Roe v Wade comes to Hollywood — Exclusive interview with the star of a new film about the famous court case.

January 22 marks the 47th anniversary of Roe v Wade, the most contentious decision ever handed down by the US Supreme Court. In a 7-2 judgement, the Court held that American women have a “fundamental” right to an abortion.

Since that day, an estimated 61 million of them have taken place in the US. No longer a dark secret, abortions are being churned out on an industrial scale. Although the number of induced abortions has declined in recent years, the latest tally, for 2017, is still 862,320.

In the history of the US legal system, no other judgement has had such momentous consequences. Abortion touches every man, woman and child. If those lives had not been snuffed out, for instance, the US would be a nation of about 400 million.

Roe v Wade is a real-life story which screams out for a big-screen drama.

New York businessman and Hollywood personality Nick Loeb is having a go.

Roe v Wade, a film in which he is the co-producer, co-director, co-scriptwriter, and co-star, will be released later this year, possibly in the (northern hemisphere) spring. Earlier this month he spoke with MercatorNet about his ambitious project.

Loeb plays Bernard Nathanson, the central character in the film. “He’s the guy who came out later and admitted that they’d lied about everything,” says Loeb. “They lied about all the evidence, all the statistics, all the numbers that helped push their agenda. They made them up. It was fake news!”

Even Jane Roe was fake news. That was the pseudonym of Norma McCorvey, a pawn of the pro-choice lawyers who handled the case. She later joined the pro-life movement and became a Catholic.

Nathanson, who died in 2011, was one of the architects of Roe v Wade.  He was a co-founder of NARAL (now NARAL Pro-Choice America), a leading abortion rights group. In the early 70s he established the Center for Reproductive and Sexual Health in New York City, which he later described as “the first and largest abortion clinic in the Western world.” He admitted that he had presided over 60,000 abortions, 5,000 of which he performed himself. He even operated on a girlfriend and aborted their child.

But after Roe v. Wade Nathanson had a conversion. By 1974 he repudiated abortion after watching them via ultrasound. In an article in the leading medical journal in the US, the New England Journal of Medicine, he wrote “there is no longer any serious doubt in my mind that human life exists within the womb from the very onset of pregnancy.” Eventually he became one of the leading campaigners for the pro-life side and also became a Catholic.

His story resonates with Loeb.

“When I got involved in the project, I’d never even heard of Bernard Nathanson,” he said. “As I learned more about the story and all the characters involved and when I read Bernie’s books, I found his story to be reflective of mine.

“And not only mine, but of a lot of people of my generation. We grew up in a world where we didn’t think there was anything wrong with a woman wanting an abortion – it was her body, her right. It was like pulling off a scab; it was just a lump of cells. What did I know? I was born in 1975. Nobody in school was telling us, ‘hey, there’s a baby in there’.”

This is where Loeb’s interest in Nathanson becomes personal.

“Like Bernie, I was involved in abortions – not 70,000 of them – but I was involved in two, with past girlfriends.”

It was literally a nightmare for him.

“I’d have dreams of the child that I had killed. It was surreal. You know, I’m not a religious person. I believe in God but I don’t subscribe to any one particular organised religion. I said to myself, wow, maybe I’ve made this huge mistake and I’ve killed my child. It haunted me for many, many years. I also wanted to be a young father and I’d blown my chances and I felt that I’d really screwed this up.

“And as I learned about the issue, I started to think, O my God, there really was a baby in there. And they feel pain in the first couple of weeks and there’s a heartbeat in the first 21 days.

“So I changed my opinion. I became pro-life for me and pro-choice for everyone else.”

That’s basically the Cuomo Doctrine. It was proposed by the legendary New York governor Mario Cuomo in 1984: no one is entitled to impose their belief in the sanctity of life on others. It has been invoked countless times by American politicians to square their religious beliefs with their political survival.

But Loeb eventually saw through that tawdry compromise.

“And then somebody came to me and said, hey, Nick, do you rob liquor stores? And I said, that’s wrong; you’ll go to jail. So, he said, it’s not OK for you to rob liquor stores and it’s OK for other people?”

“So I became pro-life for everybody and then under any situation. I became adamant about it. It’s a life, the most innocent of all lives, and should be protected. No matter what, no matter how it got there in the first place.”

Even in cases of rape? Yes, Loeb says, even then.

His intellectual journey surprises even him.

“You know, growing up, I thought all those right-to-lifers were crazy people,” he muses. “I’ve now become one of them. Now I look at the pro-choicers and they’re the ones who are crazy.”

Loeb was talking to MercatorNet from his office in Europe. Europeans, he observes, have liberal abortion laws, but people don’t boast about having had one. Instead, they feel embarrassed and humiliated. The contrast with the US could not be starker.

“Hollywood has made it something to be proud of today,” he says. “‘Shout Your Abortion’ is a real organisation. Comedians are going out there saying, ‘I can’t wait to have an abortion. It makes me excited.’

“This is vile and gross and disgusting. But, you know, that’s hurt their movement and helped ours. ‘Cause even if you hear clapping in the background for a stand-up comedian who says that, the general population today thinks it’s disgusting.”

Although most of his friends are pro-choice, Loeb feels that the day when Roe v Wade will be reversed is not that far off. “One hundred percent in my lifetime,” he says. And possibly in the next four years, if a pro-life justice is appointed to the Supreme Court.

Back to his film, on which he has been working for at least three years.

Loeb has lined up a solid cast, including Oscar-winning Jon Voight as Chief Justice Warren E. Burger and actress and talk-show host Stacey Dash as Mildred Jefferson, the first black woman to graduate from Harvard Medical School and a strong pro-lifer.

It’s going to be a tough sell in the media, which is almost monolithic in its support of abortion. Even most of the actors, perhaps four out of five, were pro-choice. “But you know what?” he says. “They believe in telling the truth of Roe; they believe in the free expression of opinion.”

The film tells the behind-the-scenes story of how the justices formed their opinions. From his research, Loeb feels that some of the seven who voted to create a right to abortion were actually pro-life but had succumbed to public and family pressure. “It was a big deal; this tore families apart at the time,” he says.

“I hope people go see this, and not just pro-life supporters. We take a look at both sides of the argument. And we just tell the truth of what the characters did in their lives. We didn’t make up that Bernard converted. We didn’t make up that Norma converted,” Loeb says.

“Nobody during this time went from being pro-life to pro-choice. No one converted the other way. No one can say these characters converted the other way and you left them out of your story.”

Roe v Wade has a budget of about US$7 million; by Hollywood standards, this is an ultra low-budget. But from a financial point of view, low-budget “faith-friendly” (not “faith-based”, Loeb stresses) movies can be smash hits, with a healthy return on investment. He cites War Room (budget of $3 million, box office of $74 million) and Unplanned (budget of $6 million, box office of $21 million).

And Roe v Wade has the advantage of 47 years of advance publicity. As a brand, Loeb points out, it’s iconic. There’s no need to prime the audience.

COLUMN BY

Michael Cook

Michael Cook is editor of MercatorNet     

EDITORS NOTE: This MercatorNet column is republished with permission. ©All rights reserved.

The Pronoun Throw Down

“Refreshingly sane.” It’s not everyday those two words are used to describe the circuit courts. But, then again, it’s not every day — at least anymore — that those circuit courts are packed with liberal activists. Thanks to the White House, one in every four circuit judges is now a Donald Trump appointee, who respects the boundaries of the constitution. And after seeing the kind of transgender pronoun insanity being debated in Kyle Duncan’s court, conservatives couldn’t be more grateful.

His name is Norman Varner — but he’d rather everyone call him Katherine Jett. “I am a woman,” he insisted, “and not referring to me as such leads me to feel that I am being discriminated against based on my gender identity. I am a woman,” he repeated. “Can I not be referred to as one?” Norman, who’s been convicted on child pornography charges, wants to have his 2012 records changed to match his preferred name. That question was essentially thrown out on a technicality. But the real debate — his insistence that the court use female pronouns — has captured the public’s attention.

And why not? It’s playing out in schools, places of business, even sports. Teachers like Peter Vlaming have been fired for refusing to use a biologically incorrect pronoun. It’s no wonder Varner’s “Motion to Use Female Pronouns When Addressing Appellant” has taken center stage.

“Congress,” Kyle Duncan wrote in the 2-1 decision against Varner, “has said nothing to prohibit courts from referring to litigants according to their biological sex [instead of their] subjective gender identity.” If anything, he points out, the “convention” is and continues to be a “courtesy.”

Secondly, he went on, if a court were forced to use the preferred pronouns of litigants, “it could raise delicate questions about judicial impartiality…” After all, he points out, this subject — sex and gender identity — is increasingly being raised before the courts. “In cases like these, a court may have the most benign motives in honoring a party’s request to be addressed with pronouns matching his ‘deeply felt, inherent sense of [his] gender.’ Yet in doing so, the court may unintentionally convey its tacit approval of the litigant’s underlying legal position.”

Last, but certainly not least, Duncan explained, indulging these gender fantasies “may well turn out to be more complex than [they] appear.” There are literally dozens of pronouns that judges would have to learn — one university’s guide, he noted, has more than 45 possibilities. “When local governments have sought to enforce pronoun usage, they have had to make refined distinctions based on matters such as the types of allowable pronouns and the intent of the ‘misgendering’ offender. Courts would have to do the same. We decline to enlist the federal judiciary in this quixotic undertaking.”

Hats off to Kyle Duncan for refusing to play along with this dangerous game. “This is an attack on basic language … Human biology and reproduction are binary, and grammar follows that basic truth,” PJ Media’s Tyler O’Neil argues. “In an era of confusion, this ruling is a welcome moment of sanity.” One that wouldn’t be possible without the president and Senate’s commitment to the courts. It’s just another example of how Trump’s judges, all 187 of them, are taking back the bench for common sense.


Tony Perkins’s Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.


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The Case That Could Upset Roe v. Wade

In March 2020, the Supreme Court will rule on the constitutionality of Louisiana’s new abortion law, which requires that physicians doing abortions have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of the clinic.

Under the leadership of House Minority Whip Steve Scalise, an amicus—”friend of the court”—brief supporting the law was just filed, signed by 207 members of Congress, 39 senators, and 168 House members.

A press release from Scalise summarizes the arguments made and lists a number of conservative organizations supporting the brief, one of which is my organization—the Center for Urban Renewal and Education.

What makes this filing particularly interesting is not just the sheer volume of congressional signatories—almost 40% of the Senate and House combined—it’s also the fact that it goes further than just arguing support for the constitutionality of the Louisiana law to suggest that the widespread confusion regarding abortion law ties directly to the confusing basic premises under which abortion was found constitutional in the 1973 Roe v. Wade and the 1992 Planned Parenthood v. Casey decisions.


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The brief urges the Supreme Court to cast new scrutiny on these two landmark decisions that have defined the abortion legal landscape.

Asking the Supreme Court to reconsider Roe v. Wade is provocative, to say the least. But it is also courageous and on target.

How can we possibly function as a nation when an issue as critical as abortion defies consensus as to its constitutional pedigree as well as its morality?

Can there be any better evidence of this confusion than recalling the famous interchange in August 2008 when Pastor Rick Warren asked then-presidential candidate Barack Obama, “At what point does a baby get human rights, in your view?”

Obama, a Harvard-educated lawyer who would go on to be twice elected president, replied lamely, “answering that question … is above my pay grade.”

Yet despite his candor about his inability to clarify the biological and legal status of the unborn child, he didn’t hesitate to be the first sitting American president to address the national meeting of Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion provider, and tell them, “God bless you.”

There is a well-known expression from the world of computing that says, “garbage in, garbage out.”

Faulty premises will produce faulty results and output.

This is a pretty good summary of what has been happening to American culture since the Roe v. Wade decision. Once sanctity of life and its legal protections became ambiguous, our entire culture began to unravel.

