Human Life Review Blog

Scroll through our blog to find great articles and commentary on current life issues.

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Dad’s Bread and Butter Crumbs

One recent morning, while emailing one of my co-workers and simultaneously texting my boss, I heard the distinctive sound of toast popping up. I was working in the living room—my pandemic-mandated office—and after hitting “Send” I ran to the kitchen and pressed the lever to...
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Photo 122977863 / Chinese Countryside © Michel Arnault | Dreamstime.com

The Wages of Population Meddling

“When will they evvvvv-er learn?,” as Peter, Paul, and Mary used emotionally to warble, to the accompaniment of guitars. Probably never. Meddling seems woven into the human character. But watching the meddlers squirm and slap their foreheads, as in China and elsewhere, can be fun...
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On What We Inherit—and What We Pass On

My mother grew up in Rego Park, Queens, New York. She said the developer who named the town got “Rego” from a contraction of “Real Good.” The daughter of strict German immigrants, being raised in the shadow of World War II, she embodied the first-generation ethos of dreams...
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USAID’s Samantha Power: New Power on the Global Stage

[The following is adapted from a column that originally appeared on the (Italian) website The New Daily Compass (newdailycompass.com) and is reprinted with permission.] The new Biden-Harris Administration immediately adopted a “tabula rasa” approach to life matters. From day one,...
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Anticipating Pentecost

“The one who’s in front of me.” That was the simple but profound answer the elderly mother gave when asked which of her children she loved the most. Of course, as fair-minded liberals we would want her to say that she loves all of her children equally. But love is not a right or...
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Why Life?

Back when my two sons were still a captive audience during car trips, I naturally sought to teach them philosophy and theology. “What is the first question of philosophy?” I would ask, and they soon knew to respond, “Why is there something rather than nothing?” I would continue...
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Brain Smog

Seeing a celebrity in person is like seeing a ghost in reverse. Celebrities are all around us, but for most of the time it’s in the two-dimensional form of print and film imagery. They’re a facsimile, not truly alive. Like a ghost. But when you find yourself in the same room,...
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Looking Forward to 2022

Pro-life candidates in 2020 gained 12 seats in the US House, and tied 50-50 in the US Senate—better than expected, but in Washington we must continue to play defense through the midterm elections in 2022. Our immediate focus must therefore be on enacting state legislation, where...
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The Truth Is Not Out There

When my brother and I were younger we used to love watching The X-Files. Anyone who came of age in the 90s will remember the show. Mulder and Scully were FBI agents trying to track down shadowy figures in government—today we would call it “the deep state”— believed to have...
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Glimpsing God in Down Syndrome

My eight-year-old daughter Maggie, who has Down syndrome, made her First Confession last month. And therein lies a story. It had been scheduled rather last minute. Communication with the parish during the past year has been challenging, and with vacation, etc., I lost track of...
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Pepé Le Cuomo

This is the worst time for cancel culture to set its myopic sights on Pepé Le Pew, because Andrew Cuomo is Pepé Le Pew. I believe the women’s accusations of sexual bullying are credible. I also believe that in his own mind Cuomo’s done nothing wrong: They were all “old enough.”...
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False and Faithful Witness

For many bore false witness against him, but their testimony did not agree (Mark 14:59).  The chief priests knew what they wanted to do. The problem was how to justify it. It didn’t help that the testimonies against Jesus didn’t line up. But that’s the way of false witness....
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Who You Gonna Call?

In that uniquely American comedy Ghostbusters, the womanizing, semi-serious scientist played by Bill Murray tries to get his mind around the moral magnitude of his crew’s city-saving mission. “I’m fuzzy on the whole good-bad thing. What do you mean ‘bad’?” he asks his nerdy...
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Quantifying the Unquantifiable

What if we could know—perhaps through a prophetic vision or an exquisitely refined predictive algorithm—that a particular human fetus developing in the womb of a particular abortion-seeking woman would, if rescued from prenatal death, grow up to be a source of human misery on a...
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Photo 87966362 © Smallcreativeunit5 - Dreamstime.com

