abortion

Concerning the Planned Parenthood shooting suspect: Did the Devil make him do it?

Concerning the Planned Parenthood shooting suspect: Did the Devil make him do it?

Did the Devil make him do it?

In a massive front-page story today, The New York Times delves deeper into the background of Robert L. Dear Jr., the suspect in last week's shooting rampage at a Planned Parenthood facility in Colorado Springs, Colo.

Earlier this week, GetReligion highlighted the two prevailing media streams concerning Dear and the "Why?" factor in an attack that left three dead and nine wounded.

In today's report, that dichotomy of certifiable lunatic vs. religious anti-abortion warrior prevails again. The Times paints an in-depth portrait of "an angry and occasionally violent man who seemed deeply disturbed and deeply contradictory."

The Times opens with a focus on Dear's religion:

CHARLESTON, S.C. — The man she had married professed to be deeply religious. But after more than seven years with Robert L. Dear Jr., Barbara Micheau had come to see life with him as a kind of hell on earth.
By January 1993, she had had enough. In a sworn affidavit as part of her divorce case, Ms. Micheau described Mr. Dear as a serial philanderer and a problem gambler, a man who kicked her, beat her head against the floor and fathered two children with other women while they were together. He found excuses for his transgressions, she said, in his idiosyncratic views on Christian eschatology and the nature of salvation.
“He claims to be a Christian and is extremely evangelistic, but does not follow the Bible in his actions,” Ms. Micheau said in the court document. “He says that as long as he believes he will be saved, he can do whatever he pleases. He is obsessed with the world coming to an end.”

But then the story moves to Dear's views on abortion:

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A tale of two Colorado Springs media streams: crazed gunman vs. anti-abortion soldier

A tale of two Colorado Springs media streams: crazed gunman vs. anti-abortion soldier

In the wake of Friday's shooting rampage at a Planned Parenthood facility in Colorado Springs, Colo., there seem to be two major media streams going when it comes to the gunman and any link that he has to the "why?" factor in this story. 

The last two front pages of The New York Times are a perfect place to see what I'm talking about.

First is the stream that focuses on actual facts known about Robert L. Deal Jr., the man accused of killing three people and wounding nine in Colorado's second-largest city.

Yes, there is some religion in there if you dig deep. For example, Sunday's Times delved into Deal's bizarre personal history but found no institutional links between him and either organized religion or the pro-life movement.

Readers did learn a few details about Deal's religious background, as the Times quoted Deal's former wife, Pamela Ross (no relation to this writer):

Mr. Dear was raised as a Baptist, Ms. Ross said in an interview in Goose Creek, S.C., where she now lives. He was religious but not a regular churchgoer, a believer but not one to harp on religion. “He believed wholeheartedly in the Bible,” she said. “That’s what he always said; he read it cover to cover to cover.” But he was not fixated on it, she added.

Later in the story, religion figured tangentially as the newspaper recounted Deal's interesting, to say the least, Internet postings:

He seemed to have a separate life online. An online personals ad seeking women in North Carolina interested in bondage and sadomasochistic sex showed a picture that appeared to be Mr. Dear and used an online pseudonym associated with him. The same user also appeared to have turned to online message boards to seek companions in the Asheville area with whom he could smoke marijuana.

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Pope Francis in Kenya: AP gets some details, but misses the 'big idea,' in his message

Pope Francis in Kenya: AP gets some details, but misses the 'big idea,' in his message

Pope Francis has been on the road, again, which means that it's time for more stories about the political implications of his sermons and off-the-cuff remarks to the flocks of people who gather to pray and worship with him.

This is business as usual, of course. Want to play along and see how this works in a typical Associated Press report?

OK, first we'll look at the many excellent details from one of the Kenya talks that made it into the AP report, which ran in The Washington Post with this headline: "Pope calls slum conditions in Nairobi an injustice."

As you read several chunks of the story, ask yourself this big-idea question: What does this pope believe is the ultimate cause of this injustice?

