At “Breakthrough” Meeting, Holy See “Condemns Criminalization of Homosexual Conduct”


At what advocates have called a "breakthrough meeting," the Holy See delivered a statement that said it:

opposes all forms of violence
and unjust discrimination against homosexual persons, including
discriminatory penal legislation which undermines the inherent dignity
of the human person. … [T]he murder and abuse of homosexual persons are
to be confronted on all levels, especially when such violence is
perpetrated by the State.

The United Nations General Assembly panel, which met this week, "helped build new momentum for ending human rights violations based on
sexual orientation and gender identity," according to a coalition of human rights advocacy organizations.  (A video of the panel can be viewed by clicking here.)

The meeting included discussion of discriminatory and draconian “anti-homosexuality legislation” currently before the Ugandan parliament, and of the role of American religious groups in promoting that bill and homophobia across Africa. In a groundbreaking move, a representative of the Holy See in the audience read a statement strongly condemning the criminalization of homosexual conduct.

The panel was held on December 10th, International Human Rights Day, and the  61st anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  It featured speakers from Honduras, India, the Philippines, and Zambia, as well as Uganda, where the proposed "anti-homosexuality law shows the steady threat of government repression."

The panel was organized by Sweden in coalition with Argentina, Brazil, Croatia, France, the Netherlands, and Norway. It was sponsored by a group of six nongovernmental organizations that defend the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people. The audience of 200 people included delegates from over 50 nations.

Cosponsoring organizations includeded: Arc International, COC Netherlands, Global Advocates for Trans Equality (GATE), Human Rights Watch, International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC), International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Intersex Association (ILGA).

Speaking on the panel, Victor Mukasa, cofounder of Sexual Minorities
Uganda (SMUG) and program associate for the International Gay and
Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLRHC), described how he was forced
to leave Uganda following police brutality and raids on his home.

He
said that Uganda’s "“anti-homosexuality bill” reflects a pattern of
state-sponsored homophobia spreading across the African continent."

Ugandan lawmakers are currently debating the "anti-homosexuality bill.” While there were reports that the death penalty provisions might be stripped from the bill, other punishments would remain that would drive many Ugandans underground or out of the country, participants said.

“Lack of security, arbitrary arrests and detentions, violence, and killings of LGBT people have become the order of the day in Africa,” said Mukasa. “Nothing can change as long as LGBT people live in fear for their safety when they claim their basic human rights.”

Also at the panel discussion, the Reverend Kapya Kaoma, an Anglican priest from Zambia who is project director for Political Research Associates (PRA) in Massachusetts, presented the group’s new report, “Globalizing the Culture Wars: U.S. Conservatives, African Churches, and Homophobia.”

Kaoma said that many anti-LGBT attitudes across Africa are fueled by US groups actively exporting homophobia. He called on US religious figures who have been promoting hatred and fear of homosexuality in Africa to denounce the Uganda bill unequivocally and support the human rights of all people regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. Citing their moral responsibility to prevent violence, he also urged them to make such declarations in Africa, not just before US audiences.

Other panelists highlighted governments’ complicity in prejudice and violence based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Indyra Mendoza Aguilar, coordinator of the Lésbica Feminista Cattrachas network in Honduras said that an atmosphere of impunity since the June coup in Honduras has meant spreading violence against already marginalized people.

“In Honduras, as in many countries, the state turns a blind eye to violence against our communities,” said Mendoza Aguilar. “Today we issue a call for reforming our societies, free of discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, and free of impunity.”

Vivek Divan, an Indian attorney and member of the team that led a successful legal challenge to India’s colonial-era sodomy law, described the provision’s insidious effects: promoting inequality, excusing violence, and permitting state intrusion into private lives. The Delhi High Court overturned the law this year in a landmark decision affirming diversity as a core value of the Indian state.

Speakers also stressed how torture, killings, and other grave abuses target people not just because of their sexuality, but because they look, dress, or act in ways that defy deeply rooted patriarchal norms for expressing masculinity and femininity.

“Now is the time to realize that diversity does not diminish our humanity,” said Sass Sasot, cofounder of the Society of Transsexual Women of the Philippines (STRAP). “You want to be born, to live, and die with dignity – so do we! You want to live with authenticity – so do we!”

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  • paul-bradford

    In a groundbreaking move, a representative of the Holy See in the audience read a statement strongly condemning the criminalization of homosexual conduct.

     

    Jodi,

     

    There is so much anti-Catholic stuff on this ‘site that I have to commend you whenever you spotlight the fact that there actually are many times when the Church does what it’s supposed to do and offers support to the "least among us".

     

    This is good news.  This is very good news.  There is no doubt that we are called to love and accept our GLBT sisters and brothers.  That’s always the right thing to do, and it’s always right to decry injustices done against them (or against any disadvantaged minority group). 

     

    Thank you for bringing this to everyone’s attention. 

     

    (Now let’s see if this article generates any response on the thread)

     

    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • france-kissling

    when issued by an institution that has routinely made errors on glbt rights and HIV and AIDS.

    How sad that the Vatican’s condemnation of capital punishment for glbt persons is greeted as “good news.”

    That any religion would be expected to favor killing glbt people is an indication of how poorly the Vatican has performed on these issues from DC to the UN.

    The threat to withdraw from providing social services to the poor in DC if the city passes a marriage equality act and thy are required to give benefits to glbt persons, the advice to married couples where there is a risk if AIDS transmission to be celibate, but if the can’t be celibate have sex without condoms comes close to a life sentence of pain and suffering from HIV if not a death sentence.

    I will not applaud common decency.

  • crowepps

    I am so glad to see this. Now if they could just grasp the connection between influential organizations declaring homosexuality ‘deviant’ and ‘disordered’ and ‘a threat to society’ and the fact that consequently governments move to protect themselves with criminalization, maybe we all could start to get somewhere about guaranteeing human rights universally.

