What Does the ‘Infant Born Alive Act’ Really Mean?

There seems to be a dedicated group of abortion advocates who don’t care about human life, except, perhaps, their own.

I am not saying that everyone who thinks abortion should be legal falls into this category. But I have no other way to characterize people who would oppose the requirement that babies who survive an abortion be given medical care.

What am I supposed to say about these people?

One of Public Catholic’s readers went all apoplectic over Obama’s Lowest Moment in the 2008 Campaign. He denounced Infant Born Alive Acts as “garbage” and “thinly-veiled” attempts “to encroach on Roe v Wade.” Then, I guess to add what he thought was the cherry on top this little statement, sputtered at me to get out of the Democratic Party.

Not only is he confused about the Democratic Party — (It’s not an invitation-only private club run just for him.) — but his grip on what the Infant Born Alive Acts are about is tenuous, as well.

The video below is a sweet reminder of what Infant Born Alive Acts are addressing: The human lives of real human beings.

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Can a Christian Be a Democrat?

Democrat

Every so often I do something that gets press coverage beyond the Oklahoma border.

If this coverage includes the fact that I am (a) a Democrat, and (b) pro life, I know that several commenters on whatever news story or blog my name appears are going to chime in with the opinion that no one can be both (a) a Democrat and, (b) pro life, and that I must be phony, bogus, a Judas goat and a liar. These verbal brickbats come from both sides of the political divide. 

It seems that my dual citizenship in both the Democrat and pro life political kingdoms makes me something of a universal hate object.

When it was just the abortion issue, this seemed a bit over the top. After all, the Republican party is not exactly true to the Gospels, either. Religious leaders and their followers in both the Democratic and Republican camps torture the Gospels to make the teachings of Christ conform to their political party. I see it all the time. 

However, it’s not just abortion any longer. It seems some days as if the National (as opposed to the local) Democratic Party has declared total, all-out war, not just on certain aspects of basic Christian morality, but on the First Amendment and Christianity itself. 

I stopped attending Democratic Party functions in Oklahoma a number of years back simply because it was such an unpleasant experience. I mean, who wants to go spend an evening with people who lie about you and slander you and call you names that you can’t even repeat in polite company? Why would I want to be around folks who attack my faith and tell me repeatedly in every way they can, that they want me to go away?

The question arises, if I’m not a phony about my religious beliefs and my positions on issues concerning the sanctity of human life and the family, then, why am I Democrat? Is it stubbornness, or is it stupidity?

In truth, I am stubborn.

Very. 

And I can be stupid. 

Very.

But in this instance of party affiliation it’s more complicated — or maybe more simple — than that. 

The things I described above broke my heart and made me so miserable that I did consider changing political parties. I wanted to get away from the political party that treated me like dirt. I just plain wanted out. 

I have a habit of asking God what I should do before I act on a decision this big. Sometimes I get an answer, other times, I don’t. This time I got an answer, and a strong one. I asked if I should change parties, and the answer was …

No. 

I waited a few weeks then asked again. This time, the answer was …

NO. 

A few months later, I asked one last time, and the answer was no, with an explanation that I won’t share here. 

After that, I decided to stop badgering God and accept His will. I didn’t understand it. But I knew that I could not change parties. 

And I continued to get kicked around by my fellow Democrats. And it continued to hurt me. And I wondered why God would want me to keep on taking this garbage. 

And God used me in the next few years to do things for issues such as pro life that I could not have done if I hadn’t been a Democrat.

That D after my name was like a key in a lock that turns it over, click, and opens the door. There was one time in particular where I was like a chess piece that He had moved into place and then left there until He needed me. We passed one monumental pro life bill that stopped horrible carnage only because I was a Democrat. If I had been sitting on the other side of the chamber, that bill would have died. There was a reason why I couldn’t change parties, and, in time, I saw it played out. 

The short answer to the question Can a Christian be a Democrat is, yes. In fact, I would say that He needs more Christians to be Democrats, and He needs them now more than ever before. 

Thumb throw christianity in the trash

We are now in a post Christian era in which Christians and Christian values are under attack from almost every quarter, including the political. This is, to paraphrase that great agnostic Thomas Paine, not the time for summer soldiers and sunshine patriots. These really are the times that try men’s souls.

Christians need to retreat to a life of prayer, scripture and the sacraments to build their spiritual strength. We need to find our deepest friendships with one another, where we can be accepted and loved for our faith. Then, we need to join the battle by engaging the world in a constructive, consistent and unwavering manner. 

There is no place where we should not go with our faith, including, absolutely, the Democratic Party. 

Rose Day: Pro Life Rally at the Oklahoma State Capitol

Yesterday was Rose Day at the Oklahoma State Capitol. 

