Welcome

I’m a bioethicist, human rights advocate, and blogger based in Washington, DC.

  • Sohrab Ahmari writes on the threat that the New Right will be co-opted into the old right.

    In the wake of Roe v. Wade’s reversal, I think it’s worth considering what the old right has delivered culturally and politically. The answer that comes to mind is: accommodation. The reversal of Roe v. Wade was achieved for distinct and apparently unrepeatable reasons, including decades of moral clarity and political campaigning by pro-life advocates who often had to lead the political establishment reluctantly in its direction on the issue. On nearly every issue other than abortion, the old right has offered what it considers prudential accommodation to cultural and political degeneration and decay. Its institutions fought, but rarely won.

    American culture has shifted markedly, and almost never due to the wishes of voters. The New Right, as far as I can tell, proposes to reverse this dynamic, and for that reason its dynamism and health should be protected from those who would wear it as a sort of costume.

    This doesn’t need to mean hostility and it doesn’t need to mean suspicion of tactical alliances. But it should involve clarity and frankness about the costs of continuing to engage in the politics of accommodation on a host of issues versus recovering the politics of regeneration.

  • Dr. Christina Francis and Catherine Glenn Foster write in Newsweek that physicians can save pregnant women’s lives without abortion. I think this is an important piece, because it helps to clarify what abortion is.

    Abortion is a specific intervention whose direct and intentional purpose is to end the life of a preborn child. This is why abortion laws hinge in intent.

    If a medical intervention is not done with the primary intention of ending a child’s life—even if the foreseen but unintentional result of that intervention is the demise of the child—then it is not an abortion:

    We are now living in a post-Roe v. Wade America, and women are already being bombarded by heavy-handed pro-abortion messages suggesting that abortion bans will block access to authentic medical care and treatments. Women in states that enact legislation protecting life, fear-mongering pro-abortion voices shout, won’t be able to receive treatment for pregnancy complications that thousands face every year—from ectopic pregnancy to miscarriage. …

    The main problem for the pro-abortion narrative is that abortion is, in fact, not necessary to treat pregnancy complications. According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, an induced abortion is a procedure intended to terminate a pregnancy so that it does not result in a live birth. In other words, the specific purpose of an induced abortion is to end the life of a preborn child. From a medical standpoint, this is never necessary. This fact is clear in the case of miscarriage management, which in no way involves ending a life, only the removal of an embryo or fetus who is already deceased.

    Other difficult pregnancy conditions may require doctors to separate a mother from her preborn child to save her life—but this is not the same as an abortion. For example, even Planned Parenthood acknowledges that managing an ectopic pregnancy—in which the embryo implants outside of the uterus, often causing life-threatening hemorrhage—is not an abortion. Other pregnancy complications, such as chorioamnionitis—an infection of the fetal membranes potentially leading to sepsis—must be treated by separating the mother and preborn child via premature delivery. These treatments are done with the explicit intent of saving the woman’s life. They allow doctors to attempt to preserve the child’s life—or, if that’s not possible, to treat them with the dignity they deserve. Abortion offers preborn children no such respect.

    There is a crucial disconnect between how abortionists define abortion, and how physicians and lawmakers define abortion, and this piece speaks in to that to connect some of the dots for folks who wrongly believe, for instance, that miscarriage management involves abortion.

  • Peter Thiel once famously observed, “We wanted flying cars, instead we got 140 characters,” referring to Twitter. “We are no longer living in a technologically accelerating world,” Thiel said nearly a decade ago. “There is an incredible sense of deceleration.”

    Despite so much happening in the world of software and information technology, there has been relatively little in the way of transformation innovation—little in the way of truly new technology. We appear to be in an area of iterative change, of mimicking, of competitive copying. But even Amazon, as Gladden Pappen notes in the talk I’m sharing today, is little more than an iterative take on the mail order catalogue, reimagined in light of changed circumstances:

    I notice when it takes nine months for construction workers to replace one worn-out escalator, as it did this past year at the Brookland-CUA WMATA Metro station near my home. This is an example of Pappen’s observation that, letting alone entirely the question of new technologies, we seem to be struggling simply to maintain past innovations.

    “The point, I think, that is the one I’m attempting to make in response to modern innovation,” says Pappen at the 39:30 mark, “is that for Aristotle, aiming at innovation causes destruction. Aiming at preservation, allows and requires the right kind of change, or fosters the right kind of change.”

  • Dr. John Bruchalski, a physician who previously performed abortions, was the recipient of Notre Dame’s 2022 Evangelium Vitae Medal:

    Dr. Bruchalski founded, alongside his wife, Divine Mercy Care and Tepeyac. I’ll be speaking with Dr. Bruchalski in an episode of AUL’s “Life, Liberty, and Law” in the coming weeks.

    “Dr. Bruchalski is a shining example of the Church’s untiring commitment to directly serving mothers, children, and families,” said O. Carter Snead, director of the de Nicola Center for Ethics and Culture. “His personal conversion story is a compelling example of the power of God’s grace to transform hearts, and his visionary work at Tepeyac OB/GYN over the past 27 years is an invitation to each of us to employ our talents in service to building a civilization of life and love.”

    My wife and I were drawn to Tepeyac through word of mouth from friends. We can attest: it’s a praiseworthy and distinctive medical practice. I wish more medical practices were like Tepeyac.