The percentage of American adults married since Roe v. Wade has dropped by one-third. The percentage of children in households with married parents is down 15%, and the percentage of babies born to unwed mothers up over 300%.

The last decade, according the Census Bureau, is estimated to have the slowest 10-year growth in the U.S. population since the first census was taken in 1790.

The Census Bureau forecasts that by 2034, for the first time, there will be more Americans over age 65 than under 18.

And, of course, we cannot overlook the damage our national soul has incurred by looking away as 61,628,584 babies have been destroyed in the womb since 1973, as the Guttmacher Institute reports.

In the latest Gallup polling, 49% identified as pro-life and 46% as pro-choice. Fifty percent say abortion is “morally wrong,” and 42% say it is “morally acceptable.”

For the 47th time, hundreds of thousands will arrive in Washington for the March for Life, noting the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision, Jan. 22, 1973.

There is growing appreciation for the notion that what’s driving a sense that something is wrong in our nation is ambiguity regarding the sanctity of life.

Let’s pray that the court heeds these 207 members of Congress and starts rethinking the Roe v. Wade decision.

COPYRIGHT 2020 CREATORS.COM

COMMENTARY BY

Star Parker is a columnist for The Daily Signal and president of the Center for Urban Renewal and Education. Twitter: .

RELATED ARTICLE: The Wind Is Shifting Behind the Pro-Life Cause


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This is a critical year in the history of our country. With the country polarized and divided on a number of issues and with roughly half of the country clamoring for increased government control—over health care, socialism, increased regulations, and open borders—we must turn to America’s founding for the answers on how best to proceed into the future.

The Heritage Foundation has compiled input from more than 100 constitutional scholars and legal experts into the country’s most thorough and compelling review of the freedoms promised to us within the United States Constitution into a free digital guide called Heritage’s Guide to the Constitution.

They’re making this guide available to all readers of The Daily Signal for free today!

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​SILENCERS LAWS: The Cold Hard Truth about Silencers and Suppressors

Where two or more gun owners gather, there exists a high probability that a gun debate will quickly ensue. Guns are a passion for many supporters of the 2nd amendment and that passion is often on display during these debates. Unfortunately, this often leaves the novice gun owner slightly intimidated and feeling out of place during the conversation. Rather than say something that is not technically accurate, they choose to say nothing at all and miss out on one of the best parts about gun ownership. Namely, arguing about them. Silencers and suppressors are a common topic among gun enthusiasts and yet, many know very little about them. So let’s help both the novice and veteran out a little bit by breaking down the cold hard truth about silencers and suppressors.

Silencer vs Suppressor

What’s the Difference?

I hate to break it to you, but silencers and suppressors are the exact same thing. That might be blasphemy to every so-called “gun expert” on the internet forums, but for all practical purposes a silencer and a suppressor are absolutely the same thing. They both seek to reduce the sound and flash that comes from the barrel when fired. So why the big argument? 

Argumentative gun brethren will often point out that nothing completely silences the sound of gunfire. Consequently, it is inaccurate to call a suppressor a silencer. The only problem with that line of thought is that the guy who invented the thing called it a silencer. With creation, comes the ability to call it whatever you want.


Trust us when we say that if you use the term silencer around some gun enthusiast, you are going to have an argument on your hands. However, armed with the facts below you’ll be able to hold your own ground because they are the exact same thing.

History of Suppressors

Hiram Percy Maxim was the son of the inventor of the Maxim machine gun. Simultaneously creating muffling devices for cars in 1902, he had an epiphany that the basic technology could be used interchangeably. In 1909 he received his patent and the Mixim Silencer was born. He created the Maxim Silent Firearms Company and marketed them mostly to sportsman.

During World War 2, the predecessor to the CIA fell in love with them. The Office of Strategic Services utilized the HDM .22 LR pistol and the Maxim Silencer was very effective at reducing the sound of gunfire. The wartime use helped shape the opinion by the public at large that silencers were meant for secret assassinations.

Consequently, decades of backlash and misperception limited their popularity. In 2011, the National Rifle Association began a push to popularize the use for hunting and sports shooting. This is in part where the term “suppressor” began to gain in popularity.

It was thought that by calling them a suppressor it would remove much of the misconceptions about the term silencer. However, as we discussed above, the term silencer and suppressor can be used interchangeably.

How Does a Silencer Work

Firearms generation sound in three different ways. First, there is the muzzle blast which is a shockwave created by high-pressure gases escaping and expanding. Next, you’ve got the sonic boom. This is the cracking sound that comes from the bullet flying at supersonic speeds through the air. Finally, you’ve got the mechanical noise caused by the moving parts of the firearm.

The silencer focuses on the muzzle blast. It reduces the speed of the gas ejection from the muzzle and thus, you’ve got a quieter weapon. It is important to note that a silencer does not completely silence the weapon.

You still have the sonic boom and mechanical noise to deal with. Subsonic ammunition in combination with a silencer can make for very quiet day of shooting. Yet, there is still plenty of noise to be had which fuels some of the movement to call them suppressors instead of silencers.

Benefits of Suppressors

Combat Effectiveness

In 2017, the Marines of Bravo Company, 1st Battalion 2nd Marines became the first entire infantry unit to deploy with a suppressor on every single service rifle. They were not turning an entire Company of Marines into elite assassins, but they were applying hard earned lessons learned from over 15 years of modern warfare.

“Move, shoot, communicate” has been the guiding mantra of the Marine Corps throughout the Global Wars on Terror. The Marines are physically fit to move and they are well trained marksman when it comes to shooting. However, it’s really hard to communicate with the sound of gunfire in your ears and communicate is an essential component of the mantra.

The thought behind the experiment is that the suppressors will allow Marines to more effectively communicate which, in turn, will help them gift violence to the enemy with greater speed and clarity. One could apply the same thought to home and personal self-defense.

In a fight for one’s life, the ability to focus increases one’s ability to survive. Moreover, it allows a defender to communicate directions more effectively to their family. The bottom line is that if the United States Marine Corps has found utility in suppressors then there is something to it.

Hearing Protection

Beyond combat effectiveness, there exists the cold hard truth that gunfire is really loud. So much so that one’s hearing in life can be adversely affected by frequent exposure to gunfire. In most cases, hearing protection is an option and should be regularly applied when operating firearms.

Then again, there are times where it’s just not practical or perhaps there simply isn’t enough time in a fight for life. A suppressor muffles the noise and as such, can offer great protection for your hearing in the years to come.

Where are Silencers Legal?

​The 1934 Firearms Act defines the terms “firearm silencer” and “firearm muffler” to mean any device for silencing, muffling, or diminishing the report of a portable firearm, including any combination of parts, designed or redesigned, and intended for use in assembling or fabricating a firearm silencer or firearm muffler, and any part intended only for use in such assembly or fabrication.

According to Federal Law, they are perfectly legal when the appropriate paperwork and taxes are filed. However, a handful of states have capitalized on the myths about silencers and worked to effectively ban them. There are only 8 states where silencers are banned, but local gun laws throughout the nation have put regulations on them.

We always encourage people to check their local gun laws before purchasing a firearm or silencer. Gun laws are rapidly changing in America and as soon as an article is posted, it may very well be out of date. However, assuming they are legal in your part of the country we can walk you through the process of picking one up.

How to Purchase a Suppressor

If you want to purchase a suppressor, you’ll need to fill out a healthy dose of government paperwork and, of course, give Uncle Sam a little of your hard earned money. It all starts with identifying the suppressor that you want to purchase. Most dealers will help walk you through the following process. If not, just complete the following steps and you’re on your way to a quieter world of pew, pew, pew.

  1. Decide whether you want to purchase the silencer through a trust, in the name of a corporation or as an individual. Purchasing as a trust allows you to name various persons who can then use the silencer without added paperwork, such as a spouse. If you already have a corporation and don’t want to set up a trust, that is a viable option. Finally purchasing as an individual makes you the sole owner of the silencer. Setting up a trust is a very popular option and some companies allow you to set up a free trust online. Otherwise, you would need a lawyer.
  2. Given that suppressors can only be purchased by licensed dealers, they will give you the required BATF paperwork. They can’t sell it to you otherwise, so you don’t have to go and search out the paperwork yourself.
  3. Attach a passport photograph and a fingerprint card along with $200 of your hard earned money for the tax stamp.
  4. Notify your local chief law enforcement officer. Under older rules you were required to fill out more paperwork and get approval. Now, in most locations you are just required to give the notification.
  5. Wait for the BATF paperwork to be approved.
  6. Receive the approval and then return to your deal to pick up your suppressor.

You’ll not be able to take possession of your suppressor until your application is approved. This is by far one of the most frustrating parts of the process. This can take months on many occasions, but the wait is definitely worth it. Again, if there are any questions about the process your Class 3 FFL dealer should be able to walk you through the process. So don’t be intimidated to walk into a gun shop and just ask.

How to Check the Status of Your Suppressor

The wait for your new suppressor can be excruciating and many will want to know where they are in the process. To check the status of your suppressor, simply call the ATF at 304-616-4500. You’ll then need the serial number, make, model, name of transferring dealer and the transferee which would be yourself. With that information you’ll be informed where you are in the process and perhaps how long you will have to wait.

Silencers and the 2nd Amendment

Public perception is often at odds with reality in the gun control conversation, but that doesn’t make public perception any less effective in moving the gun control agenda forward. Even if you support some version of gun control, one can hope that it would at least be based on objective reality rather than opinion. This is one of the reasons many in the pew universe react harshly to the term silencer.

It brings about the perception that stealthy villains from a James Bond movie can conduct public assassinations in broad daylight with a silencer. After all, if the sound of gunfire is removed, then how would anyone know a shooting is taking place? This induces public fear and support for banning something that is anything but silent.

By pointing out that firearm muffling devices merely suppress the sound rather than eliminate it, gun owners are trying to dispel the silent myth. For many gun owners, the suppressor is the canary pigeon in the mine shaft of 2nd Amendment liberties. Where the suppressor is made illegal, more gun laws are sure to come down the road.

​What you Need to Know About Silencers

At the end of the day, what you really need to know about suppressors is that they are safe, effective, and a whole lot of fun. They won’t turn you into a secret assassin and nor are they guaranteed to save your hearing. It is still recommended that you use hearing protection when firing guns with a silencer.

You need to know that it is ok to call them a silencer or a suppressor, regardless of what the local “gun expert” says. However, if you want to help fight back on the negative perceptions associated with silencers, you might be doing the 2nd Amendment a solid by calling them suppressors.

That’s the cold hard truth about silencers and suppressors. Now that you are ready for your next big gun debate, check back in with us later for more meaty gun knowledge and live the 2nd Amendment lifestyle the way it was meant to be lived.

© All rights reserved.

New Year’s Thoughts from a ‘Boomer’ Doc

Preview: 

  • The words of the year as 2019 ends appear to be “OK Boomer” and “woke.” To this Boomer, it appears that the younger generation is blaming us for all the Evil in the world, from their perch of “woke” moral superiority. They consider us to be out of touch and over the hill.
  • Virtually all students will face a crushing load of debt, because of soaring tuition without any improvement in knowledge output.
  • The younger generation throughout its early years is trapped in age-segregated cocoons, surrounded by guilt-inducing, fear-inspiring indoctrination; immersed in virtual reality; isolated from natural family, their cultural history, opportunities to learn real-world skills, and dissenting opinions.

The words of the year as 2019 ends appear to be “OK Boomer” and “woke.” To this Boomer, it appears that the younger generation is blaming us for all the Evil in the world, from their perch of “woke” moral superiority. They consider us to be out of touch and over the hill.

According to Merriam-Webster, “woke” means “aware of and actively attentive to important facts and issues (especially issues of racial and social justice).” It went from being a black activist watchword to internet slang.

It is apparent that there is a giant political divide in this country, partly but not entirely intergenerational. In my opinion, my generation bears a lot of blame, but probably not in the way that most Millennials think. Waiting for us to die and get out of the way is not going to solve the problem—particularly in medicine.