This annual event goes back decades — all the way back to the years when I was a pro choice legislator. I remember how shy the pro life people were when they tip-toed into offices back then. They would hand the legislator a rose and then tip-toe back out.

No one brought me a rose back in those days. I imagine they were afraid of me, even though I was never the sort of pro choice person who argued with pro life people. I was in reality quite gentle about my beliefs, at least outwardly.

But underneath, I was tempered steel.

By the time I got to the legislature, I was a veteran of the abortion wars. I had been the Oklahoma Director for NARAL. I had helped open the first abortion clinic in Oklahoma. I had referred women for abortions. I had made speeches, lobbied United States Senators and Congressmen. All for legal abortion.

However, I can’t ever remember raising my voice to a pro life person. Not once. I can’t remember one time that I ever accosted them or even argued with them that they didn’t force the argument on me.

So, the pro life people who came to Rose Day back in the beginning days of Rose Day would have been quite safe if they had ventured into my office. I would have accepted their rose and been very gentle with them.

I say all this so you’ll know what it means to me today when I stand up with the pro life legislators. I tell you this because I really don’t have words to describe what it means, so I tell you stories from my past in hopes you’ll somehow or other surmise how the words “born again” apply to me and my life.

Yesterday I had the honor of speaking for a brief moment to the assembled crowd in the House chamber. Before that, several pro life women — all of whom have worked for life for decades — asked to have their photo taken with me. Pro life people who have been stalwarts in the fight for life kept coming up to me all morning and thanking me for “what you’ve done.”

Them.

Thanking me.

In truth, I can never thank them enough for accepting me among their ranks, for overlooking all I did in the past and choosing to look only at what I’m trying to do now.

I love Rose Day.

It feels like home.

I took this photo of the Rose Day participants from the podium with my cell phone. I asked them to say “pro life” instead of “cheese.” Every single one of these people is a hero to me.

Are Pro-Life Democrats Being Hunted to Extinction by Their Own Party?

I’ve got a strong pulse for somebody who’s supposed to be extinct.

I am battered, chipped, stained and cracked in a few places. But extinct? Nope. I am a pro-life Democrat, and according to a recent Weekly Standard article, I am a living ghost of times past.

Is that true? Am I one of the last of my kind, the final dinosaur stumbling to the end of its species? Well … maybe. Maybe I am.

The Standard article makes a good case for the notion that even if there are a few pro-life Democrats rattling around, they are so compromised that they have no significance. Democrats for Life of America is a case in point. This gutsy little band of warriors keeps hanging on in the despised fringes of the larger Democratic party, doing their best to be the voice of life in the party of abortion.

I had great hopes for Democrats for Life of America. I still hope for them. I have spoken at their national convention, and was for a while one of their two state directors in Oklahoma. But as the Standard article makes clear, their presence at the Democratic National Convention this week was a sad affair marked primarily by the absence of anyone paying them the least little bit of attention. Not a single current Democratic office holder bothered to show up at their event.

They did have a smattering of former Democratic office holders. They were mostly people who either gave up or lost their office as a result of the fight to put pro life language into the Affordable Health Care Act. Pro-life Democrats took a beating in the last election, which explains the total lack of interest from those currently in power.

In my opinion the reason why pro life Democrats took such a drubbing at the polls in 2010 is simple. They compromised on the Affordable Health Care Act. There was a moment in time when pro-life Democrats held the aspirations of pro life people in their hands. They were the ones who had the power to force the President to accept language that would have blocked using federal money to pay for abortions. This language could have staved off attacks on religious liberty such as the HHS Mandate.

For a while they held tough. I remember how proud I was of them. Then, they blinked. I understand the enormity of the pressures they were under. I’ve read that at least one of them was threatened with the closure of military bases in his district. This would have cost thousands of his constituents their jobs. That’s not a small thing to an elected official. Your constituents trust you and rely on you to take care of them. When these power throw-downs come along, you are often all they’ve got. Protecting them becomes a reflex, similar to the reflexive way we jump to protect our children.

President Obama placed these Democratic office holders in the terrible position of either endangering the livelihoods of thousands of the people they were supposed to protect, or caving on the pro life amendments to the Affordable Health Care Act. That is the sort of threat that would make any decent office holder quake.

When he offered them empty promises as a sop, a way out, they jumped on those promises. The rest is history. The ink was barely dry on the Affordable Health Care Act when the President began to renege on the promises he made to pass it. We have now reached the point that he has turned it into a direct attack on religious freedom with the HHS Mandate.

But even before the HHS Mandate, the whole pro-life Democrat house of cards had come tumbling down.

