Wednesday, January 19, 2005



I subscribe to an email newsletter, "Best of the Web Today," by James Taranto at Mr. Taranto has frequently discussed what he dubs "The Roe Effect"

Regular readers of this column know that for some time we have been pushing a pet theory about the political effect of abortion. We refer not to the issue of abortion but to the practice, and our theory is that abortion is making America more conservative than it otherwise would be.

We base this on two assumptions. First, that liberal and Democratic women are more likely to have abortions. Second, that children's political views tend to reflect those of their parents--not exactly, of course, and not in every case, but on average. Thus abortion depletes the next generation of liberals and eventually makes the population more conservative. We call this the Roe effect, after Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court's 1973 decision that established a constitutional right to abortion.
Today, Mr. Taranto has a very interesting account of how Planned Parenthood, "'the nation's most frequent provider of abortions, is performing more of the procedures than ever . . . and relying increasingly on the revenue generated from abortions, according to its Fiscal Year 2004 annual report.'"

Taranto cites a story by CNS News, which observes that "a survey of newspaper stories regarding the closing of 11 of the organization's clinics during Fiscal Year 2004 revealed a common cause," which is that demand for abortions in certain areas, Texas, Ohio and Indiana (all of which, Taranto notes, were carried by President Bush) is declining. Here's the money quote from the CNS article (emphasis added):
"While we recognize the need for affordable family planning services in the Copper Country," said Scott Blanchard, executive director of PPNM [Planned Parenthood of Northern Michigan], "our Houghton center simply hasn't served enough clients to justify the monthly costs to keep it going."

Closing the facility was a difficult decision, Blanchard noted in a press release, in part because "those who oppose Planned Parenthood's presence in Houghton will undoubtedly see this as a victory.

"However, this was strictly a business decision," he said.
Dwell on that for a moment. Planned Parenthood has a vested financial interest in performing abortions. I wonder how much Planned Parenthood gets from adoptions.

Taranto concludes: "This suggests that the demand for abortion is becoming more concentrated in areas that vote Democratic. In other words, the Roe effect is accelerating." I hope so.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005



If you haven't guessed by now, I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (also known as the "LDS Church" or "Mormon Church"). Over the last few years I have encountered numerous critics of my faith, many of whom profess adherence to some flavor of Christianity (most anti-Mormons, I think, are of the Evangelical and Fundamentalist variety).

One of the chief gripes I hear from these folks is that we Latter-day Saints don't have enough reverence for the Bible. I think this observation derives mostly from a confluence of 1) the rejection by LDS of the concept of "inerrancy" of scripture; and 2) a seven-word caveat in the 8th Article of Faith, which is accepted as scripture by Latter-day Saints (emphasis added):

We believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly; we also believe the Book of Mormon to be the word of God.
Our critics, I think, are far too eager to find fault on this point, and try their best to make Mormons look their worst for it. However, I just came across a discussion on the Times & Seasons blog that offers some interesting evidence that contravenes this argument:

Thanks to a cool feature on the website, it’s easy to rank the scriptures by the frequency they’ve been cited in General Conferences since 1942. I guessed number one, but was surprised by several of the top ten. Before checking the answers, make a few guesses: What are the most prominent scriptures in Mormondom?

The Passages of Scripture Most Cited in General Conference, 1942 - 2004:

1 Moses 1:39
2 JS-H 1:15-20
3 Matt. 22:37-40
4 John 17:3
5 Matt. 6:33
6 Moroni 10:4-5
7 D&C 68:25-28
8 2 Nephi 2:25
9 A of F 13
10 Matt. 25:40
11 D&C 84:33-38
12 D&C 89:18-21
13 Abr 3:25-26
14 John 7:17
15 James 1:5
16 Matt. 28:19-20
17 John 14:6
18 Matt 5:48
19 John 3:16
20 Exodus 20:8-15
21 Matt. 16:16
22 Acts 4:12
23 Rom. 1:16
24 Dan. 2:44
25 John 14:27
26 Acts 3:21
27 Rev. 14:6-7
28 Matt. 11:28-30
29 D&C 59:23
30 Mosiah 18:9
31 D&C 121:41-45
32 Matt. 5:16
33 John 11:25
34 D&C 59:9
35 Mal. 3:10
36 John 3:5
37 2 Nephi 31:20
38 D&C 14:7
39 D&C 93:36
40 Mosiah 3:19
41 1 Nephi 3:7
42 Luke 23:34
43 Gen. 1:27-28
44 D&C 76:22-24
45 D&C 20:77
46 1 Cor. 15:22
47 Moro. 7:47
48 Matt. 3:17
49 John 14:15
50 Mark 16:15
51 Josh 24:15
52 Amos 3:7
53 D&C 130:20-21
54 1 Pet. 2:9
55 Matt. 16:17
56 D&C 1:30
57 D&C 18:10, 15-16
58 D&C 19:18
59 D&C 110:15-16
60 Matt. 24:14
61 Eph. 4:12
62 3 Nephi 11:7-10
63 D&C 101:80
64 D&C 58:27
65 Matt. 7:12
66 2 Nephi 2:27
67 3 Nephi 27:27
68 Matt. 6:9
69 Alma 41:10
70 D&C 88:118
71 D&C 89:8
72 D&C 1:38
73 Moroni 10:32
74 D&C 82:10
75 Matt. 24:14
76 A of F 1
77 James 1:27
78 A of F 9
79 John 5:39
80 A of F 3
81 A of F 4
82 D&C 38:30
83 Gen. 3:19
84 Philip. 4:7
85 D&C 13:1
86 D&C 38:27
87 Luke 22:42
88 Acts 3:21
89 BofM Title Page
90 John 14:26
91 Ether 2:12
92 John 16:33
93 Isa. 9:6
94 John 8:12
95 Eph. 2:20
96 Isa. 29:14
97 Matt. 4:4
98 Matt. 25:21
99 1 Tim. 4:12
100 A of F 12
Here's how the Top 100 breaks down by percentage:

