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We have more data!

The other day I received an e-mail giving me the link to this entry and this analysis by James J. Heaney, an anti-abortion computer programmer with an amateur interest in statistics. Being into stats, Heaney had the wherewithal (read, computer software and know-how) to do what I wished I could do--download the raw data from the NSFG 2006-2010 and analyze it himself.

Heaney's analysis is written in a sometimes humorous, sometimes self-deprecating style which I must admit helps to brighten the way for me when reading through lots of statistics. But despite the self-deprecation, Heaney has done yeomanly number-crunching work and has shown a lot of the background information that went into his work, which should raise confidence in his care and honesty. I invite interested readers to delve into his paper and mull it for themselves.

Some interesting outcomes:

*Heaney was able to duplicate the Guttmacher Institute's number of 98% of Catholic non-virgins from the 2006-2008 CDC study who have ever used any form of non-NFP contraception in their lives, even once. This, by duplicating results independently, answers the questions I raised here based on some rather unhelpful charts in the CDC's own report. Evidently there was sufficient overlap between those who had ever used NFP (which was listed by the CDC as just another "method of contraception") and those who had at some time used non-NFP methods that there really were 98% of self-identified Catholic women (non-virgins ages 15-44) who had ever used some non-NFP method in their lives.

*Heaney used data from the entire 2006-2010 study and found some very interesting things about Catholic women's current behavior--by far the more interesting statistic. (From his Table 3-2.) Approximately 55.3 of all self-identified Catholic women, ages 15-44, based on the NSFG numbers, are presently using non-NFP contraception of some kind, unambiguously. These percentages are from a group including virgins, sexually inactive women, etc.--that is, all the women studied in that age group. About 39.3 of all self-identified Catholic women (both practicing and less serious), ages 15-44, are unambiguously not using any non-NFP form of contraception. This includes women who are pregnant, virgins, not sexually active though not virgins, using NFP, and so forth. The remaining numbers that we need to add up to 100% are 1.7% of Catholic women in this age category who are taking birth control pills but, when listing all of their reasons (multiple reasons could be given) gave only medical reasons, and 3.7% of these Catholic women who have been sterilized or whose husbands have been sterilized but who wish this could be reversed. My own inclination would be to give the benefit of the doubt to the honesty of the former and categorize them as not using contraception, which would mean 41% not using contraception. I would probably incline somewhat toward categorizing the latter as "using contraception" though against their will, if that is meaningful. Others will, understandably enough, categorize them as not using contraception. That is a question of analysis and moral theology that I have no real interest in discussing. Even if you were to add both of these categories into the "contraception" figure, we have a grand total of 60.7% Catholic women in the age category presently using contraception, which doesn't really sound all that exciting, does it? At least not, I suspect, for the purposes for which the administration would like to use such a figure. A phrase like "overwhelming majority" doesn't spring to mind when contemplating that figure.

*Heaney also did some interesting spread sheets that broke out the data by Mass attendance. By my calculations from his table 3-5, the number parallel to the 60.7% above falls to 56.1% among Catholic women who attend Mass once a week and down to 47% among Catholic women who attend Mass more than once a week. (This, remember, is taking the most pessimistic-for-Catholics view of--which is to say including in this number--both sexually active women taking the pill for what they report as purely medical reasons and women who have been or whose husbands have been sterilized contraceptively but wish they could reverse. Heaney breaks out those figures so that readers can make their own decisions.)

Now, I admit that it's always been difficult for me to see what the point was supposed to be in Guttmacher's original argument. But let's suppose that the point was something to the effect that Roman Catholic sexual standards are so crazy and so much against normal human beings' sexual natures that virtually no one, even among the people who claim to be Roman Catholics, follows them. Sort of a very-slightly-dressed-up bandwagon argument.

What we see from this more detailed evaluation of the data is that, though there are plenty of self-identified Catholic women who are not obeying the Catholic Church's teaching on contraception, there are also plenty who are taking it quite seriously indeed and evidently find that do-able. And that number, not surprisingly, is greater still among those who do other things, not onerous in themselves, like going to church once or even a couple of times a week.

