The Briefing 08-24-15

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Ohio bill banning Down Syndrome abortions exposes shame of America for permitting such deaths

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Marches against Planned Parenthood across the nation on Saturday contained thousands

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Coalition opposes faith-based organizations receiving any federal funds in secular state

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North Korea shifts time zone in effort to assert independence from Japan and entire world

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Transcript

The Briefing

August 24, 2015

This is a rush transcript. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

 

It’s Monday, August 24, 2015, I’m Albert Mohler and this is The Briefing, a daily analysis of news and events from a Christian worldview.

 

Ohio bill banning Down Syndrome abortions exposes shame of America for permitting such deaths

Yesterday’s edition of the New York Times brought a headline that tells us a very great deal about where we are right now as a culture. The headline in the article that appeared yesterday is this, “Ohio bill would ban abortion if Down Syndrome is reason.”

The article is by Tamar Lewin. It’s datelined from Cleveland, Ohio, and the opening sentence is this, “Opening a new front in the abortion wars, abortion opponents are pushing Ohio to make it illegal for a doctor to perform an abortion if a woman is terminating her pregnancy to avoid having a baby with Down Syndrome.”

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Now let’s just consider for a moment that that sentence is the entirety of the article, that this is all we know. What this would tell us is that right now, it is legal in the state of Ohio for a woman to obtain an abortion—to terminate the life of the baby in her womb—for the sole reason of wanting to avoid having a baby that might have Down Syndrome.

Now what is uncontroversial in the article is the fact that according to those who are tracking the statistics, between 60% and 90% of all babies diagnosed with the likelihood of Down Syndrome in America are aborted in the womb right now.

Even though there are a handful of states in which there are laws that are intended to prevent or to restrict abortion just on the basis of genetic abnormality which would include Down Syndrome, the reality is that even as the article indicates, Ohio is one of most pro-life states in the union.

And the fact that this lands of the front page of the New York Times as it did and the fact that Ohio is just now considering this legislation as it is tells us that America has allowed this to happen. America has allowed for it to become routine for pregnancies in which there is a diagnosis of the likelihood of Down Syndrome to end with abortion. Those who were looking most closely at the statistics indicate that in that 60% to 90% spectrum the truth is almost assuredly at the very high end of that scale.

Some time ago on The Briefing, I mentioned that article in which OB/GYN’s in California indicated that many of them had actually not seen a baby born with Down Syndrome in a number of years, not because there has been a decrease of pregnancies in which there might be the possibility of Down Syndrome, but because those pregnancies are increasingly, if not almost universally in some areas, ending in abortion.

The state of Ohio has taken this up and as Tamar Lewin indicates, the legislature is expected to approve the measure this fall. And she explains, “Because lawmakers endorsed by the national right to life committee, which supports the bill, make up more than two thirds of both houses.”

So even if this looks like there is now a political likelihood that at least the house in Ohio is likely to pass this measure, this tells us that right now one of the supposedly most pro-life states in the union has no restriction that would prevent a woman from having an abortion for the singular reason of avoiding having a baby with Down Syndrome.

There is actually far more here than first meets the eye. And many Americans are basically unaware of this, or at least they don’t allow themselves to think about it. Ever since the Roe v. Wade decision in 1973—at least in the early months of the pregnancy—a woman can have an abortion for any reason or for no reason. She can simply have what is now defined as abortion on demand.

Rarely do you see the great worldview divide over the sanctity and dignity of human life in such stark relief as you do in this front-page New York Times article. Lewin quotes Mike Gonidakis, the president of Ohio Right to Life, who said that his group is making this bill a priority because Down Syndrome, “Is so recognizable, so easily diagnosed in pregnancy, and is so likely to lead to an abortion.”

He said,

“We all want to be born perfect. But none of us are, and everyone has a right to live – perfect or not. You go to any supermarket or mall and see those families who just happened to have a child with Down Syndrome, and they will tell you how fortunate they are to have those children. Pretty soon, we’re going to find the gene for autism. Are we going to abort for that, too?”

