Three New Hampshire Pastors on Racism

There’s been so much grief and anger and even noise in our nation since George Floyd died in Minneapolis that I have hesitated even to put down in writing my own reactions. My social media feeds – and I can’t just drop them; they’re integral to my work – leave me feeling alienated and quite inadequate to rise to the occasion we’re in.

I have a couple of things to share with you that I hope you’ll find constructive.

a webinar worth your time

I’ve mentioned in the past that I’m a contractor with Cornerstone Action, dealing with legislation and communication. One of my Cornerstone colleagues, who’s on the Cornerstone Policy Research (non-political) side of the organization, facilitated a webinar this week with three Manchester-area pastors. Two are black, one is Hispanic, and each has something to say about his own experience in New Hampshire. This was an eye-opening hour for me.

You can register for the webinar recording at this link, which I believe will expire on or around June 17th.

I’m grateful to pastors Michael Worsley, John Rivera, and Isaiah Martin (a former UNH Wildcat football player, by the way) for their participation.

a thought for future reference

Say what you will about COVID-19 precautions and how they may or may not have been selectively enforced during recent public demonstrations in the wake of George Floyd’s death. My own takeaway is this: any response made by government and law enforcement to the peaceful rallies in Mr. Floyd’s memory is equally applicable to rallies and all other peaceful public witness to the dignity of human life, now and in the future, with or without public health emergencies.

It’s good to see how law enforcement was careful to distinguish the recent peaceful demonstration in Manchester’s Stark Park from violent demonstration. Peaceful pro-life witnesses have all heard at one time or another that our very presence creates “an atmosphere of violence.” We know better. Peaceful demonstration, even with an undercurrent of anger, isn’t on a spectrum with violence on the other end. Violence is in a separate dimension all its own.

Coalition to FDA: any COVID-19 vaccine should be free from abortion connection

A letter to the commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration from a coalition of concerned Americans has urged that any vaccine being developed for COVID-19 be derived from ethical sources, without use of cell lines derived from aborted human beings. An associated email petition drive organized through the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) invites the general public to send the same message to the FDA.

The April 17 letter says in part, “To be clear, we strongly support efforts to develop an effective, safe, and widely available vaccine as quickly as possible. However, we also strongly urge our federal government to ensure that fundamental moral principles are followed in the development of such vaccines, most importantly, the principle that human life is sacred and should never be exploited.”

The letter, released by the USCCB, is signed by several USCCB members as well as by physicians and other health care professionals, medical ethicists, and pro-life activists.

Not a hypothetical situation

According to the letter, the concern over how a COVID-19 vaccine is to be derived is based on work that is already happening. Practical decisions are being made now.

We are aware that, among the dozens of vaccines currently in development, some are being produced using old cell lines that were created from the cells of aborted babies. For example, Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc. has a substantial contract from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and is working on a vaccine that is being produced using one of these ethically problematic cell lines. Thankfully, other vaccines such as those being developed by Sanofi Pasteur, Inovio, and the John Paul II Medical Research Institute utilize cell lines not connected to unethical procedures and methods.

It is critically important that Americans have access to a vaccine that is produced ethically: no American should be forced to choose between being vaccinated against this potentially deadly virus and violating his or her conscience. Fortunately, there is no need to use ethically problematic cell lines to produce a COVID vaccine, or any vaccine, as other cell lines or processes that do not involve cells from abortions are available and are regularly being used to produce other vaccines.

coalition letter to FDA, 4/17/2020

share the message

Share this letter and petition as you see fit. The online petition has a clear message, but includes space for your own words.

http://www.usccb.org/about/pro-life-activities/upload/Letter-to-FDA-urging-ethical-COVID-vaccines.pdf

https://www.votervoice.net/USCCB/Campaigns/73486/Respond?fbclid=IwAR1hxb17qXYhIVy8a099oh7PPJh_YBXRi6vJZGV-DvXwP13lXJadrhmlV-Q

This is not about whether vaccines in general are a good idea. (I am grateful for some and reject others.) This is about refusing to embrace abortion in order to cure or prevent COVID-19.

I wish the letter had been unnecessary. The people who signed it clearly saw the need, though. All of them live and work in the real world with real people. They take things like pandemics seriously.

They have the right idea. I’m with them.

Image from United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

Image in post header by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay 

Legislative action suspended over COVID-19 concerns

The New Hampshire House and Senate have suspended all activity from March 16 until at least April 10, responding to public health concerns raised by the COVID-19 virus. The virus was declared a pandemic on March 11 by the World Health Organization. Governor Chris Sununu declared a state of emergency on March 13. Since that date, public gatherings have been discouraged to prevent community transmission of the virus.

From the General Court website: “Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, out of an abundance of caution the General Court has suspended all legislative activities through April 10. During this time, the State House will be closed to legislative members, legislative staff, and visitors.”

In the March 20 House Journal, House Speaker Stephen Shurtleff wrote “[T]he Senate President and I have made the historic decision to suspend all legislative activities. At this point in time, we are uncertain when we will resume legislative business. We will continue to govern with the best interests of our citizens in mind. I thank you again for your patience and understanding as we move forward.”

All remaining bills for the 2020 legislative session are in limbo, unable to advance while the legislature is suspended.