This is a fairly realistic appraisal and one that makes it much harder to cast Catholic teaching as simply insane and unlivable and to imply that the vast majority of Catholic women are likely to have a use for the contraception mandated by the Obama administration.

There's plenty more interesting stuff in Heaney's analysis, so check it out in more detail. Kudos to James J. Heaney.

Comments (45)

Thanks for keeping tabs on this one. I remember hearing the 98% statistic long before this controversy broke out, and something about it seemed odd to me even then.

But Lydia, don't you realize that all this means is that we really need the mandate to close that 36% gap?

Ha! Sage, it's funny you shd. mention that. A couple of different people wrote when I was writing about this a couple of weeks ago (I believe Frank Beckwith may have been one) pointing out that if the 98% statistic were true it meant that the mandate was unnecessary. I said that in that case the violins would just be broken out about all the financial hardship being caused to women to get their contraception. Indeed, we've seen just that. You've probably seen the testimony from the Georgetown Law student moaning and groaning about how her fellow law students "have to" spend $3000 per year (say what?) for contraception. I'm still trying to figure out how that works.

You've probably seen the testimony from the Georgetown Law student moaning and groaning about how her fellow law students "have to" spend $3000 per year (say what?) for contraception. I'm still trying to figure out how that works.

Now there's a fun calculation to do.

Take the law student's claim, and calculate just how much sex they have to be having to blow through 3k of contraception annually.

If it's birth control pills, it shouldn't make any difference, should it? Those must be some darned expensive pills.

Right. I think I saw a breakdown for the pill that indicates that the high end is something like 1250 for the first year, less thereafter.

If it's birth control pills, it shouldn't make any difference, should it? Those must be some darned expensive pills.

Who says it is? Say it's condoms. That 3k/annual stat seems like the sort of thing someone could have a whole lot of fun with, using a little imagination.

Is this an example of the 98% liberal commitment to truthiness?

http://blogs.ssrc.org/tif/2012/03/01/believing-in-religious-freedom/

Is she saying it is bad that Christianity has distinct propositional content - saying in effect with Lennon "imagine no religion, it isn't hard to do"?Christians who actually believe the content of Christianity are the cause of sectarian violence in Syria? Tricky ideas like religious freedom would be a whole lot simpler if religionists got rid of that whole 'belief' thing? Religious freedom laws just support the oppressive notion that Christianity is doctrinal?

I can't believe what I'm reading, anyway hope I'm wrong.

My understanding is that she said $3,000 over three years. For the pill, that works out to about $83 per month. That sounds a bit high. It looks like the costs range from $20-$50 with some generics only costing $9. With condoms, someone figured out, using the $1K per year, it works out to 2.74 sexual encounters per day.

With condoms, someone figured out, using the $1K per year, it works out to 2.74 sexual encounters per day.

And of course, that's only an average. So we can expect some days there are none, other days there's around 10-15+. Frat parties and all.

Okay, okay, I realize I started it (mea culpa), but we can stop estimating where _that_ figure came from now.

Interesting stuff in the main post, no?

Okay, okay, I realize I started it (mea culpa), but we can stop estimating where _that_ figure came from now.

Absolutely, thanks for getting that info together. Hopefully this information will get distributed.

Though, humor aside, I do think the question being broached here is legitimate. If someone insists they're running that big of a contraception tab annually - and if they insist that the government should be footing the bill - "what the hell are you doing with all that?" should come up as a question.

I don't think she's at all unreasonable here in expecting the public to pick up her contraception costs. The Roman Catholic Church helped pioneer the idea that her medical costs in general are "society's obligation in charity and justice" wherever she cannot pay for them--which often translates to "I didn't want to budget for them." It's like that old joke about establishing the fact that the woman's a whore, now we're just haggling over the price of the requested act. If the RCC and similar groups didn't want to empower this line of argument, they should have doubled down on their charities and hospitals in the 1980s instead of inviting the camel into the tent.

