Category archives: Family

Overview of Obergefell v. Hodges: Supreme Court Discards Voters’ Views on Marriage

by Travis Weber

June 26, 2015

In a 5-4 opinion, the Supreme Court ruled in Obergefell v. Hodges that states must license same sex marriages and recognize licenses issued by other states. The decision was based on the due process and equal protection provisions of the Fourteenth Amendment.

There are two over-arching errors in this decision.

First, in reading this right into the Constitution, the Court played social policy maker instead of judge. This issue should have been left to the states, but the Court chose instead to make extensive pronouncements of social policy and create a right to same sex marriage under the Constitution.

Second, the Court overlooks huge logical gaps throughout its use of precedent and case law. All of the marriage decisions the majority relies on pertained to marriage between a man and a woman. None of them dealt with a marriage between two people of the same sex. To claim all those decisions contemplated such relationships as constitutionally protected marriages is an incredible leap in legal reasoning. However, it is more understandable when one views marriage (as the majority appears to do here) as simply an interaction between civil government and the individual (Justice Kennedy stated the institution of marriage “has evolved over time). The Court arrives at its conclusion here by viewing marriage as simply whatever man says it is; once its reasoning is divorced from God’s authority, the Court more easily appends same sex “marriage” to the view of “marriage” it believes is constitutionally protected.

If there is a silver lining to the ruling, it is that because this ruling is heavily based on due process grounds, and focused less on equal protection (and avoiding animus entirely), there could be more leeway to protect religious freedom when regulating matters related to same sex marriage.

Majority Opinion

In the majority opinion, authored by Justice Kennedy (and joined by Justices Ginsburg, Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan), the Court relies on its own view and judgment of the history of marriage, along with legal validation of gay rights in Bowers and Lawrence, and subsequent more recent cases, as purported precedent for its decision.

In an attempt to legitimize its reasoning and conclusions, the Court makes many social science pronouncements on marriage—such as “new insights have strengthened, not weakened, the institution of marriage” and “many persons did not deem homosexuals to have dignity in their own distinct identity.” Regardless of their accuracy, the Court has no authority or expertise to make such claims.

At one point, Justice Kennedy claims the petitioners did not intend to denigrate natural marriage. The problem is, whether they intend to or not, disrupting marriage as God intends it will eventually lead to its destruction.

Due Process

The Court first held that Fourteenth Amendment substantive due process protections required states to license same-sex marriage. In the Court’s view, this right extends to “personal choices central to individual dignity and autonomy, including intimate choices that define personal identity and beliefs.” Which rights are protected by substantive due process “requires courts to exercise reasoned judgment in identifying interests of the person so fundamental that the State must accord them its respect… . That process is guided by many of the same considerations relevant to analysis of other constitutional provisions that set forth broad principles rather than specific requirements. History and tradition guide and discipline this inquiry but do not set its outer boundaries.”

The Court starts by recognizing that it has long protected the “right to marry”—relying on rulings in the racial, child support, and prison contexts. The Court recognized that none of these dealt with same sex marriage, and attempts to excuse itself: “The Court, like many institutions, has made assumptions defined by the world and time of which it is a part.”

At one point (which is lacking airtight reasoning), the Court basically acknowledges it is recognizing this right for the first time—yet marginalizes Glucksburg, the case governing recognition of due process rights—and proceeds to rely on four reasons for doing so:

(1)   “[T]he right to personal choice regarding marriage is inherent in the concept of individual autonomy” (citing the racial, child support, and prison context). “Choices about marriage shape an individual’s destiny.” “The nature of marriage is that, through its enduring bond, two persons together can find other freedoms, such as expression, intimacy, and spirituality. This is true for all persons, whatever their sexual orientation.”

(2)   Relying on Griswold, the Court claims: “A second principle in this Court’s jurisprudence is that the right to marry is fundamental because it supports a two-person union unlike any other in its importance to the committed individuals.”

(3)   “A third basis for protecting the right to marry is that it safeguards children and families and thus draws meaning from related rights of childrearing, procreation, and education.”

(4)   “Fourth and finally, this Court’s cases and the Nation’s traditions make clear that marriage is a keystone of our social order.”

Ironically, Justice Kennedy’s third point is precisely why children need a mom and a dad. The Court here relies on Pierce, a case which by no means contemplated that marriage could be anything other. And his fourth point is exactly why marriage is between a man and a woman. Calling it anything other reveals how when officials (including judges) depart from an understanding of what higher law and natural law say about mankind, their reasoning goes astray.

