Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Denying the Humanity of the Unborn

The problem for abortion supporters is that the humanity of the baby can no longer be denied.

by Niamh Ui Bhriain

It must be a strange place, that parallel universe of the pro-abortion campaigner, where killing is dressed up as compassion, and where, in stout denial of all the scientific facts, babies aren’t really human beings.

Pregnant women aren’t really carrying a baby in their wombs you see. Maybe they find them in cabbage patches. Or storks bring them in cute colourful slings.

It’s like reasoning with small, very stubborn, children except these people aren’t cute. They are fanatics – extremists who believe that unborn babies can be aborted until birth. Take a minute to imagine what that involves: the baby’s heart started to beat at 3 weeks; at 8 weeks she was perfectly formed; babies born at 23 weeks have survived outside the womb, but Irish abortion advocates want to ensure that babies can aborted right through all nine months of pregnancy.

It’s difficult to understand this mind set, since it’s so out of kilter with what we normally understand to be required to be a compassionate or civilised society. It’s in our nature to protect children, and to care for those in crisis. It’s natural to recoil at the thought of ending a child’s life.

Yet, this week when Vincent Browne asked abortion campaigners on Tv3 to explain their opposition to any term limits they said that killing babies until birth should be legal in case the baby had a disability or the woman’s circumstances had changed.

In other words, instead of compassion, they called for killing. Instead of addressing women’s needs, they pushed for abortion. They are calling for the opposite of what a really progressive society would do, which is to terminate the crisis and not the child.

In fairness, some abortion campaigners may well be uneasy at the thought of killing a baby this late in pregnancy, but they are committed to an extreme left-wing/liberal ideology which refuses to give an inch in terms of acknowledging the very obvious humanity of the baby.

The problem for them is that the humanity of the baby can no longer be denied – and this has been the case for decades. It's why polls actually show that most Irish people reject abortion-on-demand, and why most people consider the positon of #Repealthe8th groups to be so extreme. (In 2013, Choice Ireland also argued in defence of gendercide – aborting babies because they were girls – an extreme position actually shared by most abortion campaigners but which would be appalling to the vast majority of decent people).

Saying the unborn child is not a baby just won’t work. Too many people have seen ultrasounds, and have marvelled over all the amazing photographs of babies in the womb which pop up everywhere on social media. Too many people have heard their own baby’s heartbeat, or seen their baby waving or smiling in scans, to believe this propaganda.

Abortion campaigners can’t close that window to the womb. So that’s why they try to ignore it, to obfuscate the humanity of the baby with strident claims of competitive rights between “the woman and the fetus”.

But that won’t work either. It would be a very strange and distressing world if women saw their baby as an enemy. Most women with crisis pregnancies don’t do that: they are in crisis and they need support, but sometimes all they are offered is abortion. In this country, most women with a crisis pregnancy go on to have their baby, and those babies are much loved and cherished. No-one regrets giving life to their child.

The recent emergence of videos (below) released by investigative journalists in the US show abortionists callously harvesting and selling baby parts. This horrific footage leaves us in no doubt that the abortion industry knows that this is a baby. They have hardened themselves to deal with that fact because they are making money from selling abortion to vulnerable women.

Deep down, people are opposed to abortion because destroying a human life disturbs us, and because we know that we can do better for women than to simply tell them to get rid of their baby, and then leave them with the all the consequences and the regret and sorrow of that loss.

In the past 14 years we’ve seen our abortion rates drop by a massive 45% in Ireland, so maybe we’re getting better as a society at providing the support that’s needed – though the pro-abortion Labour Party aren’t helping matters by cutting payments to single parents.

We need to do more. Attempts to write the baby out of the abortion debate doesn’t help women and doesn’t help children. The inescapable fact is that, for every baby, their abortion story ends badly, because abortion ends their life. It kills them. And no amount of denial or pretence can change that fact.

Friday, September 25, 2015

John Boehner and Divine Guidance

Alice C. Linsley

Today Speaker John Boehner surprised Washington and the nation when he announced that he will step down as Speaker of the House and retire from Congress the end of October.

Boehner said, "Last night I started thinking about this, and I woke up. I said my prayers as I always do, and I decided, you know, today’s the day I’m going to do this. As simple as that."

In his public announcement, Boehner spoke about his private moment with Pope Francis. Pope Francis thanked Boehner for his efforts on behalf of children and education in the United States. Boehner had been praying for the Pope and was deeply moved when Pope Francis asked Boehner to pray for him.  As soon as Speaker Boehner said these words, he was challenged by a journalist about his real motive in leaving. The secularists who dominate the US media are so cynical! They can't imagine that the Creator of the Universe moves people to do things according to a divine timeline. They simply cannot accept that God might be directing someone to do something, and to do it today.

Let me predict what will happen, based on my personal experience. John Boehner's motives will be questioned and debated by America's pundits and leading cynics. People will find it easier to believe what they imagine than to accept the simple truth that God directs people to do things on God's timetable.

