Physician Assistant Says Responding to Coronavirus with ‘Social Distancing’ is Pro-Life

Well, it doesn’t need to be said that we are living in unprecedented times.

As the number of Coronavirus cases continues to rise in the U.S. and politicians acknowledge a heightened concern that American healthcare systems could be overloaded in as little as two weeks, people across the country are entering into a state of self-quarantine that many are calling “social distancing.”

At Illinois Right to Life, we recognize this time for self-quarantine means that people will be consuming media at a pointedly high rate. With very little else to do, consumers will be turning to Netflix, video games, and yes, you guessed it – pornography – to fill their empty time.

We’ve decided to respond by rolling out a new Life Chat episode every day for the next two weeks. Our goal is to create content during this time that pro-lifers can feel *good* about consuming. So, from today until Monday, March 30th, we’ll be posting a brand new interview with a different pro-lifer every single day.

Today’s first episode hits the issue right on the nose: a Chicago PA, Monica Herron, spoke with me about coronavirus – what makes it different from other viruses, why we need to respond swiftly, and why social distancing is a pro-life response to the urgent moment at hand.

You can listen to Life Chat on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and Google Play, or using the player in the side bar.

Illinois Right to Life Action Just Launched A Pro-Life Podcast

Friends –

I am so excited to share that earlier this week, we launched the first episode of Life Chat podcast. We hope this will be just one more way that our organization can connect with, educate, and engage the pro-life people of Illinois. As the 2020 election cycle approaches, it’s more important now than ever before to keep a close eye on our state legislature in Springfield, while starting productive, compassionate conversations about abortion within our personal networks and communities back at home. This podcast is just one of the numerous projects we’re launching this month to help you do exactly these things!

Episode one of Life Chat consists of a general introduction to our goals and plans for the podcast, as well as an analysis that dives deep into SB 25, the Reproductive Healthcare Act, which passed through our state legislature back in May. In the future, we hope to conduct interviews and have purposeful conversations with some of the solid pro-life people who are most engaged in this issue, both in Illinois and nationwide!

You can listen to Life Chat on iTunes here, on Spotify here, and on Google Play here.

We hope you enjoy!

Illinois Democrats Are Preparing To Force Another Major Abortion Bill

Last week, Capitol News Illinois confirmed that democrats in the General Assembly intend to pursue the repeal of Parental Notification during the veto session in the fall.

Rep. Chris Welch (D-Hillside), who’s the primary sponsor of HB 2467 (the Parental Notice Abortion Repeal), confirmed that he’s going to push the bill during the veto session (the last week of October and the second week of November) and, if it fails, he’s “going to go back at it again in January.”

Per CNI:

“Men can make health care decisions on their own without having to give notice to a parent. Why can’t a woman,” Welch said. “At the end of the day, I don’t want my wife and my daughter to be equal only in the confines of our home — I want them to be equal in the confines of the law. That’s what this fight is all about.”

So, first and foremost, let’s get something straight: men under the age of 18 are decidedly *not* allowed to receive invasive surgical procedures without the consent of their parents. And actually, since the General Assembly passed HB 0345, men under the age of 21 are not even allowed to buy cigarettes (Rep. Welch sponsored that bill too, by the way).

There is absolutely *no* consistency of thought here. And that’s without mentioning the risks that young girls face without this law serving as a checkpoint in the industry.

Take note of Welch’s word choice in his above quote. “Men can make health care decisions on their own without having to give notice to a parent. Why can’t a woman?” Words mean something. We’re not talking about women. We’re talking about *girls* – underage girls, who are at far greater risk of being sexually exploited than almost any other demographic block. In 2017, the youngest girl to receive an abortion that was paid for with taxpayer dollars was a 12-year-old. Any responsible adult can look at this situation and see that something isn’t right.

This isn’t a red herring. Chicago is a national hub for human trafficking. Repealing this law would actually protect traffickers by providing them the opportunity to conceal the consequences of trafficking and continue the cycle of abuse.

One might wonder why the public isn’t outraged at the suggestion of repealing such a common sense law. Funny thing: it is.

Back in March, 12,625 people filed formal witness slips in opposition to the repeal of parental notification (compared to 490 in support of the repeal). You can view those here.

