Obama’s Failed Poker Bluff

It has been a big two weeks for both the pro-life and religious freedom causes.  We saw the Supreme Court rule unanimously that the 35-foot buffer zone around abortion clinics in Massachusetts violated the pro-life advocates and sidewalk counselors right to free speech.  And this week we saw the Supreme Court, in a narrow 5-4 “Hobby Lobby” decision, rule that the government cannot force private employers to provide health plans that include coverage for operations, procedures, and medications that run counter to their personal religious beliefs.

U.S. Supreme Court building.
U.S. Supreme Court building. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I really liked what Creative Minority Report wrote about the unintentional consequences of Obama‘s efforts to limit the role religion plays in the public square.  It’s a short article that reads:

The great irony of Obama’s unrelenting assault on religious freedom may have had the unintended effect of strengthening religious freedom.

When the Obama administration went to the mattresses on arguments such as declaring that religious schools do not have the right to hire and fire for mission they got unanimously smacked down by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Now, the Administration is red-faced again with the high court ruling that it doesn’t have the power to force “closely held companies” to provide contraceptive coverage. That’s a big deal.

It would be ironic if the overall effect of the Obama administration on religious liberty is a strengthening rather than a deleterious one.

Politics is a lot like a giant poker game.  I enjoy playing poker.  Sometimes I win, but more often I lose.  I lose when I try to force every hand into a big win.  Even when I don’t have a good hand I think to myself that I can bluff my way into winning.  I essentially get impatient and just want to take every pot which is not a smart way to play.  When I take that impatient, “go big all the time” strategy I will usually be the first one to bust out.  I win (or at least stay in the game longer) when I play strategically and take small losses when I’m in an unfavorable situation and moderate gains when I  can.

Like a game of poker, the pro-choice and big government crowds have been playing a very strategic game the last few decades.  It wasn’t overnight that a majority of pregnancies in New York City end in abortion rather than birth.  It wasn’t overnight that Planned Parenthood started receiving millions of dollars in federal funding and built massive clinics in every city in the US.  The pro-abortion crowd has built up their “winnings” by taking small wins here and there and never trying to force a win under unfavorable conditions.  It also helped them by staying away from imposing large, sweeping changes all at once.  That would be like broadcasting to the poker table that you have a straight flush by putting in too much money too quickly.

Poker Night
Poker Night (Photo credit: IanMurphy)

But in recent years, the pro-choice crowd flipped and started playing more of the “go big or go home” strategy to their disadvantage.  Maybe they felt emboldened by their earlier victories that they felt like they could make some big plays to really solidify their position in US law.  Maybe they thought that their opposition was so weak that they could continue to push their agenda even further without anyone putting up fight.  Fortunately for the pro-life cause, Obama went “all in” with the HHS contraception mandate and lost.  He looked at his two pair and thought that would be enough to win the hand.  Unfortunately for him, the US Constitution was sitting at the table with a full house and didn’t fold.

But this isn’t the beginning of the end of the debates over abortion, life, freedom of speech, and freedom of religion.  Rather, it’s the end of the beginning.  Although the pro-life battle has been going on for decades, the millions of lives lost to abortion have really hinged on a few court cases and laws.  And our basic freedoms of speech and religion have only been tested a few dozen times in the high courts.  And while sometimes the legal precedent generates a unanimous 9-0 decision like in the Massachusetts case, other times it really comes down to a single justice’s interpretation of the law.

Given just how fragile and how quickly the pro-life cause and our freedoms can change, it is doubly important to maintain those prayers.  Much like how the Hobby Lobby decision came down to a single justice (I have no idea why it wasn’t a 9-0 decision), these cases may also come down to a single prayer.  We should never think that our prayers don’t matter or influence our world.  Our mother Mary has repeatedly said that prayer is the greatest tool we have to further God’s kingdom and bring His grace to others.  Who knows?  Maybe it’s your rosary prayer and intentions for our government officials that might tip the scale in the next important policy decision.  It may be our prayers that plant a seed in a judge’s heart to look at a case one more time and possibly have a change of heart.

