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Archive for October, 2013

Just in case anyone doubts that the objective is to destroy all private health insurance, this video has Obama in his own words. It’s devastating.

When the government tries to control our very bodily autonomy, it’s time to change course. The midterm elections are a year away. God help us all.

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There is no greater stumbling block in developing the spiritual life than the issue of “unanswered” prayer. When we pray from the depths of our hearts for what we honestly perceive as the good and God seems absent, it can send many into despair. St. Augustine tackles this in today’s Office of Readings in the Liturgy of the Hours:

St Augustine’s letter to Proba

We do not know how to pray as we ought

Perhaps you may still ask why St Paul said when we cannot choose words in order to pray properly, since it is impossible that he or those to whom he wrote should not have known the Lord’s Prayer.

Yet Paul himself was not exempt from such ignorance. When, to prevent him from becoming swollen-headed over the greatness of the revelations that had been given to him, he was given in addition a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to buffet him, he asked the Lord three times to take it away from him. Surely that was not knowing to pray as he ought? For in the end he heard the Lord’s reply, telling him why even such a great saint’s prayer had to be refused: “My grace is enough for you: my power is at its best in weakness.”

So when we are suffering afflictions that might be doing us either good or harm, we do not to know how to pray as we ought. But because they are hard to endure and painful, because they are contrary to our nature (which is weak) we, like all mankind, pray to have our afflictions taken from us. At least, though, we owe this much respect to the Lord our God, that if he does not take our afflictions away we should not consider ourselves ignored and neglected, but should hope to gain some greater good through the patient acceptance of suffering. “For my power is at its best in weakness.”

Scripture says this so that we should not be proud of ourselves if our prayer is heard, when we ask for something it would be better for us not to get; and so that we should not become utterly dejected if we are not given what we ask for, despairing of God’s mercy towards us: it might be that what we have been asking for could have brought us some still greater affliction, or it could have brought us the kind of good fortune that brings corruption and ruin. In such cases, it is clear that we cannot know how to pray as we ought.

Hence if anything happens contrary to our prayer, we ought to bear the disappointment patiently, give thanks to God, and be sure that it was better for God’s will to be done than our own. The Mediator himself has given us an example of this. When he had prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass me by,” he transformed the human will that was in him because he had assumed human nature and added “Nevertheless, let it be as you, not I, would have it.” Thus, truly, By the obedience of one man many have been made righteous.

In a culture so saturated in addictions of every kind, the recovery of many will probably involve some “thorn in the flesh” for the rest of one’s life. The allure of the addictive behavior in moments of weakness may always be there, and when it manifests, it becomes an opportunity for God to manifest His strength and glory in our weakness. Augustine really says it all, and this passage is worth marinating in.

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For the past 18 months, I have been serving as the Executive Director of the Children First Foundation (CFF) under the leadership of Dr. Elizabeth Rex, who is President. We have the “Choose Life” Plates in New Jersey and Connecticut, and soon in New York if all goes well in our case against Governor Cuomo, which is now in the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals. If any pro-life citizens live in the nation’s capital, they may wish to avail themselves of CFF’s newest plate in our program, the D.C. “Choose Life” license plate, just out yesterday. If the folks reading this would spread the word, I would be personally very grateful.

From Elizabeth Rex, Ph.D., President of CFF:

Dear “Choose Life” Friends in DC:

This red-white-and-blue “Choose Life” License Plate in Washington, D.C. is a great new way to help “mobilize” a greater Culture of Life in our Nation’s Capital in union with 29 “Choose Life” States in the USA!

The Children First Foundation of DC sponsored the Washington, D.C. “Choose Life” License Plate which was made available for purchase to residents of the District of Columbia on Wednesday, October 23, 2013, by the District of Columbia Department of Motor Vehicles that welcomed the participation of our pro-adoption, non-profit, charitable, and educational organization into their popular DC DMV Organizational Tag Program.

As stated on the official DC DMV website www.dmv.dc.gov/service/obtain-organizational-vehicle-tags, “organizational tags are a marvelous way for an organization to promote itself while allowing its members to demonstrate a commitment of pride.” The proud mission of The Children First Foundation is to raise greater awareness and funding for Adoption and Safe Haven efforts. Our members believe adoption is a loving choice for an unwanted unborn or newborn infant that deserves greater public awareness and support, and their $25 membership donations provide funding for DC Pregnancy Centers, Maternity Homes, and Safe Haven efforts.

