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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Jonathon van Maren Jonathon van Maren Follow Jonathon

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Arguments don’t have genitals

Jonathon van Maren Jonathon van Maren Follow Jonathon
By Jonathon van Maren

“As soon as he grows his own uterus, he can have an opinion.”

That was a comment left on The Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada’s Facebook page by a woman who presumably opposes men speaking out against misogyny, domestic abuse, rape culture, and female genital mutilation as well. Apparently, you see, male genitals disqualify people from speaking out on various human rights issues deemed by women who define themselves by their uteruses while protesting angrily against being defined by their uteruses as “women’s issues.”

Which abortion isn’t, by the way. It’s a human rights issue.

To break it down really simply for our confused “feminist” friends: Human beings have human rights. Human rights begin when the human being begins, or we are simply choosing some random and arbitrary point at which human beings get their human rights. If we do not grant human rights to all human beings, inevitably some sub-set of human beings gets denied protection by another group with conflicting interests. In this case, of course, it is the abortion crowd, who want to be able to kill pre-born children in the womb whenever they want, for any reason they want.

Science tells us when human life begins. Pro-abortion dogma is at worst a cynical manoeuvre to sacrifice the lives of pre-born human beings for self-interest, and at best an outdated view that collapsed feebly under the weight of new discoveries in science and embryology. But the abortion cabal wants to preserve their bloody status quo at all costs, and so they make ludicrous claims about needing a uterus to qualify for a discussion on science and human rights.

Click "like" if you are PRO-LIFE!

In fact, feminists love it when men speak up on abortion, as long as we’re reading from their script, which is why the carnivorous feminists have such a support system among the Deadbeat Dads for Dead Babies set and the No Strings Attached Club.

Male abortion activists have even begun to complain about “forced fatherhood,” a new cultural injustice in which they are expected to bear some responsibility for fathering children with women they didn’t love enough to want to father children with, but did appreciate enough to use for sex. Casual fluid swaps, they whine, should not result in custody hearings.

This is not to mention a genuine social tragedy that has men forcing or pressuring women to have abortions or abandoning them when they discover that the woman is, indeed, pregnant.

Or the fact that abortion has assisted pimps, rapists, and misogynists in continuing the crimes of sex trafficking, sexual abuse, and sex-selection abortion.

And coming against these disgusting trends are thousands of men in the pro-life movement who believe that shared humanity means shared responsibility, and that when the weak and vulnerable are robbed of their rights, we have to stand up and speak out.

We are not at all convinced by the feminist argument that people should think with their reproductive organs or genitals. We think that the number of people currently doing that has perhaps contributed to the problems we face. And we refuse to be told that protecting the human rights of all human beings is “none of our business” and “outside of our interests.”

Arguments don’t have genitals, feminists. It’s a stupid argument trying to protect a bloody ideology.

Reprinted with permission from CCBR.


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Rachel Daly

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Gvmt strikes UK Catholic school admission policy that prefers Mass attendees

Rachel Daly
By Rachel Daly

St. Joseph's Catholic Primary School in Epsom, England, was ordered to change its admissions policy after it was ruled discriminatory by the nation's Office of Schools Adjudicator, according to Your Local Guardian. St. Joseph's reportedly had been granting preferred acceptance to students whose families attended Mass at the affiliated church.

St. Joseph’s School is for students from age 4 to 11 and describes itself as “enjoy[ing] a high level of academic success.” The school furthermore places high priority on its Catholic identity, affirming on its homepage that “We place prayer and worship at the center of everything we do.”

The school states in its current admissions policy that it was "set up primarily to serve the Catholic community in St Joseph’s Parish" and that when the applicant pool exceeds 60 students, its criteria for prioritizing students includes "the strength of evidence of practice of the faith as demonstrated by the level of the family's Mass attendance on Sundays." 

Opponents of this policy reportedly argue that since donations are asked for at Mass, it could allow donation amounts to influence acceptance, and that forcing non-accepted local students to seek education elsewhere imposes a financial burden upon their families. 

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As Your Local Guardian reports, the adjudicators dismissed claims that donation amounts were affecting school acceptance, given that it is impossible to track donations. Nonetheless, the adjudicators maintained that "discrimination ... potentially arises from requiring attendance at the church rather than residency in the parish."

The Office of Schools Adjudicators, according to its website, is appointed by the United Kingdom’s Secretary of State of Education, to perform such functions as mediating disputes over school acceptances. The Office's ruling on St. Joseph's will require the school to release a revised admissions policy, which is expected in the next few days.

Reprinted with permission from the Cardinal Newman Society.


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Carolyn Moynihan

African women at risk of HIV, hostages to birth control

Carolyn Moynihan
By Carolyn Moynihan

Which should be the priority for a health organisation: preventing an incurable disease, or preventing a natural function that might have adverse physical consequences?

Preventing the disease, you would think. But the World Health Organisation would rather expose African women to HIV-AIDS than withdraw its support from a suspect method of birth control, arguing that childbirth is also risky in Africa. Riskier, apparently, than the said contraceptive. And at least one of WHO’s major partners agrees.

