Archive for January, 2013

Catholic Websites Spinning the Pew Research Center’s Recent Data on Abortion Opinion

January 31, 2013

Gil Bailie of The Cornerstone Forum reflects on the impressive turnout at San Francisco’s recent Walk for Life:

How frustrating it must be for [pro-choicers] to see history moving decisively (despite the setbacks of the current regime in Washington) in the pro-life direction.

Howbutwhatinthewhat? Here, courtesy of the Wall Street Journal and NBC News, is a snapshot of current opinion:


The results of the recent Pew Research Center poll are probably even more authoritative and also show robust public support for Roe v. Wade. The PRC’s numbers have caused quite a stir on conservative Catholic websites. Contributors to online magazines like The Catholic Thing, Crisis, and First Things have been scrambling to somehow spin or deny the fact that only 29% of Americans want to see the 1973 ruling completely overturned, while 63% support it. The data also reveal a slow but steady increase in support over the past 20 years, from 60% in 1992 to the current 63%. Opposition has declined more significantly during that period, from 34% to the current 29%.

abortion-poll-1The Church’s propaganda elves are working 24-7 to convince us that the PRC report is flawed. Roe v. Wade‘s provisions are not widely understood, they say, or the PRC’s polling questions were misleading. Or they bring in other polling data—some out-of-date and some from dubious sources—to confuse the issue.

Thus, Kenneth D. Whitehead, writing for Crisis Magazine, claims that “many people [including the poll respondents] do not understand that Roe v. Wade actually allows abortion on demand throughout the entire length of a pregnancy for any reason or for no reason.”

This is demonstrably false. Roe’s central holding is that abortions are permissable until the fetus is viable (from 24 to 28 weeks, or about six to seven months). After that, the State may proscribe abortion except in cases where the mother’s life is at risk.

Here’s what the law actually says:

During the first trimester, “the abortion decision and its effectuation must be left to the medical judgment of the pregnant woman’s attending physician.”

After the first trimester,”the State, in promoting its interest in the health of the mother, may, if it chooses, regulate the abortion procedure in ways that are reasonably related to maternal health.”

After viability, which occurs at around the beginning of the third trimester, “the State, in promoting its interest in the potentiality of human life, may, if it chooses, regulate, and even proscribe, abortion except where necessary, in appropriate medical judgment, for the preservation of the life or health of the mother.”

If Whitehead can sow enough distrust of the Pew findings, he may be able to persuade us that a poll conducted by the Knights of Columbus is more reliable. Yes, you heard me right. He’s citing a Catholic fraternal service and lobbying organization that is famously dedicated to upholding Catholic teachings on abortion. Their finding is that “no less than 83 percent of Americans now favor some restrictions on abortion.” Even if reliable, this finding is not necessarily at odds with the PRC’s. Roe v. Wade does not, in fact, allow unrestricted access to abortions.

Jon A. Shields, writing for First Things (“Debating Roe’s Legacy,” 1/30/13) claims that (1) “young Americans are suddenly less pro-choice than older Americans,” and that (2) “young Americans are not only less pro-choice than any other age group, but they are also markedly less pro-choice than any young cohort in any previous decade.”

His first claim is false and the second is only half-true. While it appears to be true that Americans aged 18 to 29 are still trending slightly toward anti-abortion views, they are not currently “less pro-choice” than older Americans (if “pro-choice” is taken to mean supporting Roe v. Wade and if “older Americans” means “Americans older than 29”). Shields does not disclose the actual PRC numbers, which, at best, show a pro-choice lead of only one percentage point in only one of the three “older” cohorts (the 50-64 year-olds). And the difference between the support and opposition figures is still very significant in all four age cohorts:

Ages 18-29: 41 percentage points (difference).

Ages 30-49: 30 percentage points.

Ages 50-64: 43 percentage points.

Ages 65+: 16 percentage points.

(In all of these, the percentage supporting Roe v. Wade is the higher of the two.)

Using the PRC’s polling data, 68% of the 18-29 year-old cohort are opposed to overturning Roe v. Wade, compared to only 27% in favor. Note that in the next age cohort (30-49 years old), the figures are 61% and 31% respectively. Significantly, the 50-64 year-old cohort is slightly more opposed to overturning Roe v. Wade than the 18-29 group, with the numbers at 69% (opposed) and 26% (favoring).

No wonder Shields doesn’t show us the numbers.