As also explained on the DC DMV’s website, “only members of participating organizations can apply for the organizational tags” and “organizational tags will only be issued for use on private passenger vehicles registered in the District of Columbia.” So, please join us, and together let us voice our choice for life in DC!

To purchase your DC “Choose Life/Children First Foundation” License Plate, please visit http://www.thechildrenfirst.org/washington_dc1.aspx and read the information and follow the instructions carefully. For questions and assistance, please call Larry Cirignano, our DC Representative, at (202) 306-6863. Thank you so much for putting “children first” in DC!

Sincerely for Life,

Elizabeth B. Rex, Ph.D, President

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Increasingly, I understand why it is that old people begin to welcome death as a friend.

News today from across the pond in The Telegraph of a young Somali girl who was smuggled into Great Britain for the purpose of harvesting her organs. From the story:

The unnamed girl was brought to the UK from Somalia with the intention of removing her organs and selling them on to those desperate for a transplant.

Child protection charities warned that the case was unlikely to be an isolated incident as traffickers were likely to have smuggled a group of children into the country.

The case emerged in a government report which showed that the number of human trafficking victims in the UK has risen by more than 50 per cent last year and reached record levels.
A total of 371 children were exploited, with the majority of them being used as slaves or sexually abused. They included 95 children from Vietnam, 67 from Nigeria and 25 from China. Others hailed from Romania and Bangladesh.

The figures also detail how 20 British girls have been victims of human trafficking. It comes after a series of court cases in which British girls were raped and exploited by gangs of Asian men.
Child protection charities warned last night that criminal gangs were attempting to exploit the demand for organ transplants in Britain.

Bharti Patel, the chief executive of Ecpat UK, the child protection charity, said: “Traffickers are exploiting the demand for organs and the vulnerability of children. It’s unlikely that a trafficker is going to take this risk and bring just one child into the UK. It is likely there was a group.”

According to the World Health Organisation as many as 7,000 kidneys are illegally obtained by traffickers each year around the world.

While there is a black market for organs such as hearts, lungs and livers, kidneys are the most sought after organs because one can be removed from a patient without any ill effects.
The process involves a number of people including the recruiter who identifies the victim, the person who arranges their transport, the medical professionals who perform the operation and the salesman who trades the organ.

The government’s report also found that there has been a rise in the number of adults trafficked to the UK, with the number of women rising by 12 per cent to 786 and the number of men by almost a third to 400. They include growing numbers of British men are being exploited for “paving or ground works” in this country or abroad.

Read the rest.

I don’t know what to say about this. I think its speaks for itself. I’m simply beyond words.

I understand old people more, and more.

Maranatha!

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This is a story about defeating autism, the practical attainment of hope for devastated parents, and a whole new way of approaching a scourge upon our beloved children. Our son, Joseph, happens to be its protagonist; but the joyful hope in this story resides in the certainty that it is a template into which parents may insert any one of countless thousands of protagonists. Three years ago next week, Joseph joined the Boy Scouts of America. The first article I wrote contains his history in detail, our struggles, and the first real glimmer of hope we had in years of attempting to break free of autism’s shackles.

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As Joseph progressed through that very, very difficult and challenging year, I chronicled him at three months, and then again as he was off to summer camp, and then a week after his triumphal return from a summer camp experience in the middle of a heat wave, where daytime temperatures ranged from a low of 96, to a high of 103. These four stories are a tight chronicle of an important first year experience. It’s been two years since I’ve written, and Joseph’s world has changed dramatically.

Since he began, Joseph has advanced in rank from Scout, to Tenderfoot, Second Class, First Class, Star, and in two weeks he will complete the rank requirements for Life Scout, one step shy of Eagle. Before this summer, he earned a total of seventeen merit badges and earned the Ad Altare Dei (To the Altar of God) Catholic award, receiving it from Cardinal Dolan in a Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral this past April. All of that is just the beginning.