Throughout the majority opinion, the Court makes social pronouncements it has no authority to make. And none of the cases it relies on ever contemplated that marriage could be anything but between a man and a woman. Justice Kennedy quotes the 1888 case Maynard v. Hill, which relied on de Tocqueville to explain that marriage is “‘the foundation of the family and of society, without which there would be neither civilization nor progress.’ Marriage, the Maynard Court said, has long been ‘a great public institution, giving character to our whole civil polity.’”

Does Justice Kennedy sincerely believe that the Maynard Court, which he quotes, contemplated its holding as applying to marriages besides those between men and women? Or that that Court would view such marriages as helpful to the “social order?” Yet he proceeds to claim “[t]here is no difference between same- and opposite-sex couples with respect to [the] principle” that marriage plays an important part in the “social order.”

Equal Protection

The Court next held that the state laws at issue also violated the Fourteenth Amendment’s equal protection provision. In its earlier marriage cases, the Court asserts, equal protection and due process grounds had been intertwined. The Court attempts to show that due process and equal protection also intertwine to protect same sex marriage in this case. The equal protection grounds are less clear and do not feature as prominently as the due process arguments in the majority opinion. At this point, the Court also expressly overruled Baker.

In his opinion, Justice Kennedy acknowledged his recent pro-democracy thinking in Schuette, but (unfortunately) did not decide to heed it:

Of course, the Constitution contemplates that democracy is the appropriate process for change, so long as that process does not abridge fundamental rights. Last Term, a plurality of this Court reaffirmed the importance of the democratic principle in Schuette v. BAMN, 572 U. S. ___ (2014), noting the “right of citizens to debate so they can learn and decide and then, through the political process, act in concert to try to shape the course of their own times.” Id., at ___ – ___ (slip op., at 15–16). Indeed, it is most often through democracy that liberty is preserved and protected in our lives. But as Schuette also said, “[t]he freedom secured by the Constitution consists, in one of its essential dimensions, of the right of the individual not to be injured by the unlawful exercise of governmental power.” Id.,at ___ (slip op., at 15). Thus, when the rights of persons are violated, “the Constitution requires redress by the courts,” notwithstanding the more general value of democratic decisionmaking. Id.,at ___ (slip op., at 17). This holds true even when protecting individual rights affects issues of the utmost importance and sensitivity.”

Why, then, did Justice Kennedy decide as he did here? In essence, he appears to feel differently about private sexual matters compared to other issues; this is evident in his consideration of Bowers and Lawrence, which he discusses here. Thus, the Court denied its own reasoning (indeed, Justice Kennedy denied his own reasoning) from the Schuette case.

Justice Kennedy decides that same sex marriage will not harm natural marriage, and ends with another policy pronouncement:

Decisions about whether to marry and raise children are based on many personal, romantic, and practical considerations; and it is unrealistic to conclude that an opposite-sex couple would choose not to marry simply because same-sex couples may do so.”

The Court concludes that its reasoning requiring states to license same sex marriages would undermine any opposition to recognizing such marriages from out of state. Thus, the Court held that states must issue same sex marriage licenses and must recognize same sex marriages performed in other states.

Here, the Court’s thinking again reveals an approach to marriage that only appears more logical (if at all) when God is removed from the picture, and is evidenced by such statements as: “It would misunderstand these men and women [the petitioners] to say they disrespect the idea of marriage.” Unfortunately, the truth that this reasoning harms marriage by removing its Author from the picture whether or not people intend to was missed here.

The Court does briefly address religious liberty concerns:

Finally, it must be emphasized that religions, and those who adhere to religious doctrines, may continue to advocate with utmost, sincere conviction that, by divine precepts, same-sex marriage should not be condoned. The First Amendment ensures that religious organizations and persons are given proper protection as they seek to teach the principles that are so fulfilling and so central to their lives and faiths, and to their own deep aspirations to continue the family structure they have long revered. The same is true of those who oppose same-sex marriage for other reasons. In turn, those who believe allowing same-sex marriage is proper or indeed essential, whether as a matter of religious conviction or secular belief, may engage those who disagree with their view in an open and searching debate. The Constitution, however, does not permit the State to bar same-sex couples from marriage on the same terms as accorded to couples of the opposite sex.”

While this recognition of religious liberty protections is better than nothing, it does not accurately capture a satisfactory vision of how religious liberty should be (or even currently is) constitutionally or statutorily protected. Several dissenting Justices make similar observations.

Dissenting Opinion by Chief Justice Roberts

Chief Justice Roberts wrote a dissenting opinion (joined by Justices Scalia and Thomas), noting that the majority ruling was a policy decision, not a legal decision. He observes that the changes in marriage laws over time (while changing the regulation of marriage in some respects) did not, as the majority claims, alter the “structure” of marriage as between a man and a woman.

