Wednesday, February 24, 2010

"Deplorable and Unsanitary Conditions"

Last week, authorities made a shocking discovery while investigating a West Philadelphia abortion clinic run by Kermit Gosnell where a woman died following an abortion in November 2009.

In Gosnell's office, they found two dozen frozen fetuses.

On Sunday, Gosnell's license was suspended, with the suspension order detailing "deplorable and unsanitary conditions" that made his practice "an immediate and clear danger to the public health and safety."

Today, on the pro-choice blog RH Reality Check, Rachel Larris has a post on Gosnell and the woman who died at his facility in November (the woman is identified by the Philadelphia Inquirer as Karnamaya Mongar).

Who does Larris blame for the woman's death?

Why, pro-lifers, of course.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Overpopulation Underpopulation Is the Problem

Population Research Institute has just released the second installment in its "Overpopulation Is a Myth" series— a slickly produced video that explains in easy-to-understand terms why underpopulation is the real looming demographic disaster:

I first saw this video last week, and about an hour later I received an e-mail from a journalist in the UK asking for a brief comment for a story he was writing about a young British woman who, based on a belief that having children would have damaging effects on the quality of life of people already living, had decided to be sterilized.

I commented on how how tragic it is that someone would decide to not have children based on a mistaken belief that the world is somehow overpopulated—and that, quite the contrary, the real danger in our world is underpopulation. I further pointed out that this is the looming demographic and economic threat that no one wants to talk about. If there are not enough babies being born today, who will support tomorrow's pensioners?

It's a shame that such frantic handwringing about overpopulation still persists in our day. How much more stuck in the Stuck-in-the-Sixties can you get? It's as if Paul Ehrlich's The Population Bomb had just hit bookstore shelves (and thus had not yet been proven completely wrong), and the writers of Star Trek were still hard at work producing birth control propaganda.

[Cross-posted at Pro-Life Action League and Generations for Life]

Thursday, February 18, 2010

"Vocations Crisis"?

Not so much.

Mark Shea introduces a fascinating post by Sherry Weddell by saying, "The girl keeps throwing a spanner in the works of the standard 'Everything sucks since Vatican II' narrative so beloved by some in the Church."

Check thou it out.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

It's Funny Because It's True

Today, on the eve of Lent, I'm reposting this entry, which I first posted around this time last year:

Of course, the temptation when watching something like this is to think, "I hate it when people complain like that."

But who among us doesn't complain—yea, like that?

Tomorrow, we'll have ashes placed on our foreheads and hear the words, "Remember, man, that you are dust, and unto dust you shall return."

As we prepare for this ever-so-necessary reminder of our mortality, now is as good a time as any to take stock of the amount of breath we waste when we complain.

A priest of Opus Dei, quoting St. Josemaria Escriva, once told me during confession, "Don’t say, 'That person bothers me.' Think: 'That person sanctifies me.'"

(Would that I actually put this counsel into practice in my daily life, then I'd really be getting somewhere.)

Griping and moaning about anyone or anything we find less than agreeable is so facile; any schmuck can do it without exerting the scantest effort.

But refusing to complain—now that takes fortitude. And think of the model we offer others when we show patience instead of descending all too easily into pointless bellyaching.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Is It a Good Idea for a Couple to Have 19 Kids?

I originally posted the entry that appears below with the title "Is It a Good Idea for a Couple to Have 18 Kids?" on February 2, 2009.

I'm reposting it today in response to this week's People magazine cover:

Seven weeks ago, the now famous Duggar family welcomed the birth of their 18th child.

The next day, a college friend of mine asked me what my take was on said birth.

My short answer: God bless 'em.

I wanted to write more than just this, but hadn't the time.

Now, however, I do.

It seems to me that the question really being asked here—not just by my friend, I suspect, but also countless others—is:

Is it a good idea for a couple to have 18 kids?

This, to my mind, is the wrong to question to ask (or, at least the wrong question to ask first).

Rather, the question to ask is:

Is a given married couple following God's will?

This question can be answered only by 3 people:

1. God
2. Husband
3. Wife

Well, five, really, since God is actually Three Persons, but I digress.