Our Life Is Not Our Own: Remembering March 11, 2011

  It was an overcast afternoon ten years ago when all hell broke loose. A massive earthquake hit off the Pacific coast of Japan, rocking buildings from the Sendai area—where it was the strongest—all the way down to Tokyo and farther south. The quake-wracked ground broke open...
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Elon Musk, Progress, and Common-Sense Realism

Like theirs of old, our life is death, Our light is darkness, till we see The eternal Word made flesh and breath, The God who walked by Galilee. We have not known thee: to the skies Our monuments of folly soar, And all our self-wrought miseries Have made us trust ourselves the...
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Don’t Forget Andrew Cuomo’s Other Coronavirus Victims

Editor’s Note: Dear Reader: We share here a column (www.nationalreview.com/2021/02/dont-forget-andrew-cuomos-other-coronavirus-victims/) published on National Review Online about the other victims harmed by Governor Cuomo’s dangerous nursing-home policies—New Yorkers...
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Where Are the Babies?

American birth rates plummeted between 2009 and 2019. Lyman Stone offers us a concerning metric to measure the loss: “missing births.” If, he asks, birth rates had remained throughout the following decade what they were in 2008, “how many more babies would have been born?” The...
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Photo by Mark Lawson on Unsplash

The Price of One Life

  Akin to my namesake Holden Caulfield, I can’t stand the movies. What could be more phony than a bunch of highly paid actors pretending to be other people in scripted situations? Yet there is no denying the draw of drama, which goes back to the ancient Greeks and continues...
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The Statue of Liberty’s Arm

  No, the picture that accompanies this blog isn’t a still frame from the original Planet of the Apes when Charlton Heston, seeing Lady Liberty’s beached head, realizes in horror that he hasn’t traveled to another galaxy but rather to a future America where war has reduced...
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Photo 83249301 © Alisa24 - Dreamstime.com

 Saving the Law

On the human level, salvation comes from restoration of the essential features of our humanity: reason over irrationality, responsibility over fate, an orientation toward love over the bestial tendency to rivalry. The pro-life movement, insofar as it affirms the basic humanity of...
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Hanko and Embodiment

The digitization of the Japanese bureaucracy appears inevitable. The hanko, although still used everywhere today, may be destined to end up in museums alongside the typewriter and the floppy disk.
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Epiphany 2021

  January 6, 2021, would have been my brother Robert’s 61st birthday. He died of cancer on December 28, 1994, the Feast of the Holy Innocents, at age 34. Always at this time of year, Robert is present in the minds and hearts of his family and friends—we share memories, eat...
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Vaccinations, Life, and the Common Good

Most of us have a commonsensical grasp of the common good, which we can apply easily if we do not allow ourselves to be misled. Pro-life arguments can be strengthened by appeals to the common good. Pro-choice forces, however, often encourage us to misunderstand or neglect the...
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The Beast in the Living Room

I would be at a terrible loss if politics were the most important thing in my life. I’d be holding straw. Daffodils are immune to political spin. Dogs, too. Moby Dick defies political deconstruction. Love defies political deconstruction. And so does truth.
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Dickens on Life, Death, and Christmas

A literary critic whose name I do not now recall observed that Charles Dickens’s greatness as an author lies in the fact that he could put death into a Christmas story . . . and get away with it. Who, after all, is the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come but the Grim Reaper? Only the...
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The Forgotten Go-Between

  A wedding is supposed to be a happy—almost deliriously happy—affair. Two people in love pledging to honor and cherish one another until death parts them. It is heady stuff, standing before God and man to make a promise that will profoundly affect the rest of one’s earthly...
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Covid’s List

How do we count the dead? One by one. Parading statistics down a path of false horror can only end in a competition of fools. Who can cite the biggest statistic of American deaths: 225,000; 250,000; 283,000? The World Health Organization counts over 1.5 million people worldwide. ...
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Negligent Homicide and the Butterfly Effect

Murder begins as a thought. Homicide, the broader category that includes murder, begins as either a thought or the failure to take thought—that is, the failure to take care. Let’s say I was texting on my phone while driving a car. If in my distraction I hit a pedestrian who then...
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Photo by NASA on Unsplash

Are We Still One Nation Under God?

