the manifold inadequacies inherent in present policies of philanthropy and charity. The most serious charge that can be brought against modern «benevolence» is that it encourages the perpetuation of defectives, delinquents and dependents. These are the most dangerous elements in the world community, the most devastating curse on human progress and expression. Philanthropy is a gesture characteristic of modern business lavishing upon the unfit the profits extorted from the community at large.

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