Ben Johnson

Romney’s Blunt problem with the pro-life movement

Ben Johnson
Ben Johnson

March 2, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) - I have received numerous e-mails over the last 36 hours asking if Mitt Romney really flip-flopped on his support of the Blunt Amendment, a motion to re-establish employers’ religious freedom over health insurance coverage. He did not, despite frantic coverage of his answer to a confusingly worded question from an Ohio reporter. But his reply signals that pro-lifers have a far deeper problem with the Republican presidential hopeful: he’s disengaged from our issues, dismissive of our concerns, and disinclined to give us the time of day.

The Blunt amendment controversy can be attributed to another case of media malpractice. Ohio News Network (ONN) [1] reporter Jim Heath told Romney, “The issue of birth control, contraception, Blunt-Rubio, is being debated, I believe, later this week. It deals with banning, or allowing employers to ban, providing female contraception.” The question meandered a bit longer before Romney replied, “I’m not for the bill. But look, the idea of presidential candidates getting into questions about contraception within a relationship between a man and a women, a husband and a wife, I’m not going there.”

The motion’s sponsor, Sen. Roy Blunt, R-MO, defended Romney, saying, “The question was about as confusing and disjointed as you could be.” There is no “Blunt-Rubio” bill – they are two entirely different measures, neither of which conforms to the dominant media template of “banning” female contraception, something no presidential candidate has suggested. Romney has publicly, admirably supported religious liberties on this issue.

His problem is perhaps best conveyed by a headline in the hard-Left magazine Mother Jones: “Romney Didn’t Know What the Blunt Amendment Was.”

“Democrats are accusing Romney of another characteristic flip-flop, but that’s not really what happened here,” wrote Adam Serwer. “Either this whole ‘war on religion’ rhetoric is entirely overblown, or Romney just doesn’t care enough to be minimally conscious of what’s happening on the front lines.”

That is precisely the issue. For advocates of religious liberty, the First Amendment, and protecting the unborn, there has been no issue as pressing as overturning the HHS mandate. These two measures (the Blunt and Rubio amendments), the only pending legislative remedies, are known to virtually everyone in our movement. Dr. Richard Land, Dr. Albert Mohler, the USCCB, and legions of our readers in the United States are familiar with both pieces of legislation by name. Rick Santorum surely is, as well. Even if asked such a misleading question as Jim Heath’s, they would have understood what was being discussed.

Mitt Romney did not. Had Heath butchered a question about the capital gains tax or R&D credits, Romney would have undoubtedly caught the drift of his inquiry. But when it came to the First Amendment’s protection of religion, he got lost and needlessly embarrassed himself.

The fact that he was not conversant with these measures is symptomatic of his candidacy’s wide, broad, deep, and well-cultivated estrangement from the pro-life movement.

In a nutshell, Romney campaigns as though we did not exist.

Social issues rarely if ever pass his lips unbidden. He alone skipped pro-life debates hosted in Iowa, South Carolina, and Florida. In bypassing our events, he either takes our votes for granted or has written them off.

If he feels he can win without the pro-life, pro-family movement, he will conclude that he can govern without the pro-life, pro-family movement.

He has signaled his intention to do as much by refusing to sign the pro-life pledge, drawn up by the Susan B. Anthony List, “to select only pro-life appointees for relevant Cabinet and Executive Branch positions” and the federal bench. Do pro-lifers believe they will play as big a role in a Romney administration as they would in a Santorum, Gingrich, or Paul administration?

In politics, personnel is policy. If pro-life conservatives are not present when major decisions are about to be made in a Romney administration, their concerns will be ignored.

Romney’s record is not especially reassuring. He was not known for surrounding himself with pro-life advocates, nor appointing strict constructionist judges.

(Click “like” if you want to end abortion! )

Romney has said he believes Roe v. Wade was “improperly decided,” but the twists and u-turns in his circuitous route from pro-life to pro-choice to pro-life have sometimes been determined by poll results rather than personal conviction. He has been credibly accused of forcing Catholic hospitals to distribute the “Plan B” morning-after pill based on his private counsel’s advise, even when liberal officials disagreed with that conclusion.

Pro-life leaders around the country maintain their concern at his diffidence. And every so often, one of Romney’s supporters jumps out of the woodwork to heighten their sense of unease.

Planned Parenthood Federation of America President Cecil Richards said last year of Romney, “He used to come to Planned Parenthood events. He asked for our endorsement.”

David Nierenberg, a national Romney 2012 finance chair and major fundraiser, describes himself as a “proper New York Jewish liberal Democrat” who supports Planned Parenthood. He gave $225,0000 to the Washington state Democratic Party to support pro-abortion Governor Christine Gregoire, who recently signed the same-sex “marriage” bill. Nirenberg told the media he backed Romney to save the nation from “a lot of angry people running for president this year,” who do not focus on “fundamentals” like creating a “muscular” foreign policy. (It would be difficult to conceive of a more activist foreign policy than that of Rick Santorum, who promised to launch “airstrikes” against Iran.)

