This list only scratches the surface. 2012 was a great, very busy year!
We're taking New Year's Eve off. See you all in 2013!
With all this high-profile atheism in mind, it might come as something of a surprise to learn what sort of tree [Sam] Harris has sitting in his living room right now. Let’s just say that it is not a ficus, that it tapers to a little peak practically begging for a star and that it is currently sporting some lovely ornaments on its branches.In past years the Christmas season has been tricky for me to address on the blog. But by golly, if it's good enough for Harris and Dawkins, it's good enough for me! So whether you are celebrating the birth of your lord and savior, or just enjoying a time of love, peace, and gift-giving with your family and friends: Secular Pro-Life wishes you all a very happy holiday, and safe travels. We'll be back on Wednesday.
In a recent phone interview, Mr. Harris explained that as a “full-time infidel” these days, with book-tour and speaking duties, he didn’t have time to pick out his Christmas tree personally. And it was really not his idea but a result “of a lost tug of war with my wife,” who likes Christmas trappings and insisted on buying it. But he added that his reluctance “was good-natured all the while.”
In other words, he is a having a (relatively) holly, jolly atheistic Christmas, one that will include presents and a big family party. And Mr. Harris, who was raised by a Jewish mother and a Quaker father, sees no glaring contradiction in doing so, at least not one he feels the need to spend much time thinking about.
“It seems to me to be obvious that everything we value in Christmas — giving gifts, celebrating the holiday with our families, enjoying all of the kitsch that comes along with it — all of that has been entirely appropriated by the secular world,” he said, “in the same way that Thanksgiving and Halloween have been.”
[Richard] Dawkins, reached by e-mail somewhere on a book tour, was asked about his own Christmas philosophy. The response sounded almost as if he and Mr. Harris — and maybe other members of a soon-to-be-chartered Atheists Who Kind of Don’t Object to Christmas Club — had hashed out a statement of principles. Strangely, these principles find much common ground with Christians who complain about the holiday’s over-commercialization and secularization, though the atheists bemoan the former and appreciate the latter.
“Presumably your reason for asking me is that ‘The God Delusion’ is an atheistic book, and you still think of Christmas as a religious festival,” Mr. Dawkins wrote, in a reply printed here in its entirety. “But of course it has long since ceased to be a religious festival. I participate for family reasons, with a reluctance that owes more to aesthetics than atheistics. I detest Jingle Bells, White Christmas, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, and the obscene spending bonanza that nowadays seems to occupy not just December, but November and much of October, too.”
He added: “So divorced has Christmas become from religion that I find no necessity to bother with euphemisms such as happy holiday season. In the same way as many of my friends call themselves Jewish atheists, I acknowledge that I come from Christian cultural roots. I am a post-Christian atheist. So, understanding full well that the phrase retains zero religious significance, I unhesitatingly wish everyone a Merry Christmas.”
Such obliging feelings toward Christmas will undoubtedly serve as another piece of evidence for those like [Bill] O’Reilly and conservative Christians who feel that the holiday has been hijacked — so much so that even atheists are now comfortable getting into the spirit. But to listen to Mr. Harris and other nonbelieving Christmas celebrators, you sometimes get the feeling that their accommodation stems from the fact that Christmas — no matter how religious it still is or is not — has become such a juggernaut that it is simply impossible to ignore entirely. So why not grin, bear it and have yourself a double eggnog?
In 2008, however, abortionist Lisa Harris endeavored to begin “breaking the silence” in the pages of the journal Reproductive Health Matters. When she herself was 18 weeks pregnant, Dr. Harris performed a D&E abortion on an 18-week-old fetus. Harris felt her own child kick precisely at the moment that she ripped a fetal leg off with her forceps:
"Instantly, tears were streaming from my eyes—without me—meaning my conscious brain—even being aware of what was going on. I felt as if my response had come entirely from my body, bypassing my usual cognitive processing completely. A message seemed to travel from my hand and my uterus to my tear ducts. It was an overwhelming feeling—a brutally visceral response—heartfelt and unmediated by my training or my feminist pro-choice politics. It was one of the more raw moments in my life."Harris concluded her piece by lamenting that the pro-choice movement has left providers to suffer in silence because it has “not owned up to the reality of the fetus, or the reality of fetal parts.”
