Both Republicans and Democrats use Rape Victims, Not Help Them


When it comes to life issues, left-leaning politicians aren’t the only ones in politics who make mind-numbingly stupid remarks. While the Democratic party stands on the platform that killing an unborn child conceived in rape, and therefore punishing him or her for the sins of the father, somehow helps rape victims, Republicans have a long track record of trivializing rape victims and making anti-intellectual claims about how rape is physiologically different than consensual sex and therefore it is almost impossible for it to result in pregnancy. Most recently, Todd Akin, the Republican Senate nominee in Missouri, said, “First of all, from what I understand from doctors [pregnancy from rape] is really rare. If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”

Both parties are so off the mark in this debate that its not even funny. First, if abortion is murder then it is intrinsically wrong. Pregnancy from rape is not an exception: you’re still killing an innocent child. That does nothing to help the mother and it in no way achieves justice against the rapist. As for Republicans’ asinine claims: even if true it is completely irrelevant. Abortion exceptions for rape aren’t wrong because there are so few pregnancies resulting from rape: its wrong because it kills an innocent human being. The Democrat platform only serves to shift punishment from the guilty to the inconvenient but innocent. The Republican platform only serves to trivialize the unspeakable tragedy inflicted upon so many women. But, hey, that’s just politics as usual I suppose. Political solutions serve to further party agendas but they don’t actually “solve” anything.

When it comes to helping rape victims it is not Republicans or Democrats but the Catholic Church who offers the most reasonable course of action. Progressives may write off the Church as “backward” and “anti-scientific” but then progressives usually equate asinine statements made by people like Todd Akin to “dogmatic church doctrine.” In truth, they could not be more opposed.

The USCCB, whose role it is to establish policy for the practical application of church teaching in the United States, in “Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services” Directive 36 provides the rubric for contraceptive use in an emergency room setting for rape victims:

“A female who has been raped should be able to defend herself against a potential conception from the sexual assault. If after appropriate testing, there is no evidence that conception has occurred already, she may be treated with medications that would prevent ovulation, sperm capacitation, or fertilization. It is not permissible, however, to initiate or to recommend treatments that have as their purpose or direct effect the removal, destruction, or interference with the implantation of a fertilized ovum”.

This includes contraceptives with a possible abortifacient effect as long as contraception and not abortion is its intent and moral certitude that ovulation has not occurred is established. Moral certitude does not necessitate a statistical probability of 100%, impossible to meet with current medical technology, but the highest degree of certainty possible with the tools available to us. Thus, if moral certitude can be established that the woman has not ovulated, thereby minimizing any risk involved that an already conceived child might be harmed, contraception may be administered in order to prevent conception resulting from rape and thus defending the women from further invasion by her attacker.

Catholic theology dictates that there are two realities involved in sex. There is the physical reality which is the anatomical/physiological mechanics of sexual intercourse that is pleasure, reproduction etc. and then there is the theological reality that sex is procreative and unitive. Note that the physical reality of reproduction (the mere promulgation of the species also existent in every animal on Earth) is distinct from the theological reality of procreation (where man and women cooperate with God to bring a new person into the world) and pleasure is distinct from unity. Contraception (as distinct from abortifacients) is wrong because it violates the theological realities of procreation and unity. However, rape is neither procreative nor unitive.

Neither the Democrat nor the Republican platforms have any foundation in science at all. Church teaching, however, does. While our politicians are guided by demagoguery and political expedience the Catholic Church decided to actually look at the reality of the situation and base its position on natural law: that is, on the scientific and philosophical reality of the world. It decided to actually look at how a woman’s body works and came up with a medically (and morally) sound solution. In the face of the same scientific facts our politicians have just plugged their ears and refuse to hear, victims be damned.

The mantra of politicians on the left has become “okay, okay, science proves that fetuses are human beings but they’re weak and defenseless so we can kill them anyway, especially in instances of rape.” While the mantra of those on the right has been “hey, I have absolutely no proof of this, but we can ignore rape victims because their bodies will magically sort things out for them.” And people accuse the Church of being anti-intellectual.