There is one indisputable advantage I have as a Boomer. I have had the experience of being young; my younger patients have not experienced growing old. I know exactly what that cross-stitched embroidery on my wall means: “Ve get so soon old und so late schmart.”

I was young and impressionable and passionately held some very ill-informed opinions. I did some stupid things—but did not do worse things because I had the benefit of learning something from older people’s experience.

I had the inestimable advantage, which so many young people today lack, of having a traditional extended family. My mother was at home, running my father’s contracting business. My grandparents lived next door. I played Scrabble with Grandma, and learned a little German from Grandpa. My father was home every night. I got some invaluable experience, not especially enjoyable at the time, by sweeping the floor and picking up bent nails at construction sites.

I got a nice head start because of my dad’s hard work. It put me through medical school debt-free. Most Millennials cannot have the same advantage. Their daddies could not have learned skills like carpentry at home, or built a house by themselves, starting with the surveying and ditch-digging with pick and shovel. “Protective” regulations would have prevented it. They cannot build up savings as I could, when one could earn real interest not cancelled out by inflation, and when much less of one’s paycheck was devoured by taxation.

Do Millennials have the same chance to get into medical school as I did? It depends. The admissions process in my day was generally meritocratic even if not entirely fair. Today, the main emphasis is “diversity.” Straight white males and Asians seem to face discrimination. A correct attitude is critical, while organic chemistry may not be required at all—never mind that the body is a chemical factory, built on carbon-based (i.e. organic) chemicals. The new doctors are different—not necessarily better.

Virtually all students will face a crushing load of debt, because of soaring tuition without any improvement in knowledge output. Unable to take the financial risk of declaring independence, and faced with new, ever-increasing re-certification requirements, young physicians will be enslaved to the opinions of their employers and specialty boards.

The Boomer generation is largely responsible. The Berkeley window-smashing “Free Speech” movement assured your ability to constantly fling obscene or profane words, while undermining cultural norms and traditional authorities. One institution after another—universities, the media, churches, professional organizations, charities, political parties, even businesses—surrendered to the radicals’ Marxist, holier-than-thou ideology.

Boomers also brought us the “entitlements” that are bankrupting government and mortgaging the labor of the younger generation. Most don’t care about robbing their grandchildren when this consequence is pointed out to them. State governments, professionals, insurers, and bureaucrats are also most concerned about getting their share of the loot.

The younger generation throughout its early years is trapped in age-segregated cocoons, surrounded by guilt-inducing, fear-inspiring indoctrination; immersed in virtual reality; isolated from natural family, their cultural history, opportunities to learn real-world skills, and dissenting opinions.

As C.S. Lewis pointed out, it is important to read old books because each generation makes different mistakes. It is critical for the generations to talk to each other—to break down the barriers of censorship and distrust, to seek universal truths, and to keep the flame of freedom alive. We need to be awake and in touch.

© All rights reserved.

Tents, Homelessness, and Misery: 9 Things I Saw in San Francisco

SAN FRANCISCO—Call me a poop skeptic.

After years of reading about the alleged horrors of San Francisco, I decided I wanted to see for myself if the City by the Bay was really in such dire conditions.

I’d grown up 30 miles south of San Francisco, occasionally popping in for field trips or shopping or sightseeing. Sure, the city had always had homeless people, but the conditions I read about—needles everywhere, “poop maps” documenting the location of human feces—seemed absurd.

How bad could it actually be in one of America’s most famous cities?


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Could one of the most famously liberal cities in the nation have disintegrated into disaster?

In 2009, I’d moved away from California. In the decade and change since, San Francisco has undergone a radical transformation. A new wave of top Silicon Valley companies—Twitter, Uber, Facebook—opened headquarters or offices in the city. And while San Francisco hadn’t ever been inexpensive, housing costs soared, with the median housing price more than doubling since 2010.

The 49ers, a football team, retained “San Francisco” in their name, but left famed Candlestick Park, now demolished, for Santa Clara, a California town south and in the middle of Silicon Valley—although San Francisco did gain the Golden State Warriors, a basketball team.

Uber and Lyft, which first came to San Francisco in 2010, now dominate ride-sharing services, their drivers swooping up and down the city’s famous hills.

Yet one change hadn’t occurred: The city has proudly remained a liberal bastion.

Home to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s congressional district, San Francisco is reliably and overwhelmingly blue in every election (with perhaps a few votes going to the Green Party).

In just the past year, the city’s Board of Supervisors declared the National Rifle Association to be a “domestic terrorist organization,” and the school board voted first to paint over, and then to hide, a mural of George Washington in one of the city’s high schools—a mural, incidentally, painted by a leftist who strove to show both Washington’s greatness and flaws.

Such actions are just par for the course for San Francisco, a city of more than 884,000 that in the past decade also banned fast-food restaurants from including toys with most children’s meals; prohibited city-funded travel by local employees to 22 pro-life states; raised the minimum wage from $9.79 to $15.59 an hour; and, after banning plastic bags in 2007, first set a 10-cent fee for each nonreusable bag at stores, and then a 25-cent fee per bag.

Yes, leftist insanity has long been the norm for San Francisco. But the liberal would-be-utopia had once been seen as a great city, not a filthy environment full of struggling people.

In a tweet in December, President Donald Trump wrote: “Nancy Pelosi’s district in California has rapidly become one of the worst anywhere in the U.S. when it come[s] to the homeless and crime. It has gotten so bad, so fast.”

Showing it wasn’t just some “right-wing conspiracy” that San Francisco was falling apart, Oracle, one of the huge tech companies in the region, announced in December that its annual OpenWorld conference was going to Las Vegas for the next three years—costing San Francisco an estimated $64 million in potential revenue. An email from the San Francisco Travel Association, obtained by CNBC, mentioned “poor street conditions” as a factor.

So two days before Christmas, I left my parents’ house and made my way over to San Francisco.

I wanted to see for myself what conditions were really like. Was the middle class being driven away? Was the city as liberal as its politicians suggested? How many people were living on the streets?

Twenty-two thousand steps and four Uber and Lyft drives later, here’s what I saw.

1. Tents on Sidewalks

Before arriving in the city, I’d read that the Tenderloin neighborhood—just blocks from a major mall and retail area—is one of the worst.

Sure enough, as soon as I drift away from the retail and go a couple blocks into the Tenderloin, things get, well, smelly.

(Photos: Katrina Trinko/The Daily Signal)

To my surprise, there are tents everywhere in the neighborhood. Years ago, during the Occupy Wall Street movement, I’d visited an Occupy encampment in Boston.

This seemed similar, although there is one key difference. In Boston, the tents were set up in a park. In San Francisco, the tents are openly obstructing the sidewalk—and not just on one block.

In the course of my day, I see several blocks like this clustered in the Tenderloin neighborhood and vicinity.

Some are just a block or two away from a police station. San Francisco’s new district attorney, Chesa Boudin, told the ACLU in a candidate questionnaire: “Crimes such as public camping, offering or soliciting sex, public urination, blocking a sidewalk, etc. should not and will not be prosecuted.”

I also notice something that I hadn’t seen much during my years in New York City and Washington, D.C.: homeless women, although far fewer than homeless men.

Nationally, homelessness increased by 2.7% in 2019, according to the Department of Housing and Urban Development. “Homelessness in California is at a crisis level,” HUD Secretary Ben Carson said in a formal statement.

Residents of San Francisco likely agree: Three-quarters of respondents to a survey said homelessness in the city was getting worse, and a little over half mentioned it as a top issue, according to a 2019 report from the San Francisco Office of the Controller.

2.  24-Hour Public Restrooms

In 2019, San Francisco decided to try keeping three public restrooms open 24 hours a day in the worst areas. It’s not cheap—to keep them clean, one attendant is present during daytime hours and, presumably for safety, two are present at night.

“History has shown that without attendants, public toilets in some of San Francisco’s most challenging neighborhoods are used for drug activity and prostitution, and become targets of vandalism,” writes the San Francisco Chronicle’s Phil Matier.

Matier also did the math: After looking at the cost of funding the toilets and the amount of times the toilets were used at night, he calculated each restroom use cost the city $28.52.

In addition to three 24/7 toilets, another 21 public toilets are available at certain hours, funded by the city. “The popular program … provides an alternative to using our streets and sidewalks as a toilet,” states the San Francisco Public Works website.

The toilets advertise that people can dispose of needles there, another sign of San Francisco’s relaxed approach to drugs. Thomas Wolf, a former drug addict who lived on the streets of San Francisco for a few months in 2018, is among those now advocating the city change its approach toward drugs.

Wolf “thinks the city is too wedded to harm reduction—making it safer to use drugs—rather than encouraging people to stop using,” the Chronicle reported in December. “He said he was offered free, clean drug paraphernalia by outreach workers, but doesn’t remember ever being offered a treatment bed or even being asked whether he wanted help quitting. Not once.”

Wolf, who has ceased using drugs and now serves on San Francisco’s Street-Level Drug Dealing Task Force and works for the Salvation Army’s Railton Place as a case manager and life skills coach, estimated that 90% of the homeless he lived with in Tenderloin and the adjacent South of Market neighborhood were addicted to drugs or alcohol.

“With harm reduction, the whole point is to use less while respecting your civil liberties,” Wolf told the Chronicle. “When I was out there homeless and leaving my needles in the street and defecating in the street and urinating in the street, was I protecting your civil liberties?”

3. Washing Sidewalks

Walking around the Tenderloin neighborhood in the morning, I encounter workers washing a sidewalk—and asking homeless people to move.

A worker sprays water right up to the brink of a homeless man’s stuff on the sidewalk. The homeless man, who is shoving his belongings into a bag or backpack, starts shouting at the worker, saying (and I’m editing this since we’re a family news outlet), “The f—, man?”

He keeps shouting, bellowing sentiments along the lines of “Who the f— do you think you are, f—ing my stuff, man?” as he continues to pack up.

In early December, the Tenderloin Community Benefit District and San Francisco Supervisor Matt Haney announced the beginning of weekly power-washings in the district, instead of monthly.

David Elliott Lewis, a local who is a community organizer, said, per the press release: “Even though seeing human and animal feces on our sidewalks is a common occurrence, I find it upsetting and disturbing every single time.”

According to RentHop.com, “Tenderloin has been on a winning streak for the ‘poopiest neighborhood’ contest for the past three years. The neighborhood saw 8,644.2 animal/human waste incidents per square mile in 2017, 7,722.8 in 2018, and 6,887.9 so far in 2019.”

Washing sidewalks is hardly the only way the city is addressing the crisis. In the past decade, San Francisco has been on a spending spree to help the homeless.

“Between 2011 and 2012, SF spent $157 million on homeless services. By the 2015-2016 fiscal year, it was up to $242 million. In the most recent 2019-2020 budget proposals, the figure hit more than $364 million. But the consensus remains that more is needed,” reports Curbed San Francisco, which estimates the homeless population now could be as high as 17,600.

4. Tourist Areas

What’s going on with the tourist areas, attractions that long have drawn people from around the country and the world to San Francisco’s shores?

“The loveliness of Paris seems somehow sadly gay/The glory that was Rome is of another day/I’ve been terribly alone and forgotten in Manhattan/I’m going home to my City by the Bay,” Tony Bennett famously warbled in “I Left My Heart in San Francisco.”

But local business owners are concerned tourists aren’t so tempted these days to explore what was once dubbed the “Paris of the West.”

For years, Pier 39—a mix of kitschy shops, restaurants, a carousel, and the odd street entertainer—has been a top tourist destination. Now, businesses fret, times are a-changing.

“We saw a pretty sharp decline since [2016-2017],” Brian Hayes, who owns seven shops and kiosks on the pier, told ABC7 (KGO-TV). “A lot of it is attributed to the homeless.”