Mike, I have argued elsewhere myself that a kind of selective economic insanity empowers the current mandate. See my post here:

http://lydiaswebpage.blogspot.com/2012/02/and-furthermore.html

OTOH, it's perfectly reasonable to argue that contraception is not health care, regardless of whether one thinks it _wrong_. Lots of things aren't health care. Chocolate cake, for example. And bacon. It should be obvious to people who aren't crazed liberal lunatics that this is not the kind of thing that is an entitlement. In fact, that's why so many insurance plans didn't cover it until the feminists got going and passed state laws to make them. They considered it a lifestyle pill, like diet pills.

OTOH, it's perfectly reasonable to argue that contraception is not health care, regardless of whether one thinks it _wrong_.

And on that point you are, in fact, quite wrong. Birth control pills have a proven ability to help women with certain types of hormone problems establish some semblance of hormonal equilibrium. Those women would beg to differ that the pill is not health care for them. I realize that they are a minority and am not making a case that they change the nature of the pill for most women who use it. I am merely pointing out that unless you expect such women to "suffer in silence," you have to recognize that the pill has more than one purpose (as do many FDA-licensed drugs).

Part of the problem here is that health care has reached the point where we consider operations that are not necessary or prudent to be health care. Many of them are done on the basis of extending the individual's will against the nature of their body. We do that with young women who wish to deny the nature of their fertility; we contemplate it with the elderly who live in denial about the fact that they are very old and that the ravages of old age are not a "disease" to be treated (do not read this as an endorsement of pulling the plug on them).

Lydia,

Interesting post.

I actually think this mandate is good for the RCC. In fact, I think the best thing for the RCC would be if Obama went off the deep end and started locking up Catholics left and right until it became apparent to the RCC that the only way out is to stop supporting the government involvement altogether. All Christian churches have a mandate to help the poor. A good ol'timey persecution by the federal government might actually make the RCC repentant of having ever tried to slough off its mandate onto the federal government.

Birth control pills have a proven ability to help women with certain types of hormone problems establish some semblance of hormonal equilibrium. Those women would beg to differ that the pill is not health care for them.

Yeah, that gets brought up a lot. But look, if you read the leftist rants on this you'll see that they are really ticked off even when insurance companies (say, with policies purchased by Catholic institutions) _are_ willing to purchase the pills in those cases but require clear evidence of the importance of the purely medical need.

They are _definitely_ demanding this for contraceptive purposes and treating its use for contraceptive purposes as health care. If it were restricted only to documented, bona fide medical need for other purposes, the Catholic institutions wouldn't even be able to say they have a conscientious objection to it. The business about medical need is just a smokescreen, and not even a very serious one, either. The people pushing the mandate have made it absolutely clear that they want contraception qua contraception to be provided as "preventative health care." After all, why would we even be talking about these statistics otherwise? It's not like anyone questions that statistics about the number of Catholic women using contraception are about, at least among other things, Catholic women using contraception as contraception! Heck, for that matter, their original 98% statistic had a lot to do with condoms, and nobody claims that condoms corrects hormonal imbalances!

Mike T, thank you for noticing that Christians are pretty much the only ones actually on the side of the poor. Now, instead of gloating that the RCC is the current target of our newly tyrannical government, how about standing with us to restore some measure of sanity?

Deacon David,

Until the RCC actually repents of exhorting the government to get involved the way they did, I won't consider there to be common ground on which to stand. Make no mistake here, David. The RCC supported everything about Obamacare right up until it came to contraception. As I said, at this point the RCC is just haggling with Obama about a few minor items on a bill of goods that is rotten to the core.

The RCC leadership should repent of this by disavowing EMTALA, Medicaid, Medicare, etc., doubling down on its social mandate for the needy and exhorting its followers to support it while demanding lower taxes to enable that.

I guess the biggest take-away is that the 98% is actually based on factual data. Has it been used midleadingly? Sure. Is it relevant to the question of religious liberty? I don't think so. But it is based on data.

"Birth control pills have a proven ability to help women with certain types of hormone problems establish some semblance of hormonal equilibrium. Those women would beg to differ that the pill is not health care for them."