NAIROBI, Kenya -- Visiting one of Nairobi’s many shantytowns on Friday, Pope Francis denounced conditions slum-dwellers are forced to live in, saying access to safe water is a basic human right and that everyone should have dignified, adequate housing. ...
In remarks to the crowd, Francis insisted that everyone should have access to water, a basic sewage system, garbage collection, electricity as well as schools, hospitals and sport facilities.
“To deny a family water, under any bureaucratic pretext whatsoever, is a great injustice, especially when one profits from this need,” he said.

Now, I think it is fair to ask: Is safe water the "big idea" in this talk, or is the pope saying that safe water is a symptom of larger problems? Hold that thought, as we head back to the AP text:

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MSNBC wins for worst headline on pope, confession, forgiveness and abortion

MSNBC wins for worst headline on pope, confession, forgiveness and abortion

 Those of us who aren’t Catholic or haven’t had abortions -- or both -- may not be familiar with the intricacies of how the Catholic Church forgives women who have had them. A woman is automatically excommunicated if she has an abortion, but if the sin is confessed and she repents, the normal policy has been that a bishop must be involved in restoring her to the church. The same policy has applied to men and women directly involved in performing abortions.

Most bishops in the United States have delegated such power of absolution to their priests, so it’s not huge news that Catholic clergy have the power to forgive abortions during confessions.

But apparently not all priests around the world have that latitude. Thus, Pope Francis, who has an amazing ability to gauge what the public wants together with what his church's doctrines will allow, announced Tuesday morning that:

I have decided, notwithstanding anything to the contrary, to concede to all priests for the Jubilee Year the discretion to absolve of the sin of abortion those who have procured it and who, with contrite heart, seek forgiveness for it.

The press coverage of this act has been interesting to say the least -- as you can see in the art at the top of this post. Our own Bobby Ross, Jr., dove into the topic early yesterday and here is your update on what happened later.

First, there’s the New York Post, which ran a story under this headline: “The Catholic Church will now forgive your abortion.” Well … not quite. The church has been forgiving abortions for quite some time, so that snark was undeserved. The text of the article was a bit more precise but still carried a few digs:

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Wait, did Pope Francis just change Catholic doctrine on abortion? Or did he simply tell people to go to confession?

Wait, did Pope Francis just change Catholic doctrine on abortion? Or did he simply tell people to go to confession?

I'm not Catholic.

So I was befuddled when I saw this Associated Press news alert this morning:

BREAKING: Pope to let all priests in Holy Year absolve people from `sin of abortion' if they repent.

I wondered: Can priests not forgive abortion under normal circumstances? Is abortion ordinarily an unforgivable sin for Catholics? (My apologies to tmatt for not paying close enough attention.)

In an email to GetReligion, a reader complained:

This is in the vein of "Breaking news! Pope Francis changing everything about the mean, backward Catholic church!" while Pope Francis reiterates the orthodoxy taught by all his successors. My head is exploding. May the truth reign in the hearts of all.

I started clicking links to see if I could make sense of this breaking news.

The full AP report provided important context:

VATICAN CITY (AP) -- Pope Francis declared Tuesday he is allowing all priests in the church's upcoming Year of Mercy to absolve women of the "sin of abortion" if they repent with a "contrite heart."
Reflecting his papacy's central theme of mercy, Francis said in letter published Tuesday by the Vatican that he has met many women bearing "the scar of this agonizing" decision to abort. He said God's forgiveness cannot be denied to those who repent, and thus is giving all priests the discretion to absolve the sin in the Holy Year of Mercy running Dec. 8, 2015 until Nov. 20, 2016.
The church views abortion as such as grave sin that, until now, a Catholic woman who wanted to repent for an abortion could not simply go to her local parish priest. Instead, her diocese's bishop needed to delegate a priest, expert at dealing with such confessions, to hear the woman's confession.

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There's religion ghosts a'plenty in Sacramento Bee story on conjoined twins

There's religion ghosts a'plenty in Sacramento Bee story on conjoined twins

Every so often there comes a story that cries for a faith element; wherein you strongly suspect that there are lots of religion ghosts floating about, but which frustrates because the reporter simply didn’t go there. 

That's what happened, for me, when reading a lengthy story released by The Sacramento Bee on a Mexican-American family in which the mother becomes pregnant in her mid-40s with Siamese -- or conjoined -- twins. The story appeared on the one-year anniversary of the twins’ birth. As always, there are medical and ethical issues involved in this kind of pregnancy, as you can hear in the Bee video featured above.

