Dehumanizing

“If you ladies leave my island, if you survive basic training, you will be a weapon.  You will be a minister of death, praying for war.  But until that day, you are pukes.  You are the lowest form of life on Earth.  You are not even human f*cking beings.  You are nothing but unorganized grabastic pieces of amphibian sh#t!”

        —R. Lee Ermey as Gunnery Sergeant Hartman in Full Metal Jacket

 

Imagine, if you will, a 24-year-old single mom, with her five-year-old in the car, being assaulted by a man who repeatedly shoves her to the ground.  Imagine she’s berated with a flood of curseword-laden epithets.  Imagine she’s dragged around by her feet until her dress rides up over her head.  Imagine, then, her tearful, angry, frightened, and, yes, f-bomb-laced report to the police officer at the scene gets recorded.

Does this sound funny to you?  Is it even remotely entertaining?

Well, it was to CNN anchor Carol Costello, who last week broadcast the audio with this gleefully grinning introduction (just watch her face in the video embedded in the linked story):

“This is quite possibly the best minute and a half of audio we’ve ever come across.  Well, come across in a long time . . . Sit back, and enjoy.”

Best.  Audio.  Ever.  Enjoy.

That’s her introto audio about an assault of a single mother (she later repeated the “best minute and a half of audio” remark via Twitter).  Following the audio, Costello returned to the screen, still smugly grinning, and confided that a lengthy expletive bleep was her “favorite part.”  She closed by telling viewers:

“You can thank me later.”

Wow.

Not that it matters, but did I mention that the young single mother in question was Bristol Palin, daughter of former Alaska Governor and 2008 Republican Vice Presidential nominee Sarah Palin?

Actually, it does matter, because it turns out that just three months earlier, Costello posted an op-ed at CNN.com demonstrating that she, in fact, knows better.  Boldly piling onto the Ray Rice assault story that by then was already nearly six months old, Costello—rightly, I might add—got all over Rice and the NFL and condemned the cowardice involved any time a man assaults a woman.  I mean, that’s bad when a man assaults a woman, right?

Unless that woman is the daughter of a much-reviled star of your political enemy, apparently.

After a week of being blasted for her callous display—and it’s worth noting that CNN never even suspended her, much less fire her—Costello finally apologized.

Via Twitter.

She refuses to apologize on the air, and you know she hasn’t had the guts or decency to call Bristol and apologize personally.

Classy.

Ms. Costello herself has been a victim of a violent assault.  She—taking her at her word—knows what that’s about.  When the victim is Janay Rice, or herself, she knows that’s a heinous, despicable act.  Why, then, is it hilarious when the victim is Bristol Palin?

The answer, I’m afraid, says a great deal about the very dark place to which we’ve allowed ourselves to slip: Carol Costello does not view Bristol Palin or anyone else associated with the political Right as a human being.

[As an aside, I don’t think anyone knows what Bristol’s political views are, if she has any, and she’s never run for office or held herself out as a pundit.  In this instance we’re talking pure guilt-by-association]

This is where we are now, kids.  We’ve reached the point where those with whom we disagree—and their children—are no longer human beings, and therefore any mishap, epithet, or mistreatment that may befall them—or that we, ourselves, may cast upon them—is not only OK, it’s the height of entertainment.  And this is what then allows us to take joy in the physical abuse of someone on the other side.  Or publicly equate someone with barnyard excrement just because we disagree with them.  Or mock the fact that a political opponent is confined to a wheelchair.

I’ll confess this is not confined to to the Progressive Left, although I submit you’ll find more examples of it on that side of the discussion.  This is running through our society, and it’s a direct result of us allowing ourselves to slip into a culture of dehumanization and death.

TheCollegeFix.com reports that a growing number of students on college campuses not only support unlimited abortion on demand, they support “post-birth abortion.”  And for those of you who have previously ridiculed the slippery slope argument against abortion, I want you to pay attention:  some of these students favor killing children up to age five.

Five years old.

That’s not a sperm or egg.  That’s not a zygote or embryo.  That’s not a fetus. That’s not even an infant or a toddler.  That’s a kindergartener.

The argument these people make is that—supposedly—human beings don’t become “self-aware” until age five, and until they reach that stage of development, they’re not fully human.  Therefore, it is not society’s place to substitute its moral judgment for that of the mother.  Having reduced the child to sub-human status in their minds, they then view it as OK to kill the child as a matter of convenience.

Once this mindset takes hold, there is almost no limit to the depravity it will permit.  The Holocaust was not possible without the Nazis first being able to reduce Jews, in popular thinking, to less-than-human status.  Slavery was not possible—or at least could not have been sustained from as long as it was—on these shores without a prevailing mindset that African blacks were not human beings; indeed, the argument that blacks are human beings was the most powerful intellectual tool in eliminating the practice.  Today’s Islamists would not be beheading unbelievers and apostates without the same kind of thinking.

This is a dangerous place we’re heading.  We’ve become all-too comfortable with casting people into the pit of the sub-human, or watching others do it and being OK with it as long as it’s not us.  We should be profoundly, viscerally, uncomfortable with the abuse of another (whatever our political differences), or with the killing of a four year old child (or any child).

That we’re increasingly not is very, very disturbing.

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Abortion And Due Process

Lecter:      And what did you see, Clarice?  What did you see?

Starling:   Lambs.  The lambs were screaming.

Lecter:      They were slaughtering the spring lambs?

Starling:   And they were screaming.

                  —Anthony Hopkins as Dr. Hannibal Lecter, and Jodie Foster as Agent Clarice Starling in The Silence Of The Lambs

 

As a supplement to the previous post, I wanted to expand on a thought about abortion as it relates to the Constitution.  I used to take the position that Roe v. Wade was wrong because abortion was a states’ rights issue.  I was wrong.  Abortion is very much a federal Constitutional issue, but for very different reasons than usually supposed.

I have previously observed that Thomas Jefferson forever enshrined the right to life in the Declaration of Independence:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life[.]”

For our Founders, it was “self-evident”—something so patently obvious it required no additional proof or explanation—that all people were equally vested with certain rights that were “unalienable.”   In our modern parlance we would say “inalienable,” but the meaning is the same:  incapable of being surrendered or transferred without the consent of the one in possession.  Thus, it was so obvious as to be beyond question that everyone had these rights that could not be taken by any person or power but the consent of the holder. 

This is the starting point for our Declaration of Independence.

If we turn to the Constitution, and we find the same concept of a right to life expressed in the Fifth Amendment (and again in the Fourteenth, applying to the States):

No person shall . . . be deprived of life . . . without due process of law.”

Admittedly, this is a bit of a hedge from Jefferson’s absolute of “unalienable.”  Still, the protection is fairly plain: nobody loses their right to life without “due process.”  The concept of due process fills volumes in our law libraries, but at its essence isn’t that difficult to understand.  According to Webster’s, “due process of law” refers to “legal proceedings established to protect individual rights and liberties.”  To put a little more legal detail on it, Black’s Law Dictionary tells us:

Due process of law implies the right of a person affected thereby to be present before the tribunal which pronounces judgment upon the question of life, liberty, or property, in its most comprehensive sense; to be heard, by testimony or otherwise, and to have the right of controverting, by proof, every material fact which bears upon the question of right in the matter involved.”

So “due process” means that none of us may be deprived of our self-evident unalienable right to life without being afforded the opportunity: 

  • to be present “in the most comprehensive sense” before the body making the decision;
  • to be heard; and
  • to controvert every material fact bearing on the deprivation of that right.

Also key to the concept of due process is that the conclusive presumption of any fact against the one to be deprived is in itself a denial of due process.  We resolve doubts in favor of the one whose rights are in jeopardy (hence the “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard in criminal cases).  We’ll come back to this.

Well, what happens to this due process concept in the context of an abortion?  To the extent the right to life is “unalienable,” the being whose life to be taken certainly hasn’t consented to the taking.  I suppose she is present before the decision-maker in the literal sense that she is physically attached to her mother in the womb.  Whether that constitutes being present “in the most comprehensive sense” is, I think, questionable at best.  What isn’t questionable is the fact that she has no opportunity to be heard, and no opportunity to controvert the material facts bearing on the decision whether her life is to be taken.  There’s been no judge or jury, no ability to present a defense, and no one to argue on her behalf.  If an adult were sent to Death Row after a trial at which he was only permitted to sit in the lobby, and at which he was not permitted to introduce any evidence or even have the benefit of counsel, that conviction would be overturned in a heartbeat as an unconstitutional denial of due process, even if there were no question that he did it.  Our law books overflow with examples of this very result under far less egregious circumstances.

