ALL Report: Health Care Betrayal

From ALL:

Sr. Keehan and 60 progressive nuns claim abortion coverage is not in the Obama Health Reform Law, yet the Dept. of Health and Human Services released $160 million for emergency insurance to cover abortions … UNDER the new law (read about it here: So who is really to blame for this great expansion of abortion and birth control?  Hint: It’s not exactly who you may think.

Speaking of Ignoring the American Founding…

Concluding NRB’s recent drug legalization debate is a post entitled, “This is What Happens When the Founders’ Philosophy of Government Is Ignored.”  Setting aside the fact that just how the Founders would have treated drugs remains very much an open question, it seems to me that, given another recent NRB debate, a reminder of what else can happen when America’s founding principles are disregarded is in order. (Content Warning) Continue reading

Conservatism Can’t Survive Without the Pro-Life Movement, Part II

In Part I, I argue that it would be politically foolish for the Right to further backpedal or abandon the pro-life cause. Here I want to make the case that the right to life truly is inseparable both from core conservatism and from any meaningful effort to advance conservative ideas—that, in fact, pro-abortion tendencies actually endanger the prospects of those who value limited government, the free market, and strong national defense.

As I explained on June 15, abortion is an affront to the Declaration of Independence. As the unjust taking of a human life, it is wrong for the same reason slavery, theft, assault, honor killings, rape, eminent domain abuse, and individual health insurance mandates are wrong: they are all violations of human liberty and natural rights.  Accordingly, society justly protects its citizens from them via law for the same reason.  As long as conservatism still “holds these truths to be self-evident” that all men have “certain unalienable rights” to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” and as long as conservatism still accepts that “governments are instituted among men” for the purpose of “secur[ing] these rights,” then philosophically-consistent conservatives have no choice but to oppose legalized abortion. Nobody can support abortion in good conscience without either honestly confronting this conundrum head-on, or asking himself what definition of “conservatism” he’s been operating under all this time.

That pro-choice views are an egregious exception to conservatives’ and libertarians’ pro-liberty rhetoric should be obvious. What may be less obvious—but is no less true—is that such dubious thinking cannot help but undermine other core conservative principles and efforts. Continue reading

Conservatism Can’t Survive Without the Pro-Life Movement, Part I (Updated)

The more I reflect on The Great NewsReal Abortion Debate, the more convinced I am that I made a critical error.

I want to revisit the issue of whether or not the pro-life cause is central or peripheral to the conservative movement.  I made clear where I stood on that question—as an egregious deprivation of human rights, abortion should be opposed by every lover of liberty with every fiber of his or her being—but I fear I didn’t go nearly far enough in explaining the implications of the answer.  This essay will explore the practical aspects of the matter; my next one will address the moral and philosophical.

I conceded that I could “basically support” the kind of ‘truce’ David Swindle was talking about, i.e. candidates centering their campaigns on the “two unifying issues” of the free market and defeating Islamofascism. That’s more or less how wartime Republican presidents since Ronald Reagan have run for office anyway (in Reagan’s case swapping out Islamofascism for the Soviet Union), and that’s okay.  I don’t have a problem with our candidates emphasizing some issues more than others to put voters’ most immediate concerns front and center, or to address crises that demand immediate resolution.

However, that doesn’t exempt a candidate from talking about the right to life at all, or from being pro-life.  I have already argued that pro-life principles are inseparable from core conservatism, and that abortion cannot be regarded as merely one issue among many, and I’ll elaborate more on those points in the next post.  But it’s also important because whether or not one is capable of recognizing abortion for the evil that it is, and is willing to do something about it, tells us something about what he or she is made of. I know there are exceptions (Ron Paul is pro-life but deranged, Joe Lieberman is radically pro-abortion, but firm on the war), but I truly believe that strongly pro-life candidates will tend to be of a higher caliber than pro-choice candidates in several qualities that will benefit public servants, and the American people, in all areas: Continue reading

This is What Losing an Argument Looks Like

Even if you aren’t violent, you are fanning the flames, inciting those that may be on the edge. There is more at stake here than whether someone is for or against the issue. There is the rule of law. This misogynistic thinking imitates Sharia law. This is America.

Blogosphere Tip of the Day: if your opponent can’t respond to your arguments with anything other than lying, hysterical hatred, you’re allowed to declare victory, and there’s probably nothing to be gained from a continued dialogue with said sore loser.

