Freelance: 6 Pro-Life Priorities for Healthcare Reform

One of the fruits of my readings on health insurance.

http://truthandcharityforum.org/top-6-pro-life-aims-for-health-care-reform/

“The practice of medicine involves the whole human body, so policies about it inevitably express a specific anthropology or philosophical understanding of the human person. National legislation that includes every citizen will have the consequence of enacting one anthropology as opposed to others. Accordingly, health care law has become a test of America’s ability to balance an authentic pluralism, one that is capable of respecting both individual freedom and the moral commitments of other individuals who become funders of it.”

  1. A clear distinction between insurance and medical care – A glaring, but oft-unacknowledged error of the Affordable Care Act is the difference between having health insurance and receiving needed medical care. The former is no guarantee of the latter. The working poor with incomes that set them above the Medicaid threshold have been saddled with low-premium plans that have exorbitant deductibles of up to $13,000, that leave them de facto uninsured and priced-out of healthcare. This problem reveals a gap in concern for certain social groups; it’s part of an anthropology that gives lip service to covering all people, but actually disregards some. Pro-life means pro-life for everyone, so a pro-life policy should seek to increase access for all.
  2. Adequate funding for the severely ill and dying – Euthanasia is a development that pro-life people need to fight. As physician-assisted suicide gains legal traction, insurance companies have incentives to deny expensive care for cancer patients, such as Stephanie Packer, a mother of four diagnosed with late stage cancer.Legalized suicide inverts the practice of medicine, turning patients into dollar amounts instead of lives worth saving, regardless of long is left. The cultural message about the value and purposes of life that is sent by legal suicide is tragic and irreversible. If lives are only valuable when they are pain-free and productive, most of us will soon be in the crosshairs. As the government sets policy, we must demand that it take care of its citizens rather than killing them, and that it tells Americans that life is worth living. This should be an anthropological no-brainer.
  3. A continuation of Hyde restriction on abortion – Presently, the Hyde Amendment, a rider attached annually to the Congressional budget, prohibits federal funding for abortion. It affects Medicaid primarily, but is also present in the ACA. Insurers are not required to cover abortions. States, by contrast, may add abortion coverage or limit it.The principles of the Hyde Amendment permit a level of personal removal for taxpayers who would be funding the procedure that, for many, amounts to murder. Hyde is one of the key compromises that followed the 1973 legalization of abortion. However, it came under fire this campaign season from the Democratic party platform and nominee, Hillary Clinton. In the first week of his presidency, Mr. Trump passed the Hyde rider into a permanent law. For valuing life, it’s a small but important victory. Abortion is a clear-cut case of difference on what it means to be human and who counts as one. Hyde represents one stab at pluralism, a starting point. A committed pro-life healthcare policy will further demonstrate support for women, babies and families through—
  4. Support for prenatal and neonatal care – Pro-life groups are often criticized for caring more about the baby than the mother. If conservatives have a chance to help shape public health policy, we need to make abortion obsolete. Support for pregnant mothers, new moms, and infants, as well as adoption placement need to be readily available so that women in difficult situations aren’t left alone and without options. Raising a child is difficult and demanding work. If we claim to welcome unplanned children, we need to welcome unplanned children, viewing them and their mothers as essential to the social fabric of our country. That’s an anthropology of life that values people and responsibility rather than seeking to abolish the natural consequences of behavior.

Full article  (and the other 2 ideas here): http://truthandcharityforum.org/top-6-pro-life-aims-for-health-care-reform/

Question: Why do you think healthcare exploded onto the political scene during Obama’s presidency? What is at stake in the debate?

Two Old Freelances: Prep for Trump; Pro-Life is Definity still a thing

Here are two of my freelance pieces that were published (online) in December.

One was a way to think about being Catholic under a Trump presidency. His pro-life policy changes are great and we should celebrate them, but we shouldn’t forget his problems, such as fear mongering about immigrants.

