Saturday, April 22, 2017

Here's what the candidate in Nebraska supports

I'd like to piggyback on Katherine Nielsen's post below on Bernie Sanders, the Democratic Party, and the struggle between economic and cultural issues. The story is about the mayoral election in Omaha, Nebraska.

Here is what Heath Mello, the Democratic candidate for mayor of Omaha, supports.
"Mr. Mello, a practicing Catholic, supported a Nebraska State Senate bill requiring that women be informed of their right to request a fetal ultrasound before an abortion. The anger over that position reflects a long-running argument among Democrats over whether, or how much, to support candidates who depart from party orthodoxy on abortion."
If the New York Times has it right, this bill does not require, as some states have tried, a fetal ultrasound, it simply says a woman be informed of her right to request one.

What is objectionable about that?


  1. Sounds fair to me. Mr. Mello is also on record as saying he would do nothing to restrict reproductive rights. The strange part is that this controversy has drawn attention away from the things a mayor actually does, you know, things like administration of a budget; snow removal plans, contracts with the police and firefighters unions. My kids, who live in Omaha, say they are voting for the incumbent because they feel she's doing a decent job, and Mello is relatively inexperienced. But I suppose it's about building the party for 2018 and 2020.

  2. The objection seems to be that he has departed "from party orthodoxy on abortion." Parties are now religions and we have religious (i.e. party loyalty) tests for office.

    Seems to me that Christians ought to have fundamental objections to parties becoming religions. That applies to both Democrats and Republicans.

    We need to get back to practical questions, like taxes, budgets, contracts. Because the basic problem is that all the money is going down into the black hole of the billionaires.

  3. From NPR ...

    "Mello has co-sponsored several bills in Nebraska's unicameral legislature that would restrict abortion rights, including a 2009 measure requiring doctors to inform women seeking abortions about the availability of an ultrasound."

    He was the sponsor of a 20 week abortion ban and he voted in favor of a bill banning insurance plans from covering abortion in his state, both in 2010, and he got an endorsement from the pro-life group, Nebraska Right to Life.

  4. Crystal, what is it that you object to about these restrictions? Would you rather someone like Mellonbe affiliated with a breakaway party? The political problem is that most Americans see gray areas sound abortion, while our two major parties both take an all or nothing stand on the issue.

  5. I object to his history of voting pro-life because that is at odds with supporting women's rights. If he had a history of voting as a racist or voting as a homophobe, I would find that unacceptable too.

  6. Being pro life (I don't know, maybe we need another term?) isn't at odds with women's rights. It's supporting the rights of every human being to simply live. Read the late Cardinal Joseph Bernardin's book, "Consistent Ethic of Life" sometime. It's about a lot more than abortion.

  7. I understand about the seamless garment. The questions arise when you decide who counts as a human being.

  8. Women's repro rights covers a LOT of ground, from the availability of contraceptives to NFP to rape and incest to infertility to prenatal care, etc. Abortion is a subset of female reproduction. Mello wants to limit access to abortion to 20 weeks, a deadline well after the time most abortions are performed. I don't see the problem from a party platform position. There's nothing in it that SCOTUS hasn't already allowed as a restriction under Roe v. Wade. I am tired of absolutists on both sides of this issue insisting on a "pure" position.

  9. Not about absolutism. There are situations in which a person can't decide about an abortion until after 20 weeks, like non-viable fetuses due to fetal anomalies only detectable after this cut-off date ...

    In the news a few years ago was the death of a woman in Ireland caused by a Catholic hospital's refusal to abort her miscarried fetus - Irish abortion law key factor in death of Savita Halappanavar, official report finds

  10. Crystal, you will brook absolutely no restrictions on abortion for any time or reason (correct me if I'm wrong). Pro-lifers will brook absolutely no abortion ever, no matter the outcomes or consequences. Sounds like absolutism to me.

    The inability to tolerate a range of opinions on this issue are insupportable. If Democrats can differ over, say, whether and how much we should fund Headstart or food assistance or single-payer health care--surely these issues affect people as much as abortion--why can't we allow some variation if opinion and political action on abortion within the party?

    1. I feel that single issue politics is part of what has led to the present polarized, dysfunctional situation.

    2. I think it depends on the issue and how it relates to a particular voter. As a woman, women's issues matter a lot to me, but I will compromise about some other issues. Maybe for someone who was of a racial minority, issue that touch on that might be deal breakers. For some religious people, abortion is the one issue. For some the issue that matters more than anything might be economics.

  11. I was just watching Meet the Press and they discussed the Bernie/Mello/abortion thing. Perhaps that's the way things will go, that the Dem party will be less strict on pro-choice. I can only say that I will be very disappointed and will make that known to my reps. I won't vote for a Dem like Mello.

  12. Are they any Republicans you can vote for in California?

  13. I wouldn't vote for a Republican, not even Arnold ;) But I think it will be ok because I do think the Dems will stick to their platform statement for the most part. My present reps are all pro-choice.

  14. Crystal:
    You quoted NPR: "Mello has co-sponsored several bills in Nebraska's unicameral legislature that would restrict abortion rights, including a 2009 measure requiring doctors to inform women seeking abortions about the availability of an ultrasound."

    Informing a woman that an ultrasound is available, restricts her abortion rights? How?

  15. Crystal:
    You also said, in an earlier comment,"to pro-life people, embryos and zygotes will always be more important than actual women and children." "MORE important?" I don't recall seeing or hearing that. What's your basis, your source, for saying it?