  • Catherine Glenn Foster, President & CEO of Americans United for Life, writes today in First Things on the grim reality of how abortionists dispose of their victims:

    In most jurisdictions, the victims of abortion are denied the dignity of a humane burial or cremation. Once those children’s bodies have been reassembled in bloody pieces on an examining table—for the macabre purpose of ensuring that the abortionist has left no part of the dead child in her mother—that child’s body is unceremoniously sealed up and callously labeled as medical waste. This treatment is itself a tragedy that reflects the dehumanizing logic of abortion culture. Yet it also raises urgent moral questions: What happens to that “medical waste”? And how do we know, precisely, whether the medical waste in our community includes the bodies of the human victims of abortion? …

    The CDC’s ambiguous language surrounding medical waste provides further political cover for abortion businesses to dispose of victims as a form of solid waste. CDC guidelines describe medical waste as the equivalent of household waste: “No epidemiological evidence suggests that most of the solid- or liquid wastes from hospitals, other healthcare facilities, or clinical/research laboratories is any more infective than residential waste.” “Precisely defining medical waste,” the guidelines state, “is virtually impossible.” The CDC’s ambiguity, combined with abortion businesses’ lack of oversight in most jurisdictions, means abortion providers are often free to do whatever they want when it comes to the bodies of their victims. …

    In 2016, Fox News reported on leaked footage from National Abortion Federation conferences. The footage showed a Michigan abortionist stating that there were “about 45 [abortion] clinics in the Detroit metropolitan area and many of them were using garbage disposals” to dispose of human remains, citing “a 40-year-old law in the state of Michigan that said medical waste was fine to go in the sewer system.” …

    Earlier this year, activists from Progressive Anti-Abortion Uprising (PAAU) announced at a press conference that they had recovered the remains of 115 aborted children killed at Washington Surgi-Clinic, an abortion facility in downtown D.C. The bodies of the children, contained in a large box (labeled “Curtis Bay Energy” and “Biohazard”), were allegedly turned over to the activists by an employee of the Curtis Bay medical waste company. Curtis Bay publicly disclosed on its website that it manages “the largest medical waste incinerator in the US” and “utilizes Waste-to-Energy incineration to safely convert infectious/biomedical waste and non-hazardous pharmaceuticals into useful energy.” After PAAU’s press conference, Curtis Bay’s website was scrubbed of any reference to its Waste-to-Energy program. The “Our Process” page now simply references their “sustainable and consistent environmental processing technology.” …

    We know that human victims of abortion are treated as medical waste by abortion businesses. We know, too, that medical waste is routinely incinerated, increasingly through “waste-to-energy” initiatives. Abortion businesses are never going to advertise that they dispose of aborted persons as medical waste. Waste disposal companies, for their part, have little incentive to track the precise journey of solid or medical waste originating from abortion businesses, let alone to publicly disclose such information. But lawmakers, regulators, and investigative reporters can and should connect the dots. 

    This is one of those things no one really wants to think about. But we must think about it, for the sake at least of the health and safety of our utilities and waterways, and much more directly for the sake of our humanity.

  • Chiesa di San Salvatore

    I arrived back in Florence mid-afternoon yesterday and met up with MaryKate. We walked home past the Piazza Ognissanti, where we stopped for a while. We’re lying down in the piazza and that’s our view in the main photo.

    The Westin Excelsior Florence is (not visible) on our right and the St. Regis Florence is (not visible) on our left, with the Chiesa di San Salvatore front and center. The Church of San Salvatore was home for two centuries to a Carmelite convent until it was suppressed during French occupation. Today there is a school there. As we were sitting in the square today in the late afternoon, presumably a pilgrimage group emerged, singing. The rest of the photos are from this morning, on a walk back from the Duomo.

    What beautiful moments these are. We’ve experienced a few of these over the past few weeks.

  • To Florence from Frankfurt

    I slept most of the morning in the Frankfurt Airport waiting for my connecting flight to Florence. It struck me that this was my first time back in Germany since 1989, when my mother and I were here for her Fulbright studies.

    The views from the flight were fantastic. The first aerial view was taken shortly after takeoff over Germany, the second someplace along the Alps, and the third near Florence. I took the streetcar from the Florence Airport downtown and walked for a while.

    Europe has been experiencing a heatwave, so light breezes of the sort that wafted over me as I walked were especially welcome.

  • Back to Europe

    Back to Europe

    Our team at Americans United for Life concluded our three intense days for our annual All Team together in Washington, DC. We took stock of the fiscal year just ended, the success that is Roe v. Wade’s reversal and the opportunities for human rights that are now possible, and vision cast for the year to come.

    I am now on a flight back to Europe. I’ll continue working remotely from Florence this month and will be taking some time away in August while we travel a bit.

    The Nationals fell to the Mariners, but it was a beautiful day for a ballgame. My Uber to Washington Dulles might be one of my last, if Metro ever gets its Silver Line extension to the airport operational.

    I’m flying to Frankfurt and will land around 7am, with a five hour layover before a connecting flight to Florence.

  • Summer glow in the District

    I’m getting back late after another day of our All Team meetings at the office. All of us getting off at Brookland-CUA Metro tonight were treated to radiant sunset skies:

    There’s that saying that sometimes things “hang in the air”. Tonight, some of the richest colors were hanging in the air.

  • Back in Washington, briefly

    I am back in Washington, DC this week for our annual gathering with the Americans United for Life team. We’ll have a few intensive days of All Team meetings and hopefully head out later this week with renewed energy and focus.

    I caught an early morning flight yesterday from Florence with a layover in Brussels and skipped much of the passport control line in order to make my connecting flight to Washington Dulles.

    The fatigue of travel is offset by the sights seen along the way:

    Before we came together in person today, I spent a little while at the National Shrine of the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception and enjoyed the quiet of Catholic University’s summertime campus:

    It’s good (strange, too) to be back in Washington for a few days. I’ll catch a flight back to Florence on Wednesday night.