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January 15, 2010

GOP Candidate Takes Lead in New Mass. Senate Race Poll

Republican state Senator Scott Brown is leading Democratic state Attorney General Martha Coakley by 50 percent to 46 percent, according to a Suffolk University/7News poll. Massachusetts voters will vote on Tuesday to fill the Senate seat made vacant by Senator Ted Kennedy's death. If Brown wins, he could impact health care legislation by preventing Senate Democrats from breaking a filibuster.

The conscience clause, where health care workers workers can opt out of offering services like contraception if the workers are morally against it, has become a contentious issue in the campaign.

In a recent interview, Coakley suggested to radio host Ken Pittman that Catholics should not work in emergency rooms.

Pittman: Right, if you are a Catholic, and believe what the Pope teaches that any form of birth control is a sin. ah you don't want to do that.

Coakley: No we have a seperation of church and state Ken, lets be clear.

Pittman: In the emergency room you still have your religious freedom.

Coakley: (pause) The law says that people are allowed to have that. You can have religious freedom but you probably shouldn't work in the emergency room.

Thirty-nine percent of people in Massachusetts are Catholic, according to the latest American Religious Identification Survey.

Earlier this week, Brown's daughters protested a television ad where Coakley noted that Brown proposed a 2005 legislative amendment that would have allowed workers at religious hospitals to avoid giving emergency contraception to rape victims.

This is how the Boston Globe described Brown's views on abortion:

Brown is "Roe v. Wade is the law of the land, and I don't plan on overturning it, but I've always felt that, you know, I'm against partial-birth abortions and believe in parental consent, a strong parental notification law,'' Brown said, adding that he would not apply an abortion rights litmus test in Supreme Court confirmations.


The question was unclear. How will contraceptives help a rape victim? In any event, abortion is the issue; and as I understand the Catholic Church's position, performing a D&C on a rape victim would not be morally acceptable.

I enjoyed looking over your blog
God bless you

Christian Lawyer, you make a good point that someone shouldn't take a job if they're not willing to do it. I also agree the benefits of contraceptives to a rape victim are self-evident. And contra RU-486 (an abortion pill), emergency contraceptives merely prevent pregnancy and do not cause an abortion. (See http://ec.princeton.edu/questions/ecnotru.html for details.)

I think emergency rooms should provide the latter kind of contraceptives to rape victims without exception. I'm not a Catholic and I believe the Pope is just wrong on this issue. To call denial of contraceptives to rape victims "pro-life" is like calling infanticide (i.e., killing born babies) "pro-choice".


This position of the Catholic Church's is not "the Pope's." He alone doesn't decide what Catholics should or should not believe; he is, instead, a pastor. It is that of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which has been formed along the same lines for over 2000 years, which directs teaching on this issue. The Church has always held that life begins at conception. The concern is that such drugs might expel an already-fertilized egg-- which would be considered an abortion. In fact, some versions of the birth control pill already do this.

And to clarify (sorry, I forgot to add this earlier), the Church states that it does NOT stand in the way of administering drugs to PREVENT conception. You misstate that in your post. Here is an excerpt from a statement of US Catholic bishops, which clarifies the situation:

"A female who has been raped should be able to defend herself against a potential conceptions from the sexual assault. If, after appropriate testing, there is no evidence that conception has occurred already, she may be treated with medications that would prevent ovulation, sperm capacitation, or fertilization."

This specification protects any children which the victim may already be bearing before the attack.

What a difficult and emotional issue this is. I pray for anyone who is struggling with this question...

Good luck Scott Brown!

It's amazing to me that anyone considers preventing a pregnancy as a result of a rape is wrong. I understand not wanting to abort a pregnancy once there is an actual baby, but a handful of cells? Please. That happens dozens of times to most women naturally over the course of their lives. Not all pregnancies make it past a few cells. I don't see what is wrong with preventing a pregnancy at that stage. If God made a woman's body with the ability to purposefully abort a baby at that stage for whatever health reasons, then it can't be wrong. I see it getting grey once you get to having an actual baby with a mind that is growing, but come on, a few cells after an egg and sperm have merged when most eggs and sperm die anyway. I know that some people have their made up belief that the soul is created the moment of conception but that's not based on christianity. That's just make believe. Nobody knows what a soul even is let alone when it comes into being. I would think that if God makes a woman's body to abort an unhealthy baby... God chose to shape a part of a woman for this to happen... then it's certainly not a black and white issue.

