A Genteel Rant on Party Unity

Having let this simmer on the back burner for a few weeks, I find it’s still apt, even with the election so close. Therefore, for your consideration:

I’m not a political action committee, nor do I plan to form one. It’s election season, though, so forgive me the occasional rant. There’s a campaign phenomenon that drives me nuts: people who campaign for (insert party name here) candidates for the sole reason that they belong to (insert party name here), because “party unity” or some such thing.

I’ve been a campaign staffer on two statewide Republican campaigns, both of which hired me knowing I’m an independent. A generation ago, back when I was a registered Republican, I was involved in platform debates. There’s pressure to support the entire party slate of candidates, top to bottom. That’s true of every party. I get that.

But I don’t think it’s too much to expect for pro-lifers to be pro-life first and (insert party name here) second. When elected officials of a party with a pro-life platform are not united in supporting that plank, and when the right to life is fundamental, then it’s kind of silly to vote a straight (insert party here) ticket.

Read the rest of the post at Leaven for the Loaf

Conscience Meets Access (and Takes a Hit)

The original version of this post first appeared on DaTechGuy Blog.

In the days leading up to the adoption of the latest spending bill in Washington, my social media feeds were full of posts from a variety of pro-life groups addressing one topic: including protection of medical conscience rights in the spending bill. To anyone unfamiliar with the federal budget process, an appropriations bill would sound like an odd place to mention conscience rights. But as we know, all kinds of oddball things work their way into budget deals.

As it happens, the conscience protection act promoted by pro-lifers was not included in the spending bill approved on March 22. I would have shrugged – a pro-life initiative rejected in Washington? so what else is new? – if not for a similar disappointment closer to home. A week before the federal spending bill was adopted, a bill to protect the conscience rights of medical professionals was rejected in my state’s legislature by a two-to-one margin.

Lest you think this is a partisan problem, note that the GOP holds majorities in the legislative bodies at issue here.

I was at the hearing for the state-level bill. The thrust of the opposition to conscience legislation boiled down to this: abortion is health care, and those who don’t want to participate in abortions have no business in the medical field.

By the way, this is where we wind up when we hear the abortion-is-health-care lie without pushing back. But back to the arena…

The argument against the state-level bill was couched in terms of denial of access: if a pharmacist doesn’t want to hand out an abortion-inducing drug, that might prevent or delay a woman’s abortion; if some doctor refuses to participate in abortion, he might let a hemorrhaging woman bleed to death. (Nonsense, but some legislators swallowed that whopper whole.)

There were also some dark mutterings about slippery slopes, although no one used that term: if we respect conscience rights for one or two or three procedures, where will it end? How much disruption can we tolerate in order to accommodate “conscience”?

The supporters of conscience legislation testified to the primacy of conscience, which our own state’s constitution explicitly recognizes as a natural right, not one that needs to be granted. They cited the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. They spoke of their religious and ethical beliefs and how they shouldn’t be fired for sticking to them.

“Access” met conscience, and “access” won.

These state and federal votes were hardly the last word. They’re intriguing, though. They indicate to me that hostility to conscience rights is alive and well, even in more-or-less respectable circles. Indifference to those rights might as well be open hostility. Fortunately, there are people pushing back.

I kinda liked Cardinal Dolan’s pushback on the federal vote.

The failure of Congress to include the Conscience Protection Act in the 2018 omnibus appropriations bill is deeply disappointing. The CPA is an extraordinarily modest bill that proposes almost no change to existing conscience protection laws on abortion—laws that receive wide public and bi-partisan support. The CPA simply proposes to provide victims of discrimination with the ability to defend their rights in court to help ensure that no one is forced to participate in abortion. Those inside and outside of Congress who worked to defeat the CPA have placed themselves squarely into the category of extremists who insist that all Americans must be forced to participate in the violent act of abortion. We call on Congress not to give up until this critical legislation is enacted.

 

Bicoastal Challenges to Pro-life Pregnancy Centers

This post originally appeared on DaTechGuy Blog.

Related stories come to us from Connecticut and California, where “anti-abortion” centers (in the parlance of the Hartford Courant) are getting some pushback.

From the Courant, 11/10/17:

The city is looking to crack down on faith-driven crisis pregnancy centers, which critics say sometimes pose as clinics to lure women and hand out misleading information about abortions.

Under a measure headed for the city council, the so-called anti-abortion centers in Hartford would be required to disclose whether staff members have medical licenses, and would be banned from engaging in false or deceptive advertising practices.

When abortion advocates like NARAL start talking about “deliberate misinformation and lies,” I’m a bit skeptical. Why the sudden concern? Aha: the Hartford Women’s Center, where abortions are neither provided nor promoted, opened up in May just behind an abortion facility. The facility’s supporters find the proximity irksome.

Not content to mutter darn pro-lifers, stay outta my yard, Hartford-area abortion promoters are trying to get themselves an ordinance. But there’s this thing about ordinances: they come with public hearings. Ten days after the Courant article was published, the hearing on the proposed ordinance drew a packed house.  CBS Connecticut reported that pro-life advocates outnumbered NARAL’s allies.

Outcome is yet to be determined.

