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Posts Tagged ‘Pro-Life’

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In a speech reported in the Times Union this past Friday, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo stated unequivocally that anyone who is pro-life, anti-homosexualist, and in favor of an undiluted Second Amendment has no place in the State of New York. From the Times Union:

You have a schism within the Republican Party. … They’re searching to define their soul, that’s what’s going on. Is the Republican party in this state a moderate party or is it an extreme conservative party? That’s what they’re trying to figure out. It’s a mirror of what’s going on in Washington. The gridlock in Washington is less about Democrats and Republicans. It’s more about extreme Republicans versus moderate Republicans.

… You’re seeing that play out in New York. … The Republican Party candidates are running against the SAFE Act — it was voted for by moderate Republicans who run the Senate! Their problem is not me and the Democrats; their problem is themselves. Who are they? Are they these extreme conservatives who are right-to-life, pro-assault-weapon, anti-gay? Is that who they are? Because if that’s who they are and they’re the extreme conservatives, they have no place in the state of New York, because that’s not who New Yorkers are.

If they’re moderate Republicans like in the Senate right now, who control the Senate — moderate Republicans have a place in their state. George Pataki was governor of this state as a moderate Republican; but not what you’re hearing from them on the far right.”

Here the Governor has made the case for his own impeachment, if for no other reason than he has demonstrated both an ignorance of the founding political philosophy of this nation and its Constitution, and has engaged in the sort of stigmatizing political rhetoric aimed at stripping whole swaths of citizens of their political rights that every tin horn dictator has used throughout recorded history

There are two immediately troubling issues with Governor Cuomo’s comments.

The first is that he defines people acting in accord with the tenets of his own Church as extremist and unwelcome in the state. That is a declaration of war on religion by the governor. This incendiary rhetoric is meant to turn New Yorkers against one another, breeding into the political bone marrow a strain of hatred and intolerance that will take generations to purge.

The second follows on the first. Such rhetoric, aimed at the consolidation of political power by stigmatizing people of faith as the source of society’s woes, is reminiscent of the tactics and rhetoric in Germany during the 1930’s and 40’s. Lest we forget, a people of faith were ridiculed and demonized, and driven from their homeland all in an attempt to scapegoat them for society’s woes. We know how that story ended, and we are fools to think that we are immune from a similar ending here.

The truth of the matter is that abortion hurts women badly, and there is an abundance of scientific and medical literature that chronicles the harm. But facts don’t matter to bloated political hacks who trample the rights of man underfoot. In truth, the governor and his party have become a grotesque caricature of a party that was once filled with noble men and women for whom words like “tolerance” and “inclusivity” were the means by which the cry of “Never again!” could become reality in the wake of the Holocaust.

We have a governor who looks at the many peaceful, prayerful marches for life and sees lepers, while abortionists who maim and kill women and men clad in pink underwear or only thongs and Indian headdresses marching in the Gay Pride parades are citizens of the first order.

The confusion on the part of the Governor resides in the notion that there is a difference between being elected to serve in a pluralistic society with representative government, and being appointed to rule. Men and women are not cattle to be driven or disposed of by the state as the state sees fit. Our leaders are elected to represent us, and if there are leaders in Albany who hold to views Cuomo finds repellent, then that’s just too bad. Those leaders arrived in Albany because they represent a constituency. In his address, Cuomo stated,

“I believe in my heart and I believe the people of this state believe that — forget the money and the campaign contributions and what people give — I’m going to do what I believe is right for them, I’m going to make the decision that I’m proud of.”

That is the duty of every public servant, and not a luxury for the Governor and his pals. The “extremists,” whom he despises have the same moral obligation of conscience as Cuomo, and our Founders established an Assembly and a Senate where the great issues of the day are to be debated, where deals can be made, and where final legislation is referred to the Governor for approval or veto. It would seem that Cuomo has grown impatient with that system and has moved to inciting hatred and fomenting violence in its nascent stage: stigmatizing the opposition.

This is a very deadly serious turn that has been taken in Albany. If the liberals in the legislature have any integrity at all, they will vote to censure this dangerous demagogue.