In short, the “right to marry” cases stand for the important but limited proposition that particular restrictions on access to marriage as traditionally defined violate due process. These precedents say nothing at all about a right to make a State change its definition of marriage, which is the right petitioners actually seek here.”

He aptly pointed to Dred Scott as an example of when the Court’s view on substantive due process got out of hand and is now viewed with distain many years later.

The Chief also recognizes that the majority’s claim that marriage is restricted to “two” people just can’t logically hold up under its own reasoning, and could easily be extended to plural marriage:

Although the majority randomly inserts the adjective “two” in various places, it offers no reason at all why the two-person element of the core definition of marriage may be preserved while the man-woman element may not. Indeed, from the standpoint of history and tradition, a leap from opposite-sex marriage to same-sex marriage is much greater than one from a two-person union to plural unions, which have deep roots in some cultures around the world. If the majority is willing to take the big leap, it is hard to see how it can say no to the shorter one.”

He continues:

Those who founded our country would not recognize the majority’s conception of the judicial role. They after all risked their lives and fortunes for the precious right to govern themselves. They would never have imagined yielding that right on a question of social policy to unaccountable and unelected judges. And they certainly would not have been satisfied by a system empowering judges to override policy judgments so long as they do so after “a quite extensive discussion.”

Chief Justice Roberts then quotes Schuette, and notes that although there is still a losing side in a democratic debate, at least those people will know “that they have had their say,” unlike here, where the court has disenfranchised over 50 million Americans.

He also recognizes religious liberty issues which may arise:

Today’s decision … creates serious questions about religious liberty. Many good and decent people oppose same-sex marriage as a tenet of faith, and their freedom to exercise religion is—unlike the right imagined by the majority—actually spelled out in the Constitution. Respect for sincere religious conviction has led voters and legislators in every State that has adopted same-sex marriage democratically to include accommodations for religious practice. The majority’s decision imposing same-sex marriage cannot, of course, create any such accommodations. The majority graciously suggests that religious believers may continue to “advocate” and “teach” their views of marriage… . The First Amendment guarantees, however, the freedom to “exercise” religion. Ominously, that is not a word the majority uses.”

There is more:

Hard questions arise when people of faith exercise religion in ways that may be seen to conflict with the new right to same-sex marriage—when, for example, a religious college provides married student housing only to opposite-sex married couples, or a religious adoption agency declines to place children with same-sex married couples. Indeed, the Solicitor General candidly acknowledged that the tax exemptions of some religious institutions would be in question if they opposed same-sex marriage… . There is little doubt that these and similar questions will soon be before this Court. Unfortunately, people of faith can take no comfort in the treatment they receive from the majority today.”

The Chief then takes issue with the majority’s statement that laws supporting natural marriage are demeaning; he does not like the majority’s implication that those supporting such laws wish to demean anyone. He concludes that “while people around the world have viewed an institution in a particular way for thousands of years, the present generation and the present Court are the ones chosen to burst the bonds of that history and tradition.”

Dissenting Opinion by Justice Scalia

Justice Scalia also dissents (joined by Justice Thomas) and accuses the majority of legislating, not judging.

He aptly points out that the Windsor majority blatantly contradicts itself today:

It would be surprising to find a prescription regarding marriage in the Federal Constitution since, as the author of today’s opinion reminded us only two years ago (in an opinion joined by the same Justices who join him today): “[R]egulation of domestic relations is an area that has long been regarded as a virtually exclusive province of the States.”

Justice Scalia concludes with a warning:

With each decision of ours that takes from the People a question properly left to them—with each decision that is unabashedly based not on law, but on the “reasoned judgment” of a bare majority of this Court—we move one step closer to being reminded of our impotence.”

Dissenting Opinion by Justice Thomas

Justice Thomas also dissents (joined by Justice Scalia), noting the danger (as evidenced today) of substantive due process doctrine—by which rights “come into being” under the Fourteenth Amendment. He argues the Framers recognized no “right” to have the state recognize same sex relationships; there is no liberty to government benefits, just liberty from adverse government action.

He continued by focusing on the threat to religious liberty this decision represents, recognizing that while this ruling may change governmental recognition of marriage, it “cannot change” the religious nature of marriage. “It appears all but inevitable that the two will come into conflict, particularly as individuals and churches are confronted with demands to participate in and endorse civil marriages between same-sex couples.”

Justice Thomas also points out the problems with the majority’s conception of religious liberty:

Religious liberty is about more than just the protection for ‘religious organizations and persons … as they seek to teach the principles that are so fulfilling and so central to their lives and faiths.’ … Religious liberty is about freedom of action in matters of religion generally, and the scope of that liberty is directly correlated to the civil restraints placed upon religious practice.”