  • jodi-jacobson

    Paul,

    I am in fact glad you raise this point, because I think it continues to be a source of confusion or misunderstanding or misinterpretation….I am not sure which.

     

    First, as I have noted here before in response to other comments, we report news on sexual and reproductive health and rights/justice/health issues as the news develops and within our abilities.  This was a piece of news. 

     

    Second, we are not anti-Catholic.  We are pro-human rights, equity, and non-discrimination, and pro self-determination in sex, sexuality and reproduction.  We call out both governments and religious actors, and for that matter "non-religious" actors, which act to limit the sexual and reproductive rights of women and men, whether heterosexual or homosexual, transgender, etc.  

     

    We have reported on, analyzed and critiqued the actions of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, for example because they have consistently and persistently worked as a body to limit women’s rights in health care reform (and many, many other laws, policies, and areas of life).  The same would happen if this body represented fundamentalist Jews, Hindus, Moslems, or any other religious body, or if we are talking about the US Congress, the Indian Parliament or the government of Uganda.

     

    The issue is: who is imposing their ideology or attempting to impose their own ideology on law and policy in such a way as to undermine the rights of women to make their own sexual and reproductive choices; who discriminates, who exhibits bias.  Unfortunately of late, there has been a lot to say about the role of the insitutional Catholic Church in this area.

     

    That is vastly different than being "anti-Catholic" in the same way as being critical of the US government does not mean we are "unpatriotic."

     

    Moreover, it is important to point out, though it has been said repteatedly before, that there is a huge difference between religious beliefs and practices of the majority of Catholics and the institutional Catholic Church and the US Conference of Catholic Bishops.  We celebrate the diversity of religious traditions and affirm at every chance the rights of individuals to practice their faith and to follow their own beliefs and traditions.  We critique those who seek to impose on others– through laws and policies– their own religious values, or interpretations of what is "right" or "moral"

    In fact, there also is a huge diversity of religious, cultural, moral and ethical traditions represented on this site, and groups of people who do not share your views or those of the Catholic Church for example on, as one example, the personhood of zygotes.

    You have seen, and may well continue to see, reporting on and critique of the goals, policies, and involvement in legislation of the USCCB for the very reason that that body indeed works hard to limit the rights and health of women and others.

     

    And whenever there is a positive step toward non-discrimination, such as this one, we will happily report that too.

     

    Best wishes.

    Jodi 

  • catholictom

    Jodi, may God’s peace be with you.  Hey, I’m new to this blog and so am just looking around to see what’s here.

     

    First off, I am very pleased to see that the "we" (now is that RHRC or just who?) "are not anti-Catholic" and "are pro-human rights…"  That is excellent, I feel welcome already!  I am a bit confused though with your "pro self-determination in sex, sexuality and reproduction" phrase.  I’m not quite sure what that means.  Can you explain it to me? 

     

    You also mention that the US Conference of Catholic Bishops has "consistently and persistently worked as a body to limit women’s rights in health care reform".  Seems to me that they have been very vocal in their support of health care reform for all Americans-both men and women.  Now, you don’t actually come out and say it (and I’m not sure why), but are you suggesting that the Bishops have not been supportive enough of abortion?  Is that what you are trying to say without saying it?  Would you actually think for a minute that they would be supportive?  Is there a connection I am missing between health care and abortion?  Aren’t they mutually exclusive-one saves a life, one ends a life?

     

    Back to your pro-human rights manifesto.  Are you saying that you are pro-human and allowing of abortion, at the same time?  I don’t see how one can be both.  If the baby inside the mother’s womb is a human and it is allowed to be aborted, how does that fulfill the definition of pro-human rights?  I think you are missing a word in your phrase "personhood of zygotes".  Aren’t they all-each and every one of them-human zygotes, that become human fetuses, that become human children?

     

    Curious to hear your thoughts.

     

  • paul-bradford

    Jodi wants very much to believe that the ‘site is not anti-Catholic but I’m pretty regular at RHReality Check and I feel differently.  

     

    It’s kind of like this, Tom: suppose women regularly complained that a certain organization was anti-woman and, in response, the (male) president of the organization wrote a letter saying that the women were all wrong, that the organization simply told the truth about all people.  Who would you believe?  The man, or the women.

     

    When you find a Catholic who believes that this ‘site is fair to Catholics I’m going to be very surprised. 

     

    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • prochoiceferret

    Is there a connection I am missing between health care and abortion?

    Yes, there is. You are also completely missing the profound effects that pregnancy has on a woman’s body, and her physical and mental health—you know, the sorts of things that health care is supposed to address. If a pregnant woman does not want to subject her body to that, then that is very much a medical issue.

    Of course, it’s not surprising to see that you are male. People who do not have uteruses tend to think pregnancy is only slightly more of a hassle than walking around with a basketball under one’s shirt for nine months.

    Are you saying that you are pro-human and allowing of abortion, at the same time? I don’t see how one can be both. If the baby inside the mother’s womb is a human and it is allowed to be aborted, how does that fulfill the definition of pro-human rights?

    Because the mother is human, too—and the fetus does not have the right to take life support from her without her consent. No human does.

  • crowepps

    Paul, you yourself have stated that you disagree with your heirarchy/bishops and some of their positions, and as a consequence, there have been comments from other Catholics stating that you are "not a real Catholic".  I am pretty sure that you are not anti-Catholic, and it might be helpful to recognize that while some may be motivated by anti-Catholic sentiment, others are, just like yourself, commenting instead on the statements of the heirarchy about public policy and that they do not disagree because the statements come from Catholics but instead because they disagree with the content of the statements.