Later in the month, when the bill was scheduled to be heard in committee a second time, 6,980 people filed formal witness slips in opposition to the repeal of parental notification (compared to 190 filed in support of the repeal). You can view those here.

Also in March, more than 4,000 people showed up at a rally held by a group of pro-life organizations to protest HB 2467 at the Illinois State Capitol. The crowds brought the building to max capacity and security had to close the doors. 

Just as the case with the Reproductive Healthcare Act, the public has spoken loudly and clearly on this issue. The question isn’t whether the people of Illinois support this bill – it’s whether or not Illinois democrats care.

 

I’m blogging again…

You read that right, fam! I’m back in the blogosphere.

After a significant hiatus, I’ve made my way back – and this time, on a namesake website.

From Fearlessly Feminine, to A Soul at Work, to Twenty Five & Catholic… if you’ve been following along all these years, thank you! I’m deeply grateful for the many people who’ve encouraged my ever-changing writing endeavors, and I continue to hope that these little website projects eventually become something much larger (and perhaps, one day, printed on paper)!

If you follow me on social media, you’re likely aware that I am now the executive director of Illinois Right to Life. For some time, I wasn’t sure what this meant for my individual voice – particularly as it pertains to writing for the web. A few impassioned posts of my creation on our Illinois Right to Life blog (specifically, this one and this one), however, have convinced me that my personal voice has a role to play in this fight. So, here I am!

Obviously, a lot’s gone down in Illinois over the past six months. Madigan and his gang of cowards down in Springfield executed a manipulation of historic proportions back in May, when they added the overwhelmingly unpopular Reproductive Healthcare Act (RHA) to unrelated mental health bill SB25 and passed it through the House on the Sunday over Memorial Day Weekend. Pro-lifers came out in droves to fight this bill (4,000+ in attendance at a protest on March 20 and 15,000+ filed witness slips with the House Human Services committee to voice their opposition to the bill) but legislators sided with the national abortion effort. It’s a pivotal moment in our state history and now, more than ever, we need to speak out.

Illinois Right to Life and Illinois Right to Life Action communicate directly with the pro-life people of our state on important updates and action items (witness slips, anyone?) and do an incredible job of relaying that information. That said, I want the opportunity to speak directly (and regularly) to those who follow us and the work that we do.

And of course, as always, I want the opportunity to talk about other things – like, uh, the Democratic presidential primaries (tiger don’t change his stripes, folks).

I anticipate that this blog will take a different tone that much of my writing has in the past , especially given my personal involvement in the issues directly affecting Illinois.

I hope that you’ll follow along and continue reading what I write – as so many of you have for years! As we observe the strange (and often scary) twists and turns our nation continues to take, it’s clear that there’s plenty to say. Social media is a powerful tool that lets us relay truth with the simple click of a button. That said, I encourage you to engage with what I post here by commenting, sharing, liking, etc.

If you haven’t yet, you can also keep up with my posts by subscribing via email, liking my Facebook page, or following me on Instagram (where I’m most active).

Thanks for your friendship and support! Let’s make waves.

 

Today’s The Feast Day Of St. Maximillian Kolbe. Here’s What He Can Teach Us About Neo-Nazis And Antifa.

Chris Stefanick posted a moving video this morning of himself standing in Auschwitz, telling the story of Fr. Maximillian Kolbe, whose feast day is today.

His memory stands in stark contrast to the violence we saw in Virginia over the weekend, perpetrated by two groups of extremists that have made hateful rhetoric and actions central to the means by which they carry out their missions.

You can watch the video here.

From the moment Virginia declared a state of emergency on Saturday, the steady stream of Facebook posts, tweets, and general commentary from everyone from politicians to personal friends has been almost overwhelming. It seems everyone has an opinion on who bears the greatest responsibility, and that’s entirely fair—when a life is lost the way one was on Saturday, a national conversation surrounding what could’ve prevented it seems to be the only appropriate response.

All of that being said, I’ve seen hardly any mention of God or faith in any of these opinions. Of course we should condemn racism. Of course we should condemn violence. But what is at the root, here? Why is it that we’re suddenly reacting so angrily—and violently—to differing viewpoints?

Most would tell you it’s Trump, but it’s not. I’ll never forget the last-minute road trip I made with two friends down to Louisiana for the 2014 senatorial runoff election—we listened to tail end reports of Ferguson unrest for much of the way down. This was long before the Trump phenomenon, yet we’ve placed the blame for this sudden civil discourse entirely on his shoulders.

