INTRODUCTION Winter 2022
Who would have thought it? China of all places is “closing abortion clinics and expanding services to help couples conceive” (see the report in From the Website). Yes, they have a birth dearth in China. So do we, as senior editor William Murchison reminds us in “Cantankerous Anti-Birthers.” And the Supreme Court, he writes, “however heavily stocked with ‘pro-life’ jurists,” isn’t going to reverse it, even if those jurists “put the kibosh on Roe v. Wade.” Over the past half-century, “the ideologizing of abortion,” writes Murchison, “has rubbed away the ancient commitment to unborn life as beautiful and nourishing.” The data he cites are grim: “U.S. population grew just 0.1 percent in our miserable Covid year of 2021—the lowest growth rate ever recorded by the Census Bureau.” In 2020, “the number of deaths exceeded that of births in 25 states,” and the marriage rate, he goes on, “is at an all-time low, at 6.5 marriages per 1,000 people.” While from an unexpected corner comes a warning: “Elon Musk,” Murchison notes, “recently told the Wall Street Journal’s annual CEO Council: ‘I think one of the biggest risks to civilization is the low birthrate and the rapidly declining birthrate.’”
Like Elon Musk, Meaghan Bond is a scientist, a biomedical engineer who works developing “medical tools to improve care for newborns and mothers in low-resource settings.” In “What We Know About Covid-19 and Pregnancy,” Bond addresses questions that are on many minds these days: Does the pandemic present risks to pregnant women, and are the vaccines safe for mother and child? “I will not address,” she states at the outset, “vaccine mandates or vaccine passports, which are policy issues separate from the issue of whether the pro-life community should support Covid-19 vaccine use by individuals.” Bond does take up the issue of misinformation, such as claims about vaccines causing “long-term effects on fertility” or “increased rate of miscarriage,” for which, she reports, there is no evidence. And what about damage to the ovaries? “These concerns,” she explains, “originate from a poor understanding or a deliberate misreading of Pfizer data submitted to a Japanese regulatory agency.” Readers looking for a non-politicized review of what science is presently telling us about Covid and pregnancy will appreciate Bond’s comprehensive and carefully annotated article.
“Amid all the controversy over Covid-19 vaccines,” writes freelance journalist Margaret Brady in our next article, “it’s important to know that the technology behind some of the shots—mRNA—represents a significant breakthrough for principled vaccine development.” Unlike Johnson & Johnson, neither Pfizer nor Moderna used cell lines derived from aborted babies to make their vaccines. However, Brady continues in “Ethical Vaccines Are Becoming a Reality,” both chose “an unethical, antiquated cell line [to test] their revolutionary technology.” Why? Especially since, as Dr. David Prentice, professor of molecular biology at Catholic University (and VP Research Director at the Charlotte Lozier Institute), tells Brady, “there are other, licitly-derived cells” these biotech companies could have used instead. In fact, there is “plenty of positive movement,” Brady writes, “with scientists choosing approaches that are modern, creative and inclusive.” For example, a French company, Sanofi-Pasteur, in 2019 “quietly” started using monkey, instead of fetal-derived cells in its polio vaccine. As a result, “millions of American preschoolers now receive ethical polio protection.”
Why scientists don’t opt for “inclusive” approaches also comes up in “The Sad State of ‘This Bloody Business,’” W. J. Kennedy’s chilling report on the ongoing harvesting of aborted babies that keeps America’s biomedical industrial complex supplied with fetal tissue and body parts. The government watchdog Judicial Watch, writes Kennedy, is using the Freedom of Information Act to pry “stomach churning documents” out of procurement outfits like Advanced Bioscience Resources, one of the companies David Daleiden secretly recorded doing “bloody business” with Planned Parenthood officials. Judicial Watch is also helping Daleiden build a fetalabuse case against the University of Pittsburgh, a story covered by Fox News that caught the attention of Oklahoma senator James Lankford and other members of Congress. “Research using abortive fetal tissue is unethical, wrong, and has also been proven ineffectual,” the legislators wrote in a letter to the heads of the Justice Department, HHS, and NIH this past fall. “Despite being used in clinical research since the 1920s, fetal tissue has not produced a single clinical treatment” (see Appendix B).