It's amazing that the US is the only western country that is predominately christian without universal health care. All other christian countries have it. But not the US. Not the richest western country that is predominately christian. We don't care about the sick. We care about money. Which, I think makes us actually the western country who serves money instead of God. But we don't think about that because we are too busy pointing fingers at sinners in our society. That's our job. Pointing fingers at sinners. Not helping the sick. Condemning the sinners. It's like Jesus said "I have come to point fingers at the sinners and protect the money of the righteous."

It's sad to be a christian in the US and see that most of my brothers and sisters are actually servants of money instead of God and care more about pointing fingers at gays then ensuring that everyone in this country gets health care like all other western countries.

Everyone knows that Scott Brown is the end of health care reform if he wins. He won't provide any votes that get anything done in the Senate. He won't even be re-elected in a couple years when there's a real election once Kennedy's term is complete. He will just stop health care reform.

Congratulations followers of money instead of God. You saved rich people from paying higher taxes and you stopped progress to provide health care to everyone in this country. You truley are your master's servants.

@Anton: "...some people have their made up belief that the soul is created the moment of conception but that's not based on christianity. That's just make believe. Nobody knows what a soul even is let alone when it comes into being."
You state with conviction that the soul is not created at conception and then proceed to say that nobody (I take it including yourself) knows when it comes into being. Since you don't know how can you be so certain it doesn't? But what if it does come into being at conception?

Christian Lawyer:

There has been about 2000 years of Christian biblical, theological, traditonal and rational support for the death penalty.

"Death Penalty Support: Christian Scholars"

"Pope John Paul II: Prudential Judgement and the death penalty"

"The Death Penalty: More Protection for Innocents"

"Killing equals Killing: The Amoral Confusion of Death Penalty Opponents"

"The Death Penalty: Neither Hatred nor Revenge"

"The Death Penalty: Not a Human Rights Violation"

"Sister Helen Prejean & the death penalty: A Critical Review"

Congrats Scott Brown! Nicely done.

@CL: "If you believe, for example, that you have a moral obligation to disclose a husband's HIV status (learned through a privileged communication) to the wife without the consent of the husband, then you shouldn't be either a pastor, doctor, or lawyer, because the rules governing each of those professions requires (sometimes by law) the keeping of those confidences."
So, it is against the law to inform an unsuspecting person of a spouses HIV infection? What is the rationale behind that law?

Christian Lawyer:

I am sorry I wasn't clear. Of course you are entitled to your opinion and to accept or deny employment based upon your conscience.

My point was that after a full review, it is very difficult to base death penalty opposition on Christian faith.or example:

God: 'Honor your father and your mother,' and 'Whoever curses father or mother must certainly be put to death.' Matthew 15:4

Jesus: "So Pilate said to (Jesus), "Do you not speak to me? Do you not know that I have power to release you and I have power to crucify you?" Jesus answered (him), "You would have no power over me if it had not been given to you from above." John 19:10-11

Jesus: Now one of the criminals hanging there reviled Jesus, saying, "Are you not the Messiah? Save yourself and us." The other, however, rebuking him, said in reply, "Have you no fear of God, for you are subject to the same condemnation? And indeed, we have been condemned justly, for the sentence we received corresponds to our crimes, but this man has done nothing criminal." Then he said, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom." (Jesus) replied to him, "Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise." Luke 23: 39-43

Jesus: "You have heard the ancients were told, ˜YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT MURDER" and "Whoever commits murder shall be liable to the court". But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court; and whoever shall say to his brother, "Raca", shall be guilty before the supreme court and whoever shall say, "You fool", shall be guilty enough to go into fiery hell." Matthew 5:17-22.

The Holy Spirit: God, through the power and justice of the Holy Spirit, executed both Ananias and his wife, Saphira. Their crime? Lying to the Holy Spirit - to God - through Peter. Acts 5:1-11.

The Word of God: Numbers 35:16-21. Note the words "shall" and "surely". What do you think they mean?
‘But if he struck him down with an iron object, so that he died, he is a murderer; the murderer shall surely be put to death. ‘If he struck him down with a stone in the hand, by which he will die, and as a result he died, he is a murderer; the murderer shall surely be put to death. ‘Or if he struck him with a wooden object in the hand, by which he might die, and as a result he died, he is a murderer; the murderer shall surely be put to death. ‘The blood avenger himself shall put the murderer to death; he shall put him to death when he meets him. ‘If he pushed him of hatred, or threw something at him lying in wait and as a result he died, or if he struck him down with his hand in enmity, and as a result he died, the one who struck him shall surely be put to death, he is a murderer; the blood avenger shall put the murderer to death when he meets him.
Here is the full context http://nasb.scripturetext.com/numbers/35.htm

Some lesser New Testament scholars

Saint Paul, in his hearing before Festus, states: "if then I am a wrong doer, and have committed anything worthy of death, I do not refuse to die." Acts 25:11.