Has he contributed? I’m not sure. But here’s what I can say with surety:

I’ll never be convinced that violent, hateful unrest like what we saw on Saturday is anything other than the product of a lack of God in our society. A lack of peace out in the world is a reflection of a lack of peace in the hearts of those involved. When we meet aggression with aggression and violence with violence, we exhibit a lack of faith in Christ and a separation from the suffering and persecution He endured during His time on earth. The peace required to face such aggression with humility, courage, and love for other human beings can only be acquired through a genuine encounter with the Lord in our hearts. If we do not have that peace within, we cannot exhibit it out in the world.

Maximillian Kolbe is such a moving, remarkable example of this peace. Stefanick explains in his video above that during his time in Auschwitz, St. Maximillian volunteered to take the place of a husband and father who’d been sent away to starve to death in a dark, locked room. This faithful, humble Catholic priest had such peace in his heart that he met the aggression of the Nazis with the ultimate sacrifice—the offering of his life. And Stefanick adds that the Nazi Commander trembled in his presence.

St. Maximillian lived in that room, starving, for twelve days. The Nazis finally ended his starvation with a lethal injection that took his life. And other camp members who knew him and what he’d done responded to his martyrdom by singing hymns throughout the camp.

This is a man who knew peace in his heart. This is a man who knew the love of Christ.

We cannot and will not deliver our country from this violence without this same sense of peace and this same faith in God’s love. On this feast day of Fr. Maximillian Kolbe, let us remember that.

The Monika Lewinsky Effect: Questioning Our Approach To Kathy Griffin’s Controversial Image

The morning that Kathy Griffin released the photo of herself holding a bloody mask of President Trump, I was watching Monika Lewinsky’s 1999 interview with Barbara Walters (I literally cannot even remember how this happened—I fell down a very deep Youtube hole, idk). One of links that Youtube recommended when the 80-minute interview was over was Lewinsky’s much-more-recent TED talk on cyberbullying, and the role her story played in how we use the internet today (she refers to herself as “Patient Zero” of the internet crucifixion culture we’ve grown accustomed to since then).

So as I’ve observed coverage of Griffin play out, and as I watched her apology video, and then her press conference, I’ve been thinking a lot about Monika Lewinsky. Lol. I know, maybe bizarre.

But there is something to this.

Kathy Griffin took her situation to the next level last week when she cried at the podium of a nationally televised press conference over the consequences of her own poor decision-making skills.

A lot was said that wasn’t true, much of it by her lawyer, Lisa Bloom, who’s a famous (infamous?) civil rights lawyer, most recently known for her public take-down of Bill O’Reilly on Fox News.

But there was also a lot said that did have truth to it—claims to Griffin’s right to free speech, for starters. And what I’m about to say will inevitably be an unpopular opinion, but hear me out: as Americans, we should not pride ourselves on our freedom of speech if we do not also enact it.

Here’s what I mean:

A number of conservative speakers have been forcefully denied access to college campuses because of pushback by the universities, kicking and screaming (and in some instances, more serious violence) by protestors, and a general blowback on the internet for their message and ideas.

And the conservative side of the aisle is (rightfully) critical of this. They say liberal university administrators and lefty activists are stifling people who have a right by the First Amendment to say whatever it is they want to say when they’re invited to speak at these campuses. Conservatives say that denying them that right is an attack on the American values we hold so dear.

I’m willing to make the argument that Kathy Griffin could and should be lumped in with the Ann Coulters, Ben Shapiros, and Ryan T. Andersons of this narrative.

Griffin is the most recent subject of this trend in our country that’s stamping out the First Amendment. True to her grotesque sense of humor, Griffin created an image that offended the vast majority of people who saw it. It’s clear some people were not offended, however, because just as she took the image down, it had already garnered thousands of retweets and shares on social media (everyone knows a retweet presented without comment is totally an endorsement, come on). Now I, in absolutely no way, support or agree with the image she made—nevertheless, her right to make it is protected under the First Amendment. By way of the law, she did nothing wrong.