“I know myself I’ll go on vacation, I’ll spend more money, but I have to have a good experience and I don’t want to have to look at the homeless and I don’t want to have to see needles on the ground and human feces. It’s not where you want to go on vacation,” Sandra Fletcher, president of Simco Restaurants, which owns five restaurants on the pier and also is facing more trouble drumming up business, told ABC7.

The day I am there, Pier 39 appears to have its usual hustle and bustle. A pack of people gather around an entertainer boasting that he can pull out the balloon he’s swallowed. A kid shrieks on a bungee flying ride.

In a store that sells products only for left-handed people, customers browse. The women’s restroom is decently clean, given that it’s a free public one in a high-traffic area.

A little outside Pier 39, I see a man in a wheelchair gliding along, plaintively asking people if they could help him out. He wears a 49ers cap and a red scarf and a checked sports coat, which I hope keeps him warm in this neighborhood right on the water.

In the few blocks between the Pier and Fisherman’s Wharf—another frequent tourist stop, essentially a line of bayside restaurants and food counters selling seafood—I notice one man sleeping on the ground.

In the area around Fisherman’s Wharf, souvenir shops sell swag and gifts that capitalize on the city’s liberal reputation:

I also browse Union Square, rimmed by some of the top shopping destinations of San Francisco: a gigantic, eight-story Macy’s, a Saks Fifth Avenue boasting of carrying “faux fur” in one of its windows, a Tiffany’s with sparkling jewelry in its whimsical Christmas displays, and a sleek Apple Store. A Christmas tree is lit in the square, and an ice skating rink is open for Californians wistfully wanting to capture some taste of a white Christmas.

About a week before my visit, Union Square was where San Francisco strained to restore its reputation. On the heels of the news of the Oracle convention’s move to Vegas, Mayor London Breed declared that San Francisco is a “world class city” and pledged further steps to address homelessness.

Yet as the Chronicle’s Matier noted, Breed’s comments in Union Square came at the same time that “an image of a man with his pants around his knees defecating in a [San Francisco] Safeway aisle was rocketing around the internet and TV.”

For San Francisco, the Oracle convention wasn’t even the first blow. In 2018, tourism and convention bureau SF Travel announced that a medical association, never named, was looking for another location for its conferences after 2023, despite holding the gatherings in the city since the 1980s.

“Postconvention surveys showed their members were afraid to walk amid the open drug use, threatening behavior and mental illness that are common on the streets,” reports the San Francisco Chronicle.

I see a couple of homeless people around Union Square, but nothing unusual for an urban area. The Union Square neighborhood effectively borders the Tenderloin, however, meaning a confused tourist could easily end up there.

5. A Church for the Homeless

At lunchtime, I pop into a church—one with the glorious architecture, high ceilings, and impressive art characteristic of so many older Catholic churches in the United States.

As the church’s bells chime, the sound of a vigorous snorer fills the lulls in between.

St. Boniface Church, in the Tenderloin neighborhood, allows the homeless to sleep in the pews every weekday through a nonprofit program called the Gubbio Project.

Around since the 1860s, the parish originally was the religious home of Germans in the city. The current church was built in 1902, and although it escaped the 1906 earthquake, it was ravaged by the subsequent fires. Rebuilding was completed in 1908.

“The Gubbio Project uses the back two-thirds of the sanctuary; the church uses the front one-third to celebrate the daily Mass,” the program states on its website. “This sends a powerful message to our unhoused neighbors—they are in essence part of the community, not to be kicked out when those with homes come in to worship. It also sends a message to those attending Mass—the community includes the tired, the poor, those with mental health issues and those who are wet, cold and dirty.”

The day I arrive at St. Boniface’s, the front of the church glitters with Christmas decorations.

During the Communion service—there isn’t a Mass that day—the church is mostly quiet. During one brief moment, someone starts babbling, only to be told to be quiet by others.  When I look back, I don’t see any of the homeless people actively participating in the religious rites.

After the service, I explore the rest of the church. Most of the wooden pews—with no padding for comfort—are occupied by a sleeping person. Three people are lying on the floor in the back.

I speak briefly to Michael Bonner, a new employee of the Gubbio Project. When I ask Bonner how the homeless can be helped and what should be done, he speaks of a lack of motivation, of people “going down a path of not caring anymore” instead of having “a fire burning in you.”

Bonner talks about the need for a work ethic, and how it’s too simplistic to say the homeless problem is an effect of the city’s expensive housing. But he’s also adamant that people need help: “We just can’t give up on the willing,” he says.

I ask him if the homeless people he encounters have loved ones or families who could help. Bonner says most of them are “probably embarrassed to go home” because “you don’t want to hear it from your family anymore” after presumably failing in previous tries to get off the streets.

6.  No Place for the Middle Class

One of the big tensions in San Francisco—and in the wider Bay Area region—in recent years has been the perceived gulf between the affluent and everybody else. As my colleague Jarrett Stepman has chronicled, California increasingly is becoming a place for the poor and the rich, not the middle class.

So out of curiosity, I walk over to Twitter’s headquarters, just a few blocks away from St. Boniface’s, passing City Hall.  Twitter is just one of several companies—others include Salesforce, Facebook, Square, and Uber—that have come to San Francisco in recent years.

No doubt the city has seen a business boom: “Citywide, the unemployment rate fell from 9% in 2011 to 2.6% this year, and the number of jobs grew from 543,600 in 2011 to an estimated 730,900 last year, according to state data,” reports the Chronicle.

The area around Twitter is quiet the day I am there, and there is no sign of anyone living—or begging—on the streets. Beneath Twitter’s headquarters is a bougie food hall and a grocery store that, incredibly, makes Whole Foods seem like an affordable option.

In the food hall, I stop for lunch at The Organic Coup—which was basically everything you’d expect from a shop in a  Francisco food hall. It brands itself as the first “organic fast food restaurant” and urges me to “taste the revolution.”

Apparently, fast-food prices don’t apply in the revolutionary era: My lunch of chicken strips and tater tots, and nary a drink, costs $12.81.

However, the food hall offers plenty of options beyond organic tater tots, including—I kid you not—caviar.

One of my Lyft drivers, whose name I’m not using because I didn’t get his permission to quote him on the record, calls San Francisco a “ridiculous city.”

As we pass a gas station, where regular gas is going for $3.99 a gallon, he notes in frustration that gas where I live is probably significantly cheaper.

My Lyft driver also complains that affordable housing is a joke, saying it means something like a $900,000 for a two-bedroom condo instead of a million. The driver, who moved from Los Angeles to San Francisco 10 years ago, blames San Francisco residents for not allowing more housing, noting it had created a situation where people made a fortune on their own homes’ going up in value but where their children could not afford to buy a home and stay.

The Lyft driver’s attitude isn’t an anomaly: A 2019 survey conducted by the controller’s office found that 35% of respondents were somewhat or very likely to leave the city in the next three years, including 48% of those 35 or younger.

Although the city notes that the 35% number is in line with statistics for the past 14 years, data suggests people aren’t merely talking about leaving the city. According to real estate firm Redfin, San Francisco was second only to New York City among American cities with the dubious distinction of losing the most residents in the third quarter of 2019, the most recent period tracked.

And my driver isn’t wrong to be concerned about housing prices. “In 2010, the median sale price for a single-family house in SF came in at $751,000 … But by October of 2019, the California Association of Realtors estimated that a median-priced SF house sold for $1.65 million, more than double the value of a home the same time ten years ago,” reports Curbed SF.

7.  Life on the Sidewalk

Toward the end of the day, I speak to Anthony Rodriguez, who is sitting on a box next to a man smoking in a tent. Next to the tent is a sofa.

Neither Rodriguez nor the tent man, who doesn’t want to be quoted, knows where the sofa originated.

Rodriguez is from Oakland, a city across the Bay, but says he’s been in San Francisco for about a month.

“That’s one thing about San Francisco,” he observes. “You won’t starve.”

The 51-year-old says he’s been homeless since 2015, when his mother died, and that he had been homeless at times prior to that as well.

Rodriguez tells me a complicated story I have trouble following—and entirely believing—about being discharged from a hospital too soon for an injury he incurred on his knee.

“I started drinking again because it’s cold out,” he mentions.

Overall, he likes San Francisco, especially because he meets so many people.

“If I’m lonely and sad, I always like to come out here,” Rodriguez, who doesn’t want his photo taken, tells me.

He says he has seven children, and that he’s outlived two of his ex-wives. It doesn’t appear that he is in regular touch with any family now.

The company he finds in San Francisco “fills a void for me,” he says, noting that he’s less depressed here.

“The police will wake you up,” Rodriguez says, but adds that it’s usually OK to just go across the street when that happens.

8. Poop and Needles

So am I still a poop skeptic?

After walking all over the city, I’ve seen only one instance of poop (in the Tenderloin neighborhood) and one possible needle (I wasn’t anxious to get close enough to verify)—despite the fact that I kept diligently studying the sidewalk to see if I would spot either feces or needles.

My anonymous Lyft driver, however, says that he regularly sees people shooting up heroin, and notes you can spot the dealers by noticing who has backpacks.

“In San Francisco’s Tenderloin neighborhood, ‘Tucker Carlson Tonight’ producers filmed drug dealers operating in broad daylight. In the South of Market (SoMa) neighborhood, where many apartments rent for nearly $4,000 a month, the sidewalks were lined with used syringes,” writes Fox News’ Charles Couger.

And in the course of my research, I encounter Twitter accounts that portray a dirtier reality than what I happened to observe:

At the end of the day, the increased power-washing and presence of public restrooms show the city has a real problem with these issues. But if you’re thinking about a trip to San Francisco, I wouldn’t skip it on account of these matters—just make sure you know where the bad neighborhoods are, and be sure to avoid them if you’re concerned.

9.  Misery

In the weeks since I visited San Francisco and started writing this article, I’ve caught myself often thinking about the homeless people I saw—from the man who was barefoot on the street in the Mission District, to those I saw on the sidewalks from my passing car, to the man rushing to pack up his belongings as a worker sprayed the sidewalk near him.

I don’t pretend to know the exact policy solution that will “solve” homelessness—although I hope to do further reporting and interviews this year at The Daily Signal to talk to experts who have insightful ideas on ways to help.

But any visitor to San Francisco can tell the current situation isn’t working—for tourists, for residents, and perhaps most importantly, for the homeless themselves.

No doubt, mental health and addiction, perhaps both in many or most cases, make helping the homeless while respecting individual rights uniquely challenging.

But as clichéd as the term is, it’s genuinely heartbreaking to walk through blocks of people, spending their lives on the streets, often seemingly in a drugged haze—and sometimes passed out entirely.

I can’t imagine tents provide much shelter against the chilly, Bay-driven winds of San Francisco, or that anyone who feels driven to defecate on the street is truly in his right mind.

Seeing this at Christmastime—when most of the country was on the cusp of days of joyful celebrations, ample family time, presents galore, and gourmet meals—was especially upsetting.

The status quo in San Francisco has a real human cost.

The left long has prided itself on having more compassion for, and solutions for, the poorest Americans than the right does.

But if one thing is clear when walking around San Francisco, it’s that this liberal bastion has absolutely failed some Americans who are struggling the hardest right now.

All photos in this article were taken by the author. In a few photos, faces have been blurred to respect privacy.

COLUMN BY

Katrina Trinko

Katrina Trinko is editor-in-chief of The Daily Signal and co-host of The Daily Signal PodcastSend an email to Katrina. Twitter: @KatrinaTrinko.

RELATED ARTICLES:

Podcast: What It’s Like on the Streets of San Francisco

Jobs, Family, Future: Gov. Kristi Noem Shares What’s on the Mind of America’s Heartland

California Governor’s Proposed Budget Shows Just How Clueless He Is


A Note for our Readers:

This is a critical year in the history of our country. With the country polarized and divided on a number of issues and with roughly half of the country clamoring for increased government control—over health care, socialism, increased regulations, and open borders—we must turn to America’s founding for the answers on how best to proceed into the future.

