A man gives birth?

Well, a transgendered man, one who used to be a woman.  And evidently still is:

The man, who is believed to be in his 30s, was able to carry a child after taking female hormones to reverse the effects of his female-to-male sex change treatment.

The Daily Telegraph understands that the man, whose identity has not been diclosed, is from the West Midlands and is in a long-term relationship. It is not clear whether his partner is male or female.

Last night medical ethics experts called for a full inquiry into the issues surrounding transgender births, saying the interests of the child should not be risked to “fulfil the rights of an adult”.

Although he has legally changed his gender to male, the man in question was able to give birth last year because his womb was not removed during the original sex change procedure.

It is possible for transgender men who were born women, who still have functioning ovaries and a uterus, to become pregnant while still identifying and living as men.

via Sex change British man gives birth to son – Telegraph.

So in what sense is a woman who gets a sex-changed operation a man?  Or a man who gets a sex-change operation a woman?  It isn’t just the external sex organs that make the difference, the focus of the plastic surgeon’s work.  In reality every cell of a person’s body, in its very DNA, inscribes that person’s gender.

Obama, Henry VIII, and tooth-level surveillance

Mark Steyn compares President Obama’s religion policies to those of Henry VIII, whose “Act of Supremacy” gave him sole authority over his subjects’ faith and practice.  You need to read what he says.

But I draw your attention to just two parts of that essay.  The first, where he quotes a provision of Obamacare that gives Secretary of Health & Human Services Kathleen Sibelius authority over our teeth:

“The Secretary shall develop oral healthcare components that shall include tooth-level surveillance.”

The second is his conclusion, which is a strikingly-phrased statement of the dangers of big government:

The bigger the Big Government, the smaller everything else: First, other pillars of civil society are crowded out of the public space; then, the individual gets crowded out, even in his most private, tooth-level space. President Obama, Commissar Sebelius, and many others believe in one-size-fits-all national government — uniformity, conformity, supremacy from Maine to Hawaii, for all but favored cronies. It is a doomed experiment — and on the morning after it will take a lot more than a morning-after pill to make it all go away.

via The Church of Obama – Mark Steyn – National Review Online.

Compromise on insurance birth control mandate?

President Obama has announced a compromise he is willing to enact on his mandatory abortion pill and contraceptive mandate.  Employees of religious institutions that don’t believe in that sort of thing will have to ask the organization’s insurance company for the coverage, whereupon the insurance company will have to provide it free of charge without raising the institution’s rates.  Thus the insurance company, not the faith-based employer, will be paying for the morning after pills and contraceptives.  And the faith-based employer would not be directly providing for them.  Rather, the employee would get them off the books.

See White House compromise still guarantees contraceptive coverage for women – The Washington Post.

Does this really solve the problem?

Aren’t all of the expenses of an insurance company ultimately and necessarily passed on to the customers?

And isn’t the result exactly the same apart from the moral casuistry of trying to shuffle around the responsibility?

And the administration isn’t saying  how this would work with institutions, such as many non-profits, that are self-insured, in which employers collect premiums but then pay for employee health expenses themselves.

The Roman Catholic bishops note other problems:  The government’s apparent dispensations apply only to non-profit organizations.  A Catholic or other pro-life business owner would still have to directly provide free abortion pills and contraceptives, which would mean for the Catholic, being forced by law to be complicit in a grave sin.

Also church-related insurance companies (like Concordia Health Plan and its numerous Catholic equivalents) are not exempt from having to provide this kind of coverage.

Because of earlier H.H.S. machinations, the Morning After pill is now available over the counter.  What insurance plans cover non-prescription medication?  Your health insurance won’t pay for a bottle of aspirin or Nyquil.  And yet the Obama administration is insisting that this over-the-counter medication be covered free of charge, without even a deductible.  The agenda here is clearly that of pro-abortion fanaticism.

