Visiting the Senate

Catherine Glenn Foster testified before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee this morning on S. 160, Sen. Lindsey Graham’s “Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act.” It was a beautiful day for important testimony, some of which I’m sharing here:

Human life in the womb is recognized and protected in federal law and by the laws of most states against crimes of violence. The Unborn Victims of Violence Act makes it a federal crime to kill or cause bodily injury to an unborn human in utero. 18 U.S.C. § 1841(a)(1). Thirty-eight states currently treat the killing of an preborn human as homicide, with at least twenty-eight of those states criminalizing the act from conception. Nearly all fifty states, as well as the District of Columbia, have wrongful death statues, allowing recovery for the death of an unborn human or the subsequent death of an infant born alive who was injured while in utero. Outside of the context of elective abortion, the medical profession recognizes that a physician treating a pregnant mother has two patients, the maternal patient and the fetal patient, and owes duties of care to each.

The regulation of abortion after twenty weeks simply recognizes that there is substantial medical evidence that the preborn child feels pain by that point. However, the question of when a fetus can experience pain has been the subject of some debate over the last two decades. There is research to show that the sensory connections for feeling pain are present by 20 weeks gestation. In fact, there is a steadily increasing body of medical evidence and literature supporting the conclusion that a fetus may feel pain from around 11 to 13 weeks, or even as early as 5.5 weeks. Indeed, there is some evidence that fetal suffering may actually be more intense due to the uneven maturation of fetal neurophysiology. A British survey of neuroscientists showed that 80% of the neuroscientists participating in the survey felt that pain relief should be given to a fetus for abortions after 11 weeks gestation.

Moreover, medical information on fetal neurological development and a child’s consequent ability to feel pain in the womb is a concern of women considering abortion, and therefore providing this information is relevant for a woman to make a fully-informed choice on whether or not to obtain an abortion. In light of this, six states have laws requiring abortion facilities to give women information on fetal pain. Arkansas, Kansas, Louisiana, Minnesota, Missouri, and Oklahoma require physicians to inform women of the possibility of fetal pain at 20 weeks gestation. Additionally, Georgia requires abortion facilities to inform women orally prior to an abortion that fetal pain information is available on a state-sponsored website.

Insofar as the existence of pain in the preborn infant at or before 20 weeks is firmly established in the congressional findings of S. 160, and reflects a reasonable reliance by Congress on current medical science, protecting infants in the womb from intense pain felt during an abortion is an appropriate and constitutional state interest in restricting abortion beyond this time frame. Gonzales, 550 U.S. at 163 (“The Court has given state and federal legislatures wide discretion to pass legislation in areas where there is medical and scientific uncertainty.”).

Cherry blossoms

It’s Cherry blossom season in Washington and elsewhere. I’m sharing two scenes from this past week. The first is a view from the corner of M and Wisconsin in Georgetown one morning on my way to work. The second is a glimpse of the cherry blossoms.

I was able to drive past the Tidal Basin in Washington earlier this week, and even the view from the car as we snaked along the edge of the water was great. Here’s some history of American cherry blossoms:

Japan gave 3,020 cherry blossom trees as a gift to the United States in 1912 to celebrate the nations’ then-growing friendship, replacing an earlier gift of 2,000 trees which had to be destroyed due to disease in 1910. These trees were planted in Sakura Park in Manhattan and line the shore of the Tidal Basin and the roadway in East Potomac Park in Washington, D.C. The first two original trees were planted by first lady Helen Taft and Viscountess Chinda on the bank of the Tidal Basin. The gift was renewed with another 3,800 trees in 1965. In Washington, D.C. the cherry blossom trees continue to be a popular tourist attraction (and the subject of the annual National Cherry Blossom Festival) when they reach full bloom in early spring. …

Philadelphia is also home to over 2,000 flowering Japanese cherry trees, half of which were a gift from the Japanese government in 1926 in honor of the 150th anniversary of American independence, with the other half planted by the Japan America Society of Greater Philadelphia between 1998 and 2007. …

Other US cities have an annual cherry blossom festival (or sakura matsuri), including the International Cherry Blossom Festival in Macon, Georgia, which features over 300,000 cherry trees. The Brooklyn Botanic Garden in New York City also has a large, well-attended festival.

