Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Pastoral Letter re. United Way and Planned Parenthood

Central Illinois Right to Life, Inc. is a peace-loving, life-embracing, irenic association of citizens from all different walks of life--all of whom are united around the simple and yet profound notion that all human beings ought to be given the "right" to life.

We live in the same community with many other people--some of whom agree with us, and some of whom do not. Often, there is a sweet intersection of interests, passions, and concerns, that almost all of us share in common. When this happens, we have cause for being glad.

CIRTL has no interest in being at odds with any agencies in our area who are not directly involved in the wrongful taking of (civilly) innocent life. We count the Heart of Illinois United Way in this more positive camp. We fully and heartily recognize the good causes that they (United Way) support; and for this, we applaud them. Still, there is the one important concern that the pro-life community still has with United Way, and that is its continued (though admittedly somewhat restrained) support of Planned Parenthood's work in Peoria.

We also fully grasp the fact that there is a matrix of difficult associations amongst traditionally pro-life churches and clergy relative to the fact that United Way provides for various religiously-based efforts in central Illinois. Still, this is no cause for us to compromise principle, at the altar of expediency.

All that said, we continue to urge United Way to fully drop all support for Planned Parenthood. We do this from not only conviction, but from conscience. All of us should do everything we can to improve one another. The United Way has a lot going in its favor--why should they not go all the way, and care for only those causes and works in our community that are savory and good?

In light of all this, CIRTL is encouraging all citizens in central Illinois to sign the petition found within our current mailing, and return them to the self-addressed destination. Thank-you for thoughtful consideration of our humble request.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

More on Choice vs Coercion

A few days ago, I wrote an article for the Central Illinois Right to Life Director's Blog entitled "Alice and the Cheshire Cat - Defining Choice."

My topic was based not on any research, but just on an intuition that women in crisis pregnancy often fall victim to undue influence by significant persons in their lives, persons who for their own reasons do not wish to see a pregnancy brought to term, persons who cross the line from advise and support of a "free choice," into intimidation and coercion by verbal, emotional, and even sometimes physical abuse.

Since then, a fellow CIRTL board member, Dan Smith, pointed out actual survey research done in this area by David Reardon and the Elliot Institute.*

Their findings indicate that 64% of abortions are coerced...

Now if these findings are anywhere near accurate - even one half or one fourth accurate - then no matter where one actually stands on abortion itself, this is a situation of extreme degradation, almost beyond comprehension! For what proports to be a movement of freedom, is instead revealed to be a cesspool perculating up intimidation and even violence, overflowing with suffering that is daily heaped upon members of the very class of people it claims to liberate.

What is equally astounding is the lack of outcry from self-proclaimed protectors of women's rights, particularly those who also make up the "pro-choice" crowd. Why is that the case? Perhaps because if the charge is true, a huge chink is revealed in the suit of armor the "pro-choice" movement has been clothed in by their friends in media and government. And to draw any attention to what might be a vital weakness is to invite determined attack at that very point.

Unfortunately for their cause, the vunerability is so great that it should be clear for all to see. Fortunately, again for their cause, the sun must be in our eyes!!!

Else, why are we not attacking this glaring vunerablility with everything we have?

Indeed there are two gaps in their suit of mail - not only is an open invitation to abuse created by the very nature of the current legal abortion situation, but also there appears to be a massive cover-up of that abuse taking place - apparently many are willing to toss untold numbers of women to the wolves in order to protect the precious house of cards called "abortion rights."

The “pro-choice” movement, in large part by their self-designated title, has been somewhat successful in redirecting the focus of the abortion debate from the value of the life of the unborn child to the struggle for reproductive freedom for women. If it can be demonstrated that the atmosphere created by the legality and availability of abortion on demand is by its very nature an open invitation to the abuse of women - and moreover, that the “pro-choice” movement has ignored this dire situation in order to protect itself and its pet cause - “pro-choice” will be revealed for the sham that it is, and the battle if not actually won, can at least be returned to the proper field of conflict – the sanctity of the life of the unborn child!