     

    I know I disagree just as strongly with similar statements being made by Evangelicals or Mormons or Ultraorthodox Jews or followers of Islam who want their particular religious tenets legislated and imposed on everyone, not because I am prejudiced against their faith but because religious freedom means the government should be restricted to laws with a compelling secular interest and it is inappropriate for people to highjack the law to legislate punishments upon either nonbelievers or their own laity/congregation for contraventions of religious doctrine.

     

    I have expressed how strongly I disapprove of the Church heirarchy’s position in the on-going revelations of the pedophile scandal and its resistance to providing compensation to the victims their actions created, but I really do not think that’s because of prejudice against the Catholic faith.

  • jodi-jacobson

    Dear Paul,

    Many, many of the contributing writers and analysts on RH Reality Check are Catholic, and many of them are regular contributors.  Public health data show that Catholic women in the United States rely on modern contraception and undergo abortions at the same rate as women of other faiths.  Many of our readers are indeed Catholic and recognize the difference between critiquing the politics and actions of the institutional Catholic Church (e.g. the Bishops, etc) and the Catholic faith.

    We cover issues having to do with the rights and freedom of all women (and men and LGBT persons) to enjoy safe, healthy, consensual sexual and reproductive lives.  We cover and will continue to cover the actions of governments and religious bodies in efforts to limit, or in their support for expanding, the rights and health of all persons.

     

    Jodi

  • catholictom

    Paul, thanks for the response.

     

    I’ll bide my time with this site and see what comes of it in determining if it is indeed "anti-Catholic".

     

    In the meantime, from the oxymoronic sound of your organization, Pro-Life Catholics for Choice, it sounds like you ironically may be "anti-Catholic".  What gives, Brother?  I think you have some explaining to do.

  • catholictom

    PCF, hello again!

     

    Yes, I am a man, a married man–who has spent a total of 45 months or so with my wife over the years as she carried and birthed our five children. 

     

    No, I have never felt a baby’s kick internally (only externally).  No, I do not know what it feels like to have all my organs shift around to make way for the increasing size of my uterus (but I have massaged someone who has).  No, I have never had to stop at gas stations three times in an hour while driving to go pee (just driven someone doing it).  No, I have never cried for no reason because my hormones were all out of whack (but I have held her in my arms).  And, no, I do not have the stretch marks to prove my motherhood (though I do find them sexy on my wife because they are nothing less than badges of honor)!  I suppose I have no idea what it is like to be pregnant, which renders my opinion invalid.

     

    So, what if all the "symptoms" of pregnancy and childbirth are pretty tough and painful and stressful and unpleasant?  Are any of those reason enough to kill your baby?  That would be the epitome of selfishness!  "Oh, man, my back is sore.  Away with you, Little One.  You’re a bother!"

     

    You amazingly say, "the fetus does not have the right to take life support from her without her consent."  What kind of cuckoo mumbo-jumbo is that!?  I cannot even comprehend what point you are trying to make with a callous statement like that.  Are you saying unborn babies have no rights and so we can do whatever we want with them unless they seek permission from his or her mother?  It sounds like you are describing the relationship between a leech and the unfortunate host it has attached to, not the eternal bond of a mother and child.  That’s cold and sick!

     

    I think we need to discuss some more.

     

     

  • paul-bradford

    What gives, Brother?

     

    Tom,

     

    One of the things people notice, when they read my posts, is that I strongly believe in a principle that seems to constitute the core of the Pro-Choice viewpoint.  Namely, I believe that no one has unrestricted authority over you and over your body.  Furthermore, I believe that the principle is reciprocal.  That is, I believe that you can’t take unrestricted authority over any one else or any one else’s body.  Other people are constrained to respect your human rights and human dignity, and you are constrained to respect their human rights and human dignity.

     

    I believe, emphatically, that none of us have the right to assert intrusive or destructive power over a pregnant woman’s body; but I believe just as strongly that no pregnant woman has the right to assert intrusive or destructive power over her unborn child’s body.  A woman may not procure an abortion — not because any human person or human organization has a claim of power over her body, but because her child has a claim of justice over her/his own body.

     

    I not only have a duty to respect your human rights and human dignity, but I also have a duty to protect your human rights and human dignity from assault by others.  Likewise, you have a duty to protect my human rights and human dignity.  I believe those principles are the soul of justice.

     

    Pro-Choice advocates want abortion to be safe, legal, convenient and affordable.  I believe that it is inappropriate for anyone to take steps that would make abortion unsafe, illegal, inconvenient or unaffordable.  I’m looking forward to a Culture of Life where women refrain from getting abortions, not because they can’t get them, but because they know they shouldn’t.  

     

    I’m happy to tell anyone reading this post that you have a duty to stand up for the rights and dignity of every member of the human family — including me, and including the unborn.

     

    Does that explain it for you? 

     

    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • austinruse

    This was hardly a “breakthrough”. That the Church condemns unjust discrimination against homosexuals is in the Universal Catechism. Please note though that the Church teaches there is such a thing as just discrimination, ie, against homosexuals marrying and adopting etc.

    And it is hardly news that the Church condemns the killing of homosexuals for being or acting homosexual. The Church made such a statement a year ago in light of the French attempt at the UN to make gender identity and sexual orientation new categories of discrimination in human rights instruments.

    so, your post…not news….

    Best,

    Austin Ruse
    President
    C-FAM

  • paul-bradford

    crowepps, Jodi, Frances,

     

    I don’t expect any of you to agree with everything that is said and done by the clergy or the episcopacy any more that I agree with everything that is said and done by the clergy or the episcopacy.  You do the Church a favor when you shed light on instances where a member of the Church is not following the Church’s own principles.  All that is good.  I thank God that you care enough to do that.