In his first essay for the Review (“My Pilgrim’s Progress,” Fall 2020), Peter Pavia touched on a controversial bestselling novel by the French writer Michel Houellebecq; in “Submission: A Prescient Take on Post-Modern Times,” he gives the book his full attention, focusing on the author’s “withering condemnation of contemporary life” and “startling anticipation of subsequent world events.” The “eerie auguries Houellebecq outlined in Submission,” Pavia writes, “were set in what was at publication (in 2015) the very near future—2022—and in case somebody hasn’t noticed, we’re there now.” No, America isn’t “some make-believe future France . . . dominated by Sharia law,” but constituent elements of the novel—including a sequence that “could be an allegory of our own past couple of years, a spooky anticipation of the Marxist violence that marred the American summer of 2020, unrest that in turn led to the populist paroxysm of the January 6, 2021, Capitol Hill riot”—make it “near-impossible to avert our eyes,” Pavia says, from the ways in which Houellebecq’s fictionalized future mirrors “our culturally confused present.” Gloria Purvis, writes William Doino Jr. in our final article, “offered her own prediction of America’s dystopian future” in a 2012 talk in which she warned that before long, gender would be “merely an idea in one’s head,” sexual identity “a mere surgical choice,” and marriage no longer a solemn union because “there will be no such thing as male and female.” Delivered as the Obama administration pressed its contraceptive mandate, the talk catapulted her onto the public stage and, as Doino recounts in his engaging profile “Gloria Purvis: Faithful and Fearless,” she “quickly emerged as a leading Catholic voice.” In 2015, EWTN gave Purvis her own radio show, Morning Glory, which, he goes on, “was earning widespread praise” when, five years later, the network “quietly dropped the show, without explanation.” It’s a long story, involving disaffected listeners who, Doino relates, “accused [Purvis] of sanctioning attacks against the police, and even of being a ‘Marxist,’” after she blamed the killing of George Floyd on racism. Defended by Princeton’s Robert George, March for Life president Jeanne Mancini, and a “host of religious and high-ranking Catholic leaders,” Purvis, reports Doino, “graciously moved on” and is now hosting a successful podcast for America Media.
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Many people don’t realize that Roe v. Wade wasn’t decided in time for Norma McCorvey, a.k.a Jane Roe, to get an abortion. After learning in 2010 that McCorvey had in fact delivered and given her baby up for adoption, journalist Joshua Praeger set out to find “Baby Roe.” He did much more than that: “By doggedly tracking down and meeting Norma’s family and friends,” Maria Maffucci writes in her review of his recently published The Family Roe: An American Story, “and spending time with Norma herself, Praeger surely gives us the most accurate picture we will ever get of this complicated figure.” Next in Booknotes, Jason Morgan reviews One Billion Americans: The Case for Thinking Bigger by Matthew Yglesias, “an establishment liberal” whose argument for “tripling” the American population, says Morgan, has “big hitches” but also many “intriguing” ideas “not necessarily tied to his big-ticket population scheme.” The problem with the book, however, is that Yglesias “does not place enough value on human beings” and, in a “conventional” and therefore “unmistakable way,” he “repeats the mantras of the culture of death, the predominant culture that values power, things, and the planet over human persons.” John Grondelski also addresses the death culture in his review of Killing in the Name of Healing: Confronting Medical Holocausts Past and Present, in which, he tells us, author John Brennan “explores what happens when health care professionals no longer profess an unambiguous commitment to life.” While “Brennan’s analogies between Nazi exterminative medicine and contemporary doctor-administered death will make the book controversial,” Grondelski concludes that “we best remember the tragedy and injustice of medicalized killing, whether in Tuskegee or Tübingen, with an openness of mind that probes whether underlying exterminative attitudes are reasserting themselves in our own time.” Attitudes like those fueling the Packard Foundation, which in the last five years has spent nearly $350 million to expand abortion access (see Appendix C).
The Human Life Foundation’s annual Great Defender of Life Dinner, cancelled in 2020 because of the pandemic, was on again last October—this issue carries a special section with honoree speeches and photographs from the always soul-stirring event. And we close with heartwarming coverage (Appendix D) of the annual March for Life, cancelled last year but back this past January with tens of thousands of marchers once again filling the nation’s capital with the joy of baby love. “Why Have Children?” Victor Lee Austin asks (in Appendix A). And that brings us back to William Murchison, who quotes Austin’s “challenging answer” in our lead essay.