Today's News & Views
Do the Math
Just before my daughter left for school this morning, she casually showed me her report card. She had mostly As, a couple of Bs, and one C+. But both of us were most proud of her lowest grade.
If there is a math gene, some other family got their quota AND ours. But Louisa has worked diligently in Algebra II. She even spoke this morning of elevating her grade to a B by the end of the quarter.
Maybe it's because both subjects involve math, but when I read Newsweek's Howard Fineman's web column this morning, I thought of my youngest daughter's dramatically improved fortunes. Let me explain why.
Last year it was hand-to-hand combat with Geometry. Tutor or no tutor, there were times it looked like Louisa might raise the white flag. This year she's made such progress an armistice with Algebra appears in the offing.
I mentioned how hard she'd worked, but that's only half the story. We knew from Parent's Night on that her math teacher was a real winner. As a teenager, he himself had attended our school. With a verbal wink and a nod he let us know he understood that the level of instruction he'd received had been inadequate.
Key to his success with kids for whom math is not a first language was to start off each period by having them solve a few problems dealing with the material they had gone through the prior time together. This gets the synapses firing and brings to the front of the brain what may be hiding out in some obscure corner just waiting to gather dust.
The teacher also runs an in-school after-school tutoring program which gives his kids (if they wish) a chance to get more individual attention and to ask the questions that time does not allow to be asked during regular class hours. At night, when the kids are IM-ing and e-mailing each other to discuss math problems, those who've taken part in the tutorials are able to help those who haven't and who are struggling.
Fineman is talking about Supreme Court nominee Judge Samuel Alito, Jr. and how his confirmation hearings will be thick with the smoke of heated inquiries about his views on abortion, Roe, and "stare decisis," the legal shorthand for which is adhering to precedents.
Fineman often is fair in his assessment of abortion and the politics of abortion, which, for a political reporter, are essentially one in the same. This morning he refers to a Newsweek poll conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International. The firm conducted telephone interviews with 1,002 adults aged 18 and older between November 10-11. Alas, the poll itself is not on the website (or, at least, I couldn't find it), so all we have are Fineman's summaries.
There is majority support, even among Republicans, he writes, "for permitting abortions when a pregnancy is the result of rape or incest, or when the motherís health. People don't know yet that "health" means carte blanche access to abortion for virtually any reason.
Fineman also writes about 58% "supporting the legality of abortion" in "all or most cases." However, as we have explained countless times here and in National Right to Life News, when you get specific with people and give them real alternatives, a solid majority of Americans oppose the reasons for which the vast majority of abortions are performed.
So, wouldn't Senate Judiciary Committee Democrats (and all pro-abortion Democrats, for that matter) benefit by showing their true abortion-on-demand colors during the hearings, scheduled to begin January 9? Actually, no, according to Fineman.
He summarizes the other findings in the Newsweek poll thusly. Even though a majority self-identify as "pro-choice," they are "far from supporting abortion under any circumstances, and strong majorities are quite willing to support the kinds of procedural restrictions that drive pro-choice purists crazy. For example, even a plurality of Democrats (47-45 percent) says that an abortion should be illegal if its sole purpose is to avoid the economic burden of raising a child. And even Democrats are deeply (a slim 51-43 percent majority) ambivalent about allowing an abortion if its sole reason is that the mother 'does not want to have a child.'"
Moreover, according to Fineman, "Democrats (and the rest of the country) strongly support certain hedges around abortion rights: parental consent for teenagers (68 percent 'yes' for Democrats, 71 percent in the country as a whole); parental notification (73 and 78 percent respectively); counseling on the dangers of abortion (78 and 81 percent); notification of the husband (64 and 67 percent); 24-hour waiting period (67 and 71)."
So what is the danger? "The risk for the Dems is more than in the numbers, itís a sense that they are so secular that they canít see the faith-filled American forest for the trees." (For our purposes here, we'll skip over the obvious fact that there couldn't be such overwhelming support for these protective measures if only "faith-filled Americans" were in favor.) Most Americans are far closer to NRLC than they are to Planned Parenthood, People for the American Way, NOW, the ACLU, or Moveon.Org.
You are like my daughter's Algebra II teacher. To begin with, some of you have actually experienced the heartbreak of abortion, or been involved with someone who has. You know there must be a better response than choosing death and are able to convey that in a helpful manner.
Moreover, you are day in and day out educators. You remind Americans of what they know, ought to know, knew but forgot, or have written on their hearts. When you educate your community through any of the myriad of activities NRLC's Holly Smith writes about each month in NRL News, you are ensuring that lessons previously learned about the sanctity of human life are sustained, strengthened, and solidified.
Given the overwhelming anti-life media tilt, most people don't realize they are a part of something that appalls the Abortion Establishment: a vast mainstream conspiracy.
In addition, your chapter and church pro-life gatherings are like after-school tutorials which deepen your own knowledge base. This exposure to life-affirming members, mentors, and messages has a hugely important secondary impact: it also makes it possible to help those who have not as fortunate as you to grow.
Americans are passionate believers in education, but none are more so than pro-lifers. We fervently believe that the truth WILL set you free.
That's what TN&V is about. That's National Right to Life's mission as well. And to that end, I hope all of you are ordering huge numbers of extra copies of our special January 22 Commemorative Edition "Roe v. Wade: A Decision Under Siege." Just go to http://www.nrlc.org/news/Jan22Ad2006.pdf and you can place your order today!
Please send any comments to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.