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Two years ago I sat with Joseph and explained his diagnoses with him. It is essential to understand that what I told him was the absolute truth, and not an attempt to soft-peddle something unpalatable. Joseph’s two major diagnoses are moderately profound autism (top 25% of the low end of the spectrum at age four), and Attention Deficit Disorder. The other diagnoses are mixed expressive/receptive language disorder, sensory integration disorder, static encephalopathy, and cerebellar deficit. At age five, half of his IQ subtests were low average, and the other half below that at borderline. The explanation took place in stages over a six-month period, in increments I thought he could digest in any given sitting.

So, here is a summary of what I explained to Joseph:

The understanding is that there are different model brains, just as there are different model cars. I had him recall when we bought our car a few years back, how he made a point of sitting in every car on the showroom floor. Each of those cars has associated strengths and weaknesses. Compact cars are great on gas mileage and savings, but can’t tow boats or trailers. Trucks are great at towing, but not so great on gas. Family vans occupy the middle ground. So it is when God creates us. There are many different model brains on His showroom floor, and we each get one, with all the associated strengths and weaknesses.

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Along with each model brain comes an associated learning style. Some are better visual learners, some auditory, others kinesthetic, some brilliant at numerics, while others are more linguistic. Some brains are geared toward being socially gregarious, while others are more reserved and introspective. So, why does God allow for so many types of brains? Why not give everyone equal capability at excelling in everything, I asked my son. The answer, I offered, is simple.

If each of us had it all we wouldn’t need one another. Love would collapse, along with complementarity. Life would be flat, bland. Worse still… how would we attain Heaven if we had no means of learning sacrificial love in a world where it was unnecessary?

Our needs are the salvation of those who give of themselves to fill those needs, and their needs are our salvation.

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The key to growth, I explained, is to get teachers who are schooled in the different learning styles and who can teach to ours. Years ago, before we had all of this great knowledge we thought of the world in terms of normal and pathological. That wasn’t bad. It was the medical model, which put to flight the old superstition model which governed the world at the time of the Salem Witch Trials. However as civilization has advanced from the time of my own childhood, and the hell that was my life with ADHD, we have come to see ‘normal’ as dynamic and not monolithic. We have come to understand much of therapy as merely education (be that psychotherapy, speech therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy) and not pathologic intervention.

In fact, I never used the “T” word with Joseph (Therapy, with its associated implication of brokenness and pathology). Instead, I always used the other “T” word, teacher. Speech therapy was going to see his speech teacher. Occupational therapy was going to see his gym teacher. In the final analysis that’s all therapy really is: teaching.

There is another critical distinction. The autistic brain is a brain with a unique learning style, and in possession of unique gifts when it comes to memory and capacity for depth of knowledge. Autism is an “ism,” like feminism, communism. In other words, it is a condition of being handicapped. We defeat autism when we teach to the style of the autistic brain. As I explained to Joseph:

It’s only a handicap if you can’t function.

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It’s been almost eleven years since we began this odyssey of delving into the inner workings of one of the most puzzling brain models on God’s showroom floor, one that now appears in 1:50 children. It’s been a great collaborative effort with several great educators and therapists. It has involved adapting our home life to accommodate Joseph’s needs, with no small amount of sacrifice all around. When Joseph took his first tenuous steps into a troop of 46 boys, I think my anxiety was worse than his. It has been the missing piece of his developmental puzzle.

In his second year, Joseph focussed on learning more about scouting, earning merit badges that encouraged in-depth communication with adult merit badge counselors, participating more fully and intimately on camping trips, and advancing in rank. At the end of his second year he went to summer camp and announced his intention to come back the following year on staff as a counselor in training (CIT). More anxiety for daddy. He then produced a completed application for us to sign, and handed it in on the spot.

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Returning from summer camp, Joseph attended the troop’s leadership training weekend that September and accepted the position of Assistant Patrol Leader. He also asked to be a Den Chief with the Cub Scout Pack (a big brother/liason position), as well as being the troop librarian-accounting for all of the merit badge books. He excelled at all of the positions, with the Cub Scouts asking for him to return-so much was the fun that they had with him.