Had the majority allowed the definition of marriage to be left to the political process—as the Constitution requires—the People could have considered the religious liberty implications of deviating from the traditional definition as part of their deliberative process. Instead, the majority’s decision short-circuits that process, with potentially ruinous consequences for religious liberty.”

Dissenting Opinion by Justice Alito

Justice Alito also dissented (joined by Justices Scalia and Thomas), arguing that the Court’s decision is based on a flawed understanding of what marriage is, and that it takes the decision out of the hands of the people who have the authority to decide it.

He also believes this decision threatens religious liberty:

It will be used to vilify Americans who are unwilling to assent to the new orthodoxy. In the course of its opinion, the majority compares traditional marriage laws to laws that denied equal treatment for African-Americans and women… . The implications of this analogy will be exploited by those who are determined to stamp out every vestige of dissent.”

Perhaps recognizing how its reasoning may be used, the majority attempts, toward the end of its opinion, to reassure those who oppose same-sex marriage that their rights of conscience will be protected… . We will soon see whether this proves to be true. I assume that those who cling to old beliefs will be able to whisper their thoughts in the recesses of their homes, but if they repeat those views in public, they will risk being labeled as bigots and treated as such by governments, employers, and schools.”

Justice Alito recognizes that the Court now makes it impossible for states to consider how to legislatively protect conscience rights should they want to do that while at the same time legislatively authorizing same sex marriage.

He concludes:

Most Americans—understandably—will cheer or lament today’s decision because of their views on the issue of same-sex marriage. But all Americans, whatever their thinking on that issue, should worry about what the majority’s claim of power portends.”

Parental Opt-Outs and Conscience Exemptions

by Travis Weber

June 23, 2015

It’s a long-established principle that parents can “opt-out” of having their children take part in certain sex education classes they may find objectionable for a variety of reasons. Recently, some have even proposed “opt-in” requirements. One proposal in Utah reportedly “would require all public schools in the state to obtain written consent before providing human sexuality instruction to students, holding harmless those students who don’t enroll.” Such a presumption maximizes freedom; it expands the distance between the heavy hand of the state and individual rights. It doesn’t entirely disconnect the two, but certainly keeps a healthy distance between them. And these parental “opt-out” requirements have widespread support; many understand why they exist: we want to protect individual rights and the freedom of families to raise their children and govern their family unit as they see fit.

Such “opt-out” requirements have an analogue in conscience exemptions in the abortion context. For years, although abortion has been legally protected as a right under the Constitution (erroneously, I might add), our law has also protected the consciences of those who disagree and ensured they are not forced to take part in practices which violate their beliefs. This also maximizes freedom for all Americans.

Similarly, such exemptions naturally follow in the context of same sex marriage, should it be declared to be protected as a constitutional right. In that case, it would be the default position that individuals desiring such marriages would be able to legally enter them, and thus legislation protecting those who disagree from being forced to violate their beliefs through compelled participation in the process of such marriages would be absolutely necessary. Such legislation has already been proposed. At the federal level, the First Amendment Defense Act would provide such conscience exemptions. Similar protections are needed at the state level.

Like parents who want to (and are able to) “opt-out” of having their children exposed to certain matters at school, many have wanted to (and have been able to) similarly “opt-out” of forced complicity in abortion. It is quite logical that many will likewise want to (and should be able to) “opt-out” of forced participation in the process of same-sex “marriage.” In all these cases, the “opt-out” protects individual rights and maximizes personal liberty. It is the quite natural, logical, and freedom-loving position.

Thank You Dad

by Joshua Denton

June 22, 2015

Tomorrow is Father’s Day. For some it will be just another day. For those who never really had the privilege of experiencing an earthly father’s love or whose fathers are no longer with them, it will be a day of mixed feelings of joy and sorrow. For me, it is a day I can reflect on my dad’s ongoing influence in my life.

To show my gratitude to my dad, , for being the great man in Christ Jesus that he is, I’d like to dedicate the following letter to him in honor of Father’s Day:

6/19/2015

Dear Dad,

This Father’s Day I want to thank you for being my Dad. It would be really easy to just buy you a nice Father’s Day card, but I want to really take the time to write a heartfelt thank you.

I know raising me hasn’t always been easy. I have always had a stubborn streak and I remember when I was younger how much trouble I used to get into. I was rebellious and disrespectful and a bad example to my siblings. But you persevered with me and never gave up on me. It might have been easier to let me have my own way, but you took the time to do the right thing. I still remember different times you would sit me down and take me through passages of Scripture and explain why the way I was acting was wrong and how I needed to give my heart to Jesus.

Before I got saved I was selfish and disobedient. I would always get angry, I could never control my temper. Instead I let it control me and tried to use it to control others. I know now that anger is just a manipulation tactic because I used to be that kind of person. But anger never has worked on you, Dad, and you taught me to do better.