     

    What I’ve noticed, though, is that many on this ‘site demonize the Church.  I’ve noticed that many people on this ‘site take an unrealistic and disrespectful view of the Church in general.

     

    Your mission is to advocate for reproductive health, but you behave as if the Church is your enemy.  The Church cares about maternal mortality and morbidity, the Church cares about breast cancer and uterine cancer and testicular cancer,  the Church cares about quality OB/GYN care, the Church cares about preventing unwanted pregnancy and STI’s, the Church cares about ministering to those who are unfortunate enough to have an unwanted pregnancy or an STI.  What’s more, the Church demonstrates her care by the way she behaves.  

     

    I notice many, many angry people here who are in complete denial about the good the Church does.  I also notice attitudes that are entirely dismissive rather than attempts at engagement in respectful and productive dialogue. 

     

    some may be motivated by anti-Catholic sentiment

     

    Ya think?  Look, I believe in the power of self-reflection.  I would like the people here to consider the possibility that there’s a teensy weensy chance that I might be on to something and that you might do well to investigate whether the misogynistic, authoritarian, corrupt caricature of the Church that you carry around in your head is in need of some modification.

     

     

    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • paul-bradford

    religious freedom means the government should be restricted to laws with a compelling secular interest and it is inappropriate for people to highjack the law to legislate punishments upon either nonbelievers or their own laity/congregation for contraventions of religious doctrine.

     

    crowepps,

     

    I find nothing to disagree with in your statement.  What I do disagree about is the mistaken attitude that Catholics (or non-Catholics) who stand up for the rights of the very young are trying to hijack the law to religious doctrine.

     

    The only ‘doctrine’ that we have to consider is the doctrine that people should treat people like people.  I feel entirely comfortable ‘imposing’ that doctrine on non-Catholics, non-Christians and nonbelievers.  We all have the right to the free expression of religion — but we don’t have the right to practice amorality.  The society collapses if we tolerate amorality.  We must all buy into an understanding of human rights and the right to life has to be included in those rights.

     

    The history of humanity is full of stories about people pushing other people’s rights into the shadows in order to get what they want.  The story of human progress is the story of people shedding light on these injustices and correcting them.  That applies to every religion or no religion. 

     

    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • mechashiva

    We only have the rights that the government grants us, Tom. Rights are a social construct. You may think that fetuses have a right to be gestated, regardless of what the mother wants, but society and the government disagree. As of right now, fetuses have rights after they are considered viable outside the womb (currently 24 weeks of gestation is what we consider viable). Prior to that, the woman has the right to decide whether or not to gestate, no questions asked. Following the point of viability she has that right in limited circumstances.

     

    There is no such thing as the "eternal bond of a mother and child." That should be evident by the sheer percentage of American women who have abortions at some point in their lifetime (44% according to the latest stats from the Guttmacher institute). It should also be evident in the number of children given up for adoption, or who are taken from their mothers (and fathers) due to neglect or abuse. Some women do not bond during pregnancy or with their newborns for months and require intensive counseling to begin feeling motherly.

     

    Pregnancy is not mystical. There is more to its risks than mood-swings and stretch-marks. There is more to motherhood than warm fuzzy feelings. There are practical concerns to measure in deciding whether or not to gestate. Call it cold if you want, but that’s reality.

  • prochoiceferret

    So, what if all the "symptoms" of pregnancy and childbirth are pretty tough and painful and stressful and unpleasant? Are any of those reason enough to kill your baby? That would be the epitome of selfishness! "Oh, man, my back is sore. Away with you, Little One. You’re a bother!"

    The physical ordeal of pregnancy, when undesired, is not a "reason" to "kill your baby." It is a reason to remove the fetus from the woman’s body, in as safe a manner as possible, so that it no longer impacts her health. It’s not surprising that you consider women looking after their own health—including the desire not to potentially DIE in complications related to childbirth—to be "selfish."

    You amazingly say, "the fetus does not have the right to take life support from her without her consent." What kind of cuckoo mumbo-jumbo is that!? I cannot even comprehend what point you are trying to make with a callous statement like that.

    Women have the right to control their own bodies! They don’t have to automatically submit to the patriarchal demand that they carry pregnancies to term! Pretty mind-blowing, eh? I’ll bet this is how 19th-century patricians felt when activists suggested that women should have the right to vote. You’re feeling history!

    Are you saying unborn babies have no rights and so we can do whatever we want with them unless they seek permission from his or her mother?

    A fetus, in and of itself, does not have any legally-assigned rights. And even if it did, the mother has rights, too, including the right to control her own body. And even if the fetus were a thinking, feeling, legal-person human being just like you, the woman still has the right to have it removed—because NO ONE has the right to use the bodily resources of another to stay alive.

    It sounds like you are describing the relationship between a leech and the unfortunate host it has attached to, not the eternal bond of a mother and child.

    If a woman is pregnant, and she doesn’t want to be, the relationship is a lot more like a leech and a host than "the eternal bond of a mother and child."

  • julie-watkins

    "not people". Rather, there are lots of people who want to treat pregnant people as "community property". I know you don’t support laws about abortion; you are trying to convince "parents" to treat their "children" better. However, I’m going write about laws because that shows how society as a whole treats women as "not people" if they are pregnant.

     

    Too many TRAP laws are passed for the sake of the fetus on the basis that only the mother can give her/him life. I can think of other cases where people are going to die, and someone else has the biological resources to save him/her. There’s no legislation in the USA or any other country I know of that will force anyone to donate a kidney, part of a liver, or even blood to another person, even if they’re the "only match".

     

     

    On this basis I claim "my body my choice". I believe giving birth is a gift, not a moral obligation — and on the basis of lack of laws concerning obligatory organ or blood donation, I think society agrees with me: people always have a choice. My aggravation is that there are laws treat pregnant women as "not people". Even dead people are still people! Unless there’s prior authorization, the default is "bury/burn me whole".