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The Unborn — The Good, the Sad, and the Terrifying

Since this past week was the 40th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Roe vs. Wade decision and pro-life week, my RSS feed was filled with articles relating to abortion, contraception, and reproductive rights discussion.  Since many of my feeds are from the Catholic News Agency, Create Minority Report, the Blaze, etc., many of the articles focused on the pro-life movement such as the marches in Washington D.C. and in San Francisco.  But I did also come across articles and news reports from “the other side” arguing the pro-choice viewpoint.  What I read was both sad and terrifying and really drove home our need to pray for our wayward brothers and sisters who cling to these radical abortion ideas.

My first journey down the rabbit hole lead me to Salon.com and an article titled “So what if abortion ends life?”  I knew I should have stopped reading the article right after “so what,” but I soldiered on.  The author, Mary Elizabeth Williams, says that the pro-choice side should just admit that a fetus is a human life but women should still have a right to an abortion anyway.  She argues (and not very well mind you) that referring to the fetus as a human life is some sort of scare tactic by the pro-life side.  She says:

We’re so intimidated by the wingnuts, we get spooked out of having these conversations. We let the archconservatives browbeat us with the concept of “life,” using their scare tactics on women and pushing for indefensible violations like forced ultrasounds. Why? Because when they wave the not-even-accurate notion that “abortion stops a beating heart” they think they’re going to trick us into some damning admission. They believe that if we call a fetus a life they can go down the road of making abortion murder. And I think that’s what concerns the hell out of those of us who support unrestricted reproductive freedom.

Yeah, I know.  She used the “terror of ultrasounds” card.  If you have the stomach for it, read the entire article.  It would almost make for great satire until you realize the author is being dead serious in her assertions.  I think the pro-life side can take comfort that the pro-abortion crowd is reduced to the grade school “so what?” defence since the ethical, philosophical  medical, and scientific arguments all lean towards the pro-life movement.  But it’s also sad that the pro-choice lobby can put up such a weak defence and yet the pro-life movement has to work so hard to change any laws to protect the most innocent amongst us.  But no one ever said the government creates laws based on logical and well-reasoned arguments.

Here’s a little bit of good news.  According to an article in Time magazine titled “What Choice?“, fewer people are even listening to the Mary Elizabeth Williams of the world.  The pro-choice movement is dying.  Just take a look at the numbers — 500,000 marched for life in Washington D.C. and close to 50,000 marched in San Francisco last week.  Only 300 people attended a city-sponsored Roe vs. Wade celebration in San Francisco.  I guess celebrating 40 years of murdering the unborn with Sandra Fluke wasn’t a great reason to break out the party hats.  Also, the pro-life movement is filled with new life as the younger generation chooses to embrace the fact that the unborn are human lives with meaning and deserve protection.  The pro-choice crowd just has “so what?”

What RosaryMeds Do I Need?

A shrinking, yet still vocal segment of society has a chronic case of sowhatitis.  Symptoms include ignoring all scientific, medical, and philosophical evidence that prevents them from getting their way.  People with sowhatitis are seen in small groups and usually stay away from large crowds made up of younger generations.  I prescribe a healthy dose of meditating on the Third Sorrowful Mystery of the rosary — The Crowning of Thorns.  Remember, the Roman soldiers who mocked Jesus by crowning Him with thorns did not know what they were doing.  If their hearts were open, even the slightest, to Jesus’ message they wouldn’t have mocked Him so.  The pro-choice crowd finds themselves in a similar situation.  Many of them have such hardened hearts they are not aware of the mockery they make of their own humanity by advocating for the murder of the unborn.  The Roman soldiers did not see the greatness of Jesus and His message of love and compassion, but only saw a weak and beaten man who was an easy target for mockery.  Likewise, the pro-choice crowd does not see the inherit value of all human life but only see the unborn as a burden and abortion as a seemingly easy solution to eliminate that burden.  We pray the rosary for the conversion of their hearts and that we find the power and strength to continue fighting for what is right.

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