I am at an absolute loss, then, how we square permitting abortion at all with the principles of our Declaration, and the law of due process expressed in the Constitution.  And consider that in the case of abortion, we’re not talking about someone guilty or even accused of murder.  The life taken is taken from one who is objectively and absolutely innocent of anything except existing and even that condition was not of her own volition.  We move heaven and earth to protect a confessed murderer’s right to life, yet we do nothing to ensure due process for the most innocent of the innocent.

How can that be?

Our dilemma is the conflict between the child’s right to life on the one hand, and on the other the mother’s “reproductive rights” or “right to choose” flowing from her right to privacy in her body.  Even accepting at face value that this “right to privacy” exists—you won’t find the term in the Declaration or the Constitution—and poses a Constitutional conflict, however, there remains a serious problem:

Of the two people involved, only one of them created the conflict.

In the law we have a concept called “estoppel,” which means you cannot avoid the consequences of your own actions to another’s detriment.  It’s a sort of you-made-your-bed-you-lie-in-it rule; you cannot create a situation and then seek relief from that situation at someone else’s expense.  That’s what we have in the case of abortion.  To the extent there is a legitimate conflict between competing Constitutional rights, that conflict was created by the mother, and as between the two she is the one who should not be heard to complain that that conflict is impairing her rights.

The only way around this is to eliminate the conflict by saying that the being whose life is to be taken is not a “person,” such that the self-evident unalienable right to life and due process guarantees do not apply.  And indeed that is exactly the tack taken by Justice Blackmun in Roe v. Wade.  But this presents two problems.  One is that the common understanding of “person” means “human being,” which requires you to accept that (a) a fetus in the womb is not a human being, and (b) at some point none of us can define that fetus magically crosses the line from non-human being to human being.  

The bigger problem is the argument is inconsistent with the Constitutional notion of due process itself.  Those who contend that a fetus is not “person” and therefore has no right to life protected by due process, are engaging in a pre-emptive conclusive presumption against the unborn child, which in itself is a denial of due process (this is the concept to which I said we’d return).  Put another way, they deem the unborn child to have no right to due process, without affording any due process in making that determination.  It’s simply so because they say so.

There is considerable disagreement as to when one becomes a “person” entitled under our Constitution to due process to protect their right to life.  Even the staunchest abortion advocate, however, will concede that it happens at some point, although the best they can say in answer to the question of when is I don’t know.  But our notion of due process includes the idea that we resolve doubts in favor of the one whose rights are subject to deprivation.  If we don’t know when the threshold of personhood is crossed, due process requires us to assume in any individual instance that it already has been crossed; if that is the case, then the unalienable right to life and its due process protections are in full play.

Leave moral and religious concerns aside; I don’t see how you get around the due process issue and have anything left of the Constitution.

Parts Ain’t Necessarily Parts

Every sperm is sacred

Every sperm is great

For every sperm that’s wasted

God gets quite irate

                  —Michael Palin as Dad in The Meaning Of Life

I long ago accepted the fact that Houston Chronicle columnist Lisa Falkenberg has a pathologically fanatical obsession—some might say “fetish”—with abortion.  She’s never met an abortion she didn’t like, and while I haven’t counted them, it seems like half her twice-weekly columns are devoted to promoting the practice.

But this time she’s let her blind devotion lead her into absurdity.

What’s set her off this time is yesterday the Texas House passed a bill that would push back the outer limit for abortions in Texas from 24 weeks to 20 weeks, and require doctors performing abortions to actually have access to a hospital in which to perform them.  This bill has been the subject of much hysteria on the Left here in Texas, and to tell you the truth, I don’t see what’s so controversial.  Is five months really not enough time for you to figure out you’re pregnant, decide you don’t want to be pregnant, and make arrangements to exercise what Ms. Falkenberg calls your “constitutionally protected medical option[]” have an abortion?  And given that for the Left the abortion debate always centers around protecting women from the horrors of back-alley practitioners, how can there possibly be an objection to requiring that this potentially dangerous and even—pardon the expression—life-threatening procedure be performed in a hospital?  Nevertheless, Ms. Falkenberg is all in a tizzy, as though any limitation of abortion on demand is a sacrilege against the most holy right in the universe.  

Um, Alex, what is “life”? 

Smugly presuming herself to be engaging in the clever and skillful use of turnabout, Ms. Falkenberg Wednesday morning proposed new regulation of “man parts” parodically modeled after the informed consent legislation Texas passed in 2011, and which took effect in 2012 after the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a lower court injunction.  In Ms. Falkenberg’s proposal, men seeking vasectomies would have to submit sperm samples and have magnified images of the sperm shown and explained to them, and men seeking Viagra prescriptions would have to submit to rectal prostate examinations, ostensibly mirroring the informed consent law’s requirement of a sonogram and medical explanation prior to having an abortion.  Expressing her mocking concern for men’s health, Ms. Falkenberg appears to equate vasectomies and Viagra with abortions, as though any activity touching upon genitalia is the same as any other, and after all “similar regulations restricting the reproductive rights of women have been deemed acceptable policy by the state of Texas.”

You want to regulate my chicky parts?  Well I got you now, *Mister Man*!

If all this were about were the regulation of adult body parts, Ms. Falkenberg might—might—have something of a point.  But it’s not.  Viagra, of course, has nothing to do with abortion or even contraception; with very rare exceptions, it doesn’t even have anything to do with anything permanent.  And contrary to Ms. Falkenberg’s deliberately over-generalized comparison, vasectomies in men are not similar to abortions for women; in point of fact, they correspond almost exactly to tubal ligations in women, and so far as I am aware the State of Texas hasn’t imposed any restrictions on women’s “rights” in that regard.  Ms. Falkenberg’s cynical and intellectually shallow parallel doesn’t withstand even the most elementary of scrutiny.

Of course, the elephant in the room is the inescapable fact that abortion deals with taking another human being’s life, while Viagra and vasectomies do not.  Ms. Falkenberg attempts to avoid this problem by couching her discussion in global terms of “potential life,” thus equating an isolated sperm with a viable prenatal human baby, both being equally protectable or disposable, depending on your point of view.  I’m open to correction, but I don’t think even the Catholic Church argues that sperm and fetuses are equivalent forms of (potential) life; the Church opposes abortion based on the nearly universal (even the vast majority of atheists accept it) precept that we should protect existing innocent human life, but its opposition to (non-abortive) contraception such as condoms is based on the theological construct that human sexual intercourse should not be isolated from the divine act of creating human life, not on the life-sanctity of sperm itself.

The fact of the matter is that even at 20 weeks’ gestation, with modern technology the human fetus is viable—she has a fighting shot to survive outside the womb.  And—not that it matters—she is not just a primordial blob with a heartbeat, she is recognizable as a human being.  She has fingers and toes.  She has hair.  She even—since gender identity is so vitally important to people like Ms. Falkenberg—is identifiable as a girl.  This is what—or more correctly, who—you destroy when you undertake an abortion that late.

But by focusing on body parts and an analysis that can’t get beyond the infantile level of you-touch-mine-I’ll-touch-yours, Ms. Falkenberg ignores that truth, which allows her to posture the issue of time restrictions as purely an imposition on her right to abortion on demand.  Presumably even the existing 24 week limit is, for her, too intrusive a burden, which of course begs the question where, exactly, we can draw the line.  I assume she would object to someone killing their 1 year old, so we know that even people like her recognize that at some point it becomes unacceptable to kill a child.  So where is that point?  When the umbilical cord is cut?  When the body clears the birth canal (or belly, in the case of Caesarian section deliveries)?  When labor begins?  At the end of week 37 (week 38 is considered “term,” with 40 weeks +/- 2 weeks being the “normal” gestation period)?  Ms. Falkenberg can’t answer that question.  She’s so selfishly caught up in the fallacy that abortion is solely about her “rights” and regulation of her body parts that she can’t or won’t see the logical (never mind moral) dilemma she’s in.