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A Chestertonian Reason for Hope


Mark Shea on the hopeful prospects that the US bishops now elicit:

The Roman Catholic Church in America has become what the Anglican Church once was in Britain: the Republican Party on its knees. – Vox Nova

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Our bishops are the Democratic Party at Prayer. – Michael Voris

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And I would simply note with regard to the bishops that they never supported health care reform to begin with. – Lying Obama Stooge Jay Carney

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The bishops totally supported Obamacare and are the stooges of a Muslim president who was not born in America! – The sober and judicious Steve Kellmeyer

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The increasingly polar lunacy of the people attacking our bishops gives me hope that our episcopal leadership has finally turned the corner from being the hapless bench of bishops who misgoverned the Church ten years ago. A lot of that crowd are gone now and the new guys seem to actually get it, judging from their gutsy response to the Tyrant in the White House. It is therefore only natural that as they start to get with the gospel and not with the institutional stupidity of their predecessors, extremists are going to behave toward them according to the anti-logic Chesterton describes: “If you hear a thing being accused of being too tall and too short, too red and too green, too bad in one way and too bad also in the opposite way, then you may be sure that it is very good.”

Gives me hope.

This is the flak the church gets for being nonpartisan and sticking to its own precepts in an uber-political nation like the United States. More like her please.

US Bishops: The United States Cannot Justify Preemptive War in Iran


While politicians employ escalating political rhetoric purporting the urgency of our situation regarding Iran and how we must use preemptive military force against Iran the US Catholic Bishops have stated the contrary view that, even considering the prospect of a nuclear Iran, we cannot engage in preemptive war. That was back in 2007 when we were hearing the same hysterics about the “urgency” and the “danger” of Iran and how we must attack them before they attack us. Yet, five years later we’re all still here and while relations in the Middle East are even more precarious than ever they don’t have to be. We could drop our sanctions and initiate free trade and genuine diplomatic exchange between the United States and Iran and minimize the already exaggerated threat of Iran or we can continue to slowly give ground to fear-mongering chicken hawks endorsing immoral and, frankly, stupid policies. The US Bishops on an attack against Iran:

US Catholic Bishops have said that while the prospect of Iran developing nuclear weapons is unacceptable, in the absence an immediate threat, the USA and other nations must pursue a diplomatic solution to the present confrontation.

The message came in a letter issued by the church to US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice late last week.

It was signed by Bishop Thomas Wenski of Orlando, Florida, on behalf of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).

The bishops are reacting to escalating political rhetoric and news accounts speculating about a potential pre-emptive use of force against Iran, supposedly to deter further possible nuclear weapons ambitions.

“From a moral perspective,” Bishop Wenski wrote, “in the absence of an immediate threat military action would constitute an act of preventative war.”

The Catholic Church, he noted, teaches that “engaging in a preventative war without clear proof that an attack is imminent cannot fail to raise serious moral and juridical questions.”

The bishops make clear their assessment that the Iranian situation does not presently constitute an immediate threat.

Under the ‘just war’ tradition of moral reasoning, before military action could be considered, say the bishops, all non-military alternatives must be exhausted.

Options, they suggest, range from diplomatic and economic incentives, increased international involvement and cooperation, to economic sanctions.

Catholic and other Christian peacemakers say that the churches’ stance should be for nonviolence, not for the justification of military action.

The bishops have also called on US leaders to change the nations’ current nuclear posture to ensure that nuclear weapons are never used against non-nuclear threats. They have appealed for greater, more sustained progress toward nuclear disarmament in the spirit of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.

The full text of the Catholic bishops’ letter is available at: http://www.usccb.org

Additionally, on March 2nd 2012 the U.S. bishops urged U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton to work to reduce nuclear arms and maintain security in the Middle East in a letter about Iran from Bishop Richard E. Pates of Des Moines. Bishop Pates chairs the Committee on International Justice and Peace of the United States Conference of Catholic bishops (USCCB). In the letter, Bishop Pates explicitly states that the acquisition of nuclear weapons by Iran does not justify military action:

“In Catholic teaching, the use of force must always be a last resort. Iran’s bellicose statements, its failure to be transparent about its nuclear program and its possible acquisition of nuclear weapons are serious matters, but in themselves they do not justify military action.”