Catholic University’s Maloney Hall

Andrew V. Abela, provost of The Catholic University of America, writes on the opening of the Busch School of Business’s renovated Maloney Hall:

Originally constructed in 1917, it is a beautiful stone building that has long been a mainstay in the university’s life and work in Washington, D.C. Now, it will serve as the hub for several hundred students a year, as they learn to be entrepreneurs and business leaders inspired by the Catholic faith.

This building is centered around a brand-new chapel, and, in a very real sense, so is the entire business school. We don’t believe that business presents a choice between capitalism and socialism, or between right and left. Instead, we enable our students to ground their business decisions in Catholic Social Doctrine, which transcends partisan distinctions and holds the potential to transform our economy in extraordinary ways. …

The principles of Catholic Social Doctrine, developed carefully over more than a century, define the education that our students receive. For instance: They invite students to uphold both the principle of “solidarity,” which is our responsibility to care for others, and “subsidiarity,” the idea that decisions should be made by those closest to the point of impact.

Our students also wrestle with the principle of private property and the universal destination of goods. The first teaches that human beings have the right to manage their own property. The second says to use that property for the good of others.

And students discover the interrelationship between markets and virtue. Often framed as contradictory, markets and virtue are complementary – and in fact, they each need the other. The market economy provides the economic freedom where virtuous citizens can prosper and lift each other out of poverty. Similarly, virtues like trustworthiness, hard work, honesty, and courage, all of which are first cultivated in non-market institutions like the family, churches, and educational institutions — are essential for the existence of the market economy. …

We need courageous people who reject lying, cheating, stealing, and coercion. Above all else, we need well-formed women and men who understand the purpose of business – who seek success only by helping others succeed.

“Laws without morals are in vain.”

‘Glimpses that would make me less forlorn’

A scene near Christ Church, Georgetown Episcopal and a bit of Wordsworth:

“The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers;
Little we see in nature that is ours;
We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!
This sea that bares her bosom to the moon;
The winds that will be howling at all hours,
And are up-gathered now like sleeping flowers;
For this, for everything, we are out of tune;
It moves us not.—Great God! I’d rather be
A Pagan suckled in a creed outworn,
So might I, standing on this pleasant lea,
Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn;
Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea,
Or hear old Triton blow his wreathèd horn

Closed Beltway, open air walk

Earlier this week coming back from Arlington, traffic had ground to a near absolute halt. I was in an Uber that was making no progress, so I got out and walked the two miles or so home. It was a beautiful evening for it, on foot. Here are some scenes nearing the Francis Scott Key Bridge, and of the Georgetown canal path just over the other side of the bridge.

It turned out that a tanker had turned over on the Beltway:

Commuters, take heed. Anyone intending to take the Inner Loop of the Capital Beltway today needs to contend with a tanker truck that overturned near the American Legion Bridge around 2 p.m.

While the driver of the truck was not injured in the crash, there was a minor injury from one of the cars, according to Fairfax Fire and Rescue.

Further complicating the response is that the overturned tanker was holding 8,500 gallons of fueland was actively leaking. A total of 100-200 gallons leaked, but Fairfax Fire and Rescue says that the fuel has been “has been contained and does not appear to have made it into the Potomac River.” …

The lanes on the Inner Loop of the Capital Beltway reopened just before 3 a.m. on Friday morning.

National Review Institute Ideas Summit

National Review Institute’s Ideas Summit took place over the past two days in Washington, DC at the Mandarin Oriental. It occurs biennially, and this year’s theme was “The Case for the American Experiment.”

Michael Brenden Dougherty’s conversation with Tucker Carlson on populism was worthwhile, particularly Carlson’s focus on the necessity of dealing seriously with the problem of suicide and the challenge of ensuring Americans can still achieve a good family and community life. Jim Geraghty, Jonah Goldberg, and Rich Lowry spoke together on “how conservatives should think about nationalism.” And many others spoke too.

James L. Buckley delivered the closing talk on federalism and the revivification of the 10th Amendment, focusing on federal funding to states being necessarily coercive, ranked as probably my favorite of the conference—partly because it struck me as a hopeful, practical response to the growth in the federal administrative state, and partly because Buckley is now 96 years old and continues to bear witness to what public service looks like in a democratic republic.