Pro-Life: Not Down, Never Out

As promised, here is my response to David.  However, he also made another point that needs to be addressed, so let’s tackle it here:

The Anti-Abortion Movement has had decades to convince people and change minds. It’s failed […] There isn’t some magical argument that the anti-abortion movement is going to stumble upon that’s suddenly going to change the tides.

John Nampion had a good retort:

Basically you’re saying the Pro-Lifers should just give up because they haven’t succeeded in their cause. Are you kidding? Israel hasn’t been very successful in swaying world opinion towards its side…so it should just yell “Uncle”? Please…if the fight is valuable, it must and will go on!

Excellent point!  One wonders if David thinks we should apply the “unless you win in X number of years, you must surrender” standard to any other political causes.  Dismantling ObamaCare?  Decriminalizing drugs?  Reforming the federal role in education?  Immigration policy? (24 years have passed since Reagan’s amnesty bill, and the border still isn’t secure.)  Israel? (62 years since declaring independence, they’re still persona non grata in the international community’s eyes.)

Indeed, American slavery was not abolished by the Thirteenth Amendment until 1868—92 years after we declared independence! And it took another 96 years after that to pass the Civil Rights Act.  The 36 years since Roe v. Wade don’t look quite so definite now, do they?

As I pointed out in the article, abortion has on its side a tremendously powerful propaganda machine (plus plenty of self-professed “conservatives” and Republicans fixing to purge the Right of social conservatives).  And even so, American support for life is moving in the right direction.

I’ll take my chances with principle, thank you very much.

PS: David wraps things up here.

Indisputable Fact: Life Begins at Fertilization (UPDATED)

In The Party of Death, National Review’s Ramesh Ponnuru writes:

We have developed ways of talking that enable us to pretend that the point can be blinked away. In the case of abortion and embryo research, the main technique is to suggest that there is some great mystery about “when life begins,” and that this alleged question is a religious or philosophical one. Yet science has since solved the mystery. From conception onward, what exists is a distinct organism of the human species. The philosophical question is what we make of that fact. To jumble these issues together—the essentially scientific question of categorizing an embryo as human and living, and the moral question of whether it follows from that categorization that it has a right to life—is a logical error. Justice Blackmun, of course, proceeded in just this erroneous fashion in Roe. And if we are not careful, talking in terms of “meaningful life,” or, as [author Ronald] Dworkin does, of “life in earnest,” can lead us into this error as well.

All of us who read this page were once human embryos. The history of our bodies began with the formation of an embryo. We were those embryos, just as we were once fetuses, infants, children, and adolescents. But we were never a sperm cell and an egg cell. (Those cells were genetically and functionally parts of other human beings.) The formation of the embryo marks the beginning of a new human life: a new and complete organism that belongs to the human species. Embryology textbooks say so, with no glimmer of uncertainty or ambiguity.

That new organism is alive rather than dead or inanimate. It is human rather than a member of some other species. It is an organism distinct from all others. It is not a functional part of a larger organism (the way a kidney is part of a larger organism). It maintains its own organic unity over time. It directs its own development, according to its genetic template, through the embryonic, fetal, and subsequent stages. Such terms as “blastocyst,” “newborn,” and “adolescent” denote different stages of development in a being of the same type, not different types of beings. At each of our earlier stages of life, we have been, as we are now, whole living members of the species Homo sapiens.
(hardcover, p. 77-78)

And medical textbooks do indeed say so:

Human Embryology, 3rd Edition by William Larsen, Lawrence Sherman, S. Steven Potter, & William Scott: “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.” (p. 1)

The Developing Human: Clinically Oriented Embryology, 7th Edition by Keith Moore & TVN. Persaud: “Human development begins at fertilization, the process during which a male gamete or sperm (spermatozoon) unites with a female gamete or oocyte (ovum) to form a single cell called a zygote. This highly specialized, totipotent cell marked the beginning of each of us as a unique individual.” (p. 18)

Human Embryology & Teratology, 3rd Edition by Ronan O’Rahilly & Fabiola Muller: “Although life is a continuous process, fertilization (which, incidentally, is not a ‘moment’) is a critical landmark because, under ordinary circumstances, a new, genetically distinct human organism is formed when the chromosomes of the male and female pronuclei blend in the oocyte.” (p. 8 )

Developmental Biology, 6th Edition by Scott Gilbert: “Fertilization is the process whereby two sex cells (gametes) fuse together to create a new individual with genetic potentials derived from both parents.” (p. 185)

Van Nostrand’s Scientific Encyclopedia, 7th Edition by Douglas Considine: “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.” (p. 943)