“Discussing or promoting military options at this time is unwise and may be counterproductive. Actual or threatened military strikes are likely to strengthen the regime in power in Iran and would further marginalize those in Iran who want to abide by international norms. And, as the experience in Iraq teaches, the use of force can have many unintended consequences.”

Contraception, the USCCB and Ron Paul


I’ve witnessed a lot of confusion among the pro-life movement concerning Ron Paul’s alleged transgressions against the culture of life as well as what, exactly, the Catholic church teaches concerning contraception, specifically on contraception use in cases of rape. I’ll begin by addressing the claim that Ron Paul is compromised on life issues. Here is a post from a reader of the Daily Paul explaining why he believes that he cannot in good conscience vote for Congressman Paul:

I can no longer support Ron Paul. I’ve discovered that in his book Liberty Defined, Ron Paul advocates the morning-after pill:

“So if we are ever to have fewer abortions, society must change again. The law will not accomplish that. However, that does not mean that the states shouldn’t be allowed to write laws dealing with abortion. Very early pregnancies and victims of rape can be treated with the day after pill, which is nothing more than using birth control pills in a special manner. These very early pregnancies could never be policed, regardless. Such circumstances would be dealt with by each individual making his or her own moral choice.”

I had previously understood that Ron Paul would nullify Roe v. Wade, allowing the states to make their own laws, while using the bully pulpit to encourage them to outlaw abortion. The problem is he is using his current bully pulpit to encourage the morning after pill. I will be removing my Ron Paul bumper sticker and be sitting out the 2012 presidential election.

This statement is open to a wide range of interpretations including the one presented above and that is disturbing considering that Ron Paul is so outspoken in favor of the pro-life cause. Ron Paul speaks regularly about the culture of life, has written legislation defining personhood as beginning at conception which would effectively overturn Roe v. Wade, he favors a constitutional amendment protecting life beginning at conception and as an OB/GYN he has devoted his career to delivering thousands of babies. So, if Ron Paul really is advocating abortifacients as a legitimate alternative to abortion then this is in stark contrast to his previous words and actions and, indeed, is quite upsetting.

However, in keeping with the law of Occam’s razor and choosing an interpretation with the least number of assumptions, I would argue that Ron Paul’s above statement remains consistent with his other views. While life begins at conception, a fact Ron Paul readily recognizes, it is impossible to prove that pregnancy has occurred until implantation and therefore impossible to enforce a law banning abortions that take place prior to implantation. A law that can never be enforced is a bad law and, keeping with Ron Paul’s constitutional approach to government, should not exist. If such a law is unenforceable then, indeed, such a decision would be left to each individual’s “own moral choice” and becomes a battle that we must fight and win on the cultural level, by winning hearts and minds, and not through the coercion of law. Or, as Ron Paul but it in the supposedly damning quote above, “if we are to have fewer abortions, society must change.”

Next, I’d like to address the related issue of church teaching regarding contraception. I’m getting my information from Catholic Health Care Ethics: A Manual for Practitioners edited by Edward Furton, Peter Cataldo and Albert Moraczewski, O.P. Information on the USCCB directive in question below can be found here: http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/resource.php?n=968.

According to the Catholic church, contraception use in conjugal love (the loving, theological reality of sexual intercourse) is always wrong. Period. The end. However, the church does allow the use of contraceptives for treating of hormonal disorders in which the intent of the use of the drug is to fix a hormonal imbalance in the body and not to interfere with the theological reality of sexual intercourse. Thus, its obvious that contraceptives such as the Pill are not intrinsically evil but instead their licitness depends on how they are used.

Additionally, there is one other exemption for when contraception use is licit and that is in the case of rape victims. This may seem odd to a great many within the pro-life movement but when one understands the underlying theological dynamics at play then the church’s exemption seems perfectly reasonable.

