The Church Stands Up For Religious Freedom: Initial Observations

By now, news of the Bishops’ lawsuit against the HHS mandate is quite widespread. Here are some observations, in no particular order.

(1) The first element of a case like this is plaintiff selection. The array and prominence of the entities adds significantly to the credibility of the suit. Indeed, they are prominent outside the Catholic world. The decision to file 12 separate suits is smart.

(2) The absence of the USCCB as a plaintiff is significant. That may signal an internal rift, politics, or litigation strategy. It could an internal rift in that Cardinal Dolan could not get buy in from the various constituencies within USCCB who support Obamacare and do not wish to have anything to do with challenging any aspect of it. As for lobbying, USCCB needs to be able to work with Democrats. Staying out of the suit minimizes the damage to those relationships. As for litigation, the USCCB’s participation as a plaintiff would immediately create the impression that that is the ‘lead’ case. That would undermine the effort to create a broad-based litigation.

(3) The timing is significant. The government’s Answer to the Complaint is due around July 21. The country will still be evaluating the Supreme Court’s decision on the individual mandate. Apparently, the lead lawyer in these cases was one of the leads challenging the constitutionality of the individual mandate. From the timing, I think he expects to see the mandate overturned but the remainder of Obamacare to remain in place, including the HHS regulations.

(4) The Bishops’ commitment is real. By hiring Jones Day, they are sending a signal of their commitment. Jones Day is a top-notch white shoe litigation shop. They do not come cheap – although hard to tell, I would guess that the final bill when all is said and done will be upwards of $ 15-17 million for the 12 suits. The Bishops are putting their money where their mouths are.

(5) The Complaint is high quality legal work. A good complaint tells a story. This one reads like an essay. It is worth reading in its own right. Non-lawyers who appreciate good literary work will enjoy it. Lawyers will like it because it provides an excellent model.

The next event will be when the government lawyers file their “appearance.” It will be interesting to see which DOJ branch gets the case (Federal Programs is my bet) and how quickly the appearance is filed.

Finally, we should all pray. Even in the best of circumstances, fighting the government is an uphill battle. But so, too, was the road to Calvary. While we cannot directly participate in the legal drama, we can join Him and his successors spiritually. Just as Christ needed the support of the anonymous women of Jerusalem, our Bishops and our Church will benefit from our prayers as they walk this road with, and for, us.

Stay tuned.


More Contraception Means Fewer Abortions. NOT. – UPDATED


We are often told by men who “take no account of God” that our religion, especially its moral teachings are a bunch of irrational mumbo-jumbo.  In response, the Church makes the claim that because we receive the moral law from our Creator, they are the set of rules most conducive to human happiness.  Once you think about it, this seems rather obvious.   Why is it, then, that no matter how scientific and objective the findings are, the so-called denizens of reason never quite can admit that moral law as taught by the Catholic Church leads to healthy, happy human beings in this world, not to mention the next?  Here is a perfect example.  In Humnae Vitae, Pope Paul VI warned us about the likely effects of artificial contraception.  Well, he was right.  I doubt, however, that that will change anyone’s mind.  Too bad.




This is to pass along an article by Kirsten Powers (read it all) about whether increased availability and use of contraception means fewer abortions.  The answer, based on Planned Parenthood’s statistics, is “no.”

Without question, there is a lot of logic to the idea that more contraception means fewer abortions.  But the facts are different:

  • a 2009 study by the journal Contraception found, in a 10-year study of women in Spain, that as overall contraceptive use increased from around 49 percent to 80 percent, the elective abortion rate more than doubled.