But as Lewin says,

“abortion rights lawyers say such a law would violate the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision, which guarantees a woman’s right to seek an abortion until the fetus is viable. They also say that by focusing on the diagnosis of a fetal condition, it edges toward recognizing the fetus as a person, setting up a conflict between the mother’s interests and those of the fetus.”

Now I was expecting to see the argument made very clear in the article, but I wasn’t expecting for the pro-abortion argument to be quite that clear. Here you have Tamara Lewin in the New York Times reporting quite accurately that those who are opposed to this law are stating that one of the dangers as they see it in the law is that it implies the recognition of the fetus as a person. That they are steadfastly determined not to do.

That is the most clarifying issue in terms of this great worldview divide. Is the fetus a human person and is the fetus of moral value? The moment that the pro-abortion argument concedes even a millimeter on that argument they know they begin to lose, and that is why they are so opposed to this kind of law and that is why the fact that this law is now gaining traction in the Ohio legislature poses such a direct threat to the entire abortion industry.

In recent days we talked about the assisted suicide and euthanasia movements indicating the slide from a right to die to a duty to die. One of the things this also embedded in this article is the fact that there is now the argument coming from medical practitioners – that is not all that some – that a woman who has this diagnosis actually has an implied duty to abort the baby rather than to allow it to be born.

Cited in the article is a woman, Rachel Mullen, she’s 43, the mother of three. She heads the recently formed Cuyahoga County chapter of Ohio Right to Life. She said in an interview that her doctors had pressured her to have an abortion after an early screening test in one of her pregnancies showed the possibility of Down Syndrome. She said,

“They told me that I should get an abortion fast, so no one would know I was pregnant and I wouldn’t have the stigma of abortion, that it would be doing the child a favor,”

Speaking of her own experience, she said,

“As soon as babies are born, they’re protected by the Americans With Disabilities Act, but we need this bill so that they can be born, and not culled.”

That verb this mother used, ‘culled’ is particularly ominous. It’s a word that is common in terms of animal husbandry, raising animals or herds, such as cattle. Culling the herd simply refers to removing inferior animals so that they will not have the opportunity to contaminate the genetic pool of the herd by reproduction. That is exactly what’s going on here and that is exactly what this mother identified, and she did so in the context of being pressured by doctors to have an abortion as if it’s her moral duty. Once there was the diagnosis of the likelihood of Down Syndrome.

Another very interesting aspect of this is that her child in about not having Down Syndrome, which is another indication that one moral aspect of this is the fact that these technologies often return false positives. Now, the reality is that this mother’s very clear, if the test had been positive and the child been born with Down Syndrome, she would’ve welcomed the child fully into her family. But this is yet another indication of the logic of the abortion industry and the logic of the culture of death coming now not just in terms of a so-called right to abortion, but a duty to abort if there is a diagnosis of the child is, in the view of the larger society, suboptimal.

This is where the argument by Mr. Gonidakis is really, really important. Because he’s absolutely right. Pretty soon, there’s going to be a genetic indicator for any number of issues. He mentions autism. How soon will it be until the right to abort for autism becomes a duty to abort? How long will it be until parents are told the child simply is going to need profound medical care? How long will it be before parents say, ‘I don’t want this child because of a likelihood the child is going to be nearsighted?’ And here’s an even more profound reality. If our parents, following this logic, had a complete genetic layout of who we are in terms of the genome before we’re born how many of us ever would’ve been born?

The article ends by citing Chrisse France who’s identified as the executive director of what’s known as the Preterm Clinic, which does about 5000 abortions a year in Ohio. About 66 of which she identified as being for genetic fetal abnormalities. Lewin says that she argued that the main effective restrictive laws is, to use her own words, “to squeeze vulnerable women and make them feel more ashamed. And that’s what the Down Syndrome law would do too.”

Well in response, we simply have to say the entire American society bears this responsibility, and the entire American society should be deeply horrifyingly ashamed. And being ashamed, according to the Christian worldview, is just the start of  it.

