By Fr. George Welzbacher
March 20, 2011
This past fortnight on the Pro-Life front and on the Morality front there was good news and there was bad. The bad news is that by the end of this year "sensitivity training" for our armed forces will be introduced RIGHT ON THE BATTLEFIELD in order to implant the idea that a lifestyle (homosexual) that both the Old and the New Testament condemn as seriously deranged and seriously sinful, indeed, as "an abomination" (Leviticus 18:22), a lifestyle that many soldiers, sailors, air force personnel and Marines regard as utterly opposed to their own moral code, must now be considered "O. K. " Thus has spoken our nation's Commander-in-Chief with the concurrence af last year's Congress. The immediate impact on small battlefield units will be to introduce a strongly divisive propaganda campaign into a situation where group coherence and group loyalty are essential for success, often enough essential even for survival. The longer term impact will probably be a growing reluctance among our military personnel to reenlist for additional terms of service. A recent poll taken in the Marine Corps indicated that governmental efforts to brainwash Marines into accepting as worthy of applause what many of them judge to be inherently evil would induce roughly 25% of those currently enlisted almost certainly NOT to reenlist, with close to an additional 15% LEANING towards non-reenlistment. This in turn would mean that, if the reaction among Marines to this forced imposition of alien values finds resonance in the rest of our armed forces, fewer and fewer people will be constrained to do more and more of the fighting in our nation's wars. This at a time when post-traumatic stress disorders are already occurring among the veterans of our recent wars on an UNPRECEDENTED scale. Suicide, drug addiction, homelessness are becoming uniquely massive problems among veterans of the fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, particularly among those who have served multiple tours of duty. Now we are adding a whole new stress factor. Why? As some would have it, this would be President Obama's payback to an important political constituency. Or perhaps, in view of Mr. Obama's recently announced policy calling for an over-all reduction in the size of our armed forces, all of this makes logistical sense.
The GOOD news is the recent "Surge" in pro-Life, anti-infanticide legislation in our national Congress and in many a state legislature. May I share with you some relevant reporting on both the good news and the bad from the national edition of The Washington Times and from the Star Tribune.
Combat Troops to Get Homosexual Sensitivity Training
The Washington Times - February 28, 2011
American combat troops will get sensitivity training directly ON THE BATTLEFIELD about the military's new policy on homosexuals instead of waiting until they return to home base in the United States.
The Pentagon is launching an extensive force-wide program to ease the process of integrating open homosexuals into the ranks, including into close-knit fighting units.
Army Command Sergeant Major Marvin Hill, the top enlisted man in Afghanistan where 100,000 U.S. troops are deployed, said that the sessions on respecting gays' rights will go right down to the forward operating bases, where troops fight Taliban militants.
"We will take our directions from the Department of Defense, from the Secretary of Defense, the chairman, as well as the service chiefs of each service. Our plan is to take their direction, and we're going to execute that training right here on the battlefield."
No unit is exempted, he said....
"While we own those soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines, we're going to execute that training on the ground. We HOPE that it will have little impact on their combat and security operations here."
President Obama signed a bill in December to repeal the ban, called "don't ask, don't tell," which has required gay troops to hide their sexuality. However, the ban will stay in effect until the secretary of defense certifies that repeal of the policy will not hurt combat readiness.
Elaine Donnelly, who heads the Center for Military Readiness, said it is "ridiculous" to train combat Army soldiers and Marines as they are engaged in daily combat with tenacious insurgents.
"It's absurd because the military has more important things to think about in that dangerous part of the world," she said.... "I think it shows flawed priorities at best. It is ridiculous."
Sgt. Hill is an outspoken proponent of ending the ban.
"If there are people who cannot deal with the change, then they're going to have to do what's best for their troops and best for the organization and best for the military service and EXIT the military service, so that we can move FORWARD -if that's the way that we have to go," Sgt. Hill said on the television show, "Washington Watch" in December.
Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates has ordered a detailed training regime to make sure both sides, homosexuals and heterosexuals, treat each other with respect. He has said gays will be able to declare their sexual preference openly BEFORE THE END OF THE YEAR.
The training is broken down into three tiers. The first tier is for specialists like CHAPLAINS [more on that in coming weeks], lawyers and investigators. The second is for commanders in the field. The third is for the force at large, 2.2 million active and reserve troops.
The Pentagon's Repeal Implementation team is leading the whole process....
[Emphasis added ].
* * * * *Now it's time for some GOOD news
* * * * *
For Planned Parenthood, a GOP Shot Across the Bow* * * * *
The Washington Times - Cheryl Wetzstein
February 28, 2011
Despite vigorous protests from House Democrats, the House of Representatives agreed Friday to eliminate "any and all" federal funding for Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) and its 102 affiliates.
The amendment offered by Rep. Mike Pence, Indiana Republican, is part of the massive House appropriations bill, aimed at keeping the federal government afloat for the rest of the fiscal year that was passed early Saturday.
