News for the “War on Women” Contingent: the HHS Mandate Makes War on Your Liberty and Your Gender UPDATED

Period. End of story. That is the truth.

The problem, though, is that the truth isn’t favorable to the current Administration. President Obama, and his capable staff, know that this is true, which is why they only seek the opinions of folks like NARAL, Planned Parenthood, and Catholic groups that are not empowered to speak for the Church. This is why the Administrations’ “accommodation” was crafted to fool folks into thinking that this is a “war on women” and a “war on contraception.”

There are several strikes against your humble blogger in calling your attention to these facts: 1) I am male. 2) I am a rookie Catholic, and 3) I have a highly refined signal-to-noise filter called a brain.

Of course, all of the folks involved in framing this issue have brains too. And competition has a way of refining, and honing, mental capacity to a very fine degree, and not just if one is only open to discovering the truth. You don’t have to be truthful and honorable to be a brilliant belligerent. And when folks just fly by the seat of their pants, see, no amount of truth will impact them whatsoever. Check Our Lord’s parable from today’s readings for an example. They will simply glom onto the meme that they have always felt comfortable with, which most likely has nothing to do with constitutional law, or precedents set therein, etc., even if they see the dead rise.

Which explains why I have the torches and pitchfork crowd of knee-jerk “this is a war on women!” folks pretending to themselves that the women who actually testified to Congress at Representative Darryl Issa’s panel on Religious Liberty, only occurred later, you know, after women protested about all the men that were on the first panel.

Balderdash! The second panel took place on the very same day as the first panel, and the folks on the first and second panels weren’t just picked willy-nilly due to the forces of protest, or wailing and knashing of teeth because no women were on the first panel. But I have folks claiming that this video,

is fraudulent, even though it took place on the very same day, (go see the date stamp on when I originally posted this video) at the very same place, but only after the “war on women,” women had stormed out of the room in mock righteous indignation. How do I know this? Have a look at the date/time stamp on the raw video, which I edited the first time around so you didn’t get bored and fall asleep.

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Next thing you know, they’ll be telling me that the Church wants to eliminate all access to birth-control, or that it’s too expensive, etc., etc. Talk to the hand, for I explained those untruths yesterday.

There is a war on women, though. Actually, there are two wars, or fronts if you will, in the war on women. The first front is like a civil war, of sorts, because the “women as a unified bloc” paradigm is being shattered by the truth. This is explained admirably by two women, one a Muslim, the other a Catholic, who wrote a piece the Washington Post published yesterday. It is aptly titled It’s About Religious Liberty, Not Birth Control. here’s a taste,

By Asma T. Uddin and Ashley McGuire

The controversy surrounding the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) mandate requiring religious employers to cover contraception, sterilization procedures, and abortifacient drugs has been framed as a conflict between religion and women. Many are painting opposition to the mandate as a war on women and their reproductive rights and health interests.

As a Muslim and a Catholic, we disagree doctrinally about the morality of contraception, sterilization, and abortifacients. As women of faith, we stand united in opposition to the mandate and the affront on religious freedom it so gravely poses.

Especially as women, we both reject the notion that opposition to the mandate constitutes a war on women.

In fact, we find the very framing of opposition to the mandate as a “war on women,” a war on women in and of itself. Such framing takes all women hostage for a policy agenda about which women are deeply divided. In recent polling, women are split 47-46 for and against the mandate.

Among Catholic women, there is deep division about the mandate. Recent polling suggests that 59 percent of the roughly 40 million Catholic women in America support the mandate. But nearly one in three Catholics do not. That means there are millions of Catholic women who, along with their church’s leaders, object to subsidizing contraception, sterilization, and abortifacient drugs, whether they are employers providing them via insurance to employees or employees having the cost passed on to them.

Among Muslims, there are theological disagreements on matters of contraception and abortion, with more conservative elements forbidding both, while others accept both contraception and first-trimester abortion. More broadly, on the question of religious freedom, American Muslims have consistently dealt with government interference in their religious matters, ranging from mosque surveillance to overly broad limits on Muslim charitable giving, even when such measures are not needed from a national security perspective. As such, many American Muslim women stand against these and any other government incursions into religion.

Should the government be able to tell religious organizations to violate their consciences? And there are millions more women–be they Mormons, Jewish, Evangelical, or Orthodox–many of whom use contraception, have undergone sterilization, have taken abortifacient drugs, or find some or all of these services morally acceptable, who still object to the notion that a religious institution should be forced into complicity with services it finds gravely immoral.

The notion that this debate and opposition to the mandate is a war on women objectifies women by lumping them into one category as if we think uniformly on all issues. Imagine the absurdity of making an issue into a “war on men” or the controversy that would ensue if it were suggested that a racial group thinks homogenously on a policy issue.

As one of us stated in testimony before the House Judiciary Committee last Tuesday, “Women, too, seek the freedom to live in accordance with their sincerely held religious beliefs. Religious freedom is a right enjoyed by everyone, and it is just as much in women’s interest to protect that right as it is in men’s.”

Whaat?! More women testified as recently as last Tuesday, February 28? Perhaps that is when some folks think the second panel took place? I have no idea. But women are testifying, and you would never know it from most new media outlets. Back to the piece,

…And finally, we are tired of being told that our religious leaders cannot speak for us simply because they are male. There are times when men unfairly speak for women on matters where religion and gender intersect. But in this instance, those male religious leaders are defending a principle that protects religious men and women alike…To those who would make us victims of our own religious leaders or some amorphous war on women, kindly let us speak for ourselves.

Huzzah! That’s the kind of spirit that this blogs patron, St. Joan of Arc, can really appreciate.Go read the rest of Asma’s & Ashley’s article, and find that the alleged monolithic bloc of women voters turns out to be a many splendored thing instead.