That didn’t stop social media users, and politicians, and journalists, and the Trump family… from calling for her to be fired from her job, dropped from her contracts, and boycotted pretty much across the board. And I suppose that just as Griffin owns a right to free speech, so do all of the people I listed above. They’re free to pressure CNN to do that. But just the same—is it right?

I don’t agree with Kathy Griffin, nor do I especially like her… but does that make it right to assault her via the internet the way so many of us did? Here’s where I think of Monika Lewinsky, who’s been the butt of jokes on the internet before the word “meme” was even in the dictionary. There is so much power in the small gesture of a keystroke. We wield so much opportunity when we post online—and those people who have a following beyond their own circle of family and friends have an even greater responsibility.

It’s time to take responsibility, and for all of it. Griffin should have been more responsible with the broad audience that she has access to. But does her wrong justify our right to annihilate her for it?

I think that’s something for us to think about.

An Open Letter To Tomi Lahren: Stop Making Me Look Bad

Tomi –

You and I have a lot in common. We’re both conservative, both women, both 24, and both passionate about politics and current events. We’re also both markedly opinionated and outspoken about our beliefs. Good for us!

I’ve kept an eye on you as your career has escalated because I admire you for many reasons. You’re especially bold in your ‘Final Thoughts’, which takes a notable amount of courage and gumption—God knows you get a lot of hate on social media, so I respect your thick skin and perseverance. You’re also incredibly well-spoken, which I’ve found is not the norm amongst conservative women our age, so I’m grateful for that—you’re clearly intelligent, and I love it. I’m always happy to see fellow smart girls find success.

Recently, though, I’ve got a bone to pick with you. It’s been my experience during my short time in the work world that older, more experienced professionals are hesitant to trust girls like you and me. It’s not that we’re bad at what we do, or that we’re not smart, or capable—they’re simply hesitant to take us seriously.

I used to work in a job where my boss made me feel valued for what I did. He complimented my hard work, my willingness to go the extra mile, and my patience with difficult coworkers—but he also winked at me every time he passed my desk, and responded to my request for more responsibilities within my role with, “well, you’re very young.”

Do you see what I’m getting at here? It’s a fight for girls like us to be taken seriously in the work world. We’re expected to prove ourselves before we’re given a chance, meanwhile men our age and with comparable experience are often given those chances first. I’ve got to be reliable. I’ve got to be mature, trustworthy, sincere, serious, and I’ve got to be very, very careful.

Tomi, you have not been careful.

You’ve been loose with your words, reckless with your actions, and you’ve mishandled your conflict with The Blaze in a very public way. I’m happy for you that it’s over. I’m sure it was stressful. I’m sure you’re relieved to have your Facebook page back, which was rightfully yours to begin with. Those are very good things.

But yesterday, you did an interview with Playboy, and quite frankly, I’ve had enough. First of all—Playboy? Really, Tomi? You’re a strong, outspoken, opinionated woman, and you lent your voice to the single publication most infamous for objectifying women? Be serious.

And second, I don’t care how you feel about abortion. I really don’t. I’m pro-life, but I don’t care whether you agree with me or not. What I do care about, however, is how frivolous you’ve looked as you’ve flip-flopped from one stance to the other. I get being unsure how you feel about an issue, but here’s my advice: if you’re unsure, don’t comment. It is really, REALLY that simple.

I sympathize with the struggle you’ve had these past few weeks. Truly, I get it. But for the sake of your fellow 24-year-old smart girls, get serious.

And stop making us look bad.

The Quiet Confidence Of Ivanka Trump

I’m continuously impressed with Ivanka Trump and how well she carries herself, even when met with the most humiliating and hostile sentiments of those around her.

This photo was taken today at a women’s summit in Germany, where she was booed and “hissed” at (do women seriously hiss at other women? that’s grotesque) for referring to her father as a “champion of supporting families and enabling them to thrive.”

The moderator of the panel acknowledged the hostility of the crowd and confronted Ivanka, saying, “You hear the reaction from the audience. I need to address one more point—some attitudes toward women your father has displayed might leave one questioning whether he’s such an empower-er for women.”

And once more, we witness her incredibly poised demeanor in the well-spoken and gracious response she gave (per POLITICO):

“As a daughter, I can speak on a very personal level,” Ivanka Trump said. “I grew up in a house where there was no barrier to what I could accomplish beyond my own perseverance and tenacity. That’s not an easy thing to do; he provided that for us.” She said that her father treated her exactly the same way he treated her two brothers, who now run the family business. “There was no difference,” she said.