I fought your instruction and guidance especially up until I was around 13 years old. I know I caused you and mom a lot of pain, tears, and prayers. Finally, I got tired from running from what I knew all along was the right thing. On November 8, 2008, with you and mom kneeling beside me in front of our couch in the living room I prayed for Jesus Christ to come into my heart and be my Savior and the Lord of my life. And this time, I really meant it.

From that time, I become a changed person. Close family members saw and still see the difference that Jesus made in my life. But if it wasn’t for you, Dad, I wonder where I would be now?

Life raising me still hasn’t been easy for you and mom and I know you’ve said that the teen years are so much more difficult than when I was just a kid. Thank you for being firm with me when necessary, for putting your foot down when you had to. Even when I’m sure it was hard, you still cared enough about me to not let me do certain things. Thanks for loving me Dad. Thanks for protecting me from all the evil that is out there.

Thank you for providing for me, my siblings and mom. Even when times were really tough and it was hard to pay the bills sometimes, we never went hungry. You always worked hard to provide for us. You taught me to work hard with my hands. I have always had to work hard for college and a car – and I’m glad. Some dads can give these things to their kids. That’s great if they can, and I know you would if you were able. But I am glad I have had to work to make a living and earn things. There are more important things that you gave me. Character lessons. Because of you I know how to manage money, plant a garden, how to do a lot of different types of construction, how to treat a lady, how to be strong, how to be a man.

Thank you Dad.

You’ve been a great role model for me. Other role models I have looked up to in the past have failed me, but you’ve always been there for me. I know you aren’t a perfect Dad, and I am certainly not a perfect son, but I sure respect you a lot.

Most of all Dad, I want to thank you for instilling in me a love for God’s Word, and for teaching me how to follow him – no matter what others thought of me for it. I remember you have always said “the most important thing in this world is to get to heaven and help other people get there.” Thank you for teaching me to have an eternal perspective of what really matters in life. Thank you for taking God’s commands to a father seriously by sitting us kids down and spending time in God’s Word with us; explaining passages, answering our questions, and encouraging us to study the Bible for ourselves.

Now that I’m in a different stage of life and living on my own, I’ve acquired a new appreciation for how you raised me. I see more fully now that you set rules and boundaries for a reason, not just to make life harder or to be mean. I’m a young man now Dad, and someday I’ll be a husband and dad myself. I know when those days come I’ll come to realize even more how wise you are. I won’t forget the lessons you have taught me.

I thank God for giving me a dad like you, and I hope someday I can be the kind of man that you are. I love and appreciate you.

Your Son,

Josh

The sad state of fatherhood in America makes me all the more thankful for my earthly father that my heavenly Father has blessed me with. 54% of children ages 15-17 come from broken families – families whose parents are no longer or never were married. Clearly, the presence of a good father in the home

Are Americans Having More Babies?

by Cordell Asbenson

June 19, 2015

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recently released its 2014 preliminary report on births in the United States. It predicts that, for the first time in seven years, the number of births will rise, increasing the average number of births per mother to roughly 1.9% . If accurate, this increase in births has exciting implications, particularly with regard to the economy.

However, the preliminary report has to be viewed with prudent reservation. In the CDC’s 2013 preliminary report on births, the total number of births was projected to rise above the 2012 total. Yet the final report ended up showing an overall decrease in births due to an over-calculation in the preliminary report of more than 25,000 births.

Turning to the 2014 preliminary report, the increased number of births projected is so miniscule that if the miscalculation made in 2013 were repeated in the 2014 preliminary report, then the overall increase in births from 2013-2014 would be roughly 28,000, an overall increase of less than 0.75%.

The projected increase in number of births is an encouraging step in the right direction, but only a small one. We await the release of the final report to better understand these preliminary findings.

On the importance of a higher birthrate in the United States, see the Marriage and Religion Research Institute’s “The Decline of Economic Growth: Human Capital & Population Change.”

Russell Moore Considers Spiritual Warfare & Adoption

by Chris Gacek

June 18, 2015

Russell Moore has released a new, short book on adoption.  It has a fascinating title:  Adoption: What Joseph of Nazareth Can Teach Us about This Countercultural Choice.  It is available from Crossway here, and in Kindle (and paperback) format from Amazon.