Meanwhile, out on the left coast, a California law requiring pro-life pregnancy centers to post information (in large font in a “conspicuous place”) about state-funded abortions is headed to the Supreme Court. 

Apparently, business is so lousy at California abortion facilities that the state must compel other facilities to help provide advertising for abortion services.

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the California law, which is no surprise, since…well, Ninth Circuit. Similar laws in Maryland and New York have been struck down in other Circuits. With divided conclusions and a First Amendment issue before it, the Supreme Court agreed this month to take the California case.

I have no doubt that abortion facility operators in every state are watching Hartford’s proposed ordinance and California’s law to see what happens.

In my state’s largest city, a pro-life pregnancy help center opened a couple of years ago just around the corner from a Planned Parenthood office. It’s hard to believe that the $23 million PP affiliate might ever feel threatened by the storefront operation that serves pregnant and parenting women with clothing, equipment, and referrals.

Then again, I find it hard to believe that any state actually passed a law like California’s or that any city contemplated an ordinance like the one proposed in Hartford. Eternal vigilance is the price of service, when the service is providing and promoting alternatives to abortion.

Pro-life women have been disinvited from a “Women’s March”

First published at Leaven for the Loaf.

 Telling pro-life women to shut up and go away is a waste of time. Some people who don’t get that are about to be enlightened.

The “Women’s March” on Washington has rejected participation by New Wave Feminists, who are pro-life. First, the organizers ignored NWF, then just a couple of days ago agreed to list them as a participating group in the Women’s March, then yanked the invitation today after press coverage ensued and Twitter hit the fan.

You have probably heard of this planned “Women’s March,” which will take place next Saturday, January 21 in Washington. I refuse to drop the quotation marks, or link to any official site for it, since now I know for sure what I’ve suspected all along: the organizers are under the thumb of leading abortion advocates who don’t think pro-life women count as women. The “Women’s March” is supposedly a way to declare resistance to President-elect Trump (hey, I’ve been on that train for awhile, girls; catch up).

Now we know that while Trump might be the excuse for the march, he’s not the reason. Continue reading

Link: a roundup on mercy

Before the election, I wrote about grace in a graceless season. Now that the election’s over, someone far more gifted than I has fashioned a similar piece, about mercy in what could easily be taken for a merciless season.

Here’s a link to a piece on Crux by Kathryn Jean Lopez, in which she rounds up several Catholics with ideas on practical applications of mercy these days. Enjoy, and be inspired.

​https://cruxnow.com/church-in-the-usa/2016/11/13/mercy-can-help-america-heal-bitter-political-season/

Merton on activism and “the real hope”

I’m indebted to Frank Weathers at Patheos for bringing Thomas Merton’s Letter to a Young Activist to my attention. The Patheos post came just after the 2012 election, after I had been a staff member on a statewide political campaign that fell short. Merton’s words were just what I needed to hear and ponder.

I offer an excerpt for your consideration, at the end of a campaign that makes 2012 look like a walk in the park. Go to the polls, for sure, but go with discernment and a spirit devoid of bitterness.

Do not depend on the hope of results. When you are doing the sort of work you have taken on, essentially an apostolic work, you may have to face the fact that your work will be apparently worthless and even achieve no result at all, if not perhaps results opposite to what you expect. As you get used to this idea, you start more and more to concentrate not on the results but on the value, the rightness, the truth of the work itself. And there too a great deal has to be gone through as gradually you struggle less and less for an idea and more and more for specific people. The range tends to narrow down, but it gets much more real. In the end, it is the reality of personal relationships that saves everything.

The big results are not in your hands or mine, but they suddenly happen, and we can share in them; but there is no point in building our lives on this personal satisfaction, which may be denied us and which after all is not that important….

The great thing after all is to live, not to pour out your life in the service of a myth: and we turn the best things into myths. If you can get free from the domination of causes and just serve Christ’s truth, you will be able to do more and will be less crushed by the inevitable disappointments. Because I see nothing whatever in sight but much disappointment, frustration and confusion.

The real hope, then, is not in something we think we can do but in God who is making something good out of it in some way we cannot see. If we can do God’s will, we will be helping in this process. But we will not necessarily know all about it before hand.

Shared on #WorthRevisit linkup with Reconciled to You and Theology is a Verb.

Grace in a graceless season

Spare a moment and a prayer for the political types, please and thank you. I’m one of them.

The bitter election-year exchanges on every platform are part of my daily life. Whether on television on online, shutting them down altogether is not an option, appealing though it may be. Politics is part of my vocation. Times like these, I’m tempted to wish it were otherwise.

This is a plague-on-both-your-houses year. I am reading  C.S. Lewis’s  Mere Christianity this month, and something he wrote in there captures my attitude.

I feel a strong desire to tell you – and I expect you feel a strong desire to tell me – which of these two errors is the worse. That is the devil getting at us. He always sends errors into the world in pairs – pairs of opposites. And he always encourages us to spend a lot of time thinking which is the worse. You see why, of course? He relies on your extra dislike of the one error to draw you gradually into the opposite one. But do not let us be fooled. We have to keep our eyes on the goal and go straight through between both errors. We have no other concern than that with either of them.

Providence was at work when I pulled that book off the shelf days ago. Continue reading