     

    Since Nature is sexist, since society (for centuries/millennia) has been sexist & classist, reproductive choice (without attempted legal or societal coercion) is a necessary counter if women are equal to men; if there is not to be different laws for rich and poor.

     

    The history of humanity is full of stories about men treating women and children and poor people as "property" in order to get what they want. Paul, what you write is within a long tradition of people in power (or people working for the benefit of the hierarchy, even if they don’t like to think they are) telling women and poor people what’s moral & what’s selfish … usually to the eventual benefit of the kings & landlords more than the women and poor people.

  • crowepps

    Your mission is to advocate for reproductive health, but you behave as if the Church is your enemy.  The Church cares about maternal mortality and morbidity, the Church cares about breast cancer and uterine cancer and testicular cancer,  the Church cares about quality OB/GYN care, the Church cares about preventing unwanted pregnancy and STI’s, the Church cares about ministering to those who are unfortunate enough to have an unwanted pregnancy or an STI.  What’s more, the Church demonstrates her care by the way she behaves.  

    It doesn’t impress me in the least that the Church "cares about" all those things when the demonstrations in actual fact are exemplified by declarations like 9-year old  girls should die if they become pregnant after incestuous sexual abuse, women suffering pregnancy complications should pray instead of accepting medical help to save their lives, women whose husband’s have HIV aren’t ‘submitting to God’s will’ unless they permit sex that will infect them, and the only way to prevent unwanted pregnancy and STD’s is virginity/marriage.

     

  • crowepps

    I notice many, many angry people here who are in complete denial about the good the Church does.

    I did a lot of work last year on a case in which a man had been having sex with his stepdaughter since she was seven years old.  His family and his wife talked a lot about all the good the man did, and what a great provider he was.  The jury sent him to jail anyway.

     

    You cannot use ‘the good the Church does’ to obliterate ‘the bad the Church does’ as though the one excuses or even balances the other.  It sounds just great to point proudly to the schools and orphanages that the Church sponsors until you peek behind the door and see that the price those children paid for that ‘good’ was physical and sexual abuse.  It sounds just great to point proudly to the clinics and hospitals that the Church sponsors until you realize that their policies impose Church policies in ways that kill women by restricting the care available (ie: refusing tubal ligations when it’s physically dangerous for women to become pregnant).

  • paul-bradford

    Paul, what you write is within a long tradition of people in power (or people working for the benefit of the hierarchy, even if they don’t like to think they are) telling women and poor people what’s moral & what’s selfish … usually to the eventual benefit of the kings & landlords more than the women and poor people.

     

    Julie,

     

    I think we’re making progress.  I’m in full agreement with you that there’s a long sad tradition of people in power paying lip service to morality and of twisting moral precepts in a way that tricks powerless people into doing things that are against their own interests (and in the interests of those in power.)  I’m also in agreement with you that men in power have often worked to keep women OUT of power by imposing a twisted idea of a woman’s moral responsibilities.  An idea that doesn’t serve the interests of justice; but, instead, serves the interests of powerful men.

     

    People who try to twist morality around to satisfy their desire for power are doing something that is profoundly immoral and people who buy into their twisted idea of morality suffer greatly for being deceived.  The only way a person can know real joy is by adhering to true moral precepts and what usually keeps people from perceiving true morality isn’t immorality but twisted morality.

     

    The best favor you can do for yourself is to reject falsehood and embrace truth.  My suggestion to you is this: falsehoods that are in complete opposition to the truth aren’t too dangerous because they’re easy to spot and reject.  The dangerous falsehoods are the ones that are oh so close to being true.  Those are the ones that can really get you into trouble! 

     

    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • crowepps

    The only ‘doctrine’ that we have to consider is the doctrine that people should treat people like people.

    The opinion that a single cell is a ‘person’ is a religious doctrine.  If you are arguing ‘equality of persons’ that would disqualify giving ‘special rights’ to that single cell by allowing it to invade the body of another person, highjack that persons resources, and weaken, impair, disable or even kill.

  • crowepps

    The best favor you can do for yourself is to reject falsehood and embrace truth.  My suggestion to you is this: falsehoods that are in complete opposition to the truth aren’t too dangerous because they’re easy to spot and reject.  The dangerous falsehoods are the ones that are oh so close to being true.  Those are the ones that can really get you into trouble! 

    But, Paul, this is precisely why I reject your assertion that a zygote is a "person".  It is "oh so close to being true" and yet demonstrably false.

  • paul-bradford

    But, Paul, this is precisely why I reject your assertion that a zygote is a "person". It is "oh so close to being true" and yet demonstrably false.

     

    crowepps,

     

    I commend you for staying with me in our long-term discussion about the personhood of the unborn.  It really matters to know what is true and what is "oh so close to being true".

     

    As far as I understand it, you’ve decided that my assertion of the personhood of zygotes is "demonstrably false" because there are some fertilized eggs that can not possibly develop normally and also because a very high percentage of zygotes, even if they appear to be normal, never implant.  You have also brought up the example of molar pregnancies on several occasions.  I ‘m of the opinion that we haven’t reached the end of our discussion. 

     

    I assert that anyone who has a living human body is a person.  In my case (or in the case of anyone who has survived to birth) the living human body that qualifies me to be a person is the same living human body as the zygote that was formed at my conception.  The zygote/blastocyst that once was my body actually did implant (fortunately for me!) and I was able to demonstrate an ability to develop normally.  The fact that I had a living human body when I was a zygote is proven by the fact that that I have a living human body now.