Langman’s Medical Embryology, 7th Edition by TW Sadler: “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.” (p. 3)

Patten’s Foundations of Embryology, 6th Edition by Bruce Carlson: “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.” (p. 3)

UPDATE: Pro-Life on Campus has more:

“When fertilization is complete, a unique genetic human entity exists.” (C. Christopher Hook, MD, Mayo Clinic, as quoted by Richard Ostling in an AP news story, 9/24/99)

Testimony before a US Senate subcommittee (Subcommittee on Separation of Powers to Senate Judiciary Committee S-158, Report, 97th Congress, 1st Session, 1981)

“It is incorrect to say that biological data cannot be decisive…It is scientifically correct to say that an individual human life begins at conception.” (Professor Micheline Matthews-Roth, Harvard University Medical School)

“I have learned from my earliest medical education that human life begins at the time of conception.” (Dr. Alfred M. Bongioanni, Professor of Pediatrics and Obstetrics, University of Pennsylvania)

After fertilization has taken place a new human being has come into being. [It] is no longer a matter of taste or opinion…it is plain experimental evidence. Each individual has a very neat beginning, at conception.” (Dr. Jerome LeJeune, Professor of Genetics, University of Descartes)

“By all the criteria of modern molecular biology, life is present from the moment of conception.” (Professor Hymie Gordon, Mayo Clinic)

“The beginning of a single human life is from a biological point of view a simple and straightforward matter—the beginning is conception.” (Dr. Watson A. Bowes, University of Colorado Medical School)

The official Senate report

Physicians, biologists, and other scientists agree that conception marks the beginning of the life of a human being—a being that is alive and is a member of the human species. There is overwhelming agreement on this point in countless medical, biological, and scientific writings.” (Subcommittee on Separation of Powers to Senate Judiciary Committee S-158, Report, 97th Congress, 1st Session, 1981)

Quotes from leading abortion advocates

“Perhaps the most straightforward relation between you and me on the one hand and every human fetus from conception onward on the other is this: All are living members of the same species, homo sapiens. A human fetus, after all, is simply a human being at a very early stage in his or her development.” (David Boonin, A Defense of Abortion, New York: Cambridge University Press, 2002, p. 20)

“Whether a being is a member of a given species is something that can be determined scientifically, by an examination of the nature of the chromosomes in the cells of living organisms. In this sense there is no doubt that from the first moments of its existence an embryo conceived from human sperm and eggs is a human being.” (Peter Singer, Practical Ethics, 2nd Edition, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993, pp. 85-86)

“A human fetus is not a nonhuman animal; it is a stage of human being.” (Wayne Sumner, Abortion and Moral Theory, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1981, p. 10)

Life begins with fertilization and abortion is legalized destruction of life.” (Dr. Arthur Morris, Jr., Abortionist, as reported in the Asheville Citizen-Times, April 4, 1976)

“We tell her exactly like it is … when they abort, they’ll be aborting a small baby.” (Dr. Arthur Morris, Jr., Abortionist, as reported in the Asheville Citizen-Times, April 4, 1976)

UPDATE 5/17/11: Even more here.

Comprehensive week-by-week fetal development information can be found here.

Now Is Not the Time for Truces

Possible GOP 2012 candidate Mitch Daniels thinks we need a “truce” on social issues:

“We’re going to just have to agree to get along for a little while,” by casting social issues like abortion aside so the next president can focus on fixing the beleaguered economy.

Expecting a backlash if the remarks weren’t explained further, Weekly Standard reporter John McCormack followed up with the governor. He asked Daniels if his remarks meant the next president shouldn’t try to stop the abortion funding in the Obama health care law or put the Mexico City Policy back in place to stop international abortion funding.

Daniels said the United States faces a “genuine national emergency” concerning the economy, budget and national debt and that “maybe these things could be set aside for a while.”

“But this doesn’t mean anybody abandons their position at all. Everybody just stands down for a little while, while we try to save the republic,” the governor added.

Daniels replied, “I don’t know,” when asked if he would issue the executive order every pro-life president has done by instituting the Mexico City Policy Obama revoked.

Given how little our national leaders actually do to end abortion or preserve marriage once they get into office, Daniels’s proposal sounds less like a game plan for “saving the republic” and more like a lazy excuse to not talk about issues he doesn’t feel like discussing.

Joseph Lawler rightly notes that Daniels’s cowardice on the Mexico City policy isn’t a truce, but unconditional surrender.  And so, the Republican march of mediocrity continues…