Her tone was not defensive, nor did she so much as grimace at the question she received. There’s a level of self-awareness and restraint here that we fail to give her credit for.

It’s very easy for us, as both consumers of the mainstream media and American voters, to forget that these people are just that—they’re people.

When we think of Donald Trump and his relationship with women at this point in history, our minds jump immediately to the recording released prior to the election of his conversation with Billy Bush. The things that were said were shameful, wrong, and have no place in American society, let alone American politics. It is appropriate to acknowledge that and to hold him accountable for what he said.

Nevertheless, as a daughter myself, I observe Ivanka’s willingness to stand by her father with admiration. She has not defended his behavior, which would be wrong—rather, she’s chosen to remain loyal despite his character, however deeply flawed it might prove to be.

I fight the urge to compare her to Chelsea Clinton as a public figure because I think my bias in comparing them would be obvious. Nevertheless, it’s worth noting that the media approaches the two women from very different angles. While some outlets continue to, for all intents and purposes, plead Chelsea Clinton into a campaign announcement, Ivanka’s media coverage from those same outlets is critical, negative, and maintains, however subtlety, that she should be personally held responsible for her father’s splintered relationship with the female gender because she, herself, is female.

This is a difficult position to place a man’s daughter in. I struggle to recall a time that Chelsea Clinton has ever been asked to defend her own father’s promiscuity, and the one time I can recall was met with such aggressive criticism by the mainstream media that no one ever dared ask such a question again. And while she is placed on a pedestal, Ivanka is “hissed” at by her fellow woman, even as she speaks of promoting women and families at a public forum.

I was especially impressed with Ivanka in her interview with Gayle King earlier this month. King asked Ivanka if she had a response to critics who accused her of being “complicit.” Her response was commendable (via CBS):

“I would say not to conflate lack of public denouncement with silence. I think there are multiple ways to have your voice heard. In some case it’s through protest and it’s through going on the nightly news and talking about or denouncing every issue in which you disagree with. Other times it is quietly, and directly, and candidly. So where I disagree with my father, he knows it, and I express myself with total candor. Where I agree, I fully lean in and support the agenda and, and hope, uh, that I can be an asset to him and make a positive impact. But I respect the fact that he always listens. It’s how he was in business. It’s how he is as president.”

And in this one statement alone, we witness the quiet confidence of Ivanka Trump. She feels no need to justify herself to the public, and there’s something to be said for that level of self-assurance. It is clear she does not receive validation from the American people, which is important: it means her commitment to her values is not contingent on the approval of others. This is remarkable.

I fear that women are missing out on an incredible role model by so quickly jumping to criticize Ivanka. Many could say—and probably do say—that her loyalty to the President is self-serving, or necessary for her own professional success. I see it differently.

Ivanka has earned what she’s built. While I recognize the opportunities that inevitably come hand-in-hand with having the name ‘Trump’ on your birth certificate, she’s not been given all that she has. She is educated, professional, and successful by her own right. And yet, she has chosen to leave her empire behind (in some sense) to serve her father and the public in the White House.

How many celebrities are estranged from their famous family members? How many women wrestle with their self-worth (or lack thereof)? And how many experience behavioral crises at the hand of their damaging fathers?

It is clear Ivanka Trump is not one of those women. So why are we so quick to condemn her?

The Problem With Joy

In a thread of Instagram comments I recently came across, a friend-of-a-friend/mommy blogger/kindred creative spirit referred to her young son as her “melancholic child.” She said in the comment that sometimes, when he’s grumpy, she tries to approach his grumpiness by reminding him to be joyful. Recent to that post, he’d responded to her suggestion with: “I don’t know HOW to be joyful!” This made me chuckle, but man oh man, did I deeply identify with the words of her five-year-old.

I think I might have been this “melancholic” child when I was growing up. I think I’m still sort of this melancholic child, in fact, even at age 24—and while my family loves me very much, they will probably read this post and silently agree.

My grouchiness has been, at times, chronic and scathing. It’s a phenomenon I can’t explain and one I’ve thought, for many years, I couldn’t necessarily control. I remember feeling the internal conflict inside myself as a teenager of wanting to be cheerful with my family and feeling guilty for being short with them, but also feeling like I could not muster the energy for even so much as a smile.