It is an inalterable fact of life that all things are not equal when it comes to matters of reproduction.  Male and female bodies are different, and we play different roles in the process, with different burdens and consequences.  If a woman chooses to have sex (for reasons that would take another column to explain, the rape argument is irrelevant), even with contraception, she might get pregnant, and it’s not the same for the man.  That’s just the way it is, and no amount of legislating, judicial activism, or imbecilic column writing will change that. 

Restricting abortion—if you can call limiting it to 20 weeks a “restriction”—isn’t reducing a woman’s “rights” at all.  If she does not want to get pregnant, her remedy for protecting her “reproductive rights,” “right to choose,” or whatever you want to call it, is to choose not to have sex.  If she has sex, nobody has deprived her of anything; she’s made her “choice” and exercised all the rights she has.  But in so doing, whether she likes it or not she has also chosen to accept the risk that there might be consequences in the form of pregnancy.  And once that pregnancy occurs, it’s no longer just about her rights and her body parts; there is now another human being involved—a human being who is totally innocent, who has had literally no opportunity for choice, and who if her mother won’t protect her has little other voice or chance for due process—whose life is at stake.  Are you really willing to sacrifice another human being so you can have a second chance at exercising “rights” that didn’t seem to matter that much to you when it was just about sex?

With all due respect to Ms. Falkenberg and her ilk, pro-life people like me don’t have the slightest interest in putting our hands (or rosaries) on your ovaries, and it is almost impossibly egocentric for you to think we do. 

We’re trying to keep your hands off innocent lives.

*********

EDITOR’S NOTE:    My apologies for the extended absence.  I’ve been on a lengthy vacation, and it’s been difficult upon returning to choose from the multitude of running stories.  That, and I’ve been preoccupied with other projects.  Hopefully we’ll be back to a more regular posting schedule.

Who Are You?

I’m just a poor boy, nobody loves me.

He’s just a poor boy from a poor family,

Spare him his life from this monstrosity!

            —Queen, Bohemian Rhapsody

I have some questions for you.

Take a look in the mirror.  Are you perfect?  Were you perfect when you were born?  Is there anything about you that someone else might consider a blemish, imperfection, or—God forbid—a “deformity”?

Do you consider your life any less worthy of living than others’ because of it?  Are you of less value than other people because of it?  If you give calm, sober reflection to the question, have the blessings of your life not been worth having to endure whatever imperfections you may have to suffer through?  Are these questions you would rather someone else answered for you, without consulting you, and then have them choose whether you live or die based on the answers they gave on your behalf?

I didn’t think so.

Let’s flip the question just a little bit.  Are you God?  Do you have the moral qualifications—whatever those may be—to decide for someone else, without being able to ask them directly, whether their life is worth living?  Are you strong enough to take it upon yourself to determine whether someone else is so blemished, so imperfect, so deformed that the potential blessings they might experience by living their life to its natural conclusion are not enough to make it worth enduring their imperfections, as you have identified them?  Are you arrogant enough to claim the authority or even the ability to decide the relative value of one human being’s life versus another’s?

I see that over the weekend there were protests in Madrid over proposed reforms of Spain’s abortion laws.  Specifically, the proposal from Spain’s new conservative government is to roll back a 2010 law that allows abortion up to the 22nd week in cases where the fetus shows serious deformities.  Notably, the proposal apparently leaves intact the law’s grant of an absolute right to an abortion on demand up to the 14th week, or up to the 22nd week where the mother’s health is at risk.  So let’s be very clear:  this isn’t about a “right to choose” whether to be pregnant at all, because abortion at will through 14 weeks remains available.  Nor is this a “women’s health” issue:  abortions to protect the life or health of the mother also remain available.  This is solely about the ability to obtain a late-term abortion of a baby that is “deformed.”

Hysterical “feminists” are screaming that the proposal is a “throwback to the Franco dictatorship.”  Really?  Protecting the defenseless against being killed because someone else has decided they have a prohibitive deformity is a throwback to Franco?

Yes, I see the parallel immediately.

In a somewhat related story, Swiss regulators have approved a new prenatal test for Down’s Syndrome.  There is evidently high demand for the test in wealthier parts of Europe such as Switzerland, Germany, Austria, and Liechtenstein.  Despite manufacturers’ protests to the contrary, I can’t conceive of any real use for that information other than to inform a decision whether to abort the pregnancy.  So like the issue in Spain, we’re making the life or death decision whether to have an abortion based on whether the baby exhibits a deformity or abnormality.

Why?  Who do we think we are?

Let me start with Down’s Syndrome.  I will not argue that Down’s babies are “normal” in our common understanding of the term.  They have obvious mental deficiencies that permanently limit their capacity for certain growth, function, and achievement that is within the grasp of most of the population.  They will never grow up to be doctors, or physicists, or great mathematicians.

So what?

Do their limitations mean that they cannot experience joy, or that they cannot love and be loved?  No.  Are they in constant inhumane pain and suffering because of their condition?  No.  Does the fact that they are unlikely to make any significant contribution to greater society, and in fact are likely to be a lifelong drain on resources make their life worth any less than anyone else’s?  No—and be careful if you want to argue with me on this one, because you won’t like where you have to go if you’re going to be intellectually consistent.  This is not Flowers For Algernon; the Down’s person has never known any other existence, and there is every indication that they are perfectly happy exactly as they are.

What about other deformities?  It’s a little hard to discuss because of the inherent question:  what’s a “deformity,” and who gets to make that decision?  Are we talking about physical deformities, like a baby with no legs?  How significant does it need to be—what if only one leg is missing?  How about just a toe?  What if it’s simply that the baby is—in someone’s subjective judgment—just coyote ugly?

What if she has dark hair and eyes, instead of blonde/blue?

Many of you don’t know this, but this was exactly Margaret Sanger’s purpose behind creating Planned Parenthood back in the early 1900s:  she wanted to control the “breeding” of blacks “to stop the multiplication of the unfit” as the “greatest step towards race betterment.”

Bet you’re all warm and fuzzy about those abortions now, huh.

Let’s go a step further and ask whether the concept of a “deformity” for which we must allow unfettered abortions (lest we harken back to Generalissimo Franco) covers only physical issues, or whether it also extends to mental/emotional “aberrations.”  Suppose we could test for non-Down’s related mental retardation—should we abort those babies?  What if we could do a pre-natal identification of people with a propensity for addiction?  What if we could identify homosexuals in the womb?  Are those “deformities” for which abortion is acceptable?

The point is, there are any number of traits that someone could classify as a “deformity.”  If that’s our benchmark for abortion, this is exceedingly dangerous territory.  And it’s indefensible; once we leave it to someone’s subjective judgment as to who is “healthy enough” or “normal enough” to live and who isn’t, there’s no end to where it can lead.  Whether a person has no legs, or they have Down’s syndrome, or whatever you happen to identify as their physical, mental, or emotional anomaly, the life they have is the one life they get—who are you to say it’s not worth it to them?  Check out things like Special Olympics, or the Endeavor Games; life sure seems worth it to those people, doesn’t it?  The fact that you might not want to live that way doesn’t mean they don’t.

And it doesn’t empower you to take that life away from them, however inconvenient it might be to you.

***********

EDITOR’S NOTE:  Today marks the one year anniversary of Chasing Jefferson.  I never thought we’d get this far.  I thought I might get a dozen or two posts over 6 months, and that’d be it.  Today it’s 1 year, and 133 posts and counting.  Thanks to all of you for your support and encouragement.