If they really espouse tolerance, inclusivity, and patriotism, they’ll take a walk over to the Governor’s mansion and tell Cuomo that it’s time for him to go.

Real New Yorkers can take the heat of debate and opposition.

Cowards incite violence.

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Today is the Solemnity of the Assumption of Mary, body and soul, into Heaven. Sidestepping the issue of whether Mary actually died, this day is one of the divisive issues between Catholics and Protestants. There is much wisdom in the Church’s veneration of Mary, and much in Mary’s life of perfect obedience to the will of God for all pro-lifers to ponder.

Beginning at the end, why would God spare Mary from bodily corruption in the grave? Consider this vision of John the Apostle in Revelation 11:19 ff.

“Then God’s temple in heaven was opened, and the ark of his covenant was seen within his temple; and there were flashes of lightning, voices, peals of thunder, an earthquake, and heavy hail. And a great portent appeared in heaven, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars; she was with child and she cried out in her pangs of birth, in anguish for delivery…”


The text goes on to reveal the birth of Jesus, Satan’s attempts to destroy Him (through Herod’s slaughter of the innocents) and Mary’s flight into Egypt. In two verses, back-to-back John discusses the Ark of the Covenant. Mary is that Ark of the New Covenant. Just as the first Ark housed the word of God, Mary’s yes meant that for nine months she contained within herself and nurtured The Word, who IS God. Her assent began the final chapter in God’s plan for our salvation, and the dignity of women would be forever changed.

Bearing in mind that Jesus was as St. Paul tells us, “a man like us in all things, but sin”, it’s worth contemplating that the perfection of His human nature required Mary to be the best of teachers in raising Him, by word and by example. Her assent to be the mother of the Messiah was one more act of obedience in a lifetime of perfect obedience to God’s will, and continued to the foot of the cross and beyond.

Though Jesus felt His time to reveal Himself had not yet come, he acquiesced to Mary at the wedding feast in Cana and performed his first miracle; the Creator in obedience to His mother. As my nine year old daughter presciently observed, “Even God has to obey His mother.”

Mary Revealing the Christ Child Within Her.

Mary was preserved from corruption, not merely for allowing her body to be used in the birth of the Messiah, but because Mary never sinned. Jesus couldn’t sin because His divine nature would not permit it. Mary wouldn’t sin because she loved God with every fiber of her being. The only human to achieve human perfection was a woman.

For that achievement, for her role in salvation history, God preserved the Ark of the New Covenant. He did so not only for Mary, but as a sign of promise to us, the foreshadowing of the Resurrection on the Last Day.

How easy it could have been for Mary to say no using all of the modern day rationale used for abortion. She was single, a teen, poor, could lose her betrothed, faced certain ridicule as impure… But her selfless “Yes”, her sorrows that would come with that yes meant salvation for the world.

With close to 2 Billion abortions worldwide since 1960, how many poor teens and other young mothers facing ridicule and enormous self-sacrifice said no, and in so doing have deprived the world of the scientists and physicians who would have discovered cures for diseases such as cancer, HIV, malaria, etc. How many leaders have been aborted who would have prevented wars and brought greater justice and equanimity to their people? How many Priests, Deacons, Religious, Ministers, Rabbis will we never know? The list of thwarted good is endless.

Mary is the archetype for authentic feminism. Not even God refused her request at a wedding. She was powerful precisely because of her submission. She was strong and brave, standing at the foot of the cross when 10 Apostles fled in terror. She was gathered with the Apostles on Pentecost and received the Holy Spirit with them. She lived among them until her day of Assumption, not as a guest or a ward, but as their Mother, with all that goes with that role.

So today we honor Mary for the good and graces that flow through our lives because of her lifetime of saying yes to God’s perfect plan. We look within ourselves at the pridefulness that keeps us from being all that God wants us to be, and we take renewed strength from those graces that flow from Mary’s life, through her Son, and are brought to perfection in us through His Holy Spirit.

It’s a great day.

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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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Human embryo having one cell suctioned off (R).

Why, in the face of hundreds of extant therapeutic applications from Adult Stem Cells (ASC), would researchers wish to pursue embryo-destructive research when Embryonic Stem Cells (ESC) haven’t made it out of animal trials because of their tumor-forming propensities?