Marches against Planned Parenthood across the nation on Saturday contained thousands

Meanwhile, even as the controversy over the Planned Parenthood videos continues to expand and intensify marches in support of life were held outside of Planned Parenthood and Planned Parenthood affiliate clinics in many cities across the country. According to Peter Holley of the Washington Post, demonstrations unfolded at about 320 clinics around the nation. Here in Louisville it’s estimated that several hundred people, including I’m glad to say, many students from Southern Seminary and Boyce College, participated in the march the began at 9 o’clock on Saturday morning. We should note that even as many in the mainstream media did give attention to these marches that took place on Saturday morning, some tried to dismiss them as did the website ThinkProgress. And the way it identified with the place on Saturday tells us again a great deal of where we stand in terms of this controversy. Erica Hellerstein writes,

“On Saturday, thousands of anti-abortion protestors demonstrated in front of Planned Parenthood clinics throughout the nation, calling for the defunding of one of the country’s largest health providers.

Just consider the way that sentence is written. Calling for the defunding of one of the countries “largest health providers.” As if that’s really what Planned Parenthood is really all about. And as if these videos don’t even matter in terms of what they have demonstrated in terms of not only the abortion of babies, but the tearing apart of their bodies in order to sell organs and tissues from those babies. The second paragraph is like unto the first. She writes,

‘The “National Day of Protest,” planned by a coalition of anti-abortion groups at 300 locations nationwide, came a day after the Center for Medical Progress, a right-wing anti-abortion group that has employed a long-term strategy intended to discredit the health organization, released its newest video on Friday.”

There once again, you have Planned Parenthood identified as a health organization, and you have the pro-life movement identified as “a right-wing antiabortion group.”

Coalition opposes faith-based organizations receiving any federal funds in secular state

Meanwhile on Friday Adelle M. Banks of Religion News Service ran a story that was headlined “Critics Petition Obama to Abolish Faith-Based Hiring Bias.” Adelle Banks wrote,

“Concerned that faith-based groups can discriminate in hiring while receiving federal funds, a coalition of 130 organizations told President Obama the policy will tarnish his legacy of fair and equal treatment for all Americans.”

The background of this goes back to the administration of George W. Bush, which in terms of his ‘compassionate conservatism’ agenda called for the funding in terms of federal tax dollars of the work being done by many organizations, especially social service organizations and benevolent organizations that were tied to religious groups, to churches, or to denominations. Back during his presidency, President Bush had supported the right of religious organizations to remain true to their own convictions in terms of hiring even when they were receiving federal funds through these kinds of tax dollars. His office of legal counsel back on June 29 of 2007 issued a memorandum saying that religious organizations could continue to hire by their own convictions, even when receiving these federal funds.

And those who signed this letter are not publicly calling on Pres. Obama to revoke that memorandum and the policy. And that something as they note, Pres. Obama actually pledged to do back when he was running for president in 2008 he said,

“If you get a federal grant, you can’t use that grant money to proselytize to the people you help and you can’t discriminate against them — or against the people you hire — on the basis of their religion,”

Maggie Garrett, representing the group known as Americans United for Separation of Church and State, said, “It’s time for him to fulfill that promise.”

I have a copy of the actual letter that the 130 signed and then sent to Pres. Obama. The organizations listed on the letterhead include the American Baptist Home Mission Society, the American Humanist Association, Americans United for Separation of Church And State, the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the Council for Secular Humanism, Dignity USA, Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders (known as GLAAD), Gay and Lesbian Activist Alliance of Washington, GLSEN, the Interfaith Alliance, Lambda Legal, the Methodist Federation for Social Action, NARAL, Pro-Choice America, the National Abortion Federation, the National Center for Lesbian Rights, the National Center for Transgender Equality, the National LGBTQ Task Force, the Religious Coalition For Reproductive Choice, the Unitarian Universalist Association, and the United Methodist Church General Board of Church and Society. What could possibly call together this motley crew of organizations?

It is the determination that in a secular state absolutely no tax dollars go to any organization, regardless of the work that it is doing that is allowed to discriminate, especially when it comes to hiring, in terms of its own religious convictions. This is really an extreme position, and the proof positive of that is the fact that Pres. Obama, even though he made a pledge to revoke that memorandum back when he was running for president in 2008, has not done so until now.