At a later evening reception, Reihan Salam spoke on what sort of immigration policy Americans might be able to support.

‘Bearing Witness’

I spent last night at the Catholic Information Center for “Bearing Witness: Nurturing a Culture of Life through Love and Encounter,” which featured Catherine Hadro and Mary and Bobby Schindler:

Join Catherine Hadro, host of EWTN Pro-Life Weekly, and Mary Schindler, co-founder of the Terri Schiavo Life & Hope Network, for an evening of prayer, remembrance, and hope.

Catherine Hadro and Mary Schindler will sit down for an intimate conversation on the topic of nurturing a Culture of Life through love and encounter. Mary Schindler will share positive and life-affirming stories from the fight for the life of her daughter, Terri Schiavo, a prominent victim of the culture of death. Catherine Hadro will speak on her experience as host of EWTN Pro-Life Weekly, sharing some of the most touching personal stories she’s experienced after hosting 100+ episodes of Pro-Life Weekly, and closing with reasons for hope amidst a culture indifferent to the intrinsic dignity of human life.

Bobby Schindler, President of Terri Schiavo Life & Hope Network and brother of Terri Schiavo, will also be in attendance. All attendees will receive a complimentary copy of the book, “A Life That Matters: The Legacy of Terri Schiavo, A Lesson For Us All.”

The Terri Schiavo Life & Hope Network co-hosted “Responsibility to Care: What Euthanasia Victims Can Teach Us” at the Catholic Information Center last year, and last night’s “Bearing Witness” conversation followed in that tradition of life-affirming conversations.

St. Patrick’s Day in Georgetown

Ben Novak arrived today from Ave Maria and is staying with me this week, visiting Washington for Catholic University’s 2019 Novak Symposium that’s happening on Tuesday. We spent this afternoon enjoying Georgetown in beautiful, nearly spring weather with a walk along M Street, a stop in Le Pain Quotidien, a visit to Amazon Books, and a St. Patrick’s Day dinner at Clyde’s.

After we toasted over an Old Fashioned and a Guinness, we prayed the first stanza of the Belloc-inspired “Benedicamus Domino”:

Where’er the Catholic sun doth shine
There’s laughter and there’s good red wine
at least I’ve always found it so
Benedicamus Domino

Cafe Milano

I visited Cafe Milano late last year for a fundraiser and see it often when I’m walking home. I knew it had a history, but didn’t realize what a role it has played in Washington:

As the sun was setting one recent evening, two black Chevrolet Suburbans pulled up next to Cafe Milano, the Georgetown restaurant where some of the world’s most powerful people go to be noticed but not approached. Steven T. Mnuchin, the Treasury secretary, slipped out of one of the vehicles and lingered with his Secret Service detail in front of the restaurant’s wall of windows. His fiancée, the actress Louise Linton, emerged wearing a sleeveless blush-pink jumpsuit, as if this were Studio 54 by the Potomac.

On the other side of the glass at this longtime power-dining fishbowl, the mood was clear: This was dinner and a show.

Every town, no matter its size, has a bar or restaurant where the powerful gather to hold court. Washington has Cafe Milano. It has been a destination for high-ranking members of media and of governments around the world since it opened in November 1992, on the same day Bill Clinton, now a Cafe Milano regular, was first elected president. It is a place where diners can enjoy relative privacy as they dine on grilled calamari and velvety burrata. It is also the exact sort of establishment that President Trump might have disparaged as a candidate, when he emphasized that his leadership would mean that the cozy bonds forged among the capital’s elite would be broken. …

Franco Nuschese, the restaurant’s owner, became well known in this city for making high-profile people feel comfortable and guarding their privacy. …

Representative Debbie Dingell, Democrat of Michigan and a longtime fixture of Washington’s social scene, suggested that bipartisan behavior can sometimes rise above the fray at this establishment.

“If you have a relationship with someone,” she said, “it’s much harder to demonize them.”

I think places like this help literally to keep the peace, in the sense of serving as “release valves” from the tension and animosity and partisanship that dominate our politics.