Being Catholic Under a Trump Presidency

“If this election of Mr. Trump is to be a true victory for people of faith, advocates for life and for all Americans, much work needs to be done in understanding, not demonizing, the other side, in building the hard linguistic, philosophical and relational bridges that alone can lead to mutual understanding, even if not necessarily agreement. Finally, as citizens and as Catholics, we must all be willing to do the actual work of enacting the basic human values that respect the Image of God imprinted into each person. ”

http://truthandcharityforum.org/being-catholic-under-a-trump-presidency/

Pro-life Politics Are Not Obsolete or Fringe

This piece is a bit dated now that Trump has been inaugurated and changed some of these things but still. The point was to recognize that pro-life politics still matter even though Roe v. Wade still stands. A lot of conservatives are wont to be disillusioned with Republicans who claim to be pro-life “but don’t do anything.” I understand that, but it’s worth pointing out that there are a lot of little pro-life compromises that pro-life politicians fight for, and even those would be a lot to lose.

“There are two quiet pieces of U.S. law that mount a stand for the lives of unborn infants by prohibiting federal funding for abortion: the Helms and Hyde Amendments. These legislative acts are protected in Congress each year by pro-life Republicans, who do not always receive obvious credit or press accolades. The Helms and Hyde Amendments are not guaranteed features of American civic society and they came under fire from the Democratic candidates during the 2016 election both from Bernie Sanders and from nominee Hillary Clinton. The fight to protect all lives is far from over, and the issue of federal funding still looms precariously.”

http://truthandcharityforum.org/pro-life-politics-are-not-fringe-or-obsolete-the-hydehelm-amendments/

So to you: What do you think of Trump so far? Has he done anything you like? Don’t like? Why so?

And–the politics of abortion are far from settled. Much to the chagrin of those of you on the left. I know it’s considered a tough issue. I’ll have another piece with more explanation of my views on abortion soon. For those of you on the right, what do you think of Hyde/Helms amendments. How much do you think they matter?

Freelance Repost: Mrs. Clinton’s Religion Problem

I wrote this article before the election but never posted it here:

This is why I am truly glad that Mrs. Clinton did not win. However, it is hard to be happy about a Trump win, and there are so many other causes for concern with his behavior. People keep reassuring me that he won’t actually do any of the things he proposes, but that’s a different topic.

http://truthandcharityforum.org/mrs-clintons-religion-problem/

Leaders of black churches have questioned Mrs. Clinton specifically about concerns for their own religious liberty. In an open letter signed by twenty-six pastors and leaders of African-American churches, including Jacqueline Rivers of the Seymour Institute for Black Church and Policy Studies in Boston, they called attention to the CAGC comments by John Podesta;

“Key players on your staff have sought to subvert Catholic teaching on sexuality by planting externally funded groups in the church to advance a politically correct agenda,” they noted. “What would you do as president to guarantee that religious freedoms are balanced against civil rights rather than being trumped by them?”

They show respect for their fellow faith communities and go on to explain the central role their religious beliefs play in their ministry, particularly in poor communities, where the church is only institution well-placed to access the population, both spiritually and materially. In Christianity, beliefs are not meant as cudgels with which to bludgeon opponents; beliefs are guides to goodness, to recognizing the inherent dignity of our fellows, of striving to live well both today and forever, individually and as a society.

While Christians can and do fall short of our ideals, we seek freedom of conscience for the sake of authenticity, not hatred. Religion, despite its present unpopularity in elite circles, was once an uncontroversially protected category of conscience and identity. The drafters of the Bill of Rights thought as much.

Full article here:

 

Three Reasons No One Should Be Disappointed with Pope Francis’s Visit

[From my post on the Truth and Charity Forum of HLI]

The Pope has surprised a number of committed Catholics by his talking points, mostly because he did not focus too heavily on abortion. However, it should come as no surprise that Pope Francis focused on many of the same themes from Laudato Si, his first encyclical, such as the environment, immigration, ending the death penalty, ending arms proliferation and human trafficking, and supporting the poor and marginalized. These issues are generally given more emphasis by more liberal Catholics (and non-Catholics).

