Thoughts for Today, Dec. 14, 2016

Today is the feast of St. John of the Cross, mystic and Doctor of the Church.

  1. Defunding Planned Parenthood just got tougher
    As the Obama era draws to a close, the political maneuvering is in overdrive, as progressives make a final push to freeze in place Obama’s “transformative” policies.

    The New York Times reports that the Obama administration has “issued a final rule to bar states from withholding federal family-planning funds from Planned Parenthood affiliates and other health clinics that provide abortions.” The new rule—30 pages of regulations—goes into effect two days before President-elect Trump’s inauguration and the Department of Health and Human Services insists that the rule can only be undone by “a joint resolution of disapproval by the House and Senate, with concurrence by the new president.”

  2. Heartbeat bill vetoed – a sound prudential judgment? Maybe.
    Ohio Governor John Kasich used a line-item veto to reject state legislation that would have protected unborn life from the moment a heartbeat could be detected. Gov. Kasich also signed into law a separate bill imposing criminal penalties on physicians who perform abortion after 20 weeks gestation, thus protecting “pain-capable” unborn children. It’s certainly arguable that the timing is wrong for a heartbeat bill to survive court challenge and to argue, as Gov. Kasich does, that the 20-week limit on abortions “is the best, most legally sound and sustainable approach to protecting the sanctity of human life.” While previous court decisions have rejected similar bans, the law might survive future court challenges after Justice Scalia’s replacement joins the Court.

    But even as we support 20-week bans as part of an incremental strategy to end abortion, it’s important not to pretend that abortion at 19 weeks, or even 6 weeks, is somehow fundamentally different from abortion at 20 weeks—they all kill an innocent human life. Ohio Right to Life President Michael Gonidakis makes the troubling claim that, “The 20-week ban was nationally designed to be the vehicle to end abortion in America. It challenges the current national abortion standard and properly moves the legal needle from viability to the baby’s ability to feel pain” (emphasis added.) As part of an incremental strategy, 20-week bans make sense. But as an end goal, they are indefensible: they are no more logically or legally coherent than Justice Blackmun’s parsing of “viability.” Personhood—the humanity of the unborn—doesn’t depend on whether the unborn is “pain-capable” any more than it depends on how far along the mother is, or where she lives (viability is famously affected by hospital technology and willingness to treat). And 20-week bans, though laudable, don’t come close to protecting unborn life in America, where most legal abortions occur well before 20 weeks—in “heartbeat” territory. Let’s be careful here. The measured pursuit of politically attainable goals should never lead us to lose sight of the truth: the legal needle will be “properly” positioned when it protects all life, from conception to natural death.

  3. Doing women’s health care right – in Peoria

    On the bright side, OSF Healthcare has opened a new Women’s Health and Advanced Fertility Office in Peoria, with the blessing of Peoria Bishop Daniel Jenky. The new office, located within the larger OSF health care facility, has two women physicians on staff, provides gynecological care, fertility awareness assistance, and Na-Pro technology to treat infertility. Peoria joins a growing number of cities where Catholics can find state-of-the-art reproductive health, fully in line with Catholic teachings.

Have a wonderful day!   And please be in touch!

Mary Hasson

Director, Catholic Women’s Forum