Responsibility And Consequences

She was a girl from Birmingham
She just had an abortion
She was a case of insanity
Her name was Pauline, she lived in a tree
She was a no one who killed her baby
She sent her letters from the country
She was an animal
She was a bloody disgrace
Bodies, I’m not an animal.
            —Sex Pistols, Bodies
WARNING:  THIS ARTICLE CONTAINS A FRANK AND GRAPHIC DISCUSSION OF ABORTION THAT MAY BE UPSETTING TO SOME READERS.  READER DISCRETION IS ADVISED.
Meet Jennie Linn McCormack.
Last Sunday the Houston Chronicle reprinted a June 16 L.A. Times piece telling us that Ms. McCormack is the unfortunate victim in the middle of a vicious legal battle heading to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals next month challenging the constitutionality of an Idaho statute that makes it illegal to obtain abortion pills from out-of-state doctors.  The tragedy here, as the Times tells it, is that Ms. McCormack found herself pregnant in December 2010, but didn’t have practical access to an abortion.  Idaho has only two in-state abortion providers, and both were several hours away from her location in Southeastern Idaho (it is worth noting that Planned Parenthood does have abortion referral services at its Logan City, Utah facility about 50 miles away, but apparently Ms. McCormack didn’t have a car).  Without access to an abortion, she was going to be forced to bear the burden of a child she could not afford.
Oh, the horror of a child.
So to avoid her predicament, Ms. McCormack obtained an RU-486 abortion pill from her sister, who purchased it over the Internet in Mississippi, and aborted her pregnancy at home (As an aside, where are the federal mail/wire fraud and controlled substances charges against them both for lying to obtain and distribute a controlled substance across state lines?).  When local law enforcement found out about it she was charged with a felony under a 1972 Idaho statute that requires abortions to be performed by a doctor, and in the case of second-trimester abortions, that they be performed in a hospital.
Rusty, why do you bring up the second trimester?  Oh, did I forget to mention that her baby—the Timesarticle was careful to use the sterilized terms “fetus” and “it,” and of course never mentions a gender—was at 19 weeks when she performed the self-administered abortion? 
Yep, 19 weeks.  Five months. 
Charges were dismissed because there was no physical evidence left of the drug itself.  She has since filed a federal lawsuit seeking to block any further charges should additional evidence come to light—like, I don’t know, her public admission that she did it?—and to declare the law unconstitutional.  Joining her in the lawsuit is her lawyer—also a physician—who is challenging a 2011 statute prohibiting abortions after 19 weeks, arguing that permitting the state to punish abortion doctors limits abortion access.
Well, let’s see “the rest of the story,” as Paul Harvey used to put it.
This is not a tragic case of some 17 year old high school girl who shouldn’t be punished for life because she “just made a mistake,” as President Obama likes to tell it.  Jennie Linn McCormack, according to the Timesarticle, is a 33 year old unemployed single mother of three, living on $250 a month in child support.  The Times, of course, raises this to try to further cast her as the unfortunate victim.  But my take is a little different.  If the Times is correct, Ms. McCormack has kind of been there, and done that as far as pregnancy, and I think we can safely assume she’s got a solid idea what causes that particular “health problem.”  Presumably she’s also well aware of her precarious financial situation.  So what the hell is she doing placing herself and her kids at risk of having to add another unaffordable mouth to feed by having sex in the first place (never mind how she had time for that when she should be looking for a job to feed her kids, and by the way where were the kids since we know she can’t possibly have afforded a babysitter)?
Don’t come at me with the it’s not always voluntary bit.  There isn’t even a hint of rape or involuntariness in this story, and you know the Times would have been all over it if there were any evidence (even just Ms. McCormack’s uncorroborated allegation) of that, because it just makes the hapless victim storyline that much stronger.  No, even Ms. McCormack is not claiming that her pregnancy was anything other than the result of voluntary consensual sex.
So what we’re dealing with here is not an invasive violation like a rape, or even an innocent youthful mistake, but deliberate high-risk behavior by an “adult” who should know better.  Compounding the problem, according to the Times Ms. McCormack is a serial offender in this respect.  She had had at least one prior abortion just 18 months earlier (one wonders how many others the Timesignored or didn’t document), and the Bannock County prosecutor is quoted as saying that she had also had “miscarriages” (plural).  Not to make light of miscarriages—they do occur naturally among women who have no intention of aborting their pregnancy, and they are among the most heart-wrenching things anyone can experience—but combined with a history of multiple abortions, and the pattern with Ms. McCormack is readily apparent.
To make matters worse, the abortion was performed in this case at 19 weeks (RU-486 is typically indicated for less than 7), right at the edge of viability, given modern medical technology.  Are we really to believe that Ms. McCormack, who apparently has been through at least six prior pregnancies (three live children, at least one prior aborted pregnancy, and at least two miscarriages), didn’t know she was pregnant much earlier?  Puhleeze.  This baby was at the point he or she could have survived, given a chance.  But I guess carrying to term and giving up for adoption was just too inconvenient when weighed against the alternative of killing him or her.
 
But it gets even worse.
 
At 19 weeks, Ms. McCormack’s baby had hair, fingernails, and facial features.  He or she—again, we don’t know, not because it’s not knowable, but because in sterilizing the story the media doesn’t tell uswould have looked like a human baby.  Because of the way RU-486 works, Ms. McCormack would ultimately have had to see that.  Yet in a shocking display of callous disregard for human life and the responsibilities of parenthood, Ms. McCormack couldn’t even be troubled to give her baby the dignity of a decent burial, or at least turn the baby’s body over to authorities.  Instead, police found the baby’s frozen remains in a cardboard box on Ms. McCormack’s barbecue on her back porch.  And somehow she had the audacity to complain to the Boise Weekly that local residents now treat her like a pariah, and her remaining kids “feel a bit ashamed” because of what they’re hearing at school.
Can’t think why.
This woman is an obvious and disgusting poster child of irresponsibility.  But she is also the predictable—indeed, inevitable—product of a culture in which we increasingly shield people from the consequences of their own actions.  Corporations are deemed “too big to fail,” so we spread their losses among the citizenry in general, then we wonder why corporations continue to take unacceptable risks.  We so fear that holding children back in school will “stigmatize” them that rather than expecting them to master the material or fail, we eliminate grades (or at least failing grades) altogether, then we’re shocked to find that 18 year old Johnny can’t read.  We take money from young workers to provide their grandparents with a stipend, then we’re surprised that people aren’t saving for their own retirement.
It is little wonder, then—although more than a little ironic—that when we afford unfettered access to abortions in the interest of protecting women’s supposed “right to control” their own bodies we find examples like Ms. McCormack of women who take advantage of this system of infinite do-overs simply to exercise no control at all.  With no consequences, there is little incentive for her to govern her behavior.  She can seek all the immediate gratification she wants, because there is no price to be paid for it—at least not by her, but who else matters?—other than the cost of a pill and a used shoebox.  And all the while the press celebrates her as the unfortunate victim.  Hell, she may eventually get to talk on CNN (if she hasn’t already), and maybe even get her own reality TV show.
And so the cycle continues. 
I have no illusions that the 9th Circuit will do anything other than strike the Idaho abortion restrictions, because that Court hasn’t in decades seen a “pro-choice” issue it didn’t love, Constitution be damned.  How long we will allow serial abusers of the system to be bailed out of the consequences of their own deliberate acts of self-gratification at the cost of another human being’s life?