* The research of David Reardon, et al at afterabortion.org
~ http://www.afterabortion.org/petition/Forced_Abortions.pdf

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Alice and the Cheshire Cat - Defining Choice

When the Pro-Life movement began referring to itself as “Pro-Life” instead of “Anti-Abortion,” the justification was that the overall movement was addressing not only issues related to the early stages of life but concerns across the whole spectrum of human existence.

Now - I don’t think most Pro-Life people would argue with the accuracy of the “Anti-Abortion” label so far as it goes - it is just not inclusive of all that the movement and most of its members stand for regarding the Sanctity of Human Life from conception to natural death.

On the other hand, “Pro-Abortion” is not a sign people want to hang around their own neck. One might enlarge that tent I suppose to include some sort of quasi choices in other areas - assisted suicide, euthanasia, etc. But even it that were an accurate generalization, (and I am not asserting that it is,) what umbrella would subsume such a gathering of the minds? “Pro-Death?” Well, that is definitely not an improvement!

And so instead of “Pro-Abortion” - voila “Pro-Choice,” the Big Daddy of all euphemisms was hatched! We in the Pro-Life camp should insist that the “Pro-Choice” banner be successfully defended by those who shelter beneath its wings, or else be discarded. We must insist because the Fourth Estate in general has chosen to accept the “Pro-Choice” moniker at face value. Concurrently, the same media outlets in large part have insisted on continuing to refer to the Pro-Life movement as “Anti-Abortion” - a disservice I might add, which they do not extend to most other social movements. In this regard at least, they are abysmal failures as journalists.

Anyway, onward to an exercise in definition…

“Pro” means “for” – so we have “For Life” and “For Choice.”

“Life” in this case clearly means human life. Although there may be some disagreement on which physical entities are entitled to be included in the category, “living human being” is a fairly concrete concept, easily defined by genetics, etc.

“Choice” on the other hand is an extremely abstract conception, fraught with overtones of free-will and determinism, nature and nurture, influence and compulsion, etc. And parenthetically, “Choice” is assumed to be strictly limited in the current usage under discussion to the termination of pregnancy – for surely no one in the “Pro-Choice” movement is advocating an all encompassing “right to choose” that trumps any and all restrictions on personal actions across the board! (Just applying the concept for a moment even to mundane things like speed limits reveals a completely naked Emperor!)

Though the general concept can be easily shown on its face to be inherently unworkable, the current legal situation secures for women a practically unrestricted right to 'choose' regarding abortion. As a public relations coup, a better cant than “Pro-Choice” would have been hard to come by – for it smacks of liberty, and one can almost smell the apple pie.

In the real world however, the human will is not exercised in a vacuum. Just as every effect has a cause, there are reasons behind every choice we make. To claim otherwise is to treat choice as a flippant matter of no moral significance – meaningless as a chance occurrence, void of intent or volition - like the flip of a coin. In fact, as with Alice and the Cheshire Cat,* it could be argued that without inclination and reasons, one could not even make a true choice at all! And I assume hardly any woman alive would arrive at a decision about a matter so serious as the life or death of her unborn child for reasons she did not find deep and compelling.

So what are some reasons that come into play in the choice to abort? And might we divide them into internal and external reasons? Now I am not sure if anyone can speak for the internal inclinations of another person. But the external pressures are another matter.

At first blush these external motivations would obviously include the attitudes and actions of significant people in a woman’s life, (husband, boyfriend, parents, etc). The posture taken by institutions, (church, school, employer, etc) and societal laws and taboos or lack thereof, would also act from outside a person to influence choice.

And it also should be admitted that it would not always be easy to demarcate between these two categories. For example, take the following admitted simplistic scenario: “I love my boyfriend. He insists he does not want a child. He says he will leave me if I have this baby.” Here the interaction between the internal and external can immediately be noted.