Pro life people, rightly outraged, vowed to never support another Democrat. Those pro-life Democrats who had failed to fight to the death over the Affordable Health Care Act were mostly either defeated at the polls or simply decided not to run for re-election. What we got as a result was a Democratic Party that was even more fixedly pro abortion (as opposed to pro choice) and nihilistic than ever before. This distillation of the party also resulted in the loss of the Democratic majority in the House of Representatives. The party that was left was leaner, meaner and narrower in focus than ever before.

All this raises two questions, both of them very serious to the pro life cause and the future of our nation. The first question is simple and straightforward: Is it possible for anyone except an exception to be a pro life Democrat?

Odd as this may sound, I say yes, it is possible. But the person who undertakes this has to be tougher than the pro-life Democrats we’ve had before. It is not possible to be a pro-life Democrat and be well-liked or supported by your party. The pressures other Democrats put on pro life Democrats to compromise their beliefs are enough to squeeze a lump of coal into a diamond. Unfortunately what happens in practice is that they far too often manage to squeeze the diamond of a pro life Democrat into a lump of compromising coal.

I know something of these pressures. I’ve been attacked by my party for so long, in so many ways because I am pro life that I honestly have lost count and memory of a lot of it. After all, who wants to reminisce about the bad times? I’ve had other Democratic House members yell at me and tell me to get out of the party, not just once in a while, but almost every working day. I’ve been through the threats, slanders, pickets, censure votes and shunning. I’ve eaten lunch alone and sat by myself in meetings time after time and day after day. All because I am pro life.

I’m not going to go into the details, because the details don’t matter. What matters is that these pressures were always an attempt to get me to compromise. Not, mind you, to switch to pro choice, but to compromise. A lot of times what they wanted me to do was far more politically savvy than what I actually did do. They were willing to let me hide in plain sight and say I was pro life, just so long as I would compromise.

But I can’t reason my way past the tripping-up truths of the pro life cause to find a compromise that doesn’t involve either killing people or helping someone else kill people. I’m too unsophisticated and basic in the way I look at things to be confused by the obfuscations and serpentine reasoning that most people fall for.

I look past all that with my simple little Okie brain and think, I’m not gonna kill anybody. And I won’t help anyone else do it, either.

So, the answer is yes, you can be a pro life Democrat and do it right. But you’ve got to be willing to be a little bit politically stupid in the clinches. You can’t let yourself be fooled by the tomfoolery that will come at you. And you have to look ‘em in the eye when they threaten you and not blink.

How do you do this? You pray the Rosary every day. Go to daily mass. Go to confession frequently. Read the Bible. And spend lots of time with your family and real friends — you know, the people who aren’t impressed with you but who love you even when you’re in disgrace.

The answer, in short, is that you’ve got to stay grounded; grounded in Christ, grounded in the real relationships of your life

The second question is a little bit more complex. Does it matter if there are pro life Democrats?

After all, the pro life movement runs strong on the Republican side of the fence. Why not just keep investing where you get the best returns?

I won’t go into this too deeply since I’m going to talk about it a lot on this blog. But I will say that yes, it does matter. It matters because we can not ever build a culture of life with half the people. It matters because to a large extent the official Republican Party (as opposed to the rank and file) is flimflamming us with their vows of pro life fealty. It matters because our country cannot survive if it continues with this polarized win-at-all-costs-even-if-it-harms-the-country hyper partisan governance.

Are pro-life Democrats being hunted to extinction by their own party? Yes. We are.

Does it matter to this country and to the pro life movement if they are? Yes. It does.

If pro-life Democrats want to have a voice in the party, they’ve got to stop compromising their pro-life principles for the party. I know that sounds counter-intuitive, but I believe it’s a fact. However the real reason for not compromising is not to affect the party. It’s that you don’t and shouldn’t compromise about core values. Not killing people (to put it in my simplistic terms) is the core value. If human beings don’t respect human life, we descend rather quickly to a world where the biggest and meanest get to make all the rules.

The right to life is the basic human right. Nothing anyone can say has the power to change that. If we compromise there, then we’re not on a slippery slope, we’re in a chute, going straight down.

Democrats reject move to allow pro-life stance in party platform

Now here’s a surprise:

The National Democratic Party Platform Committee refused to include pro life language in the party platform.

I also hear that it’s hot in Death Valley and the Pope is still Catholic.

Any other news?

Democrats for Life of America caused a ripple earlier this summer by managing to gain an audience with the 2012 National Democratic Platform Committee. (read their testimony here) If you doubt the hammerlock that pro choice advocates have on the Democratic Party, consider that this is the first time a pro-life group has been allowed to speak to this committee in decades.

Of course, the Democratic Party more than owes this to Democrats for Life of America. They’ve shamelessly used the pro-life imprimatur this group gives in swing district elections. They may not have much respect for pro-life Democrats most of the time, but they have no qualms about getting on the phone and asking for an endorsement when the votes are tight.