But then it's not a birth control pill in that instance. If, for example, the doctor saws off my healthy right arm because I convince him that I am a handicapped person trapped in a healthy person's body, it is unjust mutilation. But if the doctor saws off my gangreen arm because if he does not I will die, it is a just amputation. In the first case, the saw is an instrument of evil; in the second, it is an instrument of good. The hormones that we call the "birth control pill" can be used in similar fashions.

What this debate reveals is how deeply ignorant most educated people are about the nature of a moral argument. The fact they would trot out the "other uses" of birth control argument without thinking that perhaps people have thought and written about this is astonishing. This is why power + elite pedigree - training in moral argument = self-righteous unteachable arrogance.

Well, John McG, I think there are other takeaways. For example, I was really wanting someone with the relevant software and know-how to go out there and do what Guttmacher had no motivation to do--namely, mine the data to give us some idea, without biasing exclusions, how many Catholic women actually _are_ using contraception. Heaney is as far as I know the first one to do this for the 2006-2010 NSFG study. And that number isn't super-impressive.

What this debate reveals is how deeply ignorant most educated people are about the nature of a moral argument. The fact they would trot out the "other uses" of birth control argument without thinking that perhaps people have thought and written about this is astonishing. This is why power + elite pedigree - training in moral argument = self-righteous unteachable arrogance.

Ecstasy was created as a therapeutic drug for extreme trauma cases. In fact, it works quite well as that. It's also completely illegal to use it today, even for that purpose because its recreational use is so dangerous. Birth control pills are similar to ecstasy in the sense that they are essentially for recreational use only for 95%+ of their actual users.

Since birth control pills are abortaficient even when used for purely therapeutic purposes, I would be skeptical that the Catholic Church would not be raising a stink irrespective of why they are prescribed on its dime.

I am well aware of the fact that others have written about this. I am also not in the least bit sympathetic to the Roman Catholic Church for what it is going through at the moment. It didn't give a rat's ass about the consciences of millions of Christians who might not want their income to be used for the purposes mandated or enabled under EMTALA and Obamacare. It did not and does not, among other things, care about the consciences of protestants who consider guaranteed aid to drug users, alcoholics, etc. irrespective of repentance to be a form of subsidizing sin.

If the RCC wants brotherly support, let its bishops don sack cloth and ash for having ever supported a government role competing with the mandate of the church.

You need to figure the percentage of Catholic women of child-bearing age using artificial birth control who are married. That number would be the most useful. Counting everyone who is not having sex in that age bracket is misleading. It would also be interesting to poll all practicing Catholics on whether they believe artificial birth control is immoral.

Mike, I believe that James Heaney does have some charts on married women. But I totally disagree that it is "misleading" to count the sexually inactive. To the contrary, I think it's misleading not to count them. The context of the debate involves the question of how many Catholic women are likely to use (or, if one prefers the term, "need") artificial contraception that the Catholic Church forbids. If they're sexually inactive, they are following Catholic teaching on sex and don't "need" contraception. So they should be counted.

You may not be interested, but I'm interested in a statistic about *how many Catholic women of child-bearing age are using contraception*. If the reason they aren't is that they're virgins or sexually abstinent, bully for them.

I think Mike T has a valid point about the Catholic Church's willingness to back various welfare policies that are frankly absurd. I'm a Catholic myself, but very often the Church's policies have just plain sucked.

That said, I also don't think it's right or even wise to cheer on a government that's advancing an agenda like this in a "serves you right" way. It's better to make a stand on this issue while stressing the problems that came with supporting this sort of government intrusion and overreach in the first place.

That said, I also don't think it's right or even wise to cheer on a government that's advancing an agenda like this in a "serves you right" way.

Yeah, I said that to Mike T in a way earlier post on this subject that I don't have the energy to look up. But I made no impression, so I'm not repeating myself.

That said, I also don't think it's right or even wise to cheer on a government that's advancing an agenda like this in a "serves you right" way.

