Bush’s Stem Cell Decision Was the Right Call

Millennial writer Christopher White has a new article at Crux. He writes:

Fifteen years ago this month, President George W. Bush announced he was issuing a moratorium on the future spending of federal funds for embryonic stem cell research. He would later refer to this as one of the most consequential “Decision Points” (the title of his autobiography) of his presidency.

While his presidential legacy is much debated, science has already vindicated his decision to end the destruction of embryos and to pursue alternative methods of medical advancement….

While critics of Bush’s policy were eager to label him as “anti-science,” tone deaf, and unsympathetic to folks like Christopher Reeve (who they claimed would be able to walk again with the aid of embryonic stem cells), other prominent figures, including leading scientists and ethicists, urged both caution in the destruction of life in its earliest stages and also pushed for other means to be pursued that they believed could be just as effective.

That’s why when Bush made his decision, he also announced that he was doubling federal funding for research to explore alternative methods-and in November 2007, James A. Thomson (along with Shinya Yamanaka), the same scientist to first isolate human embryonic stem cells which sparked this whole debate, announced that he discovered an “embryo-free way to produce genetically matched stem cells.”…

In his willingness to give pause and to probe the intricacies of this debate, President Bush reminded us that something deeper is at stake beyond stem cells: our very souls.  Our national leaders would do well to ask these hard questions more often and to make us do the same.

You can read the full article here.


A Pro-life, Pro-animal Welfare Movement

Millennial writer Christoper White has a new article at Crux. He writes:

If certain individuals or organizations lobby for the protection of animals, might they want to extend their sympathies to all vulnerable creatures, such as unborn children?

The reverse, however, also deserves consideration: Wouldn’t it behoove pro-lifers to rethink their own attitude toward animal welfare and our eating choices? And even if one is not fully convinced that we’re ethically obligated to give up eating animals entirely, then might such deference toward animal welfare serve as an invitation for pro-choice animal activists to confront their own inconsistencies?

Perhaps in all of this, there is the real possibility that in showing mercy towards animals — be it abstinence from meat or simply taking smaller steps, such as rejecting factory farming — that this entire movement might serve as a gateway to a deeper embrace of the concept of mercy that Francis has staked his papacy on and manifest itself in all sorts of ways.

You can read the full article here.


Men and the “Right to Choose”

If liberals and libertarians sincerely believe that autonomy and choice should trump the protection of human life in the case of unwanted pregnancies, then the question has often arisen: why should men not be free to exercise their choice to terminate a pregnancy or opt out of an unwanted pregnancy in some other way? A regional branch of the youth wing of Sweden’s Liberal Party is now making the argument that they should have this “right”:

The idea, proposed by a regional branch of the youth wing of the centrist Liberal Party, would allow a potential father to legally abdicate his responsibility toward the child up to the 18th week of a woman’s pregnancy. The man would lose any rights to visit the child but also would not pay any child support he may otherwise be required to contribute.

If this seems horrifying, it should. But it is merely an extension of the disordered values that place autonomy above life, individualism above the common good, and choice above responsibility. Proponents of abortion-on-demand should not be shocked that other liberals are taking their arguments to their logical conclusions.


The Pro-life Movement’s Make-or-Break Moment

SCOTUSbuilding_1st_Street_SEA critical opening now exists on the Supreme Court. The typical formula in such scenarios would be for the Democratic president to nominate someone who is a moderate on economic issues and reliably pro-choice on abortion in order to garner enough support from both Democrats and Republicans, something that is likely to happen any day now. This, along with “a broad pro-business consensus within the upper ranks of the legal profession,” is why the Court is so strongly pro-business by historical standards.

But Republicans are threatening to block any nominee President Obama puts forward. Some may wish to continue this blockade if Hillary Clinton is elected president but Republicans retain the Senate. A vacancy of many years or multiple vacancies would raise questions about the durability of our constitutional system (and the norms that allow it to function) in an era of bitter partisanship, hyperpolarization, and political dysfunction, where divided government is not at all uncommon. The critical role of the Court as a countermajoritarian protector of minority rights, insulated to a certain degree from fleeting democratic passions and excesses, may be lost entirely—something we should perhaps be acutely inclined to preserve when a demagogue like Donald Trump keeps pilling up primary wins that seemed highly unlikely just a year ago.

If having another pro-choice justice on the Court and a radical change in the norms of American democracy are both seen as unacceptable, what can the pro-life movement do? Pledge to support President Obama if he agrees to nominate a pro-life progressive.

The pro-life movement can show that it is not a pawn used by the Republican Party to protect corporate interests. It can show that it truly values the lives of unborn children above all else. By pledging to unite behind a nominee who would allow for the advance of social and economic justice (while recognizing the legal rights of unborn children), the movement would give President Obama and Democratic elites a stark choice: put forward a nominee who would uphold action to defend the poor, weak, and vulnerable, while undermining plutocracy, or reveal that a commitment to abortion-on-demand is the preeminent value of Democratic elites—more important than universal healthcare, gun control, voting rights, campaign finance reform, union organizing, and every other issue.