How often the input of by lover, family, friend, classmate, employer, teacher, abortionist, etc., crosses the line into untoward verbal and emotional pressure on a women to exit from pregnancy through the doors of an abortion clinic awaits the efforts researchers willing to accept the incumbent derision that would be heaped on them. But the potential for intimidation is clearly multiplied exponentially by the legality, acceptability, and availability of the option. And most times, a baby carried to term, affects the lives of many other people for years to come - people who can exercise little choice in the matter except by virtue of whatever persuasion they can bring to bear on the expectant mother.

Now consider a pregnant woman in relationship with an unscrupulous man - a woman who does not succumb to his attempts at verbal and emotional manipulation to abort. You know what comes next from a violent man who is anxious to escape the emotional, legal, and financial responsibilities of 20 plus years of fatherhood that awaits him if the unborn child in question ever obtains a birth certificate.

Exactly because the ideal world where “choice” exists in some pristine state is a fairy tale, “Pro-Choice” is one of the most blatant misnomers of all time. For it is sadly apparent that efforts to make and keep abortion legal, to define abortion as morally acceptable, to insure abortion is readily available, to secure funding for abortion services from government and private payers, etc., - all these efforts have only served to proliferate this staggering human catastrophe. For none of these are neutral in their influential effect on the decision a woman makes.

Moreover the availability of legal, cheap, and socially acceptable abortion removes what otherwise would have served as barriers of resistance for a woman under duress from others. And for the same reason, this state of affairs encourages coercion on the part of people and institutions around her that stand to benefit from the abortion of her unborn child.

Therefore, I assert that the “Pro-Choice” flag cannot be defended, because the primary net effect of the movement is not the promotion of freedom, but the propagation of abortion. Thus, “Pro-Abortion” is the more accurate banner.

Ladies and gentlemen of that persuasion, have the courage to fly your true colors on the mast!

* Alice and the Cheshire Cat
Alice … “Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”

"That depends a good deal on where you want to get to," said the Cat.
“I don't much care where—“said Alice.
“Then it doesn't matter which way you go,” said the Cat.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Life Line event

About 75 people, from 4 months old to 85 years old, showed up along War Memorial Drive in Peoria, Ill., from 1:30 to 3 p.m. Sunday, June 7, to pray for an end to abortion.

Life Line was organized by Bradley University freshman Alexandria Reynolds. Though it was intended to be youth-centric, plenty of older folks showed up, too, to lend their support.

For a first-time event, it went off very well. Alexandria and her friends had prepared hand-painted signs with instructions on the back, including ideas for prayer.

Participants stood along War Memorial Drive, also known as U.S. Route 150 — probably the busiest street in Peoria — holding signs with such messages as “Better Off Alive” and “Yay for Kids.” Reynolds emphasized the positive nature of the event, which came one week after the murder of abortion doctor George Tiller but had been in the planning stages for months. It was an opportunity to show the peaceful nature of the pro-life movement.

Most drivers honked and waved their support. Only a few made some, uh, negative hand gestures.

Links to news coverage are here and here.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Beatitudes, Babies and Baseball: The Hungry Second Baseman

"Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for justice, for they will receive it in full."
Matthew 5:6

The beatitudes should be more central to a God-based resolution for those considering or opposing abortion. Please consider whether abortion is consistent with these values or opposed to them. These essays look at each beatitude three ways: in relationships to God, to His laws, and to others, especially the least favored of humanity. The nine beatitudes also work together, much like the nine players on a baseball team. Accordingly, the introduction to each discussion relates a beatitude to a quality of a famous baseball player. See how many you recognize before you hear the player’s name. The following is a consideration of the fourth beatitude.

The Second Baseman Hungry for Justice. During the struggle for civil rights, this former second baseman wrote to President Eisenhower: “17 million Negroes cannot do as you suggest and wait for the hearts of men to change. We want to enjoy now the rights we feel we are entitled to as Americans. This we cannot do unless we pursue aggressively goals which all other Americans achieved over 150 years ago.” Until his death, he was a leader in the civil rights movement, as he implored others: “It is up to us in the north to provide aid and support to those who are actually bearing the brunt of the fight for equality down south.” Even when his fame and fortune were assured, he reflected, “I won't 'have it made' until the most underprivileged Negro in Mississippi can live in equal dignity with anyone else in America.” These quotes most accurately reflect the continuous life-long hunger and thirst for justice of the first black major league baseball player, Jackie Robinson.