I am not cheering, I am saying that we ought to use this as a teaching moment for the RCC that they were wrong when they ignored the warnings about getting in bed with the government. The government hates competitors.

Mike T,

It was Obama who said, there would be conscience exemptions and then lied. I do agree that the church should learn from Thomas More that Caeser's offer always comes with an expiry date.


On the other hand, the socialists in Europe are now trying to force pro-life, doctors and nurses to perform abortions.

http://www.lifesitenews.com/news/british-court-rules-catholic-midwives-can-be-forced-to-participate-in-abort

I am not cheering, I am saying that we ought to use this as a teaching moment for the RCC that they were wrong when they ignored the warnings about getting in bed with the government. The government hates competitors.

Yeah, but what does teaching moment mean? Siding with Obama and saying, "They're right, you should have to pay for this."? I think whatever 'teaching moment' you could reasonably ask for has already hit home - the problems of getting entangled with the government are now crystal clear. And I think going the other route would give the wrong kind of "teaching moment" to Obama - namely, 'You can divide and conquer Christians with ease.'

the problems of getting entangled with the government are now crystal clear.

And something we need to remember: The Obama admin., in its hubris and tyranny, is placing this mandate on _all_ employers, not only those already entangled with the government, accepting govt. money, etc.

It's one thing to stand with them on this particular issue, but we ought to use it as an opportunity to humble them by driving home the fact that not only was this inevitable, but they often violated our consciences. The RCC leadership ought to be told at every step of the way that they violated the consciences of millions of their fellow Christians and many non-Christians alike.

Mike, that's a worthwhile point, but it does raise an important question, one that is raised all the time but is rarely addressed adequately: what is the true difference between a policy that you think is a bad policy that requires something of you that policy ought not require of you, and a policy that requires something of you that is against your conscience? Unless we can come up with a decent answer to that question, what we have exposed is really a democratic-government killer (even if it takes a while to come to that point.

Let me make the point a little clearer. A law can require something of you that you think is ill-advised, but still not require of you something that violates your conscience. We see examples all the time. A law that restricts your speed to 55 mph, in the wilds of Wyoming, is pretty silly and most of us agree is ill-advised. But going 55 when it would be safe and reasonable to go 75 is not against your conscience. That's easy.

A law that taxes you at a marginal 25% income tax rate may be high, it may even be a rate that you think is an inappropriate tax rate in general, but very few of us think that paying a marginal 25% is against our conscience merely on account of the rate itself (we could, for example, alternatively pay at a 15% tax rate and THEN pay an additional 10% gratuitously to the government by free choice, if we were not worried about what the extra would be spent on. The net 25% rate being paid is not a wrongful personal action by reason of the amount.) If we think something is out of whack, it is usually because of the things the money is being spent on.

If the government spends money supporting an unjust war in Iraq (supposing hypothetically for the moment that a war in Iraq is known to be unjust, and that I recognize that conclusion), does that make paying taxes to the government something that violates my conscience? Generally, most people have accepted the moral analysis that says no, it is not something that I should consider in violation of my conscience. The reason is due to the general principles of cooperating with evil (though most people might not use that terminology). Paying taxes is not formally for each and every single spending choice of the government, it is for the general purpose "supporting the government, which is necessary for the common good." Paying taxes is remote material cooperation with the unjust war, and that is justifiable under certain conditions - namely, that the law demands it as part of an overall funding scheme which on its own is not immoral.

When it comes to the (admittedly ill-advised) Catholic bishops and their wide approval of the liberal nanny-state, for most people the specific spending choices made by the government do not require something that violates the conscience in the sense that it constitutes formal cooperation with evil. Paying taxes to a general fund is formally for "funding the government" which is a legitimate moral act - even when some of the government actions are very ill-advised. Calling such things "violation of conscience" is a way of stretching the language in a funny, unhelpful way, if not simply wrong.