This is one of the stories you will not have read in coverage of the International AIDS Conference held in Melbourne last week, despite the fact that WHO made an announcement about it during the conference and the findings of a highly relevant study were presented there.

The story is this: there is increasing evidence that the method of contraception preferred by family planning organisations working in Africa (and elsewhere) facilitates the transmission of HIV. The method is the progesterone injection in the form of either DMPA (Depo Provera, the most common) or NET-En (Noristerat).

Millions of women in sub-Saharan Africa receive the injection every three months. The method overcomes problems of access. It can be given by nurses or health workers. A wife need not bother her husband for any special consideration; the teenage girl need not remember to take a pill.

But for 30 years evidence has been accumulating that, for all its “effectiveness” in controlling the number of births, the jab may also be very effective in increasing the number of people with HIV.

Three years ago at another AIDS conference in Rome, researchers who had analysed data from a number of previous studies delivered the disturbing news that injectables at least doubled the risk of infection with HIV for women and their male partners.

That study had its weaknesses but one of the experts present in Rome, Charles Morrison of FHI 360 (formerly Family Health International, a family planning organisation that also works in AIDS prevention), considered it a “good study” and subsequently led another meta-analysis that addressed some of the issues with previous research.

Last week at the Melbourne conference he presented the results. His team had re-analysed raw data on the contraceptive use of more than 37,000 women in 18 prospective observational studies. Of these women, 28 percent reported using DMPA, 8 percent NET-En, 19 percent a combined oral contraceptive pill, and 43 percent no form of hormonal contraception. A total of 1830 women had acquired HIV while in a study.

The analysis showed that both injectables raised the risk of infection by 50 percent:

Compared to non-users [of any hormonal contraceptive], women using DMPA had an elevated risk of infection (hazard ratio 1.56, 95% CI 1.31-1.86), as did women using NET-En (1.51, 95% CI 1.21-1.90). There was no increased risk for women using oral contraceptives.

Similarly, comparing women using injections with those using oral contraceptives, there was an elevated risk associated with DMPA (1.43, 95% CI 1.23-1.67) and NET-En (1.30, 95% CI 0.99-1.71).

Morrison also noted:

The results were consistent in several subgroup and sensitivity analyses. However, when only studies which were judged to be methodologically more reliable were included, the increased risk appeared smaller.

Morrison acknowledged that observational studies such as the FHI analysis depended on have their limitations. He is looking for funding to conduct a randomised controlled study – something that, after 30 years of suspicions and evidence, still has not been done.

So what is his advice to the birth control industry? Stop using this stuff in regions with a high prevalence of HIV until we are sure that we are not feeding an epidemic?

No.

One reason is that FHI is at least as interested in contraception as it is in HIV prevention. Though its website reflects a broad range of development activities, its core business is integrating birth control programmes with HIV prevention. The WHO – one of its partners -- describes the US based, 83 percent US government funded non-profit as “a global health and development organization working on family planning, reproductive health and HIV/AIDS.”

Another reason is that FHI 360 has a vital stake in precisely the kind of contraceptives that are under suspicion. Its annual report refers to:

Our trailblazing work in contraceptive research and development continues, as we develop and introduce high-quality and affordable long-acting contraceptives for women in low-income countries. Research is under way to develop a new biodegradable contraceptive implant that would eliminate the need for removal services. We are also working with partners to develop an injectable contraceptive that would last for up to six months. Currently available injectables require reinjections monthly or quarterly, which can be challenging where health services are limited.

That project is funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and USAID.

So Morrison did not argue in Melbourne for restrictions on the use of injectables, and neither did the WHO, whose representative at the conference outlined the UN body’s new guidelines on contraception and HIV. Mary Lyn Gaffield said a review of studies up to – but not including Morrison’s – did not warrant a change to WHO’s policy that DMPA and NET-En should be available, without restriction, in areas of high HIV prevalence.

The most WHO will advise is that women should be informed of the risk:

“Women at high risk of HIV infection should be informed that progestogen-only injectables may or may not increase their risk of HIV acquisition. Women and couples at high risk of HIV acquisition considering progestogen-only injectables should also be informed about and have access to HIV preventive measures, including male and female condoms.”

Condoms? How do they defend such cynicism? By equating the risk of HIV with the risks of motherhood – complications of pregnancy or childbirth, maternal death and the effect on infants... And yet motherhood remains risky precisely because 90 percent of the world’s effort is going into contraception!

Seven years ago a meeting of technical experts convened by WHO to study the injectables-HIV link showed the reproductive health establishment worried about that issue, to be sure, but also concerned that funding was flowing disproportionately to HIV-AIDS programmes, setting back the cause of birth control. The integration of family planning and HIV prevention spearheaded by FHI 360 looks like they have found an answer to that problem.

Whether African women are any better off is very doubtful. They remain pawns in a game that is, above all, about controlling their fertility. They and their partners are encouraged to take risks with their health, if not their lives, while researchers scout for funds to do the definitive study.

FHI had an income of $674 million last year, most of it from the US government. Couldn’t it give Charles Morrison the money to do his research today?

Reprinted with permission from Mercatornet.com.


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