In “Adoption and Spiritual Warfare,” an article taken from the book, Dr. Moore makes some dramatic observations:

The protection of children isn’t charity. It isn’t part of a political program fitting somewhere between tax cuts and gun rights or between carbon emission caps and a national service corps.
It’s spiritual warfare.
Our God forbids Israel from offering their children to Molech, a demon-god who demands the violent sacrifice of human babies (Lev. 20:1–5). Indeed, he denounces Molech by name. He further warns that he will cut off from the people of God not only the one who practiced such sacrifice but also all who “at all close their eyes to that man when he gives one of his children to Molech” (Lev. 20:4). Behind Molech, God recognizes, there is one who is “a murderer from the beginning” (John 8:44).
The spirit of Molech is at work among us even now.

My colleague at FRC, Pierre Bynum, once observed to me regarding abortion: “Satan wants to kill and destroy all human beings because each person is endowed with the image of God.”  Each human being is an intrinsic enemy – before or after birth.

So, if adoption is inherently an act nurturing human life and expressing love, then Satan believes it must be opposed and eradicated.  The Church, however, is commanded to care for orphans and widows, so we have marching orders in this fight.  As Moore notes, the protection of innocent life isn’t about politics, it lies at the core of Christian obligation.

Abortion Trends in America

by Christina Hadford

June 17, 2015

Although recent AP reports that abortion is on the decline shocked many, past studies have well documented this trend. For instance, last June the Marriage and Religion Research Institute (MARRI) released its Family and Social Trendlines to consolidate federal data on family issues. A series of charts from this report will help contextualize the AP’s findings.

As Chart 1 shows, abortion procurement peaked in the early 90’s and has declined since. In fact, the number of abortions in 2008 was lower than the number of abortions in 1977.

A closer look at abortion demographics in the past two decades reveals the nature of this decline. Chart 2 breaks down the abortion rate by the age of the mother. Between 1990 and 2008:

  • 15- to 17-year-olds: Abortions decreased from 26.5 to 10.4 abortions per 1,000 women
  • 18- to 19-year-olds: Abortions decreased from 57.9 to 28.6 abortions per 1,000 women
  • 20- to 24-year-olds: Abortions decreased from 56.7 to 38.4 abortions per 1,000 women
  • 25- to 29-year-olds: Abortions decreased from 33.9 to 28.6 abortions per 1,000 women
  • 30- to 34-year-olds: Abortions decreased from 19.7 to 18.4 abortions per 1,000 women
  • 35- to 39-year-olds: Abortions decreased from 10.8 to 10.2 abortions per 1,000 women
  • 40- to 44-year-olds: Abortions increased from 3.2 to 3.4 abortions per 1,000 women

Especially noteworthy is the sharp decline in abortions for teens. For both 15- to 17-year-olds and 18- to 19-year-olds, abortion procurement was cut by more than half. Abortions to 20- to 24-year-olds, the age group obtaining the most abortions, also significantly dropped.

Likewise, the U.S. abortion rate declined for every race/ ethnicity, especially for Blacks and Hispanics (see Chart 3 below). Between 1993 and 2008:

  • The abortion rate among Black unmarried women decreased from 81.2 to 60.9 abortions per 1,000 women.
  • The abortion rate among Hispanic unmarried women decreased from 60.6 to 39.3 abortions per 1,000 women.
  • The total abortion rate among unmarried women decreased from 43.1 to 30.7 abortions per 1,000 women.
  • The abortion rate among White unmarried women decreased from 33.9 to 22.7 abortions per 1,000 women.

A comparison of Charts 4 and 5 provide a core insight into abortion trends. Between 1990 and 2008, the rate of pregnancies, live births, abortions, and miscarriages to married women remained relatively stable. In other words, married women have not significantly affected abortion rates.

However, that is not the case for unmarried women. In fact, in the early 90’s—around the same time abortion numbers began declining—the ratio of women who gave birth to women who had an abortion swapped. By 1993, more women chose to have their baby than women who chose to abort him/ her. This gap has progressively widened since the early 90’s.

Although the surge of unmarried women who decide to carry their pregnancy to term may not be the only factor affecting abortion numbers, it is certainly a vital demographic trend that cannot be ignored. This trend is not entirely surprising. As FRC expert, Arina Grossu, points out, increased technology, medical knowledge, and social support allows traditionally marginalized women—teenagers, minorities, and those with unintended pregnancies—the choice to give birth. This is, indeed, a profound and momentous advancement for women in America.

Liberal columnist agrees — “family values” debate is about “what words actually mean”

by Peter Sprigg

June 11, 2015

E. J. Dionne, a columnist for the Washington Post who is generally left of center, wrote a piece for today’s paper in which he called for “a searching national debate over family values.” Bravo — I heartily agree.

Dionne goes on to say, “It will not be about whether we as a country are for them. We are. What’s required is a grounded and candid discussion about what those words actually mean.” Right again.

The debate about “what those words actually mean” is exactly the debate we have been engaged in for four or five decades now.