The Abortion Funding Charade

Idle:       Your wife . . . does she, er, does she “go,” eh?  Eh?  Eh? Know what I mean?  Know what I mean?  Nudge, nudge.  Say no more.
Jones:    Well, she sometimes goes, yes.
Idle:       I bet she does.  I bet she does.  I bet she does.  Know what I mean?  Nudge, nudge.
Jones:    I’m sorry, I don’t quite follow you.
Idle:       Follow me.  Follow me.  I like that.  That’s good.  A nod’s as good as a wink to a blind bat, eh?
—Eric Idle and Terry Jones in “Nudge Nudge” from Monty Python’s Flying Circus, Episode 3
I see that Planned Parenthood and the DNC were all over Mitt Romney last week for repeating his pledge to cut federal funding to Planned Parenthood.  We’ve seen similar hue and cry here in Texas over Governor Perry’s decision to forego federal funding of a women’s health program because he refuses to include Planned Parenthood (never mind that he has pledged to make up the difference in funding for the program itself out of the State budget).  It is, of course, a continuation of the Left’s tiresome “millionaires’ war against women” narrative.  They repeatedly cite the fact that—apart from its obvious function as an abortion provider/advocate—Planned Parenthood provides prenatal care, breast cancer screenings, and other legitimate women’s health services as evidence of Romney and the Right wanting to “undermine women’s health care,” and being “dangerous and out of touch with what most Americans want.”
Let’s just examine that for a second.
Let’s assume that all Planned Parenthood does is provide legitimate women’s healthcare services (i.e., leave the abortion issue out of it for now).  I like women, and I will accept that providing medical services such as breast cancer screenings is an intrinsically good thing.  Let’s further assume that most Americans want the federal government to subsidize that activity.  Neither the fact that it’s a good idea, nor the fact that a majority wants it, nor the combination of the two means that the federal government is authorized to do it.  As I’ve said many times, the Constitution only grants the federal government limited and defined authority; there is no “good ‘n’ plenty” clause, as Glenn Beck calls it.  If it ain’t in Article I, Congress can’t do it, no matter how good it is, or how many people want it.  And funding women’s health care, with or without abortions, ain’t in there.
What may be more interesting, though, is the problem that arises when we add Planned Parenthood’s abortion services back into the equation.  As even HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has admitted (read: lied—and by the way, someone someday will have to explain to me how she hasn’t been excommunicated over her public abortion stance) “[i]t is illegal to spend any federal money on abortion.”  And, of course, President Obama promised Bart Stupak—one wonders if Stupak made him pinky-swear—he would sign an executive order banning the use of federal taxpayer money to subsidize abortions in exchange for Stupak’s deciding vote on Obamacare.  All of which begs the question:
If it’s illegal and against Presidential orders to spend federal money on abortions, how can the federal government fund Planned Parenthood, even if it were Constitutionally permitted to do so?
How, indeed.
The answer from the Left has to be that the federal money being funneled to Planned Parenthood isn’t going to the abortions, but to the other services Planned Parenthood provides.
You know, Rusty, all that stuff you just admitted was intrinsically good.
I’ve heard this song before.  When I was in private practice, the few of us partners who were conservative Catholics used to get browbeat with a similar argument when we refused to participate in the Firm’s United Way campaigns (some of you may not know this, but United Way, like the Susan G. Komen Foundation, contributes money to Planned Parenthood).  “You can earmark your donation so that it doesn’t go to Planned Parenthood,” the pitch always went.  Presumably that’s the Left’s position here, and indeed the Houston Chronicle has been running numerous pieces making various iterations of this very point: federal subsidies to Planned Parenthood aren’t being used to fund abortions, but for other activities.
I can’t tell whether they’re really this stupid, or if they just think the rest of us are.  Either way, the argument isn’t just accounting gimmickry, it’s childish.
You can’t both give money to Planned Parenthood, and still “earmark” your way out of paying for abortions.  Let me explain.  Assume that Planned Parenthood has the following budget:
Overhead and administrative expenses          $    500,000
Non-abortion clinical services                        $    250,000
Advertising                                                  $    200,000
Abortion services                                         $      50,000
Total expenses                                            $ 1,000,000
Assume further that Planned Parenthood receives 50% of its funding ($500,000) from the federal government under Title X, and the other 50% from private donations.  Absent the federal funding, Planned Parenthood would have to find a way to finance $1 million in expenses with only the $500,000 of revenue from private donations.  Can’t be done; it would have to cut some of what it does.  If it’s going to fund its overhead and other activities, it will have to reduce the number of abortions it provides, if not eliminate them altogether. 
With the federal funding, Planned Parenthood has the full $1 million to cover its budget.  Even if you restrict that federal funding to overhead and administrative expenses, that’s a $500,000 expense Planned Parenthood doesn’t have to cover out of the revenue it generates from private donations.  That money is then available to fund abortions at the full budgeted level.  Either way, whether it goes to general revenues, or it’s allocated away from abortion, the result is the same:   every dollar contributed by the federal government is necessarily—as a matter of basic mathematics—makes more money available to support Planned Parenthood’s abortion function.
Last year, the Washington Post ran a piece on the “Five Myths About Planned Parenthood,”  in which Clare Coleman made the bizarre argument that the “federal funding frees other money for abortion” position is wrong because “there is no other money.”  Never mind that her premise that there is no other money is wildly inaccurate—Planned Parenthood itself says about 2/3 of its revenues come from non-governmental sources.  If Planned Parenthood has no other money, we don’t need the “freeing up” argument because the federal money it does receive is in fact directly paying for abortions.
Surely the Left can’t be this mathematically challenged, which means they’re deliberately trying to manipulate you with this stupid lie.  You can’t separate the entity and say this money goes to the abortion side, and that money doesn’t.  Oh, no, you’re not paying for abortions, you’re paying for typewriters and mammograms, know what I mean?  Wink, wink, nudge, nudge.
Do they really expect anybody to believe this crap?
Of course, the is-it-or-is-it-not-funding-abortion charade, false as it is, really misses the point, which is that those of us who object to the practice don’t want to support organizations that perform them, even if we in fact wouldn’t be paying for the abortions themselves.  I wouldn’t cut the grass outside a Planned Parenthood clinic, even though I know they’re going to provide the same X number of abortions regardless of whether their grass gets cut; I don’t want to support them in any manner.
Say no more.

Spinning The Cost Of Contraception

 
“I’ve worked out a few statistics of my own.  Fifteen billion dollars in gold bullion weighs 10,500 tons.  Sixty men would take twelve days to load it onto two hundred trucks.  At the most, you’ll have two hours before the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines move in and make you put it back.”
               —Sean Connery as James Bond in Goldfinger
Figures don’t lie.  Liars figure.
By now you’re well familiar with the flap over the executive mandate that religiously-affiliated universities and hospitals cover contraception and sterilization under the Obamacare plan.  In yet another showing of his boundless empathy for those who disagree with him, Obama offered a “compromise” last week whereby those universities and hospitals wouldn’t have to provide that coverage themselves, but instead their insurance carriers would have to provide it.
I was going to ask whether he really thinks we’re that stupid.  Alas, judging from some of the  comments I’ve seen, not only does he think that, but apparently he’s right.
This “compromise” is, of course, a nonstarter, and should have been laughed down as the silly semantic game that it is.  We can shift the direct cost of the contraceptives from the employer to the insurance company, but who, exactly, pays for the insurance, and what exactly do we think is going to happen to the cost of that insurance once carriers are forced by executive mandate to cover these drugs? One way or another, religiously-affiliated universities and hospitals are going to end up paying for these things, their religious convictions be damned.
What’s the big deal?  It’s not like we’re making you pay for abortions.
Um, yes it is.
Many common contraceptive drugs such as The Pill and “Plan B,” and even modern contraceptive devices like IUDs work at least in part through an abortifacient mechanism.  That is, they prevent implantation of an embryo after fertilization, thus not preventing pregnancy but instead inducing a very early miscarriage—an abortion.  This presents a very serious problem for Catholics and many other Christians:
“Human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception.  From the first moment of his existence, a human being must be recognized as having the rights of a person—among which is the inviolable right of every innocent being to life . . . Formal cooperation in an abortion constitutes a grave offense.”
Catechism of the Catholic Church, §§ 2270, 2272 (emphasis added).  I don’t go through this in an effort to proselytize you, but to help you understand that for many of us being compelled to participate, directly or indirectly in abortions—and, by extension, in contraception—is a major affront to our religious beliefs.  That’s why it’s so amazing to see the mental gymnastics that have been going on for some time to force this measure down our throats, despite our First Amendment guarantees.
The controversy dates back to the original regulations released by HHS in August 2011 requiring so-called “non-grandfathered health plans” to cover contraceptives and sterilization procedures for women.  Although after receiving approximately 200,000 comments HHS graciously permitted an exception for “religious employers,” that term was so narrowly defined that it really only includes churches themselves, not church-supported universities or hospitals or other organizations like charitable groups.  So the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston was exempted, but the seminary at the University of St. Thomas was not.  After much hue and cry, HHS conceded an additional year for nonprofit organizations that do not currently provide contraceptive coverage due to religious beliefs, to comply.
A whole year for those organizations to reverse a 2,000 year old teaching.  And I thought it was going to be a rush.
This time, after the latest “concession” purportedly shifting the cost from the faithful to their insurance carriers, HHS attempted to justify its new regulations by claiming that “there are significant cost savings to employers from the coverage of contraceptives.”  The way HHS figures it:
“[I]t would cost employers 15 to 17 percent more not to provide contraceptive coverage in employee health plans than to provide such coverage, after accounting for both the direct medical costs of pregnancy and the indirect costs such as employee absence and reduced productivity.”
I see.  It’s OK for the administration to trample on our religious beliefs because in doing so, they’re saving us money.
Obama, the “Savings President.”  Has a nice, hollow ring to it, doesn’t it?
But notice the underlying mental pathology here.  Implicit within the dollar savings is the assumption that all of the pregnancies occurring because a certain health plan doesn’t cover contraceptives were unwanted. So, if only those women had contraceptive coverage under their employer’s health plans, they wouldn’t have had all of those babies.
Ah, I get it now. If all women had access to contraceptive coverage through their employer’s health plans, none of them would be having babies – because all of the pregnancies that occur in employees working for employers that don’t cover contraceptives are unwanted.  Of course, that policy undermines Joe Biden’s philosophy of children as a funding mechanism for the Entitlement State.
Continuing with its fuzzy “new math,” HHS also noted that “owing to reproductive and sex-specific conditions, women use preventive services more than men, generating significant out-of-pocket expenses for women.”  What they forgot to mention is that, as of January 1, 2011, Obamacare took condoms, contraceptive creams, home pregnancy tests, and other over-the-counter contraceptive items off of the list of reimbursable expenses for healthcare flexible spending accounts in an effort to reduce the amount of money that employees could use to pay for out-of-pocket medical expenses on a pre-tax basis, thus generating more tax revenue for the government.  So in the name of reducing the financial burden on women we’re ramrodding contraceptive coverage down the throats of those whose religious beliefs oppose it, while at the same time we’re adding to that burden by taking away an incentive for men to use over-the-counter contraceptives.  In other words, it’s OK to exclude contraceptives if doing so generates more tax dollars, but it’s not okay to exclude them if the exclusion is based on religious beliefs.
Things are definitely becoming clearer.  I’m glad we passed that bill so we could learn what’s in it.
But here’s where it’s really going to get sticky.  Last week’s “compromise” shifted direct costs from religious employers to their insurance carriers.  But the next move is going to be coming up with a similar mechanism for employees covered by self-funded plans.  Self-funded.  As in claims are not paid for by an insurance company, but out of the employer’s general asset base.  According to the Obama administration, the money to pay for the contraceptive coverage is not going to come from those plans.  So, where’s it going to come from?  The insurance fairy?
Once again, this administration—and the Left in general—is exposed for its fundamental practical ignorance.  Caught up in utopian dreams of free universal health care covering unlimited access to contraception and abortion, they lose sight of the basic fact that somebody in fact has to pay for those things.  Insurance is not some magic arrangement where you just get to go to a doctor for free.  It’s a private contract of wager.  You pay periodic premiums set by an statistical formula that calculates the odds a given person will need treatment, such that the insurer by spreading its risk over a broad enough pool, takes in enough money to cover the claims it has agreed to pay, and still make a profit.  No matter how you try to spin it, when you enact legislation forcing the carrier to cover certain additional drugs or procedures, you alter that private contract, and you change the math.  You’ve added to the risk to which the carrier is exposed, and it must change the premium calculation accordingly.  That added cost is passed on to the person paying the premium—typically an employer—whether they agree to it or not. 
So much for the First Amendment.