In 2003, Romney endorsed Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson. Anderson’s history as a former board member of the Planned Parenthood Association of Utah and former president of the state chapter of the ACLU did not stop Romney from calling him “a strong leader and a great man.”

If Romney seeks to staunch doubts over his commitment to the right to life, he must ask for our support – and provide concrete reasons we should offer it.

He could begin by appointing someone to keep him engaged on the issues most vital to us. He proved this week he is incapable of doing so on his own.

Ben Johnson is a journalist at LifeSiteNews.com. He maintains his own website, TheRightsWriter.com.

ENDNOTES
1
. In the interest of full disclosure, this author’s journalism has been featured on the Ohio News Network.


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Thaddeus Baklinski Thaddeus Baklinski Follow Thaddeus

African researchers warn early sexual activity increases risk of cancers

Thaddeus Baklinski Thaddeus Baklinski Follow Thaddeus
By Thaddeus Baklinski

A report on rising cancer rates in Africa delivered at a conference in Namibia last week warned that oral contraceptives and engaging in sexual activity from a young age lead to an increased risk of breast and reproductive system cancers.

Researchers presented the "2014 Integrated Africa Cancer Fact Sheet & Summary Score Card" during the 8th Stop Cervical, Breast and Prostate Cancer in Africa (SCCA) conference, held in Windhoek, Namibia from July 20 to 22, noted that cancer is a growing health problem in many developing countries and that breast and cervical cancer are the most common forms affecting African women.

The report said that sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) play a major role in reproductive system cancers and that young girls who engage in sexual activity risk getting, among other STDs, the human papilloma virus (HPV), some strains of which are linked to cervical cancer.

The report said although HPV infections are common in healthy women, they are usually fought off by the body’s immune system, with no discernible symptoms or health consequences.

The Cancer Association of South Africa points out that of the scores of HPV types, 14 of the more than 40 sexually transmitted varieties are considered "high risk" for causing serious illness, while two, HPV-16 and HPV-18, are linked to cervical cancer.

“Long-term use of oral contraceptives is also associated with increased risk [of cancer], and women living with HIV-AIDS are at increased risk of cervical cancer,” the report said.

Dr. Thandeka Mazibuko, a South African oncologist, told the conference attendees that when an 18-year-old is diagnosed with cervical cancer, “this means sex is an important activity in her life and she indulged from a young age.”

Mazibuko said the standard treatment for cancer of the cervix is seven weeks of radiation therapy.

“After the treatment they cannot have sex with their husbands or partners. They cannot bear children because everything has been closed up. Some may still have the womb but radiation makes them infertile,” Mazibuko said, according to a report in The Namibian.

Statistics from the Cancer Association of Namibia show that cases of cervical cancer have risen from 129 in 2005 to 266 in 2012.

The SCCA Conference theme was, "Moving forward to end Cervical Cancer by 2030: Universal Access to Cervical Cancer Prevention."

In his keynote address, host and Namibian President Hifikepunye Lucas Pohamba urged African countries to help each other to expand and modernize health care delivery in the continent.

"Within the context of the post-2015 Development Agenda and sustainable development goals, the provision of adequate health care to African women and children must be re-emphasized," said the president, according to AllAfrica.

The Namibian leader urged mothers to breastfeed their children for at least six months as a measure to prevent breast cancer.


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Hilary White Hilary White Follow Hilary

Allow ‘lethal injection’ for poor to save on palliative care: Lithuanian health minister

Hilary White Hilary White Follow Hilary
By Hilary White

Euthanasia is a solution for terminally ill poor people who cannot afford palliative care and who do not want to “see their families agonize” over their suffering, Lithuania’s health minister said last week.

In an interview on national television, Minister Rimantė Šalaševičiūtė added that the Belgian law on child euthanasia ought to be “taken into account” as well. 

Šalaševičiūtė told TV3 News that Lithuania, a country whose population is 77 percent Catholic, is not a welfare state and cannot guarantee quality palliative care for all those in need of it. The solution, therefore, would be “lethal injection.”

“It is time to think through euthanasia in these patients and allow them to make a decision: to live or die,” she said.

Direct euthanasia remains illegal in the Balkan state, but activists tried to bring it to the table in 2012. A motion to drop the planned bill was passed in the Parliament in March that year in a vote of 75 to 14. Since then the country has undergone a change in government in which the far-left Social Democrats have formed the largest voting bloc.

Šalaševičiūtė is a member of Parliament for the Social Democrats, the party originally established in the late 19th century – re-formed in the late 1980s – from Marxist principles and now affiliated with the international Party of European Socialists and Socialist International.

Fr. Andrius Narbekovas, a prominent priest, lecturer, physician, bioethicist, and member of the government’s bioethics committee, called the suggestion “satanic,” according to Delfi.lt. He issued a statement saying it is the purpose of the Ministry of Health to “protect the health and life, instead of looking for ways to take away life.”

“We understand that people who are sick are in need of funds. But a society that declares itself democratic, should very clearly understand that we have to take care of the sick, not kill them,” he said.