In fact, we are now only weeks away from a U.S. Supreme Court ruling about what one very important word — “marriage” — actually means. That debate has been ongoing at least since 1993, when a Hawaii court became the first in the country to rule that defining marriage the only way it had ever been defined in the United States — as the union of one man and one woman — might somehow offend constitutional principles.

It is Dionne’s fellow liberals, however, who try to deny that “what … words actually mean” is what the same-sex “marriage” debate is about. They claim that their efforts are to end “discrimination” and to affirm the equal dignity of gay-identified people — not to “redefine marriage.” They claim that the efforts of conservatives are intended to stigmatize homosexuals and to impose religious dogma on secular law.

The liberals are wrong — the real debate is about what the word “marriage” means. Our belief is that “marriage” is intrinsically the union of a man and a woman, and that this definition cannot be changed because it is rooted in the order of nature itself. It always requires the contribution of one man and one woman to create a new human life, and it is because of this immutable uniqueness of the male-female relationship that we treat such relationships uniquely under the law.

Whatever the merits of a four-wheeled vehicle may be, it cannot be a “bicycle” — because a bicycle, by definition, has two wheels. By the same token, whatever satisfaction some may gain from a same-sex relationship, it can never be a “marriage” — because marriage, by definition, is the union of a man and a woman.

Liberals may be very sincere in the goals they seek to achieve in the marriage debate — but there is simply no denying that the method they are using to try to achieve them is to change the definition of the word “marriage.”

Although “marriage” is at the forefront right now, there have been similar debates about what “family” means. We argue that “families” are formed in only three ways — by blood, marriage, or adoption. Mere cohabitation with a sexual partner does not create a “family;” neither does living in the same house with a partner’s children.

The context for Dionne’s column was his observations about the obvious love and devotion between members of the Biden family — specifically, between Vice President Joe Biden and his late son Beau, who tragically died of cancer recently at the age of 46. There is no question that liberals like Joe Biden can love their family members as deeply as any “pro-family” conservative does.

This is not the issue in debate. The issue is that liberals have adopted the position that the meaning of “family” is almost infinitely malleable, defined by emotional standards rather than objective ones. However, the Bidens are not “family” because they love each other — they love each other because they are family.

The problem with redefining “marriage” and “family” is that if they can mean anything, then they come to mean nothing. So, two cheers for E. J. Dionne for recognizing that the “national debate” is about “what those words actually mean.”

Adoption May Not Always Be Perfect, but It Saves a Life

by Chris Gacek

June 9, 2015

The actress, Kate Mulgrew, has had a long career extending back to the mid-1970s when she had her first major role on an ABC daytime drama called “Ryan’s Hope.” Mulgrew’s New York Catholic family in “Ryan’s Hope” resembled her own Irish Catholic family with nine children from Dubuque, Iowa. Portraying “Mary Ryan” must have been charted ground for her, but she took a few detours with great consequences. Mulgrew discusses her life in an autobiography, Born with Teeth, that was published this past April.

Relevant for our purposes is her story relating to adoption. Mulgrew moved to New York to study acting when she was just eighteen, and landed her “Ryan’s Hope” role several years later. She was an immediate sensation, but as her career took off she entered into a sexual relationship with a member of the television production staff and became pregnant. They were both very young. Mulgrew didn’t feel that she could raise a child, but she rejected abortion. Instead, Mulgrew let another family adopt her daughter. Mulgrew was allowed only a brief view of her baby, but that never stopped her from thinking about the daughter from whom she had been separated. It turns out they were both searching for each other.

This CBS Sunday Morning interview sheds light on how the reunion came about over twenty years later in 2001. You meet her daughter and see that they do love each other. One gets a palpable sense of the pain Mulgrew and her daughter experienced. There is heartache and regret, but I also thought that Kate Mulgrew needs to give herself a break. After making that initial mistake, she didn’t make the greater one. And, the mistake she did not make has given her a daughter she loves so intensely. A daughter who loves her in return.

Perhaps, it is too much to wish for, but I hope Kate Mulgrew someday could meet Ryan and Bethany Bomberger who run the Radiance Foundation, a pro-adoption organization. Ryan was conceived in a rape but has lived a wonderful life though through his adoption. Here is the Radiance Foundation’s beautiful statement about their campaign, Adopted and Loved:

PLEASE VISIT OUR ADOPTION AWARENESS INITIATIVE: AdoptedandLoved.com. Millions have experienced the beauty of adoption over this past century. Yet very few people understand the reality of how adoption UNLEASHES the Possibility of not just the child, but the family and the community…and sometimes, the world. Sacrifice is at the heart of adoption, and the reward is great. This presentation illuminates adoption, dispels myths, shares moving personal stories, and provides potential adoptive parents tools and online resources to discover how adoption can change lives.