The fates of both the overall bill and the Pence amendment in the SENATE are unclear, but there are far FEWER pro-life SENATORS than House members. The HOUSE passed the amendment by a 240-185 vote.
Planned Parenthood responded swiftly, calling the amendment "the most dangerous legislative assault in our history."
It "does nothing to reduce the deficit, and it does nothing to improve the economy," said Cecile Richards, president of PPFA. Instead, it only serves to cost health professionals their jobs and "takes health care away from American women who cannot afford to pay for it on their own," she said.
The Pence amendment underwent a lengthy debate Thursday night.
Mr. Pence said he introduced the amendment because "it's morally wrong to take the taxpayer dollars of millions of pro-life Americans and use it to fund organizations that provide and promote abortion, like Planned Parenthood of America."
He noted that in Planned Parenthood's latest ANNUAL report, it said it received $363 million in taxpayer money "while boasting of having performed an unprecedented 324,008 abortions during the same period."
About two dozen House members, including many women, denounced the Pence amendment, calling it a "war on women," a health care loss for poor families and an inexplicable attack on pregnancy prevention.
In one wrenching passage, Rep. Christopher R. Smith, New Jersey Republican, read a horrific description of an abortion from the new book, "Unplanned," by former Planned Parenthood clinic director Abby Johnson.
In an unexpected response, the next speaker, Rep. Jackie Speier, California Democrat, said that she had "endured" such a procedure and "lost the baby" [please note the choice of word] when a much-wanted pregnancy went wrong.
"[F]or you to stand on this floor and to suggest as you have that somehow this is a procedure that is either welcomed or done cavalierly or done without any thought is preposterous," she said.
After the vote, supporters of the Pence amendment praised it as an enormous and irreversible - step to wrest taxpayer dollars from Planned Parenthood.
Just this year, Planned Parenthood DEMANDED that ALL of its clinics offer abortions, with "no exceptions," said Andrea Lafferty, executive director of the Traditional Values Coalition. "I couldn't be happier" with the Pence amendment, she said.
"Ending taxpayer funding of Planned Parenthood is a nonnegotiable," said Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List, which supports pro-life candidates.
On the other side, NARAL Pro-Choice America has asked its members to protest the amendment by sending 50,000 e-mails to the Senate. "This attack is personal. It's about all of us," said Nancy Keenan, NARAL president.
"Rep. Pence's amendment is deeply misguided," said Vania Leveille, senior legislative counsel for American Civil Liberties Union. "We hope cooler heads prevail" in the Senate.
Three House Bills Aim to Defund Abortion
The Washington Times - Cheryl Wetzstein
February 28, 2011
Abortion providers are the targets of a TRIO of House bills that seek to ensure that taxpayer dollars will not find their way into such coffers.
"The time has come to deny any and all taxpayer funding for Planned Parenthood," Rep. Mike Pence, Indiana Republican, said at a Feb. 10 press conference about his Title X Abortion Provider Prohibition Act.
A second pro-life bill blocks federal funds from paying for abortions, even indirectly, under the new health care law, and a third measure codifies the Hyde Amendment, which prohibits federal funding for abortions, into law.
All three of the bills are bipartisan, thanks to a handful of House Democrats as co-sponsors.
The timing of these bills reflects the ascendancy of the pro-life movement, said one supporter.
"All the polls show that this is pro-life America now," Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List, said in her first annual State of the Unborn video address. The pro-life movement is in "a moment in time which we have not seen since 1973, where WE have the momentum."
However, House Democrats and their allies who support abortion rights are vociferous in their criticism of these bills.
H.R. 3 "is an unprecedented attack" on women, families, their rights under the Constitution and private insurance, Rep. Jerrold Nadler, New York Democrat, said in a recent House subcommittee hearing on the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act, introduced by Rep. Christopher H. Smith, New Jersey Republican and 209 co-sponsors.
The Hyde Amendment is "deeply unjust," and the Smith bill will only further reduce access to "medically necessary emergency abortions," said Terry O'Neill, president of the National Organization for Women.
The bill to prevent abortions in the health care law - the Protect Life Act, led by Rep. Joe Pitts, Pennsylvania Republican - "would amount to a middle-class abortion ban," said Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. Women will lose "private health care benefits they have today - benefits they pay for themselves or their employers provide them," she warned.
The Smith and Pitts bills allow abortions under specific circumstances, such as rape, incest and endangerment of the health of the woman, and strengthen "conscience" clauses so pro-life health care workers do not have to assist with abortions.
The conscience issue is likely to gain importance in the wake of a Feb. 18 decision by the Obama administration to tighten a Bush-era conscience policy so that it covers abortion and sterilization ONLY [and NOT, for example, the providing of abortifacient pills]. Pro- life opponents protested the change, saying health care workers could be forced to assist with OTHER morally objectionable services, such as "emergency contraception."