The Heritage Foundation has compiled input from more than 100 constitutional scholars and legal experts into the country’s most thorough and compelling review of the freedoms promised to us within the United States Constitution into a free digital guide called Heritage’s Guide to the Constitution.

They’re making this guide available to all readers of The Daily Signal for free today!

GET ACCESS NOW! >>


EDITORS NOTE: This Daily Signal column is republished with permission. © All rights reserved.

I Lost My Child Due to a Driver High on Marijuana. Now, This Bill Would Reward Big Pot.

Seven years ago, I got a call every parent fears: I lost my daughter to a driver who was high on “legal” marijuana. With this new pot vaping crisis, I’m worried more parents will lose their children if we don’t stop the growth of the marijuana industry.

Across the nation, a growing number of vaping-related illnesses and deaths have left government officials scrambling to fix a problem they should have seen coming.

After years of dubious claims by both the vaping and pot industries, we are now feeling acute consequences. America is beginning to wake up to some of these concerns. That is, everyone except the banking industry, which senses a massive investment opportunity: legalized pot.

While parents like me are losing their loved ones, the marijuana industry and its promoters are pushing a bill granting increased investment into the industry, dispensaries in Oregon and Colorado are furiously pulling contaminated vapes from their shelves, and pot growers are shipping their over-production of high-potency marijuana to and through non-legalized states.


In these trying times, we must turn to the greatest document in the history of the world to promise freedom and opportunity to its citizens for guidance. Find out more now >>


The banking industry is now ramping up lobbying on Sen. Mike Crapo, R-Idaho. Indeed, Crapo recently announced his committee, the Senate Banking Committee, will take up legislation supported by the pot industry, disingenuously named the “SAFE Banking Act.”

The legislation, which would create an exception to U.S. banking law to allow lenders to make loans to marijuana firms even though it remains against federal law, is part of an aggressive effort to commercialize today’s new super-potent pot.

This would give pot shops and their corporate parent companies access to more investment capital even though marijuana has been proven to be addictive and harmful by medical science and is being used increasingly by young people in the form of flavored pot vapes. Today’s marijuana isn’t your Woodstock weed.

As a mom, it is difficult to understand why lawmakers have decided that now, with an epidemic in drug use going on, is a good time to push for legislation that amounts to backdoor legalization and a reward for this industry.

The vaping crisis is broader than flavored tobacco products. Marijuana vape oils account for more than 80% of the cases of the mysterious lung illnesses.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently warned against vaping any tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) oils. Even the American Vaping Association’s national spokesperson warned the public, “If you don’t want to die or end up in a hospital, stop vaping illegal THC oils immediately.”

Some are quick to blame the black market, but at least three deaths and numerous cases of illness are linked to “legal” pot products.

Crapo is considering advancing legislation that will ensure the explosion of the commercial pot market without addressing the long-lasting consequences that have been the hallmark of Big Tobacco and Big Pharma.

The SAFE Banking Act fails to acknowledge the industry’s practice of working around state regulations to continue marketing flavored, potentially deadly pot vaping oils, and pot candies that appeal to children. We should not reward them with this legislation.

If Crapo and others in the Senate empower Big Marijuana, they could be setting up Americans for a lifetime of negative consequences.

Let’s prevent drug use—not promote it.

COMMENTARY BY

Corinne Gasper lost her daughter to a marijuana-impaired driver and is now an advocate with Smart Approaches to Marijuana, which opposes the legalization of recreational marijuana.

FOR MARIJUANA RELATED ARTICLES CLICK HERE


A Note for our Readers:

This is a critical year in the history of our country. With the country polarized and divided on a number of issues and with roughly half of the country clamoring for increased government control—over health care, socialism, increased regulations, and open borders—we must turn to America’s founding for the answers on how best to proceed into the future.

The Heritage Foundation has compiled input from more than 100 constitutional scholars and legal experts into the country’s most thorough and compelling review of the freedoms promised to us within the United States Constitution into a free digital guide called Heritage’s Guide to the Constitution.

They’re making this guide available to all readers of The Daily Signal for free today!

GET ACCESS NOW! >>


EDITORS NOTE: This Daily Signal column is republished with permission. © All rights reserved.

The troubling terminations you’ve never heard of. Not all abortions end an unwanted pregnancy, and that makes a difference to the women

Does the termination of an unwanted pregnancy harm women’s mental health? No more than giving birth in such circumstances, according to mainstream social scientists and medical associations. Perhaps. But what about women who terminate a wanted pregnancy?

A new study by sociologist Donald Paul Sullins focuses on this neglected minority – about 1 in 7 of reported abortions in the United States – and finds there is no room for complacency about the effects of abortion among them. In the following interview he talks to MercatorNet about this study, the first of its kind, published in November in the Swiss medical journal Medicina.


Golden Globes award winner Michelle Williams more or less shouted her abortion as a good career move that she does not regret. She has a daughter of 14 and is happily pregnant again at age 39. Isn’t Williams living proof of the therapeutic value of abortion?

Ms. Williams’ declaration is very consistent with the results of my study.  The child she aborted clearly was not a wanted pregnancy, and the study found that women who only aborted one or more unwanted pregnancies experienced much lower affective distress (depression, anxiety, suicidality). This is why ignoring wanted pregnancy abortions, acting as if only unwanted pregnancies were ever aborted, tends to understate how much hurt is out there for women after abortion.

There is no question that the chances for advancement in a highly demanding, competitive career often improve by removing inconvenient persons and commitments, whether through divorce, not crediting someone else’s work, character assassination, or– in Michelle Williams’ case — killing an inconveniently conceived child before birth.  Civilized people generally do not boast about exercising such brutal career realpolitik, but Ms. Williams probably (let us hope for her sake) does not comprehend the humanity of the unborn life she took.

She has no way of knowing what the acceptance and love of that terminated life, a close reflection of her own being, may have contributed to her own growth in dignity and humanity.  For all she knows, her career may have been improved, or maybe her career would have suffered but her life and happiness improved. We have no way of knowing what pain and struggle may lie (lay?) behind her defiant public mask.  Why did she feel the need, after announcing her abortion, to reassure her living child of her love for her?  Did she sense that her daughter (and we) may wonder?

In the #MeToo era, it is also appropriate to ask who was the father of the child she felt she needed to abort. Would presenting this man with a child after having sexual relations with him have impeded her career?  Male sexual exploitation does not end just with hurt feelings or degradation for the woman. Perhaps this was not the case for Ms. Williams, but for every actress who found a pregnancy inconvenient to her career there are probably several men in the film industry who have urged or insisted that she obtain an abortion.

The career obstacle for both men and women of having a child at the wrong time is a mirror image of the career and personal obstructions met by women who refuse to have sex with the right men.  Whatever her personal circumstances, Ms. Williams’ statement reflects the typical Hollywood product, in which women’s sexuality exists primarily to service male desire, and women consequently have little agency. As one Hollywood actress (don’t remember who) said of her new boyfriend, voicing a common feeling of young women today, ” I have to give him what he wants, or he will get it somewhere else.”

Even if some women experience mental health problems after an abortion, research seems to show that these are no greater on the whole than those of women who give birth, and that they soon pass away. Have researchers been missing something?

Yes.  Both the idea that mental health problems are not increased by abortion and that they are not reduced by childbearing are myths perpetrated by poor research, in this case studies that follow women for only a very short time, some only a few days and often only a few months. So far, every study that has followed women 10 years or longer post-abortion have reported significant mental health problems, compared to women who give birth.

It is important to note that most of this difference is not due to psychological deficits from an abortion but to psychological benefits from having a child.  In the Add Health data I studied, childbirth reduced mental health risk by 29% following wanted pregnancies and by 12% even with unwanted pregnancies.

The reasons for this defect in the research, I believe, is that most abortion researchers tend to think of an abortion as a detached clinical event, and do not take into account the way that having an abortion, including making the choice and defending it, alters the life course, relationships and outlook of the woman involved.  As I put it in the paper:

“The experience of deciding upon, experiencing, and recovering from the termination of a pregnancy brings many life factors to bear for women, all of which may influence subsequent mental health. For these reasons, it may be more accurate to conceive of an abortion, not as a discrete cause of mental health outcomes (a clinical event), but as one factor in a complex of influences (a life event) that together affect a woman’s level of psychological well-being or distress.”

It seems amazing that yours is the “first study ever” of wanted pregnancy abortions. Surely there is plenty of evidence of them, especially with the increase in terminations for fetal abnormality, and all we hear about #MeToo and domestic violence?

The most influential researchers have simply assumed that only unwanted pregnancies are aborted. Many studies simply define aborted pregnancies as unwanted, even when not preceded by contraception. In 2008 the American Psychological Association (APA) dismissed all wanted pregnancy abortions as due only to fetal abnormality, but (as I show in the study) such abnormalities, even if we could detect them perfectly (we detect only about 60%) and even if all of them were aborted (many are not), could account for only a small proportion of reported wanted pregnancy abortions.  When not forced to check a box on a survey, very few women spontaneously describe their aborted child as “unwanted”. There is almost always a level of ambivalence, regret and resignation, that is expressed in complex feelings about the abortion.

It is difficult for OB/GYNs in other countries to understand the sales-like pressure to have an abortion faced by women in American abortion clinics. The movie “Unplanned” does a good job of illustrating this. The abortion rate in the United States has been much higher than in countries where abortions are performed in public hospitals with no profit incentive. A recent study of Utah clinics found that just a three-day waiting period resulted in 8% of women reversing their initial decision to have an abortion.

There have been one or two studies of fetal abnormality abortions, and studies that have looked at all abortions regardless of pregnancy intention have thereby included wanted pregnancy abortions mixed in with all the others, but mine is the first study of all wanted pregnancy abortions as a distinct category.

In your study, what data and measures did you use and what did they reveal about wanted pregnancy abortions? How serious were the effects compared to giving birth or unwanted pregnancy abortions?

The study examined the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health (Add Health), which followed a representative cohort of 3,935 ever-pregnant U.S. women from age 15 to age 28, gathering data from three successive interviews. I looked at seven psychological disorders which Add Health measured using criteria from the APA’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM): depression, suicide ideation, anxiety, and abuse of or addiction to hard drugs, alcohol, opioids or marijuana.  Mental health was compared both before and after pregnancy, abortion and birth, and was adjusted for 20 covariates that, my previous research had suggested, account for higher mental health problems, apart from an abortion.  These were 1 = childhood physical abuse, 2 = childhood sexual abuse, 3 = childhood verbal abuse, 4 = depression, 5 = anxiety, 6 = suicidal ideation, 7 = alcohol abuse, 8 = drug abuse, 9 = nicotine dependence, 10 = cannabis abuse, 11 = conduct problems in school, 12 = neuroticism, 13 = neighborhood integration, 14 = grade point average (gpa), 15 = ever raped, 16 = relationship satisfaction, 17 = educational attainment, 18 = respondent poverty income, 19 = marital status, and 20 = intimate partner violence.

I found that by age 28, U.S. women who had ever had an abortion of a wanted pregnancy were 84% more likely to experience higher numbers of the seven psychological disorders than were women who had carried all wanted pregnancies to term.  Women who had ever aborted any pregnancy were 74% more likely to experience higher psychological disorders compared to those who had given birth.

Experiencing wanted pregnancy abortion led to higher affective distress (depression, anxiety and suicidality) than abortions of unwanted pregnancies, relative to the corresponding births.  Risk of these psychological difficulties was only 18% higher following abortion of only unwanted pregnancies, but 69% higher following abortion of one or more wanted pregnancies.

What is the significance of your finding about substance abuse?

I was surprised to find that whether an aborted pregnancy had been wanted or unwanted had no effect on post-abortion rates of substance abuse.  Overall, risk of substance abuse (of alcohol, opioids, marijuana, or illegal drugs) was twice as high (elevated 100%) for women following any abortion, but was unaffected by pregnancy intention.  Only a few studies have examined the association of abortion and substance abuse; more study is needed to understand what is going on in this area.