Why? I still don’t know.

I’ve pondered this in my heart a lot over the past year. So last spring, I developed the habit of praying the joyful mysteries of the rosary on my way to work every day. As I made the drive from Joliet to Aurora, I’d pray the rosary on my fingers, starting with the Annunciation—the Visitation, the Nativity, the Presentation in the Temple, and finally, the Finding of the Child Jesus in the Temple.

So when I was in Rome this past fall, I was sitting in the adoration chapel at St. Peter’s Basilica one morning, praying the joyful mysteries for the umpteenth time, when I realized something—these “joyful” moments we reflect on are actually surrounded by circumstances of suffering.

Consider the story of the Annunciation. The angel Gabriel appears to Mary and tells her that as a virgin, unmarried woman, she’s going to conceive a child who will be the Son of God. As Christians who know the end of the story, we see this moment as an immensely joyful one—how could the divine conception of our Lord in Mary’s womb not be a joyful moment? But for a young and unmarried virgin, this moment was one with remarkably heavy implications. This, for Mary, was likely a time of great suffering.

The circumstances surrounding the Nativity are another excellent example. Christ is born—and we rejoice! Again, as Christians who know the end of this story, we celebrate this moment. But for Mary and Joseph—new, expecting parents traveling for a government-mandated census, forced to stay in a barn—could have only been tempted to fret as our Mother went into labor. Inevitably, there was suffering surrounding this moment.

And yet, we refer to these moments as ‘joyful.’ Why? How could such suffering illicit such joy?

Mother Teresa sheds light on this.

Her approach to suffering, in any shape or form and regardless of circumstances, was the belief that suffering is always a gift. When she encountered people in her work who were deeply suffering—whether because of physical ailments or some other spiritual form of suffering—she’d tell these people, “how much the Lord must love you, to give you the opportunity to suffer.”

The Lord suffered what has been called one of the (if not THE) greatest physical sufferings in the history of the world. The pain of the Crucifixion was immeasurably intensified by His body’s exhaustion after carrying His cross to Golgotha. Add to the equation His head-to-toe wounds from the lashings He received at the scourging, not to mention the crown of thorns that He wore. Also consider the fact that mere hours prior, He was under such physical stress at the knowledge of what was to come that He was literally sweating blood (a real medical condition called Hermatidrosis). All of these very real, tangible physical sufferings He endured make up what was likely the most painful death in the history of the human race.

And He did it all for us.

So when we suffer, in any shape or form, it goes not unnoticed by our Lord, who suffered greatly. Our sufferings become an opportunity, then, to unite our hearts with His. Our sufferings become an offering the way that His were an offering for our souls.

The cross is the epitome of suffering. But when Christians see the cross, we are joyful. We are overwhelmed at the truth of the cross—which is that God loved us THAT much… to endure THAT level of suffering, all for the sake of our good.

Fr. Mike Schmitz, in a recent podcast, said that “joy is the secret of the Christian.”

Joy without suffering, he said, is not really joy. The two are married. You cannot have one without the other.

I believe, to some extent, there’s a level of mystery in the relationship between joy and suffering that as human beings, we’ll never understand. Just the same, I see how we should be joyful at the realization that our sorrows are not without purpose. I see how a life lived in pursuit of faith, and sorrows offered on behalf of souls, could not possibly be lacking in joy. There is SO MUCH hope in suffering. How do we know? Because there is SO MUCH hope in the cross.

So how could we not be hopeful?

How could life be possibly lacking in joy when there is so much reason to be hopeful? When we have such a wonderful God, who took care of Mary in her unplanned pregnancy? Who gave Elizabeth the gift of a child, even in her old age, who became the greatest prophet in the Bible? Who cradled the baby Jesus as He slept in a manger, and protected Him as His family fled genocide? A God who spared Simon’s life long enough for Him to look upon his Savior’s face? Who led the child Jesus to the temple, where His parents observed His teaching and knew He was willed for remarkable things? How could we know these stories and not be hopeful? And when there is so much reason to hope, how could we not have joy?

There is so much sorrow. Truly, deeply—there is so much sorrow. But without sorrow, there would be no joy.

Without sorrow, there would be no need for God.

And how could we not be joyful at that?