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Islamists in Mosul mark Christian homes with an Arabic "N" for Nazarene.
Gualberto Garcia Jones, J.D.

We must open wide our doors to Iraq’s Christians

Gualberto Garcia Jones, J.D.
By Gualberto Garcia Jones J.D.

On July 18, the largest Christian community in Iraq, the Chaldean Catholics of Mosul, were given a grotesque ultimatum: leave your ancestral home, convert to Islam, or die.

All but forgotten by the 1.2 billion Catholics of the world, these last Christians who still speak Jesus’ native tongue of Aramaic and live in the land of Abraham and Jonah are being wiped out before our very eyes.

As a way of issuing a thinly-veiled threat, reminiscent of the Nazi persecution of the Jews, the Arabic letter “N” (for Nazarean) has been painted on the outside of the homes of all known Christians in Mosul.

These threats, issued by the fanatical Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) known for its bloodthirsty rampage of executions, have been taken very seriously by the several hundred thousand Christians in Mosul who have left with little more than the clothes they were wearing. 

At least most of these Christians were able to flee and find temporary protection among the Kurds in their semi-autonomous region.  However the Kurds do not have the resources to defend or shelter the Chaldean Christians for much longer.

On Monday, during an interview on Fox News, Republican U.S. Rep. Frank Wolf, who recently joined with 54 other members of the House of Representatives in a letter to President Obama asking him to act to protect these communities, stated that while Iraqi President Maliki had sent military flights to Mosul to evacuate Shiite Muslims, the US has done nothing to protect the Chaldean Christians.  Rep. Wolf also stated emphatically that President Obama has done “almost nothing” about the genocide taking place.

The silence from the White House is deafening.  But the lack of leadership from the hierarchy of the Catholic Church in America has been shocking as well.

Nevertheless, the plight of these Iraqi Christians is beginning to be taken seriously.   This is due in large part to the heroic efforts of local Iraqi religious leaders like Chaldean Patriarch Sako, who has gone on a whirlwind tour of the world to alert us all of the plight of these Iraqi Christians.  In a statement demonstrating his character, he told the Christians of Iraq last week, “We are your shepherds, and with our full responsibility towards you we will stay with you to the end, will not leave you, whatever the sacrifices.”

Before the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq was launched there were approximately 1.5 to 2 million Christians living in Iraq.  Today, there are believed to be less than 200,000.  The numbers speak for themselves.

Now that the world is beginning to be aware of the genocide in Northern Iraq, many of us ask ourselves: what can we do?  As citizens and as Christians blessed to live in nations with relative peace and security, what can we do?

The answer is quite simple and unexpected.  Demand that our government and church pull its head out of the sand and follow France. Yes, France.  

Yesterday, in a heroic gesture of Christian solidarity that would make Joan of Arc proud, the government of France opened wide its doors to the persecuted Iraqi Christians.  

”France is outraged by these abuses that it condemns with the utmost firmness," Laurent Fabius, France's foreign minister, and Bernard Cazeneuve, France's interior minister, said in a joint statement on Monday.

"The ultimatum given to these communities in Mosul by ISIS is the latest tragic example of the terrible threat that jihadist groups in Iraq, but also in Syria and elsewhere, pose to these populations that are historically an integral part of this region," they added. "We are ready, if they wish, to facilitate their asylum on our soil.  We are in constant contact with local and national authorities to ensure everything is done to protect them.”

The French statement drives home three crucial elements that every government, especially the United States, should communicate immediately:

  1. Recognize the genocide and name the perpetrators and victims.

  2. Officially condemn what is happening in the strongest terms.

  3. Offer a solution that includes cooperation with local authorities but which leads by making solid commitments such as offering asylum or other forms of protection.

With regard to the Church, we should look to the Chaldean Patriarch and the Iraqi bishops who shared their expectations explicitly in an open letter to “all people of conscience in Iraq and around the world” to take “practical actions to assure our people, not merely expressions of condemnation.”  Noticeably, the last section of the letter from the Iraqi bishops, before a final prayer to God, is an expression of thanks to the Kurdish government, which has welcomed them not just with “expressions” of goodwill but, like France, with a sacrificial hospitality.

On Friday, July 25, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops did issue a statement, but unfortunately it lacked much in terms of leadership or solutions.  We should encourage our bishops to do better than that, be bolder and stronger for our persecuted brothers and sisters, name names and offer concrete sacrificial aid. In a word, be more like the French.

In 1553, Rome welcomed the Chaldean church into the fold of the Catholic Church.  Nearly 500 years later, Catholic Americans must find ways to welcome these persecuted people into our country, into our churches, and into our own homes if need be.

I say, I am with you St. Joan of Arc.   I am with you, France.  I am with you, Chaldeans!

Gualberto Garcia Jones is the Executive Director of the International Human Rights Group, a non-profit organization based in Washington, DC, that seeks to advance the fundamental rights to life, the natural family, and religious liberty through international law and international relations. 


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