Catholic theology dictates that there are two realities involved in sex. There is the physical reality which is the anatomical/physiological mechanics of sexual intercourse that is pleasure, reproduction etc. and then there is the theological reality that sex is procreative and unitive. Note that the physical reality of reproduction (the mere promulgation of the species also existent in every animal on Earth) is distinct from the theological reality of procreation (where man and women cooperate with God to bring a new person into the world) and pleasure is distinct from unity. Contraception (as distinct from abortifacients) is wrong because it violates the theological realities of procreation and unity. However, rape is neither procreative nor unitive.

The USCCB, whose role it is to establish policy for the practical application of church teaching in the United States, in “Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services” Directive 36 provides the rubric for contraceptive use in an emergency room setting for rape victims:

“A female who has been raped should be able to defend herself against a potential conception from the sexual assault. If after appropriate testing, there is no evidence that conception has occurred already, she may be treated with medications that would prevent ovulation, sperm capacitation, or fertilization. It is not permissible, however, to initiate or to recommend treatments that have as their purpose or direct effect the removal, destruction, or interference with the implantation of a fertilized ovum”.

This includes contraceptives with a possible abortifacient effect as long as contraception and not abortion is its intent and moral certitude that ovulation has not occurred is established. Moral certitude does not necessitate a statistical probability of 100%, impossible to meet with current medical technology, but the highest degree of certainty possible with the tools available to us. Thus, if moral certitude can be established that the woman has not ovulated, thereby minimizing any risk involved that an already conceived child might be harmed, contraception may be administered in order to prevent conception resulting from rape and thus defending the women from further invasion by her attacker.

In summary, I think Ron Paul’s intent is to avoid federal intervention on an issue that cannot be feasibly policed not to endorse the morning-after-pill. Although regrettably his statements on this issue are poorly worded and therefore ambiguous and open to misinterpretation. Furthermore, contraception use in cases of rape does not violate Catholic teaching nor the integrity of the pro-life movement, granted that rigorous protocol is followed. As an experienced OB/GYN who has worked with and praised Catholic hospitals Ron Paul is most likely aware of this – perhaps further explaining his nuanced stance on life issues.

Archbishop Dolan Elevated to Cardinal


Congratulations to New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan on his elevation to Cardinal.

Now-Cardinal Dolan has received much media attention recently for speaking out against the current HHS mandate as president of the USCCB (United States Conference of Catholic Bishops). In response to the mandate, Cardinal Dolan wrote the following:

Americans are nothing if not fair.

We share with those who are down and out. We salute excellence and the honest effort to achieve it. And something in our character draws us to the underdog.

That’s why the new federal edict mandating sterilization and contraception coverage in all health care plans has set off alarm bells around the country. And for the record, the contraceptives mandated as “preventive services” will include abortifacients.

Critics charge that this is an attack on the cornerstone First Amendment freedom that is the very foundation of our democracy. It is. Others assert that it threatens a violation of conscience for millions of Americans. It does. And still others insist it will force an unprecedented choice for many employers to either subsidize what they believe to be immoral, or withdraw health care coverage for their own families and those of their employees. It will.

But the new Health and Human Services ruling is wrong for another reason.

It is egregiously unfair, and as such, it cuts against the grain of what it means to be American.

The great and historic 236-year American achievement has been built on a broadly accepted social understanding. Working Americans pay taxes on what they earn. In return, their government protects them from external dangers, and from threats to the rights that our Declaration of Independence held to be God-given.

In a word, Americans expect government to be fair in how it governs, with respect for the exercise of the liberties and rights guaranteed all citizens under the U.S. Constitution.

Indeed, this basic American notion of fairness, the principle of equality under the law, was the animating force behind the great Civil Rights movement and the expanded recognition of rights for women and minorities in this past century. Americans, when presented with all the facts, support what is fair.

Which is precisely why the Obama administration’s decision to force Catholic and other religious employers to violate their conscience will not stand. Americans will recognize it for the unconstitutional detour that it is, and urge their elected representatives to repeal it.

I believe the trigger for this will be a very simple question. Americans will ask themselves: If this, what next?

What other constitutionally protected freedoms might an increasingly powerful federal government revoke? What other mandated violations of conscience lie ahead for other groups of American citizens, in pursuit of what their government declares is in the common interest? For whom doth the bell toll next?

There are many reasons to decry this HHS mandate. But perhaps the most important reason is that it is simply un-American.