I relate to what Speaker Boehner is going to face in the weeks ahead. 

I announced my resignation as a priest in the Episcopal Church on the day I was divinely directed to do so. That day turned out to be the first Sunday of November in 2003. The decision came as a surprise to some members of my parish and to my bishop. Many accused me of motives that they imagined.

After many weeks of prayer, I was certain it was the time to step down from ordained ministry - as certain as John Boehner is that it is time to step down from his role in Congress. However, the day I walked away from the Episcopal Church also happened to be the Sunday that Vicky Gene Robinson was consecrated a "bishop" in New Hampshire. Because of that, I was accused of grandstanding. I find that ironic because I didn't know it was the day of Robinson's consecration until late that Sunday when I turned on the news. Then I fell to my knees and asked, "Why, Lord? Why today?" I knew my leaving at that precise moment would invite the wrath of my revisionist bishop and be a cause of rejoicing for the parishioners that were pushing the GLBT agenda of the Episcopal Church.

Priests and politicians are not that different. That sounds cynical, but really it isn't. Both have to work with lots of different people; some who agree with them and some who do not agree with them. If the priest and the politician are people who take their jobs seriously, they won't simply drop what they are doing and walk away when things get tough. They will seek guidance from wise people, or if they believe in divine guidance, as Boehner does, they will pray and wait for a signal, an inner conviction that triggers action. The waiting is not a public display. It is a private matter.

Looking back, I have no regrets. God's timing is always perfect. Our Maker knows what is needed and exactly when. That brief private meeting between John Boehner and Pope Francis was part of the greater divine plan. The Pope's words were the confirmation that Boehner needed, and that is the most encouraging story that has come out of the Pope's visit to Washington!

Sunday, September 20, 2015

A Muslim Kid with a Clock

Alice C. Linsley

The 14-year old Muslim boy who brought a homemade clock to school was arrested on suspicion of bringing a bomb. The boy was handcuffed and questioned by five police officers at MacArthur high school in Irvine, Texas. Was this over-reaction or proper security?

Ahmed Mohamed
This wasn't a school project. Ahmed said that he wanted to impress his teachers. One teacher said he shouldn't show it to the other teachers. It beeped in 6th period class and he showed it to that teacher. She said it looked like a bomb and reported it. Ahmed said, "From my perspective it didn't look like a bomb."

Here is the statement from one of the White House staff, DJ Patil, on Ahmed Mohamed: 

"Yesterday, a 14-year-old student named Ahmed Mohamed was arrested for bringing his engineering project (an electronic clock) to his high school. Officials mistook it for a bomb.

When I was growing up, my friends and I were fortunate to know how to use soldiering irons, circuit boards, and even a bit of duct tape when nothing else worked. We played, experimented, and learned through trial and error.

The best part? When I brought my work in, my teachers loved it. And that fed my desire to embrace science, engineering, and technology. That learning to play with technology -- that curiosity -- has helped me on every step of my journey so far.

That's why I’m so proud to see people across the country standing up for the innovation and intellectual curiosity that Ahmed has shown.

That includes the President."

President Obama Tweeted:

"Cool clock, Ahmed. Want to bring it to the White House? We should inspire more kids like you to like science. It's what makes America great."

The President and his wife are known to encourage young people in the sciences. But is this really about education? Would this even have made national news if the boy had been a Christian? The President's praise is for a Muslim boy who the President thinks has been treated unfairly. Would the President have noticed a Christian boy arrested under the same circumstances?

Personally, I think that was a nice gesture on the part of the President. It may soften the boy's trauma at being handcuffed and questioned, assuming Ahmed was traumatized. He strikes me as a young man who enjoys the attention. That is what he wanted when he brought his clock in a briefcase to school.

Richard Dawkins tweeted similar suspicions. Dawkins said: “If this is true, what was his motive? Whether or not he wanted the police to arrest him, they shouldn’t have done so.” In a subsequent tweet, Dawkins said: “Assembling clock from bought components is fine. Taking clock out of its case to make it look as if he built it is not fine. Which is true?

“Yes, there are other reasons why a boy might take a clock out of its casing and pretend he’d made it. Trying to impress teachers, for instance."

Dawkins doubts the boy designed the clock. Yet this young man won a robotics contest in junior high. His family is of Sudanese heritage and his older sister was suspended for reportedly threatening to blow up the school. You would think that Ahmed would recognize that the need for better judgement, but in general teens notoriously are lacking in good judgement.

Ahmed's arrest triggered allegations of racism and Islamophobia from the Left and caution from the Right. Kevin Jackson discussed the Muslim with the clock, insisting that this is a set up; a crying wolf so that next time a Muslim kid brings an electronic device to school in a briefcase people will not react so quickly.

There has since been an outpouring of support for the young man in a NASA T-shirt and handcuffs. Ahmed has received a gift of a Surface Pro 3, a Microsoft Band, a 3D printer, an Office 365 subscription, and much more. These were delivered to him by a Muslim woman Alia Salem who Tweeted: "Enjoyed delivering box of tech goodies gifted by @microsoft to Ahmed! Mashallah!"