If the pro-life movement puts their collective pressure to bear on Republicans and they refuse to support a pro-life nominee, the movement will realize that they are being used to serve other interests. If the GOP supports the pro-life movement’s plan, but President Obama refuses to nominate a pro-life progressive, the president would be the one responsible for the dangerous gridlock and complete politicization of the Court.

This is a make-or-break moment for the pro-life movement. It’s time for the movement to unite and deliver a truly pro-life justice.

Don’t Be an Observer: Our Generation’s Call to Defend Life

“Continue to overcome apathy, offering a Christian response to the social and political anxieties, which are arising in various parts of the world. I ask you to be builders of the world, to work for a better world. Dear young people, please, don’t be observers of life, but get involved. Jesus did not remain an observer, but he immersed himself. Don’t be observers, but immerse yourself in the reality of life, as Jesus did.” –Pope Francis July 27, 2013

Last week, despite the threat and arrival of Snowzilla, thousands of Americans took to the streets of Washington DC to take a stand against the lethal Supreme Court ruling Roe v. Wade and to raise their voices in support of women and unborn children. A majority of those who marched for life were millennials. I was among them and as I marched, Pope Francis’ words to young people came to mind. The Holy Father reminded us in a 2013 homily that Jesus was not an observer, but rather he immersed himself in the reality of life. We too are called to immerse ourselves, to be advocates, and to stand up and offer “a Christian response to the social and political anxieties” which we face in our civilization.

The greatest civil rights abuse of our time is abortion. If we are to follow Jesus’ example, we must, as Pope Francis exhorts us, face this reality of life. We know the statistics—around a million children lose their lives to abortion each year. Each number included in this statistic is a child that has lost his or her life. And with each child that has lost his or her life to abortion, there is a mother and a father that is hurting. Grandparents, friends, and extended family suffer as well.

In addition to being a horrific reality at a human level, abortion is also one of the most controversial political issues of our day. It can be difficult to engage with others on such a heated topic. Trust me, as someone who works in the pro-life movement, it isn’t always easy to tell the person next to me on the plane what I do for a living. Yet God has chosen us to live in this time and so we must trust in Christ’s invitation to “be not afraid.” We, the JPII Generation, have been given incredible leaders to guide us as we strive to answer Pope Francis’ call “to be builders of the world, to work for a better world.” We look to saints, civil rights leaders, and Christ himself as models of those who engage and do not merely observe. Read More

Four ways to Heal the Social Justice/Pro-life Divide

Millennial writer  Mike Jordan Laskey has a new article at NCR. He writes:

Accept “political homelessness” and live in the tension.

John Carr, the former director of the U.S. bishops’ justice and peace department, uses the phrase “politically homeless” to describe where Catholicism’s consistent ethic of life leaves us. We might be “comfortable with neither Republican economic individualism, which measures everything by the market, nor with Democratic cultural individualism, which celebrates personal ‘choice’ above all else,” he wrote in America. “Neither form of libertarianism leaves enough room for the weak and vulnerable or the common good.”

Political homelessness is hard! I’d love to feel content with either major party, and contribute to and vote for their candidates without thinking too much about it. I want to buy a t-shirt and go to a rally. I’d like to be a fan of the only presidential candidate to prominently feature a quote on economic injustice from Pope Francis on his website — Bernie Sanders — but the candidate’s perfect 100% rating from NARAL Pro-Choice America breaks my heart.

Maybe this tension would be more manageable if we put less emphasis on the vote and instead spent more energy lobbying elected leaders on both sides of the aisle. Or, to borrow another favorite line of John Carr’s, if politicians go wherever the wind blows, it’s our job to change the wind.

Acknowledge that the state has valid roles to play in matters of both life and justice.

One point of debate I’ve noticed between pro-lifers and social justice advocates in the church mirrors the secular political debate about the size and scope of government. Many pro-life champions are politically conservative and favor limited governmental intervention — except when it comes to highly regulating and eventually eliminating the practice of abortion. And some social justice activists, even those who are nominally pro-life, are all for robust social program spending and strict regulation but balk at the idea of legal efforts to restrict abortion or protect the rights of the unborn. The ethicist Charles Camosy calls this the “Costanza strategy,” named for the Seinfeld character who spends a famous episode of the series “doing the opposite” of his usual instincts.

Catholic social teaching affirms that the state’s job is to ensure all vulnerable people and groups are protected from various threats. In his encyclical Mater et Magistra, St. John XXIII brings together life and justice concerns in one beautiful passage. “As for the State, its whole raison d’être is the realization of the common good in the temporal order. It cannot, therefore, hold aloof from economic matters,” he writes. “It has also the duty to protect the rights of all its people, and particularly of its weaker members, the workers, women and children.”

Let’s avoid the hypocrisy of the Costanza strategy. The important role of the state is an area where Catholic pro-life champions and social justice activists should be in full accord.

You can read about the other two ways to heal the divide and the rest of the article here.