Southern Religion

Bart Stupak: Health reform + executive order = fewer abortions

Pro-life Democratic former Rep. Bart Stupak told Chris Good of The Atlantic that there have been fewer abortions with health reform than there would have been without it.

Stupak, the leading pro-life House legislator during health reform’s enactment, made that statement in explaining whether the executive order had worked as intended:

Yes, because the president has had three opportunities to throw us under the us, if you will, and he has not. Number one, in the high-risk pools. Remember how New Mexico send theirs in and had abortion in there, and Right to Life and all of them jumped right on it, and [Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen] Sebelius and all of them said, ‘Wait a minute, you can’t do that. We had an executive order.’ They changed their law. So did Pennsylvania. So in order to apply for the high-risk pool, their law had to be reflective of the executive order, which says no public funding for abortions. They held firm to it.

Secondly, the community health centers, which the law was silent on. The executive order says you cannot perform abortions or advocate for them in public health centers. That has been upheld.

And, last but not least, there’s a number of grants you can apply for right now, especially for developing health care professionals–that’s going on right now in the bill–and if you go online and look at the application form, it says you must comply with the Hyde language, even in your application for the use of these federal funds. So there have been three opportunities for Secretary Sebelius or President Obama to just sorta look the other way, and they haven’t. They’ve upheld it. So there have actually been less abortions now because of that executive order and the health care bill than there would have been if we’d never had it.

Expert analysis showed that health reform was abortion-reduction legislation, all along. Arguments to the contrary were, as “ardent pro-lifer” and Robert L. Willett Family Professor of Law at the Washington and Lee University School of Law Timothy Stoltzfus Jost put it, “erroneous information.” Still is.

[H/T: Bold Faith Type]

March 26, 2011 Posted by | Health | , , , | Comments Off on Bart Stupak: Health reform + executive order = fewer abortions

Minority young children become the majority [not extinct]

Straightforward demographics trump shrill cries that “Black Children Are An Endangered Species.” Black, brown, red and yellow children are apparently the majority of their age group now, just as current minority groups are projected to become the summary majority in 2042.

Minority children have been moving toward majority status for some time, not toward extinction. In 2009, 48 percent of the children born in the United States were members of minority groups. And growth continued so that, according to projections from the latest U.S. Census data by researchers at the University of New Hampshire (UNH), the tipping point passed.

Kenneth Johnson, UNH professor of sociology and senior demographer at the UNH Carsey Institute, and Daniel Lichter, Ferris Family Professor in the Department of Policy Analysis and Management at Cornell University, said [.pdf] in a paper published Wednesday in the Journal Population and Development Review:

We do not need to rely on Census projections or wait until 2042 to observe the putative demographic implications of growing racial and ethnic diversity in American society. Our research documents the demographic forces that have placed today’s young people in the vanguard of America’s new racial and ethnic diversity. The seeds of diversity are being sown today by immigration and high fertility, which are revealed in growing racial and ethnic diversity among America’s children and youth. In many parts of the United States, the future is now.

Why? Most women of childbearing age are members of minority groups:

A key reason for the growing child diversity is the changing mix of women in their prime child-bearing years (20-39 years old). From 1990 to 2008, the number of non-Hispanic white women in prime child-bearing years decreased 19 percent while the number of minority women increased 40 percent. In 1990, 63 percent of all births were to non-Hispanic white women; in 2008, 52 percent were to non-Hispanic white women.

It is irresponsible to artificially elevate racial tensions in any context, but it is especially so in times of demographic transition when there is already tension over the costs of transition. The demographers speak directly to the most immediate concern when they write [.pdf]:

It has been more than 25 years since Samuel Preston (1984) argued that America’s declining fertility rates, increasing longevity, and consequent aging of the population have had the effect of shifting the nation’s resources from the young to the old. The social and economic realities of children had deteriorated while the circumstances of the elderly had improved. Our results raise an additional demographic complication for children (Hernandez 1993). That is, will America’s older, largely white population—through the ballot box and collective self-interest—support young people who are now much different culturally from themselves and their own children? Will they vote, for example, to raise taxes for schools that serve young people of ethnic backgrounds different from theirs? Preston (1984: 448) worried that “Americans have never had any strong sense of collective responsibility for other people’s children, only private responsibility for their own.” This may be especially true if “other people’s children” are largely minority, disproportionately poor, and live in separate communities. In fact, Poterba (1997) found that the presence of large fractions of elderly residents in a jurisdiction was associated with significantly lower per-child educational spending, especially if the elderly and children were of different races.