As a Molecular Biologist, I am asked this question frequently by pro-lifers. Though I am adamantly opposed to embryo-destructive research, I’ll answer for them.

The answer is simple: They just want to know. Period. End of story.

A common misperception about scientists is that all of us are oriented toward therapeutic discoveries. Not so.

Many scientists are indeed oriented toward therapeutic applications, a great many are not. They practice basic research. That is, research with the sole purpose of discovering how things work. These are the ‘pure’ scientists, not oriented toward a given or serviceable outcome. Knowledge simply for the sake of knowledge.

Don’t knock it. It’s vital. Therapeutic advances grow out of the body of basic scientific research. In my graduate studies in molecular microbiology, I discovered quite by accident a whole new dimension of E. coli’s cellular physiology. It was genuinely exciting stuff for a new researcher, to unlock the secrets of nature through the rigorous and diligent application of the scientific method. It turns out that my discovery has all sorts of food safety and medical applications as well. Having presented the research at conferences, a few papers on it should get published this year.

Even if my work had no practical application, it is extremely gratifying to be able to offer the scientific community another piece of the puzzle. I am a basic researcher at heart. In the lab I live for this stuff.

So it’s not difficult to understand other molecular and developmental biologists who have the burning desire to know exactly how we are made in the womb. As a scientist who has studied developmental biology in grad school, I share that burning desire to know the awesome complexity and intricacy of the developmental process. It’s fascinating material.

As a Catholic Christian I’m not willing to kill babies in order to find out. Therein lies the dilemma.

Consider the picture with this post. Absent a Christian anthropology, it’s not hard to see where many of my peers do not consider the early embryo a human person. Without the eyes of faith guided by reason, all one sees is a clump of cells. We know, however, from work done on other animals that developmental pathways become extremely complex once one moves away from the simple cluster of cells seen here, and into the more advanced stages of growth and development

In the wiring-up of the nervous system, cells from the tail end of the spinal cord secrete chemicals that diffuse to the brain end of the spinal cord, inducing nerve cells to grow in that direction. Along the way the projection of the growing nerve cell, called the growth cone, is guided by molecules on the surface of other cells. This is precisely the developmental stage that will be needed to glean the information necessary in spinal cord injury repair therapeutics.

What will we do when we have deduced the answers at the simpler level of development, but now require an organism with a developing nervous system, the point where spinal cord injury repair can be tested? Having proceeded so far down this path, what rationale will be called upon for scientists to stop so much closer to potential therapies? The scientific community won’t hear of it. And really, at that point why should they? The principle that all human life is sacred will have long-since been compromised into obscurity. All we’ll be left with is an argument over the details. Dogs fighting over the carcasses of our own young.

I want to know these answers as much as the fiercest proponent of ESC research. I’m just not willing to sell out the innocent for my answers. If I don’t get them here, I’ll have eternity to get them from The Source.

In this battle over ESC and ASC, we do well to lobby lawmakers on where the entire source of therapeutic benefits resides, namely ASC’s. It’s even more important to educate the public in this regard. We also need to understand the lobby of university researchers who have a very different motive for this research. Money is also a major issue. When funding is set aside for a given line of inquiry, cash-strapped departments line up like refugees at an oasis in the desert. Promises of potential therapeutic applications are added to research funding proposals to gussy them up.

For the college, it’s the money. For the basic researcher it’s the money, the knowledge, and publications. For the applied researcher it’s the cure. For the politician, it’s cynically using the scientific community to lay down a noble-looking smokescreen in order to protect abortion by treating embryos as fungible laboratory substrate.

Joycelyn Elders, former Surgeon General under President Clinton, once famously declared:

“We really need to get over this love affair with the fetus and start worrying about children.”

In truth, America is just beginning a love affair with the fetus through advanced imaging systems. Had we a love affair with the fetus, abortion would be illegal, and there would be no debate over embryo-destructive research.

It seems that pro-choice politicians have seized upon embryo-destructive research as the means to realize Elder’s fondest desire.