Then came summer camp this year. Joseph spent all of June and July living at camp on staff as a CIT. The camp director invited him to return next year, and asked us to please facilitate that return. They loved him there, and he loved them. While at camp, he was able to earn two merit badges per week if he desired, which he did. After summer camp, Joseph attended a one week aquatics camp at another scout camp, and earned six more merit badges. In all, he earned a staggering twenty merit badges this summer, adding to his previous seventeen. (One is required to earn a total of 21 to achieve Eagle Scout). At last night’s Troop Court of Honor, though the boys were asked to hold all applause until after all merit badges were handed to all scouts, the hall broke into wild and raucous cheers as all twenty merit badges were read aloud for Joseph. Class act that he is, he turned a gave his brothers a wild grin and scout salute in return.

This summer’s haul:

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American Heritage
Art
Basketry
Canoeing
Communication*
Forestry
Geology
Kayacking
Leatherwork
Lifesaving*
Motorboating
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Music
Nature
Oceanography
Pioneering
Rowing
Small Boat Sailing
Sports
Swimming*
Woodcarving

*Required for Eagle

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Along the way Joseph has become a leader.

This year, he was given his own patrol to lead as Patrol Leader. He has also become a trailblazer, going from being the only scout in the Troop on the spectrum, to being one of about five. God has blessed the troop, which now numbers 67 boys and eight patrols, with ten more boys on the way from Cub Scouts this year.

Regina and I were speechless last night at the Court of Honor. Speechless, but grateful beyond words to the boys and men who have given Joseph a community to which he not only passively belongs, but in which he actively reciprocates. So do we.

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The leaders were commenting last night about how far Joseph has come since his first year, where he came to me constantly in his bewilderment and feelings of being overwhelmed. We all laughed at how he barely has any contact with me anymore. That’s the definition of success. He’s interacting with his peers, making friends, hosting a second annual Super Bowl party for the scouts, etc.

It’s important to be there to help translate the early experience, and to give back. I’m in deep, as assistant scoutmaster, troop chaplain, merit badge counselor for several merit badges, district Catholic committee on scouting, etc. In getting involved, I have been able to educate a great many people on what kids on the spectrum are really all about.
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That’s essential, as we live in dangerous times for those with so-called poor prenatal diagnoses. The autistic learning style, as it is known in our home, demands total devotion from the entire family. That’s quite a bit to ask in a hedonistic culture. These children will be found out in utero in short order, and when they are, the merchants of death will prey on parents’ well-founded fears. They are fears that nearly paralyzed me in those early years. Yet Joseph’s story is a story of hope in the depths of parental fear.

Moreso, it is the story of love’s triumph. As I’ve sat and watched Joseph increasingly taking the younger boys under his wing, and seeing their respect for him, I see how that love cannot be contained. It has taken root in this child and grows wild within him. Not bad for a fourteen year-old kid.

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For any parent of a young autistic child, Regina and I hold out Joseph as not only a symbol of hope, but the sure and certain sign that God keeps His promise as Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 10:13 and will not allow us to be tried beyond our capacity, and when we are tried, will give us a way out. Sacrificial love, lived totally and completely, is that way out.

It has been our salvation.

We still have no idea how far Joseph will go in life, no more than any other parents do for their children at age fourteen. Some autistic children will achieve demonstrably more than others. The same goes for neurotypical children as well. For all of them, scouting offers a home, a family, a society. And while the achievements are great signposts along the road in life, that’s not at all what I will carry away from this experience when it’s all over.

The spontaneous wild and raucous cheers of his brother scouts last night, reciprocated with an equally spontaneous wild grin and scout salute spoke volumes:

Brotherhood

Love

Respect

Affection

A frightened father’s wildest dreams come true.

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Much talk has been swirling of late regarding whether or not Pope Francis will add women to the College of Cardinals in an effort to give women a greater voice in the Church. It’s an old idea that has been mentioned during other papacies, but never acted upon. It is a course of action that if followed will amplify the din that already grips a Church that has never suffered from women who are either inaudible or not influential. To be certain, there are great women I would nominate, who would bring much to the College of Cardinals. There are many who would tear the Church asunder, setting back the role of women for decades to come.