Officially re-defining religion

The Constitution carves out space for religion so that it does not fall under government jurisdiction.  So, as Charles Krauthammer points out, the  government, which currently demands jurisdiction over everything, is re-defining religion:

And thus, the word came forth from [Health & Human Services director Katherine] Sebelius decreeing the exact criteria required (a) to meet her definition of “religious” and thus (b) to qualify for a modicum of independence from newly enacted state control of American health care, under which the aforementioned Sebelius and her phalanx of experts determine everything — from who is to be covered, to which treatments are to be guaranteed free of charge.

Criterion 1: A “religious institution” must have “the inculcation of religious values as its purpose.” But that’s not the purpose of Catholic charities; it’s to give succor to the poor. That’s not the purpose of Catholic hospitals; it’s to give succor to the sick. Therefore, they don’t qualify as “religious” — and therefore can be required, among other things, to provide free morning-after abortifacients.

Criterion 2: Any exempt institution must be one that “primarily employs” and “primarily serves persons who share its religious tenets.” Catholic soup kitchens do not demand religious IDs from either the hungry they feed or the custodians they employ. Catholic charities and hospitals — even Catholic schools — do not turn away Hindu or Jew.

Their vocation is universal, precisely the kind of universal love-thy-neighbor vocation that is the very definition of religiosity as celebrated by the Gospel of Obama. Yet according to the Gospel of Sebelius, these very same Catholic institutions are not religious at all — under the secularist assumption that religion is what happens on Sunday under some Gothic spire, while good works are “social services” properly rendered up unto Caesar. . . .

Therefore: To flatter his faith-breakfast guests and justify his tax policies, Obama declares good works to be the essence of religiosity. Yet he turns around and, through Sebelius, tells the faithful who engage in good works that what they’re doing is not religion at all. You want to do religion? Get thee to a nunnery. You want shelter from the power of the state? Get out of your soup kitchen and back to your pews. Outside, Leviathan rules.

via The Gospel according to Obama – The Washington Post.

We see this same new definition in the government’s failed litigation in the Hosanna-Tabor case.  It’s basically the same one used in the former Soviet Union, which provided for “religious freedom” in its constitution, construed as private interior beliefs, while at the same time forbidding evangelism, worship, education, religious child-raising, and any other external expression of religion in actual life.

Santorum surges in the polls

Rick Santorum has become a contender:

Riding a wave of momentum from his trio of victories on Tuesday Rick Santorum has opened up a wide lead in PPP’s newest national poll. He’s at 38% to 23% for Mitt Romney, 17% for Newt Gingrich, and 13% for Ron Paul.

Part of the reason for Santorum’s surge is his own high level of popularity. 64% of voters see him favorably to only 22% with a negative one. But the other, and maybe more important, reason is that Republicans are significantly souring on both Romney and Gingrich. Romney’s favorability is barely above water at 44/43, representing a 23 point net decline from our December national poll when he was +24 (55/31). Gingrich has fallen even further. A 44% plurality of GOP voters now hold a negative opinion of him to only 42% with a positive one. That’s a 34 point drop from 2 months ago when he was at +32 (60/28).

Santorum is now completely dominating with several key segments of the electorate, especially the most right leaning parts of the party. With those describing themselves as ‘very conservative,’ he’s now winning a majority of voters at 53% to 20% for Gingrich and 15% for Romney. Santorum gets a majority with Tea Party voters as well at 51% to 24% for Gingrich and 12% for Romney. And with Evangelicals he falls just short of a majority with 45% to 21% for Gingrich and 18% for Romney.

It used to be that Gingrich was leading with all these groups and Romney was staying competitive enough with them to hold the overall lead. No more- a consensus conservative candidate finally seems to be emerging and it’s Santorum.

The best thing Romney might have going for him right now is Gingrich’s continued presence in the race. If Gingrich dropped out 58% of his supporters say they would move to Santorum, while 22% would go to Romney and 17% to Paul. Santorum gets to 50% in the Newt free field to 28% for Romney and 15% for Paul.

via Santorum surges into the lead – Public Policy Polling.