Bible Quotes: 53%
Other-than-Bible Quotes: 47%
Put another way:
New Testament: 44%
Doctrine & Covenants: 24%
Book of Mormon: 14%
Old Testament: 9%
Pearl of Great Price: 9%
My gut instinct and personal experience has long been that our critics are wrong on this point. I think these numbers bear out that impression. Of course, inerrantists will never be satisfied by anything but wholesale acceptance of that dogma, so if you are a Mormon, don't expect this gripe to go away any time soon.

Friday, January 14, 2005



Is America going to have a woman president in four years? Possibly:

Dick Morris, the nation's most prominent political consultant, says the 2008 race is shaping up to be showdown between two of America's most popular women: Condi Rice and Hillary Clinton.
In a surprising analysis, Morris writes in NewsMax Magazine that Condoleezza Rice is the only Republican on the national scene who can beat Hillary and keep the GOP in the White House.
We'll see, I suppose. There are other names being floated for the Republican ticket. John McCain and Mitt Romney come to mind. John Ellis, George W. Bush's cousin, recently labeled Romney as "The GOP's best hope in 2008."There are even t-shirts, pins, and hot cocoa mugs for sale advertising "Mitt '08."

Two women and a Mormon are beind discussed as presidential contenders. Cool.

Friday, January 07, 2005



A few months ago I blogged about "Abortion as Politically Correct Eugenics." I discussed how prospective parents are aborting fetuses with medical conditions (such as deformed feet, cleft palate, etc.).

In a somewhat related vein, I now raise the issue of abortion as a means of terminating a pregnancy based not on a medical condition, but on gender. I think this is probably a widespread problem only in China, the inevitable result of that country's One Child Policy clashing with cultural expectations of the family name being preserved through a male heir. The ugly result: it is very common in China to abort, kill or abandon baby girls and instead try to have a boy.

With these things in mind, check out this story:

China is to make abortion on the basis of sex a crime in a bid to redress the
imbalance between newborn boys and girls that has arisen as a result of the
their one-child policy.

Government figures show 119 boys are born in the
world's most populous country for every 100 girls and Beijing has now set a goal
of reversing the imbalance by 2010.
Sex-selective abortion is
already banned but technologies such as ultrasound have made it easier to know a
baby's gender in advance, increasing the chances for aborting girls.

"As a new measure, the commission will start drafting revisions to the Criminal Law
in order to effectively ban foetus gender detection and selective abortion other
than for legitimate medical purposes."


Here is an example of an apparent problematic perspective on AIDS:

Wendel Kirkbride, who has been living with HIV for more than 17 years, is frustrated that people don't seem concerned about HIV/AIDS. He attributes a recent rise in cases among males age 20 to 29 to their perception of the success of new treatments, which "makes you so you don't want to use protected sex."

Got that? Mr. Kirkbride blames the recent rise is AIDS cases among young males on . . . new treatments for AIDS. It's not because these young men are choosing to engage in risky sexual behavior, but because advances in medical treatments make them want to engage in it.

Or maybe Mr. Kirkbride is merely providing an explanation, not a justification or ratationalization, for this behavior.

I dunno. The frustrating part of the AIDS epidemic is the fact that so many cases arise out of nothing more than the natural consequences of engaging in high risk sex. People who get AIDS from tainted blood or from their unfaithful spouse or from their mother (i.e. during gestation or via breast milk) are all genuine victims. They have committed no volitional act that placed them at risk of contracting AIDS.

But there are huge numbers of people who do commit volitional acts that place them at a high risk of contracting AIDS. People, particularly high risk groups like gay men, who engage in promiscuous, unprotected sex (the above-linked article states that "the majority of new infections reported between 1998 and 2003 - 53 percent - were among men who have sex with men") are simply playing Russian Roullette. They play the odds and everyone - themselves, their friends and family, and society in general - reap the tragic consequences.