For the sake of the young who are alive, and for the sake of those yet to be born, this is a time to build more bridges.

March 11, 2010 Posted by | History, Politics | , , , , | 5 Comments

Billboards and a drive to recriminalize abortion

Recently while declaring his willingness to eat nonhuman persons, Al Mohler showed that he knows what a species is. He certainly knows black children are not a separate species. Georgia billboards saying “Black Children are an Endangered Species” not withstanding. Though the view of blacks as a separate species, rather than human beings, is defended by people who affect white robes with pointed hoods. Not allies for the president of Southern Baptist Seminary, especially given the Southern Baptist Convention’s 1995 renunciation of its past stands in favor of segregation and slavery.

Yet Mohler does blog in ardent support the billboard campaign and its arguments, among them that Planned Parenthood is somehow applying views of eugenics once entertained by its founder, the late Margaret Sanger. Mohler seems to be unconcerned that applying the same guilt by historic association to the SBC he serves could put him among defenders of racial segregation. Ford Motor Co. could be worse tarred, given the late Henry Ford’s admiration for Adolph Hitler. Those are, however, three similarly false arguments.

The “endangered species” argument is also unsound as variously made. Black Americans as a group are not endangered the way that metaphor invites us to believe. Black fertility rates (live births per woman of childbearing age), like overall U.S. fertility rates, are projected to show a 2010 Census increase. The reverse of a decline in overall birth numbers. Not suggestive of ethnic cleansing. Nor coherent with the expressed fears of extermination.

It is still true that a relatively large number of black pregnancies end in abortion, just as Catherine Davis argues. The Centers for Disease Control reports that “57.4% of the abortions performed in Georgia in 2006 were performed on African-American women.” Whereas blacks compose 30% of Georgia’s population. Similarly, black women account for some 37% the nation’s abortions. Whereas just 13% of the population is black. Yet women seeking abortion are distinguished more by their poverty than by their race. They are mostly unmarried, most already have at least one child and are ending unintended pregnancies which probably resulted from a failure of or failure to properly use birth control.

Contributory factors are nonetheless not the decision. The controversial abortion numbers are the result of decisions black women make to have abortions. Decisions they are free to make. Decisions Mohler would deny them the legal right to make by criminalizing abortion, first by reversing Roe v Wade. Therein lies the freely expressed core purpose of this uproar: To end what Mohler calls “the scandal of abortion.”

March 9, 2010 Posted by | Health, Law, Medical Care, Religion | , , | 1 Comment

How would criminalization of abortion help black women/children?

FindLaw’s Sherry F. Colb writes about the “Black Children Are An Endangered Species” billboards:

But what might one do to address the abortion disparity? The anti-abortion movement seeks to criminalize abortion and to persuade people to work toward criminalization. In the meantime, the movement also tries to discourage individual women from seeking abortions. If the billboard’s audiences wish to do something to help the “endangered” black child, however, and accordingly seek to criminalize abortion, this move will not obviously do anything to empower the African-American community.

Criminalizing the termination of pregnancy would not provide a magic solution to the disparities. In the wake of legislation banning abortion, black women seeking abortions would not suddenly want to take their pregnancies to term, nor would they find affordable the prospect of an expanding family. Families that are pessimistic about the lives their potential children would face would not magically become optimistic on this score. Rather, the only thing likely to change with criminalization is that an African-American woman who wanted an abortion would have a more difficult time getting one, and, as a result, might fall prey to the back-alley or might give birth to children she did not want and did not feel equipped to have.

Read the rest here.

March 8, 2010 Posted by | Health, Law, Religion | , | Comments Off on How would criminalization of abortion help black women/children?

N.C. Catholic Bishops’ bad call on public school curricula

North Carolina’s Catholic bishops are overwrought about proposed new language for a nonexistent civics and economics textbook, CNA reports.

Bishop of Raleigh Michael F. Burbidge and Bishop of Charlotte Peter J. Jugis sent a Feb. 11 letter to the state’s Catholics referring to “draft text that is being proposed for a revised textbook on Civics and Economics,” although they are actually taking issue with the language of curriculum standards for Social Studies, Civics and Economics [.pdf]. Not a textbook.

Even so, the Catholic Diocese of Raleigh reports in its News section:

The proposed text asserts that Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court that legalized abortion and struck down state and federal laws that regulated and limited access to abortion, is an example of how the Supreme Court has upheld rights against oppressive government. The implication of this proposed text is that opposition to Roe v. Wade is wrong.

