I've been under the weather for a few days but didn't want to overlook some news coverage from the end of last week.
First, here's a great local story about that large March for Life that took place -- without much media notice, as per usual -- last week on the National Mall. (Above is a YouTube of the March aired by EWTN, a Catholic cable outlet.) The short piece is by Ann Rodgers of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:
At least 5,000 people from the Pittsburgh region were among the vast crowd of abortion opponents who marched around the capital earlier today on the 36th anniversary of the Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion nationwide. ... The march on the heels of the inauguration was by one of the groups most opposed to his election. But while most speakers at the rally on expressed great concern about his agenda on the issue, they nearly always spoke of him with respect and called him to dialogue with their movement.
After writing that march organizers believed they'd exceeded 300,000 protesters this year and giving some examples of respectful rhetoric, Rodgers introduces us to one of the people who made the trip from Pittsburgh:
Maria Ferreya, 36, an economics professor at Carnegie Mellon University was on one of two buses that left Oakland before dawn carrying students from five universities and parishioners from St. Paul Cathedral. It was her first trip to the march.
"I felt a real urgency to come because of the Obama administration," she said, citing his statement that the question of when a human fetus is entitled to human rights is "above my pay grade." ...
President Obama "is a very thoughtful and reflective individual and it would be wonderful if he would engage the question and not dismiss it as outside his realm," she said.
The next day President Obama engaged the question alright -- by forcing taxpayers to fund abortions. On Friday, he lifted a ban on taxpayer funding of international organizations that perform abortions.
Here's a story headlined "Obama breaks from Bush, avoids divisive stands." Here's a sample of reporter Liz Sidoti's puffery:
[Obama] largely avoided cultural issues; the exception was reversing one abortion-related policy, a predictable move done in a very low-profile way.
Not divisive, one simple little policy, predictable, done not just in a low-profile way but a very low-profile way.
Gosh, it's amazing that anyone found out about this little move, much less cared! Let's go to Time magazine's Jeff Israely:
President Obama is probably not itching for a fight over abortion. But he might get one. With unusual speed, the Vatican has condemned Obama's Jan. 23 repeal of the ban on U.S. funding for foreign family planning aid groups who offer abortion services.
The repeal fulfils a campaign promise Obama made to pro-choice supporters. But if the late Friday afternoon signing was an attempt to get the change in under the radar, it didn't work. Top Vatican officials, usually hesitant to respond directly to Washington's domestic policy decisions, pounced quickly. By Saturday afternoon, the Holy See was emailing reporters the Sunday edition of its official daily, L'Osservatore Romano, which features a front page headline describing Obama's decision as "very disappointing." (Read "Shhh. Obama Repeals the Abortion Gag Rule, Very Quietly.")
The same day, the secular Milan daily Corriere della Sera published an interview with a top Vatican official lashing out at the new U.S. President. Archbishop Rino Fisichella, head of the Pontifical Academy for Life, told the newspaper that the repeal of the abortion-funding ban was done with "the arrogance of those who, having power, think they can decide between life and death." Troubled by the swiftness of Obama's pro-choice move, Fisichella brushed off earlier vows by the new president to try to cut the number of abortions, while ensuring a woman's access to the procedure. "On ethical questions, you can't play with words," said the Italian Archbishop, considered close to Pope Benedict XVI. "Hiding behind sophisms isn't worthy of he who has a responsibility towards citizens. People want clarity."
I do look forward to reading more stories about all the pro-lifers -- evangelical, Catholic and otherwise -- that Obama successfully courted during his campaign. How do they feel about this action taking place in the first week of the presidency?
Catholic columnist and Obama supporter E.J. Dionne wrote back in November that signing such abortion-related executive orders upon taking office would "be both politically foolish and a breach of faith with the pro-life progressives" who supported him. By yesterday he'd written about the huge victory pro-lifers had by getting Obama to wait one day in signing the executive order lifting the ban on taxpayer funding of international abortion. Doug Kmiec is hoping for the Vatican ambassadorship, but what about the other pro-lifers who supported Obama? Are they also pleased with this first week and, if so, why? It would be nice to see some more coverage of that angle.