People hunger for what they need and do not have. When we are oppressed, we naturally hunger for justice for ourselves. The key to this beatitude, however, is how we should hunger and thirst for justice for others. What separates us from animals is this hunger that we feel for others. Considering the three relationships discussed above, when we hunger and thirst for justice, we long to live where the protection of God’s law abounds. We labor to lengthen the reach of justice to others, especially our least brothers and sisters whose suffering we feel as our own. Justice follows when we love to lavish gratitude on God for all the gifts He has bestowed on us. In our relationship with God, we know that He does not owe us anything because he has given us everything.

The prochoice position inherently opposes hunger for justice and is complacent toward injustice. It rejects God’s law when it supports the violent destruction of the defenseless unborn. It withholds the protection of God’s law from the least among us, the unborn. Rather than showing gratitude toward God for His gifts bestowed, this position finds no fault with ungratefully destroying the gift of life itself, even when it is someone else’s gift.

Prochoice persons claim justice, however, by support for other causes, many of which in themselves are just. In the words of one, “there are other issues” to consider when deciding which stands to take, which efforts to work for, and which candidates to elect. The solace they find from support for other causes is, however, no substitution for giving to each person what is rightfully owed. This false comfort is, in fact, the antithesis of justice. One cannot hunger and thirst for justice much when one is willing to accept monstrous life destroying injustices to the most dependent class of human beings among us.

Our hunger and thirst for justice concerning abortion begins when we long to live in a society where God’s law protecting human life is followed. Abortions do not occur there. We must feel the oppression of abortion as if our own lives were in jeopardy. To paraphrase Jackie Robinson, “It is up to us who are born to provide aid and support to those who are actually bearing the brunt of the fight for life for the unborn.” We must adopt, in spirit, the unborn whose lives are threatened, fight to save them and grieve for them when they die. When tempted to put “other issues” first, we must remember that for the unborn, there are no other issues. For every breath we take, we must be grateful to God and we must act to preserve for others their gift of life from God.


Wednesday, June 3, 2009

The Religious Right and George Tiller

"The Religious Right Didn't Kill George Tiller," by James Kirchick in the June 3 Wall Street Journal.

Mr. Kirchick is by no means pro-life or even pro-Christian, but even he sees the arrogance and inaccuracy of the reaction of many to the death of Tiller.

Unity and Diversity

"Unity on the Essential of the Sanctity of Human Life is our objective. We are not seeking uniformity of opinion on all matters...

Therefore, some ideas advocated by the authors of articles on the CIRTL Web Site, in Central Illinois Life News, on the CIRTL Directors Blog, and on the CIRTL FaceBook Group, may not necessarily reflect the official positions of the organization or the personal views of all the members and officers of Central Illinois Right To Life, Inc."

This statement in its general form has been on the Central Illinois Right to Life Website for years. It seems appropriate to display it on the CIRTL Blog also. Because there is no room on the marquee for it, it is added to the posts so that new readers will have access to it and perhaps be better able to differentiate between official position statements issued by the organization and the personal opinions of individual members to which we are all entitled.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Committing murder is not trusting in God

This from the WSJ.com health blog about the man accused of killing abortionist George Tiller:

Morris Wilson, a past member of the Kansas Unorganized Citizens Militia
who has since renounced his ties to the group, told the WSJ that (Scott) Roeder
had been a fellow member. He spoke strongly against abortion and “felt he needed
to do something,” Wilson said.
There is a frustration that comes with being pro-life, frustration that very little seems to change as babies are slaughtered in the womb every day.

Murder is not the answer to that frustration.

If we believe in the sanctity of life, we also need to believe in the God who gives that life sanctity. And if we believe in that God, the God of the Bible, then we need to trust that He is working in the perfect way to bring this tragedy to an end. "For we know Him Who said, 'Vengeance is Mine; I will repay.' And again, 'The Lord will judge His people'" (Hebrews 10:30).