Texas Sonograms Revisited

 
Lemond:         Remember, Gene, keep things with the Senator on a need-to-know basis.
Ryack:            Oh, you mean treat him like a mushroom: keep him in the dark, and feed him a lot of shit.
—Ken Jenkins as Major Donald Lemond, and Mel Gibson as Gene Ryack in Air America
Somebody’s gotta call these people out on this.
I’ve posted before on the new Texas sonogram law, which after the United States Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals overturned an injunction by U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks, took effect yesterday.  There was much hue and cry in the local press over the coming Nazi intrusion into the sanctity of the patient/physician relationship, and hand-wringing over how we were unfairly demonizing and tormenting women by forcing them to view sonograms and listen to heartbeats. 
Oh, the horror of human life.
Apparently confirming what a monstrosity this law is, the Houston Chronicle yesterday morning ran a front page, eight column piece titled “Sonograms evoke strong emotions as law takes effect” (electronic version here).  The story led with three consecutive paragraphs describing the devastating reaction of women being forced against their will to look at and listen to the lives they were contemplating ending:
Some women covered their ears as the sounds of fetal heartbeats echoed into their exam rooms at a Houston abortion clinic.
            Others tried to drown out the noise with their own voices, said Planned Parenthood officials, nervously humming or talking over the sounds of fetuses in their wombs.  Still others turned their heads away from ultrasound images, an effort to opt out of part of the state’s new sonogram requirement for abortions, which the Department of State Health Services began enforcing Tuesday.
            “These patients are livid, they are hurt,” said Tram Nguyen, director of Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast, describing recent scenes at her Houston clinic.  “They feel that we are the ones being condescending and questioning their decision when we are just messengers.”
It’s no surprise to find Planned Parenthood behind the article, although query how Planned Parenthood officials know how women were reacting in the exam rooms, given their supposed worship of the privacy of the patient/physician relationship.  Presumably they weren’t in the room to see it, and the doctors who were shouldn’t be talking.  But I digress.
The article is clearly intended to leave the impression that the Evil State of Texas is forcing these poor women to endure images and sounds they don’t want to experience.  Of course, the authors are simply shining a bright light on the Religious Right’s heavy-handed attempt at “shaming and bullying” women into not exercising their God-given right to an abortion, and we have to protect against that, right?  Never mind that the Fifth Circuit has ruled on that right vis-à-vis the State’s compelling interest in protecting human life. 
But what continues to irritate me with all this noise about forcing women to experience these things is the Chronicle’s and Planned Parenthood’sobvious and deliberate lie by omission:
The Texas statute doesn’t require women to view the sonogram or hear the heartbeat.
Don’t take my word for it; here’s Texas Health & Safety Code § 171.0122, added last year as part of the new sonogram law, in full and without any added emphasis or commentary from me:
*  *  *
171.0122.  Viewing Printed Materials and Sonogram Image; Hearing Heart Auscultation or Verbal Explanation.
            (a)  A pregnant woman may choose not to view the printed materials provided under Section 171.012(a)(3) after she has been provided the materials.
            (b)        A pregnant woman may choose not to view the sonogram images required to be provided to and reviewed with the pregnant woman under Section 171.012(a)(4).
            (c)        A pregnant woman may choose not to hear the heart auscultation required to be provided to and reviewed with the pregnant woman under Section 171.012(a)(4).
            (d)       A pregnant woman may choose not to receive the verbal explanation of the results of the sonogram images under Section 171.012(a)(4)(C) if:
            (1)        the woman’s pregnancy is a result of sexual assault, incest, or other violation of the Penal Code that has been reported to law enforcement authorities or that has not been reported because she has reason that she declines to reveal because she reasonably believes that to do so would put her at risk of retaliation resulting in serious bodily injury;
            (2)        the woman is a minor and obtaining an abortion in accordance with judicial bypass procedures under Chapter 33, Family Code; or
            (3)        the fetus has an irreversible medical condition or abnormality, as previously identified by reliable diagnostic procedures and documented in the woman’s medical file.
            (e)        The physician and the pregnant woman are not subject to a penalty under this chapter solely because the pregnant woman chooses not to view the printed materials or the sonogram images, hear the heart auscultation, or receive the verbal explanation, if waived as provided in this section.
*  *  *
I don’t know how our Legislature could have been more clear:
“A pregnant woman may choose not to . . .”
“A pregnant woman may choose not to . . .”
“A pregnant woman may choose not to . . .”
“A pregnant woman may choose not to . . .”
The Texas statute not only didn’t require the women described in yesterday’s article to endure the sonogram images or heartbeat audio if they didn’t want to, IT AFFIRMATIVELY SAID THEY COULD CHOOSE NOT TO.  But this fact conveniently doesn’t appear until the next-to-last paragraph of a two-page article, and it begs the question why so many women were supposedly “livid” and “hurt” about being involuntarily subjected to these images and sounds.  Taking the Chronicle story at face value, one has to conclude that Planned Parenthood simply didn’t tell the women in their examination rooms that the law gave them a right to opt out.  Indeed, although the Chronicle eventually notes that “women do have the option to request that the ultrasound volume be turned off”—no mention of the sonogram images—it does so at the end of a sentence that begins by saying that Planned Parenthood has been playing the fetal heartbeats for “all women who undergo the mandated sonograms.”  Nothing in the article says that Planned Parenthood is actually advising them of their right to decline.
Am I suggesting that Planned Parenthood would deliberately keep women in the dark?
Don’t be ridiculous.
As a for-a-fee abortion provider, Planned Parenthood has no financial stake in doing such a thing, so why should I question its motives in how it goes about complying with Texas law?  And I wouldn’t suggest that Planned Parenthood might manipulate women into a negative reaction in order to drive opposition to the statute.  No, that’s thoroughly and utterly absurd.
But now that you mention it . . . 
Let the facts speak for themselves.  First, Planned Parenthood, along with like-minded organizations like The Center for Reproductive Rights, argued to the ends of the earth to prevent the State of Texas from ensuring that women had access to potentially relevant information as they make their decision whether to have the abortion.  Having lost that battle, it now appears Planned Parenthood is deliberately avoiding advising women of their right to decline that information, thus forcibly inflicting it upon women who did not want it and had a right under the law to avoid it if they so chose—in the process placing itself in the very bully role in which it disingenuously attempted to cast the State.  At both turns, Planned Parenthood has worked to keep women as ignorant as possible, presumably in order to advance its own agenda and self-interest. 
Why it’s simply beyond all imagining.
The fact is the new Texas law does not require women to view sonograms or hear heartbeats; it requires that those things be made available sufficiently in advance for women to be able to absorb the information—if they choose—in making their decision.  But Planned Parenthood and their media accomplices on the Left are so blindly wed to their ideological point they’ll not only ignore that truth, but apparently will lie by omission to cover it up when it matters most.  And what I can’t understand is how so many, particularly women, continue to listen to and follow these people on this issue when it’s so easily demonstrated that these people are lying to them.  When do they wake up and ask, if you’re so into helping me and defending my rights on this, why do you keep lying to me about it?  Why are you so keenly interested that I not only have the right to obtain an abortion, but in ensuring that I actually get one—even if you have to deceive me to do it?
As I posted a couple of weeks ago on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, abortion undeniably terminates a human life.  Sonogram images and heartbeat audio are the most compelling evidence of that fact.  Assuming the reactions described in today’s Chronicle piece are accurately depicted, they confirm this and demonstrate that we as human beings know, viscerally, that what’s about to happen with an abortion is simply wrong.  Wrong at the deepest, most fundamental level.  So wrong that the only way we can go through with it is to remain deliberately, consciously, actively ignorant of the truth.
Which, of course, is exactly where those in the business of taking your money to provide an abortion and others on the Left want you.