  After visiting the United States, G. K. Chesterton asked himself the question, “What makes America peculiar?” He answered it with accustomed perspicacity: “America is the only nation in the world that is founded on a creed. That creed is set forth in the Declaration of...
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Dreams in a Pandemic

  I am the proud owner of a coffee mug that displays wisely worded encouragement from Thoreau: Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you’ve imagined. I got it at a high-end “Second Time Around” sale at a well-heeled Episcopal Church in New York City—for...
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Turning Point, or Eternal Return?

  In 2015, when the Center for Medical Progress released undercover videos revealing Planned Parenthood’s illegal side business in selling fetal-body parts, I thought the abortion giant was finished. Recorded by pro-life journalist David Daleiden, the videos were so shocking...
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Closer Than You Think

The aliens have finally arrived, but they’re not shaking their heads with dismay at our self-destructive and violent natures as evidenced by war.
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A Miracle for Life

  Did you ever see a miracle walking? Or running, jumping, laughing, and hugging like any active five-year-old? This is the story of the miraculous healing of a child in the womb attributed to the intercession of Venerable Father Michael McGivney, founder of the Knights of...
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The Odd Couple and Abortion Culture

  I was seven years old when Neil Simon’s Broadway play The Odd Couple became a TV series. Forty-five years later, I still remember Oscar and Felix as perfect embodiments of the liberated and the oppressed—which, I suppose, might reveal something about my own organizational...
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Life is Expensive

  “Life is cheap” is an expression usually reserved for primitive peoples or violent times, be it warring tribes and clans slaughtering each other like chickens or the showdown-at-noon culture of the American Wild West. At least drawing six-shooters was between two men...
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The Sorry State of Love and Marriage

  I had just started high school at the beginning of the Seventies when Erich Segal’s best-selling tearjerker Love Story and its theater-filling movie version were released to harrow the souls of the romantic. Segal had set out to write an elemental love story in a...
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A Prophetic Editorial: Fifty Years since “A New Ethic for Medicine and Society”

  This month marks the fiftieth anniversary of “A New Ethic for Medicine and Society,”  a remarkably foresighted editorial published in the September 1970 issue of the professional journal California Medicine.  The editorial, which has been reprinted many times over the...
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Perpetuating Castes through Special Hate Crimes Penalties

If my act of blind anger against my declassed neighbor will be punished less severely than the same act against the specially classed neighbor, then this “hate crime” law invites me to attack one victim in the other’s place. This, indeed, is raw and ruthless discrimination!
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Walking Away

  When my second son was born, the nurse did not proclaim “It’s a boy!” as one would expect. Instead her words were “Looks like you got a redhead.” Indeed, he was pink from tip to tail with a shock of red hair that stood up like a sail, or, in my imagination, like Woody...
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Building a More Human-Oriented Civilization

By restoring legal respect for human life—the foundation of justice itself—we can move steadily toward fuller realization of the positive possibilities of our nature, including the formation of a more authentically human civilization. But we must begin by protecting the lives of...
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Two Rights and Double Standards

  An old adage warns that “the devil is in the details.” This is especially true of the law, where “standards of review” and precedents (stare decisis) can eviscerate the clearest constitutional norms while apotheosizing the most nebulous. Case-in-point: Linda Greenhouse’s...
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Structures of Spin

  During the pontificate of John Paul II the world began to hear about “structures of sin.” In paragraph 12 (Chapter One) of his 1995 encyclical Evangelium Vitae, the late pontiff described structural sin as a pattern of institutional evil that rendered society hostile to...
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The Thomases and the Truth

Stranded in the grinding dystopia of our Covid-colored world, millions of souls cowering behind screens, our hunger for truth, any kind of truth, has proved as often as not to be a will o’ the wisp
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A Single Woman, Her Brother, and Large Families

The Red Dress with the Chocolate Swath It was the night of the Stonington Opera Party, held annually in a large house on the village square; guests were to don formal attire, prepare an aria, and bring a dish. Getting ready is always a challenge. Matching shoes, earrings, hair ....
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What’s in a Name?