     

    All living human bodies began as zygotes, but are all zygotes living human bodies?  My answer to that is to say that a living human body is that which can do what a living human body can do.  We know a lot about the behavior that you and I demonstrated when we were zygotes.  I would have to say that any zygote capable of that kind of behavior is a living human body.  A fertilized egg with ‘scrambled DNA’ isn’t capable of behaving the way other human bodies behaved when they were zygotes.

     

    Some living human bodies start off well but eventually run into problems.  When such a body stops behaving like a living human body and starts to behave like a cancerous growth (such as is the case in a molar pregnancy) it ceases to be a living human body.

     

    It’s my understanding that most zygote/blastocysts that fail to implant were actually behaving like living human bodies until that failure.  I consider them to be persons who died young.  Actuarial specialists who develop life tables can determine a mortality rate for any cohort (age group) of people.  There is a mortality rate for people in the zygote/blastocyst cohort.  I don’t think that the members of any cohort are disqualified from personhood on the grounds that the cohort’s mortality rate is too high.

     

    So, my understanding is that some zygotes were never living human bodies, some were living human bodies that developed into cancers, and some were living human bodies that died prematurely.  Obviously, some zygotes grow up to be court reporters or mental health clinicians.

     

    If you’ve got a living human body I will treat you as a person, and I will continue treating you as a person as long as you continue to have a living human body.  Zygotes generally qualify as living human bodies and I consider them persons.  When an egg develops into a cell with scrambled DNA after it is fertilized it never qualifies as a living human body.  Whether it becomes a zygote or not is a question for an expert in bio-classification.  Those cells are not persons.

     

    The opinion that a single cell is a ‘person’ is a religious doctrine.

     

    The opinion that God wants us to be just and gives us the grace necessary to fulfill Her (or, if you must, His) will is a religious doctrine.  The knowledge of what constitutes just behavior can be discerned by people of any religion or no religion.  The fact that all persons deserve to be treated justly is axiomatic.  The opinion that a single cell is a person depends upon whether you believe that that single cell is a living human body.  I believe that we can arrive at an answer to that through the use of reason.  It’s not necessary to adopt the doctrines of any particular religion. 

     

    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • emma

    I’m glad to see this. Sad that I was actually surprised that the church hierarchy condemning the laws proposed in Uganda, though. Perhaps they could follow this with a condemnation about sexism in all forms and endorse contraception – the latter was recommended during the second Vatican council, was it not?

     

    Paul, as I’ve attempted to make clear in the past, I don’t dislike Catholic people, but I really despise the hierarchy of your church. Could be worse, though: they could be Pentecostals.

     

    It’s true, though, that I don’t have a great deal of respect for people’s religious beliefs, much as I have little respect for ‘fiscal conservatism’. I don’t have any respect for this zygote personhood thing, either; I don’t care how deeply held a religious belief it might be.

  • colleen

     I’m looking forward to a Culture of Life where women refrain from
    getting abortions, not because they can’t get them, but because they
    know they shouldn’t. 

     
    Do you think that if all women were as stupid, submissive and self abnegating as you would like us to be you might manage to obsess on something else?

    The only difference between the American anti-abortion movement and the Taliban is about 8,000 miles.

    Dr Warren Hern, MD

  • crowepps

    The opinion that God wants us to be just and gives us the grace necessary to fulfill Her (or, if you must, His) will is a religious doctrine.  

    Also demonstrably false since those failures of reproduction that you acknowledge appear consistently in all populations irrespective of the character or circumstances of the women in which they occur, not only devastating the zygote population but badly hurting or even killing women.  The resistence of ‘religious leaders’ to appropriate medical care for the women suffering those failures is based in the same doctrine – if God is ‘just’ then any failures to "fulfill His Will" must be the fault of the women themselves because they didn’t have enough ‘faith’.

     

    The circularity and failure to acknowledge reality of the argument is simply stunning.  This is a biological process with a high failure rate for zygotes/blastocysts/embros.  Killing or maiming women because of a requirement to wait for the ZBE’s ‘natural death’ before intervening is both illogical and inhumane, but carrying it further and blaming the victim for failing to attain ‘grace’ is an abomination only a religion could conceive.

  • crowepps

    So it’s not okay to actually kill them, but it’s okay to make them as miserable as possible?

  • crowepps

    If you’ve got a living human body I will treat you as a person, and I will continue treating you as a person as long as you continue to have a living human body.  Zygotes generally qualify as living human bodies and I consider them persons.  When an egg develops into a cell with scrambled DNA after it is fertilized it never qualifies as a living human body.  Whether it becomes a zygote or not is a question for an expert in bio-classification.  Those cells are not persons.

    Now that we’re in agreement that some zygotes never have the capacity to become persons, I will agree with you that some zygotes eventually do become persons.  I believe this happens much farther along in the process of reproduction than you do and depends on the development of a body and brain that allow both independent life and cognition.

     

    As I understand your basic argument, it is that justice requires that people all be treated exactly the same, EXCEPT that there is a unique exception for the zygote, who has a special entitlement to highjack the body of another person and place that person’s entire self in involuntary servitude as long as necessary.  Which is it?  Equality or Justice?

  • paul-bradford

    if God is ‘just’ then any failures to "fulfill His Will" must be the fault of the women themselves because they didn’t have enough ‘faith’.

     

    Why is it the "fault of the women themselves"?  In fact, what’s the point of zeroing in on ‘fault’?  We’re losing children, and that’s not just.  I keep trying to get you to redirect your attention away from an examination of who’s lack of faith caused the loss and, instead, try to think about how faith can turn things around.  Not just faith on the part of women, but faith on the part of the citizenry.  Look at health care (for example).  Here in the U.S., we’re currently moving closer to making an enormous step toward bringing everyone on board for health care.  You don’t think that takes faith???  Don’t you think that Sen. Kennedy showed oceans of faith over decades of frustration (and there were others besides Kennedy but we’ll use him as an example)?  Certainly better health care will result in fewer lost children.  Mothers weren’t going to bring about health care reform by themselves.