Doctors (and, in some states, advanced practice clinicians) continue to offer abortion care because deeply held, core ethical beliefs compel them to do so. They see women's reproductive autonomy as the linchpin of full personhood and self-determination, or they believe that women themselves best understand the life contexts in which childbearing decisions are made, or they value the health of a woman more than the potential life of a fetus, among other reasons. [Emphasis added.]To be fair, in this passage Harris is describing reasons and perspectives given by other abortion providers besides herself. Even so, it's very frustrating that the same person who has called for the pro-choice movement to own up to "the reality of the fetus" continues to use phrases like "potential life."
[I]t is time for this policy to end, not to be replaced by a ‘two-child policy’ as some of your advisors may be suggesting, but to be eradicated from the face of the earth because it has caused more violence toward women and girls than any other official policy on earth, and any other official policy in the history of the world by coercively preventing more than 400 million births through forced abortions, sterilizations, confiscatory fines, and infanticide – all in violation of international norms.
Human Rights Day commemorates the day on which the UN adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, but for us, it must be a reminder that there is a war on human rights, a war in which some seek to advance false human rights (such as abortion) at the expense of true human rights (the right to life). On Human Rights Day, we should pause to note the irony that treaties purporting to help women, children, and people with disabilities would be used to promote abortion.
But critics question whether the facilities encourage teens to engage in risky sexual activity by providing a safety net on the taxpayers' dime. . . . Arthur Purves, president of the Fairfax County Taxpayers Alliance, said local and state governments send the wrong message by cutting costs for teen parents.
"We're subsidizing and encouraging out-of-wedlock births," Purves said. "It encourages a large class of people who are totally dependent on the government."I highly doubt that the program encourages teens to have unprotected sex. High school students generally do not get pregnant on purpose. They do not say to themselves, "Gee, free day care-- what a great opportunity for me to get knocked up at the age of 16!"
In 2008, teen childbearing cost taxpayers at least $10.9 billion, according to the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy. But many of these costs . . . are canceled out when teens obtain an education and support their families, according to school officials who have watched it happen firsthand.More important, such programs save human lives.
In October a divided panel of Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals judges upheld the state's law restricting the use of RU-486 as a constitutional restriction to a woman's right to access abortion. Late last week the full Sixth Circuit denied Planned Parenthood's request to overturn that October ruling, leaving in place the panel decision and upholding, likely permanently, the state's restrictions on medical abortions.
The law at issue, HB 126, was first passed in 2004, and regulates and restricts the use of mifepristone by requiring that it can only be administered in the same exact dosage as approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2000 and further restricts the use of mifepristone to the first seven weeks of pregnancy. After the seventh week of pregnancy the law criminalizes the use and administration of the drug.The article goes on to point out:
The ruling is a significant one because it is the first federal appellate decision to rule on the constitutionality of laws restricting the use of RU-486. And while not binding on jurisdictions outside of the Sixth Circuit, which encompasses Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee, other courts that have similar legal challenges to similar restrictions pending, like the Oklahoma Supreme Court, could look to the decision for persuasive authority and decide to follow it.
The Oklahoma Supreme Court today overturned an Oklahoma law intended to ensure the safe use of abortion-inducing drugs, such as RU-486. The law, enacted in 2011 and based upon an AUL model, simply required that abortion providers administer the drugs in the manner approved by the FDA.The state’s interest in enacting such a law was clear: Since RU-486 was approved in 2000, thousands of women have faced complications, many life-threatening. Both the FDA and the drug manufacturer have acknowledged the substantial risk of complications following use. Fourteen women have died. Eight of those women died of a severe bacterial infection that would not otherwise harm healthy women. All eight of those women were instructed to use the drugs in a manner that directly contravened the approved FDA protocol.On the other hand, no women have died from bacterial infection after using RU-486 in the manner approved by the FDA.With that in mind, Oklahoma adopted a law aimed at ensuring that RU-486 and other abortion-inducing drugs are administered only in the way approved by the FDA. Rather than allowing providers to hand out dangerous drugs and send women home to self-administer away from physician oversight and beyond the gestational limit approved by the FDA, the law required that physicians examine women before administering the drugs and instructed that the drugs be administered in a clinical setting within the gestational limit approved by the FDA.