It is interesting and paradoxical that the large increase in elective abortions was associated with (a) a remarkable increase in the number of women who used contraceptive methods (30%) and (b) improvements in the education level during both the study periods. Because the percentage of users of ineffective contraceptive methods, such as withdrawal and spermicidal creams, was similar in 1997 compared to 2007 (2.8% and 2.9%, respectively), it cannot be accounted for the increased rate of elective abortions. The total number of women of childbearing age not using any contraceptive method decreased from a total of 2,056,454(17.3%) in 1997 to 1,280,058 (8.2%) in 2007. Therefore, during the study period, we observed a 37.7% reduction in the number of women at risk of unintended pregnancy and a twofold increase in the number of elective abortions.

Interestingly, the study’s authors found this to be ‘paradoxical.’  Yet, this is precisely what Pope Paul VI predicted in Humanae Vitae.  But this is not all:

  • “In the U.S., the story isn’t much different. A January 2011 fact sheet by the pro-abortion rights Guttmacher Institute listed all the reasons that women who have had an abortion give for their unexpected pregnancy, and not one of them is lack of access to contraception. In fact, 54 percent of women who had abortions had used a contraceptive method, if incorrectly, in the month they got pregnant. For the 46 percent who had not used contraception, 33 percent had perceived themselves to be at low risk for pregnancy; 32 percent had had concerns about contraceptive methods; 26 percent had had unexpected sex, and 1 percent had been forced to have sex. Not one fraction of 1 percent said they got pregnant because they lacked access to contraception. Some described having unexpected sex, but all that can be said about them is that they are irresponsible, not that they felt they lacked access to contraception.”

Again, the information points to the prescience of Paul VI.  The Holy Father’s 1968 prediction and the findings of the Spanish study are eerily similar.  First, Paul VI:

Responsible men can become more deeply convinced of the truth of the doctrine laid down by the Church on this issue if they reflect on the consequences of methods and plans for artificial birth control. Let them first consider how easily this course of action could open wide the way for marital infidelity and a general lowering of moral standards. Not much experience is needed to be fully aware of human weakness and to understand that human beings—and especially the young, who are so exposed to temptation—need incentives to keep the moral law, and it is an evil thing to make it easy for them to break that law. Another effect that gives cause for alarm is that a man who grows accustomed to the use of contraceptive methods may forget the reverence due to a woman, and, disregarding her physical and emotional equilibrium, reduce her to being a mere instrument for the satisfaction of his own desires, no longer considering her as his partner whom he should surround with care and affection.

Now the Spanish study:

The findings of this study show an increase in the contraceptive use and utilization of abortion. There are several reasons for this apparent disparity. One is the increase in notifications to the register, thanks to the improvement in its coverage and to the transformation of clandestine abortions and abortions performed abroad into recorded ones. Another is the change in juveniles’ sexual behavior patterns. Youngsters declare engaging in coital sex more frequently and more precociously and not always doing it in safe conditions from the perspective of both unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases. Gender inequalities in what concerns sexual and reproductive health, especially in lower socioeconomic layers, seem to be present. Girls are still experiencing pressure to engage in precocious and coital sex, present limited capacity to negotiate use of condoms or withdrawal, and must assume responsibility for and possible consequences of emergency contraception and sometimes elective abortion. On the other hand, availability of emergency contraception could help reduce the adhesion of effective contraceptive methods or to consider the emergency contraceptive pill as an effective method to prevent pregnancy.

So more contraception means more “coital activity” which means more ‘unwanted’ pregnancies which means more abortions.   Pretty obvious, once you think about it.


Kirsten Powers posted this retraction of her piece:

Author’s Note: I made a serious error in reporting this column that undermines the conclusion I drew. I compared statistics on contraceptive use from a January 2011 Guttmacher Institute fact sheet to a year 2000 study on the same issue.  However, I did not realize that the 2011 fact sheet derived its statistics from the year 2000 numbers, so my argument was not supported by the data. I am deeply sorry for the error, which invalidates my piece.

Ms. Powers did, in fact, make this error and it was noted as this post was being written.  This post makes no reference to the erroneous assertion that there has been no change over time.  Ms. Powers overstates her error, though.  The Spanish study and common sense are unaffected even if her subsidiary argument that the rates stayed the same.