My hunch is that pregnancies that may be subject to abortion and substance abuse reflect risk-taking, self-destructive behavior, and their co-occurrence reflects a system of mutually reinforcing moral hazard.  I hope to explore this idea in a future study.

What is it about the design of your study that gives you confidence in its findings?

By comparison to cross-sectional studies that only take a snapshot of women at a single point in time, my study is more like a series of pictures that can show changes over time. The exact same women were interviewed at three points in time to determine the effect of their prior pregnancy history on their current mental health. Only a handful of abortion studies have used such rigorous longitudinal designs.

In addition, the Add Health data, funded by a consortium of U.S. federal agencies, are widely acknowledged to be among the most comprehensive and accurate in the world. Response rates and follow-up rates are high (over 80%) and the measures are well-designed and independently validated.

Having said that, it is important to acknowledge that no empirical study can offer definitive proof, and this one is subject to several limitations. Most importantly, every study of abortion using population data is limited by the fact that many abortions are not reported, so we can only talk about the abortions we know of. Since a woman who is more troubled by her abortion is less likely to report it, I think my study probably understates the true level of post-abortion distress for U.S. women. Other limitations are discussed in the study.

No doubt the fact that you are a Catholic priest working in a Catholic university will provoke some prejudice against your research, so it is interesting that studies by secular researchers  in Scandinavia and by David Fergusson in New Zealand support your findings. What do their studies show?

Pedersen (studying women in Sweden) and Fergusson found similar problems for women following abortions because they used a similar longitudinal design that followed women for a decade or more after their abortion. Fergusson found that ever-aborting women had 1.4 times higher overall risk (not relative to births) of mental health problems; my study found 1.2 times higher risk.

The similarity has nothing to do with their personal religious or moral convictions about abortion as public policy.  Several recent studies from Finland, by scholars who reflect that culture’s uncontroversial acceptance of abortion as reproductive health care, have found similar persistent problems for post-abortion women, such as a doubled risk of suicide, 25% higher overall mortality, and higher emotional distress among women who wanted to give birth.  This doesn’t reflect an anti-abortion bias, but just the fact that Finland has excellent health registry population data and is able to follow women’s health for a long time to see the outcomes.

Accusing me of anti-abortion bias because I am Catholic reflects a shallow ignorance of the Catholic enterprise.  Many scientists today do not even believe in objective truth, and so cannot imagine someone who does not approach scientific topics with anything more than a narrow ideology to propagate.  It is very true that my faith strongly affects my research, but not in the manner critics think.  The principles of the Catholic faith, out of which modern science developed, call for faithful scientists to be rigorously objective in their research.  Only by looking as hard as I can to find empirical evidence that contradicts the claims of my faith can I then have confidence that any resulting findings which may be consistent with faith-claims have any validity. This process — the logic of the null hypothesis — is not external to the scientific method, but is central to what every scientist should be doing.

There is a great deal of bias in abortion research, but it’s not from the religiously oriented scholars for the most part. The main difference between myself and most scholars who research U.S. abortions is that I am not employed or funded by an abortion provider.  Over 90% of U.S. abortion studies have as one or more co-authors a researcher who works for an abortion provider or a research center funded by an abortion provider. Their assertively benign findings about the experience and effects of abortion are highly self-serving and rarely withstand careful scrutiny.

What, so far, has been the response to your latest study from other researchers?

It is too soon to tell much.  Friendly researchers I know (most, but not all, opposed to abortion) have written words of appreciation and praise, and invited a couple of lectures to explain the findings further.  Pro-life attorneys have been ecstatic. With the study I published a “crosswalk” that addresses some critical responses to a similar earlier study from pro-abortion researchers. I will be interested to see what their eventual responses will be to the measures I took in this study to address those concerns.

COLUMN BY

Rev. Donald Paul Sullins, MDiv., PhD, is a Research Associate Professor of Sociology at The Catholic University of America and Senior Research Associate at The Ruth Institute. He is also Director of the Leo Institute for Catholic Social Research.

Reference: Sullins DP. Affective and Substance Abuse Disorders Following Abortion by Pregnancy Intention in the United States: A Longitudinal Cohort Study. Medicina. 2019 Nov;55(11):741. Available at: https://www.mdpi.com/1010-660X/55/11/741  The article can be freely accessed and reproduced.

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EDITORS NOTE: This MercatorNet column is republished with permission. © All rights reserved.

And Then There Were None

In 2008, Abby Johnson, the manager of the Bryan, Texas (100 miles from Houston) Planned Parenthood, became that organization’s Employee of the Year.

By 2009, she quit for conscience’ sake. Why?

That year, for the first time, she saw an ultrasound of an abortion of a 13-week old unborn child in her own clinic. This was not a blob of tissue, a clump of cells, a non-living being. This was a baby that was fighting for his life.

Although Abby Johnson was a good salesman of abortions and thought that she was helping women through her work, seeing that baby fighting for his life caused the scales to fall from her eyes.

Abby says that after she saw that ultrasound,

“I knew that I had been part of a lie. I had been a part of a corrupt system, a corrupt organization, that really preyed upon women in their vulnerable states, and I knew that I needed to leave.”

She has now written a book (with Cindy Lambert) called Unplanned, and PureFlix (“God’s Not Dead”) has now turned that book into an excellent movie.

Abby Johnson has also started an outreach, And Then There Were None (ATTWN), to help abortion workers leave the field. I have interviewed Abby before and have previously written about her story. But here is an update about ATTWN, since I interviewed for Christian television two of her assistants at ATTWN recently.

One of them is Meagan Weber, who told me,

“[Abby] wrote her book hoping that a worker would pick it up as a skeptic and see the truth, and see themselves through her words, and within three months of her book’s release in 2011, she had 17 abortion workers contact her for help.”

In effect, Abby and those 17 workers became the beginning of her work to help transition abortion clinic workers out of the field. Her reasoning is simple. She says in her ATTWN website, abortionworker.com,

“We always say that nobody grows up wanting to work in the abortion industry. Nobody. Our vision statement for ‘And then there were none’ is ‘No abortion clinic workers, no abortion clinics, no abortions’—it starts with the workers. We see ourselves as being part of a pro-love movement. That we want to love these workers out of the clinics. We want to love them to a path of healing, and we want to love them back into a relationship with Jesus Christ.”

As an abortion worker, Abby Johnson had thought that what she was doing at Planned Parenthood was helping women. But she learned the hard way that the real bottom line of Planned Parenthood was its bottom line.

Weber, who serves as Abby Johnson’s Assistant, told me, “They asked her to increase the number of abortions at her facility by half, and so she said, ‘Don’t we tell the media that we want to reduce the number of abortions to make them safe, legal, and rare?’ And her supervisor laughed and said, ‘Well, Abbey, how do you think we make our money?’ And she really was blindsided by that.”

Weber also says, “Leaving your job in the abortion industry is not like leaving your job in a fast food outlet. It has the same high turnover rate, but you don’t just leave your job, you leave your friends, you leave your ideology…you go from one day championing women’s rights and abortion rights to the next day having to humble yourself and say, ‘I was wrong. I was part of a very evil system,’ and they have to come to terms with that. So there is a lot of emotional trauma, and there is abandonment.”

I also have spoken with Laura Ricketts of ATTWN for Christian television. She observed, “As we walk through the process of healing them, as we meet their practical needs with financial assistance, with resume writing, with jobs search help, as we help them pay their bills, get back on their feet, once their practical needs are met, they are ready to meet their emotion and spiritual needs.”

So far the organization has been able to help hundreds of clinic workers get out of the abortion field. Meagan states, “And so here we are seven years later, and we’ve helped 550 workers and 7 full-time doctors.”

The movie alone helped cause about a hundred abortion clinic workers to respond…to consider coming out. Ricketts told me, “I think one of the most exciting things about the movie is the impact it had across the country and now across the world. We saw hearts changed, abortion clinic workers leaving their jobs.”

Abby Johnson says, “My story is really an exposé. It’s pulling back the curtain into an industry that has been normalized. Abortion has been so incredibly normalized in our society, and it’s anything but normal.”

© All rights reserved.

The 2010s: A Decade of Marital and Sexual Erosion

Originally published by USA Today.

A decade ago, President Barack Obama affirmed that marriage unites a man and woman. So did 45 states and the federal government.

The only states to redefine marriage had done so through activist court rulings or, in 2009, legislative action. At the ballot box, citizens had uniformly voted against redefinition. A majority agreed with Obama.

Then, in 2012, Obama “evolved,” and the Supreme Court took cases involving marriage law.


The demand for socialism is on the rise from young Americans today. But is socialism even morally sound? Find out more now >>


Nothing in the Constitution answered the actual question at hand: What is marriage? The court should have left the issue to the people. But in 2013, it struck down the federal definition of marriage as a male-female union in a 5-4 ruling.

The court also punted on a challenge to a state definition of marriage adopted in a 2008 constitutional referendum by which a majority of Californians—yes, Californians—overturned an activist court.

Only in 2015 did the Supreme Court, breaking 5-4 again, redefine marriage for the nation, provoking four irrefutable dissents.

Same-sex marriage advocates told the public that they sought only the “freedom to marry.” Same-sex couples were already free to live as they chose, but legal recognition was about the definition of marriage for all of society. It was about affirmation—by the government and everyone else.

It was never really about “live and let live”—that was a merely tactical stance.

It’s unsurprising that once a campaign that used to cry “live and let live” prevailed, it began working to shut down Catholic adoption agencies and harass evangelical bakers and florists.

This shows it was never really about “live and let live”—that was a merely tactical stance.

Family, Marriage—Redefined

While these were the early effects of redefinition, the more profound consequences will be to marriage itself. Law shapes culture; culture shapes beliefs; beliefs shape action.

The law now effectively teaches that mothers and fathers are replaceable, that marriage is simply about consenting adult relationships, of whatever formation the parties happen to prefer. This undermines the truth that children deserve a mother and a father—one of each.

It also undercuts any reasonable justification for marital norms. After all, if marriage is about romantic connection, why require monogamy?

There’s nothing magical about the number two, as defenders of “polyamory” point out. If marriage isn’t a conjugal union uniting a man and a woman as one flesh, why should it involve or imply sexual exclusivity? If it isn’t a comprehensive union inherently ordered to childbearing and rearing, why should it be pledged to permanence?

The law now effectively teaches that mothers and fathers are replaceable, that marriage is simply about consenting adult relationships, of whatever formation the parties happen to prefer.

Marriage redefiners could not answer these questions when challenged to show that the elimination of sexual complementarity did not undermine other marital norms. Today, they increasingly admit that they have no stake in upholding norms of monogamy, exclusivity, and permanence.

Same-sex marriage didn’t create these problems. Many in America had unwisely already gone along with the erosion of marital norms in the wake of the sexual revolution—with the rise of cohabitation, nonmarital childbearing, no-fault divorce, and the hookup culture.

It was no surprise that many would then question the relevance of the male-female norm. Legal redefinition is a consequence of the cultural breakdown of marriage.

Monogamy Is Old News

But same-sex marriage is a catalyst for further erosion. Already, we see respectable opinion-makers mainstreaming “throuples,” “ethical nonmonogamy” and “open relationships.” This was predictable; we and others predicted it.

Something we didn’t predict are the headlines about transgender and nonbinary “identities.” A decade ago, few Americans had given much thought to the “T” in “LGBT.” Today, transgender identity seems to dominate the discussion of sexuality and sexual morality.

There’s a logic here. If we can’t see the point of our sexual embodiment where it matters most—in marriage—we’ll question whether it matters at all. Hence the push to see gender as “fluid” and existing along a “spectrum” of nonbinary options.

There’s a deeper logic, too. Implicit in the push for same-sex marriage was body-self dualism—the idea that we’re actually nonphysical entities inhabiting physical bodies, or ghosts in machines. That’s why the “plumbing” in sexual acts seemed not to matter.