Ahmed will continue to receive attention from this incident and much sympathy. Sympathies will swing to Muslims as a whole. Rights groups will jump on this, and the police of this Texas town will likely face litigation for doing their job. Lots of trouble will come out of Ahmed's attention-getting behavior.

Ethics of Animal Experimentation

Xavier Symons | 18 Sep 2015

Animal research – the use of the use of live animals as experimental subjects in biomedical and behavioral fields of learning – has been subject to increasing scrutiny in recent years. A new edition of the Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics contains several articles on the ethics of animal research, many of them from novel perspectives.

The editors of the special volume, Tom L. Beauchamp, of Georgetown University, and David De Grazia, of George Washington University, see the articles as a step toward addressing “the unresolved tension between the noble aspirations of animal research and the ethical controversies it often generates”.

“The moral assumption…that the moral status of animals is inferior to the moral status of human beings—a thesis commonly expressed in the language of “human dignity”…[is] now increasingly called into question”, write Beauchamp and De Grazia in their editorial.

Interestingly, only one of the articles – a short paper by the NIH Clinical Centre’s Holly Kantin and David Wendler – advances arguments against the sort of human exceptionalism that De Grazia and Beauchamp mention. Kantin and Wendler discuss empirical evidence that they believe suggests chimpanzees have ‘proto-agency’, and argue from this that chimps should be expected to ‘acquiesce’ to research.

A number of the articles run a less controversial argument, suggesting that animals – though inferior in moral status to human beings – should nevertheless be spared from research that causes unnecessary harm or that denies the animal basic quality of life. As much is suggested by De Grazia and Jeff Sebo in their article ‘Necessary Conditions for Morally Responsible Animal Research’.

Neurologist Aysha Akhtar questions the very reliability of research on animals for predicting human reactions. She points to a growing body of scientific literature that critically examines the performance of animal modeling (and of animal experimentation more generally) and raises concerns about its value for predicting human outcomes and for insights into human physiology.

This special CQHE section is a valuable contribution to what is sure to become a vibrant area of ethical research in the near future.

Read it at BioEdge.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Why North Koreans Can't Write Research Papers

Born and raised in Seoul, Suki Kim posed as an English teacher at an all-male university in Pyongyang run by evangelical Christians; she spent six months teaching the 19-year-old sons of North Korea’s ruling class. In this excerpt from her investigative memoir, she describes the experience.

“Essay” was a much-dreaded word among my students. It was the fall of 2011, and I was teaching English at Pyongyang University of Science and Technology in North Korea. Two hundred and seventy young men, and about 30 teachers, all Christian evangelicals besides me, were isolated together in a guarded compound, where our classes and movements were watched round the clock. Each lesson had to be approved by a group of North Korean staff known to us as the “counterparts.” Hoping to slip in information about the outside world, which we were not allowed to discuss, I had devised a lesson on essay writing, and it had been approved.

I had told my students that the essay would be as important as the final exam in calculating their grade for the semester, and they were very stressed. They were supposed to come up with their own topic and hand in a thesis and outline. When I asked them how it was going, they would sigh and say, “Disaster.”
Read it all here.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Muslim Flight Attendant Suspended

A Michigan flight attendant says she was suspended by the Atlanta-based ExpressJet because of her refusal to serve alcohol due to her religious beliefs as a Muslim. Charee Stanley filed a discrimination complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in Detroit last week.

Her attorney says that ExpressJet initially agreed to a religious accommodation, telling her other flight attendants could handle requests for alcohol. And, according to CNN, that arrangement was working fine for about two months until another attendant complained to the airline that Stanley wasn’t fulfilling her duties.

ExpressJet issued a statement saying the airline values diversity but could not comment on personnel matters.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Good Friday Denied to Cranston Teachers

For the first time this year, the Cranston Rhode Island school committee eliminated Yom Kippur, Rosh Hashanah and Good Friday as school holidays. Instead, it negotiated a collective bargaining agreement that allows teachers to take up to two days off each school year if they are required to attend religious services during the school day.

AP reports that on Monday the union filed suit because the school system has denied requests from some 200 teachers to take Good Friday off, even though they allowed teachers who requested it to take Rosh Hashanah off last fall. School Superintendent Judith Lundsten says that the Good Friday requests are not covered by the collective bargaining agreement because Good Friday does not require attendance at religious services during school hours. According to the Cranston Patch, the suit claims that the discriminatory denial of religious leave here is a breach of the collective bargaining agreement and a violation of the state Religious Freedom Restoration Act.”

The reasoning of the school committee is flawed. Good Friday is properly a full day of fasting and prayer. It may or may not involve a church service, but it does involve fasting, prayer and quiet contemplation of the Lord's Sacrifice. These activities cannot be done in the context of a routine work day.