The overture of the story:

ANTELOPE, Calif. -- Their mother calls it “the butterfly,” because its shape and symmetry remind her of a delicate winged insect.
The tiny foot -- a fusion of bone, muscle and skin with three toes on each side -- is attached to a third leg shared by Erika and Eva Sandoval, 11-month-old conjoined twins who also share a liver, some intestinal tract and much of their reproductive systems. Joined at the pelvis and sternum, they sit face-to-face at all times.
The sisters, born at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford, in Palo Alto, Calif., last August, spent their first seven months in intensive care before coming home this spring, having trumped the slim survival odds for conjoined twins – a phenomenon that occurs about once in every 200,000 births.

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Abortion in China? Bad karma, some Buddhists say

Abortion in China? Bad karma, some Buddhists say

The ongoing drama of the Planned Parenthood videos has attracted the attention of an international audience, not the least of which are pro-lifers in the world’s most abortive country. That would be China, whose 13 million abortions a year is more than 10 times the amount of similar pregnancy terminations in the United States. Foreign Policy just posted this piece on how China’s Christians and Buddhists are trying to get those numbers down.

On July 14, a U.S. anti-abortion group released an undercover video of an employee of abortion provider Planned Parenthood casually discussing, over wine and salad, the harvesting and donation of fetal tissue for medical research...The news quickly reached China, and within days the video had been posted to Chinese video streaming site iQiyi, where it received more than 170,000 views.

China has the highest number of abortions in the world, with an estimated 13 million performed annually. Many in China view abortion as a purely personal decision, a necessary if sad option for people in difficult situations. Unlike in the United States, where abortion clinics face tight restrictions in some areas, similar facilities in China are readily available and widely publicized.

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Aborted baby parts for sale: Did journalists drag their feet on Planned Parenthood story?

Aborted baby parts for sale: Did journalists drag their feet on Planned Parenthood story?

By now, you've seen THE VIDEO.

It's been the talk of social media, particularly among pro-life advocates, for a full day now.

Given the subject matter, it's no surprise that GetReligionista emeritus Mollie Hemingway — now a senior editor with The Federalist — has been all over the issue.

Six hours after the video began making waves, Mollie wrote at The Federalist:

This is a story that requires thoughtful and substantive coverage. That the media are beginning by ignoring it is not a good sign that they have learned a single lesson from crapping the bed with their coverage of the monstrous abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell.

But can "thoughtful and substantive coverage" be produced immediately? While understanding Mollie's frustration, I sympathize, too, with the perspective of another former GetReligionista: Washington Post religion writer Sarah Pulliam Bailey.

On Twitter, Sarah made the case that, hey, real reporting takes a little time:

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Wanted: Critical distance in the mainstream press on overseas abortion stories

Wanted: Critical distance in the mainstream press on overseas abortion stories

About six weeks ago, the story broke of the Nigerian army finding and freeing about 677 women and girls who’d been enslaved by Boko Haram in the Sambisa Forest in the northeastern part of the country. About 214 of them were pregnant. However, none of them were the girls from Chibok who had been kidnapped a year ago.

Last Thursday, a coalition of liberal religious groups seized the moment to demand that the Obama administration fund abortions for these women. A press conference at St. John’s Episcopal Church across Lafayette Park from the White House featured groups ranging from Catholics for Choice to Muslims for Progressive Values and the Central Conference of American Rabbis.

I will start with how the New York Times framed it:

WASHINGTON -- A starkly worded ad began appearing this week at bus stops near the White House. Next to a silhouette of President Obama’s back reads the words: “Don’t walk away from women and girls raped in conflict. Act now.”
A coalition of religious and human rights leaders on Thursday followed up the advertisement with demands that Mr. Obama support the financing of abortions for women raped during violent conflicts overseas by members of terrorist groups like the Islamic State and Boko Haram.
The leaders of several Jewish, Christian and Muslim groups accused the president of talk rather than action in addressing the grim fate of women and girls by refusing to direct the United States government to help pay for abortions in cases of rape in foreign countries.
“President Obama has spoken compassionately about women and girls raped in war and conflict, but has failed to act on that compassion,” the coalition said.

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