I agree, though, that the Catholic officials are still more than a little to blame for the current mess, and it would not be inappropriate for them to admit as much. Frankly, I think that someone ought to point out to Bart Stupak the moral implications of his foolishly buying into President Obama's promises, and he should RESIGN in protest over the administration's violation of rights of conscience. As should every Catholic political appointee at HHS. And the bishops who supported a health care bill at all should be doing public apologies profusely. Sebellius should be given 1 week to correct, resign, or be excommunicated. As should Nancy Pelosi and many other Catholic congresscritters.

Tony,

This is not material co-operation. It's formal co-operation. The employer at the end of the day, is still stuck with a bill that includes higher premiums. Yes, the Catholics who support socialized medicine need to understand that socialist policies are trying to take-over private healthcare.

This is also causing a rift among Catholics, where faithful organizations are sticking to their guns and others are selling out for 30 pieces of silver.

Yes, Pelosi is actively promoting schism by asking Catholics to support King Obama over the church.

The Bishops need to watch "A man for all seasons".

Savvy, Tony is saying that paying taxes when the govt. is going to use those taxes for wrong things isn't necessarily a violation of conscience. I agree with Tony on that, and Mike T and I have gone 'round about this one before. I think Mike T is ignoring an important distinction in trying to make the current mandate be in any sense the same thing as paying taxes when the government does bad things with one's money.

Bart Stupak is no longer in Congress. He is now a lobbyist and has developed the peculiar habit of constantly washing his hands.

Mass excommunications are not the route to take, at least not yet. Witness in the form of civil disobedience is coming. And that means more than Bishops have to make a stand.

http://cnsnews.com/news/article/top-us-bishop-all-bishops-we-did-not-ask-fight-we-will-not-run-it

Sebellius should be given 1 week to correct, resign, or be excommunicated.

From Wikipedia, which I tend not to trust as a rule, but this accords with my memory of the time, when she was busy destroying Phil Kline's life (and taking illegal actions that should have had her imprisoned by now):

Sebelius, a pro-choice rights advocate, has been endorsed by Planned Parenthood and they have conducted fundraising activity on her behalf. Sebelius is a member of the Catholic Church; in early March 2009, Archbishop Raymond F. Burke, prefect for the Apostolic Signatura, the Holy See's highest court, declared that Sebelius should not approach the altar for Communion in the United States, and he noted that, "after pastoral admonition, she obstinately persists in serious sin."

When it comes to the (admittedly ill-advised) Catholic bishops and their wide approval of the liberal nanny-state, for most people the specific spending choices made by the government do not require something that violates the conscience in the sense that it constitutes formal cooperation with evil. Paying taxes to a general fund is formally for "funding the government" which is a legitimate moral act - even when some of the government actions are very ill-advised. Calling such things "violation of conscience" is a way of stretching the language in a funny, unhelpful way, if not simply wrong.

I don't get where you came up with the idea that I am arguing against taxes for the general fund here. I am pointing out that there are aspects of guaranteed health care and welfare programs which violate the consciences of many conservative Christians, Jews, Muslims, etc. For example, it violates the consciences of millions of conservatives in those traditions to just guarantee health care to a serial, unrepentant drug addict or to keep giving more welfare to women who continue to have children out of wedlock. I have been called heartless, unchristian, etc. by some of the "conservative" Catholics that commented here (including Jeff) for taking the position (as millions of protestants do) that unrepentant sinners are unworthy of charitable giving of resources to cover acts specifically related to their unrepentant behavior.

I think Mike T is ignoring an important distinction in trying to make the current mandate be in any sense the same thing as paying taxes when the government does bad things with one's money.

I am not making that argument. I am saying that the Catholic Church stood high and mighty over the rest of the Christian churches in America in supporting government mandates of "charity" in many areas that conservative Christians opposed. These are specific acts which go against the consciences of millions of sincere Christians.

As I said, the problem is that when we said we didn't want unrepentant sinners to get welfare directly related to their unrepentant sin, the RCC responded by simply dismissing us. Now they are in the same boat and want us to just forget the fact that their leadership exhorted the government to violate our consciences rather than have to even apologize.