Reflecting on Roe v. Wade

 
Hello, darkness, my old friend.
I’ve come to talk with you again.
—Simon & Garfunkel, The Sound of Silence
Last Sunday, January 22, was the 39th anniversary of Roe v. Wade.  I see that President Obama commemorated (celebrated?) the anniversary by issuing a statement that the landmark case makes clear that “government should not intrude on private family matters,”—I’m choking to death on the irony of that one—and that he “remain[s] committed to protecting a woman’s right to choose and this fundamental constitutional right.”  His comments reflect a worldview that developed somewhere in the 1960s, as people convinced themselves that this was somehow about women’s rights and privacy, and that restricting unfettered access to abortion is an intolerable intrusion by government into women’s freedom to control their own bodies.
So let me pose a couple of questions. 
Should I be allowed to kill my parents if I find their existence inconvenient, or if they strain my finances?  If your answer is “yes,” then perhaps you should start lining up all the welfare recipients right now, because there are a whole lot of us who find them both inconvenient and a fiscal drag.  My guess, however, is that your answer is—like mine—no.  So I think the welfare folks are safe.
Should I be allowed to kill my 13-year-old because she has a medical condition that makes her life difficult?  Should I be allowed to kill my infant because my wife has abandoned us and I find I’m just not ready to be a single parent?  Once again, the nearly universal answer to these questions is no, and I expect most of you are shocked I would even raise them.
In each of these scenarios, virtually all of us would answer that I have no right to kill the person in question, and in fact you would insist that the government prevent me from doing so, and punish me if I do it anyway.  Why is that so?
Unless you are an anarchist, there can be little doubt that the single most important and most legitimate function of government is to protect its citizens from being killed by other people.  Indeed, if you could only vest a government with a single power, that would be it.  This idea is enshrined in our Declaration of Independence:
“We hold these truths to be self-evident:  that all men . . . are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are Life[.]”
For the Founders, it was obvious in and of itself that every human being has a right to live, and they guaranteed that right in the Fifth Amendment’s promise that “[n]o person shall be deprived of life . . . without due process of law.”  This compelling government interest in protecting life led the Fifth Circuit a couple of weeks ago to overturn a lower court decision striking as unconstitutional Texas’ new law requiring sonograms be made available before a woman can obtain an abortion.
 
Well, if the scenarios I posed above are not acceptable, at what point does abortion become OK?
 
As Dr. Seuss taught us in Horton Hears A Who“A person’s a person, no matter how small.” 
It is an inescapable fact that an abortion kills a human being.  So unless you are willing to answer the questions I posed above “yes,” and accept the proposition that it is acceptable to kill as a matter of convenience—and you’re not—it is impossible to draw a logically and morally consistent line that permits abortion, no matter how badly you want to make it so.  This very dilemma is the reason the majority opinion in Roe was so strained, circular, and ultimately indefensible.  We all agree it is not acceptable to kill a baby 5 minutes after she has been delivered and the umbilical cord has been cut, but what about just before the cord is cut?  What about halfway through delivery (this is the damnable and unspeakable practice of so-called “partial birth” abortion)?  There’s no articulable logical or moral distinction between those scenarios.  So, too, if we continue backing up 5 minutes at a time; there’s never a point at which we can say there’s a defensible distinction that makes the difference between an acceptable killing of a human being and murder.  Any line we draw is necessarily artificial, because it depends upon an ever-changing degree of either human medical competency (the “viability” concept of Planned Parenthood v. Casey) or human moral conviction (or lack thereof). 
The Constitutional right to life cannot turn on so capricious a hinge. 
Even if you do not accept that human life begins at conception, as I do, you have to concede (as even Justice Blackmun did) that we as human beings do not have the capacity to say with any certainty when it does begin.  All we can know for certain is that, at some point, it does.  As so many argue against the death penalty—so many, interestingly, who are on the pro-choice side of the abortion debate—why would we take the chance of being wrong, particularly when the victim of abortion is so absolutely and without question blameless?
In our Constitutional system, rights sometimes conflict, and one person’s right must yield to another’s.  We resolve these conflicts by balancing the harm to one and the burden upon the rights of the other.  You have a First Amendment right to speak, but that does not entitle you to jeopardize others’ right to life by yelling “Fire!” in a crowded movie house.  In the case of abortion, the harm, obviously, is depriving (or, for you skeptics, at least the possibility of depriving) another human being of the right to life.  There simply can’t be a greater harm than that, which necessarily means there can be no burden on the woman’s rights that would outweigh that harm.  The one exception would be the deprivation of the woman’s own right to life, in which case the scales are even, and the best you can do is the Catholic Church’s teaching that we may not perform an abortion for the purpose of terminating a pregnancy, but if a medical procedure that is necessary to save the mother’s life has the unfortunate consequence the death of the child, that is acceptable.  Beyond that, however, there is no way to claim a burden on a right of the mother that outweighs the unborn child’s right to life. 
 