HT to Ace of Spades, who discusses the numbers and quotes a new Rasmussen poll about how Romney and Santorum would do against Obama:

President Obama’s lead over Mitt Romney in a potential head-to-head contest has swelled to 10 points, with the president capturing 50% support to Mr. Romney’s 40%. Meanwhile, Rasmussen finds that Mr. Obama leads Mr. Santorum by just four points, 46% to 42%.

Santorum is  second in the delegate count:  Romney has 123; Santorum has 72; Gingrich has 32; and Paul has 19.

In other election developments, Romney won the Maine caucus, upsetting Ron Paul who was expected to win his first state.  Romney took 39%; Paul took 36%; Santorum took 18%; and Gingrich took 6%.

In other good news for Romney, he won the straw poll at CPAC, the big conservative activist convention.  He won 38% of the votes; Santorum had 31%; Gingrich had 15%; and Paul had 12%.

It appears that Romney is gradually winning over  conservatives but that Santorum has emerged as the main Romney alternative, displacing Newt Gingrich.  (He only got 15% at CPAC?)  Newt may come back on Super Tuesday since he has lots of fans in the South.  But so far he hasn’t done that well despite getting lots of attention.

 

Politics & Vocation

It’s interesting to see Roman Catholics appropriating Luther’s doctrine of vocation.  Traditionally, Catholics have used the term to refer only to the calling to be a priest, a monk, or a nun.  Matthew Cantirino here discusses a prominent Catholic thinker who says that we have a “baptismal vocation” to participate in the political process. It’s not quite as clear as Luther’s point that we have a vocation as citizens.  Still, at a time when many Christians are giving up on civic engagement and many others are misinterpreting what that means (NOT to take over so as to Christianize the government), the doctrine of vocation can help sort out our responsibilities, namely, to love and serve our neighbors in our civic life and political duties.

Harvard Law professor (and longtime First Things contributor and supporter) Mary Ann Glendon offers advice to young Christians inclined to politics in a recent interview with the National Catholic Register. Her main point is one especially worth noting in an election year: that while an obsession with the contemporary political scene can often distract us from more enduring truths, it still must be taken seriously and engaged thoughtfully. Glendon even goes as far as asserting that:

“Nearly everyone who takes his or her baptismal vocation seriously has some form of calling to participate in that process [ie, politics broadly understood], as he or she is able. If we Christians truly believe we are called to be a transformative presence in the world — to be salt, light and leaven — we have to do our best to improve the conditions under which we live, work and raise our children. Even our cloistered contemplatives are not merely meditating on the mystery of the universe — they are praying for the world.”

This is helpful advice for Christians in the public square today, where a sense of defeat can become overwhelming. Indeed, in recent years, there has been a movement among some on the ‘religious right’ towards shunning—even disdaining—politics altogether. This attitude has enjoyed a resurgence as something of a reaction to the previous decades of alliance between Christian leaders and partisan figures, especially in more fundamentalist circles. And, and Glendon notes with concern, many of today’s brightest and most devout students scarcely consider a political career at all, often believing it to be a certain path to corruption.

Ultimately, however, as Glendon points out, this retreat impulse is misguided, overwrought, and even dangerous, as it allows others very hostile to religious faith to step in and have free reign. It is, as the ironic title of her lecture and interview alludes to, an implicit agreement with Max Weber’s thesis that “he who lets himself in for politics … contracts with diabolical powers.” So, she concedes, while “culture” may indeed more important than “politics” narrowly construed, there is a larger sense in which the latter is a constitutive element in the former. Referencing the example of Vaclav Havel, she calls the two part of a “two-way street” and notes that the two are, to a significant extent, inseparable. Especially in today’s America, where (national) politics occupies an admittedly bloated position, Christians really don’t have much of a choice in the matter.

via First Thoughts | A First Things Blog.  Here is a link to Glendon’s interview.

The conventional approach to politics is that everyone should follow his or her own rational self-interests.  The vocational approach says that we must deny our selves in love and service to our neighbor.  How might that latter emphasis manifest itself in a Christian’s political engagement?


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