Shields’s related claim was that young Americans (aged 18-29) are also “markedly less pro-choice than any young cohort in any previous decade.” This is true only if we replace the word “markedly” with “slightly.” While it is true that the 2009 Gallup poll showed a 12-percentage-point decline in the numbers of young pro-choice Americans since the early nineties (from 36% to 24%), that number had not declined at all since the eighties, and it had dropped only two percentage points since the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision.

I think we would be entitled to conclude that young Americans’ position on reproductive choice has not significantly changed since Roe v. Wade. What is perhaps more significant is the slow but steadily growing overall support for the ruling.


View PRC’s “Abortion Support slideshow” here.

Read: “Roe v. Wade at 40: Most Oppose Overturning Abortion Decision” (PRC, January 11, 2013)

For related content, visit my alternate site, The Cornerstone Forum Samizdat

January 25, 2013

Visit The Cornerstone Forum Samizdat here.

On the 40th Anniversary of Roe v. Wade

January 23, 2013

Gil Bailie of The Cornerstone Forum writes:

A sad anniversary. Forty years of unlimited abortion license: a once noble civilization killing its own children, corrupting its soul, and destroying it own future. Fifty-five million children killed in these 40 years, and those who regard this as the quintessence of historical progress celebrate the status quo and are determined to preserve it. There are no words to adequately express how terribly wrong this is. Fifty-five million innocent, defenseless, voiceless, powerless children. If tyranny means the most powerful treating the least powerful as non-persons, this is tyranny—albeit tricked out in shabby slogans.

Dean Hansen responds:

Roe vs. Wade merely legalized a practice that has been going on for hundreds of years in this “noble civilization” and forever everywhere else. If they were really “children” being killed, it would be a matter of pressing outrage and growing concern. But as the statistics show, there has been a slow but continuous increase in acceptance of abortion over the years, and not a decline. Let’s peel back the covers on this issue, because as you well know, and refuse to accept, well above 90% of those “children” are aborted before they have nervous systems, brains, feelings, personality or anything resembling a human consciousness. But you in the “pro-life” movement have your own shabby, tricked-out slogans that prevent you from seeing the truth. You can’t restrict and create obstacles to birth control and then feign shock that abortion is so common when your church is largely responsible for it. If you believe that preventing conception is the equivalent of murder, you’ve merely created another in an endless succession of false thresholds that distort the meaning of freedom. If you want to limit the “soul corrupting” practice of abortion, then desist from the mind-numbing stupidity of trying to control the independent choices of others by forcing their decisions before they even get pregnant. Why is it that the same people who want to criminalize abortion, claim to want limited government, when what they really want is to limit the right of women to choose for themselves and to be protected in those choices from religious interference?

Believe and Be Saved? Christianity and Cognitive Science, 1

January 21, 2013

By Valerie Tarico, author of Trusting Doubt: A Former Evangelical Looks at Old Beliefs in a New Light

Pédophilie et mariage pour tous: déconstruction d’un argument

January 21, 2013

(Pour nos lecteurs francophones)

par Clément Salviani, Le Huffington Post, 20 janvier 2013

MARIAGE GAY – Quand on entend dans la bouche de nombreux politiques l’idée que l’introduction du mariage pour tous est une porte d’entrée vers la légalisation de la pédophilie, on peut légitimement s’interroger sur les motifs d’une telle conclusion. Comment est-il possible que des hommes et des femmes fassent preuve d’une telle malhonnêteté intellectuelle pour décrier par ricochet un mode de vie qu’ils récusent, à savoir l’homosexualité en général?

Lire la suite… 


The Uses of Fear

January 21, 2013

by Adam Lee (excerpted from “Notable (and Notorious) Examples of the Christian Right’s Failed Prophecies,” published on Alternet, 1-21/13)

You may notice that, other than the self-serving predictions of their own success, most of the religious right’s prophecies are of disaster and calamity. They almost never forecast greater peace, increased prosperity or the advance of democracy and human rights. There’s a good reason for this.

The religious right as a movement thrives on fear, because it depends on the unthinking obedience of its followers, and fearful people are far easier to shepherd and control. A person who fears the worst will follow anyone who promises security and relief from that fear: it’s not difficult to persuade them to donate money, follow marching orders, or vote as instructed if it will turn back the imaginary evils that menace them.

This has been an effective strategy, but it means that secularists and progressives can win people over if we offer them freedom from fear. And the best way to do that is to point out that the prophets of doom have failed over and over again. Normally their followers are only too happy to count the hits and ignore the misses, but when the evidence is all collected in one place, the conclusion becomes much harder to ignore: the people who claim to be the conduits of God’s will are scam artists, falsely claiming to know things they don’t know. Whether they’re intentionally lying or sincerely deluded makes no difference.