Because the Church has reserved priestly ordination to men alone, many believe that women have lacked voice and influence in ways that directly affect the lives of women. In the wake of the feminist revolution, we do well to consider exactly what it is the feminist mothers have fought for, and what women have gained and lost over the past half-century. On the positive side, women have gained the ability to be as educated as men. From Dr. Michael Kirst at Stanford University:

According to data from the Department of Education on college degrees by gender, the US college degree gap favoring women started back in 1978, when for the first time ever, more women than men earned Associate’s degrees. Five years later in 1982, women earned more bachelor’s degrees than men for the first time, and women have increased their share of bachelor’s degrees in every year since then. In another five years by 1987, women earned the majority of master’s degrees for the first time. Finally, within another decade, more women than men earned doctor’s degrees by 2006, and female domination of college degrees at every level was complete. For the current graduating class of 2013, the Department of Education estimates that women will earn 61.6% of all associate’s degrees this year, 56.7% of all bachelor’s degrees, 59.9% of all master’s degrees, and 51.6% of all doctor’s degrees. Overall, 140 women will graduate with a college degree at some level this year for every 100 men. The article is from AEI Ideas and is summarized by Carnegie Foundation.. – See more at: http://collegepuzzle.stanford.edu/?p=3131#sthash.3DK2jRoT.dpuf

That women are doing so well is great cause for celebration. However, the feminist mothers have sold college women on a sexual revolution that has left more than 50% of young women riddled with sexually transmitted diseases, and the lie that tens of millions of abortions were the price to pay for those coveted diplomas when the contraception failed. Would that the lies and destruction ended on graduation day. However, with the american academy having become a boot camp for training in radical egalitarianism, an egalitarianism that sees the Magisterium of the Catholic Church as vilely and cruelly anachronistic, our young women bring into their young adult lives a perspective that is warped beyond belief.

So who would these women cardinals be? What would be the litmus test for their selection? Would the Pope choose women who already are on board with the magisterium? If so, there are countless thousands of women who would fill the role splendidly. If he is looking for women who are academics, a few names pop to mind readily. But such a selection begs the question; If the pope is going to select women who abide and reflect the role of women as articulated so beautifully by Pope John Paul II in Mulieris Dignitatem , then is he only seeking women who will reaffirm what has already been taught? How will that sit with the “progressive” women in the Church? What will that do to draw them in?

Or, perhaps the pope would appoint women from across the spectrum of ideology and degrees of fidelity to church teaching? But then, is that the role of the College of Cardinals? Would the pope be elevating the feminist war to a level it has no place occupying in the life of the Church? Would he do better to appoint a pontifical commission of women who represent a cross-section of thought and lifestyle if he wants to further develop the theology of women so well articulated by John Paul?

The women’s issues are as caustic and partisan as any, and radical feminism has utterly destroyed the family and western civilization. If the Pope selects these women as advisors it will do unimaginable harm. If he doesn’t select them, he will cement for them the perception that they, the ones who clamor most for a voice in the church, have none.

Before pushing ahead with a need to develop a theology of women, we should recall that Francis has inherited a wealth of such teaching from his predecessors. Most who believe that the Church has ignored the issue are in fact ignorant of how much the Church, especially in the twentieth century, has addressed the issue. When they do hear it, the message is not to the liking of many, hence the need for a new, or relevant teaching.

Then there is the untidy matter of reserving priestly ordination to men alone, a teaching that John Paul nailed shut in his Apostolic Letter, Ordinatio Sacerdotalis:

4. Although the teaching that priestly ordination is to be reserved to men alone has been preserved by the constant and universal Tradition of the Church and firmly taught by the Magisterium in its more recent documents, at the present time in some places it is nonetheless considered still open to debate, or the Church’s judgment that women are not to be admitted to ordination is considered to have a merely disciplinary force.

Wherefore, in order that all doubt may be removed regarding a matter of great importance, a matter which pertains to the Church’s divine constitution itself, in virtue of my ministry of confirming the brethren (cf. Lk 22:32) I declare that the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women and that this judgment is to be definitively held by all the Church’s faithful.

So, claiming that people doubted the ordinary magisterium (which is enough to end debate), John Paul invoked the extraordinary magisterium, and elevated the issue as a matter of defined teaching.

Case closed.

Until feminist cardinals declare otherwise.

Much of the work of the College of Cardinals involves matters of governing priests and bishops. Setting women in authority over the bishops could very well open a back door to matters of episcopal authority and governance, blurring lines of authority and the distinct roles of men and women in the church.

It’s a bad idea.

