Is Alexia Kelley anti-contraception?

I’ve been reading about the appointment of Alexia Kelley, executive director of Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good, as director of the Center for Faith-Based and Community Initiatives in the Department of Health and Human Services. (Quite a mouthful, that.) It is being repeated as fact all over the blogosphere that Kelley is opposed to contraception. However, all of these reports seem to trace back to just two sources. The first is an unsubstantiated claim in a Salon article by Frances Kissling of Catholics for a Free Choice.

What Greenberger and others will want to know is why the post, which includes oversight of the department’s faith-based grant-making in family planning, HIV and AIDS and in small-scale research into the effect of religion and spirituality on early sexual behavior, has gone to someone who both believes abortion should be illegal and opposes contraception. That’s right — Kelley’s group of self-described progressive Catholics takes a position held by only a small minority, that the Catholic church is right to prohibit birth control.

What’s Kissling’s evidence for this claim? I have no idea. She doesn’t say.

The other source is a TAPPED article in which Sarah Posner builds her entire case on one out-of-context quote.

Kelley and CACG have made clear they are committed to Catholic doctrine on abortion and birth control. CACG has supported the Pregnant Women’s Support Act, aimed at stigmatizing abortion and making it less accessible. In discussing legislation on reducing the need for abortion, Kelley has written that various pieces of legislation concerned with women’s health “are not all perfect; some include contraception — which the Church opposes.”

Well, yes. From the Catholic Church’s perspective, legislation which funds contraception or would require Catholic employers to provide insurance that includes contraception is imperfect. It’s impossible to tell from this truncated quote whether this is a perspective Kelley herself shares or whether she’s simply reporting a fact. And given Posner’s thorough misstatement of the goals of the Pregnant Women Support Act, I’m not going to assume that she’s interpreting Kelley’s statement correctly.

I checked CACG’s website and could find no mention of their stance on contraception, let alone Alexia Kelley’s. They do, however, link to the pro-contraception National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy.

I’m not saying Alexia Kelley is pro-contraception. I don’t know what her position is. I just don’t think most of the people criticizing her know either.

Links on the Tiller murder

I am working 14-hour days, so in lieu of writing, I link.

Is she serious?

There were maybe two quotes in this article about Obama’s “common ground” participants that didn’t make me want to scream. This wasn’t one of them.

Tiller’s death is a “massive setback” in the search for common ground, said Cristina Page, a New York City author and abortion rights advocate. “It’s sort of like having a family member murdered and then being asked to make nice with the assassin’s family. It’s unnatural.”

I understand that this is an emotional time. Nobody’s doing their best thinking when someone on “their side” has just been murdered. But does Cristina Page honestly believe that the kind of person who feels any kinship with murderers of abortion providers would sit down with pro-choice advocates in Barack Obama’s White House? Really?

I hate to break this to her, but the kind of person who feels any kinship with murderers of abortion providers wouldn’t even sit down with the kind of person who would meet with pro-choice advocates in Barack Obama’s White House.

Let’s take up a collection…

… to bribe Randall Terry to go away. Problem with that is, there are so many other people we’d need to bribe too.

Kathleen Parker explains why my desk is covered with dents from where I’ve banged my head on it:

There are certainly compelling secular arguments against abortion that one might be perfectly willing to hear. Then Randall Terry shows up.

Terry, the colorful founder of Operation Rescue, doesn’t represent the Republican Party [or most pro-life people –jr], but he is nevertheless the most familiar face of the antiabortion movement. When President Obama recently gave the commencement address at Notre Dame, who showed up to lead the protest but Terry and the equally odd carnival performer Alan Keyes?

Rather than persuading people to think differently about abortion, the Terry-Keyes act makes one want to write checks to Planned Parenthood.

“torture is part of this successful interrogation program”

Remember those commercials for kids’ cereals that said, “Chocolate Frosted Sugar Bombs* are part of this nutritious breakfast” and then they showed a bowl of cereal with milk, some toast, orange juice, and scrambled eggs?

Dick Cheney appears to be taking that same approach with his claim that torture of prisoners at Gitmo worked. He’s now saying that the documents he wants declassified will show what was learned from the interrogation program as a whole. You know, the interrogation program that included nonabusive techniques like the ones FBI interrogator and torture critic Ali Soufan used successfully.

Carl Levin, who has seen the documents, says they contain no evidence that abuse or torture yielded any valuable information.

Great catch by Greg Sargent.

* h/t Calvin and Hobbes

What do we do next?

I’ve been having a lot of trouble writing this post. On the one hand, I know what I want to suggest. I want to say, we should protest against the murder cheerleaders. We should show them that they are alone, that they are beyond the pale, that they do not have our support, not even in our most private thoughts.

The trouble is, I can’t figure out whether it would help or not.

In my experience, genuinely peaceful pro-lifers can and do issue condemnations all day long and it doesn’t make a bit of difference to the pro-violence wing. They hate us and consider us traitors. They don’t care what we say about them, and they sure as hell won’t listen. In fact, being denounced by other abortion opponents just serves to highlight to them how much purer they are than everyone else. As janinedm puts it, “for a certain type of person, the rhetoric gets to the point that the nonviolent approach is also a form of treason and the violence is as much about spiritual purging as it is about the achievement of certain ends.”

So, I’m at a loss. How do you stop people over whom you have no authority and with whom you have no credibility? Nonetheless, we need to try. I’ve seen pro-lifers object to the notion that we have a special responsibility to stop this kind of violence, because it’s not the fault of people who speak and act peacefully. I say that something doesn’t have to be your fault to be your problem.

I’ve been thinking of writing to the leaders of the pro-life organizations I belong to and asking them to institute a policy stating that anyone who condones anti-abortion violence is not welcome as a member or a donor. I don’t imagine too many advocates of violence are interested in belonging to PLAGAL or Consistent Life anyway, but it would set an example.

I’m still going to do this, but I’m not sure how much of an effect it will have.

Several commenters in the previous thread had suggestions for action:
* Catherine brought up the possibility of donating to Tiller’s church.
* Marysia suggested donating to organizations working against handgun violence.
* Gwendolyn thought that pro-lifers should hold anti-violence vigils.

What are your thoughts?