So now you have this organization of 130 very left-leaning organizations that have banded together for the solitary purpose of calling upon Pres. Obama to put an end to the allowance of religious conviction on the part of organizations doing benevolent work even when they are receiving taxpayer money. Now the background of this is rather complicated from a Christian worldview. On the one hand you have the realization that this is the logic of a secular state and its moral revolutions. This is how it works. This is an outright call for a secularization of all taxpayer-funded benevolence programs in the United States. Now what makes that particularly important is the fact that there are many communities where the only provider of certain services is a religious organization. So you’ll note that the logic of this secular coercion is they will simply have to do without, rather than for the secular state to allow even to have the slightest foot in the door in terms of religious conviction.

The other side of this comes from my perspective, from the fact that I am a Baptist, and I am absolutely determined that it is wrong under almost every conceivable circumstance for a Christian organization to take Caesar’s money without expecting Caesar eventually the claim a right to run the organization. The organization I lead takes absolutely no tax money of any sort, and participates in absolutely no taxpayer-funded scholarships, loan programs, or grants. And that’s the way it should be.

But at the same time, I have to register alarm at the logic of a secular state, as represented in this motley crew as I said, in 130 different signatories to this letter indicating that they are willing for people to go without services then have the services come from someone who operates. for example, from classical Christian or Jewish morality. This also points to a dilemma that as we have already stated repeatedly, is going to expand far beyond benevolent organizations and social service institutions to Christian colleges and universities in any other who are involved in any way, in any dimension of federal funding. Or for that matter, government funding that may come from the 50 states, or even from local government.

The reality is the principle has always been true. When Caesar contributes, Caesar controls. Eventually if Caesar is putting gas in the tank, Caesar will want to drive the car. And when you add the power of the secular state to the kind of moral revolution we are now experiencing, you end up with a letter just like this.

Finally on this topic, you’ll note again that this called together the most interesting assortment of 130 different organizations bound together, in this case, by one central purpose and that is to make sure that there is no organization anywhere in this country receiving even a penny of taxpayer support that might be operating out of traditional religious conviction. Not one.

North Korea shifts time zone in effort to assert independence from Japan and entire world

Finally, one of the tasks borne by any parent when it comes to raising children is helping children (or for that matter teenagers) to understand they really do not exist in their own little world. Evidently there are some countries that have yet to learn that lesson. Here’s a headline that came in North Korea; “North Korea to Move 30 Minutes Backward to Create Its Own Time Zone.” Choe Sang-Hun, reporting from Seoul, tells us that,

“North Korea, a hermetic country stuck in the Cold War and obsessed with its long-dead founder, now wants to turn back time. By a half hour.”

The government in Pyongyang announced that is going to create its own time zone to be known as Pyongyan time. And has set its clocks 30 minutes behind those of South Korea and Japan. As Sang-Hun says the change took  place on August 15, which was the 70th anniversary of Japan’s defeat in World War II, and that defeat freed the Korean Peninsula from the Japanese rule that so shaped and reshaped that society. Before this 30 minute time change, the time on the Korean peninsula had been nine hours ahead of Coordinated Universal Time (that used to be called Greenwich Mean Time), but in announcing the change the North Korean government’s propaganda ministry said,

“The wicked Japanese imperialists committed such unpardonable crimes as depriving Korea of even its standard time.”

So now North Korea says is going to have its own time zone, Pyongyang time, set 30 minutes behind South Korea and Japan.

Meanwhile, in a far more sinister and serious note, in the last several days, especially over the weekend, tensions between North and South Korea reach the point at which they were standing on the brink of open warfare once again. And once again, it was the paranoia of the North Korean regime that brought this to pass. The North Korean regime militarized its full deployment of armed services and claimed that it was doing so because South Korea was sending propaganda noise across the northern border with North Korea in a way that embarrassed the North Korean regime. Of course, as I said North Korea was to live in its own world, that’s why the New York Times referred to it as a hermetic kingdom. In other words, it’s a kingdom that wants to live like a hermit. But on the other hand, it’s a kingdom that also is highly militaristic, and as the story says is also obsessed with its long dead, ruler which it absolutely worships in a state religion known as juche. So now North Korea wants to live in a world all unto itself, having its own time zone, meaning that if a horrifying word did break out, as is threatened between North and South Korea, it would begin at the same moment, but not at the same time.

Dr. Mohler recording The Briefing