Grappling with "life issues"

Yesterday was the annual March for Life. This is a large annual event where people come in from all over the country -- and world -- to march to the Supreme Court on the anniversary of the date it handed down Roe V. Wade. This has been going on for almost 40 years and it's been covered poorly for many of those years. This year was brutally cold and wet and yet the crowds were still there, marching as they always do. They may have been wondering why the Supreme Court hadn't handed down the decision in June instead of January, but they were there. But guess what! This year, this march -- larger than all of the Occupy Wall Street groups combined -- actually received a mention in the New York Times! Twice! Things are looking up!

Oh wait, actually they're not. One of the references was in a blog post about how Sen. Rand Paul was detained by TSA during his security screening on the way to Washington. In the last paragraph:

A posting on the senator’s own Twitter account shortly before the incident announced that he was headed to Washington to speak at the March for Life, an antiabortion rally.

By the way, reading that line makes me wonder if the media really need to come up with a better way to describe a movement that is about more than just abortion. Speaking of, this Washington Post treatment of Catholic teaching on the sanctity of human life is intriguing, to say the least:

The Catholic Church has increasingly focused on educating and mobilizing its youth around its antiabortion ideology...

With another presidential election looming, many antiabortion advocates at the event said educating youths in their ideology is more important than ever...

Group chaperone Karina Franco, 37, said this was the first real education in antiabortion ideology for most of the youths...

Exsqueeze me? I don't know Karina Franco but I suspect the words "antiabortion ideology" hadn't even entered her mind, much less exited her mouth. But apparently it's the new media term for describing the same Catholic doctrine that is linked to beliefs on a wide range of subjects, not just abortion. It would be like saying the church has an "ideology" on salvation.

Anyway, the other mention of the March for Life in the Times comes from the editorial page editor mocking Rand Paul's beliefs on both TSA security and the abortion of unborn children. If the only way the March for Life gets mentioned in your paper is because a libertarian Senator missed his flight thanks to TSA's security procedures, you're doing it wrong.

Speaking of doing it wrong, I endured the unbelievably boring NBC debate of the Republican candidates. If you've missed a few or most, I hope last night's was one of them. Unless you like lots of questions about what the candidates themselves think of the horse race of running for office. (Newt Gingrich did discuss his unique views on divine judgment and one Fidel Castro.) One of the few substantive parts of the debate was a question about something that happened seven years ago. Here's how the Huffington Post wrote it up:

Exhuming Terri Schiavo

Adam Smith, citing a 2005 case that gripped the state of Florida, and, eventually the nation and the federal government, reminds Rick Santorum about his support for the family of Terri Schiavo. Santorum said that the support he offered was sincere, but made sure to indicate that he "did not call for congressional intervention." Rather, he said, "I called for judicial intervention on behalf of the parents," who were from Pennsylvania, and thus, his constituents. Santorum said that his intention was simply to ensure that the judicial process worked as fairly as it could.

Asked if "do not resuscitate" orders were "immoral," Santorum said, "No, I don't think so."

This is a very abbreviated and not entirely accurate summary but the question was "Do not resuscitate directives, do you think they're immoral?" and the response from Santorum was "No, I don't believe they're immoral. I mean, I think that's a decision that people should be able to make, and I have supported legislation in the past for them to make it."

It was interesting that neither the journalist nor Santorum mentioned that the legislation Santorum sponsored regarding Schiavo received votes from every Democrat, including Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. However, the "do not resuscitate" question was supposed to be the follow-up to the Terri Schiavo question. And why? I have absolutely no idea. The question about Terri Schiavo's life was about whether her husband should be permitted to starve and dehydrate her, not whether she should be resuscitated. In fact, her husband had obtained a do-not-resuscitate order on her life 12 years prior. It is staggering to me that a reporter who had prepared such a dated question wouldn't have some grasp of the most basic facts of the case. Particularly considering he's at a local newspaper there (the Tampa Bay Times). Even before I experienced dehydration in 2010, I knew this (once you've experienced dehydration, if you survive it, you will not forget it -- unbelievably painful).

Speaking of debates and "life issues," I also wonder if anyone caught this question from CNN's John King during the last South Carolina debate:

(APPLAUSE) KING: I think we have nodding heads. I assume we have agreement on that. But let's move on to another issue that came up in the campaign right here in South Carolina this week, and that's the life issue.

Mr. Speaker, your campaign sent out a mailing to South Carolina Republicans across this state essentially questioning Governor Romney's commitment on this issue, saying that he has changed his position on the abortion issue.

"The life issue." That has to be the first time a moderator has used this vocabulary in a debate.

Photo via Catholic University of America gallery.

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