“I Am Whole Life”

I’m definitely going to be keeping an eye on this new group.

From their “About Us” page:

What Does It Mean to be Whole Life?

The Whole Life ethic acknowledges that issues that appear to be separate such as human sex trafficking, political violence, famine, abortion, female genital mutilation, euthanasia, pornography, embryo destruction and many others are actually related threats to the dignity of the human person.

The Whole Life ethic recognizes that a threat anywhere to human dignity constitutes a threat to human dignity everywhere.

The Whole Life ethic is dedicated to promoting and defending human dignity in all its stages. In the United States the biggest threat is abortion, other places it may be female genital mutilation, famine, forced sterilization, or lack of civil rights.

Letter to “This Week in Science”

I have a comment on the disclaimer that ran at the beginning of the December 8 show (I’m a bit behind).

You said,

“The following hour of programming contains language of a scientific nature, which may be offensive to some people.

If you believe that evolution is an attempt to undermine your creation;
if you are sure that the moon landing was a government hoax;
if you are certain of the age of the earth and that it is less than 10,000 years;
if you know global warming is fake because of an email you haven’t ever read;
if you think developing cures to human disease from ten-celled blastocysts shatters human dignity;
then you are listening to the right show.”

One of these things is not like the others. Evolution, the moon landing, the age of the earth, and global warming are matters of verifiable — if, in some cases, interpretable — fact. The question of whether it is ethical to destroy human embryos is not. It’s a philosophical matter, and it’s one on which scientifically literate people differ.

The construction and tone of the intro suggest that you consider your perspective on the status of human embryos to be the scientific one. There’s no such thing. Science can inform our views on philosophical questions, but it can’t resolve them. Calling those who disagree with you “sheeple” doesn’t do much to resolve them either.

In case you’re wondering, my perspective is that throughout human history, attempts to divide the human species into those who count and those who may be exploited or killed have always been destructive of human dignity.

Consistent Life Action Alerts

Two new action alerts from Consistent Life:

Challenging the Abuse of the Consistent Life Ethic

On-line forums are a prime place to get across various aspects of the consistent life ethic. One current thread is at a large forum at www.prolifeamerica.com. This is the forum for Life Dynamics, whose August DVD LifeTalk show included an attack on the consistent life ethic as a ploy to water down the abortion issue. A message was posted with the subject “Challenging the Abuse of the Consistent Life Ethic.” The responses have started coming in quickly, and it’s a good spot for people who do know what the consistent life ethic really is to at least read through the thread, and hopefully to contribute cogent points. In this case, it’s not intended to bog down into arguments on war and death penalty, since that’s off-topic to the particular forum, but to help pro-lifers understand what the consistent life ethic is when it’s used well.

The forum is at

If you want to post a response and have not already done so, you’ll need to register, but that’s easily done.

There are surely several other forums on the web where it would be good for us as a consistent-life community to be contributing to threads. Anyone who is aware of specific places, please send them in to allforlifeaction@swbell.net — this is part of what Action Alerts are for, allowing our community to respond quickly. We always had in mind community participation in coming up with needed actions.

Pro-Peace/Pro-Life Harmony Pilot Project

Do you know of groups in the same campus, denomination, or community that define themselves as either pro-peace or pro-life, but might be willing to dialog with each other? Consistent Life’s emphasis on how the issues are connected and on cooperation of violence-opposing groups gives us a prime opportunity to change the destructive right/left dynamics of these debates. We have a PowerPoint presentation designed for joint meetings of such groups to encourage discussion.

Before launching this as a program, complete with a manual with good advice on what experience has shown, we need to have experience to know what experience has shown. Anyone who might like to organize a session with appropriate local peace & life groups to help us develop this program, please contact project coordinator Rachel MacNair directly at drmacnair@hotmail.com.

Waldman does it again

Who gains from the constant equation of opposition to abortion with opposition to family planning? Two groups come immediately to mind:

* The minority who are anti-family planning, because it increases their stature and influence (Jill Stanek must love being considered THE voice of pro-lifers).
* Abortion advocates who want to paint their opposition as extreme and out of touch.

Who are the biggest losers? The people who would benefit the most if the broadest possible coalition of pro-lifers and pro-choicers came together to support family planning and sex education.

Just something to keep in mind.

Maybe we need a movement to find common ground among people looking for common ground

Speaking of common ground, Marysia has braved the intensely hostile waters of RHRealityCheck with a post titled, What the First Wave of Feminism Can Teach the First Wave of Common Ground.

What I love about Marysia’s writing is that without compromising her own views, she takes the arguments of pro-choice feminists very seriously. She doesn’t dismiss them or lie about them. She doesn’t have to, because her convictions are solid. And frankly, pro-choice feminists are right about a lot of injustices facing women, and failing to understand that will be the downfall of the pro-life establishment.

And why DO birds suddenly appear every time you are near?

If I were to interview, oh, say, Amanda Marcotte and then pose the question, “Why do pro-choicers think all pro-lifers are misogynists and reject any notion of finding common ground with them?”, I think pro-choicers like Steven Waldman might get a bit miffed. He might protest that Marcotte doesn’t represent the views of most pro-choicers, no matter how loudly and how often she and her fans repeat those views. He might even take the opportunity to remind us how much he personally respects people on “both sides”* of the abortion debate.

So when he asks Jill Stanek why pro-lifers oppose contraception, he might first want to take a step back and question whether, in general, they do.

Several commenters pointed out that Stanek’s views are extreme and don’t represent most pro-lifers, but apparently Waldman either didn’t read the comments or ignored them, because he was beating the same drum again few days later.

Surely one of the first principles of “common ground”, which Waldman so endlessly claims to seek, is that one must honestly engage the people with whom one is trying to find commonality, and not resort to stereotypes and holding up extremists as examples.

* Scare quotes because I think the notion that there are two neat sides is preposterous.

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?

On the murder of George Tiller

I want to express my horror at the crime that was committed today, and my condolences to the family of George Tiller. Were I in any position to, I would help the authorities apprehend and convict his killer.

I’ll have more tomorrow, but I don’t think this is the appropriate time.