Women War Against War Against Women

What is the real “War on Women”?  Medical evidence contradicts the “war on women” claims made by those who support the HHS “preventive services” mandate.

That is the claim made in an amicus brief filed on October 12, 2012, by the conservative women’s group Women Speak For Themselves against the HHS “Preventive Services” Mandate.  The brief offers a “unique perspective and analysis,” according to a federal judge.

WSFT attorney Dorinda Bordlee explained that the brief is the first of several amicus (friend of the court) briefs which will be filed in the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, in the case of Wheaton College and Belmont Abbey College v Sebelius et al.

The brief outlines the serious increased health risks ignored by the government.  “The law requires the government to prove that its burden on the College’s religious objection furthers a compelling interest,” Bordlee explained.  “The WSFT brief makes the simple point that the HHS Mandate does not prevent what it claims to prevent, and may well in many instances increase the risk of disease rather than decreasing it.”

According to WSFT co-founders Helen Alvaré and Kim Daniels, the brief details the federal government’s failure to build a medical case for the mandate, and its failure to acknowledge the serious side effects and risk factors for women associated with it.  The Mandate, they charge, is both unconstitutional and just bad public policy.

Serving as legal counsel for WSFT are the Bioethics Defense Fund and Life Legal Defense Fund.  With their assistance, the WSFT intends to file this amicus brief in other federal court cases across the nation which challenge the constitutionality of the HHS Mandate.

Women Speak For Themselves was founded in response to the Democrats’ political catchphrase “war on women” which asserted that Republican Party initiatives restricted women’s rights, especially with regard to “reproductive freedom.”  WSFT is an alliance of women in defense of religious freedom and a more thoughtful and complete vision of women’s freedom.  To date, more than 36,000 women have signed “Don’t Claim to Speak for All Women,” an open letter from the group to President Obama, Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, and Congress.

For more information on the group, and to see a press release regarding the amicus brief as well as the full brief, visit the WSFT website.

Reimagining Michelangelo’s Creation of Adam


“Without having seen the Sistine Chapel one can form no appreciable idea of what one man is capable of achieving.”

—Johann Wolfgang Goethe,

23 August 1787

I love the Sistine Chapel:  that jewel of the Vatican, repository of some of the best art of the Renaissance:  the dramatic frescoes on the life of Moses and the life of Christ, painted by Perugino, Botticelli, and Ghirlandaio; the papal portraits; the trompe l’oeil draperies which adorn the walls—all inspire and amaze.

White smoke signifies that a new Pope has been elected

Since 1483, the Sistine Chapel has been the site of papal conclaves where the Cardinals have gathered to elect a new pope.  The mystery and romance of the black smoke/white smoke “secret message” in the sky when the Cardinals cast their ballots is the stuff of legend.

But the pièce de résistance in the chapel is the ceiling, where Michelangelo has rendered the Creation and the Last Judgment, with its heavily muscled and tortured figures glancing fearfully at a righteous God.  That Michelangelo painted one of his enemies, a cardinal who opposed his work, in hell adds humor and pathos to the masterpiece.

But what do you most remember of the Sistine ceiling?  The iconic image which comes to mind most frequently is Michelangelo’s Creation of Adam—with God extending his divine Finger to instill the spark of life.

It’s the sketch most often reproduced:  I have a serving tray and an umbrella emblazoned with the familiar image.

It’s also often parodied, as evidenced here:

(I’ll bet that formed the basis for the “God and the Machine” blog, written by fellow Patheos writer Tom McDonald.)

It’s used in advocacy and advertising:

And in humor:

New Advent featured an article this week about a 1990 paper by Philip Meshberger (published in the Journal of the American Medical Association) alleging that the depiction in God Creating Adam in the central panel on the ceiling was a perfect anatomical illustration of the human brain in cross section.  According to Meshberger, Michelangelo had depicted God the Father surrounded by a shroud which corresponded to a cross section of the human brain.  Michelangelo, who had elsewhere painted anatomical sketches, was conveying that God was endowing Man not only with life, but also with supreme human intelligence.

For those who cannot explore the treasures of the Sistine themselves, the Vatican now offers a virtual tour.  Check it out:  It’s well worth your time!