I have exactly no competence to diagnose whether a given married couple (be they the Duggars, or the parents of a guy I used to work with—who had 21 children—or the couple I see at the park who have one child) is following God's will in determining how many children they should have.

Heck, I have enough trouble discerning if I'm following God's will, much less trying to figure out if other people are.

On the contrary, acting in good faith, I can only assume that they are.

Of course, when it comes to morally licit options for planning a family, contraception is right out. (**Shameless plug follows**
And, as it happens, I was recently asked by Sunnyday, one of my e-friends in the Philippines, to speak to the question, "Will contraceptive use make parents more responsible?" in a Filipino parenting magazine. I did so here [PDF].)

Another point to make is that the Duggars endorse the Quiverfull movement (sometimes colloquially referred to as "providentialism"), which teaches that natural family planning is, for all intents and purposes, tantamount to contraception. On its face, such a notion is untenable.

But again, for a given married couple, the decision of whether they could or should use NFP to space pregnancies is up to them to determine—with God's help, natch.

On this topic, a Catholic friend of mine told me not long ago that in the course of an online discussion with other Catholic women about NFP, someone tried to convince the group that it was necessary for a couple to get their bishop's permission before they could use NFP.

When my friend told me that, I had a sudden urge to run to the nearest wall and start banging my head against it in sheer frustration that there could be such profound misunderstanding of what the Church really teaches about when a couple can use NFP.

Christopher West speaks to this topic more extensively in an article entitled "God, Sex, and Babies: What the Church Really Teaches about Responsible Parenthood". And, the uber-intelligent Dr. Janet Smith offers a lengthier, more scholarly treatment of this issue in an essay entitled "Moral Use of Natural Family Planning" [PDF].

All this is to say that while QuiverFull is based on a false belief (i.e., that natural family planning is incompatible with God's will), it is also most emphatically not true to say that a given couple who elects not to "use" NFP within their own marriage is acting irresponsibly by foregoing consultation of charts and thermometers—and by so doing, end up giving birth to 18, or 21, or [insert number here] children.

So, once again, my three word comment on the Duggars' welcoming their 18th child:

God bless 'em.

And indeed, He has.

Monday, February 8, 2010

John Stroger Thanks You for Driving with Care

On my way to work each morning, I pass this sign along Lawrence Avenue, just east of Austin Avenue:

I don't recall when, precisely, I first noticed this sign, but I do recall noticing one day about a year ago that it was hanging upside down (apparently because the bolt on the top had come out).

John Stroger hasn't served as Cook County Board President since June 2006—and, what's more, he's been dead since January 2008—so I figured it would just be a matter of time until the sign was removed. (For those unfamiliar with Cook County politics, the story of how the reins of powers were passed from John to his son Todd is an instructive primer.)

Silly me.

Instead, workers on the taxpayers' dime remounted the sign so that it once again appeared right side up, as it's pictured above.

Although I can't help but wonder, in light of last week's primary results, how long it will remain up.

I've written before about this sort of thing, which most people who grew up in and around Chicago likely take for granted—to wit, the ubiquitous appearance of names of elected office bigwigs on publicly financed signage.

I began to notice this when I first moved to Chicago in 1996 and saw "Mayor Daley's X Project" or "Mayor Daley's Y Task Force" or "Mayor Daley's Z Special Event" signs all over the place. (Although I must admit I've never seen a sign for "Mayor Daley's Rat-Infested Public Housing Complex".)

That's strange, I thought.

Little did I know that's just the way things are done around here.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Abstinence Education Works

If you asked 100 people at random if they believed abstinence education is effective, most of them would probably say no.

Most would probably say that teaching abstinence is “unrealistic”, that it doesn’t work, and that schools should instead be teaching so-called “comprehensive” sex education.

A big part of the reason why so many people believe abstinence education is ineffective is because its opponents—not the least of which are the major players in the abortion industry and other pro-abortion choice organizations—have been relentlessly tub-thumping for years trying to convince people that it is so, such that it's now one of those things that "everybody knows".

And most mainstream media outlets have carried water for them every step of the way.

So ingrained in popular consciousness is this idea that when the Washington Post reported on a "landmark" study released Monday that demonstrated remarkable comparative effectiveness of abstinence education vs. so-called "comprehensive" sex education, they couldn't bring themselves to fully admit what the research showed.