A Pregnant Teen Contemplates Abortion

I picked up the following video at the National Catholic Register via another blog, Creative Minority Report.  What struck me is the different response in Texas and New Jersey.   Also, as the video noted, no men helped.  None.  What would you do? More importantly, how would you do it?  It is food for thought.

The best place to see it is here:  Pregnant Teen Contemplates Abortion.

Looking At Abortion From A Different Angle

A friend of the SFA Men of Emmaus sent this along:

A worried woman went to her gynecologist and  said:
‘Doctor, I have a serious problem and desperately need your  help! My baby is not even 1 year old and I’m pregnant again. I don’t want kids so close together.So the doctor said: ‘Ok and what do you want me to do?’

She said: ‘I want you to end my pregnancy, and I’m  counting on your help with this.’
The doctor thought for a little, and after some silence he said to the lady: ‘I think I have a better solution for your problem. It’s less dangerous for you too.’
She  smiled, thinking that the doctor was going to accept her request.
Then he continued: ‘You see, in order for you not to have to take  care 2 babies at the same time, let’s kill the one in your arms. This way,  you could rest some before the other one is born. If we’re going to kill  one of them, it doesn’t matter which one it is. There would be no risk for  your body if you chose the one in your arms.

The lady was horrified and said: ‘No doctor! How  terrible! It’s a crime to kill a child!
‘I agree’, the doctor replied.  ‘But you seemed to be OK with it, so I thought maybe that was the best solution.’
The doctor smiled, realizing that he had made his point.
He convinced the mom that there is no difference in killing a child that’s already been born and one that’s still in the womb.
The crime  is the same!

Learn from Yesterday,  live for Today, hope for Tomorrow..

Love says I sacrifice myself for the good of the other person. Abortion says I sacrifice the other person for the good of myself…”

[ed. — Also, check out the trailer for “To Be Born”]

source: unknown

“To Be Born” Trailer

This is a trailer for a short film that will be released later in 2011.  The trailer lasts 49 seconds. . . .

The studio offered this background on the film’s website:

The film is based off a story called “A Letter from an Aborted Child,” which had been used for nearly 10 years by Father Stephen Lesniewski for use to show women in a time of indecision. He estimates that over 500 babies have been saved because of his efforts in utilizing the aforementioned piece. Upon its’ great success, Fr. Stephen decided to have a film produced with the hope that the overall message would reach an even larger audience.

The trailer and the summary are (c) Spirit Juice Studios.

An Open Letter To The County Council To Stop Partial Birth Abortion In Our County

A fellow member of St. Francis of Assisi wrote this and I thought it worthy to pass on. . . .

Dear Council Member,

As a parishioner of St. Francis of Assisi Church in Derwood, MD, a member of Pax Christi Metro DC, and Montgomery County resident, I believe in the life and dignity of every human being that is gifted to all by God. I ask you in the peace and love of God to speak out against, and shut down, Dr. Carhart’s late-term abortion clinic in Germantown. No one denies that these little children can live outside the womb with the help of the appropriate medical equipment. Why should they have an infinite value outside the womb, so that we will do everything in our power to save their lives, but inside the womb so little, to no value at all? These children are fully formed in their mother’s womb. Consider the pain caused to one of these helpless, little ones, when they are being put to death through late-term abortion procedures. This does not respect or dignify human life. I ask you to also consider the health risks to women in these types of procedures, because abortion clinics are not regulated, and do no follow-up on the condition of the women that go thru with their abortions. Many women end up with health problems due to botched abortion procedures, including depression, and even worse the inabilityto have children at all. Please stand up for these little children, the most vulnderable members of our community, and for women who need assistance to carry their babies to full term. These children are persons, like us, and they have a right to life, like us.

In Peace, Respectfully,

[A Parishioner of St. Francis of Assisi]