Sure, we tolerate the immigrant and the minority, but do we accept them for who they are, with their curly hair, broken English, strange foods, and cultural habits? Or do we complain that they’re too loud, too intimidating, too distracting, or simply exotic?
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Dirty Old Gentlemen

  In 1965 I was a high school sophomore in suburban New Jersey. A short course—some kind of home economics, I think—was taught every year. It wasn’t about baking pies and such, but about balancing checkbooks, making and keeping household budgets, that sort of thing. All...
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“Lesley, I Mean It, Nobody Heard You”: Capital Punishment Sends a Message

  “Nobody heard you,” said Richard Darman to Lesley Stahl. CBS News had just run a report critical of President Ronald Reagan. Stahl had produced it. Its thesis was that the White House diverted attention from the president’s policies by emphasizing his personality. “Mr....
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Good Humor and the Illusion of Control

Day-to-day events are moving with the speed of an avalanche, so fast, in fact, that they threaten to bury me right here where I sit scribbling. Our moment cries out for a caveat: Between the time of this writing and the time of your reading some important new “fact” may be...
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Intimations of Mortality

When I was growing up, my mom would say our bodies were made up of about 85 cents worth of flesh, bone and fluid, though I’m sure the price tag has increased with inflation. Her point was that the human body is worth more than its material components. On its own, an individual...
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Names and the Nameless

As the novel coronavirus spread across the globe this past spring, a debate in the United States emerged regarding its name: Was it racist to call a virus that originated in Wuhan, China, Chinese? Was it acceptable even to mention the city or country of origin? But the name of...
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Truth and Cupcakes

  Last December it was reported that the United States Supreme Court had left in place a Kentucky law requiring doctors to show fetal images to patients before they abort. This would be in line with the informed consent section of the 1992 Planned Parenthood v. Casey ruling....
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Coronavirus, Conspiracy Theories, and Continued Pro-Life Witness

  My wife and I met 31 years ago, when we were both arrested in front of an abortion clinic during an Operation Rescue protest. Over the years this has become part of family lore, and the coincidence of pro-life activism and romance has not been lost on our children. All of...
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My Romantic Desk

  I am my father’s daughter in one very specific way—I have an eye for discarded, curbside furniture. When, upon close inspection, I discover that a piece is still serviceable, I wonder what the possible back story of its rejection could be. Was the fate of that Queen...
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Two Ideas of “Common Sense”

  My friend listened, neither smiling nor frowning, as I explained why abortion was an injustice. She waited until I finished. “That’s logical,” she said. “But it doesn’t make sense.” Never discount “common sense.” It’s what wins the day in politics and policymaking. Your...
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Unfinished Writing

  Spring, 2019: I started off the day with a rather reluctant middle-school Sunday School class. The hour was early for them, and they had not yet fully realized their daily resurrection from the dead. At some point, in a moment of attitude (adult version, I can be almost as...
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Let the River Run

  On December 15, 2017, Eminem released an album called Revival. He and singer Ed Sheeran collaborated on the song “River,” which I heard for the first time last December. A music video of “River” was released on February 14, 2018.  Here I would like to address...
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Virtually Nowhere

  In February, a South Korean television program called Meeting You featured a segment that was devastating to watch. A woman named Jang Ji-sung, who had lost her seven-year-old daughter three years before, was asked to don a virtual-reality kit—goggles, earphones, and...
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Aquinas in the Park

  I’ve never been much good at giving up anything. To temper my spiritual steel during past Lents, instead of sacrificing an indulgence—pizza or chocolate or a Hollywood melodrama of the 1930s—I have added to my daily routine a meditative or, since the Lord has chosen to...
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Our Lives as Uncontrolled Experiments

Our fickle age usually welcomes the new, the original, the untried. But no one I know places the “novel virus” Covid-19 in a happy category, and rightly so. The pandemic has led us to live—and sadly in some cases, end—our days in modes novel to us, but to paraphrase Yeats, with...
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Corona Time: Notes from My New York City Block