It should be noted that conservative Protestants did not ever support the Catholic Church's collective conscience being violated on these terms, while they dismissed us as lesser Christians for not wanting to throw money at every Tom, Dick and Harry regardless of how repentant they were.

Mike T,

Conservative Protestants argued in favour of contraception and condoms, to prevent unwanted pregnancies and abortions. Despite, studies have shown that they don't change things and only encourage this behaviour.

In fact ALL Christians rejected artificial contraception for 1900 years, until 1930. Did Christianity suddenly become holier, smarter, and wiser in 1930?

It was the Episcopal church that first permitted it after Margaret Sanger, founder of Planned Parenthood talked them into it. The rest followed suit.

There are pro-life groups that need supports to help these single mothers, in order to prevent them from having abortions. For example, the sisters of life take these women faced with crisis pregnancies into their houses and help them get back on their feet. They also teach them the value of life.

There are similar orders that help drug addicts, juvenile delinquents recover and teach them a trade so they can be self-sufficient.

Is this really a bad thing?

I do agree that funding for charities needs to be worked out, preferably through donations and private grants.

In fact the more conservative Catholic orders do not take govt. money, the way the liberals do, because they are aware that it comes with strings attached.

The issue here is that the mandate targets everybody, even those who don't take govt. money.

Yes sir, the Catholic Church sure does have a high standard of morality when it comes to the unborn, don't they?

http://www.tampabay.com/opinion/columns/the-church-didnt-want-a-fetus-to-sue/1218099

Some Catholic churches views on the unborn seem rather wobbly when it comes to money!

L.W., while I would not trust the details of the claims by the author of the article, I do not have any definite reason to doubt that the basic thesis may be accurate. It has more than once been the case that Catholic institutions, including Catholic hospitals, have done stupid, evil, atrocious things.

Nevertheless, there is some possibility that one or two of the actions by Catholic institutions referred to in the article were partly justifiable. Let us grant for the moment that state law OUGHT TO say that a fetus is a person before the law. If it doesn't, if it instead says that a fetus becomes a person for legal purposes at 30 weeks (say), that would be poor law. But the law is also defective in other ways. If the tort law provides irrational benefits, presumptions, assistance to plaintiffs that is damaging to the common good (which most people agree is the case), that TOO is bad law. So, suppose hypothetically that both bad features of the law come to bear on a given case: the plaintiff's lawsuit is relying on benefits given to plaintiffs that a just, rational system would do away with, AND the law treats the 20 week old fetus as not a person. It need not be inherently unjust in that specific instance for the defendant to UTILIZE the existing not-person standard of state law to get out from under the unjust burden of the tort law.

It is generally recognized (and accepted in Catholic practice) that a defendant may plead "not guilty" even when he has in fact done the action of which he is charged. Catholic teaching suggests that at least under some forms of law, the "not guilty" plea is understood to mean, in that context, "I am not guilty in the sense that the state has no valid proof of my guilt, and that's all I am claiming." Similarly, in a tort case a defendant may in justice make legitimate use of an existing state law or precedent that he disagrees with to win a case. Whether he SHOULD make use of that law is a prudential matter that cannot be separated from individual facts and circumstances. I personally would not make use of the precedent of Roe v Wade just to win a case, for example, but would feel free to make use of much narrower rules for specific cases.

Well, Tony, your comment is without a doubt some of the most imaginative doublespeak and gobbledegook that I have come across in some time. I'm sorry that I don't have some kind of award for you.

Are you proud of the inane silliness that you were forced to spit out in order to find some possible way to save the beloved Catholic church from it's pathetic hypocrisy?

I thank you for writing it, though. If I knew any first year law students or used car salesmen I would certainly pass your comment along!!

Okay, buddy, that will be quite enough. We do not tolerate mere personal insult around here. Bag it.

Is this really a bad thing?

No, but neither is it relevant to my point.

I love how L.W. Dickel came along pretending to have a legitimate point, then when challenged even just a little bit he *blew up* in rage and frustration, unable to master his anger enough to make any actual arguments, so he had to resort to insulting Tony's arguments, as if that were a rational act.

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