To date, though, the Pence bill has drawn the most attention, as it would disallow federal family-planning funding to any entity that performs abortions or indirectly supports abortions.
Planned Parenthood is assumed to be the target of the bill, as it is the largest recipient of Title X funds and is the largest abortion provider.
Some 100 abortion-rights supporters in the House have signed a letter calling the Pence bill "a significant threat to women's health" because it would dismantle a national network of health clinics that offer 3 million Americans health screenings, contraceptive services and immunizations.
But the Pence approach has been escalated: In the just-passed, budget-cutting House appropriations bill, "no funds" are allocated for Title X for the rest of the year. The Title X amendment, introduced by Mr. Pence, passed 240-185 and would save the government more than $300 million.
The prognosis for all three bills looks better in the House than in the Senate.
"I think they will all pass in the House," especially in light of Lila Rose and Live Action's videos showing "outrageous" behavior by Planned Parenthood employees, said Marilyn Musgrave, a former Colorado congresswoman who is now active with the Susan B. Anthony List. The Senate, however, "is a much different world," she said ....
* * * * *
And on the homefront, right here in Minnesota, this report from the Star Tribune* * * * *
GOP: Ban Abortion After 20 Weeks* * * * *
The Star Tribune - Eric Roper and Rachel E. Stassen-Berger
March 8, 2011
Republican lawmakers are attempting to outlaw abortions after 20 weeks in Minnesota, echoing identical efforts by new GOP majorities across the country to curb abortion rights.
The legislation, introduced in the House and Senate on Monday, would pose a direct challenge to existing laws protecting abortion and would likely face a weighty court challenge if enacted.
The proposal is modeled after a first-in-the-nation law adopted last year in Nebraska that BANS abortions AFTER FIVE MONTHS because that, supporters contend, is when developing fetuses feel pain. Opponents say there is no conclusive proof of that.
"This bill will finally protect unborn children at 20 weeks and older from the torturous pain of abortion," said Scott Fischbach, executive director of Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life. Minnesota is one of at least seven states considering nearly identical 20-week bans.
This November's elections swept in a wave of anti-abortion lawmakers, reigniting an emotional debate that has often divided the Legislature in the past. A separate measure to block state funding of abortion... also awaits legislative action.
Fewer than 2 percent of the 12,386 abortions performed in Minnesota in 2009 involved fetuses older than 20 weeks, according to the Minnesota Department of Health. NARAL Pro-Choice Minnesota said those cases often involve fetuses with fatal medical conditions.
"This ban is a cruel attempt by anti-choice forces to curb access to care for women in the most desperate of circumstances," said NARAL executive director Linnea House.
"If it's only 2 percent then the other side of the argument really shouldn't have a whole lot to worry about," said Sen. Warren Limmer, a bill co-sponsor. He noted that the bill makes an exception only for women who would risk death or serious physical harm by carrying the pregnancy to term.
The measure also says women who would suffer from "psychological or emotional conditions" do NOT fit under that exception. NARAL also noted that the bill makes no exception for women who are victims of rape or incest.
Both House Speaker Kurt Zellers and House Majority Leader Matt Dean are co- sponsors of the fetal pain bill, along with House Ways and Means Chairwoman Mary Liz Holberg. Zellers and Dean's power may move the measure in the Legislature, but it cannot move DFL Governor Mark Dayton, the FIRST governor to address an annual ABORTION RIGHTS RALLY at the Capitol.
"I assure you that nothing as extreme that violates that basic fundamental right - and it is a Constitutional right as established by the United States Supreme Court - will be enacted with my signature," Dayton told the gathering last month. "It will not happen here in Minnesota."
But a gubernatorial veto might NOT be the END of the measure.
If the Republican majorities in the House and Senate draw in those DFLers who oppose abortion, they could OVERRIDE a gubernatorial veto.
Abortion opponents will have procedural help with the measure as well. On the House floor, Zellers oversees the debate. On the Senate floor, Sen. Michelle Fischbach does the job. She is married to Scott Fischbach, the executive director of the MCCL....
Science is debated....
Nebraska passed its 20-week ban last year, and Kansas and other states appear on track to follow suit. Although opponents say those measures are unconstitutional, they have yet to challenge them in court.
The Minnesota legislation addresses the possibility of a legal challenge. Any lawsuits would be sent directly to the Minnesota Supreme Court and the bill sets up a special fund to cover the costs of defending the law, should it pass....
The debate over fetal pain also has a Minnesota history. In 2005, the Legislature passed and the governor signed a law that requires women be offered pain medication for their fetuses if their fetuses are 20 weeks or older.
A law passed a few years earlier required abortion providers to offer women specific information before undergoing the procedure. That information includes a booklet that says: "Some experts have concluded the unborn child feels physical pain after 20 weeks gestation. Other experts have concluded pain is felt later in gestational development. This issue may need further study."