He will judge us on how we address this situation. Do we murder, like our opponents do everyday in abortion clinics, or do we sacrifice and extend love through crisis pregnancy centers, adoption? Will we "visit orphans and widows in their affliction" (James 1:27)?

Justice will ultimately out. If we believe in God, we have to believe that. Our job is to keep at it in peaceful ways.

George Tiller's life, as reprehensible as his actions were, was just as precious to God as everyone else's life. Up to his very last breath, the possibility of repentance and salvation was there for Tiller. No one had the right to take his life without the due process of law. Unfortunately, the law does not at this time consider abortion to be murder. What Tiller did was legal. Our entire nation will be judged for that. And Scott Roeder will be judged for murder.

Monday, June 1, 2009

From the CIRTL Board of Directors

CIRTL Official Statement on Death of Dr George Tiller

The Central Illinois Right to Life board of directors is committed to a peaceful end of the practice of abortion. We are dedicated to accomplishing this goal through fervent prayer, lawful civic actions, and supporting pro-life legislative efforts in Illinois and in Washington, D.C.

While CIRTL opposes what George Tiller stood for as a doctor specializing in the performance of late-term abortions, we also vehemently oppose the un-Christian and illegal actions that brought about his death. The pro-life position is one of life and light, not death and darkness.

We pray for comfort for George Tiller's family and friends as they deal with this tragedy, just as we pray for an end to all abortions.

The Central Illinois Right to Life board of directors

June 1. 2009

Strange Irony in George Tiller's death

Sometimes, truth seems to be stranger than fiction.

George Tiller, the renowned murderer of children--some of whom were literally in the birth canal--died in a building owned by the "Reformation Lutheran Church."

Let us break this name down a bit. "Reformation": this was the great movement of God's Spirit, which officially began in the early 16th century. The Reformers stood for life, light, grace, redemption, gospel, the church, and all the abundant riches of Christ.

The next word is, "Lutheran." Martin Luther loved children. He heartily despised anyone who did not have affection and care for them.

The last word is "Church." The church is a safe haven for sinners, who put their trust in The Lord Jesus Christ as the only means of propitiation (satisfaction concerning) the wrath of God.

Note how far from these blessed ideals we have moved. How many churches (and individual Christians) even know the principles of the Reformation, let alone believe them? How many Protestants (not only "Lutherans") have so compromised their faith, that they can no longer discern right from wrong? And with regard to the Church: the very colony of heaven on earth has been, in many ways, infiltrated with error and corruption.

Still, let us not lose heart. The same God that saves us in Jesus, is also on His eternal throne--now, and forevermore.

The Killing of Tiller

The killing of George Tiller yesterday was not a good thing. It will be interesting to see whether a misguided person with good views on the abortion issue actually killed him; or if this was done by a pro-abortionist--with the hope of defusing prolife opposition to President Obama's nominee for the Supreme Court.

At any rate, let us focus on the issue at hand: Tiller's death. The fact is, that the state of Kansas should have executed Tiller years ago, as soon as he murdered his first little baby. Regrettably, however, that noble deed (of execution) was never performed. Because of this, wrath and damnation hung over Tiller's head for all these years. The state failed in its duty--largely because of the Supreme Court's horrendous 1973 Roe v. Wade decision. Therefore, someone else acted--to put it in the Biblical vernacular--as the "avenger of blood." This is not a legitimate action. Still, we should not be surprised that it occurred, (again, assuming someone on "our" side did the deed).

You might be thinking, "Aren't you being judgmental of Tiller (the 'Killer')?" My answer: "No." All of us are born with the fallen effects of original sin; and all of us deserve condemnation before a Holy God. But there is a difference between spiritual guilt before the Almighty, and "civil" guilt in a culture. Tiller was certainly guilty "civilly."

Still, however, as I averred earlier, the execution of Tiller ought to have been done at the hands of the state; and not by a private citizen.