     

    We could lower the mortality rate of the unborn.  I deeply, deeply, deeply believe this.  My faith counts for something.  We’re not simply relying on the faith of mothers.  Your faith counts for something too — but I question whether your ‘on board’ for lowering the rate. 

     

    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • paul-bradford

    I will agree with you that some zygotes eventually do become persons. I believe this happens much farther along in the process of reproduction than you do and depends on the development of a body and brain that allow both independent life and cognition.

     

    crowepps,

     

    You’ve put your finger on our disagreement.  I don’t think viability or cognition are necessary for personhood.  I don’t think that zygotes ‘become’ persons, I think that they ‘are’ persons and that these persons (hopefully) become capable of viability and cognition. 

     

    Few, if any, victims of abortion feel pain or understand death.  Their rights are violated even though they can’t comprehend what that means.  I contend that we have to respect everyone’s rights — not just the rights of people who understand their rights.

     

    there is a unique exception for the zygote, who has a special entitlement to highjack the body of another person and place that person’s entire self in involuntary servitude as long as necessary.

     

    You’ve had enough conversations with me to know that I don’t think it would be enough for women to alter the way they view pregnancy.  In order to protect the unborn women (and men) will have to alter the way they view sex.  A woman’s motivation to avoid unwanted pregnancy should not be limited to a disinclination to carry an unwanted child to term, or her fear of an unsafe/illegal abortion.  Her desire not to end the life of a child has to be present before she determines the conditions under which she will agree to have sex.

     

    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • crowepps

     

     

    I deeply, deeply, deeply believe this.  My faith counts for something.

    It doesn’t matter what you ‘believe’ and, no, your faith actually doesn’t change anything whatsoever.  That was my entire point. 

     

    The superstition that ‘faith counts for something’ or that faith has any effect on reality which changes things is precisely the underlying motivator behind the stigma which labels and blames women who suffer poor outcomes as ‘lacking faith’.

    Your faith counts for something too — but I question whether your ‘on board’ for lowering the rate. 

    This sort of passive-aggressive statement with its implicit ‘my approval will be withheld until you prove you’re worthy’ and its total misunderstanding of the value of ‘belief’ is really, really irritating.  Your implication that people who don’t ‘care’ in the exact same way that you do must want to sustain the present levels of or even promote more abortion is not only illogical, it’s negative labeling useful in allowing you to avoid responding to other people’s statements of fact.

  • julie-watkins

     

    I found your response confusing. You start by saying you agree with part of what I said (about "desire for power") … but then go off on a tangent about "dangerous falsehoods". I think you’re referring to my contention that "it’s a choice not a child" is moral, as a corrective Nature’s Sexism. Here’s something you wrote in reply to someone else which I consider (trying to) "enforce Nature’s Sexism" (emphasis added):

     

    In order to protect the unborn women (and men) will have to alter the way they view sex. A woman’s motivation to avoid unwanted pregnancy should not be limited to a disinclination to carry an unwanted child to term, or her fear of an unsafe/illegal abortion. Her desire not to end the life of a child has to be present before she determines the conditions under which she will agree to have sex.

     

    I think, because of your view of Justice, you have these strong imperatives as goals for what you want to encourage "parents" to think and how to act. Unfortunately, you can’t insist on Justice for the ZBEFs without taking Justice away from Women and the Poor. It’s not "Justice" to insist that it’s profoundly immoral to seek a corrective to an unfair situation. There is a problem with Nature’s sexism, because women become pregnant when they don’t want to be, even when contraception is used. Then there is a problem when societies try to take advantage of that and there’s sexist/classist laws and social coercion that treat pregnant women as "not people" by interfering for the benefit of the ZBEF. In effect this is treating ZBEF’s as people by treating the host women as less-than-people. (See my frequent citation of a lack of laws/coercion to demand blood donations, or organ donations (whether dead or alive).) I’ll take your has to above and reiterate my imperative: Abortion a conditional "problem" — so long as the greater ethical problem of women’s oppression and classist oppression of the poor exist, the problem of an unwanted fetus ethically has to be decided by the woman and her chosen advisors. Or it’s added injustice to women and poor families.

     

  • paul-bradford

    This sort of passive-aggressive statement with its implicit ‘my approval will be withheld until you prove you’re worthy’ and its total misunderstanding of the value of ‘belief’ is really, really irritating. Your implication that people who don’t ‘care’ in the exact same way that you do must want to sustain the present levels of or even promote more abortion is not only illogical, it’s negative labeling useful in allowing you to avoid responding to other people’s statements of fact.

     

    crowepps,

     

    I have much more good will to you than you imagine.  Let’s forget what we assume about each other or about what we assume about each other’s character based on what we assume about each other and let me ask you a simple question.

     

    Is it important to you that we lower the abortion rate?  If so, why? 

     

    I will answer the question I’ve just posed:

     

    It’s important to me that we lower the abortion rate because I believe that, in the overwhelming majority of cases, an abortion represents a preventable death.  Avoiding preventable deaths due to abortion is every bit as important to me as avoiding preventable deaths due to a lack of health care, hunger, AIDS, traffic accidents, smoking, drugs, medical malpractice or anything else that causes a death that ought to have been avoided. 

     

    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • paul-bradford

    Julie,

     

    I was thinking, just today, that the person who bases his good fortune on the exploitation of others is always going to be anxious.  That’s because, eventually, injustices are always addressed — and the person who’s invested in propping up injustice is sure to see his good fortune collapse in the end. 