The language over which they are hyperventilating, and over which North Carolina’s right-wing Civitas Review waxed righteous before them, is in fact a well-accepted example of U.S. Supreme Court actions upholding individual rights and overruling oppressive government. That general language is so frequently used to define that topic in text books, law review articles, Constitutional Law coursework descriptions and the like that Google search on it returns 4,700,000 (four million, seven hundred thousand) hits.

Specifically, the version we searched on is:

Using three Supreme Court Cases (e.g., Brown v Board, Roe v Wade, Korematsu v US) as support explain how the US Supreme Court has upheld rights against oppressive government?

The bishops’ letter also said comments are closed tomorrow (Feb. 15), and that is incorrect as well. The State Board of Education, Department of Public Instruction has announced via its Web site:

The deadline for feedback on 1.0 has been extended through March 2nd, 2010.

The bishops and Civitas are objecting to a curriculum standard which requires, as it should, honest and accurate student understanding of the law of the land, because they disagree with the law. Not because the curriculum actually errs.

February 15, 2010 Posted by | Catholic, Education | , , , , | Comments Off on N.C. Catholic Bishops’ bad call on public school curricula

Catholic/Baptist anti-abortion convergence

Somehow, not mysteriously, the U.S. Council of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) chose the days preceding the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) “Sanctity of Human Life Sunday” [today] to renew their anti-choice attack on health care reform.

No overt Batholic/Catholic coordination was required, although there is convergence.

The SBC officially celebrates Sanctity of Human Life Sunday every year at Roe v. Wade anniversary time, and again this year, those promoting it mirror the USCCB arguments, saying, for example, that health reform would set off a “surge in taxpayer funded abortions in this country.”

In some regards, this celebration tends to make over the issue a delusion.

Among Southern Baptists, however, it is most visibly Richard Land, the SBC ethics chief, who raises the rhetorical stakes beyond the possibility of reasoning together to argue that the entire nation is “offering up its unborn children in a kind of pagan sacrifice.”

Land offers up those who argue a pro-choice position as worshippers of Molech:

I can still remember as a young boy having a Sunday School lesson about how the children of God had become so paganized that they sacrificed their little children to the pagan god Molech. I could never have imagined then that I would live to see my country offering up its unborn children as a type of pagan sacrifice.

Given the embedded arguments, certainly well-summarized by Land, the SBC might well also call this the “impossibility of further civil debate” Sunday.

January 18, 2010 Posted by | Medical Care, Religion, SBC | , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Catholic/Baptist anti-abortion convergence

Manhattan Declaration online petition pitch: Fail

Not quite two months after the Manhattan Declaration was unveiled they have less than half the 1 million signatures they wanted by Dec. 1. Thus having failed, they emailed all of the signers this week, pitching efforts to date as a success. And calling for a push on to the million.

The pitch dwells on rumors of success, and outlines a special effort by four Catholic archbishops:

Just ten days ago, Cardinal Rigali of Philadelphia, Archbishop Wuerl of Washington, DC, Archbishop Dolan of New York and Archbishop Kurtz of Louisville reached out to all of their brother Catholic bishops asking them to spread this document throughout their dioceses and encourage their clergy and faithful to study it and join as signatories.

That signature shortfall they’ve failed to confess is unexpected. After all, the signatures are unverified.

If the petition gatherer does not somehow verify that there is one, unique, living human being who has associated himself or herself with each signature (and not the same human being behind more than one signature), the petition is open to padding.

The Manhattan Declaration‘s signature-collection process does filter for robots. But apparently does no other identity verification. Not even a verification email to the address signers give them.

Our testing suggests that it just bumps the counter each time someone fills the form out properly and “signs.”.

Which means people can sign several times under bogus names, and that a suitably unethical person can sign for you. Most anti-spam software sidetracks their email appeals. So you might never know.

Yes. That million-signature petition, assuming they eventually get their million signatures — it’s_a_joke.

January 16, 2010 Posted by | Politics, WWW | , , , , , | Comments Off on Manhattan Declaration online petition pitch: Fail

Using Catholic Church discipline to shape American public policy director Deal Hudson’s denigration of two progressive Catholic groups as “fake Catholic” provoked push-back from Bryan Cones, managing editor of U.S. Catholic magazine. Cones

Well, I disagree with him, and if he wants to have a debate about whether I’m a Catholic, I say: Bring it, Deal. It’s time for Catholics with actual knowledge of the breadth of the Catholic tradition to start speaking up for themselves before we all get read out the church.

This is no mere parochial quarrel. It is part of a conflict over how much the Catholic right will use church discipline to bend national policy to its will.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s recent interview with Eleanor Clift of Newsweek, and reaction to it, indicates what the right has in mind.