In my writing and pro-life work, I have met hundreds of women who would make excellent papal advisors, women who do not make the mistake of conflating equal roles with equal dignity. They wouldn’t want to be cardinals, and would rebuke such an idea. If Francis wants to alienate the women on the left, he will do so by choosing only women from the orthodox right.

If Francis wants to lose the orthodox right, all he needs to do is elevate radical feminism by elevating women on the left.

If he wants all-out-war, elevate both.

If priestly ordination is reserved to men alone, and if this is part of God’s design, then the process of selecting the new Bishop of Rome should be left to the apostolic successors in the College of Cardinals. Similarly, the governance of priests and bishops needs to be reserved to the apostolic successors alone.

We don’t need to fight the sexual revolution any more than we already have. We need to begin cleaning up the horrific mess in the scores of millions of broken lives from its battles. We need healing, not the opening of another front in the war.

UPDATE: Elizabeth Scalia made the following comment on the FB thread for this blog…

My biggest concern about this — well, I have a couple — although in theory there is nothing to prevent this, my concerns are twofold: 1) it would be awful beyond words if the next papal conclave became all about the women, and the women’s questions, and is it enough for women to be cardinals and what about the women, and the women, and the women, and the women, and it would take emphasis off of Christ, Peter, the Holy Spirit and so forth and place it all upon the idol of feminism. And of course, in terms of media, that is precisely what will happen. 2) I fear that all of the myriad ways that women are powerful witnesses and servants — and have been FROM THE BEGINNING OF THE CHURCH — will become minimized and deemphasized because the female cardinalate will be the be-all-end-all for too many. “Oh, Mother Antonia? Who is she? Not a Cardinal? Doesn’t have a PhD? Pheh. What could she possibly say to us? That would be a crime.

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According to Cheryl Sullenger of Operation Rescue there have been 44 abortion clinic closings this year. That would drive the total number of clinic closings since 1992 close to 75% of that year’s total. That is a monumental achievement for the pro-life movement, the fruit of decades of hard work by thousands. For as monumental as that achievement is, the persistently high numbers of annual abortions in the U.S., and California’s passing into law permission for physician assistants, nurse practitioners, and midwives to perform first trimester surgical abortions suggest that we may have only succeeded in picking the low-hanging fruit from the abortion tree.

In the chart below, Planned Parenthood’s statistician, the Guttmacher Institute, reports on the annual number of abortions since 1973. Notice that between 1990 and 2013 abortions fell from a high of 1.6 million per year to a steady 1.2 million per year. That’s a 25% decrease in the numbers of abortions in the same time period that we have closed close to 75% of abortion clinics. The numbers simply do not add up. There has not been anything close to a corresponding decrease in abortions. There is a very good reason for that, one that is daunting to contemplate.

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Many hospitals are now performing abortions. This new development, attested to by several physicians in personal communication, will make the fight so much more difficult. Currently, pro-life activists keep watch on clinics and record every instance when an ambulance is called in for a botched abortion. As hospitals take up the slack for closed clinics, there will be no such capability for monitoring centers, as patients are already in-house. Worse still non-physicians will now perform aspiration abortions in California, which accounts for approximately 29% of all abortions in the U.S.

The simple truth is that the opponent has adjusted to our tactics. The butchers such as Gosnell needed to be put away for their crimes. Now the challenge will be how to monitor the hospitals as they make a fundamental philosophical shift by embracing abortion in the era of Obamacare. One approach will be to step up the education of women regarding the dangers of abortion, and their betrayal by cynical governors such as California’s Jerry Brown and New York’s Andrew Cuomo.

Forty years ago the argument in favor of legalizing abortion was that women would have real physicians performing safe, regulated medical procedures. How many women are aware that many abortionists are not even trained in Ob/Gyn? Now, the abortionists won’t even be physicians at all. Somehow the assurance that a qualified physician is mere feet away should an artery be nicked or a uterus punctured doesn’t sound like the fulfillment of the 1973 promises.

One thing is for certain. This week Jerry Brown opened a new front in the war, and with new weapons and tactics. We must meet him and defeat this new approach with smart and innovative approaches of our own. In this, we must recognize that the climb just became steeper for the pro-life movement. With love and with prayer, with great intellect and patient persistence, we will consign this ugly episode in the life of our nation to the dustbin of history.

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