The panhandlers have organized. On the corner, there’s a sign taped to a street lamp urging people to: “SHARE YOUR CHECK- Give generously to NYC panhandlers.” Ambitious, but I suspect it’s mostly the dearth of trusting tourists that’s causing their loss of revenue.
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La Corona: On the Calculus of Mortality

    For this we put aside our claim on love Lay waste our little square of common home Emotion stoked and fearful we refrain Impassioned, rationed and enthroned alone.   Corona is the circle of the sun A super-nova scourg’d upon the earth A clash of opposites to life...
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The Pro-Life Movement Meets Biopolitics

  “We will have to discard simple dichotomies” when the coronavirus pandemic finally subsides, Francis Fukuyama predicts in The Atlantic. Let’s borrow that line for a moment and apply it to the pro-life cause. The dichotomy that concerns Fukuyama is between liberal...
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Singing in the Darkness

  “Rejoice now, heavenly hosts and choirs of angels, and let your trumpets shout salvation for the victory of our mighty king . . .” These are the opening words of the Exsultet, the chant sung by the deacon at the Great Vigil of Easter invoking all powers and creatures to...
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Good Things Happen When Medicine Gets Personal

“Tell me about your son.” These were the words I heard over the phone three years ago while searching for a doctor who could give psychological help to my 19-year-old son who has Prader Willi syndrome. In all my years of raising him, this was the first time anyone ever asked me...
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Hollow Footsteps

There had been a notable uptick in anti-Semitic attacks in Europe. Alone on a lonely street in the heart of Paris, I wondered if just standing where I was could make me a target of either suspicion or of hate. The door to the Holocaust Memorial was locked, as only three or four...
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Wanted! Pro-Life Democrats Who Will Run for Office!

The message above should appear all over the country, wherever pro-life activists gather. For many years, they have hoped (in a vague sort of way) that more Democrats would be pro-life. Few, though, have done much to make that actually happen, and those who tried often lacked...
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Does the State Still Have Any Interest in Marriage?

Recently a friend saw Fiddler on the Roof and remarked on how much darker the plot was than he had remembered. It’s a musical, after all, and most musicals (barring West Side Story-style romantic tragedy or Sweeney Todd-style bizarreness) are upbeat. It has a lot of comic scenes...
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Pro-life and the Coronavirus

  Most people probably have spent at least a little time thinking about how to survive a pandemic or other apocalyptic scenario. We live on a farm, so people regularly tell us they’re heading over to our place should it all hit the fan. I usually smile and change the subjec...
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Contrapasso and the Culture of Death

  Dante Alighieri’s 14-century poetic masterpiece The Divine Comedy is not just a work of literary genius—it’s also a spiritual roadmap. Unlike our age of muddy relativism, Dante’s vision is stark. There is good and there is evil. Men and women make a free choice between the...
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What’s in a Name? “Pro-Life” Is Hard to Live Up To

  Your name influences your destiny. So say social scientists and casual observers. In our day, the business of looking to your name to predict your job prospects, or to explain them, or to understand in more general terms who you are or will be in the world, is a subtle and...
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Abortion as We Know It: Call Me Cynical

  Call me cynical, but when I see a young man marching with an “I Support a Woman’s Right to Choose” sign, there’s little doubt in my mind that he probably only supports a woman’s right to choose as long as she’s choosing abortion. What if this earnest lad came home from the...
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After Roe and Doe Are Gone

  When the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton, the American people will once again have the right to enact substantive legal protection for unborn children. In anticipation, many states have already adopted protective laws, although federal judges have blocked...
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“Nobody loves me, everybody hates me”

One way to understand adolescence is as a crisis of the value of life. I may take my mother’s love for granted, but it no longer seems to suffice. Father’s love seems remote and conditional on my (unreliable!) performance. My sense of self-worth is displaced by fickle fads among...
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Saved by a Flesh and Blood Baby

The article you are reading right now, like any article written by an actual person, is a soon-to-be-obsolete artifact of a passing age. If you use the internet, you have read many things generated by algorithms derived from a combination of pre-determined site objectives and...
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Merī Kurisumasu!