In the interview, Pelosi expressed concerns about the Catholic Church’s position on abortion and gay rights and touched on the difference between pastoral care by her bishop and lobbying by bishops.

Patrick Archbold at the Catholic blog Creative Minority Report called this “text-book definition of scandal (a grave offense which incites others to sin). He argued that “it should, at this point, be dealt with in a direct and public way lest no one else think that you can hold these positions and consider yourself a ‘practicing’ Catholic.”

“Direct and public” appears to imply something more than the 2007 letter Rep. Patrick Kennedy, D-R.I., received from Bishop Thomas J. Tobin of Providence, R.I., requesting that he not receive communion because of his stand on abortion. The letter was revealed in the wake of a conflict between Tobin and Kennedy after Kennedy criticized the U.S. bishops for threatening to oppose health reform unless the legislation banned the use of federal funds to cover abortion. Kennedy said their stance was “fanning the flames of dissent and discord.” And Tobin demanded an apology.

Archbold’s shaping and interpretation of Pelosi’s studied answers into an assault on the Catholic Church is less important here than the coherence of his conclusions with Tobin’s application of force and perhaps even Randall Terry’s theatrical attempt to pressure bishops into denying communion to Catholic public officials who take positions like Pelosi’s.

The emergent pattern is one of using the hammer of church discipline to direct the behavior of Catholic public officials and through them to shape public policies to a narrow view of Catholic theology.

Defining some as “fake Catholic” follows the pattern of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) fundamentalist takeover which among its effects made the SBC a mainstay of the right wing of the Republican Party. Those bidding for power tarred opponents as “liberal” (rather than “fake”) in order to drive them out. That process of narrowing continues as the SBC shrinks.

The resulting SBC is more politically right-wing than the Catholic Church is currently.

Most recently, the Roman Catholic Church found ways to oppose Uganda’s anti-gay legislation. Yet the SBC through its political arm — the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission — remains scandalously silent on that matter. One which has otherwise attracted sweeping opposition from religious leaders and human rights groups.

A part of what has been ironically dubbed Batholicism, there lies the future of a Roman Catholic Church whose members permit some to be defamed and either silenced or driven out because they dissent from ideological narrowness.

December 30, 2009 Posted by | Catholic | , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Terry pressures the bishops

The P.T. Barnum of the pro-life movement is putting on his new “Deaf at the Cathedral” road show for a succession of U.S. Catholic bishops.

His goal is to persuade as many as possible to withhold communion from Catholic officeholders who insufficiently anti-abortion.

Randall Terry is a Catholic convert whom the American Papist called “a bit persona non grata” after Terry set up Archbishop Burke.

This time, the group dubbed Insurrecta Nex and founded by Terry will travel to 13 Cathedrals in 9 states to hold demonstrations asking Catholic Bishops:

Your Excellency, if any Catholic US Senator from your state, or member of the United States House of Representatives from your diocese votes to fund the murder of children by abortion in any ‘health care reform’ bill, will they be denied Communion?

He is making his usual aggressive case. He says:

Will Catholic Bishops truly defend babies — not with mere lip service, but with true valor — and hold pro-death Catholic Congressmen accountable? Or will they turn a deaf ear to the cries of innocent blood, the pleas of the faithful, and the canons of the Catholic Church that obligate them to withhold communion from Catholic politicians who promote the murder of babies by abortion?

Demonstrating against bishops in an attmpt to use the parishioners they serve to pressure them into actions they have either already taken (communion denial is typically private) or decided not to take.

Maybe not the best idea Terry has ever had. Bishops, who don’t necessarily take well to theatrically delivered pressure, whether from one another, the public or the press. Are you sure about this, Randall?

December 8, 2009 Posted by | Catholic, Politics | , , , , | Comments Off on Terry pressures the bishops

‘Dangerous’ Declaration, says the LA Times

It is a dangerous declaration full of fake facts and supported by a worthless petition. The Manhattan Declaration is irresponsible, argues the Los Angeles Times:

This apocalyptic argument for lawbreaking is disingenuous, but it is also dangerous. Did the Roman Catholic bishops who signed the manifesto consider how their endorsement of lawbreaking in a higher cause might embolden the antiabortion terrorists they claim to condemn? Did they stop to think that, by reserving the right to resist laws they don’t like, they forfeit the authority to intervene in the enactment of those laws, as they have done in the congressional debate over healthcare reform? They need to be reminded that this is a nation of laws, not of men — even holy men.

Read the entire piece here.

November 29, 2009 Posted by | Politics, Religion | , , , , , | 2 Comments