  16. Hi Gene - sorry, I hadn't checked this thread in a while.

    About the ultrasound bill ... this is a pro-life politician requiring a doctor to turn what should be a medical suggestion .... watching an ultrasound ... into a political decision. If there was a medical reason for a woman to get an ultrasound, the doctor would of course suggest that, but in this case the doctor is required by law to tell someone about a medical procedure (ultrasound) in order, basically, to harass her or shame her or get her to change her mind, not based on medical reasons but political reasons.

    There was an article from The Atlantic about the whole ultrasound thing: How Ultrasound Became Political

    About my comment that for pro-life people, fetuses seem more important than women and girls ...

    I came to that conclusion because of cases like the ones of the little girls in South America who were rape victims, pregnant, and whose lives were in danger according to their doctors if they didn't get abortions - the church and the commenters here seemed to think it was better that the little girls' lives be endangered than the lives of their fetuses.

    Same thing with the woman in Ireland who had a miscarriage but who could not have her dying fetus removed ... she died as a result of that. Most late term abortions, as i wrote in an above comment, are due to sever problems with the fetus and sometimes its death, but it seems pro-life people think it's ok to put those mothers' lives in jeopardy rather than allow them to get an abortion.

    The church too gives the impression that fetal lives are more important than the lives of women and girls - Gianna Beretta Molla was made a saint for deciding to die rather than get an abortion. What kind of message do you think that sends to women?

  17. crystal said: . . . the church and the commenters here seemed to think it was better that the little girls' lives be endangered than the lives of their fetuses.

    Which commenters here have said that? I said of the case of the 9-year-old in Brazil that in my opinion, an abortion was a "no brainer."

    crystal said: Gianna Beretta Molla was made a saint for deciding to die rather than get an abortion.

    That is certainly not how Wikipedia tells the story: In 1961 Molla was pregnant once again. During the second month she developed a fibroma on her uterus. After examining her, the doctors gave her three choices: an abortion, a complete hysterectomy, or removal of only the fibroma. The Catholic Church forbids all direct abortion but Catholic teaching on the principle of double effect would have allowed her to undergo a hysterectomy, which would have caused her unborn child's death as an unintended consequence.

    Molla opted for the removal of the fibroma, wanting to preserve her child's life, telling doctors that her baby's life was more important than her own.

    On 21 April 1962, Holy Saturday of that year, Molla went to the hospital, where her fourth child, Gianna Emanuela, was successfully delivered by Caesarean section. However, Molla continued to have severe pain, and died of septic peritonitis seven days after giving birth. . . .

    You seem to favor abortion on demand based on a handful of horror stories that are in no way representative of the more than 900,000 abortions performed in the United States every year.

  18. If "abortion on demand" means that people can get abortions for reasons other than their health being in danger, then that's the law. I'm not in favor of abortion, I'm in favor of women getting to choose what to do with their bodies.

    The horror stories are atypical, yes, just as the stories that pro-life people usually bring up are atypical .... late term abortions.

    I didn't mean to restart the argument. Gene let me know he had posted a couple of comments and he wanted me to answer them.

  19. Crystal:
    You wrote, “I understand about the seamless garment. The questions arise when you decide who counts as a human being.”

    Here’s what John Noonan had to say about “who counts as a human being.” This is excerpted from Charles Curran’s tribute to Noonan, who died last week. To provide context and contrast, I’ll also include Curran’s account of Noonan’s response to Humanae Vitae.

    “There was . . . no doubt where Noonan himself stood on the issue [of contraception]. After the issuance of the encyclical Humanae Vitae in 1968, I was the leader and spokesperson for the group of originally 87 Catholic scholars who concluded in a public statement that one could be a good Roman Catholic and still disagree in theory and in practice with the noninfallible teaching regarding contraception. Later that day, after releasing the statement, I talked to all the American lay members of the papal birth control commission, who all agreed to support the statement in light of their own competencies.

    “Noonan also agreed to fly down to Washington early the next morning to participate in a press conference supporting the legitimacy of such dissent. In an article a few months later reflecting on the changes in the teaching on usury in light of the discussion over Humanae Vitae, Noonan concluded that acts of papal authority isolated from theological support and contrary to the conviction of Christians familiar with the practices condemned could not prevail. . . .

    “Noonan . . . strongly argued against change and development in the teaching on the existence of truly individual human life from the moment of conception. Fetal life is an almost absolute value that cannot be changed. Yes, there can be and are conflict situations involving the life of the fetus and other human lives, but defense of the life of the fetus is a true value and not simply a rule that can be changed in light of other values. In addition to his defense of fetal life as an almost absolute value throughout history, Noonan also has written and lectured extensively on the need for laws to protect that right.”

    More about Noonan here:

  20. Two more on Noonan:

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  22. Thanks for the links, Gene. Noonan was a really interesting person. I can appreciate his effort to look for doctrinal change over time - usury and religious freedom.

    I'm not sure about this, though ... his defense of fetal life as an almost absolute value throughout history

    There's nothing in the OT about abortion aside from a mention of a caused miscarriage in which the person who caused it had to pay money in damages. My understanding is that Jewish law then didn't see a fetus as a person but as part of the mother. There's nothing at all about this subject in the gospels. In early church history, there were actually abortionist saints in Ireland.

    I understand Noonan's idea that protecting fetal life from conception is a value that can't be changed, but that's his religious belief, not even one shared by all Catholics, and in a society in which only a fraction of the citizens are Catholic, it's not fair to impose Catholic beliefs on everyone else.

    Which isn't to say ethics don't matter or that there is no right and wrong - I believe there are things that are always wrong, like murder, rape, torture, etc.