    President Donald Trump has made it a motif of his administration to acknowledge his and the First Lady’s Christian faith in public. One of the most striking ways they do this is by wishing the nation, not a happy holiday season or a safe month of interfaith...
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Calling George Bailey

Every Christmastide we are obliged to see the 1946 classic It’s a Wonderful Life. Yet we often forget the ordeal the main character George Bailey had to endure before coming to that titled conclusion. For much of the film, life is harsh, mean, sinister, apparently random, and...
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Private Lives, Public Policies, and Abortion

  Every advance in information technology and every expanded frontier for its use seems to propagate media stories of new ways that governments and industries are infringing upon the once sacrosanct zone of individual privacy. From facial recognition software to cars that...
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Why We Repeat the Mistakes of the Past

  “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” This oft-quoted phrase, usually attributed to the philosopher George Santayana, was probably coined by Edmund Burke when he said “Those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it.” A more trenchant...
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Spina Bifida: Where Some Have Led the Way

  “The baby won’t live to be fourteen.” Our grandmother would announce her skepticism about my cousin’s life expectancy as easily as she would announce that the weatherman had predicted rain. Of course, there was nothing magic about the age of fourteen—every anticipated...
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The Beautiful Mother

My ex-husband’s mother had a poet’s will. She was a silken beauty, vulnerable, observant, wondering where I belonged. I told her the forced abortion is why I left my marriage. However, she never said a word to him, and he never said a word to her about it. But she and I...
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The Kidnapping of Emily Post

  Emily Post has been kidnapped!  In the years following the Roe v. Wade decision, women I had known for years would tell me, in a manner ranging from blithe to bureaucratic, that they had had an abortion, and then wait for me to deliver the expected: “Hey girl, i...
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A Downtown Debate

In 1990, I was invited to defend life in a Manhattan theater setting. Mounted by the Art & Work Ensemble in Syncronicity Space (located on Eleventh Street, just west of Sixth Avenue) there would be six one-act plays: three pro-choice, three pro-life. After the performance,...
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Rx for Limitless, International Emergency Support

  To compound a prescription for limitless, international emergency support, we need only extrapolate from an American anthropologist’s recent study of Haiti’s January 2010 earthquake. There can be no doubt that more natural disasters await us—whether earthquake or...
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Musings at a Japanese Barbershop

  Settling into a chair at a barbershop in Japan, one enters into the same kind of preliminary conversation one does in the United States (or, I imagine, anywhere else in the world). In my case, I usually tell the barber to cut it “very short, just shy of looking like I’m...
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Of Soap and Water

  I briefly wondered who had taught him the English words “soap” and “five.” He couldn’t have been more than ten years old, standing out on the sidewalk in 90-degree heat with his satchel full of soap and a smile that radiated to his eyes. “Soap? Five shekel.” Our guide...
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Our Joyless, Hopeless, World-weary Children

  Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old Swedish climate activist, has joined 18-year-old Canadian Emma Lim and thousands of others in pledging not to have children until the government will ensure a safe future for them.  This is, of course, a glorious example of self-righteous...
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Welcoming the Unplanned Burden

  A few months ago, I stood in the back of church greeting worshipers after Mass. One woman—let’s call her Michelle—was squinting as if she intended to confront me, so I invited her to disclose her mind. She burst out, “How come you won’t preach about the movie Unplanned?...
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Our Bodies, Our Real Estate  

  Last January after Governor Cuomo signed the “reform” abortion bill allowing viable babies that survive abortion to be killed, he had the World Trade Center Freedom Tower lit up in pink, turning the skyscraper into a fey phallic symbol rising over our city to show how much...
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Is Protecting Human Life a Form of Hatred?

  Heather Mallick is a regular columnist for the Toronto Star. In a piece last spring titled “Will Alabama’s war on abortion come to Canada?” she encouraged women in Canada and the United States not to surrender their “right” to choose abortion, ignoring the salient point...
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