I think anyone who can count votes knows that the Affordable Health Care Act would not have become law without the help of Democrats for Life of America. The HHS Mandate made a mockery of the promises President Obama gave to this group concerning abortion and the right to conscience. Democrats for Life of America has filed comments against the HHS Mandate, reminding the President of his promises and asking him to honor them.

So. This organization has certainly earned the right to give testimony to the Democratic Party Platform Committee. It’s too bad that the Committee chose to treat this testimony with the same contempt that the President showed to his promises to them about the Affordable Health Care Act. But, it’s not surprising. At least not to me.

I know these pro-choice Democrats. They aren’t going to give an inch. The only way we will change the Democratic Party Platform is by changing who sits on that committee.

Having said that, I can tell you that I do think the whole exercise was worthwhile. The reason I feel this way is because I know something that both parties want to keep secret: We are never going to overturn Roe v Wade and build a culture of life with half the people.

In the first place, neither political party — and I mean neither political party — wants to reverse Roe v Wade. They both benefit from it too much to ever do that. Forty years of getting nowhere should be our first clue to that.

Even if it was possible to somehow force a change in the law with half the people, that change would not stand. Power shifts back and forth in this country. Whatever one party did, the other one would undo. The truth is, we need both the Democrats and the Republicans if we are going to win this thing. The longer we take figuring that out, the longer the killing will go on.

That’s why Democrats for Life of America is important. I got exasperated with them over the Affordable Health Care Act. I didn’t then and I don’t now understand how anyone could be so naive as to believe those promises. On the other hand, pro-life Democrats, together with pro-life Republicans, are the key to winning the political part of this fight for life.

Anybody who’s ever been in a law-making position can tell you that it’s a lot easier to kill a bill than it is to pass one. All you have to do to kill a piece of legislation is to get the support of the right legislator. That’s it. One legislator in the right position is all it takes. But in order to make a law you need the majorities of both houses, plus the Governor or President. Looking on down the road; you need the Supreme Court.

There is no way — I mean NO WAY — that we are ever going to be able to change the laws on issues of life with just one political party. Oh, we can fiddle with it a bit. We can make a few requirements and issue some regulations. But given the hedge of protection that the Supreme Court has built around the “right” to legal abortion, that’s about it.

Overturning this thing is going to take something massive. That means we need both parties and we need them for quite some time. That’s why Democrats for Life of America is important. It’s also why the ultimate solution can not be entirely political. The amount of money and effort it would take to create two pro-life political parties so long as the people themselves are divided on the issue is unthinkable.

What Democrats for Life of America attempted is important, even if it didn’t succeed. Getting into that party machinery is a big part of how the pro choice people took the Democrats away from us in the first place. Democrats weren’t always pro-abortion. For at least ten years after Roe, the Democratic Party faithful were majority pro-life.

That was an opportunity that pro-life people threw away. If we’re going to change things, we need to make that opportunity for ourselves once again.

There are ardent pro-life Democrats. But as one of them I can tell you that what we mostly get from our party is abuse. Look at the photo at the top of this blog to see what I mean. At the same time, the role we play as pro-life Democrats within the legislative process is absolutely critical.

I know for a fact that there are a number of pro-life bills that would not have passed in Oklahoma the past few years if I had not been there and if I had not been a pro-life Democrat as opposed to a pro-life Republican. It’s a matter of strategy, tactics and positioning that is too complex to explain here. Let it suffice to say that pro-life Democrats are essential to pro-life efforts.

I am not trying to take away from the efforts of pro-life Republicans by saying this. I’m certainly not asking anyone to switch parties. All I’m saying is that if we want to stop the killing, we need to get it through our thick skulls that we will need all the people to do it.

Good Morning Patheos!

I am Representative Rebecca Hamilton. I am beginning my 17th year as a member of the Oklahoma House of Representatives. That means I have much more seniority than anyone else in the Oklahoma Legislature.

I was first elected in 1980, served three terms, then left office when I had my first child. Before I was elected, I was an ardent pro abortion activist. I helped found the first abortion clinic in Oklahoma and, during the early 1970s, was the NARAL Director for Oklahoma.

I was re-elected in 2002. I had experienced a powerful religious conversion which changed me concerning issues of life. I had also converted to the Catholic Church. The same people in the same House District who had elected me as a pro-choice advocate graciously re-elected me as a pro-life Catholic.

During the years away from public office I was a full-time, stay at home Mom.

I never planned on blogging. But the HHS Mandate requiring the Catholic Church to violate its moral teachings or face crippling fines, along with the many battles I’ve fought for the sanctity of human life since I returned to office, have changed my mind. Being a Public Catholic is not easy. Its not easy for anyone who takes it seriously. I fear it’s going to become more difficult as time goes by.

I want to add my small voice to the fight and I don’t know any better place to do that than right here at Patheos.


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