We also resolve Constitutional conflicts by seeking out less-intrusive means of enforcing one right without unnecessarily trampling on the other.  With the availability of adoption as an alternative, the burden carrying a pregnancy to term imposes upon a woman is temporary; the harm to the victim of abortion is quite permanent.  It simply isn’t necessary, in order to enforce a woman’s rights to terminate another’s right to life.  Under such circumstances, the balance can’t tilt in favor of an at-best implied “right” to an abortion over the child’s explicit right to life.  
The pro-choice movement has sold people on the idea that abortion is all about a woman’s right to choose, and to control her own body.  This is, put simply, a lie.  Conceding for purposes of this discussion that a woman has this right to choose—the “right to privacy” from which it is purported to derive isn’t found in the text of the Constitution, but instead actually originates from a law review article written by (later, Associate Supreme Court Justice) Louis Brandeis about 100 years ago—that misses the point.  Restricting her access to an abortion in no way diminishes her right to choose or to control her “reproductive health”; she made her choice and exercised her control when she chose to have sex.  The pro-choice movement is not really advocating a woman’s right to choose, but a right to avoid after-the-fact the predictable consequences of the choice she made, and to do so by killing another human being. 
Don’t tell me I’m being unrealistic, that women are going to have sex and get pregnant anyway, and if abortion is illegal they’ll just get dangerous back-alley procedures.  That’s true of a lot of things; but we don’t legalize conduct simply because people will engage in it even if it’s illegal.  People shoot heroin with dirty needles, but there are few outside the Ron Paul campaign who think we should make it legal. 
Nor is this an issue, as Obama’s statement suggested, about ensuring women have the same rights and opportunities as men.  What rights and opportunities do women lack that allowing unfettered abortions cures?  The biological fact is that sex may result in pregnancy, and that pregnancy, if it happens, will be born by the woman; can’t change that with legislation, Constitutional amendment, judicial activism, or executive fiat.  And the sad social fact is too many men participate in the sex, then run from the consequences of pregnancy because they canbut do we really want to encourage our daughters to emulate them in the most lazy, promiscuous, irresponsible, animalistic, and selfish standard of conduct imaginable?  
 
The truth the so-called “feminists” don’t want to admit is that all of both the biological and social  facts of pregnancy are avoidable through abstinencewhich, by the way, is safer than a clinical abortion and 100% reliable, unlike any contraceptive, including The Pilland a woman is always free to make that choice.  And rather than kill the child, perhaps we need to do better at educating our men, and then holding their feet to the fire of responsibility.  But to say that abortion is the answer is to take the utilitarian position that the unborn child is nothing more than a failed science experiment to be discarded and forgotten at will if one deems its implications too imposing or inconvenient.
We’re horrified at cases like Caylee Anthony and Jon Benet Ramsey, and rightfully so.  Something in our very core finds the ultimate revulsion at the deliberate killing of a child, particularly by her own parent.  In most states that allow capital punishment, killing a child qualifies you for Death Row.  It is inexplicable, then, that people would support our government abdicating its most fundamental responsibility and failing to protect the most helpless among us in the place where they should be safer than anywhere else on earth.
The CDC estimates some 50 million abortions have been performed in the U.S. in the 39 years since Roe—about 1.3 million a year, a pace rivaling that of the Holocaust.  Over that time, how many Einsteins have we lost?  How many Mother Teresas?  How many Reverend Kings?  How many honest, hardworking, ordinary Everymans never got a chance?  
How many songs will voices never share?
That is what President Obama commemorated and said he is committed to protecting.

Ruling Striking Texas’ Informed Consent Law Is No Victory For Women

  

And when I get excited

My little China Girl says
‘Oh, Baby, just you shut your mouth.’
—David Bowie, China Girl
Last week U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks blocked key portions of a recent amendment to Texas’ Woman’s Right To Know law that provided for mandatory sonograms prior to doctors performing abortions.  By way of background, the amendment, known as C.S.H.B. 15, passed the Texas Legislature this Spring by an overwhelming—and bipartisan—2/3 majority in both houses, and was signed into law by Governor Perry.  Judge Sparks’ decision was issued in the context of a pre-emptive lawsuit filed by a New York entity called The Center for Reproductive Rights, purportedly as a class action on behalf of Texas providers of abortion services (query how such a class could possibly ever be certified, but that’s another discussion). 
Would that people in New York were as respectful of our rights as Texans to govern ourselves as our Governor is of their rights as New Yorkers to govern themselves.  So much for having the decency and respect for our political processes to rely on the legislative process to change policy, eh, Mr. Krugman? 
Judge Sparks struck provisions requiring doctors to display a sonogram image of the unborn child, make the heartbeat audible, and to describe the fetus’ dimensions, development, and activity, saying such provisions violated the First Amendment.  The CRR’s Nancy Northup hailed the decision as a “huge victory for women[.]” 
How do you figure? 
First, let’s be clear:  C.S.H.B. 15 contains absolutely nothing preventing a woman from getting an abortion in Texas if she chooses.  Contrary to the obviously political complaints contained in Judge Sparks’ order, the Act is not “onerous”—sonograms are routinely performed anyway—it isn’t going to make procedures significantly more expensive—the Act provides for making information about free sonograms available—and it is difficult to see how there is going to be a mass exodus of doctors leaving the Texas abortion market such that access to abortions is going to be materially impaired.  So C.S.H.B. 15 isn’t really about women’s “reproductive rights,” whatever those are. 
Nor does C.S.H.B. 15 impact women’s First Amendment free speech rights.  Often skipped in media coverage of the statute is the fact that the bill expressly allows women to opt out—they don’t have to see the sonogram or hear the audible heartbeat if they choose not to.  All the bill was designed to do was to ensure that the information was available to women who might not know to ask for it, and after all isn’t that what “informed consent” is all about?  
Let’s remember a point that’s often lost in this debate.  Leaving aside the fact—yes, fact—that abortion terminates an innocent human life, abortions very often take a terrible and permanent toll on the very women whose “reproductive rights” the pro-abortion movement so vociferously purports to protect.  The emotional scars left as the realization of what they’ve done sets in don’t go away.  What possible purpose is served by not ensuring that a woman at least has access to all the available relevant information before she makes a decision that either way she goes will impact her for the rest of her life? 
I repeat:  How do you figure this is a huge victory for women? 
But what about the doctors?  Doesn’t the First Amendment protect them against the government requiring them to provide certain dictated information?  You mean like requiring healthcare professionals to provide certain specific end-of-life “option” information, as was required in a version of Obamacare supported by many on the Left?  Or requiring attorneys to include certain disclaimer language in advertisements as do Texas and most other States?  Or requiring cigarette manufacturers to include certain warnings on their labels?  Or requiring restaurants—ahem, New York—to post dietary information on their menus?  Or requiring certain commercial property owners—ahem, California—to post statements that their property contains substances “known to the State of California” to cause cancer?  Government requirements that providers of goods or services give certain information or make certain statements to their customers are nothing new.      
The First Amendment was intended to ensure that people could speak out against the government.  It was never intended as a magic talisman affording absolute protection of, and shield against, all speech at all times and in all contexts.  Where the government has a legitimate interest—and in the area of abortion and informed consent the Supreme Court has said it does, see Gonzales v. Carhart and Planned Parenthood v. Casey—narrowly-tailored intrusions upon speech do not violate the First Amendment.  And it is appropriate that the burden in this instance be borne by the doctors who can be expected to know what information is available, rather than a woman who might not necessarily know that with a sonogram she could see her baby, or that it is possible for her to hear the baby’s heartbeat.  One imagines that for at least some women, that might be information relevant to her decision.  For those to whom it is not, they can easily decline the information or ignore it; but there is no recourse for those to whom it would matter but who never receive it or even know it exists. 
Bear in mind that Texas has had informed consent laws on the books—in the abortion context as well as generally—since 2003.  It’s only the addition of physical evidence and description pertaining to the condition of the unborn child that is now raising concern.  This has nothing to do with the First Amendment. 
The pro-abortion movement is absolutely terrified of anything that would illustrate the undeniable fact that what they call “the fetus” is actually a human life.  They don’t want you to see that she has a human face, and fingers and toes.  They don’t want you to hear her working heartbeat, fully separate from her mother’s.  Or maybe it’s that they themselves don’t want to have to confront the truth of what it is they advocate.  As Jodie Foster as Clarice Starling observed in Silence of the Lambs, “[i]f he sees Catherine as a person and not just an object, it’s harder to tear her up.”  So they concoct a lawsuit to prevent that information from being made available.  Translated: groups like the CRR want women to be making the decision whether to have an abortion in as ignorant a state as possible as to the actual condition and attributes of the life they carry, regardless of the possible emotional and psychological consequences that decision may have for that woman down the road.
There is no “victory” for women here.