True one-flesh union, the foundation of conjugal marriage, was thought illusory. What mattered was emotional union and partners’ use of their bodies to induce desirable sensations and feelings.

Of course, two men or two women (or throuples or even larger sexual ensembles) could do that. But the logic didn’t stay with marriage. If the body is mere plumbing, then sex matters less than identity.

This has had tragic consequences, especially for children.

Children Burdened by Our Mistakes

Nearly unthinkable a decade ago, certain medical professionals tell children experiencing gender dysphoria that they are trapped in the wrong body, even that their bodies are merely like Pop-Tarts foil packets, as one expert explained.

Nearly unthinkable a decade ago, certain medical professionals tell children experiencing gender dysphoria that they are trapped in the wrong body.

Some doctors now prescribe puberty-blocking drugs to otherwise healthy children struggling to accept their bodies. They prescribe cross-sex hormones for young teens to transform their bodies to align with their gender identities.

As part of a government grant-supported study, doctors even performed double mastectomies on adolescent girls—including two 13-year-olds.

These changes weren’t grassroots movements. They’ve come from people wielding political, economic, and cultural power to advance sexual-liberationist ideology.

The change has been top-down—from Hollywood’s portrayal of LGBT characters to business executives boycotting states over religious freedom laws. Having lost at the ballot box over and over—even in California—activists found new avenues: ideologically friendly courts, federal agencies, big corporations.

Having secured a judicial redefinition of marriage, they pivoted to the “T,” with the Obama administration redefining “sex” to mean “gender identity” and imposing a new policy on all schools.

The change has been top down—from Hollywood’s portrayal of LGBT characters to business executives boycotting states over religious-freedom laws.

And having won government support, activists turned to eliminating private dissent. Former presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke wants to yank the tax-exemption of noncompliant churches. Megadonor Tim Gill vows to spend his fortunes to “punish the wicked.”

Who are “the wicked”? Those who refuse to accept the new sexual orthodoxy.

All of us, including those identifying as LGBT, are made in God’s image, are endowed with profound dignity and thus deserve respect. It’s because of this dignity and out of such respect that the institutions serving the human good—like the marriage-based family—should be supported, not undermined or redefined. That basic rights like religious freedom ought to be upheld, not infringed. That a healthy moral and physical ecology—especially for children—must be preserved.

The “progress” of the past decade has exacted steep costs.

COMMENTARY BY

Ryan T. Anderson, Ph.D., is the William E. Simon Senior Research Fellow in American Principles and Public Policy at The Heritage Foundation, where he researches and writes about marriage, bioethics, religious liberty and political philosophy. Anderson is the author of several books and his research has been cited by two U.S. Supreme Court justices in two separate cases. Read his Heritage research. Twitter: .

Robert George is the McCormick professor of jurisprudence at Princeton University, where he directs the James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions. He also serves on The Heritage Foundation’s Board of Trustees. Twitter: .

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A Note for our Readers:

With the demand for socialism at an all-time high among our young people—our future leaders and decisionmakers—the experts at Heritage stopped and asked a question that not many have asked:

Is socialism really morally sound?

The researchers at The Heritage Foundation have put together a guide to help you and our fellow Americans better understand the 9 Ways That Socialism Will Morally Bankrupt America.

They’re making this guide available to all readers of The Daily Signal for free today!

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EDITORS NOTE: This Daily Signal column is republished with permission. © All rights reserved.

How Porn Changes Your Brain

(Warning: Extremely graphic content)

Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry isn’t a prude. In fact, he used to roll his eyes at his Christian friends, who he thought were exaggerating the dangers of pornography. Not anymore.

This Frenchman, who believes eroticism “is one of God’s greatest gifts to humankind,” no longer scoffs the feminists’ warnings or puritan concerns. “I have become deadly serious,” he says now. “The damage is real, and it’s profound.” And no one can walk away from his article thinking otherwise.

Debate the morality all you want, Gobry insists, but the science is absolute. People who say porn is as addictive as smoking aren’t even doing it justice. These images are as addictive as smoking, yes, “except that what smoking does to your lungs, porn does to your brain.” And the earlier you consume it, the more lethal the damage can be. We’re talking about a complete rewiring of the brain—where the body actually builds new nerve pathways just to drive a person back for more.

But pornography isn’t like cocaine. It’s much easier to binge. “Even decadent Roman emperors, Turkish sultans, and 1970s rock stars never had 24/7, one-click-away-access to infinitely many, infinitely novel sexual partners,” Gobry points out.

“The possibility of immediate, infinite novelty—which, again, was not a feature of porn until 2006—means that a user can now keep his dopamine levels much higher, and for much longer periods of time, than we can possibly hope our brains to handle without real and lasting damage.”

Suddenly, it gets tougher to feel the “high.” “You need more and more of your drug to get less and less of a kick; this is the cycle which makes addiction so destructive.

Fine—so people are addicted, you might say. “But does that mean we need to freak out? After all, smoking and heroin will kill you, serious cannabis addiction will melt your brain, alcohol addiction will wreak havoc in your life—compared to that, how bad can porn addiction be? The answer, it turns out, is: pretty bad.”

Porn trains your mind to need porn to be aroused—not another human being. The Family Research Council’s Travis Weber and I talked about this on “Washington Watch” last week.

There are literally thousands of stories of young men now who are coming of age after watching hundreds of hours of pornography. And their stories all share the same gut-wrenching theme: they’re so hooked on porn that by the time they have girlfriends, they can’t function sexually without it.

“Which is why,” Gobry warns, “we are witnessing a phenomenon which, as best as anyone can tell, is totally unprecedented in all of human history: an epidemic of chronic erectile dysfunction (ED) among men under 40. The evidence is earth-shattering.” We’ve gone from less than 1% of ED in young men to as much as 37% today.

Pornography isn’t just killing sex—it’s killing love. “A majority of women in one study described the discovery that their man uses porn as ‘traumatic;’ they not only felt less desirable, they reported feelings of lower self-worth.”

And in a world where 88% of pornography is violent, more young women are being asked to do things that abuse and brutalize them.

To kick up the high, addicts need something more taboo. They’re watching women “being caned and whipped until they are bruised and red … When the films have a storyline, it can usually be summed up with one word: rape. Or two words: brutal rape. It’s one thing to be aroused by a sadomasochistic scene where the [woman] is shown visibly enjoying the treatment; it’s quite another to be aroused by watching a woman scream in agony and despair as she is held down and violently raped.”

Now, imagine children watching this—because they are. Either by accident or intentionally, kids are being exposed to these things believing that “the acts they see—like anal and group sex—are typical among their peers.”

Destiny Herndon-De La Rosa, a mom in the Dallas area, wrote a horrifying column called “When Sixth Graders Can Access Rape Porn on Their Smart Phones, School Becomes Toxic.” In a letter to the principal, she talked about the boys in her daughter’s class laughing at violent porn and joking about attacking the girls in the parking lot. “No 11-year-old should have to deal with, or even know, about things like this.”

As a parent, I can’t encourage you strongly enough to take this issue seriously. Yes, it’s an uncomfortable topic. But it’s a lot less uncomfortable than dealing with the sexual abuse, addictions, disease, and broken relationships that follow. If you don’t know what to say, start here or here.

If you’re an adult trying to escape this online world, it isn’t easy. But it’s also not impossible. Josh McDowell has a tremendous message of freedom for anyone struggling with this addiction that you can watch here.

In fact, one of the reasons the Family Research Council started its Stand Courageous conferences is because we believe this is one of the biggest issues keeping men from being the spiritual head of their homes. Consider signing up for one our 2020 events in Louisiana, North Carolina, and Florida. Above all, pray. Pray for protection—for your children, your marriages, our culture.

Gobry’s warnings are dire, but they may be exactly what parents and pastors need to hear.

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EDITORS NOTE: This FRC column is republished with permission. All rights reserved.

Sign The Petition – Hallmark Shouldn’t Show LGBT ‘Marriages’ To Kids

Another week, another corporation lost to the “woke” leftist crowd. This time it’s Hallmark’s (2.1) television station, which managed to alienate everyone in the culture wars by accepting a “wedding” ad featuring a lesbian couple…then rejecting the ad…then apologizing for rejecting the ad.

And all this just after the company bowed to activist pressure to feature LGBT propaganda in its movies.

Should we even be surprised at this point? Hallmark officially caved on marriage and religious liberty long ago– it just didn’t make it to the screen until 2019. Chick-fil-A, long considered a corporate bastion for social conservatives, bailed in spectacular fashion. And other corporations can’t get enough of bowing and scraping to the far-left crowd.

Conservatives love to blame leftists for how corporations cave to the new American values of “anything goes unless we say otherwise.” However, the real problem is who we see in the mirror – the people who have allowed the Left to dictate the culture war market.

It’s time for 2ndVote Americans – those who love God, traditional values, and our fellow men and women – to unashamedly show our values. We can start by signing the One Million Moms petition which urges Hallmark to return to being a family-friendly company.

Winning won’t be easy. Traditional Christian and American values are being overrun. 2ndVote Americans have two choices: be the coward Peter who abandoned Christ or be the Peter who bravely led the apostles to victory on Earth and in Heaven. Otherwise, we will find ourselves standing alone one day, wondering how a nation which once proclaimed God on its money now actively persecutes Him and His values.

Yes, it will be hard. Yes, we may lose friends and money. But the biblical martyrs and those who flee persecution in the Middle East have given up far more to gain the Glory of Heaven. We must do the same, for our souls and for the souls of those who without us will be lost here and on Earth.


SIGN THE ONE MILLION MOMS PETITION TO HALLMARK


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EDITORS NOTE: This 2nd Vote column is republished with permission. © All rights reserved.

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EDITORS NOTE: This 2nd Vote column is republished with permission. All rights reserved.

Marijuana vaping nearly triples among 12th graders in 2 years

Marijuana vaping nearly triples in two years among 12th graders

Past-month marijuana vaping among high school seniors nearly tripled (from 5 percent to 14 percent) between 2017 and 2019, the new Monitoring the Future reveals. It nearly doubled in just one year (from 7.5 percent to 14 percent), the largest one-year jump of any drug in the history of the survey.

Seniors’ past-year marijuana vaping more than doubled in two years (from 9.5 percent in 2017 to 20.8 percent in 2019), and their lifetime marijuana vaping nearly doubled (from 11.9 percent to 23.7 percent).

This year – for the first time – the survey monitored near daily marijuana vaping (more than 20 days a month). Some 3.5 percent of 12th graders vape marijuana that often.

Marijuana vaping doubled in two years among 10th and 8th grade students as well:

Among 10th grade students

  • Past-month use rose from 4.3 percent in 2017 to 12.6 percent in 2019
  • Past-year use: 8.1 percent to 19.4 percent
  • Lifetime use: 9.8 percent to 21.8 percent

Among 8th grade students

  • Past-month use rose from 1.6 percent in 2017 to 3.9 percent in 2019
  • Past-year use: 3 percent to 7 percent
  • Lifetime use ; 4 percent to 9 percent

Such dramatic increases in such a short amount of time are worrisome on two counts. Little is known about the impact on the body of vaping anything, including high THC levels or nicotine, into the lungs. The upsurge in severe lung injuries and deaths identified only last August makes the point (see next story). Also, because adolescence is a time of intense brain development, young people are particularly vulnerable to becoming addicted to any drug if they begin using while they are still teenagers.

Nicotine vaping among adolescents presents the same hazard and threatens to undo the significant gains in reducing cigarette smoking among youth. The 2019 survey finds that 35 percent of 12th graders vaped nicotine in the past year, as did 31 percent of 10th graders and 17 percent of 8th graders.

Read NIDA’s release of the 2019 Monitoring the Future here.
Read JAMA research letter here.