Adoption is a love story, but not always an easy one. Kate Mulgrew, thank you for doing the good thing and the loving thing when the chips were down.

Dear Gay Community: Your Kids Are Hurting

by Rob Schwarzwalder

March 18, 2015

Every so often an article comes along that is so moving it puts all the extemporaneous analysis and opinion that floods the Internet into the background. “Dear Gay Community: Your Kids Are Hurting” is such an article.

In her loving, gentle, but painfully honest open letter to advocates of same-sex marriage, Heather Barwick describes being raised by two lesbians. Her mother and her partner loved Heather, but couldn’t replace her “deep-down unquenchable ache for a father, for a man.” Following are some excerpts from her moving piece, which is addressed specifically to same-sex partners raising children:

I’m not saying that you can’t be good parents. You can. I had one of the best. I’m also not saying that being raised by straight parents means everything will turn out okay. We know there are so many different ways that the family unit can break down and cause kids to suffer: divorce, abandonment, infidelity, abuse, death, etc. But by and large, the best and most successful family structure is one in which kids are being raised by both their mother and father …

Gay marriage doesn’t just redefine marriage, but also parenting. It promotes and normalizes a family structure that necessarily denies us something precious and foundational. It denies us something we need and long for, while at the same time tells us that we don’t need what we naturally crave. That we will be okay. But we’re not. We’re hurting …

It’s not just me. There are so many of us. Many of us are too scared to speak up and tell you about our hurt and pain, because for whatever reason it feels like you’re not listening. That you don’t want to hear. If we say we are hurting because we were raised by same-sex parents, we are either ignored or labeled a hater.

This isn’t about hate at all. I know you understand the pain of a label that doesn’t fit and the pain of a label that is used to malign or silence you. And I know that you really have been hated and that you really have been hurt. I was there, at the marches, when they held up signs that said, ‘God hates fags’ and ‘AIDS cures homosexuality.’ I cried and turned hot with anger right there in the street with you. But that’s not me. That’s not us.

I know this is a hard conversation. But we need to talk about it. If anyone can talk about hard things, it’s us. You taught me that.”

The Dignity of Motherhood

by Rob Schwarzwalder

March 5, 2015

Motherhood is hard. Really hard.

As I consider all my wife has done with and for our three children, I’m humbled by the sacrifices she has made day in and day out. Our children are delightful, but they are human, which means they are fallen in nature and finite in judgment. That means that motherhood is hard. Really hard.

Motherhood is under attack. “No fault” divorce, cohabitation, promiscuity, abortion-on-demand, and pornography have made women of childbearing age prey to a variety of evils and susceptible to the often malign choices of others. And simply being a mom can induce demeaning comments (“all you do is stay at home with your kids, right?”) and hurtful expressions of ignorance (“nice you don’t have to work, isn’t it?”).

In a perceptive article on how we have “overcomplicated” motherhood, Anna Mussmann notes that “Babies change people, and when women give up personal freedom for the sake of love, lose their sense of control over the physical world, and nurture their commitment to another human being (even when they do not feel like it), they are transformed into the kind of adult who can be a haven and an authority for children. They become wiser and better able to recognize cultural nonsense for what it is.”

Some of that nonsense is contained in the usually unspoken but nonetheless real assumption that children are somehow secondary to professional achievement. To employ a sophisticated term of art, what bunk.

As Courtney Reissig writes in a beautiful piece on motherhood in Her.Meneutics, “Rather than a milestone to be carefully calculated, planned for, and earned, kids serve a different purpose altogether. Whether you stay home with them or not, children are not a status symbol, but a blessing. They aren’t the cherry on top of a life plan, but part of what it means to live out our mandate as image-bearers. God’s command to be fruitful and multiply is part of what it means to image him. We create and bear life. We work and we nurture. The ambient culture encourages creation, cultivation, and work, but often out of selfish ambition — not to the praise of the God who created us.”

Reissig continues that whenever a woman has a baby, celebration and honor by God’s people are in order:

Children also come to us — biologically or through adoption — at God’s timing. Despite my desire to start a family earlier, I didn’t give birth to my twins until I was 30. Even when we are open to having children, it doesn’t always happen right away and sometimes, they don’t come at all. But the church should be a place that welcomes expectant mothers regardless of what they have accomplished pre-pregnancy. Even if she never finishes her degree, lands a top client, or wins an Academy Award, bringing life into the world is a beautiful and God-honoring thing.”

Is this attitude in us and in the churches we attend which also is in our Creator? If not, examine why — and reconsider how better to recognize the women who so cherish life that they are willing both to give birth to and raise little ones.

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