     

    Women have an absolute, bona fide, ‘sexism of nature’ problem — and that problem is unwanted pregnancy.  As you know, I regularly point out that even though mothers endure the brunt of this problem, the rest of us are also affected by an unwanted pregnancy.  Partners are affected, families are affected, and the society is affected.  Liberal attitudes toward abortion tempt women into thinking that they have immunity from this age-old problem — but the "immunity" comes at the cost of exploiting the weakest of the weak.  Thus, the chronic anxiety.

     

    so long as the greater ethical problem of women’s oppression and classist oppression of the poor exist, the problem of an unwanted fetus ethically has to be decided by the woman and her chosen advisors. Or it’s added injustice to women and poor families.

     

    The ethical problem of how to treat an unwanted fetus can be decided by the mother, by her chosen advisors, by the Supreme Court, by the state legislature or by the Queen of England.  More important than who decides is what is decided.  If the decision is just, we can all have confidence in it.  If the decision is unjust, it will eventually unravel.

     

    Your point is that one injustice justifies another.  That won’t cut it.  You say, "It’s not ‘Justice’ to insist that it’s profoundly immoral to seek a corrective to an unfair situation."  You misread me.  I say that it is not only moral, but obligatory, to seek a corrective to an unfair situation — and it’s completely reasonable to characterize the problem of unwanted pregnancy as an ‘unfair situation’.  My continual calls for protecting women from unwanted pregnancy and for offering assistance to mothers trapped by an unwanted pregnancy are my own attempts to ‘seek a corrective’.

     

    It’s moral to seek a corrective, but it’s not moral to accept an immoral corrective. 

     

    I want to ask you, Julie, why you think I keep drawing attention to the injustice of abortion.  I do it because I believe we all have a duty to stand up for each other’s rights and it’s obvious to me that the rights of the very young are being violently abused.  I draw this matter to your attention irrespective of whether or not you are likely to be faced with an unwanted pregnancy in the future.  You, too, have a duty to stand up for the rights of the very young.

     

    Your position baffles me because it’s clear to me that you’re sincere when you stand up for the rights of the poor and for the rights of females.  You’ve heard me say this before but compassion knows no discrimination.  If you make it your business to be "your sister’s keeper" you need to look after your sisters who are waiting to be born. 

     

    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • crowepps

    I believe that lowering the abortion rate is important for a number of reasons.  It is a medical procedure which carries a slight risk of harmful complications, it diverts a portion of the health care resource that could be better spent somewhere else, it leaves the patients at risk of stigma and shaming, and much of the demand for abortion is a direct result of the shameful attempts to control the sexuality of girls/women by restricting their access to accurate information about how their own bodies work because neo-Puritans believe sex is ‘impurity’ and Authoritarians believe the uterus should be theirs to command.

  • julie-watkins

    Who’s "invested" in women being default servants? Even when women were still property, when they didn’t have rights men had there were uncounted men documenting and lecturing how many ways women were dangerous and inferior … and they kept having to teach and hammer in it in because enough uppitty women pushed back to cause trouble, even though those women had many disadvantages. It was in the best interest of the hierarchy to keep women (& poor people) in their place so the people on top could continue their entitlement behavior, because, of course, they feel so entitled.

     

    Your response to my question about why it’s immoral to want to change the rules when the rules are unfair is that one unjustice can’t justify another — but it’s your definition of the rules that causes the unjustice. You’re using circular logic.

     

    Have you addressed the contradiction that although there are laws and coercion against pregnant women, there aren’t laws and coercion forcing blood or organ donation (dead or alive)? If you have, I don’t remember your response. In general, "people" can’t be forced, … so pregnant women are being treated as "not people". They’re being treated as community property — which is why, as someone else complained today, it’s a common experience of visibly pregnant women that total strangers will presume to feel their bellies. Societies, in general, have decided (since there aren’t laws or proposals for laws) that "people" can’t be forced. For that reason I believe accepting a pregnancy and attempting to take it to term is a gift, not an obligation. I don’t think that’s circular logic on my part.

     

    If my position "baffles" you, it’s not unusual for our conversations. When you try to shame me by asking me to consider my unborn sisters, I’m just hearing more of the same-old same-old misogyny of past history repeating itself. Another observation about being anxious: when you said that I was trying to "make women gods — and truly awful gods at that". (see: http://www.rhrealitycheck.org/comment/reply/11881/32750, or (mor permanent link http://www.rhrealitycheck.org/blog/2009/11/20/the-real-victims-stupakpitts ) I think I must have more than baffled you that you spoke more candily than usual.

     

  • crowepps

    Even when women were still property, when they didn’t have rights men had there were uncounted men documenting and lecturing how many ways women were dangerous and inferior … and they kept having to teach and hammer in it in because enough uppitty women pushed back to cause trouble, even though those women had many disadvantages. It was in the best interest of the hierarchy to keep women (& poor people) in their place so the people on top could continue their entitlement behavior, because, of course, they feel so entitled.

    The problem with balancing a heirarchy on the precarious point on a pyramid of the inferior, is that the balance is extremely unstable.  The harder you shove down, the more disadvantaged and oppressed and miserable the base becomes, the more worried the ‘elite’ become.  Historically I don’t think the ‘elite’ are shown to mistreat their ‘inferiors’ because of entitlement but because they are absolutely TERRIFIED that there will be a revolt.

     

    That theory certainly might explain the screams of anguish over how women are getting ‘out of control’, refusing to support men’s inappropriate ideas about what they are entitled to in the way of ‘respect’, avoiding marriage and accepting a ‘master’, refusing to carry pregnancies to term, failing to have enough children so that soldiers will be available to defend and a tax base will be available to support the elite in their old age.  Frankly, I’ve seen quite a bit of those who consider themselves our ‘elite’ and of the culture they believe should be preserved; they richly deserve to be overthrown and their culture should end up on the dustbin of history with the other inequitable power schemes.