Some of the most interesting research on abortion is coming out of the MELISA Institute in Chile. Epidemiologist Elard Koch and his colleagues have written several papers about the correlation between legislation, both permissive and restrictive, and maternal deaths.
In the latest one, they found that Mexican states with less permissive abortion laws had 23 percent lower overall maternal mortality, and up to 47 percent lower mortality from complications of abortion. This ought to be on the front page of the New York Times. But it won't. So read it on MercatorNet -- the link is below.
People are usually more complex than you think. Take Pope Francis: hailed as revolutionary by the progressive establishment from day one of his pontificate, he increasingly disconcerts them with his assumptions about the family and human nature in general. He talks a lot about the family in terms of generations and the bonds between them, which doesn’t sit well with the idea of a family constructed with the aid of technology. He has twitted Europeans about their low birth rate and said it is selfish not to want children.
Now he appears in a book-length interview with the title "This Economy Kills", which will delight the left wing, but it contains an attack on one of their sacred cows. As Fr Robert Gahl notes in his article today:
Francis compares gender theory's rejection of the essential role of complementary sexual difference in forging personal and social identity to genetic manipulation, nuclear weapons, and to the tyrannical political programs against humanity of Herod in ancient Jerusalem, and even to the 20th century fascists Hitler and Mussolini.
That, I predict, is either going to procure some sensational conversions or end a few budding friendships.
Still, if we want a society that can withstand the likes of Isis – the subject of my piece today -- Francis is the man to listen to.
Having said that, if you can spend a few minutes listening to the chap in the video Tamara Rajakariar posted today in Family Edge, you may agree with her that wisdom can come from unexpected quarters.
US Secretary of State John Kerry had a busy start to his week. On Monday he was in Geneva hammering out the remaining points of a nuclear deal with the Iranian Foreign Minister. On Tuesday he was back home, presumably, where he announced the appointment of gay man Randy Berry as “first-ever Special Envoy for the Human Rights of LGBT Persons”.
What he did on Wednesday I don’t know, but I look forward to his imminent announcement of the appointment of Carl A. Anderson, Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus, as the first-ever Special Envoy for the Human Rights of Christians and Members of Other Religious Minorities”. Or, if that is too futuristic, of Mrs P Fernandes as the first-ever Special Envoy for the Human Rights of Filipino Maids and Other Foreign Workers”. Both would have their work cut out in the Arab world alone.
Is there an election next year, or something? Is President Obama cuddling up to the pink vote? I dunno, but with Isis, Iran and Russia on the table, wouldn’t you think he and his administration were challenged enough without running up a flag for something that is not even a human right, but is going to irritate them all?
Read Robert Reilly’s excellent analysis of this daft move.
In a fascinating article in today's newsletter, psychiatrist Aaron Kheriaty examines the effect of the practices endorsed by 50 Shades of Grey upon the brain. "With sexual behaviors, things get wired into our brain rather easily; even experimentation or dabbling has tangible physical effects... Forming the addiction was easy; recovering from the addiction is hard."
And he argues that BDSM fuses fear and pain neural pathways with sexual arousal pathways in a way that could be toxic for a young person's whole life. The damage done by this book and film may be incalculable.
In Britain, the House of Lords votes today on whether or not to legalise the creation of three-parent embryos. We have covered the ethical problems with this solution to tragic mitochondrial diseases before. But Irish researcher Caroline Simons identifies several important scientific questions that went unanswered or even unmentioned during the long debate. (See story below.)
It turns out, for instance, that often "mitochondrial disease" is not actually in the mitochondria at all, but in the corresponding DNA in the nucleus of a cell. Hence, this technique will not work for many families. It makes one despair of science journalists.
And of scientists. Last week a journalist for New Scientist, a widely-read magazine in the UK, said that most of them concealed their true opinions on the matter out of “political expedience”. Some people would call that lying. One hopes that he is wrong. It would be a tragedy for the UK if scientists are serving up their bad science with bad faith.
With his usual panache, Robert Reilly gives President Obama's plans for combatting extremist ideology a good thumping in this issue. What struck me about his well-informed argument was the use he made of remarks by President al-Sisi of Egypt. In December al-Sisi addressed a large gathering of Muslim clerics and delivered a startling message: "the Islamic nation is being torn apart, destroyed, and is heading to perdition" because of terrorism.
"We need to revolutionize our religion," he said. "Is it conceivable that 1.6 billion [Muslims] would kill the world's population of seven billion, so that they could live [on their own]?
Dealing with the threat from ISIS and other islamic terrorist groups is a huge problem. But there are clearly lots of Muslims who agree with this. The voice of common sense is asserting itself in the Muslim world.
When was the last time you handwrote a letter with pen and ink instead of emailing your aunt or messaging your old school buddy? I've noticed that the notes on my Christmas cards are becoming shorter and shorter every year, as if people have lost the ability to write with a pen instead of a keyboard. (Although I confess that I have lost the ability to send Christmas cards, which is worse.)
Teachers have noticed the trend, of course, and in some schools, they have abolished instruction in penmanship, as Americans call it, altogether. But are today's kids missing out if they can only communicate on a keyboard? Read Carolyn Moynihan's terrific piece.
After a three-day summit in Washington DC on countering violent extremism, today's newsletter focuses on the terrorist threat from radical Islam. Admittedly, it is hard to find the right words to describe the enemy. Even President Bush, who was blunter than his successor, was at a loss for words. "Some call this evil Islamic radicalism,” he said in one speech. “Others, militant jihadism. Still, others Islamo-fascism. Whatever it’s called, this ideology is very different from the religion of Islam.” Mr Obama, however, seems reluctant to link Islam with terrorism. Given the well-publicised atrocities committed by the Islamic State in recent weeks, I wonder if he still needs to be so fastidious.
There has been a dramatic retreat from marriage in the United States over the past 40 or so years. Non-marital childbearing, single parenthood, and family instability have all increased, but especially among less-well educated and poorer Americans. As Brad Wilcox, a familiar voice in MercatorNet, argues, this must be reversed -- if for no other reason than its economic consequences.
He points out that "the retreat from marriage is not the only factor contributing to negative economic outcomes in the nation, but it is one important factor that must be addressed if the United States seeks to reduce poverty and economic inequality, and to increase the odds that every man, woman, and child has a shot at the American Dream."
It is my pleasure to announce a new addition to the MercatorNet team: long-term contributor Zac Alstin (pictured) has officially joined our ranks as Associate Editor, and has from this week begun learning the ropes, incantations and IT mysteries that keep MercatorNet humming along from week to week.
Zac has a background in philosophy, a career history in Bioethics research and policy, and a penchant for quoting obscure Chinese sages. He lives with his wife Shannon and young son Eli in Adelaide, South Australia, from where he is currently pursuing a PhD in Philosophy of Religion.
Zac has been a regular presence at MercatorNet since 2010, and with over 60 articles published there’s a good chance you’ve read at least one of his pieces and maybe even liked it!
We look forward to working with Zac in the coming year and hope you will join us in welcoming him.