Of course, the pope has also mentioned the hallmark conservative causes, particularly the importance of the family and the sacredness of human life, but not anything against abortion or same-sex marriage by name. R.R. Reno, editor of First Things, called the speech to Congress “modest” and said that, “Francis discourages conservative Catholics, more by silence than anything else. He encourages progressives, both by his silences and his affirmations.”

francisThat seems to sum up the reaction of many faithful Catholics to Pope Francis’s visit: disappointment that he didn’t shore them up or champion their causes.

However, I don’t think such downtroddenness is appropriate for three reasons:

The first is that “popes speak Vatican-ese,” as a Jesuit priest and professor of mine Fr. Gerald Fogarty once put it. The pope is head of a worldwide Church with many different cultural, national and ethnic sensitivities that they seek to balance in their pronouncements. It is rare for popes to come out with guns blazing, naming specific condemnations of specific national laws and policies. Pope Benedict did discuss abortion and Pope Francis did mention immigration by name, but he also linked it with the wider refugee crisis of displaced persons fleeing the Middle East. His concern is global, as the Church is global.

Read the whole thing here: http://www.truthandcharityforum.org/three-reasons-no-one-should-be-disappointed-with-the-popes-visit-to-america/

Did you see Pope Francis? Did you listen to or read any of this talks? What did you think?

From T & C Forum: Cutting through the Spin on Planned Parenthood selling baby parts

Regarding the revelations of top Planned Parenthood, the nation’s number one abortion provider, selling parts of aborted babies:

“Planned Parenthood wants to use the rhetoric of “research” and legality, even though the profit-generating nature of this practice is plainly evident.

“Regardless of the reasons for public malaise, there is a significant difference between dead adults and aborted infants. Except in cases of malpractice, the hospitals and doctors did not kill the adults. In abortion, a growing, healthy or at least living, human being is intentionally killed by a doctor with the consent of his or her mother. This makes the question of profit or trafficking all the more troubling: death is being dealt for “research” at best or “profit” at worst.”

http://www.truthandcharityforum.org/cutting-through-the-spin-on-planned-parenthood/

Read the whole article at the link above.

Two Pieces on Evangelium Vitae, John Paul’s Great Encyclical at 20 years

I recently did two posts for the Truth and Charity Forum on John Paul II’s 1995 Encyclical Evangelium Vitae, The Gospel of Life. It was an important document that fully explains the Church’s life ethic and applies it to modern times.

1. False Freedom at the Root of Abortion

“Consider that forbidding murder does not make American citizens less free; on the contrary, it makes citizens free to thrive in a peaceful environment. Likewise, a prohibition on abortion does not abridge anyone’s rights or make anyone less free. On the contrary, it recognizes with love the humanity of the growing child and demands help for a struggling mother from the wider human community. Abortion, in contrast, leaves a woman alone and hurting when faced with an unplanned pregnancy.”

More at: http://www.truthandcharityforum.org/evangelium-vitae-false-freedom-at-the-root-of-abortion/

2. Evangelium Vitae and the Church’s consistency on life and Capital Punishment 

“Unfortunately, the sentence of lethal injection gives Tsarnaev drastically less time to reach the much needed sorrow for his crimes that the jury and defense hoped to find. As tragic as the deaths and injuries from the bombing two years ago were, Tsarnaev’s death will not heal any of those wounded or bring back any of those lost. John Paul II calls for the death penalty to be used only in a defensive framework, society defending itself, and therefore to avoid it where possible. The Boston bombing was obviously an emotional blow to the nation; it was home-grown terrorism. Our fears and passions are rightly inflamed, but it would be even more tragic if we fall down to the level of the perpetrators. With the weighty and trying crimes of the bombing on our hearts, we must still cling to truth that makes terrorism wrong in the first place: the value of life.”