Vaping-related lung injury cases from all 50 states continue to be reported to CDC, although they may be slowing down. Thus far, 52 deaths in 26 states have been linked to these injuries. More deaths are being investigated.

All 2,409 patients report a history of vaping. THC is present in most samples FDA has tested, and most patients report a history of THC use.

While Vitamin E acetate is a chemical of interest, patients have used some 152 different THC brands, including Dank Vapes in the Northeast and South, TKO and Smart Carts in the West, and Rove in the Midwest.

There may be more than one cause of the illness.

Read the December 12 CDC Update here.


This week’s podcast: Mahmoud ElSohly – Is marijuana the same as Epidiolex?

Mahmoud A. ElSohly, PhD, is a pharmacologist known for his work on marijuana. He is professor of pharmaceutics in the school of pharmacy at the University of Mississippi where he directs the Marijuana Project which grows pharmaceutical-grade marijuana for research. He is an expert in the processing, testing, and detection of drugs of abuse.

Key Points

  • Epidiolex is a very well-defined pharmaceutical preparation of CBD
  • Difference between it and other CBD is like night and day.
  • Difference between Epidiolex and CBD on the Internet and in stores
  • What is the OTC process?
  • What is biphasic activity?
  • What is low bioavailability?
  • Is there an entourage effect?

Listen to Dr. ElSohly’s podcast here.

Up next week? Marilyn Huestis – How marijuana affects kids


Is marijuana linked to psychosis, schizophrenia? It’s contentious, but doctors, feds say yes

USA Today writes that doctors, federal officials, parents, and young adult marijuana users who have experienced psychosis while using the drug agree that marijuana does indeed cause psychosis, including schizophrenia.

Elinore McCance-Katz, MD, PhD, the US Department of Health and Human Services top mental health official and head of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, says hospitalizations for serious mental-health disorders among 18- to 25-year-olds more than doubled between 2012 and 2018. Colorado and Washington State were the first two states to legalize marijuana for recreational use in 2012.

She also cites a July study that shows a 77 percent increase in suicide deaths from 2010 to 2015 among Colorado 10- to 19-year-olds with marijuana in their systems.

“Among people who use marijuana, 10 percent to 20 percent will develop a marijuana use disorder and be at risk for these other kinds of mental and physical adverse events,” Dr. McCance-Katz adds.

Sally Schindel tells the story of her son, who was diagnosed with severe cannabis use disorder, bipolar disorder, and borderline personality disorder with auditory hallucinations, paranoia and anxiety. He committed suicide, leaving his mother a note explaining why: “I want to die. My soul is already dead. Marijuana killed my soul + ruined my brain.”

Read USA Today article here.

Visit The Marijuana Report’s Facebook page

In addition to current issues of The Marijuana Report, we post several more marijuana messages each month on our Facebook page. Search Facebook for nationalfamilies to access it.


Looking for a past issue of The Marijuana Report?

  Find it here.

Did you know

that in addition to The Marijuana Report e-newsletter, National Families in Action also publishes The Marijuana Report website? There you can find summaries of (and access to) scientific marijuana studies, the growth of the commercial marijuana industry, and what families and communities are doing to restrain it. Begin at our Welcome Page to access all the resources The Marijuana Report website offers.


The Marijuana Report is a weekly e-newsletter published by National Families in Action in partnership with SAM (Smart Approaches to Marijuana).

Visit National Families in Action’s website, The Marijuana Report.Org, to learn more about the marijuana story unfolding across the nation.

Subscribe to The Marijuana Report e-newsletter.

Medicare for All—No Care for You

Preview

  • Democrat presidential candidates are sparring over how much to expand Medicare. Should it be Medicare for all, for people over 50 and children, or for “all who want it”? Does “all” include veterans, Native Americans, and military dependents, who now have their own government program? Does it include everybody who happens to be in the country, legally or illegally? And do the benefits include just what today’s Medicare beneficiaries get, or everything the candidate can think of—dental, eyeglasses, hearing aids, mental health treatment, addiction treatment, “sex-change” surgery, etc.? Does it even include long-term care, which the Affordable Care Act had to discard because it was unaffordable?
  • Medicare for All means government-directed, corporate-managed care. The managed-care “insurance” cartel, giant hospital chains, and private-equity-owned medical practices will make sure that you get your flu shot (likely mandatory), your anti-tobacco lecture, your silver sneakers, your 15 profitable “preventative” drugs, cross-sex hormones, abortion on demand—and eventually your terminal sedation.
  • Beyond that, you’re on your own—if there are any private options left and if you still have any after-tax money.

Democrat presidential candidates are sparring over how much to expand Medicare. Should it be Medicare for all, for people over 50 and children, or for “all who want it”? Does “all” include veterans, Native Americans, and military dependents, who now have their own government program? Does it include everybody who happens to be in the country, legally or illegally? And do the benefits include just what today’s Medicare beneficiaries get, or everything the candidate can think of—dental, eyeglasses, hearing aids, mental health treatment, addiction treatment, “sex-change” surgery, etc.? Does it even include long-term care, which the Affordable Care Act had to discard because it was unaffordable?

Who wouldn’t want that?

In 1965, a lot of seniors did not want Medicare. They were happy with their private coverage, which nearly half of them had. They did not trust government. To assure the success of “his” program, President Lyndon Johnson took away their private coverage. Insurers could not, under contract law, cancel an individual’s policy, say because they got sick, but they could cancel everybody’s coverage—and they did. This was a precedent for the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which outlawed the coverage many people had unless it could meet stringent “grandfather” requirements.

“If you like your plan, you can keep your plan” was an acknowledged “four-Pinocchios” lie. Elizabeth Warren doesn’t worry about that because she thinks nobody likes insurance. Possibly true, but that doesn’t mean people would choose the government alternative.

With rare exceptions such as a continuation of policies from employers, seniors do not have and cannot get a private plan that duplicates Medicare coverage. They can only get “Medigap” policies to cover deductibles and things Medicare does not cover.

After a huge percentage of the population got “covered” by the government, did things get better? People did get more treatment. Great advances in medical technology occurred—likely unrelated to Medicare. But toxic, unrelenting cost-price inflation began abruptly after 1965 for the first time in 90 years, leading to massive government interventions to put a lid on them. Administrative demands burgeoned—there are now at least ten times as many administrators as doctors. And government eroded the value of people’s savings by inflating the dollar. If you had put $10 in a mattress in 1965, it would be worth only $1.24 today.

Did evil, greedy private insurers go away? No, they competed for government contracts to administer Medicare. As one whistleblower discovered, carriers can get away with $200 million in fraud without even triggering an investigation. Or they went into the Medigap business. AARP, which purports to represent seniors, has received more than $4 billion in “royalties” from UnitedHealth since the passage of ACA. According to a lawsuit Krukas v. AARP, AARP effectively acts as an unlicensed insurance agent that collects what amount to illegal kickbacks.

Medicare Advantage plans are widely touted for offering extra services such as gym memberships. But there’s a dirty little secret: once in, if you get sick your costs soar and it can be very expensive to get out. Also, about a third of such plans have a very narrow network of physicians.

But in traditional Medicare, you get worry-free treatment, right? Not exactly. Government controls are constantly tightening. The ironically named Protecting Access to Medicare Act of 2014 provides that clinicians must refer to “appropriate use criteria” (AUC) when ordering advanced imaging studies like CT scans or MRIs. We’re supposedly in a “testing period” during which payment won’t be denied. However, physicians are already receiving notices from their hospital that they now MUST use AUC when ordering out-patient studies.

If you are admitted to hospital, you will be greeted by a worker checking on advance directives that will enable the hospital to withhold treatment. If your care is expected to cost a lot, and the Prospective Payment System allowed charge won’t cover it, the hospital has every incentive to shunt you off to hospice. This also averts the possibility of a penalty for re-admitting a patient. Hospice is a one-way transfer.

Medicare for All means government-directed, corporate-managed care. The managed-care “insurance” cartel, giant hospital chains, and private-equity-owned medical practices will make sure that you get your flu shot (likely mandatory), your anti-tobacco lecture, your silver sneakers, your 15 profitable “preventative” drugs, cross-sex hormones, abortion on demand—and eventually your terminal sedation.

Beyond that, you’re on your own—if there are any private options left and if you still have any after-tax money.

Is that what Americans want?

© All rights reserved.

Abortion Pills: The Do-It-Yourself, Back-Alley Methods by Patrina Mosley

It’s been no coincidence that the latest mainstream media, women’s magazines, and even Teen Vogue have been advertising abortion pills as the new wonders of women’s healthcare that can be taken in the privacy of their homes.They even have the audacity to applaud purchasing illegal abortion pills online. A New York Times columnist, a man at that, found that ordering illegal abortion pills online was quite easy during his investigation. Nothing should be scarier than a man ordering abortion pills and then titling his investigation piece “Abortion Pills Should Be Everywhere.” There have been numerous documented incidents (herehere, and here) of women being unknowingly slipped abortion pills by partners who were unwilling to become fathers or by family members who were unsupportive of the pregnancy. The abortion industry markets the abortion pill as straightforward and safe. In reality, chemical abortions are a multi-day traumatic process that comes with over 4,000 documented life-threatening and health endangering risks.

The rate at which chemical abortion is being used is currently at an all-time high. The latest statistics on abortion from the Guttmacher Institute show that 39 percent of abortions in 2017 were chemical (reported as “medical” or “medication abortion”), a 25 percent increase since 2014. This rapid increase in chemical abortions is part of the abortion industry’s long-term strategy to make abortions “self-managed” and unrestricted — despite the profound dangers such poorly-supervised medical care poses to women’s health.

Abortion lobbyists regard drug-based, do-it-yourself abortions as the best way to get around the many state-level pro-life laws being enacted around our country. Such abortions are accomplished through the abortion pill regimen, distributed under the brand name Mifeprex, which is subject to the FDA’s drug safety program — Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategies (REMS) — because it carries such life-threatening risks.

The abortion industry wants to remove the FDA’s REMS in order to have abortion pills available through the pharmacy, the mail, and even on college campuses (also currently being proposed in New York), making do-it-yourself abortions the future of the abortion industry. They have strategically discussed how the absence of the REMS would significantly expand abortion locations and providers, broaden remote prescription (in which a woman is never even examined by the prescriber), and eventually achieve over-the-counter (OTC) status for Mifeprex.

Abortion advocates once claimed that legal abortion would alleviate the danger of “back-alley” abortions for women, but now they want to place the burden of inducing abortions completely on women — despite the fact that the health complications that often result from an induced chemical abortion are eerily similar to those of “back-alley” abortions. They include severe bleeding, infection, retained fetal parts, the need for emergency surgery, and even death. In addition, the woman, who may or may not have health insurance coverage, is expected to bear the additional cost of these “chemical coat hanger” abortion complications.

Yet, abortion activists continue to market the abortion pill as “safe,” “effective,” and “simple” for women with visions of “privacy” and “simplicity.” This is demonstrably false, but it’s the lie they have to sell women so that the abortion industry can cut costs, expand their reach, and remove themselves from the pain and hurt they cause women. With all the documented dangers, it is increasingly evident that the advancement of the abortion industry’s agenda for the Mifeprex regimen is about political, ideological, and financial goals — not care for women.

To read more about the radical implications that OTC abortion drugs could have for women’s health and safety, especially as it pertains to intimate partner violence, sexual abuse and sex trafficking, and accurate patient assessment, see our new publication: The Next Abortion Battleground: Chemical Abortion. If you or a woman you know needs to know the facts about abortion drugs or wants to share their experience of a chemical abortion, please visit Abortiondrugfacts.com.

RELATED ARTICLES:

Comedian Michelle Wolf Says She Felt Like “God” After Having Her Abortion

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School Tests Parents’ Limits with Prostitute

Sheriff’s Office to Extremists: ‘Get behind Me, Satan!’

EDITORS NOTE: This FRC column by Patrina Mosley is republished with permission. © All rights reserved.