St. Augustine: "The same divine law which forbids the killing of a human being allows certain exceptions. Since the agent of authority is but a sword in the hand, and is not responsible for the killing, it is in no way contrary to the commandment "Thou shalt not kill", for the representative of the State's authority to put criminals to death, according to the Law or the rule of rational justice." The City of God, Book 1, Chapter 21

St. Thomas Aquinas finds all biblical interpretations against executions "frivolous", citing Exodus 22:18, "wrongdoers thou shalt not suffer to live". Unequivocally, he states," The civil rulers execute, justly and sinlessly, pestiferous men in order to protect the peace of the state." (Summa Contra Gentiles, III, 146

St. Thomas Aquinas: "The fact that the evil, as long as they live, can be corrected from their errors does not prohibit the fact that they may be justly executed, for the danger which threatens from their way of life is greater and more certain than the good which may be expected from their improvement. They also have at that critical point of death the opportunity to be converted to God through repentance. And if they are so stubborn that even at the point of death their heart does not draw back from evil, it is possible to make a highly probable judgement that they would never come away from evil to the right use of their powers." Summa Contra Gentiles, Book III, 146.

Saints Thomas Aquinas and Augustine. In addition to the required punishment for murder and the deterrence standards, both Saints find that executing murderers is also an act of charity and mercy. Saint Augustine confirms that " . . . inflicting capital punishment . . . protects those who are undergoing capital punishment from the harm they may suffer . . . through increased sinning which might continue if their life went on." (On the Lord's Sermon, 1.20.63-64.)

Saint Thomas Aquinas finds that " . . . the death inflicted by the judge profits the sinner, if he be converted, unto the expiation of his crime; and, if he be not converted, it profits so as to put an end to the sin, because the sinner is thus deprived of the power to sin anymore." (Summa Theologica, II-II, 25, 6 ad 2.)

St. Thomas Aquinas: "If a man is a danger to the community, threatening it with disintegration by some wrongdoing of his, then his execution for the healing and preservation of the common good is to be commended. Only the public authority, not private persons, may licitly execute malefactors by public judgement. Men shall be sentenced to death for crimes of irreparable harm or which are particularly perverted." Summa Theologica, 11; 65-2; 66-6.

"St. Thomas Aquinas quotes a gloss of St. Jerome on Matthew 27: "As Christ became accursed of the cross for us, for our salvation He was crucified as a guilty one among the guilty." As Prof. Michael Pakaluk writes: "If no crime deserves the death penalty, then it is hard to see why it was fitting that Christ be put to death for our sins and crucified among thieves." " That Christ be put to death as a guilty person, presupposes that death is a fitting punishment for those who are guilty." The Death Penalty: An Opposing Viewpoints Series Book, Greenhaven Press, (hereafter TDP:OVS), 1991

Saint (& Pope) Pius V, "The just use of (executions), far from involving the crime of murder, is an act of paramount obedience to this (Fifth) Commandment which prohibits murder." "The Roman Catechism of the Council of Trent" (1566).

Pope Pius XII: "When it is a question of the execution of a man condemned to death it is then reserved to the public power to deprive the condemned of the benefit of life, in expiation of his fault, when already, by his fault, he has dispossessed himself of the right to live." 9/14/52.

Christians who speak out against capital punishment in deserving cases " . . . tend to subordinate the justice of God to the love of God. . . . Peter, by cutting off Malchu’s ear,. . . was most likely trying to kill the soldier (John 18:10)", prompting " . . . Christ’s statement that those who kill by the sword are subject to die by the sword (Matthew 26:51-52)." This " implicitly recognizes the government’s right to exercise the death penalty." Dr. Carl F.H.Henry, "A Matter of Life and Death", p 52 Christianity Today, 8/4/95.

While I do support the death penalty, I do agree with Christian Lawyer that mistakes have been made-mistakes that cannot be undone. Therefore, I believe that all precautions should be taken beforehand to ensure that the condemned is guilty of the crime before sentencing is carried out. We have the knowledge and technology to gather evidence to help determine a person's guilt. Therefore, it should be possible to decide this with enough certainty to at least reduce mistakes made with the death penalty.