More at:

http://www.truthandcharityforum.org/john-paul-ii-on-the-death-penalty-a-development-of-doctrine/

Reconciling Feminism with Being Pro-Life

Before I converted, I long identified as a feminist, and I still do. However, nowadays I understand that a bit differently than I did before. Here are some excerpts from my recent Truth and Charity Forum piece. Whole article here.

***

Erika Bachiochi recently published an essay called “I’m a Feminist and I’m Against Abortion.” She notes the contradiction of feminist support for abortion:

But abortion, which is often the assumed solution to unexpected pregnancy in our culture, attempts to cure that sexual asymmetry: the biological fact that women get pregnant and men don’t. It does this by putting the responsibility to care for — or dispense with — the life of a nascent, developing human being on women alone.

Abortion expects nothing more of men, nothing more of medicine, and nothing more of society at large.

***

At the same time, John Paul II’s letter invites us to recall that the Church is truly the ally of all authentic human goods. He thanks all women: mothers, wives, daughters, sisters, working women and consecrated women then offers his explanation of the nexus of women’s value, which, of course, is based in God, in being created in the image of God. After recalling the story of creation, he says:

“The creation of woman is thus marked from the outset by the principle of help: a help which is not one-sided, but mutual.… men and women are complementary. Womanhood expresses the “human” as much as manhood does, but in a different and complementary way.” (7)

This formulation that John Paul speaks on behalf of the Church is truly the best of all the insights of feminism at once. It proclaims the difference of women, which is a certain truth, while affirming the equality in rational nature and value. While every woman and man is different, we are equal without being the same.

Two recent peices on surrogate motherhood

Part I: Abandoned Babies Reveal Inherent Problems of Surrogacy

“All too often the horror occurs of aborting or abandoning to a surrogate a child who fails to measure up to the hopes of the parent. In these situations, the objectification of the child is clear—he or she is treated like a new pair of shoes with a smudge that is then rejected and returned. ”

Part II: Surrogacy, Prostitution, Power

“Precisely because of the deep intimacy of pregnancy and motherhood, the attempt to buy the pregnancy of another woman inherently leads to harmful power dynamics, just as it does in cases of prostitution and pornography. In short, a wealthy client thinks he can purchase a woman’s body, and the women who are ensnared by this are the most vulnerable who tend to lack (or feel they lack) other options for making money.”

Why I Changed My View on Abortion

Once, I was unapologetically “pro-choice.” I was also a typical college agnostic and political liberal.

Hi, Mom!

Now, I am unapologetically pro-life. And yes, most of my other deep philosophical and theological views have changed too—or matured rather.

Even though some years have passed since then, some of my friends may not understand the change from positions I once seemed so passionate about. So let me explain.

Abortion is unique in that it is a life or death question and therefore not something anyone should be indifferent to.

Abortion is certainly and clearly murder. It kills an innocent human life on grounds no greater than the arbitrary will of the mother (regarding the question of health, see obj. 1).

The typical response of the “pro-choice” position is that the fetus is not a person. Well, personhood is a deep philosophical concept, and when the life or death of a potential person hangs in the balance, it is unacceptable to simply dismiss or ignore the question of personhood. Serious thinkers have answered this question differently. Obviously, I know the Catholic answer and I think it’s right.

But let me provide an answer to the personhood question from my own experience.

The “clump of cells” in the mother’s belly is certainly a person from day one. I am convinced of this because I now have a child. My beautiful one year old baby boy, named William, is the same entity (or being) that he was when he was born, though of course, he has grown a lot.

My one year old William, the same William that was born, is also the same William that we looked at on the screen during my ultrasound. Ultrasound William is the same William that set the pregnancy test to positive before I even knew he was there.

In short, there was no magical moment when he went from not being a person into being a person. He is the same entity that he has been since that particular egg and that particular sperm fused, though of course he grew and continues to grow. He didn’t suddenly gain personhood when he passed through the birth canal. He was the same baby the day before he was born.