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Discovery

“At the heart of science lies discovery which involves a change in worldview. Discovery in science is possible only in societies which accord their citizens the freedom to pursue the truth where it may lead and which therefore have respect for different paths to that truth.”

-John Polanyi, Canadian Nobel Laureate (Chemistry);
Commencement Address, McGill University,
Montreal, Canada, June 1990

In two perfect sentences, Polanyi throws abundant light on the difficulties surrounding scholarship that support the realities of the Culture of Life. There seems to be scientific data that supports both sides. How can this be? It depends on one’s understanding of how science is done, and the scientific culture in which it is done.

For most, their last formal encounter with science took place in high school, or a course in college, where the Scientific Method was taught as the only acceptable standard for discerning truth in the scientific community. As is the case with so many disciplines, that’s what one learns on the front end. For the workaday truth, one needs to stick around awhile.

The scientific community is made up of humans, not machines. We’re just as given to petty (and not-so-petty) jealousies, lust for power and glory, lust for fame and fortune as anyone else. We’re just as given to back-biting and back-stabbing as anyone else. We’re just as given to distorting the truth to fit our pre-conceived ideas as anyone else.

That’s a problem, a very big problem for a community whose training and skills make us best suited for distilling and discerning nature’s secrets.

It’s why we have codes of ethics. As the President’s Council on Bioethics said (quoted a few posts down):

“we are unable to imagine ourselves as people who could take a morally disastrous next step. We are neither wise enough nor good enough to live without clear limits.”

Still, even amongst the most ethical scientists, schools of thought on a given topic emerge and orthodoxies arise. People have much riding on those orthodoxies: grant money, publishable papers (which get more grant money), tenure, promotion, esteem, chairmanships on national boards and committees, etc. Such lucre clouds the objectivity of some of the most ethical amongst us, and often unwittingly gives rise to soft tyranny.

The history of science is fraught with tragic figures who challenged the prevailing orthodoxies of their day and were ostracized, dying broken and in obscurity only to be vindicated in death. One such figure is Dr. Ignaz Semmelweiss, whose name should be spoken reverently by all pro-lifers. From the Semmelweis Society International

“Ignaz Philipp Semmelweis (July 1, 1818 – August 13, 1865), also Ignác Semmelweis (born Semmelweis Ignác Fülöp), was a Hungarian physician called the “saviour of mothers” who discovered, by 1847, that the incidence of puerperal fever, also known as childbed fever could be drastically cut by use of hand washing standards in obstetrical clinics.

“While employed as assistant to the professor of the maternity clinic at the Vienna General Hospital in Austria in 1847, Semmelweis introduced hand washing with chlorinated lime solutions for interns who had performed autopsies. This immediately reduced the incidence of fatal puerperal fever from about 10 percent (range 5–30 percent) to about 1–2 percent. At the time, diseases were attributed to many different and unrelated causes. Each case was considered unique, just like a human person is unique.

Dr. Ignaz Semmelweis

“”Semmelweis’ hypothesis, that there was only one cause, that all that mattered was cleanliness, was extreme at the time, and was largely ignored, rejected or ridiculed. He was dismissed from the hospital and harassed by the medical community in Vienna, which eventually forced him to move to Budapest.

“Semmelweis was outraged by the indifference of the medical profession and began writing open and increasingly angry letters to prominent European obstetricians, at times denouncing them as irresponsible murderers. His contemporaries, including his wife, believed he was losing his mind and he was in 1865 committed to an asylum (mental institution). Semmelweis died there only 14 days later, possibly after being severely beaten by guards.

“Semmelweis’ practice only earned widespread acceptance years after his death, when Louis Pasteur developed the germ theory of disease which offered a theoretical explanation for Semmelweis’ findings. Semmelweis is considered a pioneer of antiseptic procedures.”

Had his peers not been wedded to their pet hypotheses and been open to new ideas and hard data, how many women and children might have been saved? How much sooner might the germ theory of disease been established? We now know that Puerperal Fever is a type of ‘strep’ infection, caused by Streptococcus pyogenes.

Ideas have consequences, as does their rejection. In Part II, we’ll consider the specific application of the current rejection of Post-abortion Syndrome in the face of mounting data to the contrary.

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