Now for the other front on the war on women. Unfortunately, this is the the real one, and not the faux one that the activists want to rile against. No, the actual war is global in scope, resulting in much actual carnage. The target? Unborn baby girls, of course. Nicholas Eberstadt, who holds the Henry Wendt Chair in Political Economy at the American Enterprise Institute, provided the briefing on this conflict last Fall, after the HHS Mandate was first announced, in a non-religious journal entitled The New Atlantis: A Journal of Technology and Society.

Over the past three decades the world has come to witness an ominous and entirely new form of gender discrimination: sex-selective feticide, implemented through the practice of surgical abortion with the assistance of information gained through prenatal gender determination technology. All around the world, the victims of this new practice are overwhelmingly female — in fact, almost universally female. The practice has become so ruthlessly routine in many contemporary societies that it has impacted their very population structures, warping the balance between male and female births and consequently skewing the sex ratios for the rising generation toward a biologically unnatural excess of males. This still-growing international predilection for sex-selective abortion is by now evident in the demographic contours of dozens of countries around the globe — and it is sufficiently severe that it has come to alter the overall sex ratio at birth of the entire planet, resulting in millions upon millions of new “missing baby girls” each year. In terms of its sheer toll in human numbers, sex-selective abortion has assumed a scale tantamount to a global war against baby girls.

Initial Signal in China

A regular and quite predictable relationship between total numbers of male and female births is a fixed biological characteristic for human populations, as it is for other species of mammals. The discovery of the consistency, across time and space, of the sex ratio at birth (SRB) for human beings was one of the very earliest findings of the modern discipline of demography. (One of the founders of the field, the German priest and statistician Johann Peter Süssmilch, posited in 1741 that “the Creator’s reasons for ensuring four to five percent more boys than girls are born lie in the fact that it compensates for the higher male losses due to the recklessness of boys, to exhaustion, to dangerous occupations, to war, to seafaring and immigration, thus maintaining the balance between the two sexes so that everyone can find a spouse at the appropriate time for marriage.”)

Table 1. The Rise of
Gender Imbalance in China

Reported Sex Ratios at Birth and Sex Ratios of the Population Age 0-4: China, 1953-2005 (boys per 100 girls)
Year Sex Ratio at Birth Sex Ratio, Age 0-4
1953 – 107.0
1964 – 105.7
1982 108.5 107.1
1990 111.4 110.2
1995 115.6 118.4
1999 117.0 119.5
2005 118.9 122.7

Sources: William Lavely, “First Impressions of the 2000 Census of China,” as well as unpublished data from the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, Institute for Population and Labor Economics, 2008.

Medical and demographic research subsequently identified some differences in SRB that correspond with ethnicity, birth order, parental age, urbanization, environmental conditions, and other factors. But such differences were always quite small; until the 1980s, the SRB for large human populations tended to fall within a narrow range, usually around 103 to 106 newborn boys for every 100 newborn girls and typically centering no higher than 105. Until the 1980s, exceptions to this generality were mainly registered in small populations, and attributable to chance.

The modern phenomenon of biologically unnatural increase in the sex ratio at birth was first noticed in the 1980s for China, the world’s most populous country. In 1979, China promulgated its “One Child Policy,” a compulsory and at times coercive population-control program that continues to be enforced to this day (albeit with regional and temporal variations in severity). In 1982, China’s national population census — the first to be conducted in nearly two decades — reported an SRB of 108.5, a striking and disturbing demographic anomaly. Initially, researchers surmised that this abnormal imbalance might be in large part a statistical artifact, under the hypothesis that Chinese parents might be disposed to conceal the birth of a daughter so as to have another chance for a son, given the strict birth quotas so often decreed by the One Child Policy. But successive Chinese population censuses registered ever-higher SRBs. By the 2005 “mini-census” — a survey of 1 percent of the country’s population, conducted between the full censuses — China’s SRB approached 120, and the reported nationwide sex ratio for children under 5 was even higher (see Table 1). Although, as recently noted in a study by Daniel M. Goodkind in the journal Demography, there remain some discrepancies and inconsistencies among data sources (census numbers, vital registration reports, hospital delivery records, school enrollment figures, and so on) concerning China’s SRBs and child sex ratios over the past two decades, there is absolutely no doubt that shockingly distorted sex ratios for newborns and children prevail in China today — and that these gender imbalances have increased dramatically during the decades of the One Child Policy.

This is the unvarnished truth about the real war on women. Go read it all, as it’s packed with graphs, tables, statistics, and maps, like a good war briefing would. Roll clip!

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Sun Tzu, in his ancient classic The Art of War stated that “all warfare is based on deception.” It’s no different this time around. But a more modern scholar, Victor Davis Hanson, writing in his presciently titled bookThe Soul of Battle: From Ancient Times to the Present Day, How Three Great Liberators Vanquished Tyranny, notes that moral confidence plays a huge role in determining the winners in a war. From him I learned a phrase that buttresses my hope in this current struggle:

“Right, Makes Might.”

That dovetails nicely with what I also believe with a faith that no “principalities, nor present things, nor future things, nor powers” can ever hope to shake,

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him: and without him was made nothing that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.

There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. This man came for a witness, to give testimony of the light, that all men might believe through him. He was not the light, but was to give testimony of the light.

That was the true light, which enlighteneth every man that cometh into this world. He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. He came unto his own, and his own received him not. But as many as received him, he gave them power to be made the sons of God, to them that believe in his name. Who are born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

Thanks be to God.

UPDATE: Contracepting Religious Freedom, by Fr. Angelo Geiger.


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