Read the entire article here.

New Pew Research Center Poll Shows Continuing Robust Support for Roe v. Wade Decision

January 21, 2013


The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life recently reported that most members of the major religious groups in the U.S. support a woman’s constitutional right to terminate a pregnancy and would not like to see Roe v. Wade overturned.

Sixty-three percent of Americans who were polled supported Roe v. Wade, while 29% wanted to see the decision overturned. This spread (34 points) has changed significantly since 1995, when the numbers were 60% supporting and 38% opposing (a 22-point difference).

White evangelical Protestants, Mormons, and Hispanic Catholics were the only groups in which majorities (54%, 63%, and 53% respectively) thought abortion should be illegal in all or most cases. Among white mainline Christians the corresponding figure was 32%, and among Black Protestants, it was 39%. Only 40% of white Catholics wanted to see abortions banned. Among poll respondents who identified as Jewish, 10% said they would support a ban.

January 20, 2013

January 19, 2013

Crisis Magazine Writer Austin Ruse Sees Nazi Totalitarianism in Recent European Court of Human Rights Decision Regarding LGBT Rights

January 19, 2013


Austin Ruse

Austin Ruse

Austin Ruse, president of C-FAM (Catholic Family & Human Rights Institute) has just published an incendiary article on the paleo-conservative Catholic website, Crisis Magazine. The piece, entitled “Yet More Christians Silenced in Europe … and America,” depicts Christians (by which he means paleo-conservative Catholics) as victims of a systematic oppression rivaled only by that of the Nazis against … (of course) the Catholics! At the top of the article is a photo of goose-stepping Nazi troops. Mr. Ruse, questioned about this photo, replies that modern liberals have “pronounced authoritarian tendencies.” The Crisis Editor who chose the photo adds, “I wanted to hold up a mirror to those who seek to restrict the freedoms of Christians [paleo-conservative Catholics]. We know how thick-headed these activists are. Subtle argument doesn’t work. Since the Left perceives the Nazis as rightwingers (which they were not), it would make more of an impact ON THEM…”

I have been blacklisted from the Crisis website for challenging statements like these. However, I would be pleased if others could take up the slack. You’ll find the article here.

The European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France

The European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France

Mr. Ruse’s beef is with the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), which earlier this week ruled that an individual’s religious beliefs do not trump the rights of an LGBT person and may not be used to discriminate against him or her. Mr. Ruse repeatedly distorts the facts in this case.

One of the two decisions that drew Mr. Ruse’s ire concerned Lillian Ladele, a civil registrar in London, who was dismissed from her job because she refused to officiate at same-sex partnership ceremonies after these were made legal in 2005. She claimed she was a victim of religious discrimination. The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) decided that she was discriminating against LGBT persons—which is to say, they had been her victims.

The second case concerned another British subject, Gary McFarlane,  a counselor providing psycho-sexual therapy to couples. He refused to work with same-sex couples and was dismissed. Like Lillian Ladele, he claimed he was a victim of religious discrimination. Again, the ECHR ruled that he had discriminated against LGBT persons, not they or his employer against him.

The Court ruled that religious freedom is no ground for exemption from the law. The principle of equality and equal treatment cannot be circumvented with a simple reference to religion.

Freedom of religion is never absolute. Sikh boys in the U.S. are not permitted to carry swords to their schools, though their religion requires them to do so. In France, Muslim girls may not wear veils in the public schools.

Mr. Ruse’s rhetoric employs all the usual tropes of scapegoating. He makes homosexuals out to be like vampires (“Has that slaked the thirst of the homosexuals?” he writes.) and implies that they are atheists (“They want Christians prostrate before them.”)

Actually, most homosexuals are neither vampires nor atheists, and many of them are devout Christians of the Catholic persuasion. The aptly-named Mr. Ruse is at the very least disingenuous in framing these Court decisions as a victory of homosexuals over Christians. That is just not the case. The decisions are simply a victory of LGBTs over discrimination.


UPDATE, 1/31/13: National Organization for Marriage (NOM) co-founder Robert George has submitted an amicus brief in the California Proposition 8 case about to be taken up by the U.S. Supreme Court. In it, he takes a position diametrically opposed to that of the European Court of Human Rights, which declared that freedom from discrimination trumps religious freedom. In his brief, George essentially claims that religious freedom should trump freedom from discrimination. Read more here.