We as adults are like this too. We forget that we have continuous identity with ourselves as babies. I am Stephanie, the same person I was when I was 10, when I was 4, when I was born, and when I was conceived. Yes, I have grown, but I am the same being.

That means that if my mother had aborted me in the womb, I wouldn’t be here. Abortion would have killed Stephanie. Likewise, if I had aborted William in the womb, I would have killed the person William. Killing 1 month old (in utero) William would kill the same person as killing 1 month old William (after birth). Killing William in utero is the same as killing William on the outside, or even a William who has been outside for 5 years.

As humans, we are the same beings that our parents conceived. Those little babies inside their mother are persons, just as we are. The fact that they rely on the mother for life support doesn’t change that.

Now that I have William, I know that the personhood of a baby is continuous from conception onward. So I am totally and unflinchingly convinced that abortion is just a different word for murder.

Ironically, when I joined the Church, I was not fully convinced on the question of abortion. But, the teachings of the Church about Christ, salvation, and especially moral theory in general were so strong and compelling to me, that I just gave up my defense of abortion. I prayed that one day I would come to fully understand and appreciate the teaching against abortion.

Slowly, as I studied theology, the role of personhood became apparent to me and also the meaning of sexuality (yes, it really is the-act-that-makes-babies, as I have discussed in another post). Still, even when I was pregnant, I was nervous and scared about what being a mother would mean. I wasn’t even sure I would like the baby.

But once my son was born, I didn’t need philosophy, valuable and necessary though it is. Then I understood in the core of my being that the baby is the same baby that was conceived. I understood that the children belong to God and are given to us for a little while to raise and care for.

I am now horrified that I ever supported abortion, and I puzzle how I used to defend such violence. The answer was that I had very little experience with babies and young children. And I know that I cannot judge the consciences of those who do defend abortion because I really, truly thought that I was defending women’s rights. I thought I was on the right side of a tough moral question. I’m sure that most abortion supporters feel this way. No one chooses to promote or do evil as evil. We do evil while seeking an illusion of the good.

My hope is just to implore those who support abortion to truly search their souls and pray to receive truth. Because the truth would save the lives of thousands of tiny people.

Question for the reader: Have you ever seriously changed your views about an important subject? If so, how did that go?

Obj. 1 – What about the health of the mother?

Ans. 1 – The number of pregnancies that actually threaten the life of the mother is tiny. Pregnancy may be uncomfortable, but it is almost never life-threatening. Appeals for abortion on this ground are therefore very weak. If a non-life threatening health issue were to occur (as it often does), it would be in no way acceptable to kill a person in order to fix such an issue. If a case truly exists where a mother and child’s life hang in opposing sides of the balance, the rule of double effect applies.

Obj. 2 – What about rape?

Ans. 2 – Rape as a reason for abortion is also very rare, though more frequent than truly life-threatening health situations. Nevertheless, if abortion is murder, it is always murder. The tragically unfortunate circumstances through which the baby was conceived do not negate his or her personhood. The right to life does not turn on the intentions of the progenitors. I recognize that such a pregnancy would likely be an extremely psychologically challenging event for the mother. But that doesn’t mean we can kill the baby to make the trauma go away. The suffering is real, but the killing of persons is not a justifiable means to fix it. It means that the mother should receive the utmost in sensitive and loving support from her family, friends and medical practitioners.

Obj. 3 – Isn’t the “baby” just a clump of cells?

Ans. 3 – Yes. The baby is a clump of cells just as adults are clumps of cells, albeit larger clumps. From conception, the baby has a unique sequence of human DNA that will direct her cells to grow in accordance with human nature into a fully formed being. No “clump of cells” in cheek tissue or lungs can do that.

Obj. 4 – It’s my body. Because the baby depends on the mother’s body, the mother has a right to kill it.

Ans. 4 – Yes, the baby depends on the mother. But the baby has a body and right to life of her own. The success of this argument requires that the baby’s personhood be negated by her dependence on the mother. I see no reason that the child’s dependence on the mother should make the child less a person and less the subject of rights.